Friday, September 2, 2011

Anti-Israel Protest Disrupts UK Concert Series

A group of about 20 people had gathered outside the hall to protest the appearance of the orchestra
BBC News
Protesters disrupted a performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in one of Britain's most venerable concert series and forced the BBC to pull the concert off the air, the broadcaster said Thursday.

Pro-Palestinian group The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had called for the BBC to cancel the concert and urged people to boycott the event in protest.

The orchestra was due to perform at London's Royal Albert Hall on Thursday as part of BBC Proms, an annual summer concert series dating back to 1941 broadcast live on the radio.

Shouting and booing erupted just as conductor Zubin Mehta was about to lead the orchestra in Bruch's violin concerto.

"We regret that as a result of sustained audience disruption within the concert hall which affected the ability to hear the music, tonight's Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Prom was taken off air," the BBC said in a statement.

It said protesters interrupted the concert four times and that 30 people were removed by secruity throughout the event.

The BBC said that extra security — including bag searches — had been put in place in anticipation of protests. -- Associated Press (AP)

Also see, BBC News by clicking here.

An Answer to Diabetes?

A peptide developed in Israel offers a promising potential treatment for the Type 1 form of this very common serious condition.
Dr. Shlomo Dagan, right, with Prof. Irun Cohen at Andromeda Biotech’s lab
It used to be called "juvenile" diabetes. Today, it's called Type 1 diabetes. And though it accounts for only a fraction of the estimated 220 million worldwide cases of this chronic disease, an effective treatment or cure would improve the lives of millions.

This is why a unique solution pioneered in Israel is being watched with great interest as it goes through advanced stages of Phase III clinical testing in about 115 medical centers in North and South America, Europe and Israel.

Andromeda Biotech CEO Shlomo Dagan says this is currently the largest and most advanced study ever involving Type 1 diabetes patients. Other potential treatments are far behind, in early stages of clinical development.

The substance under investigation is a synthetic peptide - a chemical link extracted from a long protein chain - that seems to halt the progression of the disease.  -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Hamas Bans Palestinian Merit Scholars from Leaving Gaza

Hamas has barred a group of Palestinian teenagers awarded scholarships to study in the United States from leaving Gaza.

The eight students, aged 15-17, were chosen for merit scholarships to study in America for a year.

The Hamas minister of education denied their request to leave the country for “social and cultural reasons,” the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said last week in a statement. The center had been working to get the students out before the start of the school year.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, recently ordered aid workers and NGO employees to register with the government before traveling to work outside of the coastal strip. -- JTA

U.N. Panel’s Report Says Gaza Blockade Was Legal

Mavi Marmara is pictured under maintenance
in a shipyard in Istanbul May 30, 2011.
Photo by REUTERS/Osman Orsal
A long-awaited U.N. report on a May 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship that killed nine Turks says that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip was legal, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

The report by a panel of investigators, which was due to be released on Friday but was leaked in full to the Times, also said that Israeli commandos faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers.”

It also had some criticism of Israel. It said the amount of force used by the Israelis on board the Mavi Marmara, the largest in a flotilla of six ships that the crew said were delivering aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, was “excessive and unreasonable.” -- Reuters
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Ontario Ministry’s Commitment to Fighting Hate Crime Commended

The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada has commended Ontario Cabinet Minister Jim Bradley on his announcement last week of ongoing funding support for both community and policing initiatives to fight hate crime. Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, commented: “Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services plays a key role in fighting hate crime in the province, and we are pleased to see that this type of commitment is a continuing feature of services that will be made available to highlight prevention and partnerships, as well as investigation and enforcement.

As a key provider of anti-hate and diversity programming, we look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with both the ministry and police forces throughout the province, who are our traditional partners in the struggle to counter prejudice and bigotry and establish collaborative multidisciplinary networks.” -- Jewish Tribune, Canada

Prominent U.S. Muslims Call for Shalit’s Release

A group of prominent American Muslims issued a letter urging Hamas to immediately release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The Aug. 26 letter’s 11 signatories include the two Muslim members of Congress -- Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.) -- as well as Muslim academics and communal figures. -- JTA

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Tourist Goldmine in These Ancient Copper Mines?

