Friday, July 6, 2012

'Pretend Pollard is a Greek-American, and free him'

Former CIA director James Woolsey reverses Clinton-era stance,
recommends clemency, in 'Wall Street Journal' letter.
Former CIA director James Woolsey called for the release of Jonathan Pollard in a letter to the editor, printed in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, hinting that his being Jewish may be a reason he is still behind bars.

"For those hung up for some reason on the fact that he's an American Jew, pretend he's a Greek- or Korean- or Filipino-American and free him," Woolsey wrote. -- Jerusalem Post

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A lighter touch in the dentist’s chair

Syneron Dental Lasers president Ira Prigat

LiteTouch laser system, by Israel’s Syneron Dental, replaces the dreaded drill and first-generation lasers with a lighter-weight, easier-to-use device. -- David Halevi, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Op-Ed: How to turn around Jewish education investments

Abraham Foxman,
National Director of the Anti-Defamation League
Much has been said and written about the financial priorities of the Jewish community and whether they are misdirected. All too often in these discussions, an artificial dichotomy is created between two goals: sustaining American Jewish support for Israel and attending to the domestic priorities of the community in the United States.

Reams of paper have been used in arguing where the financial priorities of the community should lie.

We need more and more to integrate these two challenges: to recognize, as the Taglit-Birthright Israel project has, that rather than a competition, the twin goals of strengthening Israel and strengthening the American Jewish community are linked and reinforce each other.

I believe the best way to strengthen a Jewish community that is diminishing through assimilation is through Jewish education. That is why, in my recent remarks to the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, I called for a five-year, $500 million-per-year reinvestment in the Jewish Diaspora. -- Abraham H. Foxman, JTA

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Major Pay Gap For Reform Women Rabbis

“We are fighting today for some of the same issues
I fought for 40 years ago,” says Rabbi Sally Priesand.

Despite movement’s stated commitment to equal pay, women earn as much as $43,000 less than their male colleagues.

Forty years after Sally Priesand became the Reform movement’s first woman rabbi, Reform women rabbis continue to dramatically trail their male counterparts in pay.

A study conducted by the movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis found that women earn as much as $43,000 less annually. The study also documented the relatively small number of women rabbis leading large Reform congregations. -- Stewart Ain, Jewish Week

To read more, click here.

'Jewish Nobel Prize' Worth $1 Million Established

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday a new international prize to be awarded to Jews who win global recognition due to their achievements in the fields of science and the arts.

The Genesis Prize, worth $1 million, to be financed by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, will be awarded by Prime Minister Netanyahu at a festive annual ceremony to be held close to the Passover holiday. The goal of the prize is to emphasize the contribution of the Jews to world history and draw the younger generation of Jews around the world closer to the State of Israel and Jewish identity.

The prize selection committee will be chaired by Jewish Agency Chairman Sharansky and will be composed of retired judges and Diaspora Jewish community leaders, as well as Prime Minister's Office and Genesis Philanthropy Group representatives.

"The prize symbolizes Jews' great contribution in human development and will be a source of pride for young Jews around the world,” Netanyahu said. “The Jewish People has developed excellence over the years due thanks to its values and heritage. This is an important step for the cohesion of our people and symbolizes its unity around Jewish values." -- Rachel Hirshfeld, Israel National News

To read more, click here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

As London’s Jews prepare for Olympics, Munich 11 on their minds

The Tower Bridge in London, decorated with the five Olympic rings
in preparation for the 2012 Summer Games, June 2012.
(Iain Farrell via CC))
For the British Jewish community, the most memorable moment of the London Olympics may be a somber one.

On Aug. 6, several hundred people are expected to attend a commemoration for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

"From conversations across the community, the key thing people are engaged in around the Olympics is that they want to see a commemoration of Munich,” said Peter Mason, director of the London Jewish Forum.

