Friday, August 26, 2011

Hollywood Writers Help Rabbis Punch Up Their Sermons

From left: Rabbi Laura Geller (Temple Emanuel), writer David M. Israel ("3rd Rock From the Sun"), Rabbi Kalman Topp (Beth Jacob Congregation). Photo by Marvin Steindler
Ryan Bauer spent more than an hour struggling to develop a concept for his High Holy Days sermon during a recent workshop organized by the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. The rabbi from Congregation Emanu-El, a San Francisco Reform congregation, finally settled on an idea: The world is ending in 10 days. How would you spend that time?

It might sound like the hook for a Hollywood blockbuster, but that’s the point.

Approximately 20 rabbis from Los Angeles and beyond participated in “Punching Up Your Holiday Sermons,” a workshop that paired rabbis with screenwriters to help them become more engaging.

Lisa Albert (“Mad Men”), David Israel (“3rd Rock From the Sun”) and David N. Weiss (“The Smurfs”) were among the eight writers participating in the workshop, part of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California’s annual High Holy Days Seminar, which took place at Stephen S. Wise Temple on Aug. 16.

To read more, click here. -- Ryan Torok, Jewish Journal

Homeschooled Jews Are Minority Within a Minority

Christians Not Alone in Seeking Alternatives for Kids
Courtesy of Karen Fridkis
...Homeschoolers are often broken down into two basic groups: Christian and secular. But this broad division doesn’t express enough about how complex nonschool identities can be. The reasons my parents chose to homeschool me were not religious ones, and we weren’t Christian; therefore, we could be called “secular homeschoolers,” making us part of a minority within the larger homeschooling community. And we were also Jews. A minority within a minority within a minority. When people ask my mom why she decided not to put her kids in school, she doesn’t get into politics and child psychology and peer pressure and what, in her opinion, constitutes a successful education. She explains that she really liked being with us and wanted us all to keep spending time together. But if you nudge her, she can talk child psychology and educational policy all day. -- Kate Fridkis, Forward

To read more, click here.

California Circumcision Ban: Lawmakers To Debate The Issue

AP File Photo
A California Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Tuesday to block local jurisdictions from banning male circumcision, a debate that evolved from a divisive ballot measure in San Francisco that would have barred the practice for most boys under age 18.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 for the bill by two Democratic lawmakers that would declare that circumcision – surgically removing the foreskin that covers the tip of the penis – has health, cultural and other benefits, and that uniform statewide rules are needed to govern it and a parent's authority over whether their children receive it.

"It's a medical procedure, and it has value," said Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, co-author of AB768. Passing the bill, he told the committee, would prevent a statewide patchwork of laws governing circumcision.

Sen. Noreen Evans, the Santa Rosa Democrat who chairs the committee, said she struggled with the decision on whether to circumcise her son. There is a clear need for a statewide standard that would ensure other parents retain the right to make that choice, she said. -- Adam Weintraub, Huffington Post

To read more, click here.

GM’s Engines Rev Up on Israeli Ingenuity

GM Israel site director Gil Golan and GM's VP for R&D, Dr. Alan Taub, next to an autonomous test vehicle called BOSS.
What's good for General Motors is good for America - and good for Israel, as it turns out. The American auto giant has built a significant presence in Israel - both in research and development, and as a corporate organization.

"We have been building a global network for the past decade, opening offices and development centers in countries where technology that can help GM is being developed," says Israeli site director Gil Golan. "Israel has many good scientists and engineers, and several companies are working on technologies that will be important to GM's future."

Unlike most other multinationals that set up shop in Israel, General Motors has been working with Israeli partners since 1995 and opened a wholly owned corporate subsidiary in Herzliya in 2007 to concentrate on research and development.

"Most American corporations get involved with foreign markets via an acquisition or partnership," says Golan. "But in some markets, like Israel, there is so much going on that we can take advantage of, that it makes sense to establish a more permanent presence. We see Israel as a place where GM can grow strategically." -- David Shamah, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Nature’s Bounty in Haifa’s Baha’i Gardens

UN World Heritage site is a terraced and meticulously landscaped religious shrine, open free to the public.

On the slopes of Mt. Carmel, in Israel’s northern city of Haifa, sits the Baha’i World Centre and its amazing gardens. A UN World Heritage Site since 2008, it features 19 terraces covering about a kilometer from top to bottom, with roughly 1,000 steps.

