Thursday, October 27, 2011


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

U.S. unveils Arlington memorial for Jewish military chaplains

Memorial in national cemetery near Washington D.C. commemorates 14 Rabbis who died in the line of duty

West Point Jewish Cadets choir singing "Eli" by Hannah Szenec it's not a trivial sight at the Arlington military cemetery in Virginia. The occasion was indeed unique – the dedication of the first memorial to commemorate 14 Jewish chaplains who have died while serving in the U.S. military since WWII.

The site was unveiled on Monday on the Chaplains Hill at the military cemetery, along with three other older memorials - for clergy members killed in WWI, for 134 Protestant chaplains, as well as one for 83 Catholic chaplains. -- Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

To view video, click on image below.

Security Cabinet approves Ilan Grapel prisoner swa

Israel to exchange 25 Egyptian prisoners for Israeli-US citizen detained in Cairo on espionage charges; US helps broker negotiations; inmates not believed to be security prisoners; Grapel expected home on Thursday. -- Herb Keinon

To read more, click here.

Israel to send quake aid to Turkey [UPDATE]

People pick through the rubble of their collapsed apartment
in Ercis, near the eastern Turkish city of Van on Oct. 25.
Photo by REUTERS/Osman Orsal
Israel said on Tuesday it was launching an airlift of supplies to help Turkey cope with a devastating earthquake, following a request from Ankara, with a first shipment of prefabricated homes destined for shipment on Wednesday.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Ankara had sought the aid via the Israeli embassy there, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered assistance in a telephone call to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan after the quake struck on Sunday.

The humanitarian step taken as more than 400 were reported dead in the disaster that struck southeastern Turkey, was seen as possibly easing diplomatic strains between the allies over the incident involving the Gaza-bound flotilla last year.

A spokesman for Israei Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that “tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon a first aircraft will fly from Israel to Turkey with several prefabricated homes,” suggesting the shipment would be followed by others. -- Reuters via Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

Cornell, Technion joining for top tech campus

Cornell University and The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology will partner to create a world-class applied science and engineering campus in New York City.

The NYC Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island is set to combine the strengths of both institutions.

Cornell President David Skorton and Technion President Peretz Lavie made the announcement Sunday. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Finding Jewish leadership in far-flung Iceland

Mike Levin, seen here holding the Icelandic Jewish community's paper Torah scroll, once baked his own matzah for a Passover seder because none was available in the country for purchase. (Alex Weisler)
For Mike Levin, a native of Chicago, it took a move to Iceland to turn him into a Jewish leader.

More than 25 years ago, Levin met an Icelandic woman while both were studying music at a university in Vienna. They married soon after, moved to Reykjavik and had two children. Levin runs a catering service in Iceland's capital and largest city. -- Alex Weisler, JTA

Click here to read more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Palestinian Envoy to Canada Is Asked to Leave Ottawa after Controversial Tweet

"The English subtitles on the video PA envoy tweeted include a passage where millions are called “to a war that raze the injustice and oppression and destroy the Jews.” 
Linda Sobeh Ali, the Palestinian envoy in Ottawa Twitter Photo
Just as the Palestinian Authority is going to the  U.N seeking a unilateral bid of statehood, and has been trying to project a  "moderate" image as being a responsible partner for a two state solution, the Palestinian  envoy to Canada  appears to have let the cat out of the bag.

The Palestinian envoy to Canada has been told this past week that  she’s not welcome in Ottawa after she tweeted a link to a video that the Canadian government  has found to be an offensive diatribe against Rhonda Spivak, Winnipeg Jewish Review

Click here to read more.

Israeli donation saves Bethlehem teen at Hadassah

Doctors performing surgery [illustrative]
Photo by: Thinkstock/Imagebank

The transplantation coordination center, Civil Administration and Hadassah’s organ transplant center worked around the clock to facilitate the kidney donation and sending the teen to Jerusalem. -- Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post

Click here to read more.

The UK Guardian’s Anti-Semitic Explanation For Shalit Deal

Over the years, we’ve covered some vicious and despicable pieces in the media, many of them published in The Guardian. But amongst the many commentaries and analyses of the Gilad Shalit prisoner deal, one by Deborah Orr in The Guardian’s print edition really plumbs the depths. -- Simon Plosker, HonestReporting

Click here to read more.

