Friday, November 25, 2011

ACTION ALERT: Tell President Obama: No Limits on Access to Birth Control

Alert from National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)

President Obama is currently being pressured by anti-family planning leaders to expand a refusal clause that would undermine women’s access to key health benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 2010 health care law. If the refusal clause is expanded to include religiously affiliated universities, elementary and secondary schools, social service agencies, hospital systems, and other organizations, millions of women will be denied access to preventive care, threatening their health, equality, economic security, and religious liberty. The ACA included a provision guaranteeing insurance coverage for women-centered preventive care without out-of-pocket costs. In August, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that contraception must be included in all new insurance plans under this provision. Unfortunately, HHS also proposed a refusal clause that would allow certain religious institutions to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage to their employees.

To send a email to President Obama and Secretary Kathless Sebelius, click here.

Protesters condemn JCC in Manhattan

More than 100 people protested outside the JCC in Manhattan recently, while the JCC was holding the ‘Other Israel Film Festival.’

Jewish community leaders and others at the rally condemned the JCC in Manhattan for partnering with organizations that support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The demonstration was organized by, Americans for a Safe Israel, and the Israel advocacy organization, ZStreet.

Erica Werber, senior director for public relations for the JCC in Manhattan, disputed their claim, stating that “the JCC in Manhattan does not support BDS and we do not partner with organizations that support BDS. We stand with Israel against delegitimization and support open and respectful dialogue within our community.”

However, among those organizations listed by the JCC in Manhattan as partners in the film festival are the New Israel Fund, B’Tselem, and Partners for Progressive Israel. -- Larry and Tova Domnitch, Toronot Jewish Tribune.

To read more, click here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

A day of thanks for all our blessings.
Will return on Monday with a full issue of Ba'Olam.

A cancer vaccine you can live with

Julian Levy, CEO of Vaxil BioTherapeutics

Vaxil's groundbreaking therapeutic vaccine, developed in Israel, could keep about 90 percent of cancers from coming back. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Buy-cott'" fights fire with fire

Dafne Reich and Adriana Schaked, owners of Schakolad Chocolate Factory in Davie, display a chocolate Star of David made for Buy Israel Week. (Staff photo/Eric Bojanowski / November 13, 2011)
Whether it's wine, chocolate, grocery goods or Judaic items, products made in Israel could soon be flying off the shelves as "Buy Israel Week" prepares to kick into gear.

Buy Israel Week, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, is a nationwide effort to spur consumers to purchase products made in Israel to counter the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The campaign is the brainchild of professional marketer Frances Zelazny who, distressed by the boycott and divestment movement, devised Buy Israel Week as a way to "fight fire with fire." -- Shani McManus Florida Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

Tel Aviv museum launches $60 million capital campaign

The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Beit Hatfutsot, is launching a $60 million capital campaign in New York to raise money for renovations and new exhibits and programming.

The “New Vision” campaign seeks to continue the transition of  Beit Hatfutsot from the Museum of the Diaspora, which was founded in 1978 with donations from New Yorkers, into the Museum of the Jewish People. According to a statement, the revamped museum will contain an expanded archive, school and interactive exhibits.

In 2005 the Knesset passed the Beit Hatfutsot Law that redefined Beit Hatfutsot as “the national center for Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.”

The Nadav Foundation and the Israeli government have allocated nearly $27 million to fund the changes. A fundraising gala will be held Dec. 1 in New York. -- JTA

Tel Aviv Fashion Week

Designs by Shenkar students have been scooped up by the likes of Donna Karan, Roberto Cavalli and Diane von Furstenberg.
The three-day Tel Aviv Fashion Week attracts leading designers, journalists and fashion experts worldwide. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Young Jewish innovators to gather in Buenos Aires

Some 50 young Jewish social innovators from 16 countries will gather in Buenos Aires to discuss innovative ways to connect to Jewish life.

