Thursday, June 21, 2012



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chief rabbi will fight non-Orthodox rabbis’ salaries

 Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi said he will fight the state’s agreement to pay the salaries of some non-Orthodox rabbis who lead their communities.

Rabbi Shlomo Amar said in an interview with the haredi Kol Berama radio station on Sunday night that he would convene the Chief Rabbinate Council, made up of Orthodox rabbis throughout Israel, to discuss ways to reverse the decision. The meeting reportedly will take place next week.

“The greatest danger for our generation is the danger of assimilation, and we need to be strong and steadfast in our fight,” Amar said. “It is forbidden to remain silent because there is nothing more serious than this measure.”

He added that the decision to recognize non-Orthodox rabbis could “uproot all the foundations of the Torah.” -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Group in Israel proposes drones to check eruv

An organization in Israel wants to use unmanned aerial vehicles to check the national eruv in problematic spots.

The Shabbat Fund has placed a proposal on the table to purchase the UAVs at a cost of more than $6,000 a drone, the Hebrew language Beharedi Haredim website reported.

The drone could save manpower hours and get to hard-to-reach places such as farmland and privately owned lands in order to detect breaches in the eruv, according to the fund.

An eruv creates a boundary that allows observant Jews to carry items in public areas on Shabbat.

A member of the fund told Beharedi Haredim that it is still too early to "rejoice" at the prospect.

"We are still checking," he said. "We have not seen yet the product, nor have we checked its efficacy." -- JTA

Opinion: Baron-Cohen's Bilbul

Critics didn’t like The Dictator.  The Post found it unfunny.  The Times thought it was “lazy.”  They didn’t like it because it exploited crude Arab stereotypes: sex obsession, arrogance and obscene chauvinism. They didn’t like it because it felt like a tired sketch comedy with a nod to current events. And they didn’t like it because it wasn’t unscripted like Borat, it wasn’t racy like Borat and it wasn’t gross like Borat.

But what can I do? I liked it. I think it’s because I speak 21st century Jewish. --  Elisheva Goldberg, Daily Beast

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

Unlikely Chronicler of Jewish Neighborhood: Bearded Tattoo Fan Publishes New History of Lower East Side

The president of the New York Tattoo Society is an unlikely figure to launch what may be the most ambitious publishing venture ever to cover the Jewish Lower East Side. Clayton Patterson, a non-Jew whose long beard could be mistaken for that of a biblical patriarch, is the editor of the three-volume “Jews: A People’s History of the Lower East Side,” a project now nearing completion. -- Gary Shapiro, Forward

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

IOC warns against boycotting athletes at London Games

The International Olympic Committee warned that a refusal by any participant in next month's Games to compete against an athlete from a particular country is against the IOC's Code of Ethics.

The warning came Thursday in response to an Algerian kayaker who withdrew last month from a World Cup event after learning that he would be competing against an Israeli.

“Refusing to participate in an Olympic event because of a fellow athlete/team’s religion or nationality would not only be unsporting behavior but a serious breach of the IOC’s Code of Ethics, the principles of the Olympic Charter and the Athletes Oath,” IOC spokesman Emanuelle Moreau said in a statement.

Moreau advised athletes who object to competing against participants from other countries to "stay at home."

Following the World Cup incident, the head of the Algerian Olympic committee told the Times of London that all Algerian Olympic competitors may refuse to compete against Israelis at the London Olympics in July.

“There is an obligation to ask our government if we have to meet Israel in sport,” Rachid Hanifi told the paper last week.

Athletes from Arab states and Iran have boycotted Israeli athletes at recent Olympics. -- JTA

Queen Bee Syndrome False: Women Help Other Women Advance In The Workplace, Study

We’ve seen her depicted time and time again -- Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada," Katharine Parker in "Working Girl," Amanda Woodward on "Melrose Place" -- the boss lady who clawed her way to the top and is always ready to undermine other women trying to do the same.

In 1973 this woman even got her own name courtesy of researchers G.L. Staines, T.E. Jayaratne, and C. Tavris -- the Queen Bee. But there's a new study out that suggests that the Queen Bee archetype is far less ubiquitous than the press and the entertainment industry would have you believe.

The research, conducted by Catalyst, a non-profit organization that focuses on expanding opportunities for women in the workplace, found that most women aren’t in fact looking at their female subordinates as competition to be cut down. Rather, they view less experienced female coworkers as potential talent and are actually more likely than men to develop that talent through informal or formal mentorship. -- Emma Gray, Huffington Post

To read more, click here.