Israel's picturesque Timna Park gets a spruce-up to attract more visitors to explore its rich archeology and its modern lake, hike and bike paths.
Vista at Timna Park.
Ask Hagit Gal why 2011 was the year historic Timna Park got earmarked for a multimillion-dollar facelift, and she chuckles. "It's about time!" the park manager tells ISRAEL21c.

The park's story began 6,000 years ago, when the world's first copper mines were dug here. In the early 1980s, the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), the Eilot Regional Council and the Ministry of Tourism established a tourist park at this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is rich in both history and natural beauty.

It's become modestly successful, attracting some 150,000 visitors per year -- 20,000 of them Israeli schoolchildren - but clearly it is not nearly as well known as its closest neighbor to the south, the Red Sea resort city of Eilat. Hoping to give this unique site its due, in June the KKL-JNF unveiled major improvements financed by donors in the United States and German -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Magnetic Stimulation Shown to Alleviate PTSD

Health Scan: Haifa University psychologists find that parents' stress can impair future offspring.
Photo by: extension.missouri.edu
Psychological counseling and medications have been most commonly given to victims of posttraumatic stress disorder who experience a traumatic event. But now, magnetic stimulation of the brain has been found in preliminary trials at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem to alleviate PTSD.

The hospital’s psychiatry department teamed up with Jerusalem’s Brainsway company, which initiated and funded the study of deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (DTMS).

The painless, non-invasive treatment is also being used against bipolar (manicdepressive) disorder and other psychiatric problems. According to Hadassah, results of the DTMS treatment show so far that it is effective and safe in treating PTSD, whose symptoms include reliving the event, thus disturbing daily routines; repeated nightmares; strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind victims of trauma of the event; emotional “numbing”; a feeling of detachment and lacking a future; avoiding places, people or thoughts that remind them of the event; difficulty concentrating; irritability; and sleep problems, among others. The magnetic signals cause electrical changes that “wake up” brain neurons, the psychiatrists explain.

According to surveys, seven percent of the general population in Israel suffers from PTSD – an accumulation of suffering resulting from the Holocaust through terror attacks, road accidents, wars and other events.

The technique has been used for about a decade on people with depression, but the Brainsway device allowed stimulation of larger and deeper sections of the cerebral cortex.

“The technique deals with the needs of people suffering from serious or resistant aspects of the syndrome,” explained Hadassah’s Dr. Moshe Isserles, who heads the team. “The problem is that for a significant number of sufferers, medications and psychological care aren’t effective enough, and many symptoms remain.

Thirty patients volunteered to take part and were divided into three groups: The first received DTMS after a short recall of the traumatic event; the second received the magnetic treatment without recalling the event; and a third received a placebo treatment without magnets. after recalled the trauma.

Data on 26 patients who received at least eight treatments each were analyzed according to the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale. An objective analysis showed that the first group improved significantly, with less improvement in the second group. The benefits continued from the beginning of treatment until it ended, and the improvement remained so two months after that. In the patients who received a placebo, there was no decline in symptoms.

Isserles explained that the number of nightmares, flashbacks, overstimulation and avoidance declined significantly, while moods and functions improved.

“This was the first study of its type in DTMS; very few studies on the effects of magnetic signals have included not only the stimulation but also recollection of the trauma,” he said.

“Many studies identified reduced brain activity in a certain region of frontal cerebra; cortex and increased activity in the amygdala (responsible, among other things, for reactions to fear). Using DTMS can help reduce exaggerated fears that are the basis for PTSD,” concluded Isserles, who will expand the clinical work. -- Judy Siegel-ItzkovichRecent, Jerusalem Post

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Op Ed: With more than 10,000 millionaires, why is Israel still a charity case?

