Friday, May 11, 2012

Dressing like my Jewish mother--A Mother's Day Feature

Out of the drawer: Torah Fund pins from
the collection of Edmon J. Rodman's mother.
(Edmon J. Rodman)
On Mother's Day, I'm going to wear my mother's jewelry. No, this isn't a mom’s day story about gender identity; it’s about Jewish identity and whether possessions can help pass it on.

As part of her legacy my mother, Pearl, left to my sister Wendy and me a set of Torah Fund pins. Each pin was an artfully designed wearable Hebrew word or words from the Torah, Proverbs or Psalms, and represented a donation my mother had made in support of Jewish study.

The Women’s League for Conservative Judaism has been producing a different pin design each year since 1957, and my mother, though not being able to donate toward one every year, had by 2008, the year of her passing, managed to collect 21 of them.

The basic Torah Fund pin represents a donation of $180, with the proceeds going to support both improvement projects and student aid at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles and the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

After my mother passed away, we wondered what to do with them. Keep them in a drawer, closed up in their neatly hand-dated white boxes? Give them to her grandkids? Sell them at an estate sale? Not made of silver or gold, their intrinsic value was not high. -- Edmon J. Rodman, JTA

To read more, click here.

3 million (free) books on, PJ Library eyes expansion

Harold Grinspoon, the founder of PJ Library, reads
one of the program's books with a gaggle of children. (PJ Library)
PJ Library wants to come between parents and children -- literally.

Every month, PJ Library mails free Jewish-themed children’s books to nearly 100,000 households in North America with a grand ambition: that somewhere between Dr. Seuss and the Berenstain Bears, a child may turn to a book like Vivian Newman’s “Ella’s Trip to Israel” or Laurel Snyder’s “Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher,” and spark a Jewish discussion in a household that doesn’t have enough of them.

“The conversations that take place in the home between parents and children, and parents among themselves, is one of the most important byproducts of this program,” says PJ Library’s director, Marcie Greenfield Simons. “We’re helping Jews on the periphery take those first baby steps to being welcomed by the Jewish community.”

In the past seven years, PJ Library has helped publish more than 200 titles that have filled kids’ shelves in 175 North American communities, become a force in the publishing industry through its mass purchases and spawned two similar programs in Hebrew -- one in Israel and one for the children of Israelis living in the United States.

Next month, the organization plans to send out its 3 millionth freely distributed book. -- Uriel Heilman, JTA

To read more, click here.

Opinion: To shop or not to shop?

Shopping has in recent years become a politically charged and sensitive topic that that drives Palestinians into heated debates.
Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
As I was strolling down Jerusalem’s Mamilla Avenue on Friday, I glimpsed three prominent Palestinian women from the West Bank. Carrying brand-name bags, these women definitely were not there just to take in the sights.

Many Palestinians I know shop in Israel, as well as in supermarkets like Rami Levi where the prices are very competitive. But these particular women are outspoken and prominent activists in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, weekly popular resistance demonstrations and the March 15th group that hoped to launch the “Palestinian Spring.”

I wondered why they weren’t in Bil’in, Ni’lin or Nabi Saleh where they usually spend their Fridays. Most importantly, what were they doing here shopping? Surely they must understand that shopping on the Israeli side is directly contradictory to their activism. -- Nida Tuma, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Washington's Iconic Letter To Be Displayed

After Decade, Message of Tolerance Comes to Jewish Museum
After a decade hidden from view, one of the most important documents in American history is set to burst back onto public display, the Forward has learned.

George Washington’s 1790 letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, in which the first president vowed that America would give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” will form the centerpiece of a special show at the National Museum of American Jewish History, opening on June 29.

Ivy Barsky, the NMAJH’s director and chief operating officer, said she was “absolutely thrilled” to have acquired the letter, widely regarded as Washington’s most eloquent statement on religious liberty, on a three-year loan. Barsky said her museum’s location in Philadelphia, opposite the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, meant that one of the founding documents of the nation “is really and truly where it belongs.”