The social entrepreneurs and Jewish innovators will participate in the ROI Community's Ibero-American Gathering Nov. 23-27. The ROI Community is an international network of 600 social entrepreneurs and Jewish innovators in 40 countries who are creating innovative ways to connect to Jewish life.

“We need a ‘Jewish Spring’ that transforms the Jewish world into a more inclusive and welcoming home for anyone who wants to be Jewish,” Lynn Schusterman, who created the ROI Community in 2005 as a partnership with Taglit-Birthright Israel, told JTA. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Extinct’ frog rediscovered in Israel

Kevin J. Caley / Biodiversity Consortium 1997
A frog species thought to be extinct in northern Israel reportedly has been seen for the first time in 50 years.

The Hula Painted Frog was rediscovered Tuesday. The frog was believed to have gone extinct following the draining of the Hula Valley in the 1950s in an effort to stop malaria.

According to Dana Milstein, an ecologist with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the frog was rare even before it was declared extinct. She credits rehydration of the area for the frog sighting.

The Hebrew name for the frog is "agulashon shehor-gahon," which refers to its black belly and round tongue. -- JTA
Also see Wired UK by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In the West Bank, a contested heritage

The Palestinian Authority is planning on nominating the shrine, along with the old city of Hebron, to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The Israeli government has designated the compound a national heritage site.
Photo by Samuel Sockol/The Washington Post
At a museum just off the desert road from Jerusalem to Jericho in the West Bank, the artifacts of a contested heritage are on display.

Colorful mosaic floors from Byzantine-era churches and synagogues, inscriptions, Roman capitals and stone burial boxes — all dug up by Israeli archaeologists in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — are shown at the site, developed by Israel’s West Bank military administration with the Israeli antiquities authority.

An Israeli flag flies over the museum and adjacent ruins of ancient pilgrim hostels, asserting Israel’s control of the site, traditionally identified as the location of the inn mentioned in the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan.

But now, after more than 40 years of Israeli occupation, Palestinians are making a bid for greater control of the West Bank’s historical and archaeological landmarks, which they are claiming as their own.

Last month’s vote by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to admit Palestine as a member has boosted efforts by Palestinian officials to gain the agency’s World Heritage List designation for sites in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It has also raised expectations of greater international support for preservation efforts in the areas Palestinians seek for a future state. -- Joel Greenberg, Washington Post

To read more, click here.

Son of a Hamas founder defends Israel during Toronto presentation

Mosab Hassan Yousef
Disowned by his father and despised by many Arabs as a traitor and apostate, Palestinian Arab Mosab Hassan Yousef was hailed as a beacon of integrity and truth by Canadian Zionists last week.

A former spy for the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, and a convert to Christianity who abandoned his Muslim faith, he is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founder of Hamas, the militantly anti-Israel Islamic Resistance Movement.

Delivering an impassioned lecture at the Ernest Manson Lubavitch Centre co-sponsored by Chabad Flamingo and B’nai Brith Canada, Yousef told a full house about his bumpy journey from Hamas activist to defender of Israel and admirer of the Jewish people.

Now living in exile in California, Yousef, in colloquial English, described himself as a person “dedicated to saving lives” and a “new believer in Christ” who came “to love his enemy” and “know the truth.” -- Sheldon Kirshner, Canadian Jewish News

To read more, click here.

End of an Era: Red Cross quits Holocaust victims search

International Committee of the Red Cross
to transform into research and education center
photo: AP

International relief organizations says number of tracing requests has declined as number of survivors, their direct relatives has dwindled in recent years. -- Associated Press via Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

Once a Realm of Stars, a Temple Is Now Bereft of Them, and Their Money

Rabbi Jill Hausman in the Actors' Temple, which was once the spiritual home of Jack Benny, Sophie Tucker
and Milton Berle. James Estrin/The New York Times
Here is how the Actors’ Temple went from being an Orthodox synagogue to a Conservative one — at least for a time.