Maintained voluntarily by hundreds of adherents of the Baha’i religion as a shrine to its founder, the gardens are free and open to the public. Last year, the site enjoyed 750,000 visitors and the shrine building underwent a massive refurbishment. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To view video, click on image below.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jewish Museum Picks Director from Art World

Claudia Gould, who now leads the Institute of Contemporary Art,
will be the new director of the Jewish Museum.
Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
The Jewish Museum has chosen Claudia Gould, director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, as its new director, succeeding Joan Rosenbaum, who is retiring after 30 years.

Following Ms. Rosenbaum’s long tenure, in which she reinforced the museum’s focus on Jewish history and culture, the selection of Ms. Gould, who has spent her career in contemporary art, reflects the desire of the Jewish Museum’s board to add more dynamism and fresh ideas to this 107-year-old institution on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Robert A. Pruzan, the museum’s chairman, said in a telephone interview that Ms. Gould, who is to start in the fall, would bring “a tremendous amount of energy and vitality” as well as “current perspective on what one should be like to be successful in the future.” -- Kate Taylor, NY Times

To read more, click here.

JTS Professor Attends White House Iftar Dinner

Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky Shares Table—and Dialogue—with President Barack Obama

This year the Jewish month of Av coincides with the Christian month of August, as well as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, pious Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset to show their devotion to Allah. As darkness falls, they break their daylong fast with an evening meal called the Iftar. President Thomas Jefferson hosted the first Iftar dinner at the White House. The dinner became an annual White House tradition under President Bill Clinton, was continued by President George W. Bush, and is now hosted by President Barack Obama.

This year’s White House Iftar meal was held on Wednesday, August 10. Approximately 120 guests were invited, including members of the diplomatic corps, the religious and grass-roots leadership of the American-Muslim community, prominent Muslim elected officials and members of the armed forces, and leaders of other faiths. Because of the proximity of Ramadan to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, also attending were Muslim Americans whose lives were touched by that tragedy: first responders, a woman who lost her brother and sister-in-law when the towers fell, and a mother who lost a son in Iraq. During the dinner, President Obama spoke about the meaning of Ramadan, the importance of diversity and religious freedom in the United States, and the effect of 9/11 and its aftermath on the Muslim-American community.

Three Jews were also present at the Iftar dinner: Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, Bahraini Ambassador Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, and Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies and director of the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Rabbi Visotzky sat at President Obama’s table and brought the president up-to-date on JTS’s most recent and noted Jewish-Muslim dialogue programs, along with JTS’s other forms of Jewish-Muslim engagement, including 2010’s two-day workshop entitled “Judaism and Islam in America” (part two will take place in September 2011) and this past May’s “Our Better Angels,” a three-part program that anticipated the 10th anniversary of 9/11 through Jewish, Christian, and Muslim discussions on the themes of tragedy, mourning, and healing ( Rabbi Visotzky also shared with President Obama plans for the upcoming JTS academic colloquium with Georgetown University on “Oral Transmission of Sacred Texts in Judaism and Islam,” which will take place at Georgetown in late October 2011. 

For Israel’s Muslims, Ramadan a Time to Celebrate Islam in the Jewish State

At his official residence in Jerusalem,
Israeli President Shimon Peres, center,
hosts Egyptian Deputy Ambassador to Israel Mustafa Al-kuny, right,
and Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Difla Ali al Faiz
at an iftar meal during Ramadan, Aug. 21, 2011.
(Mark Neyman/GPO)
Last week, Muslim and Jewish soldiers gathered after a day’s training to eat a communal iftar, the traditional break-the-fast meal eaten after sunset during the month-long observance of the Islamic holiday of Ramadan.

“Ramadan isn’t just one day like the 17th of Tammuz or Tisha B’Av,” said Col. Ahmed Ramiz, head of the minority population directorate in the Human Resources branch of the Israel Defense Forces. “It affects an organization like ours to have so many people fasting for 30 days, because we’re the army. We don’t stop for 30 days, or even one day. But during times like these, we try to keep their needs in mind, and help out where we can.”

Ramadan -- a month-long ritual during which Muslims are enjoined not to eat, drink, smoke or engage in sex during daylight hours -- is formally recognized in Israeli workplaces as a religious holiday. Yet, like other Muslim holidays, it still isn’t part of the cultural map of a Jewish state more focused on Rosh Hashanah, Passover and Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Israel Independence Day. -- Jessica Steinberg, JTA

To read more, click here.

A Spokesman for Israel with Unbiased Credentials

Editor's note: This meeting took place on October 16, 2009, but it shows that there are people who are defending Israel.