Day school catcher Max Ungar, drafted by Nationals, to play college ball

Max Ungar, the Maryland day school catcher drafted by the Washington Nationals, will forego the pros to play at Denison University in Ohio.

The Washington Jewish Week reported that Ungar, 17, who recently graduated from the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, will fulfill his commitment to enroll at Denison. He was picked in the 36th round of the Major League Baseball draft.

"The Nationals will offer me a contract, and I will decline the offer," Unger told the paper. "I was recruited by Denison and plan to go there to study and play baseball. I really like the academic challenges of the school and know that if I play well the Nationals or another team can draft me again after my junior year of college." -- JTA

Monday, June 18, 2012

Short on space, Israel looks to artificial islands

Cabinet approves plan to form new landmasses to house airport, infrastructures; environmental group anticipates problems

Israel is well-known for its innovation and outside-the-box thinking, but usually not on the scale now being suggested. At the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, ministers gave the green light to an ambitious new project that would see artificial islands constructed off Israel’s coastline.

Plans for the islands, which will be home to a new airport, a seaport, a desalination plant, a power plant and a military testing base, have already been approved by the Interior Ministry and will now go to a special interministerial steering committee for more specific discussions on implementation.

“The formation of artificial islands can solve Israel’s shortage of space for large industrial facilities. The solution of artificial islands offers an alternative to facilities that would have been built on the shoreline, robbing it of valuable real estate and harming the environment,” Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said Sunday. -- Ron Friedman, Times of Israel

To read more, click here.

Israel forms two lines over shopping on the Sabbath

More retailers in Israel are opening on Saturday, the Sabbath, a trend that butts up against government restrictions and infuriates ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Tel Aviv Port retail promenade has become one of the Israeli city's busiest attractions
on Saturdays, despite government restrictions on operating on the Jewish Sabbath.
(Edmund Sanders,  Los Angeles Times)
It's a bright Saturday morning and shopkeepers at the trendy Tel Aviv Port shopping mall are bracing for the thousands of Israeli families about to descend upon the city's busiest outdoor retail promenade.

But among the first visitors many Saturdays is a city inspector, who goes store to store issuing $200 citations to business owners for violating Tel Aviv's ordinance against conducting commerce on the Jewish Sabbath.

Small-shop owners fire off cellphone text messages to warn one another that the inspector is making the rounds; then they chase out customers and shut their doors until he passes. Larger chains shrug off the ticket as a cost of business, far overshadowed by the profits they stand to make. A single pair of jeans at the Levi's store costs more than the fine. -- Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times

To read more, click here.

The Ladies in Grey and Blue: Unsung Jewish Heroines of the Civil War

About 10,000 Jewish men fought in the Civil War, for both the Union and Confederate armies. When these soldiers set off for battle, they left behind their wives, sisters and daughters, who stayed to raise the children and run the households and, sometimes, the family businesses.

But not all these women stayed focused on only domestic or local activities. Instead, many found a way to participate in the war, through relief associations to aid sick and wounded soldiers and benevolent organizations to help women whose husbands and sons were off fighting or injured.

These women also organized fundraising committees to buy supplies for the soldiers, turned their synagogues or homes into hospitals, and created sewing societies to make uniforms for the soldiers.

On the Civil War Sesquicentennial, we have profiled six courageous and resilient Jewish women who took part in the war of the North and South. While coming from a variety of backgrounds and fighting for different sides, these women were all passionate about the war and willing to endure hardships and danger in order to stay involved. -- Roberta Sandler, Forward

To read more, click here.

Turning sound into sight for the blind

Sensory substitution devices help the brain process visual info using existing senses.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Amir Amedi
People born blind can be trained to visualize objects using sensory substitution devices (SSDs) programmed by scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences and the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada.

SSDs are non-invasive devices that provide visual information to the blind through their existing senses. For example, a visual-to-auditory SSD converts images from a miniature video camera into “soundscapes” that activate the visual cortex of the blind person, who listens through stereo headphones hooked up to a laptop or smartphone.

Individuals trained in the laboratory of Dr. Amir Amedi can use SSDs to identify complex everyday objects, locate people and read letters and words.

