Friday, January 13, 2012

Women's League's Marilyn Wind thanked for her service to the nation

Marilyn Wind is all smiles as she is congratulated by Rabbi Jonathan Maltzman
after being honored with the Sherut L'Am-Service to the Nation award.
"I think that by giving to others you get back much more than you give," said Marilyn Wind, the founding president of Kol Shalom in Rockville.

That simple philosophy has resulted in "friends that I developed from the synagogue and not just in North America. I have friends all over the world. It just has enhanced my life in a way that has made it just so wonderful," said the Bethesda woman. Besides friendship, Wind's efforts also resulted in her being recognized by Masorti Olami, the World Council of Conservative Synagogues, with the Sherut L'Am-Service to the Nation award in recognition of her contribution to Conservative Judaism in Maryland and around the world.

"She is the quintessential volunteer," noted Rabbi Jonathan Maltzman of Kol Shalom. "She is involved in so many different Jewish organizations." -- Suzanne Pollak, Washington Jewish Week.

To read the full article, click here.

New Words Coined To Exclude Women; Hebrew Term Was Barely Known Until Ultra-Orthodox Push

Modesty Rules: Ultra-Orthodox men in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh
objected to schoolgirls who did not adhere
to their strict code of modesty.
The words used to describe such behavior
were barely used until recently. Getty Images
Hadarat nashim, translatable as “the exclusion of women,” is a Hebrew phrase with which few Israelis would have been familiar several months ago. Now there are even fewer, if any, who are unfamiliar with it. After first coming to the public’s attention late last summer over the issue of excusing Orthodox soldiers in the Israeli army from attending ceremonies and events at which female singers performed, it has subsequently been used repeatedly in connection with such things as separate sidewalks for women in some ultra-Orthodox sections of Jerusalem, gender- segregated seating on bus lines serving mainly Haredi passengers and, most recently, angry confrontations in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, where groups of Haredim have been protesting the existence of a co-educational religious school in their neighborhood. Hadarat nashim is now a household expression. -- Philologos, Forward

To read more, click here.

Using Modern Tools to Reconstruct Ancient Life

Lint in samples from an ancient earthen floor in Ashkelon, Israel,
revealed that clay cylinders found there were loom weights.
To the naked eye, the white, powdery substance appeared to be plaster. That’s what the professional and volunteer archaeologists at a dig in Israel concluded.

To be certain, though, they subjected the chalky dust to spectroscopy and a petrographic microscope, only to discover that it was not a manufactured substance, but decayed plant life and fecal matter.

What that meant to the archaeologists from the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon — a former seaport south of Tel Aviv that was home to successive civilizations over thousands of years — was that structures thought to have been inhabited by people were more likely occupied by animals. That revelation upended their view of what they were excavating.

“For archaeologists,” said the expedition’s co-director, Daniel M. Master, a professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, “it was the difference between a palace and a stable.”

This marriage of social and natural sciences is an emerging discipline that has been called microarchaeology by Steve Weiner, director of the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science in the Weizmann Institute in Israel, which is collaborating with the expedition. -- Sam Roberts, NY Times

To read more, click here.

Dutch Daily: “The Chosen People Have to be Perfect”

Last week the Dutch Christian daily ‘Trouw’ reached a new low when it published a vicious article about prenatal care in Israel entitled: “The chosen people have to be perfect”.

The writer, Ilse van Heusden, gave birth to a healthy baby boy while temporarily living in Israel.

She succeeded in portraying the prenatal care in Israel as a government instigated ‘military operation’ aimed at the production of babies as perfect as possible. -- Yochanan Visser of Missing Peace, via HonestReporting

To read more, click here.

In Budapest, corruption probe amplifies calls for reform of communal institutions

Gusztav Zoltay, left, the director of the Federation of
Hungarian Jewish Communities, and Peter Feldmajer,
its president, at the founding of the new Hungarian Jewish Congress.
Photo by Szabolcs Panyi
A whistle-blowing rabbi and a reform-minded lay leader are at the forefront of new efforts to shake up Hungary’s entrenched Jewish establishment.

Late last year, Rabbi Zoltan Radnoti alerted authorities to complaints that reportedly include embezzlement and tax fraud in the operation of Budapest’s main Jewish cemetery on Kozma Street. This led to a police investigation and an unprecedented raid on Dec. 1 on both the cemetery and the Jewish community offices that house the burial society, as well as a public airing of the scandal in the mainstream media. -- Ruth Ellen Gruber, JTA

To read more, click here.