At what point should the Diaspora communities say to Israelis that enough is enough- we will give, but we will not allow those in your own society to shirk their responsibilities?

Sammy and Yuli Ofer from the Ofer Brothers Group.
Photo by: Archive
The past few years have seen a whole new generation of wealth being created within Israel. The collective worth of Israeli’s 16 billionaires stands at just over 45 billion dollars and Israel now hosts 10,153 millionaires, a 20-percent increase from the previous fiscal year.

With all this money sloshing around at the top of the system, it’s more than a little disappointing that Israeli soup kitchens still feel the need to come around to the global Jewish diaspora, cap in hand, looking for vital donations to help those on the bread line in Israel. -- Joel Braunold, Haaretz

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Buried: A Visible Legacy of New York City’s Long-Ago Jewish Past

The Third Cemetery of the Spanish and Portugese Synagogue Shearith Israel,
New York City.
Len Small/Tablet Magazine
There’s a small Jewish cemetery tucked away on an unlikely block in Manhattan, behind some condominiums on West 21st Street. It’s just a few minutes from Tablet Magazine’s new office on Tin Pan Alley, and I recently stumbled upon it. As it turns out, it has two siblings further downtown, and, taken together, the trio offer a window into the history of both the city and its Jewish community.

The three historic Manhattan cemeteries belong to Congregation Shearith Israel, a Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in Manhattan and the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, established in 1654. They are perhaps the most durable legacy of New York City’s long-ago Jewish past. The Shearith Israel congregation was founded by 23 Jewish refugees, descendents of Spanish Jews, exiled during the Inquisition, who fled from Recife, Brazil, after it was taken from the Dutch by the Portuguese. They were fleeing anti-Semitism but were greeted coldly by Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch director-general of the colony of New Netherland. From 1654 until 1825, Shearith Israel was the only Jewish congregation in New York City. In its long history, membership of the congregation has included Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, three founders of the New York Stock Exchange, and the poet Emma Lazarus, whose famous words from “The New Colossus” are affixed to the Statue of Liberty. Shearith Israel—the name translated is “Remnant of Israel”—owns a Torah that dates to the American Revolution. -- Adam Chandler, Tablet

Female Soldiers: Religious Men Pushing Us Out

Four women in Artillery told to leave 55th Battalion because religious men are about to enter it.

Woman in combat training.
The gender controversies rage on in the IDF: a battery commander in the IDF Artillery Corps' 55th Battalion has informed four female soldiers – three of them commanders – that they will be removed from the battery because religious "Hesder" soldiers are about to join the battalion. They were offered alternative positions, including command posts in a Commanders' Course. -- Gil Ronen, Israel National News

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Self-Defence Club that Unites Palestinian and Jewish Women

Chana Weinberger, a professional self-defence instructor
teaches her students moves at her workshop in Palestinian East Jerusalem.
Tanya Habjouqa for The National
"'That's not a male 'No!'" the instructor tells the group of women circled around her. "Say it in a male voice, stronger: 'No!'"

The women try again, this time more assertively, an unequivocal sentiment bursting into the room. "But when can we say yes?" one woman later asks of the instructor, to receive the immediate reply: "You decide!"

This is the final class in a six-week self-defence course for women, by women in Wadi Joz, East Jerusalem. All the instructors are Jewish; all the participants are Palestinians from East Jerusalem and surrounding Palestinian villages.

It is the first time the workshop, run by a women's empowerment non-governmental organisation, El Halev, has been taught to Palestinian women - but it is unlikely to be the last. "I'm so happy I took this course," says 45-year-old Iman, from Silwan in East Jerusalem. "Now I want to give every woman in our community the chance to learn these things, too." -- Rachel Shabi, National (Abu Dhabi/United Arab Emirates)

To read more, click here.

Next Year in Jerusalem! Israel Lures the Hollywood Moviemakers

The Holy City is sweetening the pot for international filmmakers, offering cash incentives and a municipal department to assist with logistics.