As the Forward reported in a series of articles and editorials last year, Washington’s letter spent decades on display in the Klutznick Museum at B’nai B’rith International’s flagship headquarters in Washington. In 2002, when financial pressures forced B’nai B’rith to relocate to smaller offices, the majority of its collection, including the letter, was put into storage. Many scholars did not know where the letter was until the Forward revealed it to be housed in an art storage facility in suburban Maryland. -- Paul Berger, Forward

To read more and to view a high resolution version of Washington's letter, click here.

Hairstyling pioneer Vidal Sassoon, veteran of Israel’s 1948 war, dies at 84 in LA

Jewish Londoner served in War of Independence before picking up shears, founded Hebrew U. center for studying anti-Semitism
Vidal Sassoon (photo credit: Damian Dovarganes/AP)
Hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, who undid the beehive with his wash-and-wear cuts and went on to become an international name in hair care, died Wednesday. He was 84.

Sassoon died at his home on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, police spokesman Kevin Maiberger said. Officers were summoned to the home at about 10:30 a.m., where they found Sassoon dead with his family. They determined that he died of natural causes, and there will be no further police investigation, Maiberger said.

A veteran of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Sassoon also had a lifelong commitment to eradicating anti-Semitism. In 1982, he established the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. -- Times of Israel

To read more, click here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Police investigating Islamic school over curriculum comparing Jews to Nazis

Police are investigating a complaint about a Toronto Muslim school whose curriculum tells boys to exercise so they are “ready for jihad,” refers to “treacherous Jews” and contrasts Islam with “the Jews and the Nazis.”

“Yes, I can confirm for you that a complaint has been made and our Hate Crimes Unit is investigating,” Acting Sergeant Rebecca Boyd, a York Region Police spokeswoman, told the National Post on Monday.

“However, they are in the early stages of the investigation,” she added. The complaint was made by the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which found the material on the website of the East End Madrassah.

The Islamic school operates out of David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute, a public high school in Toronto. But the complaint was made to police in York because the Islamic school’s mailing address is in that region.

“We are looking into it,” said Masuma Jessa, principal of the East End Madrassah. She said the curriculum document in question had been removed from the school’s website. Later on Monday, the entire school website went offline.

The Toronto District School Board said in a statement it was cooperating with police and would “take appropriate action pending the conclusion of the investigation.” -- Stewart Bell, National Post, Canada

Excerpts from the Curriculum of East End Madrassah

“Islam is a dynamic, comprehensive school that aims at the rectification of the social and economic systems of the world in a special manner. Unlike the beliefs of the ancient Romans, the Jews, and the Nazis, Islam is not restricted to a certain community of a certain race, but is for all human beings…” -- Source:

To read more, click here.

Op-Ed: The Holocaust and the sins of the father

(Illustration by Anthony…)
In trying to find out more about who I am, I discovered the truth about my father.

A friend of mine got a lifetime achievement award recently, and it got me to thinking about the Holocaust again, something that's never been completely out of my mind for the last 22 years.

Randolph L. Braham and I are an odd couple to be friends because our families were on different sides of the Holocaust. His emails to me over the last 20 years have always been signed Randy, but I call him Professor Braham out of respect.

Braham is distinguished professor emeritus of political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, director of the Rosenthal Center for Holocaust Studies there, and the author of more than 60 books on the Holocaust. His parents and many relatives were killed — murdered in cold blood is more accurate — in the Holocaust in Northern Transylvania, which during World War II was part of Hungary. Braham himself was in a forced-labor camp during the war.

My late father, on the other hand, was one of the perpetrators of the Holocaust in Hungary. -- Les Gapay, LA Times

To read more, click here.

Israeli researchers find possible answer to autoimmune disease

The Ficus tree, symbol of the Weizmann Institute
(Image: Weizmann Institute of Science)

The Weizmann Institute is looking to commercialize a revolutionary solution for stopping diseases such as Crohn’s and lupus, proven so far in mice. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Defend yourself, Israeli style

Imrich Lichtenfeld probably didn’t envision that the style of street combat he invented would become so popular outside of Israel, where it has long been taught in the military.

In the 1980s, this defensive martial art went international, and lately it’s expanded even more, explains Megan Cohen Kaddouch, the top-ranked female Krav Maga practitioner.

