Friday, June 15, 2012

Egypt: Women Sexually Assaulted at March Against Sexual Harassment

Egypt: Women Sexually Assaulted
Egyptian activists held a daylong blogging and tweeting campaign to end sexual harassment on Wednesday in response to a violent attack by mobs of men on a march against harassment in central Cairo on June 8. The men had groped and sexually assaulted a small group of women in Tahrir Square who'd assembled to protest widespread sexual harassment.

Though sexual harassment has been an issue in Egypt for years, activists say it has been used, over the past year, as a political tool by the old guard in order to counter the revolution that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

"Since March 2011 there has been an increased trend of sexual assault and harassment, especially by the military and police," alleged Mozn Hassan, executive director of Nazra, a feminist group.  -- Rym Momtz, ABC News via Yahoo

To read more, click here.

Sixty years of Mad-ness: Retrospective in S.F. affirms magazine was fueled by boatload of Jewish wit

Watercolor painting by Jack Davis
was published in Mad magazine in July 1990.
 ™ and © E.C. Publications, Inc.
For a gap-toothed, dim-witted dork, Alfred E. Neuman sure influenced a lot of people.

Everyone from “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening to film critic Roger Ebert credit Mad magazine with having a tremendous impact on their careers. Monty Python member Terry Gilliam called the irreverent monthly “the Bible for me and my whole generation.”

With Mad turning 60 this year, San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum pays homage with a retrospective. On display through mid-September, the exhibit features scores of original sketches, cartoon panels and magazine cover art (the latter all featuring Alfred the Great himself). -- Dan Pine, Jewish News Weekly (N. CA)

To read more, click here.

Fish Farms in the Desert: Only in Israel!

Where can you find Nemo? In Israel's Arava desert, where aquaculture is blooming despite a dearth of fresh water.

Israel's Arava desert gets just 30 millimeters of rainfall a year, but it produces 60 percent of Israel's fresh vegetable exports, 10% of cut flower exports ... and now it has a thriving ornamental fish industry, too.

"The desert is dry and all the water that we have here first of all is water that we drill here in the Arava; we're not connected to a national water system," explains Alon Gadiel, director of the Arava Research and Development Center. Yet Israel is in the top six exporting countries for aquarium fish, and there are now 18 fish farms in the Arava. Three of them breed the clownfish better known as Nemos because of the hit movie "Finding Nemo."

"A business like aquaculture is a very good business because you don't need a lot of land, and you don't need a lot of water. You need a lot of knowledge," says Gadiel. In addition, he stresses, "We breed fish that originally grow in the sea, and we sell them from captivity so we prevent harming the ecosystem." -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To view the accompanying video, click one image below.

Bangladeshi pro-Israel journalist pushes on amid charges of fraud

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury holding the English-language Weekly Blitz.
Photo by Larry Luxner
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury sat at the cafe of the five-star Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in downtown Dhaka -- capital of the third-largest Muslim nation on Earth -- stridently proclaiming his love for Israel and the Jewish people.

“I am a Zionist and a friend of Israel,” he told JTA in a voice loud enough to be heard by hotel guests and local businessmen sipping their afternoon tea at nearby tables.

But nobody paid any attention. That in itself, said Choudhury, represented enormous progress in the impoverished People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

“Before 2003, you could not utter the word Israel in this country,” the devout Muslim said during a lengthy interview. “Now we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and all the Jewish community in Dhaka participates. Even in some Bangladeshi media, they now allow positive articles on Israel. And I am more vocal than ever before.” -- Larry Luxner, JTA

To read more, click here.

10 groups awarded for fostering inclusion of disabled in Jewish community

The Ruderman Family Foundation announced its ten inaugural Ruderman Prize in Disability winners, for fostering full inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish community.

The foundation, which initiated the prize this year, received more than 150 applications representing seven countries. The winning organizations receive $20,000.