‘You Don’t Mess With the Zohan’ (2008), starring Adam Sandler, was partly shot in Israel.
Israel is tired of Hollywood filming Jesus' crucifixion in Italy and the Crusader invasion of the Holy Land in Morocco. So Israeli officials are promising better tax breaks, terror attack insurance and handouts of up to $400,000 to lure international movie producers to the holy city of Jerusalem. They want to cash in on the multibillion-dollar industry, and want the real Jerusalem on the silver screen … not Mediterranean stand-ins.

"It's absurd. Movies set in Jerusalem are filmed in Malta, Morocco and Greece," said Yoram Honig, an Israeli film director and 10th-generation Jerusalemite. He heads the Jerusalem Film Fund, which was set up three years ago to encourage more moviemaking in the city. -- The Associated Press

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Wedding Crasher: Hurricane Irene

With storm approaching, Midwest couple moves New York nuptials up a day
David Levi, of Chicago, and Jessica Ketten, of Milwaukee, are married under a chuppah on Friday in New York.
The wedding was peformed at what was to have been their reheasal dinner
as they altered the schedule because of Hurricane Irene.
(Kim Steiner, HANDOUT / August 30, 2011)
As Hurricane Irene roared up the East Coast, there were many cancellations. But the wedding of David Levi of Chicago and Jessica Ketten of Milwaukee was not among them.

The couple had spent almost a year planning their black-tie nuptials for what they thought would be a balmy Saturday evening in New York. In two hours, they scrapped the fairy-tale version and tied the knot at the rehearsal dinner.

"The craziest thing was that Friday was a gorgeous day," said the bride, "but as we kept hearing about this disaster looming … we knew we had to do something." -- Bonnie Miller Rubin, Chicago Tribune

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Hurricane Irene Takes a Toll on Jewish Community with Two Deaths, but Institutions Spared

For some in the Jewish community, Hurricane Irene was a soggy inconvenience.

But for others, it became a moment to extend a helping hand -- in at least one case, tragically.

David Reichenberg, a 50-year-old Orthodox Jewish father of four from Spring Valley, N.Y., died saving a father and his 6-year-old son from a downed power line when Reichenberg came into contact with the live wire and was electrocuted. He was one of two Jews reportedly killed in the storm.

The other, Rozalia Gluck, 82, was trapped in a Catskills motel that had become unmoored during the storm and floated away. Authorities recovered her body late Sunday….

Except for power outages and some minor flooding, no shuls reported much damage. -- Dan Klein, JTA

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"Bad blood" as Change Comes to Jewish Advocacy Groups

Long-time CJC CEO Bernie Farber, right,
announced in May he would no longer be
the voice of the Canadian Jewish community.
Brian Hutchinson/National Post
After nearly two years of controversy and debate, Canada’s newest Jewish advocacy group quietly launched earlier this summer, essentially marking the end of the 92-year-old Canadian Jewish Congress and creating “a lot of bad blood” in the Jewish community.

The new Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs was expected to issue a news release Tuesday, introducing itself to Canadians as a “one-stop shop” for Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy in Canada. But just as the centre celebrates the consolidation of the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canada-Israel Committee, the Quebec-Israel Committee and the University Outreach Committee into one umbrella organization, it also confronts its first public relations challenge. -- National Post (Canada)

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Op Ed: Opening American Eyes to Israel's Diversity Seeing Arabs and Immigrants Would Build Real Commitment

American Jews would benefit from listening to Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie. In a recent talk, Adichie explained that “it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person.” Only when American Jewry exposes its youth to all the stories that make up Israeli society will we be able to remove the indifference that has built up over decades of recounting only one story. Living in fear of exposing our community to the complexity of Israel is backfiring and is resulting in a generation of disengaged Jews. By purposefully keeping ourselves in the dark, by hiding from the reality of Israel, we are robbing ourselves of our homeland. -- Sarah Schonberg, Forward

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Global Chalkboard: Online School Signs with NYU

University of the People founder Shai Reshef
University of the People, an Israeli's concept for opening higher education to disadvantaged peoples, goes a step further.


