Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Have A Happy & Joyous Simchat Torah

Happy Simchat Torah

Carr helped get ancient Bible out of Damascus

Judy Feld Carr with 700-year-old Bible

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Toronto’s Judy Feld Carr – who rescued Syrian Jewry – told a packed audience at Israel’s national library about how she got a 700-year-old Bible out of Damascus and eventually brought it to Jerusalem. -- By Viva Sarah Press, Canadian Jewish News

To read more, click here.

Supply of kosher meat threatened in Holland

Depending on the decisions of the Dutch parliament, this year’s High Holidays may be the last in which the Dutch Jewish community was able to consume kosher meat that was ritually slaughtered in the Netherlands. And a public debate about circumcision is next.

What’s going on? In a country known for its freedom and tolerance, freedom of religion seems to be increasingly in jeopardy. -- Renee Sanders, Canadian Jewish News.

To read more, click here.

Celebrities gave Kabbalah Centre cachet, and spurred its growth

Madonna, in photo at left, holding a book at an event in Tel Aviv, enrolled at the Los Angeles center in 1996 at Sandra Bernhard's suggestion. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, right, were married by a Kabbalah Centre teacher.
(Kabbalah Centre / Associated Press)
The heightened profile of the L.A.-based Kabbalah Centre popularizing previously secret Jewish mysticism came with a continued emphasis on soliciting donations, sometimes in ways some found offensive. Then the IRS stepped in. -- By Harriet Ryan and Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times

To read more, click here.

High Court: Take down gender-separation barrier in Jerusalem

Photo by Marc Israel Sellem

Justice Beinisch says minority groups cannot take over public spaces, says there should be no segregation in Mea Shearim. -- Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Despite the silly nose, clowning is no joke

Israel hosts an international congress to show other countries a new model for medical clowning as a recognized hospital therapy.

Clowns on the job at Tel Hashomer Medical Center (Photo courtesy of the Magi Foundation)
In Israel, cheering up hospital patients isn't just about clipping on a huge polka-dot tie and a red foam nose. Medical clowning is serious business, with a college degree available to those who want to take on this paramedical profession as part of a hospital's therapeutic team.

A gathering of Israel's medical clowns (Photo courtesy of the Magi Foundation)

On October 23-26, Israeli physicians will share scientific research on the therapeutic benefits of clowning with about 250 participants from other countries. The congress, to take place at the Ma'aleh Hachamisha Kibbutz convention center near Jerusalem, is sponsored by Dream Doctors, the primary beneficiary program of the Magi Foundation.  -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Finally free, Gilad Shalit returns to Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is embraced by his father, Noam, at Israel's Tel Nef Air Force base shortly after Shalit's release from more than five years of captivity1. (GPO)
Gilad Shalit was reunited with his family shortly after crossing into Israel from Egypt after his release earlier in the day by his captors in Gaza, ending five years and four months in captivity. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Also click here to read account from Jerusalem Post

The step-by-step guide to Gilad's return home today

Yoel Shalit and Yaara Winkler,
brother of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and his girlfriend,
arrive to their home in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel, on Wednesday.
Photo by: AP

Timetable of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's transfer has been finalized; process begins on Tuesday morning, expected to be completed by the afternoon. -- Haaretz

To read morem, click here.

Etrog Man

California citrus farmer John Kirkpatrick, a Presbyterian well-versed in Jewish agricultural law, is the only large-scale grower of etrogs in the U.S.

John Kirkpatrick and his wife, Shirley, on their farm in 2010. (Susie Wyshak/Flickr)
Growing etrogs is a difficult business. Too much sun and the yellow skin of the citrus fruit will burn; too little sun and the flowers won’t blossom. There’s infestation to worry about—red citrus mites are particularly fond of them. And then there are the religious prohibitions; blemishes render the fruit, a citron in English, useless for Sukkot, so if a branch or leaf pierces the skin of the etrog, you’re in trouble.

But John Kirkpatrick, a third-generation citrus farmer in California’s San Joaquin Valley, has overcome these obstacles and more. He’s the only large-scale grower of etrogs in the United States.-- Miriam Krule, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Israeli TV Stations Agree To Respect Shalit's Privacy

Israel’s top television news outlets signed an agreement on Monday that would regulate the ethical aspects of media coverage concerning Tuesday’s expected return of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.

