Friday, February 10, 2012

Hadassah Hit by Mismanagement Claims

Questions Raised: Allegations of mishandling funds have been raised against
Hadassah national president Marcie Natan (left) and immediate past president Nancy Falchuk (right).
Hadassah, the international women’s Zionist organization, is entering its centennial year amid signs of increasing dysfunction.

On February 7, the group confirmed that it is investigating allegations that two leading members of the governing board’s executive committee misused charitable funds.

The allegations were made in a January 12 letter to Hadassah board members from Larry Blum, Hadassah’s chief operating officer and most senior staff member. Blum himself was placed on administrative leave last November over separate allegations that he had misused his corporate credit card.

The brewing scandal comes as relations deteriorate between the organization’s shrinking staff and its powerful membership, and amid claims by former employees that the volunteers have little regard for the professional staff. Blum’s charges raise additional questions about the volunteer leaders’ guidance of the billion-dollar charity -- Josh Nathan-Kazis, Forward

To read more, click here.

Minn. rabbinical group opposes ban on same-sex marriages

Members of the Minnesota Rabbinical Association have signed a statement opposing a state ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriages.

The group represents rabbis from 15 congregations in the state from the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements. No Orthodox rabbis signed the statement, which was adopted last month.

The statement said the rabbis were unanimous in opposing the amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot recognizing marriage only as a union between a man and a woman.

In their statement, the rabbis said the amendment "seeks to continue the practice of leaving individual families within the LGBT community vulnerable and unprotected by the law. To honor an individual is to fight against discrimination in society for any reason, including race, religion, natural origin, gender, age or sexual orientation.

"Throughout history the Jewish community has faced discrimination, and therefore we will not stand by while others are targeted," the rabbis said. "The MRA cannot condone using the constitution to deny civil rights. As rabbis, we embrace the diversity of God’s creation."

The association "urges all Minnesotans of conscience and faith" to vote against the initiative, the statement said.

Some 42,000 Jews live in Minnesota, according to the Star-Tribune. -- JTA

Kissinger, others honored by Israeli president

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was among the recipients of Israel's first President's Prize.

The new initiative, spearheaded by Israeli President Shimon Peres, honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to Israeli society and the country's global image.

Joining Kissinger in receiving the award Thursday at the President's Residence in Jerusalem were Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra director Zubin Mehta; Judy Feld Carr, who masterminded the rescue of thousands of Jews from Syrian prisons; attorney Uri Slonim for his charitable and volunteer work, including representing the Israeli government in negotiations to release captive Israeli soldiers; Talmudic scholar Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz; and The Rashi Foundation, which assists underprivileged youth.

"I am proud to begin a tradition in which I, as the President of Israel, express appreciation and esteem for individuals and organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to the State of Israel and to all of humanity," Peres said at the ceremony. Later he told the recipients, "You are shining example for us all." -- JTA

Israeli workers launch massive strike

Israeli workers launched an open-ended general strike.

The strike launched Wednesday [Feb. 8] by the Histadrut, Israel's main labor union, closed down the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, stopped trains across the country and caused major delays at Ben Gurion Airport. The crippling strike also affected hospitals, government offices and banks.

Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini and Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz met until late Tuesday in order to avoid the strike. Talks between the union and the government failed to reach agreement on including contract workers in labor agreements.

"A strike will not solve the problem of contract workers," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. "It is possible to improve the conditions of contract workers without striking the economy and disrupting citizens' lives. There is no magic solution to the employment problems that have been created here over decades; it is possible to resolve the issue through dialogue."

Ben Gurion Airport was closed from 6 a.m. until noon under the Israel Labor Court's conditions for allowing the strike to go forward. Most airlines rearranged their schedules to accommodate the closing times. -- JTA

Napolitano to Jewish leaders: No imminent threat of attack

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and top U.S. security officials told Jewish community leaders there is no imminent threat of an attack on Jewish targets in the United States.