When Shai Reshef founded the University of the People (UoP) - the world's first non-profit, tuition-free, online academic institution - back in 2009, the Israeli entrepreneur never imagined how far-reaching his mission of providing free classes to students around the world would be.

"Grounded in the belief that education is a right, not a privilege, UoP harnesses the power of the Internet, open-source technology and open educational resources to democratize higher education. The programs are accessible to qualified candidates all over the world despite financial, geographic or social constraints," the 57-year-old Reshef explained recently on the second anniversary of the university. "With a few keystrokes, UoP takes the concept of social networking and applies it to academia, providing a global chalkboard for all students."

All that is required for admission to UoP is proficiency in English, a diploma from a secondary school and an Internet connection. -- Jeffrey Heyman, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Bauhaus Boom

Worldwide interest grows for Tel Aviv's record-breaking collection of modernist, white-façade Bauhaus-style architecture.

A Bauhaus building on Yael Street
When Micha Gross first moved to Tel Aviv 18 years ago from his native Switzerland, he didn't even know that there was such a thing as the "White City."

Today, however, he and his wife, Shlomit, as directors of the Bauhaus Center, know quite a lot about the historic architecture on the shores of the Mediterranean -- the largest such collection of white buildings in the Bauhaus style in the world.

"We are very proud of our White City," says Gross, who for the past 11 years has conducted tours of the Tel Aviv neighborhoods containing Bauhaus buildings. -- Jeffrey Heyman, Israel21c


To read more, click here.

Uncertain Future

Photographs by Suzanne Rozdeba
The Holocaust museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau is charged with preserving the memory of a horrific past. Conservators struggle with the right way to maintain artifacts that never should have existed. -- Suzanne Rozdeba, Tablet

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Coming to a Theater near You… Jerusalem in 3D

IMAX extravaganza with bird's eye views of the capital city to be screened for next 5-10 years on 35 screens around world.

Jerusalem is a city that likes to think of itself as the center of the world and as larger than life. Starting in 2013, it will be larger than life – and 3D – at movie theaters in 35 countries.

Swooping over the Old City, with bird’s eye views in eyepopping 3D projected onto a giant screen, JERUSALEM: IMAX 3D is not your typical documentary about Israel’s ancient capital.  -- Melanie Lidman, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Op. Ed: Women Should Celebrate Suffrage By Voting

Women got the vote 91 years ago this week, but too many of us are still not exercising this most precious right. Single women, in particular, don’t vote in the same numbers as their married sisters, yet are in greater need of government policies and programs that will ensure them a brighter future. Indeed, in 2010, the “marriage gap” -- the difference in voter participation and voter behavior between married women and unmarried women -- was 30 points. These differences have gone largely unmeasured by the major electoral polling companies, which typically don’t include a marital status question in their surveys.

Those of us who support a women’s agenda must work harder to make sure that women recognize that elections – and their votes – matter immensely. The 2012 election will be an important one for women. The candidates we elect for local, state, and national office will determine how we address our nation’s most pressing challenges – and those decisions will disproportionately impact women. Here’s what I mean:
Challenge number one: creating jobs. -- Nancy K. Kaufman, NY Jewish Week

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Israeli Circumcision Skills Saving Zulu Men

Dr. Inon Shenkar of the Jerusalem AIDS Project and Operation Abraham
with Zulu King Goodwill Zwelethini in South Africa.
An ancient Jewish religious rite turns out to be a critical weapon in the war against the spread of the HIV virus in South Africa.

While San Francisco politicians debate the necessity of the male foreskin removal rite, citing human rights concerns, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelethini of KwaZulu-Natal nods his head. The tribal leader of KwaZulu-Natal, a province of 10 million people in South Africa, recently rescinded a 200-year-old ban on the age-old practice of male circumcision, still conducted in many regions in Africa, after seeing the evidence on the spread of AIDS.