After the SSD training period, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the organization of the visual cortex in the brains of the test subjects. The results were published several months ago in the journal Cerebral Cortex. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Israeli wins World Food Prize for 1st time in history

Growing up in what was then Palestine, Prof. Daniel Hillel became fascinated with plants thriving in tough conditions. -- Sharon Udasin, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Nine Types of Jewish Dads on TV

The Proud Dad – Morty Seinfeld (“Seinfeld”
[W]e salute you, the Jewish father.

Why? Well first of all, because this Sunday is Father’s Day, and secondly because we usually pay more attention to Jewish moms, that we often forget how great Jewish dads are.

They are so great, that unlike most Jewish mothers who are very similar in their television portrayal, the TV Jewish fathers are so different from one another, so we decided to name nine of our favorite types of Jewish dads on TV. --

To read more and to see the accompanying videos, click here.

Why Our Daughters Should Learn to Use Tefillin

Girlchik (center) and friends in tefillin for the first time.
Shortly before Boychik’s bar mitzvah, which was a few years back, his zeyde bought him tefillin. I have sweet photos of my (Haredi) father-in-law showing him how to put them on for the first time.

At the time, we were well aware that the scene would not be repeated with Girlchik as she prepared for her bat mitzvah. When asked if he would get her a set to mark the occasion, Zeyde laughed and said, “let her use Boychik’s.”

Now, tefillin is not something that I think Girlchik is likely to regularly use. It’s not something she sees me use, since I’ve never tried them. And while Girlchik does see adult women, as well as men, wearing tefillin during morning minyan at her Jewish day school, it is not required of post-bat mitzvah girls. Or boys, for that matter.

As I learned from interviews for this article about women and tefillin, requiring it as part of Jewish education seems key to it becoming standard practice. And since it is rarely required of girls, and done by fairly few adult women, it doesn’t seem likely to become a routine practice any time soon.

But then again, few Jews feel confident getting up in front of a congregation to lead services or to chant from a sefer Torah, and these are skills I am determined my children master. I want Girlchik, as well as her brother and sister, to know how to access everything in Jewish literature and practice, and don’t want tefillin to be an exception just because I’m not familiar with it. I want them to feel that these traditions are theirs, that they have ownership of these things that can seem intimidating but are their birthright as members of the Jewish people. I don’t want them to feel as if they are not up to the task of some the more challenging practices, as I do.

Girlchik’s being called to the Torah for the first time, at school the Thursday before her bat mitzvah, was the perfect moment for her to learn how to lay tefillin. The teacher leading morning minyan wisely approached her along with two girlfriends who had recently become bat mitzvah, and, with the wheels greased with the promise of chocolate kisses, they agreed to learn how to wrap them over their arms and around their heads. Their teacher — a woman — showed them how. It was a deeply gratifying sight (one I immortalized in photos, annoying the heck out of my daughter as a member of the “mamarazzi.”)

I don’t know that Girlchik will make wearing tefillin — or davening, for that matter — part of her daily practice as she moves through adolescence and into adulthood.

But at least I know that she will have the skills to do so. -- Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Sisterhood Blog via Forward

Where did the PA’s money go?

Palestinian Authority President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
Photo: Fadi Arouri / Reuter
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says that his regime is short of funds. And meanwhile a reader asks me: “Can you please explain to me why 20 years after Oslo and billions in dollars in foreign aid, the Palestinian Authority still has not built modern hospitals? Or rather, why do the donor countries pour money down the PA drain without expecting even some face-saving results?” -- Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Post

Good question. Short answer: Swiss bank accounts.

In other words, a huge amount of the money has been stolen.

To read more, click here.

Ships getting too big for Israel's ports

Large cargo ships that ply the world's major trade routes are now much bigger than they were just a few years ago.
Outward bound: Cargo ship at Haifa port.
Photo by Yaron Kaminsky
Israel may find itself under a "maritime blockade" within the next five years, despite recent investments of NIS 5 billion in local ports.

Large cargo ships that ply the world's major trade routes are now much bigger than they were just a few years ago, and the biggest are unable to enter Israeli ports safely, thus pushing Israel off the maps of major shipping companies.

Until the present ports can be expanded, or new ones built, the only solution is to use ports in neighboring countries to trans-ship containers - at a cost of at least $400 per shipping container, in addition to regular costs.

Shipping is critical for Israel, as 98% of Israeli trade goes by ship.  -- Avi Bar-Eli and Daniel Schmil, Haaretz

To read more, click here.
The following full page advertisement will be appearing in newspapers around the world on Thursday, 14 June 2012.

click here to download pdf version.