Thank you to Baruch Freedberg for posting this video from the archives of UN Watch.

Click on image to play video.

Pioneering Rock Songwriter Jerry Leiber Who Co-wrote “Hound Dog” and Other Hits Dies at 78

Jerry Leiber
Photo from Hollywood Reporter
Jerry Leiber, who spoke Yiddish as his first language, was hounded by anti-Semites on the streets of Baltimore as a child, and became one of the creators of rock 'n' roll as half of the most celebrated songwriting duo of all time, died at 78 in Los Angeles.

Leiber, the lyricist, and his partner, Mike Stoller “had few peers and no equals during rock 'n' roll's first golden era,” Rolling Stone wrote in 1990. Hits of theirs such as “Hound Dog,” “Stand By Me,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and many others have been sung for decades by artists from Elvis Presley to the Beatles and scores of others since they began writing together in the early 1950s as high school students in Los Angeles.

Leiber and Stoller “initiated mainstream white America into the sensual and spiritual intimacies of urban black culture that fueled the birth of rock 'n' roll. Their songwriting captured the essence and nuances of black music and language with a melodic invention, narrative ingenuity and cool hilarity that were true to the source while transcending it – heavy-duty R&B with a pop sensibility and lyric universality,” the magazine said. --  JTA

To read more, click here.

Report: Swedish Queen's Father Helped Jew

Report commissioned by Queen Silvia in response to media allegations says although Walther Sommerlath belonged to NSDAP Nazi party, he was an inactive member and helped Jewish businessman escape Hitler's Germany‬‬
Queen Silvia: "Complete surprise"
Photo: MCT
The queen of Sweden's father helped at least one Jew escape Hitler's Germany, according to a report commissioned by Queen Silvia in response to media allegations about his Nazi past.

The report – published Tuesday [August 9] – said although Walther Sommerlath belonged to the NSDAP Nazi party, he appeared to have been an inactive member and had helped a Jewish businessman escape the Holocaust.

Swedish media reported in 2002 that Sommerlath had joined Germany's Nazi party in 1934 and took over Efim Wechsler's consumer goods company under unclear circumstances in 1939.
‪Associated Press‬ via Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Israel's Pulitzer Nominee on Writing as Art

"There is no such thing as academic writing and popular writing," says Bar-Ilan Prof. Oren Harman.
"There is better writing and worse writing."
Maybe it was inevitable that someone whose parents met at Harvard would grow up to be an academic. Yet that wasn't a clear conclusion during Prof. Oren Harman's early years.

Now chairman of the graduate program in science, technology and society at Bar-Ilan University and winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his 2010 biography, The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness (W.W. Norton), Harman thought of becoming a singer, doctor or educator.

"Academia was last on my list," he says. "It can be very stuffy and insular." But then he won an Allon Fellowship, which enables universities to take in outstanding young researchers. Harman calls this award "the king's road into academia in Israel." -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

So, when does the flotilla to Syria leave?

B’nai Brith Canada ran this ad in Saturday’s National Post, which goes to the heart of our advocacy messaging on human rights in the world today, and the hypocrisy of those who ignore abuses worldwide in order to falsely target the Jewish State.

American Olim Seek Combat Service

Some 100 young Jewish adults from US, Canada to join IDF immediately after arriving in Israel next week; nearly all of them want to be combat soldiers‬‬.
New immigrants arrive on Nefesh B'Nefesh flight (archives)  Haim Zach
Thomas from Kansas dreams about Sayeret Matkal; Adam from Toronto wants to join the Paratroopers Brigade; Itay from New Jersey is dying to get to the Shaldag Unit; and Gabrielle from Los Angeles wants to be part of the Oketz Unit.

A Nefesh B'Nefesh flight carrying some 400 new immigrants from North America will land in Israel on Tuesday with an unprecedented number of young adults – 60 boys and 44 girls aged 18-22, who are making aliyah in order to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, Yedioth Aharonoth reported on Thursday [August 18]. --
‪Itamar Eichner‬, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

Op Ed: A Calmer and Fuller Articulation

Friends have correctly pointed out to me over the last few days that my post of last Thursday was too strident in tone, and too light in halachik discussion and sourcing. I am again reminded why our Sages advised us to acquire friends, and why God blesses us with them.

For the stridency of the tone, I sincerely apologize. I can and should do better.