“It’s so popular because it can be taught to anyone from six to 60,” says Robert Bennet, a Scottish student of Krav Maga. Like many other Krav Maga students, he chose to learn it in Israel.

“They want to come to the source,” says instructor Avi Moyal, “from those who actually invented and developed Krav Maga.” -- Michael Grynszpan, Israel21c

To view accompanying video, click on image below.

Israel needs religious equality, Yair Lapid tells Conservative rabbis

Former newsman Yair Lapid told an audience of Conservative rabbis that Israel's new government coalition makes his new political party the voice of the "moderate voting class."

Lapid also told the rabbis at the Rabbinical Assembly's National Convention in Atlanta on Tuesday that he would work to ensure the equality of all religious movements in Israel.

Speaking a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his Likud Party and the opposition party Kadima reached an agreement on a unity government, thus postponing elections in Israel for at least a year-and-a-half, Lapid said that Kadima had come "home," since most of its members had split off from the Likud in 2005.

“Not everything that happened in the last 24 hours is bad," Lapid said. “Kadima is returning to Likud and the political map in Israel has now changed in a way that now allows my party to become the sole representation of Israel’s moderate voting class.”

Lapid recently left his job as a news anchor and registered his own political party, the Yesh Atid (There is a Future).

Noting that the unity government has 94 lawmakers in the 120-seat Knesset, he quipped, "The last person who had such a coalition was Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania."

Lapid, addressing the controversial issues in Israel of conversion and freedom to pray in mixed quorums, said he strongly supported the right of Jewish women to pray in a quorum at Jerusalem's Western Wall.

“Israel cannot be the only country in the Western world that has no freedom of religion to choose," he said. "This is just blatantly wrong and it must disappear.”

On the Tal Law, which permits haredi yeshiva students to defer military service indefinitely in order to pursue religious studies unhindered, Lapid said that all Israelis must serve their country either in the army or national service. The law is set to expire Aug. 1. -- JTA

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Israeli envoy Michael Oren calls for Israel support, respect for religious pluralism

In two speeches calling for increased Jewish unity, Israeli U.S. Ambassador MichaEl Oren urged stronger Diaspora support for Israel and greater Israeli respect for the diversity of Jewish life in America.

"Sometimes it seems that we, Israelis and American Jews, not only inhabit different countries but different universes, different realities," Oren said in a May 4 speech in Washington to an American Jewish Committee gathering of about 400 young Jewish activists from around the world.

He offered similar remarks Sunday in Detroit to delegates of the annual plenum of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a public policy group that brings together local Jewish community relations councils, national Jewish organizations and the largest synagogue movements.

"Ironically, at a time when support for Israel in this country is at a near all-time high -- indeed it's one of the few truly bipartisan issues -- we Jews seem increasingly divided," Oren said in his Washington remarks. "Let me be clear: At stake is not merely Israel’s policies or rights of American Jews to criticize them. At stake is nothing less than the unity of a Jewish people."

Oren offered up a definition for being pro-Israel, describing it as one who works to ensure the survival of the Jewish state; is grateful to be living in a time when there is a Jewish state; appreciates the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran and other threats facing the Israeli people; has strong opinions about controversies in Israel and accepts that there are divergent views; finds ways to contribute to and be enriched by Israel; and takes pride in Israel’s successes.

"The pro-Israel person sees Israelis -- left, right, religious, secular -- not as some distant ‘other’ but as part of a whole -- a dynamic, creative, rambunctious and precious whole," Oren said in Washington. "The pro-Israel people are those who view even those who disagree with them politically as part of their people, as mishpochah," or family.

In both speeches, Oren also stressed the need for a greater concern for Jewish peoplehood and respect for religious pluralism.

"In Israel," he said, "to be pro-'the Jewish people' is to guarantee respectful space for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel, to maintain a dialogue over the conversion issue, to enable open debate about those Israeli policies that impact all of world Jewry." -- JTA

Knesset panel backs plan to snuff out tobacco advertising

'The Abyss' by British artist Damien, Sept. 8, 2008.
Photo by: AP
Advertising tobacco products in newspapers and on the Internet to be prohibited, while cigarette companies will be forbidden to sponsor events.