Some estimates suggest than more than half of all HIV infections could be stopped if men are circumcised. Very conservative estimates are one in 10.

"Circumcision is one of the interventions that reduce the risk of transmission," says Maureen Malowany, a medical historian grounded in evidence-based medicine. The Canadian-Israeli woman has started volunteering for the Jerusalem AIDS Project (JAIP), and since March, as the NGO's country coordinator for South Africa, has traveled there twice to help train Zulu medical personnel in the practice of male medical circumcision. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Pioneer Women

Rachel Calof.
Collage: Tablet Magazine; Calof: Jewish Women's Archive; stagecoach: Library of Congress.
There are many stereotypes of Jewish women, and mail-order bride isn’t one of them. But in the 19th century, some left Eastern Europe for the American frontier, where they married men they’d never met. -- Anna Solomon, Tablet

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Chocolate War Gets Messy in Australia

Giving it back ...
Logan City councillor Hajnal Black yells at those demonstrating against Max Brenner yesterday.
Photo: Michelle Smith
People brave enough to venture out into the wet at Brisbane's South Bank yesterday found themselves caught in the crossfire of very abusive protesters.

What started out as a protest against chocolate store Max Brenner turned into a heated face-off with those who turned out to support the company.
Pitted against each other outside the chocolate shop, the two opposing groups screamed at each other for 45 minutes before police moved one of the groups on.

The aim of the protesters, made up of the Socialist Alternative and the Justice for Palestine groups, was to highlight the support of Max Brenner's parent company, the Strauss Group, for the Israeli military and its sale of provisions to it.

Chanting "Max Brenner, come off it; there's blood in your chocolate", the group held up placards accusing Max Brenner of supporting apartheid.

The counter-protesters, made up of students, Israeli community members and politicians, screamed at their opponents: "Go home, Nazis!" -- Ellen Lutton, Sidney (Australia) Morning Herald

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Curses: The Torah and Children's Book

The Torah and the recent hit children’s book Go the F**k to Sleep both stress the importance of being aware not only of kind words but of damning ones as well.
An illustration by Ricardo Cortés from Go the F**k to Sleep.
Akashic Books

Earlier this month, a young author from Brooklyn named Adam Mansbach appeared on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show. Mansbach had written several well-received novels, including The End of the Jews, an intriguing and spirited account of two Jewish writers, an old literary lion and his grandson, who battle each other for material and inspiration. But he wasn’t on New York public radio to talk about Jews or novels; he was there to discuss his latest work, the picture book Go the F**k to Sleep.

Few literary efforts in recent memory have received the sort of instant, uproarious attention as Mansbach’s tome, referred to knowingly online as GTFTS. The book began as a Facebook joke, hit the top spot on Amazon.com before its actual release, and became an immediate best-seller, complete with readings by Werner Herzog and Samuel L. Jackson and a film version in development. This is a stellar achievement for any book, but much more so for an illustrated tale for adults revolving around one four-letter word and one exasperating concept, a toddler refusing to succumb to slumber.

But not everyone is happy.-- Liel Leibovitz, Tablet


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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gilad Shalit: 5 Years in Terrorist Captivity


On June 25, 2006, IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists within Israeli territory, near the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Shalit is one of seven Israeli soldiers missing in action.

August 28, 2011 is Gilad Shalit's 25th birthday - his sixth birthday in Hamas captivity.

June 25, 2011 marked the fifth anniversary of the abduction of Gilad Shalit by Hamas terrorists from within Israeli territory, near the Kerem Shalom crossing. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Dramatic Progress in In-Vitro Detection Spurs New Push for Ashkenazi Jews to Do Genetic Disease Test

Adele Schneider, M.D., of the Victor Center,
counseling a couple.
(Victor Center)
Susan and Brad Stillman grew concerned following their son Benjamin’s birth in September 1998. He was fussy and congested, had difficulty breastfeeding and didn’t take to the bottle.