With regard to the substance, I share two points. The first concerns the proper halachik execution for the omission of the blessing “for You have not made me a woman”.  Rabbi Lopatin articulated it well, and I will here summarize his argument for it is indispensible to this change in practice.
(1)  We are familiar from our siddur with the blessing “For You have not made me a non-Jew”.  In our printed versions of the Talmud however, (see Menachot 43b) the blessing appears not in the negative formulation, rather in the positive language “for You have made me an Israelite” (שעשאני ישראל). While the majority of Talmudic commentaries and Codes nonetheless maintained that the correct version is the one we have in our siddur, two prominent Sages demurred. Both Rosh (Brachot 9:24) and the Vilna Gaon prescribe the recitation of “for You have made me an Israelite” , in accordance with our version of the Talmud.
(2) Bach (O.C 46) , while aligning himself with the majority position, rules that if in error you said “for You have made me an Israelite”, then you should OMIT THE TWO BLESSING THAT FOLLOW, including “for You have not made me a woman”. (Mishnah Brurah 46:15 cites this position as well.) This is because the expression of gratitude for being a (male) Jew already includes the sentiments of the subsequent blessings within it.
(3) The argument now proceeds with the assertion that we ought to DELIBERATELY recite “for you have made me an Israelite” (for women, the feminine version שעשאני ישראלית) IN ORDER TO CREATE THE GROUNDS FOR OMITTING “for You have not made me a woman”.
This is an unusual halachik maneuver to be sure, one which requires justification. And this brings me to my second point. We don’t re-explore our halachik options with an eye toward change, absent a compelling reason to do so. By the same token though, to resist re-examination when such is needed, is to abdicate our responsibility to ensure that we’re always practicing halacha at its very best.

As I wrote in my original post, I believe fervently that Orthodoxy has yet to grapple fully or satisfactorily with the dignity of womankind. We know and understand, like no generation before us has known and understood, that women are men’s intellectual and spiritual equals. Our society has accordingly decided to treat both genders with equal dignity, and has opened all professional, political and communal endeavors to both genders equally. I believe that our community however, falls short of this goal in many ways. We are, of course, committed to operating within the framework and rules of halacha. But it is not hard to construct a halachik universe in which women’s physical space in shul and intellectual space in day schools and Study Halls are not lesser, but equal. It is not hard to imagine a halachik universe in which virtually all positions of leadership are available to all. And we must create a halachik universe in which the extortion of women by their ex-husbands as the Bet Din stands helplessly by, is simply unfathomable.  It’s not halacha’s fault that we are lagging. It’s our fault.

I know of course, that “You have not made me a woman” can be understood in many different ways. But by its plain meaning, and by the simple smell test, it has the effect today of justifying our lack of progress, and of affirming for us that women do not possess the spiritual dignity than men do. In OUR specific time, given OUR specific challenges, the blessing hurts us. We thus find ourselves today in an halachik “sha’at hadchak”, an “urgent circumstance”. The sort of circumstance that justifies utilizing an ingenious halachik stratagem to effectively drop this blessing from our liturgy.

I know there are many who will disagree with me on one or all of the points I’ve made. I am hopeful that stripped of their stridency, they will be easier to consider on their merits. May our disagreements be for the sake of Heaven. -- Rav Yosef Kanefsky,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Memory Becomes a Minefield at Canada’s Museum for Human Rights

Construction continues at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Mike Deal/Winnipeg Free Press
It all began with the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

In May, 2000, Gail Asper was standing in line at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., waiting to see the historic document. She was accompanied by a group of Grade 9 students. The money for the trip was provided by the Asper family charitable foundation, controlled by her late father, Izzy, then the chief executive officer of Canwest Global, Canada's largest media empire.

Mr. Asper thought that Jewish children in Winnipeg needed to learn more about the Holocaust. So he conscripted his daughter, a lawyer, to organize trips to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Then he thought the students also needed to know more about human rights, so they added a few more stops on to the Washington itinerary. Which is how Ms. Asper found herself standing in line to see the Declaration of Independence.

The only problem was there was nowhere in Canada to take kids where they could learn about the Holocaust, or human rights, or even see the Charter on display.

Mr. Asper wasn't happy about that. He had been a lifelong crusader for human rights. On Oct. 14 1971, his first day as leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, he had proposed a provincial bill of rights.

Thirty years later, he declared that he would build a museum that would tell the story of the Holocaust and the struggle for human rights in Canada and elsewhere, and oh yes, it would be in Winnipeg, because that was where the Aspers lived, and who said every museum in this country had to be in Ottawa?