"Officials on the call said government and security agencies are closely monitoring intelligence information amid rising Mideast tensions, but confirmed that there are no immediate threats directed at a specific target in the U.S. at this time," said a statement by the Jewish Federations of North America, which co-hosted the call with DHS and the Secure Community Network, the group that partners with JFNA to consult with Jewish communities on security.

Napolitano and top officials of the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the White House spoke for an hour and "stressed that there is currently no indication of any such threat, and urged the Jewish community to continue to engage in normal activity," the JFNA release said. -- Ron Kampeas, JTA

To read more, click here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Major Mainstream Religious Leaders Support White House on Contraceptive Coverage In Health Care Reform

February 8, 2012, Washington, DC – Today, twenty-three major mainstream religious leaders released a statement supporting the January 20, 2012 announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services that contraceptive services must be covered by most insurance policies without deductibles or co-pays, and that only purely sectarian organizations are exempt from this requirement.

Catholics for Choice; the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Concerned Clergy for Choice; Disciples Justice Action Network; Episcopal Divinity School; Episcopal Women’s Caucus; Hadassah; the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Jewish Women International; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Muslims for Progressive Values; the National Council of Jewish Women; Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board; the Rabbinical Assembly; the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; the Religious Institute; Society for Humanistic Judaism; The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Union Theological Seminary; Unitarian Universalist Association; United Church of Christ; and Women’s League for Conservative Judaism represent millions of religious leaders and people of faith across the country.

Together, the leaders of these Christian, Jewish and Muslim national organizations affirmed:

“We stand with President Obama and Secretary Sebelius in their decision to reaffirm the importance of contraceptive services as essential preventive care for women under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and to assure access under the law to American women, regardless of religious affiliation. We respect individuals’ moral agency to make decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health without governmental interference or legal restrictions. We do not believe that specific religious doctrine belongs in health care reform – as we value our nation’s commitment to church-state separation. We believe that women and men have the right to decide whether or not to apply the principles of their faith to family planning decisions, and to do so they must have access to services. The Administration was correct in requiring institutions that do not have purely sectarian goals to offer comprehensive preventive health care. Our leaders have the responsibility to safeguard individual religious liberty and to help improve the health of women, their children, and families. Hospitals and universities across the religious spectrum have an obligation to assure that individuals’ conscience and decisions are respected and that their students and employees have access to this basic health care service. We invite other religious leaders to speak out with us for universal coverage of contraception.”

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Rita L. Wertlieb, President; Sarrae G. Crane,
Executive Director
Catholics for Choice, Jon O'Brien, President
Central Conference of American Rabbis, Rabbi Jonathan Stein, President
Concerned Clergy for Choice, Rabbi Dennis Ross, Director
Disciples Justice Action Network, Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston, Director
Episcopal Divinity School, The Very Reverend Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, President
Episcopal Women's Caucus, Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton, Convener
Hadassah, Marcie Natan, National President
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Robert Barkin, Interim Executive Vice President
Jewish Women International, Lori Weinstein, Executive Director
Methodist Federation for Social Action, Jill Warren, Executive Director
Muslims for Progressive Values, Ani Zonneveld, President
National Council of Jewish Women, Nancy Kaufman, CEO
Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board, Rev. Jane Emma Newall, Chair
Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Rev. Steve Clapp, Chair
Religious Institute, Rev. Dr. Debra W. Haffner, Executive Director
Society for Humanistic Judaism, M. Bonnie Cousens, Executive Director
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO
Union Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President
Unitarian Universalist Association, Rev. Peter Morales, President
United Church of Christ, Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President

Real Race in Cancer Is Finding Its Cause

A decision by the nation’s leading breast cancer advocacy group, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, to largely cut off financing for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood set off howls of outrage last week. Once again, it seemed, political gamesmanship was jeopardizing women’s health.

The widespread anger forced Komen to reverse its decision, and it has certainly reinvigorated the women’s health movement. But the furor misses an important fact: Women have been led to believe that screening is the best prevention.