“Awarding the prizes is the genesis of a legacy that we believe will support and promote new opportunities for people with disabilities in the Jewish community,” Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said Tuesday in a statement.

"These ten award winners offer a vision of a world with full inclusion, where people with disabilities have the same opportunities for employment, education, religion, and enjoyment of their communities as those without disabilities. These grants will nourish and nurture that vision.”

Recipients include organizations that pair professional dancers with the disabled in Israel; work for the inclusion of the disabled into Mexico’s Jewish community; integrate the developmentally disabled into the Israeli Defense Forces; and create a more welcome environment in synagogues for the disabled.

The winners are the Vertigo Dance Company; SHALVA: The Association for the Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel; Norwood Ravenswood; MetroWest ABLE; Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center of San Diego; Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Boston; Kadima; Jewish Family Center Adain Lo; Reishit School; and ASKIM Israel: National Association for the Habilitation of Children and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities. -- JTA

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Messianic Jewish Groups Claim Rapid Growth

Groups professing to be Jewish believers in Jesus increasingly accepted in Israel
A service at Beth Hallel, a messianic congregation in suburban Atlanta.
Photo by Joab Eichenberg-Eilon.
About 200 congregants filled the stain glassed-windowed sanctuary on a Shabbat morning this spring, praying, singing and welcoming new members. Among the newly welcomed members was a young Israeli man, named Yoav. Not really extraordinary news, except Congregation Beth Hallel in a northern suburb of Atlanta is not a typical synagogue. Indeed, it is a member of the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS), the largest ordaining body in the messianic Jewish movement.

Beth Hallel is only one of a number of messianic Jewish congregations in the Atlanta area – and one of some 800 messianic Jewish congregations in the world, according to Joel Chernoff, CEO of Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), up from zero in 1967. "Messianic Judaism is the fastest growing stream of religious Jewish life since 1967," said Chernoff, who said he grew up in a messianic Jewish family. Sharing his extrapolated and complicated arithmetic, Chernoff credited the Council of Jewish Federation’s 1990 National Jewish Population Survey for his belief that there are now more than one million messianic Jews. "Jews are becoming believers in Yehoshuah," he says, referring to Jesus. -- Jan Jaben-Eilon, via JTA

To read more, click here.

Norwegian student in Oslo burns Jewish pupil; more than mere bullying

Bullying in Oslo
Photo: Thinkstock

A schoolboy burned a Jewish pupil with a red-hot coin at an Oslo secondary school on Monday, triggering the Simon Wiesenthal Center to issue a strongly-worded letter to Norwegian Justice Minister Grete Faremo.

According to the letter, "this child has been the subject of anti-Semitic bullying and violence for the past two years, reportedly, because his father is Israeli." In addition, the letter noted that "despite the mother's report of assaults on her son to NRK radio evening news in 2010, there has been no reaction by the school, the police or governmental authorities."

Dr. Shimon Samuels, head of the Wiesenthal Center's division of international affairs, noted that "the boy has stated that he must stay clear of Norwegian and Muslim children and hide his parentage to avoid continued anti-Semitic attacks.“ Samuel added that "these young school hatemongers point to a new generation of Breivik-style racists for Norway's future. You have a responsibility to protect every threatened child and, especially, this victim targeted simply for being Jewish." -- Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

U.N. taps Jeffrey Feltman as political chief

Jeffrey Feltman, the former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, was appointed the political chief of the United Nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the appointment of Feltman as the U.N.’s undersecretary-general for political affairs on Monday. The career U.S. diplomat succeeds another American, B. Lynn Pascoe.

During his service as assistant secretary of state, Feltman played an important role in U.S. policy in the Middle East, particularly with the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Syria. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1986 and was the former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon. -- JTA

David Arquette has bar mitzvah at Western Wall

Actor David Arquette had a spontaneous bar mitzvah at the Western Wall while in Israel filming his new show for the Travel Channel.

Arquette, 40, read from the Torah and put on tefillin in front of the Wall on Monday.

