Friday, March 30, 2012

Youths reciting anti-Semitic slogans attack Jewish boy near Paris school

French police stand guard outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school
in Toulouse on Tuesday, March 20, 2012.
Photo by: Reuters

Boy, 12, beaten near city's Ozar Hatorah school, part of the same educational network of the Toulouse school which served as the scene of a deadly shooting attack last week. -- Haaretz

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French Lessons

That the perpetrator of the Toulouse killings turned out to be an Islamist came as a surprise to most of the media. Why were they convinced he was a neo-Nazi? -- Simon Gordon, Jewish Ideas Daily

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Author Naomi Ragen ordered to pay damages in plagiarism case

Israeli author Naomi Ragen, convicted of plagiarism, was ordered by a Jerusalem court to pay nearly $63,000 in damages to author Sarah Shapiro.

The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday ordered Ragen to compensate Shapiro, of Jerusalem, for using parts of Shapiro's 1990 book “Growing with My Children: A Jewish Mother’s Diary” in her book "Sotah," which appeared in 1992.

The court ruled last December that Ragen, who came to Jerusalem from New York City, was in breach of copyright with "Sotah." In addition to levying damages, as well as court costs and lawyer's fees, the court ordered Ragen to remove the plagiarized passages in future printings of the book.

Ragen deplored the ruling and was quoted in the Israeli media as saying that while she may have been inspired by Shapiro's book, it was not tantamount to plagiarism. She has said she will appeal to Israel's Supreme Court.

In January, Ragen was found not guilty by Israel's Supreme Court of plagiarizing in her book "The Ghost of Hannah Mendes" from self-published author Michal Tal. -- JTA

Quit Facebook or risk expulsion, N.Y. Orthodox school orders students

An Orthodox Jewish girls' high school in Brooklyn has ordered its 11th-grade students to close their Facebook accounts and pay a fine.

Administrators at the Beis Rivkah High School, which is associated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, reportedly called each 11th-grader with Facebook account out of class to issue her a written ultimatum to either delete the account and pay a $100 fine or be expelled, reported last week. About half the 11th-graders reportedly have Facebook accounts.

Some parents and students are upset by the crackdown, reported, saying that students had been urged to create the accounts last year in order to vote for Beis Rivkah in the Kohl's Cares charity giveaway, which gave money to the schools with the most votes via Facebook.

An unnamed school administrator told that the school was eliminating Facebook from its students' lives in an effort to restore a higher level of modesty among the students. -- JTA

The Mighty Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of

Emmy Noether’s theorem united two pillars of physics:
symmetry in nature and the universal laws of conservation.
SPL/Photo Researchers
Scientists are a famously anonymous lot, but few can match in the depths of her perverse and unmerited obscurity the 20th-century mathematical genius Amalie Noether.

Albert Einstein called her the most “significant” and “creative” female mathematician of all time, and others of her contemporaries were inclined to drop the modification by sex. She invented a theorem that united with magisterial concision two conceptual pillars of physics: symmetry in nature and the universal laws of conservation. Some consider Noether’s theorem, as it is now called, as important as Einstein’s theory of relativity; it undergirds much of today’s vanguard research in physics, including the hunt for the almighty Higgs boson. Yet Noether herself remains utterly unknown, not only to the general public, but to many members of the scientific community as well.  -- Natalie Angier, NY Times

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Amsterdam’s Portuguese Synagogue wins EU prize

A restoration project at the 17th century Portuguese Synagogue complex in Amsterdam won the European Union’s prestigious Europa Nostra prize for conservation.

The Europa Nostra prizes, which were announced last week, are awarded each year to outstanding projects in the field of cultural heritage.

The Portuguese Synagogue complex, in use since its inauguration in 1675, includes a massive main synagogue surrounded by low buildings that are still used by the Jewish community. The award-winning restoration aimed to preserve the monumental complex and make all the buildings, including the important library and collections of ritual objects, more accessible to the religious Jewish community and the general public.

“Thanks to the restoration work, the Portuguese Synagogue is now much better suited to public viewing, while maintaining its original character,” the award statement said. “Its big treasure, the library, is now accessible to the public for the first time, allowing visitors to understand and experience this enormous cultural heritage." -- JTA

Frankfurt elects first Jewish mayor since 1933

Peter Feldmann
Photo by Youtube/feldmannfrankfurt
The German city of Frankfurt has elected its first Jewish mayor since 1933 and only its second in history.

In elections held Sunday, Peter Feldmann, a 53-year-old economist and political scientist, won with 57 percent of the vote -- surprising even himself, according to news reports. The Social Democrat will succeed incumbent Petra Roth of the conservative Christian Democratic Union. Roth had called for early elections and did not run, instead supporting her party's candidate, Boris Rhein, the interior minister of the state of Hessen.

Feldmann, the former head of a home for seniors, takes the helm of a city with some 650,000 inhabitants and Germany's fourth-largest Jewish population.

The last Jewish mayor of the city was its first: Ludwig Landmann served for nine years until 1933, when the Nazis came to power. At the time, the city boasted the second-largest Jewish population in Germany, with 30,000 members. Today it has about 7,000 members, according to the community website. Most have come from the former Soviet Union in the past 20 years.