In reality, we still do not know what causes breast cancer, which means we really do not know how to prevent it, either. That has pushed us to focus on looking for cancers that are already there, a practice long based on the assumption that all cancers were the same, grew at a similar rate and were visible in the breast for a period of time before spreading. It made sense: If you could find cancers earlier, you could save lives. -- Susan Love, M.D., NY Times

To read more, click here.

Orthodox Union has found solution to Orthodoxy’s problems: Houston

The Robert M. Beren Academy in Houston
is open to kids 18 months old and all the way through high school.
Photo courtesy of Robert M. Beren Academy
With day school tuition fees on the rise, New York housing costs among the highest in the nation and the job market still tough, the Orthodox Union has a solution for Orthodox Jews under pressure: Move to Houston.

In a first-of-its-kind partnership for the organization, the OU is working with some prominent Modern Orthodox Houstonians to promote America’s fourth-largest city as a more affordable, pleasant and viable alternative to life in the dense Orthodox Jewish communities of the New York-New Jersey area.

It’s not just that Houston has a booming job market, less expensive housing and better weather than New York, the Houston boosters say, but the city has all the key ingredients necessary for Modern Orthodox Jewish living: day schools, Orthodox synagogues, eruv enclosures, kosher eateries and mikvah ritual baths. -- Uriel Heilman, JTA

To read more, click here.

Arab town, both Israeli and Palestinian, divided by shopping

Bartaa, straddling the Green Line, has brought together Palestinians and Israelis in a de facto economic free zone, but with some unable to cash in, the village is still split.

The market in Bartaa, where Israelis and Palestinians
can buy anything from pets to building materials.
Photo by: Eyal Toueg
The Arab village of Bartaa, on the outskirts of Wadi Ara, lies halfway inside Israel proper and halfway over the Green Line. But the town is really remarkable for the economic boom it has undergone recently. And opinion over its transformation into a shopping mecca is, like most things in this town, divided.

Some see it as an inspiring story of coexistence, but to others, the market is a sign of how one side of the town is prospering while the other is falling behind.

Since the construction of the separation fence in 2003, a kind of unplanned free trade zone has developed in Bartaa.  -- Tali Heruti-Sover, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

A deaf Indonesian 12-year-old is not your typical bat mitzvah

Mei Lin Kallman celebrated her bat mitzvah on Saturday in a majority Muslim country with a Jewish community that numbers in the double digits. She commuted to another country for lessons and imported a rabbi from Israel to lead the service. She's also deaf. -- Jessica Leader, JTA

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Opinion: Create Tax for Jewish Education

Execs Make Six Figures, But Frontline Workers Struggle

Although the salary gap in the Jewish communal world is not as disparate as that between other workers and corporate CEOs or money managers, it remains substantial. Some of our teachers and social service workers — on the front lines of Jewish continuity and caring — receive poverty-level wages, while some executives receive salaries in excess of half a million dollars.

This compensation gap is particularly troublesome when we consider that some of our most valued Jewish professionals cannot afford to participate fully in the Jewish community and therefore are unable to provide their children with intensive, high-quality Jewish education. We cannot do much about salaries outside the Jewish world, but we can act to avoid such an imbalance in our own community. Here is my modest proposal to help mitigate this element of economic inequality in Jewish communal organizations while simultaneously promoting Jewish education. -- Leonard Saxe, Forward

Click here to read more.

Archaeological finds verify life at the time of Jonah

Excavations at Givat Yonah (Photo: Sa'ar Ganor
courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
The foundation of a large fortress situated there during the First Temple period was exposed in an excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority. -- Israel Antiquities Authority via Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Israeli researchers say more doctors should recommend marijuana to cancer patients

Medical marijuana leaves being sorted.
Photo by Dan Keinan
Most cancer patients currently being treated with medical marijuana are advised of the option only in the advanced stages of the illness, according to researchers. -- Dan Even, Haaretz

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Facing extreme weather, elderly in E. Europe getting extra help

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee activated its emergency response system in the wake of extreme winter weather in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The system provides additional care to tens of thousands of Jewish elderly, as well as young families. In addition to heating fuel, blankets, warm clothes, jackets and boots, the JDC has been called on to provide additional electric heaters and food to the homebound.