The former "Scream" star, who was born to a Jewish mother but was raised on a commune in Virginia with little religion, later posted on his Twitter account, “I had my bar mitzvah today at the wall. Finally I’m a man.”

Arquette was in Israel for the first time shooting a segment for the show, “Mile High.” During the filming he attended a bar mitzvah at the Wall and was asked if he would also like to perform the ritual.

“He was very emotional, saying he was happy to be part of the chain of the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who conducted the ceremony. “I’m very pleased to see a man who is returning to his roots.”

The “Mile High” crew visited Tel Aviv, Masada and Jerusalem. Arquette also took a cooking class in Jerusalem, shopped at the city's Machane Yehuda market, went fishing in Jaffa and served as a disc jockey at a Tel Aviv nightclub. -- JTA

Non-Jews Telling Jokes about Jews

From the left: Louis C.K., Eddie Murphy, and Steven Wright.
(Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
To understand what comedy today reveals about Jews, look at the jokes gentile comedians tell about us. -- Josh Lambert, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Haredi MK calls Reform, Conservative rabbis 'clowns' in heated Knesset debate

Moshe Gafni
Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
Meeting meant to discuss funding of state's decision to fund rabbis that are not part of the ultra-Orthodox stream; panel chairman removes head of Reform movement in Israel.

The head of Israel's Reform Judaism movement was thrown out of a Knesset panel session discussing state funding of Reform and Conservative rabbis on Tuesday, with the committee's Haredi chairman saying such rabbis "didn't exist" and calling them "clowns."

The fiery debate came after late last month Israel announced that it was prepared to recognize Reform and Conservative community leaders as rabbis and fund their salaries.

Rabbis belonging to either stream will be classified as "rabbis of non-Orthodox communities." The attorney general advised the High Court that the state will begin equally financing non-Orthodox rabbis in regional councils and farming communities that are interested in doing so. -- Yair Ettinger, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Egyptian women feel excluded, despite the promise of the revolution

Egyptian women attempt to form a human chain as they hold posters of
Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi.
Morsi opposes women being allowed to serve in the presidency,
and he has called for the implementation of Islamic law.
Manu Brabo / AP

After Egyptian women stood shoulder to shoulder with men in the protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak, many looked forward to a role in the revolution’s next steps. But 15 months later, as Egyptians prepare to vote for a new president this week, rights activists complain that women are being excluded from key decisions.

“At the time of the revolution, women were needed to fill out the numbers,” said Hoda Badran, head of the Egyptian Feminist Union, which was banned under Mubarak but reinstated last year. “Now, the decision-makers don’t need women, and we’re back to this idea that femininity is inferior and masculinity superior.”

Women hold just over 2 percent of the seats in Egypt’s new parliament, down from about 12 percent in the last elections held under Mubarak. The sharp decline followed the elimination of a quota to ensure women’s representation, which had been seen by many as a way to stack the body with members of Mubarak’s political party. -- Leila Fadel and Ingy Hassieb, Washington Post

To read more, click here.

Aided by Orthodox, City’s Jewish Population Is Growing Again

Members of the Orthodox Jewish community
on Lee Avenue in Williamsburg.
Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times
After decades of decline, the Jewish population of New York City is growing again, increasing to nearly 1.1 million, fueled by the “explosive” growth of the Hasidic and other Orthodox communities, a new study has found. It is a trend that is challenging long-held notions about the group’s cultural identity and revealing widening gaps on politics, education, wealth and religious observance. -- Joseph Berger, NY Times

To read more, click here.

“Jesus’ Birthplace in Danger”: Will UNESCO choose PA hype over expert findings?

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Under intense pressure by the PLO and its allies, the upcoming meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, from  June 24 to July 6, is liable to find that the “Birthplace of Jesus: the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage route, Bethlehem” is under urgent danger and worthy of special UN protection, a declaration that could only further inflame the region.