The parents brought him to the pediatrician and then to a hospital pediatric care unit near their home in Rockville, Md., a suburb of Washington.

Benjamin soon was diagnosed with Riley-Day syndrome, now called familial dysautonomia, a genetic disease of the autonomic nervous system that disproportionately strikes Ashkenazi Jews.

When the Stillmans got married in 1995, they were tested for Tay-Sachs disease, the only genetic disease prevalent among Ashkenazim for which screening was available, and neither parent was found to be a carrier or to have the disease.

“Ignorance was bliss,” Susan Stillman said. “We had no idea we were carriers for FD.” --  Hillel Kuttler, JTA

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Ryan Braun Takes Cover

Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun (above), nicknamed "The Hebrew Hammer," is having a banner season. The man who last year told USA Today that he is “extremely proud to be a role model for young Jewish kids" is helping the Brewers get to their first division title in almost 30 years. Batting .328 with 25 homeruns and 85 RBI, Braun made this week’s cover of Sports Illustrated along with two teammates. -- JTA Weekender

The Software that Could Prevent Crib Death

A simple invention by two Israeli college students could provide a new weapon against the little-understood phenomenon of SIDS. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c
Anava Feinsilver and Tomer Apel developed BabyBeat as their senior project.
Photo courtesy of Ben-Gurion University
To read more, click here.

Jerusalem's Walls Restored, Idiosyncracies and All

Israeli experts are nearing completion of an ambitious restoration of the five-century-old walls of Jerusalem, the holy city's dominant architectural feature and a unique record of its eventful and troubled history.

The $5 million undertaking, which began in 2007, is set to be complete by the end of this year. The first restoration of the walls in nearly a century, it has required decisions about which of the walls' many idiosyncrasies — the falcon nests, for example, the hundreds of machine-gun bullets, the botched restorations of years past — are flaws to be corrected, and which have earned a place in Jerusalem's story and are thus worth preserving.

Jerusalem's stone walls are 2-½ miles (4 kilometers) in length. They include seven gates. -- Matti Friedman, Associated Press

n this photo taken Aug. 18, 2011, a tourist passes by the site where workers are restoring parts of the wall at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. Israeli experts are nearing completion of an ambitious restoration of the five-century-old walls of Jerusalem, the holy city's dominant architectural feature and a unique record of its eventful and troubled history. The four-year, $5 million undertaking, begun in 2007, is set to be complete by the end of the year. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
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The Cossacks Are on the Rise Again. For Real.

Festival “Kozatskі zvityagi" in October, 2010,
was billed as reviving "the ancient Ukrainian tradition";..
."the Cossacks come together in the martial arts."
Photo from News in Ukraine
Time magazine has one of the scariest news reports I’ve read in a while. It seems the Cossacks are on the rise again. No, not figuratively — literally. The fanatically religious pan-Slavic paramilitary tribe that terrorized your great-grandmother’s great-grandmother in the old country is recruiting, operating youth training camps, running for office (successfully) in Russia and Ukraine and agitating for a reunification of Belarus and Ukraine with Mother Russia, all with the active encouragement of Russia’s prime minister, ex-president and permanent strongman, Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainian government is fighting them, because they threaten Ukrainian independence, but Russia and Belarus are both encouraging them, Time’s Simon Shuster (that’s his name, not his publisher) reports. He visited a training camp for teenage boys in Crimea and interviewed their leader, General Viktor Vodolatsky, a former plumber and a member of parliament for the United Russia party, which is chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Their latest graduates — some of them Cossacks by birth, others newly initiated — took in their commander’s speech on Aug. 10 with all the requisite decorum. “The unification of the Slavic state is the guarantee of our future,” Vodolatsky told them. “And the children who stand beneath these Cossack banners are ideologically pure, physically strong and secure in their faith. Now you must serve as an example to the youth in whatever town you come from.” 
-- J.J. Goldberg, Forward
To read more, click here.