Some of the hardest-hit areas include the Balkans and Ukraine.

"We've been able to mobilize quickly and respond to this latest deep freeze because emergency protocols are inherent to our historic winter relief program," said said JDC CEO Steven Schwager. "For these Jews, many of whom have no one else to turn to, we are there to ensure an extra lifeline and much-needed sense of community at this time." -- JTA

Reb Nachman’s synagogue available for Uman pilgrims

Jewish pilgrims who come to Ukraine to visit the Uman grave of Reb Nachman of Bratslav may now use the building that once housed the rabbi's synagogue.

“The Hasidic religious community has full rights to use the building of the former synagogue in which Tzadik Nachman used as a prayer house,” said Serhiy Tulub, the head of the Cherkasy region’s administration, the Kyiv Post reported.

The building is located on a nearly 10-acre site of land in Uman that includes an instrument-making plant. The sale of the site was blocked recently by the Cherkasy region’s Economic Court following a lawsuit filed by the local culture department, according to the Kyiv Post.

Some 25,000 Jews from around the world flock to the central Ukrainian city each year to visit the grave of Reb Nachman, who  was born in the city of Medzhybizh in 1772 and died in 1810 in Uman. Since then, Uman has become a mecca for Bratslaver Chasidim, particularly on Rosh Hashanah. -- JTA

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Baptist Bishop Eddie Long has apologized for a church service in which he was wrapped in a Torah scroll and called a king.

Bishop Eddie Long has apologized for a ritual in which he was wrapped in a Jewish scriptural scroll.
Getty Images
Last week during a service at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., Ralph Messer, a Messianic Jew and self-described rabbi, ordered congregants to wrap Long in a Torah scroll and then lift him up on a chair bar mitzvah-style while he held the Torah scroll, which was identified as being rescued from Auschwitz. The church has 25,000 members, according to its website.

A video of the service has been viewed some 600,000 on YouTube.-- JTA

To read more, click here.

Also see, the Atlantic Journal Constitution by clicking here.

To view video, click here.

New Orthodox group puts Israeli women at its head

'Beit Hillel' hopes to counter creeping religious extremism.
Beit Hillel director Oshra Koren, left, with Pnina Neubirt.

A new national-religious rabbinical group that will include women in its leadership as equals is to be launched on Wednesday.

The group, to be known as Beit Hillel, already has 110 rabbis signed up, along with 30 women who are considered Torah scholars. It was founded by congregational rabbis in the central region, who say they represent the silent majority of the national-religious population that is frustrated and alarmed by creeping extremism and the deterioration of women's status in the sector. 

Beit Hillel is granting participating women equal voting rights and influence in the organization.

"We cannot remain silent anymore; we have to state our position clearly," said Oshra Koren, the director of the Raanana branch of Matan, an institute of advanced Torah study for women based in Jerusalem.

She and a group of 10 rabbis who lead Modern Orthodox congregations formulated the plan after receiving persistent calls from congregants to do something. -- Yair Ettinger, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Saudi Women, Shifting Gear, Sue for Right to Drive

Saudi women wait for their drivers outside a shopping mall
n Riyadh on September, 2011 a day after King Abdullah
granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
A court in Saudi Arabia agreed to hear the first lawsuits by Saudi women challenging the kingdom's de facto ban on women driving, a lawyer for one of the women said.

The legal push is a shift by activists after years of simply appealing to Saudi leaders for permission to drive and, more rarely, taking to the roads in small numbers to test enforcement.

Since mid-2011, the limited push to win women the right to drive has been one of the few fronts in a country largely bypassed by the Arab Spring activist movements of the past year.