What news reports fail to mention, however, is that the PLO’s submission — its first nomination to the World Heritage List since UNESCO voted to admit “Palestine” as a member in October 2011 — has been completely rejected by the professional body charged with evaluating country applications.

In its submission, the PLO claims that “the Israeli occupation,” which is “hampering the supply of appropriate materials,” creates an “emergency situation” that needs to be addressed by “an emergency measure.”

Yet a comprehensive investigation and report by The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) – a Paris-based entity that advises the World Heritage Committee on which nominated properties to list — said the very opposite…. -- UN Watch

To read more, click here.

The Grapes of Rap

Drake celebrates his birthday with Moscato
at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino on Oct. 22, 2011, in Las Vegas.
(Above: David Becker/WireImage/Getty Images)

Hip-hop’s new love for Moscato is a boon for one kosher winemaker. And the grape itself couldn’t be more Jewish. -- Liel Leibovitz, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Yad Vashem hit with anti-Israel, anti-Semitic graffiti

‘Hitler, thanks for the Holocaust’ was written on Yad Vashem’s wall.
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic graffiti was spray-painted on the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

The slogans written in Hebrew -- including "Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust," "If Hitler did not exist, the Zionists would have invented him," and "The war of the Zionist regime is not the war of the Jewish people" -- were mostly found at the entrance to the museum and concentrated near the Warsaw Ghetto Square and the memorial to the deportees.

Police reportedly believe that haredi Orthodox Jewish extremists, who are opposed to the State of Israel, believing it should not be established until the arrival of the Messiah, are responsible for the crime, which occurred early Monday morning.

Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev called the vandalism a "blatant act of hatred of Israel and Zionism," and said it "crosses a red line."  -- JTA


Sa'ar: Yad Vashem vandals intended to offend the public

Those responsible for desecrating the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum with anti-Semitic graffiti did so with the intention of offending the public, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said Monday morning.

Graffiti saying, "Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust" was sprayed at to the entrance to the museum in Jerusalem.

Sa'ar said that he was shocked by the act of vandalism and by the content of the graffiti. He added that he trusted that the Israel Police would know how to track down the criminals and bring them to justice. -- Jerusalem Post

IceCure removes breast cancer tumors without surgery

IceCure CEO Hezi Himmelfarb
The Israeli biomedical company, IceCure, has announced that it successfully removed benign breast cancer tumors from patients taking part in a clinical trial in Japan.

“The clinical trial destroyed small cancerous tumors by cryoablation, without the need for a surgical procedure. We believe that cryoablation, using the IceSense3, is an innovative approach best suited for treating small cancerous tumors in the breast,” said IceCure CEO Hezi Himmelfarb.

IceSense3 is an ultrasound-guided procedure that penetrates the tumor and then destroys it cryogenically – engulfing it with ice. No sutures are required and the entire process takes about 10 minutes.

And while cryoablation has been used to remove benign and malignant tumors of various kinds for years, Himmelfarb says IceCure’s device possesses advanced needle technology that doesn’t require reaching past the tumor as is the case in other devices.

The first four procedures were successfully carried out at the Kameda Medical Center in Kamogowa, Japan, which is fully financing the trial. -- Viva Sarah Press, Israel21c

Why do Israelis live so long?

For all the hardships, Israel stands out for longevity. Is it the prosperity? The olive oil? And, will it last?
At 81.5, Israel has the sixth highest life expectancy in the world.
Photo by Moran Maayan / Jini
Israelis love to gripe about the country. Israelis think life here is much harder than in other Western countries. It turns out that Israelis also have a lot of time to devote to their grousing: life here may be difficult, but Israelis live long lives.

At 81.5, Israel has the sixth highest life expectancy in the world. This is mainly because of the men, statistically speaking. Israeli men can expect to live 79.6 years, on average, the third highest in the world, bested only by men in Switzerland (79.9) and Iceland (79.7).