Feldmann, who reportedly identifies with Liberal Judaism, is a co-founder and active member of the Working Group of Jewish Social Democrats, a 5-year-old political caucus. -- JTA

Also see: Frankfurt Just Became The First Major German City To Elect A Jewish Mayor Since WWII -- Business Insider Europe
Click here to read.

Shabbat-friendly espionage, Israeli style

The Israeli military reportedly is incorporating keyboards that can be used by religious intelligence personnel on Shabbat.

The new keyboards transmit data without opening or closing electrical circuits and therefore do not violate Orthodox standards of Shabbat observance, Israel Hayom reported Sunday.

According to the newspaper, the keyboards were developed for the military's Intelligence Branch, which has incorporated haredi Orthodox volunteers who might hesitate about serving over weekends or Jewish holidays.

The military declined comment, citing the secrecy around its intelligence units. -- JTA

Israeli hotel denies Conservative group use of Torah

An Israeli hotel denied the use of a Torah scroll to a group that intended to use it in a mixed-gender service.

The religious supervisor at the hotel at Kibbutz Shefayim near Herzliya in central Israel refused to allow a group of students from the Conservative Solomon Schechter Day School of Westchester in Hartsdale, N.Y., to use the hotel's Torah scroll for a Shabbat service, The Jerusalem Post reported.

According to one of the group's counselors, the supervisor said the scroll could be used only in a service in which men and women sit separately and women are not called to the Torah. The group declined to use the Torah and held an egalitarian service.

A spokesperson declined to comment, saying that no formal complaint had been filed.

"A hotel does not have the right to discriminate between the different religious practices of its guests," said Rabbi Andrew Sacks, the director of the Conservative movement's rabbinical association in Israel.

The spokesperson said the hotel's policy is that groups wishing to hold their own service must also provide their own scroll.  -- JTA

Play about China’s Jewish Holocaust refugees premieres in Shanghai

A play about the 30,000 Jews sheltered by China during the Holocaust premiered in Shanghai.

"North Bank Suzhou Creek," made its debut Thursday in Shanghai and will be brought to New York later this year, Reuters reported.

"This is the Chinese version of 'Schindler's List,' " said Jeffrey Sichel, one of the directors.

The play tells the story of the daughter of a Jewish cafe owner. It was produced in cooperation with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Israeli Consulate in Shanghai. -- JTA

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mayim's Most Important Role

Bialik's Book Sheds Light on Unusual Parenting Style
Attachment Parent: Mayim Bialik is a proponent of attachment parenting,
which involves ‘positive discipline’ and sharing a bed with your children.
Courtesy of Mayim Bialik
If you wanted to find an “aishes chayil,” a woman of valor, you probably wouldn’t think television was the best place to look. But if you switch on the popular sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” you can catch a glimpse of one. Mayim Bialik, who plays nerdy scientist Amy Farrah Fowler on the show, is a woman of so many dimensions that each one could take a lifetime to pursue. She’s a former child actress from the popular TV show “Blossom” who has successfully transitioned into adulthood. She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience (yes, really!). She’s an observant Jew. And she’s an avid “attachment parenting” advocate with a new book, “Beyond The Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way” (Touchstone). -- Jordana Horn, Forward

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QB’s signature pose has Jews and gentiles ‘Tebowing’

Photos of people Tebowing in unusual places
are submitted to, the website run
by Jewish Coloradan Jared Kleinstein.
Courtesy of
The biggest story in the NFL this season is Tim Tebow, a devout Christian quarterback who doesn’t throw very well but has helped the Denver Broncos pull off a string of last-second victories.

But the rugged Tebow’s signature move comes when play has stopped -- taking a knee in prayer after scoring a touchdown. The pose has become a popular Internet meme, with fans “Tebowing” all over the world. That includes Jewish fans.

“In Denver, people see football as religion; Tebow unites people of all faiths,” said Jared Kleinstein, creator of the website, in an interview with JTA.

Kleinstein, a Jewish Coloradan, created the site after watching Tebow’s TD celebration and being inspired to re-create the now iconic pose. Although some may think of it as nothing more than a sports-oriented version of planking, an analogous practice in which one lies face down in an odd place, Kleinstein believes that Tebowing is a physical manifestation of how football fans are inspired by the quarterback.

Tebowing, Kleinstein said, “is the prime example of someone not having any shame and inspiring people to be OK with whatever religion they follow.” -- Jessica Leader, JTA

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Fears of Anti-Semitism: More and More French Jews Emigrating to Israel

After the attacks, security was tightened at Jewish schools across France, such as here in Paris.
Even before the murders, many French Jews felt under threat.
More and more French Jews are buying homes in Israel amid fears of rising anti-Semitism in France. Many complain of being harrassed in public and feel the country is no longer a safe place to raise their children. In the wake of the Toulouse attacks, the wave of emigration is only likely to increase. -- Gil Yaron, Spiegel Online

To read more and see the accompanying slideshow, click here.