IDF Chief: Israel ready to absorb some Syria refugees once Assad falls

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the Golan Heights.
Photo by: Defense Ministry

Benny Gantz says expects Bashar Assad's regime to collapse in near future and issue a blow to the Alawite community in Syria; Gantz: Assad is not like Gadhafi, he won't fight till last bullet. -- Jonathan Lis, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

D.C. mayor to settle rabbi’s lawsuit over special elections

Washington Mayor Vincent Gray has settled a lawsuit brought against the District of Columbia by a local rabbi over the date of special elections. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Official Bet Shemesh Women Flashmob

Official Bet Shemesh Women Flashmob

On Friday, Jan 6th, 2012, a group of 250 women from Bet Shemesh decided to raise their voices against the exclusion of women from the public domain by holding a mass public dance in the city square. The women, residents of the city from all ages and sectors, religious, traditional and secular, gathered together in a flashmob dance, in the city square and started dancing towards a change.

Producer: Renana Levine
Director of Photography: Josh Gold

Editor's not: This YouTube video has "gone viral" and been sent millions of times across the Internet.

To view video, click on image below.

Supreme Court: Discrimination laws do not protect certain employees of religious groups

The Supreme Court ruled for the first time Wednesday that federal discrimination laws do not protect employees of religious organizations who perform “ministerial” duties.

The court ruled unanimously that the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion dictates the organizations “be free to choose those who will guide it on its way.” -- Robert Barnes, Washington Post

To read more, click here.

Doctors ordered to pull out of gender-separated conference

The Israel Medical Association has barred its member physicians from participating in an infertility conference geared for haredi Orthodox men and women that did not invite female speakers.

The annual Innovations in Gynecology and Halacha conference of the Puah Institute for Medicine and Halacha is scheduled for Wednesday. Some 1,000 men and women are expected to attend the conference, which is geared to the Modern Orthodox and haredi Orthodox communities. Male and female participants are separated by dividers in the conference hall.

The conference has been held for the last 12 years, but this marks the first time that the absence of female speakers has become an issue. Women do not serve as speakers, according to the organization, in order to insure the participation of the haredi Orthodox, who are generally wary of medical advancements in fertility treatments.

In response to the criticism, the Institute announced Monday that it would hold an event for women only in the summer, and will make it an annual event tied to the existing conference. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

At Jesuit School, a Pregame Assist From a Cantor

If you’re hoping for a talisman to improve your team’s chances of victory, why not make it a man with a talis?

That thought, at any rate, crossed the minds of officials at Fordham University, the Jesuit redoubt in the Bronx. Their men’s basketball team caught a hot hand during the Christmas break when a cantor named Daniel Pincus began singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before home games. -- Clyde Haberman, NY Times

To read more, click here.

The Mughrabi Bridge to Nowhere

From the southern end of the plaza in front of Jerusalem's Western Wall, a temporary wooden bridge ascends eastward to the Mughrabi Gate, the only one of the 11 gates into the Temple Mount area that is accessible to non-Muslims.  Millions of tourists and pilgrims use the bridge and the gate every year.  In early December, Jerusalem's municipal engineer warned, yet again, that the wooden Mughrabi Bridge posed an imminent danger of fire and collapse.  Municipal authorities ordered it closed.  In a normal city this would have been government doing what it should do—protecting the public.

But this is Jerusalem, where every action begets an unequal reaction and no deed, good or bad, goes unpunished. -- Alex Joffe, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read more, click here.

Israel moves to outlaw use of Nazi symbols

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy
wearing a Nazi symbol on Dec. 31, 2011.
Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israel’s parliament gave initial approval on Wednesday to laws to curb public use of Nazi symbols after ultra-Orthodox protesters caused outrage by calling police Nazis and wearing concentration camp garb.

Four bills swiftly passed one of five rounds of voting needed to become law, even though a spectrum of critics denounced them as a violation of free speech. -- Allyn Fisher-Ilan, Reuters via JewishJournal

To read more, click here.

A discussion about the status of women in Israel

Discussion about the status of women in Israel has been featured heavily in the news lately. What is the biblical and rabbinic view of the status of women in Jewish society? What do the various movements in Judaism say about this? -- Jewish Values Online

To read commentary on this issue by
Orthodox answer by Rabbi David Wolkenfeld
Conservative answer by Rabbi Paul Steinberg
Reform answer by Rabbi Cy Stanway,

click here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Peres praises Masorti movement, condemns extremists

 Israeli President Shimon Peres praised the Masorti movement's contributions to Israel and condemned extremists in Israel. --JTA

Masorti Executive Director Yizhar Hess, right,
welcoming Israeli President Shimon Peres
at the Masorti gala dinner, Jan. 5, 2012.
Photo courtesy of Masorti movement
To read more, click here.