The proposal stipulates that the dimensions of the warning regarding tobacco products will be 30 percent of the advertisement's size, in contrast to the five percent required today. The production and marketing of food products or toys resembling tobacco products will also be banned, among other things because of their influence on the image of smoking among teens. -- Revital Blumenfeld, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Israel's medical tourism industry

Israeli hospitals boost revenues by treating foreigners, but Palestinian patients pose a special challenge

Medical tourism has become a major money maker for Israeli hospitals. According to data from recent years, annual revenues in Israeli hospitals from medical tourism amount to NIS 400 million (roughly $120 million.)

Medical tourism is considered a lucrative Industry because, on average, Israeli hospitals charge 30% more from foreign patients than they do from Israeli patients.

A good medical reputation and relatively lower costs as compared to other hospitals around the world draw patients from all over the globe to receive medical care in Israel, and the arrangement is a win-win situation – they get good treatment and hospitals get to boost revenues.

But lately, a debate has surfaced around the question of whether the treatment of foreigners comes at the expense of treatment for Israeli patients.  --Danny Rubenstein, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

Ancient seal found in Jerusalem

The seal belonged to a man named Matanyahu
who lived at least 2,600 years ago
(Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists say the seal, which belonged to a man named Matanyahu, dates to the time of the First Temple. No more than two dozen such seals have been found since excavations began in Jerusalem in the 1800s, according to Antiquities Authority archaeologist Eli Shukron.

To read more of the article by Matti Friedman in Times of Israel, click here.

The ApiFix spine straightener

Deformed spine after the ApiFix procedure
People with an extremely curved spine can get the problem fixed, but it involves six hours of surgery, during which several vertebrae are fused together using an average of 20 bone screws. The best available procedure to ease severe scoliosis today, it costs upward of $100,000 and entails a long recovery time. Worst of all, it does not always yield perfect results.

The Israeli company ApiFix is poised to change all that with a small, expandable titanium ratchet inserted through a small incision and secured to the backbone with just two screws. This much quicker method minimizes risks, scar size, complications, recovery time and cost. Just as importantly, results can be adjusted over time without the need for further surgery. Using a patented control mechanism, the physician can lock or unlock the rod via a needle procedure to allow for incremental corrections. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak, Children’s Author Who Upended Tradition, Dies at 83

An illustration in “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
Credit: Maurice Sendak, 1991.
Maurice Sendak at his Ridgefield, Conn.,
home with his German Shepherd, Herman, in 2006
Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times

Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn. -- Margarit Fox, NY Times

To read more, click here.

Bnei Menashe aliya to resume this summer

Some 50 families, numbering around 250 people, expected to come before end of August with Interior Ministry approval.
Young members of Bnei Menashe
Photo: Courtesy Shavei Israel
For the first time in five years, a large group of Bnei Menashe immigrants from northeastern India is slated to make aliya this summer.

The Shavei Israel organization, which assists descendants of Jews to reconnect with their roots, is slated to bring the Bnei Menashe, who claim descent from the tribe of Menashe, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

Some 50 families, numbering upward of 250 people, are expected to come before the end of August with the approval of the Interior Ministry, to be followed by another group later in the year. The families will be settled in the Galilee in coordination with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption., Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

British vet calls for end to slaughter without stunning which is prohibited according to both Jewish and Muslim law

A senior British veterinarian has called for a halt to slaughtering animals without first stunning them, which is prohibited according to both Jewish and Muslim law.

Bill Reilly, a former president of the British Veterinary Association, wrote in the May issue of its publication, the Veterinary Record, that the practice of slaughtering animals without stunning is "unacceptable."

While pointing out that the United Kingdom and the European Union permit ritual slaughter for Jews and Muslims, Reilly wrote that "The challenge to society is to enable religious slaughter without compromising animal welfare."

He qualifies by saying, "My concern has nothing to do with the expression of religious belief but with the practice of killing by throat cutting without pre-stunning."

Reilly believes that the animals suffer greatly during slaughter without stunning. He described the "distress, fear and pain" he witnessed in the animals when seeing shechitah, or Jewish ritual slaughter, for the first time.