What could possibly go wrong? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

“It's a can of worms,” declares historian J.L. Granatstein, the former head of the Canadian War Museum. “It's the triumph of hope over reality. It's simply not thinking through the difficulties of this sort of project.”  -- Ira Basen, Vancouver Globe

To read more, click here.

The New Jewess: A Rising Generation of Actresses Overturns Old Tropes

Natalie Portman (Photo by Zade Rosenthal / Marvel Studios)
The year is 1950. The setting is a dimly lit movie studio backlot. It’s the middle of the night, and an attractive young woman named Betty Schaefer is explaining to her screenwriting partner why she became a writer instead of what she really wanted to be — an actress. The movie is “Sunset Boulevard.”

“I come from a picture family,” Schaefer (Nancy Olson) tells Joe Gillis (William Holden). “Naturally, they took it for granted I was to become a great star.  So I had 10 years of dramatic lessons, diction, dancing. Then the studio made a test.  Well, they didn’t like my nose — it slanted this way a little. I went to a doctor and had it fixed.  They made more tests, and they were crazy about my nose — only they didn’t like my acting.”

Though it’s never overtly stated, the obvious implication is that Betty Schaefer is Jewish. If you’ve ever wanted to understand the ambivalence Hollywood has felt toward Jewish women, there it is in glorious black and white.
Emmanuelle Chriqui. (Photo courtesy HBO)

Now, fast-forward three decades, to 1979, when the Jewish nose makes a self-assured — or in-your-face — comeback. This time, it literally figures front and center, practically raising the curtain on the film “The Main Event” starring Barbra Streisand. The opening sequence foregrounds a glass perfume bottle, which three male noses sniff, in close-up, before the camera pans to Streisand’s nose — long, angular, delicate — and then zooms out for the perfect profile. As Streisand, who plays the perfumery owner Hillary Cramer inhales her latest creation, one of her lab coat lackeys chortles: “They don’t call you ‘The Nose’ for nothing!” -- Danielle Berrin, Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

Hello World: Israel is Out-Classing You in Civil Disobedience

In the four weeks since the social protests have begun in Israel, hundreds of have been killed, dozens of women have reportedly been raped, a number of children tortured, and countless districts have been looted. The authorities have imposed a complete lock-down on all cellular networks. All access to Facebook and Twitter has been blocked. Little information is going in, or out.

Except the absolute, complete opposite. -- via Washington Post

To read more, click here.

Also see
Op. Ed: The Difference between London and Tel Aviv

The protest leaders in Israel are the sons and daughters of the backbone of society - educated young people in a country where social mobility is greater than is common in the conservative West. -- Haaretz Editorial Staff

To read more, click here.

Barrage of Bias: Horrendous Headlines

Headlines often set the entire tone of an article and are the first things that the reader sees. The events of the past few days have generated some horrendous headlines. Here are just a few that we spotted:

Perhaps the worst headline belonged to The Independent, which attributed to Israel uniquely malevolent qualities. Was Israel really only out for “revenge” on Palestinians as a whole rather than any obvious military objectives such as defending its civilians from rocket attacks and targeting terrorists? Not according to The Independent.

"Israel mourns its dead - and takes revenge on Palestinians"

 --  Simon Plosker, HonestReporting

To read more, click here.

Muslims Demand Sharia Student Loans Because Paying Interest Goes against Islamic Law

Muslim students are worried loan repayments could break Sharia law
Muslim groups are calling for a separate student loan system because the interest due to be charged will conflict with rules of Sharia law.

The changes to tuition fees, which come into force next year, will see students charged higher rates of interest on the loans they take out to pay for university.

Until now they have paid the market rate of inflation but the reforms mean students who go on to earn more than £21,000 will have to pay interest of up to 3 per cent.

But in some interpretations of Sharia law, which is Islam's legal system and governs every aspect of Muslim life, loans are forbidden.

The National Union of Students has said it could be two years before an alternative system is worked out, leaving some Muslims fearing they cannot go on to further education.

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies told The Independent that the rate increase was a 'pressing issue'.

A spokesman said: 'Because the rate of interest is above the rate of inflation, it is quite blatant usury.' -- Daily Mail Reporter, Daily Mail, UK

Click here to read more.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jacob Artson Has a Dream

I Have a Dream by Jacob Artson

Almost half a century ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.  He spoke about the promise of emancipation for Negroes, and how in the ensuing century, the plight of the Negro had not substantially changed.  This was not the problem of Negroes alone, King urged, because no white man could feel free contributing to the Negro’s oppression through silence and inaction.  King reminded us that America is founded on biblical principles – justice, equality, dignity – but it had failed in its mission to live up those principles.  Having witnessed so much violence against blacks, King had great reason to be pessimistic.  But religion is about optimism, and as a religious leader he believed in hope and he believed that when shown the truth people would choose right and justice.  King had a dream that one day, even in Alabama, perhaps the most racist state in the nation, “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”  He had a dream that his four little children “will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of the skin but by the content of their character.”