While a ceremony organized by the Israelis and the local community takes place during every Olympic Games, this one marks the 40th anniversary of the massacre. The International Olympics Committee continues to reject international calls for a minute of silence during the opening ceremony on July 27. -- Miriam Shaviv, JTA

To read more, click here.

Israel Holocaust museum alters wording on Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII is seen next to a new text in Hebrew and English
in the museum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
Israel's Yad Vashem has altered the wording on a display
dealing with the controversial role of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII
during the Holocaust, the museum said. (AFP
Photo By Menahem Kahana/AFP
Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has altered the wording on a display dealing with the controversial role of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust, the museum said.

The change in text comes after years of friction between the Vatican and the museum over a panel which accused Pope Pius XII of failing to protest the killing of Jews and signing a treaty with Nazi Germany to protect the Church.

The new panel clarifies that the deal, known as a concordat, was in fact signed by his predecessor Pius XI, and it presents arguments by both critics and defenders of the actions of Pius XII. -- AFP via Yahoo News

To read more and to view accompanying slide show, click here.

Demjanjuk’s citizenship won’t be restored posthumously, court rules

Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk’s U.S. citizenship cannot be posthumously restored, a  U.S. appeals court ruled.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled June 28 that his death made the case moot. Demjanjuk died in southern Germany on March 17 at the age of 91.

Restoration of his citizenship would have enabled his widow to seek Social Security benefits. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

UNESCO grants Church of Nativity a Palestine heritage status

UNESCO has agreed to name the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as a World Heritage Site and list it as in Palestine.

The secret vote, which came during the U.N. body's World Heritage Convention in St. Petersburg, Russia, was 13-6, with two abstentions.

The Palestinians had put forth the vote based on a technicality, claiming the site is in danger. Israel and the United States had opposed the move, seeing it as advancing the Palestinians' political agenda rather than as an effort to protect the site.

The U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, the culture and science arm of the United Nations, said the United States was disappointed by the decision.

"The site clearly has tremendous religious and historical significance," David Killon said in a statement. "However, the emergency procedure used in this instance is reserved only for extreme cases."

Three Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter on June 28 to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urging him to oppose the resolution.

Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Shelley Berkley (D-N.V.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) wrote that “the Palestinians clearly are not motivated by technical concerns related to historical preservation, but rather are attempting to hijack the World Heritage process to further their own political objectives.”

“We do not believe UNESCO in general or the World Heritage Committee in particular is the appropriate forum for debating such contentious issues that have little to do with historic preservation,” the lawmakers wrote.

While the Palestinians police the Bethlehem’s streets, Israel still has authority to determine who and what enters and leaves the area.

UNESCO recognized Palestine last year as a member state by a overwhelming majority of 107-14 with objections from the United States and Israel. -- JTA

Monumental synagogue uncovered in Galilee

Section of mosaic floor uncovered at Huqoq(Photo: Jim Haberman)
A monumental synagogue building dating to the Late Roman period (ca. 4th-5th centuries C.E.) has been discovered in archaeological excavations at Huqoq in Israel's Galilee. -- Israel Antiquities Authority via Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy US Independence Day

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Groups join Colorado federation’s fire relief effort

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago is directing funds to the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado’s fire relief fund.

The Colorado fund is helping victims, firefighters, first responders and others impacted by the 14 wildfires raging across Colorado.

The Chicago funds will be directed to the Colorado Fire Relief Fund established by the Allied Jewish Federation. Both federations are absorbing all administrative costs and say that 100 percent of the donations will directly go to aid victims and those battling the fires.

“Once again, the Jewish community is coming to the aid not only of its own, but to all of those facing this tremendous tragedy,” said the Chicago federation's president, Steven Nasatir.

As of Friday morning, just one of the fires had forced the evacuation of 35,000 people from the edge of Colorado's second-largest city, had killed at least one person and incinerated 346 homes. -- JTA


Relief funds assisting Colorado fire victims

As residents of Colorado Springs return to their homes following widespread wild fires, U.S. Jewish communities are raising money for relief funds.

The Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, in conjunction with local synagogues, community organizations and national partners, has launched the Colorado Fire Relief Fund to help victims, firefighters, first responders and others affected by the fires.

Jewish federations have been directing donors to the Colorado Fire Relief Fund online or to send checks with the notation “Colorado Fire Relief Fund” to Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, 300 S. Dahlia, Suite 300, Denver, CO 80246.

All the donations to the Colorado Fire Relief Fund will go to directly combat the fire and help victims. There will be no administrative fees taken out of these funds, according to a Jewish Federations of North America statement.

Chabad-Lubavitch of Colorado Springs also has set up a relief fund. -- JTA

US Homeland Security allocates nearly $10 million to Jewish nonprofits

The Department of Homeland Security has allocated $9.7 million to Jewish organizations and facilities considered vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

The funding, announced last Friday, came from the DHS’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which aids nonprofit organizations that are at risk of terrorist threats and helps those organizations coordinate with broader security initiatives.

 This round of funding was the program’s seventh allocation since its creation in 2005. The program has distributed a total of $128 million during that time, according to a Jewish Federations of North America news release.

“We are grateful that the Nonprofit Security Grant Program has emerged to supplement the work of local and federal law enforcement to help keep us safe,” said William Daroff, JFNA’s vice president for public policy, in the news release. -- JTA

German Jewish hospital stops religious circumcisions

A German Jewish hospital has stopped allowing religious circumcisions in light of a court decision defining them as causing grievous bodily harm to young boys.

Last week's ruling by a Cologne district court did not outlaw circumcision, but still the Jewish Hospital in Berlin decided to stop allowing religious circumcisions, according to Ynet. Doctors may still perform circumcisions for medical reasons.

“We performed circumcisions on a regular basis until this ruling and we no longer have the legal freedom to do it," hospital spokesman Gerhard Nerlich told Ynet.

Germany’s foreign minister, meanwhile, sought to dispel “doubts arising internationally about religious tolerance in Germany."

"The free exercise of religion is protected in Germany. That includes religious traditions," Guido Westerwelle said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

German Jewish and Muslim leaders have criticized the Cologne ruling, which said the "fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents." Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called it “outrageous and insensitive" in a statement. -- JTA

The Last Jews of Tunisia/Last Jews in the Arab World

Jews lived all over the Middle East and North Africa for thousands of years, and they lived among Arab Muslims for more than 1,000 years, but they’re almost extinct now in the Arab world. Arabs and Jews didn’t live well together, exactly, but they co-existed five times longer than the United States has existed. They weren’t always token minorities, either. Baghdad was almost a third Jewish during the first half of the 20th century. Morocco and Tunisia are the last holdouts. In Tunisia, only 1,500 remain. -- Michael J. Totten, World Affairs Journal

To read more, click here.

Newest UNESCO World Heritage Site - Carmel Caves

Mount Carmel (Photo: Israel Ministry of Tourism)
On Friday, 29 June 2012, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO voted to list the Nahal Me'arot / Carmel Caves Nature Reserve as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Op-Ed: Why Raoul Wallenberg’s centennial matters

Raoul Wallenberg 1944 Budapest
The Swedish rescuer Raoul Wallenberg was born 100 years ago this summer, and his centennial is being commemorated with events in many cities across Europe and North America. On June 26, a symposium in his memory was held at Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research in Jerusalem.

Wallenberg, whose birth date is Aug. 4, 1912, is one of the approximately 24,000 individuals who have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, the honor bestowed by Yad Vashem and the State of Israel upon non-Jews who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

Why is his centennial the cause of so much commemorative activity?

Certainly part of the answer lies in Wallenberg’s tragic fate. Early in 1945, after having been involved in rescuing Jews in Budapest since the previous summer, Wallenberg was arrested by the conquering Soviets. -- Robert Rozett, JTA

To read more, click here.

Take My iPad, Please!