Kids fluent in the language of hate

Palestinian schoolchildren are not being prepared for peace, says the author.
If there were an Oscar given for doublespeak, the Palestinian political leadership would win it, hands down. Speaking in English, French or any other non-Islamic language, pols from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas down loudly proclaim the need for two states to peacefully share the Holy Land — one Palestinian and one Israeli. They then go on to condemn violence and call for an end to anything that promotes hatred between “good neighbors.”

The problem is when they preach in Arabic to their own public — most notably its school-age population — the same Palestinian leaders switch to a very different message, one that loudly glorifies terrorists, demonizes Israelis and Jews and totally rejects Israel’s right to exist. -- Richard Chesnoff, NY Daily News

To read more, click here.

Poster Child: the new face of Jewish women’s rights

Naama Margolese—an 8-year-old Israeli girl taunted by ultra-Orthodox men who think she is immodest—is the new face of Jewish women’s rights.
Naama Margolese.
Illustration Abigail Miller/Tablet Magazine,based on a photo by Daniella Cheslow.
Daniella Cheslow, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Judaism on Steroids

Ryan Braun, the reigning MVP of baseball's National League, is having a rough offseason. On December 12, ESPN reported that Braun had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug (PED) after a league-mandated drug test revealed elevated levels of testosterone in his system. That Ryan Braun is Jewish is probably irrelevant—but it certainly makes the story a whole lot more interesting….

But before we condemn the young star, it is important to remember that Braun is not the first of his kind to use questionable supplements to gain a competitive advantage. In fact, PEDs have a long history—both in baseball and in Judaism. -- Micah Stein, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read more, click here.

N.Y. synagogue to hold rally to locate stolen Torah

A synagogue in New York State is holding a rally to help locate a stolen Torah.

The rally will be held at the Landfield Avenue Synagogue in Monticello on Sunday, the day after a handwritten sefer Torah and $200 in cash were found to be missing following a break-in.

Rabbi Benzion Chanowitz told that the rally will be “an expression of the community’s outrage that people’s property is broken into and their possessions stolen.”

A decade ago, the synagogue held a yearlong fundraising campaign to raise money for the purchase of the Torah. It then took a scribe in Israel a year to repair the scroll. -- JTA

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Obama to name Lew, an Orthodox Jew, to top White House slot

President Obama reportedly will name Jack Lew to be his chief of staff.

Lew, an Orthodox Jew, will replace William Daley, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.

Lew is currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget, a Cabinet-level position and a post he also filled during the Clinton administration.

He was previously Obama's deputy secretary of state.

Daley is leaving after just over a year on the job; he replaced Rahm Emanuel, who left the White House to run successfully for Chicago's mayor.
Lew, like Emanuel, has close Jewish community ties.

There had been speculation in the organized Jewish community about whether Obama would fill a top spot with someone close to the Jewish community after the departure last month of Dennis Ross, who had been Obama's top Iran policy adviser. -- JTA

15 Growing Israeli Startups To Watch In 2012

The Israeli startup scene is only getting stronger and stronger. After taking a look at many of the up and coming Israeli startups, here are the ones I found most promising. -- Ben Lang, EpicLaunch via Business Insider

To read more, click here.

Kosher hot dogs score in debut at Kansas U. hoops

Spectators at a University of Kansas men's basketball game relished the chance to buy kosher hot dogs, selling out the stand in its debut.

The local Chabad-Lubavitch Center for Jewish Student Life, in conjunction with concessioner Centerplate and local businessman Jim Badzin, opened the kosher hot dog stand at the Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 29, according to The stand will be open until halftime, according to the website.

Chabad says it  the first kosher concession at a major college sports venue.

Hundreds of Jewish students and alumni from around Kansas, the Midwest and elsewhere attend the popular Jayhawks games, according to Chabad House director Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel. Nearly 10 percent of KU students identify as Jewish. -- JTA

Opinion: Why Anti-Semitism Is Moving Toward the Mainstream

Why Anti-Semitism Is Moving Toward the Mainstream -- Alan M. Dershowitz, Stonegate Institute

To read the article, click here.

E-mail reveals anti-Semitism at US think tank

Photo by: Thinkstock/Imagebank
Group considered close to Obama administration concedes bias against Israel in e-mail -- Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lately, His 'Happy Days' Are on the River

A talk with Henry Winkler about Jewish perseverence, his new memoir (about fly-fishing?) and life after The Fonz.
After "Happy Days" ended, Henry Winkler said
he was like "a ship with no wind in its sails.

He tried out stage names like Chester Flame and Peter Avalanche at Yale Drama School, but when he got the chance to star in TV and movies Henry Winkler stuck with the one his German refugee parents gave him. -- Adam Dickter, New York Jewish Week

To read more, click here.