The lawsuits, one of them by Manal al-Sharif, who founded small movement last year called Women2Drive, risk a backlash from the public and officials in the conservative kingdom.

But with no breakthroughs in a campaign for the right to drive begun by Saudi women during the first Gulf war in the early 1990s, it was time to change tactics, said Ms. Sharif, a 32-year-old Saudi computer consultant. -- Ellen Knickmeyer, Wall Steet Journal

Too read more, click here.

Boteach declares intent to run for Congress

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has sent a letter declaring his intent to run for Congress in New Jersey's newly formed 9th District.

Boteach sent the letter of intent to the offices of the Bergen County Republican Organization by the Jan. 31 deadline but has not decided definitively to run, the New Jersey Jewish Standard reported.

He would face the winner of the Democratic primary between U.S. Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell. Two other potential Republican candidates also have submitted letters of intent, according to the PolitickerNJ website.

Boteach told the Jewish Standard that one of the factors that will go into his decision of whether to run will be how much money he can raise for the race. He said he will make up his mind in the next two months.

He told the newspaper that he wants to "bring Jewish values into the political discourse."

Boteach has been working, unsuccessfully so far, to get the city of Englewood, N.J., to rezone his house as a synagogue.

He is a syndicated columnist and has written several books. The Jewish Standard said that if he becomes the declared candidate, it would discontinue his column until after the race. --  JTA

South Sudanese distressed by looming deportations

Government decision requires entire community to leave Israel by March 31, or face deportation.
Photo by Ben Hartman
Members of the South Sudanese community in Israel on Wednesday expressed anger and confusion at the government decision announced a day earlier, which will require the entire community to leave Israel by March 31, or face deportation. Ben Hartman Jerusalem Post

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Monday, February 6, 2012

TU B'SHVAT FEATURE: In Israel, composting and recycling programs in new ecology push

Laborers in Jerusalem collecting plastic containers
for recycling from a plastic recycling container.
Photo by Yossi Zamir
The still-new recycling center in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem is fairly quiet on a crisp winter afternoon. Several people drive in to drop off their recycling -- from old printers and batteries to aluminum pans, plastic containers and cardboard -- in bins clearly labeled for each type of material.

These people, however, are the outliers.

Most Jerusalemites don’t recycle at all. The city has no curbside recycling program and, as in the rest of Israel, recycling is not mandatory here.

“In the State of Israel, we’re used to just dumping our garbage,” Yakutiel Tzipori, a spokesperson for the Environment Ministry, told JTA. “We’re a developing country and everything else was more important, like security and defense; the environment just wasn’t at the top of the list. But now that’s changing.” -- Jessica Steinberg, JTA

To read more, click here.

Surprise Shot: A discovery, just in time for Black History Month

Guitarist and blues singer Josh White
at Café Society, Greenwich Village, New York, 1944.
Rollei Contact Strips
(©Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy International Center of Photography)
When you hear the name Roman Vishniac, it likely calls to mind the photographer’s iconic interwar images of Eastern Europe Jewry. Even recent discoveries in the Vishniac archive, reported by Tablet Magazine’s own Alana Newhouse, center entirely around Jewish life.

Imagine our surprise, then, when we discovered Roman Vishniac’s portraits of renowned blues singer and guitarist Josh White, and other legendary entertainers, performing at Café Society, New York’s first integrated nightclub, in Greenwich Village, in 1944. And just in time for the first day of Black History Month.