Turkey rejects earthquake aid offers, including Israel’s

Turkey has rejected all international aid, including an Israeli offer, in the wake of a strong earthquake that collapsed buildings and left hundreds dead.

Sunday's temblor, which measured 7.3 on the Richter scale and was centered in southeastern Turkey, was felt in central Tel Aviv, Haaretz reported. At least 239 people are confirmed dead, with many others reportedly trapped in collapsed buildings.

"The State of Israel shares in your sorrow following the earthquake that has claimed victims from among your people," Israeli President Shimon Peres said Sunday in a call to Turkish President Abdullah Gul....

Gul thanked Peres for the telephone call, the expression of condolences and the offer of assistance, according to the President's Office, and said that he hoped Turkish search and rescue could handle the emergency alone. Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey are now nearly nonexistent....

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has begun collecting funds for Turkish relief efforts and is working with local partners -- including Turkey's Jewish community -- to ensure that victims' immediate needs are addressed. JDC's past humanitarian interventions in Turkey have included the provision of aid and training after earthquakes in 2010 and 1999. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Bring On the Brisket, Boys

Top Chefs Put New Spin on Classic Jewish Comfort Food

Southern Comfort: Chefs slice up a Texas barbecued brisket at Hill Country in New York.
Hill Country
At the center of the Shabbat table, indifferent to the discord and dismay passing above and around it, sits a brisket. In its tepid bath of brown broth, intoxicated with Lipton Onion Soup Mix, shvitzing deckle fat into its ancient Corelle casserole pan, it sits, an unmoved mover, oblivious. And why shouldn’t it? Jewish dining, at least in the home, has always been where the action happens away from the plate. Fights, arguments, appreciations, red-faced recrimination, poignant memories and tsoris fill the air, in a constantly varied storm of thought and emotion. But the food is all too often the same — flat, bland and heavy, the same weird lump of brown meat the sole constant, whether it’s Passover, Friday night, a funeral reception, or the day you came home from college. -- Josh Ozersky, Forward

Click here to read more.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chinese Jews feel more at home in Israel

Descendants of Persian traders in Kaifeng, China, move to Israel with the help of a religious group and finally learn Jewish rules and traditions.

Jews from Keifeng, China, pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The group came straight from the airport.
(Michael Freund / October 16, 2011)
As a child growing up in Kaifeng in central China, Jin Jin was constantly reminded of her unusual heritage.

"We weren't supposed to eat pork, our graves were different from other people, and we had a mezuza on our door," said the 25-year-old, referring to the prayer scroll affixed to doorways of Jewish homes.

Her father told her of a faraway land called Israel that he said was her rightful home, she recalls. But "we didn't know anything about daily prayers or the weekly reading of the Torah."

Jin has since fulfilled her father's dream. On a hot summer day in Jerusalem, where she works as a tour guide for Chinese citizens visiting Israel, Jin, who now goes by the Hebrew name Yecholya, wore a long khaki skirt, indicative of her conservative religious views, and Teva-like sandals, the national footwear of Israel. -- Benjamin Haas, Los Angeles Times

To read more, click here.

Education Hinders Arab Economies

World Economic Forum report sees lack of skills, training hurting competitiveness

Across the Arab world – from the wealthiest oil economies to the resource-poor countries of North Africa and the Levant – education remains a key obstacle to making the region’s economies economically competitive, a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has found.

The WEF’s Arab World Competitiveness Report for 2011-2012 found in virtually every country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that educational institutions have failed to prepare citizens for jobs in modern, technology-oriented economies. The only MENA countries that scored high both in terms of quality of education and enrolment rates are Tunisia and Lebanon.--  David Rosenberg, Media Line

Click here to read more.

Special playgrounds in Israel

Friendship Park, Ra'anana (Photo courtesy Beit Issie Shapiro)
Just because you're in a wheelchair doesn't mean you have to miss out on Israel's many nature parks and picnic areas. You don't even have to forfeit a turn on the playground swing, thanks to a host of projects in recent years to make all these experiences available to people of all ages with impaired vision, hearing and mobility. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more and to view the accompanying videos, click here.

Pope called on to condemn bishop’s new anti-Semitic slur

A group of European rabbis has called on the pope to condemn the latest anti-Semitic remarks by a Holocaust-denying Catholic bishop.

The Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis slammed comments by Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson in which he allegedly blamed Jews for deicide. Williamson, a member of the radical Catholic Pius Brotherhood sect, reportedly made the comments in the latest issue of his newsletter, “The Eleison Comments." He has  been living in London. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Marijuana may lessen post-traumatic stress symptoms

If rat experiments can be replicated in humans, cannabis could be the next prescription drug for warding off post-traumatic stress disorder.
Cannabis doesn't erase the painful memory, but it does appear to lessen the after-effects in rats.
Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90
Rodents smoking weed?

Well, not quite. The rats in the lab of University of Haifa psychology researcher Dr. Irit Akirav did get an injection of cannabinoids, a manmade version of marijuana.

Akirav was able to determine that if the substance is given during a certain window of time after a traumatic event, it blocks the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-like symptoms. --  Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c

Click here to read more.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ancient stone part of NYC exhibit

Visitors may leave prayer notes inside stone, which will be sent to Western Wall
(archives)  Photo: AP

Three-ton stone from Jerusalem's Western Wall installed at Discovery Times Square as part of exhibition on Dead Sea Scrolls -- Associated Press via Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

Prayer welcoming home Gilad Shalit

We have waited years, too many years, for this day to arrive.  The decision to free so many with blood on their hands was not an easy one.  There can be no absolute right or wrong in such matters. But as religious Zionists we offer our prayers on this occasion which has mesmerized the nation. At the same time we share the pain of those famlies who are bereaved and in pain.

The following prayer is offered by the Masorti Movement in Israel and the Rabbinical Assembly. I hope all Jews who wish to pray will find the words helpful.

Our God and God of our ancestors, on this great and holy day, the season of our rejoicing, we raise our hearts to God in heaven in joy, happiness, trembling and thanksgiving for the great kindness that You have shown Gilad the son of Aviva and Noam Schalit that You have restored him safely from his place of capture to his family, his country and his people. May it be Your pleasure, God and God of our ancestors, that this day and in the future the redeemed prisoner may know joy in his heart, peace of mind and success in all his endeavors together with all his family and all Israel his brethren. Sovereign of the Universe, God of our exultation, may it be Your pleasure that this redemption not bring in its wake any harm or mishap to Your people, neither this year not in years to come; but in Your great compassion spread over us the sukkah of compassion, life and peace. May this be Your pleasure and let us respond Amen. -- Rabbi Andrew Sach, is the Director of the Masorti [Conservative] Movement's Rabbinical Assembly in Israel (the organization of Masorti/Conservative rabbis) and the Masorti Movement's Bureau of Religious Affairs.

Computers Piece Together Scattered Medieval Scrolls

A scroll fragment from the Cairo Genizah,
a trove of hundreds of years worth of records,
letters and lists found in a synagogue in Cairo.
Photo from American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU)

It's like something out of "The Da Vinci Code": Hundreds of thousands of fragments from medieval religious scrolls are scattered across the globe. How will scholars put them back together?

The answer, according to scientists at Tel Aviv University, is to use computer software based on facial recognition technology. But instead of recognizing faces, this software recognizes fragments thought to be part of the same work. Then, the program virtually "glues" the pieces back together. -- Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience

To read more, click here.

New York authorities threaten to shut down segregated bus run by Orthodox Jews

Ultra-Orthodox men riding a sex-segregated bus in Jerusalem.
Photo by: Emil Salman
The Private Transportation Corp has come under criticism following publicity about its practice of making women give up their seats in the front to promote ultra-Orthodox customs of gender separation.
By Reuters via Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Among the last Jews of Kolkata [Formerly Calcutta, India]

Kolkata’s three synagogues, including
Beth El, have Muslim caretakers.

I enter the Jewish community of Kolkata [formerly known as Calcutta, India], or what’s left of it, through Nahum’s Bakery, famous for its plum cakes. It’s a small shop inside a labyrinth of equally small shops known as New Market, near the British-era government houses of Dalhousie. The experience is a little like going through Customs. Mr. Hulda is the business associate of David Nahum, the bakery’s owner and leader of the community, who is past 90 now and in seclusion. -- Robert Hirschfield, Khabar, Indian-American Community Magazine

To read more, click here.