Those biblical principles that Dr. King spoke of are Judaism’s contribution to the world. But like America in the 1960’s, the Jewish community has forgotten that all of God’s creatures are made in God’s image.   We have been willing to settle for segregation. -- Jacob Artson, Mentschen, the site of Jewish Federation of Men's Clubs

To read more, click here.

Kosher Butcher Is Last of a Breed

Yuval Atias, believed to be the last kosher butcher in the Bay Area, at the meat counter of his Oakland store.
Lori Eanes for The Wall Street Journal
Yuval Atias is the last of the Bay Area's independent kosher butchers.

In the 2000s, four kosher butcher shops in the region disappeared, said Mr. Atias. Most recently, Tel Aviv Kosher in San Francisco's Outer Sunset district closed right before Passover this year. That left Mr. Atias's Oakland Kosher Foods as the last independent kosher butcher shop in the area.

Competition still exists for the Israeli-born Mr. Atias, however. He is now squaring off against Trader Joe's and several other supermarket chains.

David Bennett, co-owner of Mollie Stone's Markets, a small supermarket chain, started selling kosher meat 20 years ago at the company's Palo Alto shop. He said he makes a very small profit on kosher meat, but sells it because he looks for different niches to entice customers to shop at his store.

Sue Fishkoff, an Oakland resident and the author of "Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America's Food Answers to a Higher Authority," said supermarkets started selling kosher-certified chicken in the 1970s and beef in the 1980s. -- Shayndi Raice, Wall Street Journal

To read more, click here.

900 Jewish Heritage Teachers to Be Trained in Israel

Education Minister Sa'ar aims to "stregthen
Jewish and Zionist values among students."

Photo: Knesset Channel

Two weekly hours in upcoming school year to be dedicated to Declaration of Independence, love of the land, Diaspora Jews and weekly Torah portion

A new subject, "Jewish culture and heritage," will be become part of the compulsory curriculum in the upcoming school year in Israel. Some 900 teachers will be trained to teach the subject in the fifth to eighth grades following a successful trial.
The new subject was initiated by Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar with the aim of "strengthening the Jewish, Zionist and democratic values among students", as part of the objectives he declared upon taking office. -- Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

Facebook’s Holocaust Problem

The social-networking giant bans hate speech—but allows the proliferation of Holocaust-denial pages, saying it recognizes 'people’s right to be factually wrong about historical events.' Lloyd Grove on the new outcry against the policy. -- The Daily Beast

To read more, click here.

B’nai Brith Canada calls on Facebook users across Canada to make their voices heard in the fight against hate

B’nai Brith Canada, the leading Jewish human rights organization in Canada, urges Facebook users to join in the call by the Online Hate Working Group of the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism’s to treat Holocaust Denial as an incitement to hatred. The exception made by Facebook for Holocaust Denial material as a form of hatred on this social forum must end.

Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada stated, “ Antisemitism in all its forms is an ever-increasing problem worldwide. The Internet has become a major purveyor of this type of hatred. As a member of the Global Forum, we applaud the efforts of the working group to find solutions to the problem. By enforcing its own rules and recognizing that Holocaust Denial on its social network is an expression of hate, Facebook can be part of the solution.

“We have recently called on Facebook to ensure that it is not used as a forum to incite hatred and even violence. The Working Group has made an important step in this fight. We urge all Facebook users to join in the call to put a stop to hatred in all its forms.”

Facebook users can also log onto its Help Centre and click on Give Feedback. B’nai Brith Canada is available to help through its hotline 1-800-892-2624 or online at

Israelis Invent Date Rape Drug Detector

Tel Aviv University researchers say personal sensor they developed is 100% accurate

Sensor can tell someone, in real-time, whether or not their drink has been altered Photo: CD Bank
Two Tel Aviv University researchers say that they have developed a personal sensor that can detect the presence of the most common date rape drugs in beverages, 100% of the time.

Date rape drugs, also known as club drugs, have sedative and/or amnesiac effects that facilitate sexual exploitation. The majority of victims are teens and young adults at trance parties, clubs and bars. -- Sammy Hudes, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.