Café Society owner Barney Josephson, the son of Latvian Jewish immigrants, “wanted a club where blacks and whites worked together behind the footlights and sat together out in front,” later recalling that “there wasn’t, so far as I knew, a place like it in New York or in the country.” At a time when the famed Kit Kat Club did not allow-African Americans to enter, and even the Cotton Club in Harlem only permitted a few African-American celebrities to quietly occupy discreet seats in the back, Billie Holiday sang in Café Society’s opening show in 1938. In fact, Holiday gave her first public performance of “Strange Fruit” at Café Society, in 1939, with a backdrop of wall murals by some of the Village’s most celebrated (and mostly Jewish) artists. -- Maya Benton

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Zionism and the three-picture deal: Hollywood rediscovers the Jewish state

The first Women in Entertainment mission to Israel, in November 2011.
Front row: Federation’s Catherine Schneider, mission co-chair Nina Tassler, Israeli composer Gil Shohat.
Second row: Gail Berman, mission co-chair Nancy Josephson, Marcy Ross, Melanie Cook, Cheryl Snow,
Bess Wohl, Federation’s Lori Tessel.
Third row: Debbie Liebling, Sharon Hall, Suzan Bymel, Rabbi Sharon Brous.
Back row: Nancy Cotton, Amy Baer, Sarah Timberman, Marta Kauffman, Carolyn Bernstein, Robyn Broidy,
Jeanne Newman. Photo courtesy of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
At the Golden Globe Awards in January, producer Howard Gordon stepped up to the stage to accept the award for Best Television Series — Drama for co-creating the breakout Showtime hit “Homeland.” In a single season, the show has become a sensation, edging the pay-cable channel closer to its rival HBO in number of subscribers and garnering profuse media attention and acclaim.

Gordon has much to be grateful for. At the Globes, he thanked his cast, his agent and a handful of television executives — but absent from his speech was any mention of the show’s secret shining star, the incubator of its concept, and its original homeland: Israel. -- Danielle Berrin, Jewish Journal

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Education: Racism’s Antidote

Over the past weeks, protests have spread throughout Israel calling for a response to racism targeted at the country’s Ethiopian community. Sparked by a Channel 2 story on discrimination in Kiryat Malachi, citizens have taken to the streets to show their outrage at the status quo. Though the despicable slurs and actions that triggered these protests are blatant examples of these grievances, they conceal a deeper issue.

Beyond more overt examples, Ethiopian Israelis are often considered less desirable neighbors, and frequently have a harder time finding a job. They are perceived as a poor, underprivileged community and face the stigma of lacking the capability to contribute equally, even if this myth is belied by reality. While some of this is outright racism, the rest is symptomatic of a deeper and far more widespread prejudice – indirect or concealed racism.

This sentiment is dramatized even in circles that would never admit to harboring prejudice. Well intended statements about constructive activity such as “I volunteer with Ethiopians”, or “I donate to Ethiopians” – cast them on the other side of an imaginary, but very real fence. -- Yael Rosen, eJewish Philanthropy

To read more, click here.

L.A. Jewish foundation helping war vets

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles awarded some $200,000 in grants for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and financial literacy programs.

The grants announced Tuesday, to 11 Los Angeles community-based organizations, will help ease the transition of the veterans back into society and promote financial literacy for women, youth and immigrants.

Among the recipients are Adopt-A-College, a program of The Soldiers Project; Military Families Programs, operated by ZERO TO THREE; Listos (We're Ready), a program of Centro Latino for Literacy; California Council on Economic Education (CCEE), MoneyWise Teen; and New Directions, Inc., Operation Welcome Home.

"With tens of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans returning home, The Foundation believed it was vitally important to focus several of our General Community Grants on alleviating the difficulties so many of these dedicated soldiers face in reintegrating into society, including finding employment and re-establishing relationships with their spouses and children," Marvin I. Schotland, the foundation's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Another focal point, and one just as timely, is our support of financial literacy programs for homeless teens, immigrants and others who have been increasingly challenged during the economic downturn." -- JTA

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Skip the Ads, Watch Torah at Halftime: Yeshiva Produces Super Bowl Video on Spirituality in Sports

No Hype, Just Torah: Amid a flood of hype for the Super Bowl,
Yeshiva University has produced a halftime video focusing on spirituality in sports.
Getty images
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow thrust religion into the consciousness of football fans everywhere this year by famously taking a knee and bowing his head in prayer on the field. And while his prayers caused their fair share of controversy, not everyone thinks mixing football and religion is such a bad thing.

Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday on February 5, Yeshiva University has produced a 35-minute halftime show featuring three professors who share their thoughts on the spiritual side of sports. You could say it’s the Modern Orthodox take on Tebow’s evangelical Christian beliefs. 

The Y.U. Torah Halftime show is the brainchild of Moshe Isaacson, Y.U.’s director of interactive marketing. He said that the aha moment came two months ago, when someone told him that Tebow etches Bible verses into his under-eye paint during games. 
-- E.B. Solomont, Forward

Click here to read more.

Opinion: The Religious Cost of Rejecting Feminism’s Core Moral Claim

Jewish women sit on a bus in Bethlehem as men,
standing next to the controversial Israeli barrier,
are reflected in the bus window on Nov. 8, 2011.
Photo by Reuters/Baz Ratner
Rav Moshe Feinstein was never known as a feminist. But he both understood and accepted feminism’s core moral claim.

In a remarkable 1976 responsum he wrote bluntly about what he perceived to be the effort to extend the women’s liberation movement from the political and social spheres into the religious. -- Rav Yosef Kanefsky, Jewish Journal

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Diagnostic device for liver failure on FDA fast track

BreathID in action
The world's first non-invasive liver function diagnostic device can save lives and eliminate unnecessary surgery -- Desmond Bentley, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi to step down as Israel Project head

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the founder and president of The Israel Project, said she will leave the advocacy group by July 1.

In statements Wednesday, the 10-year-old group and Mizrahi said reorganization and management training helped set the stage for her departure. The Israel Project is seeking a CEO to replace her.

Mizrahi had announced in 2007 that she would step down for family reasons, but rescinded the decision within months after the board said it could not find an adequate replacement.

The Israel Project seeks to garner fairer and more positive coverage of Israel through non-confrontational outreach to journalists.

Since 2007, the group has expanded considerably and now employs 75 people worldwide, with outreach to Europe, Latin America and the Arab world as well as the United States.

Among its initiatives, The Israel Project has become well known for its TV ads on cable news networks during political conventions emphasizing Israeli peace efforts and projects.

The Israel Project statement said Mizrahi "plans to establish a communications consultancy focusing on advocating for the rights and needs of special needs children." She will retain an advisory role. -- JTA

Also see Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi to Step Down as CEO of The Israel Project on the Israel Project site.

Click here to read this story.

Germany Grants 10 Million Euros to Yad Vashem

Germany has signed off on a grant of 10 million euros over the next ten years to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle signed the agreement while visiting in Israel.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar represented Israel at the signing. “On behalf of the government of Israel, I express a deep appreciation to the German government for providing funding for this important purpose,” said Sa’ar. “This decision reflects the importance that the German government attaches to the subject of the Holocaust. The commemoration of the Holocaust is an endless task.” -- Jewish Press

Bethlehem: Once-thriving Christian community facing extinction Print E-mail

If the persecution of Bethlehem’s Christians isn’t stopped, the once-thriving community is in danger of being virtually eliminated, warns David Rubin, Israeli author, political analyst and terrorism expert.
For most of their history, Christians constituted approximately 80 per cent of Bethlehem’s population, but that changed dramatically after the Oslo Accords granted control over the region to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1995, and the community has subsequently shrunk to 15 per cent.

Rubin, former mayor of Shiloh, Israel, and president of the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, spoke to the Jewish Tribune by telephone from Shiloh.

“The Palestinian Authority was created from the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) as a quasi-governmental entity and given autonomy in Bethlehem and six other cities in Judea and Samaria” as a result of the Oslo Accords, Rubin said.

Since then, “Christians have been leaving in droves. The Christian population is the only population in the West Bank that is decreasing over time.”

That’s because under Sharia (Islamic) law, Rubin said, “non-Muslims don’t have the same rights that Muslims do and that’s where the persecution begins.” -- Joanne Hill  Toronoto Jewish Tribune.

To read more, click here.