He said about 2 million animals, mostly chickens, were killed without stunning in the UK each year for the Jewish community, and that halal meat for Muslims makes up a quarter of the UK meat market, though Muslims comprise only about 4 percent of the population.

Reilly said he believes that most secular people would avoid eating the meat if they knew the animal had suffered when it was killed.

Last June, a bill requiring animals to be stunned before slaughter passed the lower house of the Dutch Parliament. The Dutch Senate in December delayed its vote on banning ritual slaughter, appointing a commission to study putting new standards for such slaughter into place.

In 2010, New Zealand banned any slaughter without stunning. The ban was partially turned back to allow for the kosher slaughter of chicken. -- JTA

Love It. Fear It. Smear It.

The Case for Rescuing Schmaltz From Culinary Oblivion
Pure Gold: Schmaltz was once a treasured part of our cuisine.
Then life became one big fitness craze.
Ezra Glinter
You walk into the restaurant, and there, at the center of each table, is a help-yourself container of cocaine. Well, Jewish cocaine.

Schmaltz. -- By Lenore Skenazy, Forward

To read more, click here.

How Benzion Netanyahu Helped Put in the U.N. Charter A Clause That Could Yet Save the Jewish State

Benzion Netanyahu, who died on April 30 in Jerusalem at the age of 102, has been widely scrutinzed this week for his myriad contributions to the history of Zionism in Israel and the United States. Yet arguably the most important one has been overlooked. After World War II, Benzion Netanyahu, along with Irgun activist Peter Bergson, nephew of Mandatory Palestine Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, and liberal American Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, drafted an article for inclusion in the United Nations Charter that could yet save the Jewish state.

The article became known as the “Palestine clause” for the protection it afforded to the right of Jewish settlement throughout the Land of Israel west of the Jordan River. Article 80 extended the guarantees to Jews afforded by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine following World War I. The Mandate had recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “the legitimacy of grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” Jews were guaranteed “the right of close settlement” throughout Palestine.

But where was “Palestine”? -- Jerold Auerbach, NY Sun

To read more, click here.

Mourning for pets, the ‘Jewish’ way?

While some Reform and Conservative rabbis give credence to the desire to mourn pets in a way that is distinctly Jewish, many rabbis say it is inappropriate.  -- Karen Iris Tucker, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Netanyahu Wins, Knesset Dissolved

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Monday submitted a bill to dissolve the 18th Knesset and call for early elections, which was passed by the House Committee, in a vote of 13 to 4. The move was designed to undermine Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s attempt to promote his bill calling for drafting Haredi citizens. -- Jewish Press

To read more, click here.

Trash Tycoon – even recycling can be fun

What better way to motivate people to recycle than to make it fun?

That’s the thinking behind Guerillapps, the two-year-old brainchild of a couple of 30-something Israelis.

Raviv Turner and Dan Goldman introduced Trash Tycoon, a Facebook, iPod and iPhone social game, as a springboard to help companies and countries meet sustainability goals while raising public awareness and compliance with recycling programs.

Players receive points for recycling the garbage they “pick up” from the streets of a littered virtual city. Thanks to corporate partnerships, it’s possible to earn extra game points for recycling in the real world, and also to redeem points toward buying environmentally responsible products made by partner companies.

Not only are corporate giants such as Kraft and Walmart interested, but Guerillapps also got the thumbs-up from former US Vice President Al Gore and fellow environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

To view video, click on image below.

Music moguls to artists: Don’t boycott Israel

Photo by
On a recent Tuesday, a group of 30 leading music executives, talent agents and entertainment lawyers gathered for lunch in the downstairs conference room at the law offices of Ziffren Brittenham in Century City. Together, the group represents the likes of Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Aerosmith, Jennifer Lopez and Justin Timberlake — to name a few.

Organized by the nascent group Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), a nonprofit seeking to counter artist boycotts of Israel, the meeting would include an educational PowerPoint presentation and an informal discussion with Los Angeles’ Consul General of Israel, David Siegel.

Cueing up the first slide, adorned with photos of famous musicians — Carlos Santana, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello and the alternative rock band The Pixies —  David Renzer, the former Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, asked, “What do these artists have in common?”