How do Israelis enjoy such longevity? -- Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Neil Sedaka--the Jewish Lion King

Neil Sedaka’s life is like a Disney movie — specifically, “The Lion King.” There was a long period in the 1950s and ‘60s when he was, if not the king, certainly the crown prince of pop music. Songs he wrote and sang topped the hit parade. This was followed by a low period around the time The Beatles hit the airwaves, then resurgence with the help of Elton John. Today, he records CDs with his grandchildren. In short: the circle of life.

The latest collaboration started two years ago with a CD/Book combo called “Waking Up Is Hard to Do.” It included children’s versions of his most popular songs, like “Where the Toys Are” and “Lunch Will Keep Us Together.” Its success spawned a follow-up collaboration called “Dinosaur Pets” that’s doing so well it was recently out of stock on

The Brooklyn-born composer and singer is also the subject of “Laughter in the Rain,” a play that’s received good early reviews in England. And the release of a symphony and piano concerto he composed and recorded with the London Philharmonic is in the works. Sedaka is being honored on June 12 by the Folksbiene National Yiddish Theatre at the award-winning group’s spring gala. He spoke to The Arty Semite about Adele, dating Carole King, and the mysterious ingredient in egg creams. -- Curt Schleier, Forward

To read more, click here.

Armenian Birthright?

Mykil Bachoian jumps for joy in Armenia.
He's also explored his roots in Israel.
Linda Yepoyan grew up in Pittsburgh, a city that had just 30 Armenian families and no Armenian church. She felt little cultural connection to her family's ancestral homeland.

Or so she thought.

Then came the December 1988 earthquake that ravaged what was then the Soviet Republic of Armenia. More than 25,000 people were killed. The devastation was so great that the USSR formally asked the United States for humanitarian aid, for the first time since World War II.

Yepoyan, then 28 and immersed in a career in film and television, was so jarred by the images of destruction that she felt a visceral need to be there. She told her boss at HBO that she would be back in a year.

Instead, she stayed for nearly three years and married Armen Yepoyan, an Armenian. When she returned to the United States, she spent nearly a decade working for a Washington, D.C.-based organization that lobbied for humanitarian and developmental aid for the newly democratic nation, which gained independence in 1991.

The couple relocated to Wynnewood several years ago so their three children could attend an Armenian day school in Radnor.

"It was kind of an awakening experience," Yepoyan said of her connection with Armenia, a mountainous country of 3 million people that borders Turkey, Iran, Georgia and Azerbaijan. "It makes you feel much more whole."

If Yepoyan's story bears some resemblance to that of countless American Jews whose lives were changed by visiting Israel, then the name of the organization she has directed since its creation in 2003 will sound really familiar:

It's called Birthright Armenia.  -- Bryan Schwartzman, Philadelphia Jewish Exponent

To read more, click here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stop Worrying About Yordim--Many Israelis Leave, Then Return Home. So What?

No Need To Worry: The controversy over an ad campaign urging Israelis
in the Diaspora to return home exemplifies the angst some feel
over the supposed trend of emigration from the Jewish state.
A demographer says the concern is vastly overblown.
Israel Government
Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, acquiesced wearily to a recent question posed by Time magazine, one that was stated as fact: “One million Israelis live abroad. It’s not as if Jews are flocking there.” Peres admitted warily: “We’re swimming upstream….” But this picture is not new. In fact, for most of Peres’s 60 years of political leadership — appointed to 12 governing Cabinets, heading three as prime minister, privy to and controlling Israel’s vaunted data and intelligence apparatus — the portrayal of dangerously large numbers of Israelis abroad has been the accepted wisdom.Israel boasts of the world’s most comprehensive population registries and censuses analyzed by its respected Central Bureau of Statistics, which has never lent support to the “million Israelis abroad” thesis. When, 15 years ago, I asked why such fantastic numbers come out of ministries just down the street from this scientific bureau, one Israeli government statistician shrugged his shoulders and said,“They don’t come and ask us.” -- Pini Herman, Forward

To read more, click here.