The agreement was signed after the news departments of Channel 2 and Channel 10 television held negotiations for over 24 hours.

Under the terms of the signed agreement, reporters and photographers from both stations will keep their distance from the Shalit home in Mitzpeh Hila and avoid taking invasive photographs. -- Forward

To read more, click here.

Huddled Masses

As the Statue of Liberty turns 125, talking to statue-bound tourists about Emma Lazarus, the poet whose sonnet is inscribed in its base

Visitors on their way to the Statue of Liberty. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Lazarus’ poem, “The New Colossus,” was first read at the statue’s dedication, held 125 years ago this month. To mark the anniversary, Nextbook Press has produced an interactive version of the famous text, annotated by the Princeton English professor Esther Schor, who wrote the biography Emma Lazarus for the Nextbook Press Jewish Encounters series. In 2006, Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry went to the Statue of Liberty ferry terminal to talk to visitors about Lazarus and solicit from them a group reading of her poem. -- Vox Tablet

Click here to hear. [Running time: 4:38.]

Jerusalem Rail Brings City Closer Together

Boys Will Be Boys
Jews and Arabs alike crowd
onto the new Jerusalem light rail train.
Photo: Ahmad Gharabli
 Come and wait here, boys,” exclaimed an Arab man excitedly to a trio of American yeshiva bochers who study in Jerusalem. “It’s free and it’s fast — give it a try.”

Jerusalem may suffer from bitter divisions, but where trains, engines and new technology are concerned, boys will be boys. And so, the Arab man and the yeshiva bochers boarded Jerusalem’s light railway together, sharing excitement for the line, which opened in August and is offering free rides until further notice. -- Nathan Jeffay, Forward

To read more, click here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Israeli clinical study offers hope to ALS patients

The bone marrow lab at Hadassah University Medical Center.
Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90
The famous physicist Stephen Hawking has lived with the progressive neuro-muscular disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease) for decades. But ordinarily, the disease usually causes death within five years, as patients gradually lose the ability to move, swallow and breathe.

Since there is no known cure for ALS, it's little wonder that patients from across the globe are clamoring to be included in a groundbreaking clinical study started recently at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Medical Center. Researchers are looking at the ability of enhanced autologous stem cells (taken from the patients' own bone marrow) to stop the progression of ALS and perhaps even improve the condition of sufferers.

However, there are only 24 slots available in the year-long study, says Prof. Dimitrios Karussis, the renowned stem-cell transplant expert leading the research.
-- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Women's Suffrage in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has not been immune to the demands for change sweeping the Arab world. On September 25, 2011, King Abdullah announced that within the next few years women would be appointed to the Consultative Council and be allowed to vote and run for the municipal councils. But is this a significant advancement for Saudi women's rights, or just another instance of the kingdom’s "two steps forward, one step back" reform policy?...

But while it seems that nearly no Saudis seriously entertain the notion of replacing the monarchy with democracy, demands for change appear regularly and have intensified as a result of the demonstrations in the region that began in late 2010. These demands have tended to focus on greater participation in decision making and on women’s rights, as for many modern Saudis, the current status of women in the kingdom is an embarrassment.
On September 25, 2011, King Abdullah announced that women would eventually be appointed to the Consultative Council (Majlis al-Shura) and, beginning in 2015, would be allowed to vote and run for municipal councils. But is this really a step forward for women in Saudi Arabia? -- Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum, BESA Center for Strategic Studies

To read more, click here.

New app teaches about Zionism

A new mobile app provides a database of information about Zionism and Israel.