The room remained quiet. Renzer clicked to the next slide, displaying photos of jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, alt rocker Cat Power and UK-based electronic artist Joker.

Then, in his most equanimous voice, Renzer offered the big reveal: “They’ve all boycotted Israel,” he said. He repeated, for added effect: “They’ve all canceled their tours to Israel.” -- Danielle Berrin, Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

Opinion: Israel's Gathering Storm

Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, briefed Christian supporters of the Jewish state this morning. He told a hushed audience crowded into his embassy's Jerusalem Auditorium of a recent visit by U.S. intelligence specialists. They had asked Dr. Oren the historian to compare Israel's situation today with other critical periods in the nation's past. Without hesitation, he answered: In the best case scenario, it's May 1967. In the worst case, it's May 1948. -- Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison, Huffington Post

To read more, click here.

Don’t toss Friday’s WSJ—it’s holy! (or not)

Jews looking to get in the mood for Shabbat services this week found help in an unlikely place on Friday: the front page of The Wall Street Journal, which featured an article on every synagogue-goer’s greatest fear: dropping the Torah scroll during hagbah, the Torah-lifting ritual.

But some of the paper’s more religious readers may have spent Friday worrying about another problem. The story ran with a photo of a Torah scroll open to the Ten Commandments in the Book of Exodus, and if you look closely at the blurry text, you can make out God’s name.

Throwing God’s name in the trash is a no-no, so does that mean religious Jews must keep Friday’s WSJ forever, bury it, or place it in a genizah?

We interviewed a few rabbis about the issue and the consensus is: No.

“It was not put there for any purpose of kedusha, of holiness,” said Rabbi Allen Schwartz of New York’s Orthodox Congregation Ohab Zedek. Schwartz explained that in order to require placement in a genizah, God’s name “has to be four clear letters” --meaning that blurriness disqualifies the Journal picture. He added that variations on the four-letter Tetragrammaton such as a single hey or yod also don’t require burial.

In a rare case of Jewish interdenominational agreement, Rabbi Kenneth Kanter, the director of the rabbinical school at the Reform Hebrew Union College, seconded Schwartz’s opinion.

“We see pages of Torah or other sacred books reproduced in so many ways on TV or in the print media,” he said. “Jewish law would urge us to treat Torah scrolls with respect. Sometimes they are reproduced upside-down, which is certainly for me a bigger problem.”

So, have your way with Friday’s paper. Crumple it up, use it to clean up your pet’s mess, or wrap some fish in it.

But don’t throw it out! In New York City, where the Journal is published, local law requires all paper to be recycled. -- Ben Sales JTA

Disabled Israeli rower wins gold medal – has to sing anthem ‘Hatikvah’ on her own

Israeli rower Moran Samuel made her country proud when she won the gold medal at the Gavirate international rowing competition for disabled athletes in Italy last month. But she especially moved Israelis when she decided to spontaneously sing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, at the awards event after organizers — who did not expect an Israeli athlete to win — failed to obtain a recording of the anthem. -- MidEastTruth

To read more, click here.

To view video, click on image below.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

IOC rejects moment of silence for Munich 11

The International Olympic Committee apparently has rejected an online petition seeking a moment of silence for the Munich 11 at the 2012 London Olympics.

Emmanuelle Moreau, the IOC's head of media relations, told The Jerusalem Post that the Games this summer would not have a moment of silence honoring the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

"The IOC has paid tribute to the memory of the athletes who tragically died in Munich in 1972 on several occasions and will continue to do so,” Moreau told the Post. “However, we do not foresee any commemoration during the opening ceremony of the London Games.”

Moreau told the newspaper that the IOC is represented at a reception that the Israeli National Olympic Committee usually hosts during the Olympic Games in memory of the athletes. The Israelis were killed by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. 

The petition launched in mid-April has garnered nearly 25,000 signatures from around the world.

The Jewish Community Center of Rockland County, N.Y., a member of the JCC Association, initiated the petition with Ankie Spitzer, the widow of Israeli fencing Coach Andrei Spitzer.