World’s largest, most advanced underground hospital opens in Haifa

‘Fortified hospital’ at Rambam Medical Center will ensure that thousands of patients can receive normal care even during abnormal times
A simulation of the 'fortified hospital' in action. (photo credit: Paul Mellling/RHCC)
The world’s largest and most advanced “fortified hospital” was unveiled this week at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. The 2,000 bed underground hospital is designed to keep patients and staff safe dozens of meters below ground even if missiles and rockets are falling above ground – in case the city ever faces the kind of attack it did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. It is also designed to keep out chemical or biological weapons.

Missile attacks by Hezbollah and Hamas were the impetus behind the construction of the Sammy Ofer Northern Regional Underground Emergency Hospital at the campus of Rambam. Over the past decade, missile attacks have devastated both the far north and south of Israel. During the war in 2006, and during “hot” periods over the past decade  in southern Israel when Hamas terrorists have dispatched dozens of weapons a day against targets in the Negev, both Rambam and Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon (where a similar, but smaller underground facility is under construction) were forced to move essential operations underground. -- David Shamah, Times of Israel

To read more and to view the accompanying video, click here.

Thousands of Girl Scouts descend on National Mall to celebrate 100th Birthday

A centennial for the Girl Scouts:
Girl Scouts from all over the country gathered
on the National Mall for a celebration of
the organization’s 100th anniversary.
She came thousands of miles from across the Pacific, and now was standing at the foot of the Washington Monument. She wore a red robe, a blue hat and a smile.

All around Nobuko Asano on Saturday were thousands upon thousands of Girl Scouts, young and old, gathered on the National Mall to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their organization.

“It’s amazing,” said Asano, 58, who arrived from Japan the day before for the event.

Dubbed “Girl Scouts Rock the Mall,” the centennial party filled the Mall with people from across the country — and around the world.

Asano, a Girl Scout since age 10, said the day amounted to a “global friendship.”

Organizers, who were expecting 200,000 people, proclaimed that it was the largest gathering ever for the Girl Scouts, an apt way to cheer what they called a proud history of developing leadership and community in girls and women internationally.

The diversity of the crowd was mirrored by a stunning array of colors, as the white t-shirts sold to promote the event had been dyed pink, blue and tie-dye.

“It’s symbolic of the important place Girl Scouting has had in this country,” said Anna Maria Chavez, chief executive of Girl Scouts of the USA. -- Mihir Zaveri, Washington Post

Editor's note: Women's League supports the Girl Scouts.
To read more, click here.

New Generation of Ethiopians March Toward Dream of Acceptance in Israel

Near the prime minister’s residence, Ethiopian-Israelis,
some with painted faces, protested what they said was discrimination.
Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
Yetmwork Makurya, 35, had tears in her eyes as she spoke of her attachment to Israel. When she arrived as a teenager in 1991 on a secret overnight airlift from Ethiopia, she said, “Jerusalem and the land of Israel was my dream.”

Yet over the past three months Ms. Makurya has spent much of her time with an angry new generation of Ethiopian-Israeli activists on the sidewalk near the prime minister’s residence in central Jerusalem, protesting against unofficial but hurtful racism and discrimination.

“Here,” said Ms. Makurya, a mother of three, “everything is determined by the color of my skin.”

For many Israelis, the idea that Jews could be racist toward other Jews is anathema. The 1991 airlift, known as Operation Solomon, brought 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel within 36 hours and was greeted at the time with great celebration. -- Isabel Kershner, NY Times

To read more, click here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Business site raises eyebrows by asking 'Why Do Some People Hate Jews?'

Business Insider CEO and Editor-in-Chief Henry Blodget in New York earlier this year.
The Business Insider, a popular business-focused news website, posted a curious headline on its site: “Why Do Some People Hate Jews?”