Despite threats, majority of Israelis feel high level of personal security

Israel ranks fourth among Western countries in terms of citizens' sense of personal security, according to new survey • Only 45% of Israelis report violence to police • Between 2007 and 2011, violent crime has decreased nationwide. -- Itsik Saban, Israel Hayom

To read more, click here.

Israel's winter wonderland

Israelis take to the slopes at Mount Hermon.
Photo by Yaakov Naumi/Flash90
The Mount Hermon ski resort spawned Israelis' love of winter sports. Its slopes quickly fill with skiers and snowboarders -- once it snows. -- Daniel Ben-Tal, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Native Son & Counterinsurgency

French military operation against the Felleghas in Kabylia, Algeria, 1955.
Michel Desjardins/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
A Tunisia-born Jew and French officer who fought the Berbers in Algeria pioneered the counterinsurgency warfare still used in Iraq and Afghanistan. -- Ann Marlowe, Tablet

To read more, click here.

HU: Use tobacco to fight malaria

Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists have come up with a novel technology for manufacturing an anti-malaria drug in tobacco.

Professor Alexander Vainstein -- from the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the HU-- and his graduate student Moran Farhi discovered a method that allows for the production of artemisinin - the herb used in cancer and malaria drugs -- in a heterologous plant system, such as tobacco. -- Viva Sarah Press, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Druze businessman behind the biggest kids’ store in the Mideast

My Baby is set up as an “airport” arranged in “terminals,”
reflecting Kanan’s wish to make it “a meeting place for the whole world.”
Jess Kanan and his brother own My Baby, a mega-store in the Israeli village of Yarka. Jewish and Arab parents drive for hours to find bargains. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

The actually Jewish-controlled media tries to make its mark

Steven I. Weiss interview with Republican primary candidate Newt Gingrich
on The Jewish Channel stirred a media buzz
and some criticism from GOP rivals
over Gingrich's remarks, Dec. 9, 2011.
Photo by The Jewish Channel
It is a strange irony: Jews have been successful in the television business -- but Jewish TV, not so much.

It’s not for lack of trying. Right now, no fewer than three Jewish-focused national cable channels are trying to carve out a viable niche within the already small niche for Jewish TV.

It’s a road others have taken in the past, only to reach a dead end.

Jay Sanderson, who served for 21 years as CEO of the Jewish Television Network, knows better than most. -- Dan Klein, JTA

To read more, click here.

Health Ministry delaying delivery of new restrictions on at-home births

Photo by Archive

Instead, the ministry will now hold consultations with health professionals, including a home birth midwives' organization. -- Dan Even, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Opinion: Judaism's walking billboards

David Suissa
It never occurred to me that I’d have to visit the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail to get a deeper understanding of the Charedi crisis in Israel. I call it a crisis because, in my mind, anything that makes the Jewish religion look really bad is a crisis. If you look like a religious Jew, and you spit on an Orthodox girl because her dress code doesn’t meet your standard of modesty, and the incident is caught on Israeli television and goes viral on YouTube, then you are slandering Judaism and it’s a crisis.

So, here’s my message to religious Jews who publicly and brazenly humiliate women and spit in the face of the Jewish state that feeds them: Don’t slander my religion.

What I witnessed at the county jail on the last night of Chanukah, however, was the opposite of slander. I was there with my 12-year-old son and a small group of local Jews and rabbis — some with long beards and black hats — to light the Chanukah candles with law-enforcement officials, and to bring some holiday comfort to Jewish inmates. -- David Suissa, Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

Women may deliver eulogies, ministry tells Israeli burial societies

Women may deliver eulogies at funerals, Israel's Religious Services Ministry told burial societies in the country.

The directive released Tuesday comes after the ministry adopted a halachic ruling issued more than a year ago by Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger. The chief Sephardic rabbi, Shlomo Amar, also is expected to rule on the issue, according to reports.

Israel's Supreme Court in 2006 ruled that women should be allowed to deliver eulogies and that the burial societies, or chevra kadisha, should not impose gender segregation in the cemetery. The ruling was in response to an incident in Petach Tikvah in which a woman was stopped from eulogizing her father. The court's ruling was not backed up by the Religious Services Ministry until now.

The interministerial committee for the prevention of women's exclusion at its first meeting two weeks ago decided that the ministry should rule to allow women to eulogize their dead and join the procession to the gravesite.

The ministry's directive "is an enormous victory for the moderate voices in Israel,” said Rabbi Seth Farber, director of ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center. “Each year we receive tens of complaints from women, both religious and secular, who were denied their right to express themselves at funerals in Israel. It is refreshing to see the religious establishment stand up for what is right and just, and not capitulate to the extremist forces within the ultra-Orthodox camp.”-- JTA