"The 11 murdered athletes were members of the Olympic family; we feel they should be remembered within the framework of the Olympic Games," Spitzer wrote in a letter accompanying the petition.

"I have no political or religious agenda. Just the hope that my husband and the other men who went to the Olympics in peace, friendship and sportsmanship are given what they deserve. One minute of silence will clearly say to the world that what happened in 1972 can never happen again. Please do not let history repeat itself." -- JTA

French group suing Google for Jewish auto-complete searches

A French anti-discrimination group is taking Google to court for offering to search if celebrities are Jewish.

SOS Racisme, a French organization that fights discrimination, is scheduled to meet Google attorneys in a French courtroom on Wednesday for a hearing on the matter, according to the Hollywood Reporter, citing French media reports.

The suggestion of Jewish comes as part of Google's auto-complete feature, which appends terms to searches to make them faster. Some of the celebrities' names associated with Jewish include News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm.

Google says on its support webpage that suggestions made by the auto-complete feature "are a reflection of the search activity of all Web users and the contents of Web pages indexed by Google."

In court filings, SOS Racisme claims that Google allegedly is violating a French constitutional law against compiling files on people that reference their ethnicity.

SOS Racisme is joined in the lawsuit by France’s Union of Jewish Students and other organizations. -- JTA

Opinion: Teenagers With a Mission

A Mission Adventures participant in 2008.
(Youth With A Mission–International/Flickr)
Evangelical Christians send students around the world to help the needy. Jews should do the same, extending tikkun olam beyond our community. -- Emily Goldberg, Tablet

To read more, click here.

The Shul In The Mosque

Sheik Moussa Drammeh of the Masjid Al-Imam mosque
with Beis Menachem of Parkchester congregant Leon Bleckman. M. Datikash
"This is our prayer room,” says Sheik Moussa Drammeh, as he shows visitors around his Bronx mosque, the Masjid Al-Iman, in the shadows of the Westchester Avenue elevated tracks. “And this is our youth room,” he says in a lilting African accent, as the fragrance of sweet incense wafts through the air. “And this is the synagogue.”

Synagogue? The Gambian-born sheik — dark, tall and solidly built, dressed in the long robes of Islamic clergy —opens a door and there, atop a bookcase, sits a picture of the Chabad Lubavitcher rebbe.

Well, of course. -- Jonathan Mark, NY Jewish Week

To read more, click here.

Canadian Protestants call for settlement boycott

Canada's largest Protestant denomination is calling for a boycott of goods produced in "illegal" Israeli settlements, including eastern Jerusalem.

In a 26-page report released Tuesday, the United Church of Canada calls for an economic boycott of Israel focused exclusively on settlement products. The report seeks "a church-wide campaign of economic action directed against one or more settlement products that can be identified as produced in or related to the settlements or the occupied territories."

The Church wants "a focused boycott of products that are being created illegally," said the Very Rev. David Giuliano, a former moderator, or head, of the United Church, who chaired the three-member working group that wrote the report.

"To buy settlement products is the same as buying stolen goods; in other words, benefiting from the crime," Giuliano said. He added, however, that "this is not a call for a boycott of Israel or Israeli products."

A prominent Jewish leader charged Tuesday that the United Church has been hijacked by a small group of anti-Israel activists who do not speak for the whole denomination.

"Israel has become an obsession for a small vocal group," Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, told the National Post newspaper. "I think frankly it betrays the sensibilities of the vast majority of ordinary members of the United Church."

The report arises from a 12-day visit to Israel in February 2011 in which the working group met with representatives of Palestinian, Israeli,  Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities in Israel and the West Bank. The group concluded "foremost" that the first step to peace is to end Israel's occupation of territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, including the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

"The occupation is damaging both Palestinians and Israelis," the report states. "The occupation is being implemented by a democratic country and sustained and supported by Western governments, including Canada's."

The Church advises against applying the term "apartheid" to Israel because it "shuts down conversation, disempowers those who desire and work for change in Israel, and does more to harm than to help the potential for successful peace negotiations."

The report will be considered by the Church's General Council, which meets in Ottawa in August. Until then, the report is not Church policy. -- JTA