The free ‘Zionation’ app for iPhone and Android devices, developed by the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Diaspora Activities, includes a Zionist calendar that marks and provides background information on significant dates in the history of Zionism and the state of Israel. – JTA via Toronto Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

U.S. Prisoner Unsung Player in Shalit Affair

(Fatakat/Forecast Highs)
Gilad Shalit, 25, is a Jewish former Israeli soldier who was captured by Hamas more than five years ago and stored away somewhere in Gaza. Ilan Grapel, 27, is a Jewish former Israeli soldier now attending Emory Law School who a few months ago was arrested by Egypt under dubious charges of being an Israeli spy and stored away in a jail in Cairo; to this day, no indictment has been served against him. Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced to the world that, thanks to Egypt’s mediation, Hamas has agreed to release Shalit in exchange for the liberation of more than 1,000 Palestinians, many of them accused terrorists, currently languishing in Israeli jails. Much more quietly, it has been reported (scroll down to the second-to-last paragraph) that Grapel, too, is being freed as part of the deal. So Israel is getting more than it bargained for … unless it is getting exactly what it bargained for.

There is something fishy going on here. And it involves an American citizen.

Marc Tracy, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Mea Shearim to separate genders during Sukkot

The haredi Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim will require gender separation on city streets during Sukkot, apparently ignoring an Israeli Supreme Court order.

Mea Shearim officials apparently are ignoring an order by Israel's Supreme Court that ordered the neighborhood to halt the segregation when a similar attempt was made last year, including cloth partitions on certain streets. Women's rights and other watchdog groups say they will fight against the segregation, Haaretz reported.

According to the ban, women will be forbidden to walk on certain city streets during the intermediate days of Sukkot, when thousands are expected to attend special ceremonies and programs, Haaretz wrote.

Large billboards posted throughout Mea Shearim announced the ban during the ceremonies. The signs asked women to use alternative streets in order "to help prevent mingling," according to the newspaper. -- JTA

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Analysis: Schalit and the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring is behind Israel's change of heart on the Gilad Schalit deal, which has not changed dramatically since 2006. -- Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Opinion: Why do human rights groups ignore Palestinians’ war of words?

Two dominant forces have defined Arab nations in modern times: autocratic leadership that has denied basic freedoms to its own people, and a deeply ingrained and institutionalized anti-Semitism, centered on a hatred of Israel. Freedom is a growing possibility in light of the Arab Spring, but for this freedom to lead to peace, progress must be made in ending hate speech and incitement to genocide. This is particularly true in Gaza, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran. Yet at this moment of possibility, the United Nations is fueling discord and anti-Semitism.

The United Nations is doing this by granting legitimacy to Hamas, a terrorist Islamic group, and the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas. -- Robert L. Bernstein, Washington Post

To read more, click here.

Egyptians defy government ban on Lulav sales

Thousands of palm fronds have been smuggled from Egypt and have made their way to Israel and the United States, veteran palm frond traders said Monday, despite the Egyptian ban on their export ahead of the upcoming Sukkot holiday.

One of the traders told Haaretz the palm fronds, which are known as lulavs in Hebrew and are used ceremonially in Sukkot, were transferred from Egypt via Jordan to Israel and Jewish communities in New York and other big cities in the U.S.
The lulav traders utilized long-existing ties with senior officials in Egypt, and succeeded to covertly purchase a large amount of lulavs. According to one of the traders in New York, a senior official in Cairo received $100,000 to aid in smuggling the palm fronds outside of Egypt.

The trader said that Egyptian farmers desired to sell lulavs to Israel, especially in light of the economic crisis that has recently fallen upon the country. According to him, there was no logical reason to bar the export of palm fronds to Israel other than anti-Israel sentiments. -- YourJewishNews

Calif. apartment complex won’t put up with putting up sukkah

A dispute over a sukkah in the common area of an apartment complex in Palo Alto, Calif., could mean that Christmas trees will be nixed, too.
 The Sheridan Apartments affordable housing complex in Palo Alto told Abraham Berman, 81, that he could not erect a homemade sukkah, as he has done for the past 11 years, the Palo Alto Weekly reported.

Berman told the publication that he enjoyed erecting the sukkah to honor his faith and to allow his neighbors to share in the experience.

Berman told The Palo Alto Housing Corp. officials that he should be able to temporarily erect the sukkah, just as his neighbors put up Christmas trees in common areas during the holiday season. The officials reportedly said that they would no longer allow the Christmas trees as well.

According to the apartment rules, "No household or other property may be stored in the patio area, balcony, deck, landing, or anywhere outside the unit."

Berman cannot put the sukkah on his private porch because it is covered by a roof.  -- JTA