Sophie Tucker, the self-proclaimed “Last of the Red Hot Mamas” who was famous for her vaudeville renditions of “Some of These Days,” and “My Yiddishe Momme,” was sitting in the women’s balcony during the High Holy Days and spotted a wealthy woman she was acquainted with enter the men’s section below to pray with her husband, causing something of a stir. The formidable Tucker rose, marched downstairs and joined her, making an emphatic statement that the rabbi was loath to challenge. This was Sophie Tucker, after all. From then on, more women and men sat together in the Conservative custom, or so goes the story as told by the congregation’s current rabbi, who happens to be a woman, Jill Hausman. -- Joseph Berger, NY Times

To read more, click here.

Israeli, Arab researchers unite over shared ecosystem

Photo by Reuters
Graduate students from Israel, Lebanon and the PA unite for marine research project off the coast of Italy. -- Sharon Udasin, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

She’s been workin’ on the railroad

Courtesy of TAMMTS
Artist’s rendering of light rail on Jerusalem Street in Jaffa.

An American-born woman is steering Tel Aviv toward its first surface and subway light rail system, the biggest infrastructure project in Israel's history. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Eldridge Street Shul Recalls Founding: 125 Years Later, Reenacting a Cornerstone of Jewish Life

Recreating History: A klezmer band plays
in the ornate sanctuary of
the Eldridge Street Synagogue, which marked
the 125th anniversary of its founding.
Nate Lavey
Outside the Eldridge Street Synagogue, it was a regular Sunday on New York’s Lower East Side, as residents and tourists picked their way past stands piled high with Chinese greens and five-and-dime stores bearing signs written in Mandarin.

Inside the historic sanctuary, visitors were transported back 125 years to the days when the signs were all in Yiddish and a group of neighbors came together to found the first great American house of worship built by Eastern European Jews. -- Gianna Palmer, Forward

To read more, click here.

To watch accompanying video, click here.
125 Years on Eldridge Street

Creating sunnier days for Israel’s desert dwellers

Arava Power is working with Southern Israel's Bedouin community to capture a share of the burgeoning solar power market. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c
Arava Power’s Yosef Abramowitz, center, with Bedouins at the future Tarabin solar field in southern Israel
To read more, click here.

Opinion: Empowered women

It takes a little effort to find the exhibition “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” at the Skirball Cultural Center. You have to bypass three alluring gift shops and a bunch of other special exhibitions as well as close your ears to the children laughing in “Noah’s Ark” to get to a quiet gallery at the back of the museum, where a display of photos and wall texts will punch you in the stomach, then fill you with hope.

The show was inspired by and adapted from the best-selling book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009) by New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof and former Times reporter Sheryl WuDunn, his wife. The show tells horrific stories of women dying in childbirth in Africa because their religion doesn’t permit them to be seen by doctors, even if the physicians are female and husbands are present. Of women who survive pregnancies only to have their bodies left severely damaged because of inadequate care. Of young girls trafficked as sex slaves. But the show also tells stories of women who, with just a few dollars, started businesses that now employ whole villages. Of women who found their way to hospitals for their own care and then became health-care workers helping others.

It is an exhibition where you are asked to face despair head on, then see how it can be turned upside down when women are empowered. -- Susan Freudenheim, Jewish Journal

Click here to read more.

Israel takes gender fight to buses, billboards

Jewish women sit on a bus outside Rachel's Tomb in the West Bank town of Bethlehem as men standing next to the controversial Israeli barrier are reflected in the bus window on Nov. 8. Photo by Reuters/Baz Ratner
The women turned heads as they got on Jerusalem’s number 56 bus.

Startled ultra-Orthodox Jewish men looked away as the group mounted a challenge to growing gender segregation in the holy city by boarding the public vehicle from the front door and sitting in its first rows.