Tuesday's headline and accompanying blog post, from Business Insider CEO and Editor-in-Chief Henry Blodget, wound up turning a lot of heads. The avalanche of response and criticism prompted Blodget – a high-profile former Wall Street analyst – to revise his headline and offer explanations/defenses of his post throughout the day.

“Along with many other sites, this site is occasionally visited by people whose mission in life appears to be to express hatred of Jews,” Blodget wrote in his original post. “And hatred of Jews has obviously been an ongoing theme worldwide for centuries.

“What is the source of this animosity? Why does it perpetuate itself? Where did this prejudice come from?” -- Dan Gilgoff - CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

To read more, click here.

To read Henry Blodget's original postings, ciick here.

Dutch groups agree on ritual animal slaughter reforms

Dutch law requires animals to be stunned before butchering
but makes an exception for ritual halaal and kosher slaughter.
Photograph by: Adrian Humphreys, Eastern News
Dutch Agriculture Deputy Minister Henk Bleker signed an agreement with religious leaders Tuesday to make ritual slaughter more humane, including stunning animals after 40 seconds. -- Agence France-Presse
 via Ottawa Citizen

To read more, click here.

Hasidic Jew fired from NYPD over beard length

Fishel Litzman
Norman Y. Lono, New York Daily News
An Orthodox Jew who was weeks away from becoming a New York City police officer said he has been kicked out of the police academy for refusing to trim his beard.

Former recruit Fishel Litzman of Monsey was fired Friday after multiple confrontations with the department over the length of his whiskers, he told the Daily News (click here to see NY Daily News article).

Litzman is Hasidic and believes that cutting his beard is forbidden by God.
NYPD rules usually require officers to be clean-shaven. The department makes exceptions for beards kept for religious purposes, but even then only allows 1 millimeter worth of growth. -- Associated Press via Yahoo News

To read more, click here.

Holocaust insurance claims divide the Jewish community

Hardly a day goes by where Renee Firestone isn’t asked by some school, museum, reporter or filmmaker to talk about the Holocaust.

“Somebody has to tell the story,” she said. “I am fortunate enough, at my age, to still be able to walk and talk. So I have to do it.”

Firestone is 88, with pale blue eyes and a warm, Cheshire cat smile. She manages a 24-unit apartment building in Beverly Hills, where she lives with her daughter, Klaire.

Renee was born in Czechoslovakia and was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau at the age of 20, during the last years of the war. Her mother was sent to the gas chambers immediately upon arrival. Her brother was a partisan. Her father actually survived internment, only to die of tuberculosis four months after being liberated.

In the 1990s, the Firestones began seeing stories in the news about litigation aimed at recovering assets from the Holocaust—compensation for slave labor, return of looted art, recovered funds from Swiss bank accounts and, finally, money for insurance claims. In the late 1990s, Renee’s cousin, Fred Jackson, was among the first people in the United States to sue the Italian insurance giant Assicurazioni Generali for payment on an old policy taken out before the war by his mother, whose brother was Renee’s father.

Renee’s father, who owned a textile and tailoring business, was the patriarch of the family, and although no policy documents exist today, Firestone is certain that if her father’s sister had insurance, then he must have it as well. -- Hillel Aron, Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

US VP's daughter marries Jewish doctor

Ashley Biden, the daughter of Vice President Joe Biden, married a Jewish doctor.

Ashley Biden, 31, and Howard Krein were married Saturday in Delaware in an interfaith Jewish-Catholic ceremony at the Biden family's church. Biden and Krein reportedly dated for a year before they became engaged in September.

Biden is a social worker. Krein is an ear, nose and throat specialist at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia.

"We're happy to welcome Howard into our family, and we wish them all the best in their new life together," said a statement from the vice president and his wife, Jill, issued after the wedding.

The Rev. David F. Murphy, a Roman Catholic priest, officiated at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Greenville, Del., with Rabbi Joseph Foreman assisting, The New York Times reported.

The couple will reside in Philadelphia.

Hallie Biden, married to the vice president's son, Beau, is also Jewish. -- JTA