Precious timepieces ticking again at Museum for Islamic Art

In the early 20th century, Sir David Salomons collected almost 200 incomparable watches and clocks. He later donated them to the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem.

Among the collection on display is a watch made for Marie Antoinette, "but she was executed before she could enjoy it," say curator Rachel Hasson.

In 1983, this watch and about half the collection were stolen from the museum and weren't found until late 2006, when police were able to locate 100 of the 110 original pieces. "It is a miracle, after 24 years, to receive such a collection," says Hasson. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To view the accompanying video, click on the triangle in the middle of the box below.

A biblical heroine for ‘The Hunger Games’

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games

Queen Esther is an easy heroine.

Beautiful, brainy, and the savior of a people makes her effortless to admire, though she barely set a precedent for modern archetypes. Today, young girls are screaming for Katniss Everdeen, the kid-killing heroine of “The Hunger Games”, a film adapted from the bestselling trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Had the Queen been alive today, no doubt she’d be competing with movie stars to swell the circle of her influence. -- Danielle Berrin, Jewish Journal

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Check back on Wednesday


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Backlash Against Inclusion of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Group in Israel Day Parade

A major backlash against a UJA-Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) decision to permit groups encouraging Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel to march in the upcoming Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City has led to a campaign to oust the groups from the event.

“A coalition of community Jewish organizations urgently calls on all friends of Israel to make their voices heard,” an e-mail from an organization called JCC Watch reads. “We urge everyone to raise your voices and call the UJA-Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).  Urge them to stop these groups from marching in the Israel Day Parade and hijacking a pro-Israel event for their anti-Israel purposes.”

Those who participate in the campaign will be responding to news that the New Israel Fund (NIF) will be participating in this year’s parade, despite funding projects that many see as aiming to delegitimize and weaken Israel, both socio-politically and economically. -- Malkah Fleisher, Jewish Press

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The battle to get ‘Bully’ seen by those who need it most

At Sioux City Middle School in Iowa, 12-year-old Alex Libby is the odd-man-out. Seen by his peers as different, he has golden hair, gentle eyes, a wide, flat nose and permanently puckered lips. Together, they might seem to express something both pouty and vulnerable, sweet and sad. Kids are not so kind. “People call me fish face,” he blankly tells the camera in the new documentary “Bully” by filmmaker Lee Hirsch. “I don’t mind.”

Hirsch’s camera follows Alex to the bus stop. He breathes heavily and loiters sort of aimlessly until another boy his age begins to taunt him, “I’ll break your Adam’s apple, which will kill you!” the boy shouts. On the bus, yet another boy tells Alex he plans to bring a knife to school. “I’m gonna f—- you up,” he taunts. “You’re gonna die in pain.”

The documentary, which hits theaters on March 30, comes at a time when the prevalence and perils of bullying are thick in national consciousness. --  Danielle Berrin, Jewish Journal

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Nozette gets 13 years for Israel spying bid

Former U.S. government scientist Stewart Nozette was sentenced to 13 years in prison for trying to sell secrets to Israel.

The sentence handed down Wednesday by a federal judge was part of a plea deal, Reuters reported.

Nozette, who was arrested in 2009, pleaded guilty last September to seeking to sell classified information.

He offered classified information on U.S. satellites, early warning systems and other communications intelligence to an undercover FBI agent who was posing as an Israeli Mossad agent.

Nozette had been a renowned scientist during his many capacities in the government and with the space program, as well as his work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he helped design lightweight satellite radar technology. -- JTA

Israeli lawmakers inaugurate Diaspora caucus

Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum launched a caucus to strengthen relations with Diaspora Jewry.

At least 40 Knesset members have joined the ad hoc committee co-founded by coalition chairman Zeev Elkin of the Likud Party and Nachman Shai of Kadima, which met for the first time on Tuesday.

The lobby will provide an open forum to discuss issues involving the Diaspora, but it cannot set official policy. It was formed at the initiative of Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, according to reports.

A new study of Israelis conducted by the Jewish Agency found that 91 percent of respondents believe that Israel should help Jewish communities abroad. Another 91 percent said they believed that Diaspora Jewry would stand with Israel in the face of a threat from Iran or other enemies.

Jewish Agency Secretary-General Josh Schwartz presented the study at the committee meeting.

"Jewish children were attacked in their school in Toulouse just because they and their parents wanted to maintain a connection with their Jewish heritage and the Jewish state,” Sharansky said at the meeting “This murderous attack proves to us again in the most tragic way that the enemies of the Jewish people and the enemies of the Jewish state are one and the same. The State of Israel and the Jewish people face the same threats.” -- JTA

Marching to Jerusalem

Protests, marches, sit-ins, boycotts—all these nonviolent techniques have been employed in support of the Palestinian cause, but violence has remained at the core of the enterprise.  For decades, well-meaning people have suggested that a wholehearted embrace of nonviolence would do more for the Palestinians than their continuing resort to terrorism.  Now comes word of the Global March to Jerusalem, scheduled for March 30.  Don't look to the event as the long-sought beginning of a Palestinian commitment to a strategy of nonviolence. -- Alex Joffe, Jewish Ideas Daily

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