As the male passengers averted their gaze, adhering to a traditional edict to avoid sexual temptation, a religious woman at the back of the bus shouted at the protesters: “Deal with the drugs, the crime and prostitution in your own communities first.” -- Maayan Lubell, Reuters via Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shoah Foundation gathers stories of Rwandan genocide

Crispin Brooks, left,
curator of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s
visual history archive,
demonstrates the use of the archive’s indexing progra
for the four visiting Rwandan fellows —
Paul Rukesha, second from left,
Diogene Mwizerwa, Yves Kamuronsi
and Martin Niwenshuti.
Photo by Jonah Lowenfeld

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute is home to more than 52,000 videotaped testimonies about the Holocaust, and people searching the archive’s index enter a single keyword into their queries more than any other: “Auschwitz.”

“Auschwitz seems to be the one that people go to most,” said Crispin Brooks, curator of the foundation’s visual history archive.

Likewise, people tend to focus on dark topics when accessing the archive of videotaped testimonies at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center (KGMC) in Rwanda’s capital, which is dedicated to preserving and disseminating memories of that country’s genocide. Among the center’s holdings is an archive of recordings of survivors, perpetrators, rescuers and others telling of their experiences during the 100-day period in 1994 when 800,000 members of Rwanda’s Tutsi population were massacred by Hutu militias.  --  Jonah Lowenfeld, JewishJournal

To read more, click here.

Sarah Silverman, Rabbi Sister Riff on “Jewy-ness”

Comedian, alum sister strike lively note

Sarah Silverman and her sister Susan Silverman transformed the School of Management auditorium into a giant, congenial living room last Tuesday evening, when they spoke about their “Jewy-ness.” The rambling discussion between comedian Sarah Silverman and Rabbi Susan Silverman (CAS’85) was laced with humanity, wisdom, mutual affection, and a gentle helping of mischief.  -- Susan Seligson, BU Today

Click here to read more.

Watch this video on YouTube

Jews reeling in wake of Penn State scandal

Former Penn State University football defensive coordinator
Jerry Sandusky, center, is led away by police
after being arrested in a sex crimes investigation,
in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Nov. 5.
Photo by REUTERS/Pennsylvania State Attorney General's Office/Handout

Rabbi David Ostrich, who leads the lone congregation in State College, Pa., couldn’t bring himself to sermonize last Shabbat on the scandal that’s on everyone’s mind.

For one thing, it’s all too raw and too much remains unknown, said the religious leader of Congregation Brit Shalom, a Reform synagogue.

Then there’s the fact that one of his congregants happens to be Graham Spanier, whose 16-year tenure at the helm of Penn State University came to an unceremonious end last week when the university trustees fired him.

“The revelation of these terrible secrets has shattered the sensibilities of this community,” said Ostrich, who serves on the board of Penn State Hillel, which also counted Spanier as an ardent supporter. “Many people are walking around in shock, like someone kicked them in their stomachs.” -- Bryan Schwartzman, The Jewish Exponent via JewishJournal

To read more, click here.

Family Thanksgiving --Jewish Style

Turkey anchors all Thanksgivings, but families flavor the meal with preparation and sides—like my mother’s marshmallow-topped sweet-potato tsimmes -- Joan Nathan, Tablet

To read more, click here.

ADL dismayed by low hate crimes reporting

The Anti-Defamation League expressed dismay at the low number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crimes.

The FBI, in publishing its annual Hate Crimes accounting, said that of 14,977 participating agencies out of about 18,000 nationwide, only 1,949 -- or 13 percent -- reported hate crimes.

"It is necessary for all agencies to participate in this vital report, and to accurately and effectively communicate the reality of hate crimes in their jurisdiction," the ADL said in a statement Monday.

ADL officials expressed skepticism that the vast majority of agencies simply did not encounter hate crimes, particularly because 80 cities with populations of more than 100,000 either reported zero or did not report at all.

The report documented 6,628 hate crimes in 2010, a slight increase from 6,604 in 2009. -- JTA