Gadget Rules from Conservative Movement Place Needed Limits on Technology
For the gadget-toting Jew, a recent announcement from the Conservative movement about new Sabbath guidelines on the ban on electronics might sound like a flight attendant’s canned directive before takeoff: no cell phones, smart phones, digital cameras or even e-readers.

But beyond the traditional halachic reasons for pressing the “off button” on the Sabbath — the Torah’s ban on “work” reinterpreted for modern times — the guidelines contain an insight that speaks to the spiritual health of our society: The very gadgets meant to make our lives easier are now shackling us to our work and isolating us from the people around us. And Judaism’s oldest mandate — the Sabbath — might be the key to untethering ourselves. -- Naomi Zeveloff, Forward

To read more and see the accompanying slide show, click here.

After Hebrew National: Best of the Kosher Wursts

Courtesy of Jack’s Gourmet
The jury’s still out on the case of whether Hebrew National’s kosher or not. Luckily, there are many more meaty options for this summer’s weenie roasts, after all, there are few things are more delicious than a grilled-to-perfection hot dog. While beef hot dogs are an undeniable simple pleasure of backyard cuisine, the standard supermarket franks are far from the only options. These days, kosher cookout guests can enjoy a huge variety of the tasty and tube-shaped. From basic beef to lower-fat chicken to the more exotic tastes of chipotle peppers and smoked duck, there are plenty of bun-ready bites to sample, many sourced from grass-fed animals and sustainable farms. To be quite frank, you might need a bigger grill. -- Blair Thornburgh, Forward

To read more, click here.

Rozanne Gold's Tales of the Mayor's Kitchen

Rozanne Gold cooking
in the Gracie Mansion Kitchen
in 1978 for Mayor Ed Koch.
Courtesy of Rozanne Gold
Before Rozanne Gold wrote 12 cookbooks, won four James Beard Awards, created the menus for three of New York’s three-star restaurants, inspired the New York Times’ “Minimalist” column and invented the concept of Hudson Valley Cuisine, she was the private chef to Mayor Ed Koch.

Gold, who was only 23 when she moved into Gracie Mansion in 1978, spent a year squeezing fresh grapefruit juice for the mayor’s breakfast and creating the sort of simple yet sophisticated dishes that would become a hallmark of her work. It was also here that Gold prepared her first Seder, even using the mayor’s personal tips for matzo balls. --Rebecca Flint Marx, Forward

To read more, click here.

Jewish Life in Shanghai's Ghetto

Much of Shanghai’s Jewish Quarter has disappeared,
but visitors still can see some of the buildings,
like this one, where thousands of refugees
lived alongside the city’s residents. 
While much of the city’s Jewish Quarter has disappeared in the years since the end of World War II, the Ohel Moshe Synagogue is a constant reminder of how this Chinese city saved tens of thousands of Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

Built by Russian Jews in 1927 in the Hongkou district in northern Shanghai, the synagogue was the primary religious destination for the Jewish refugees who flooded into the city.

And while its facade has not changed, the building now is the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. It is the first stop for many visitors seeking information about what the Holocaust scholar David Kranzler called the “Miracle of Shanghai.”  -- Casey Hall, NY Times

To read more, click here.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Former PM and FM Yitzhak Shamir passes away

The late Yitzhak Shamir, 7th Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel 1983-1984 and 1986-1992
Foreign Minister of Israel 1980-1986

Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's seventh prime minister, former Knesset speaker and foreign minister, who died at the age of 96, will be laid to rest in a state funeral at Mt. Herzl on Monday, July 2. -- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Celebrating women’s role at a new Israeli museum

The Haifa building that will house the Museum of Israeli Women.
An empty 200-year-old sheikh’s palace in Haifa will be transformed into the Museum of Israeli Women – just as soon as its founder, Yael Nitzan, can raise $6 million.

Nitzan, a feminist TV producer, art historian and author, has planned this museum for decades. Though Israel reportedly has the world’s highest ratio of museums per person, none is dedicated to the mostly unsung females responsible for weaving together its social, agricultural and business fabric.

Now that her dream has taken a giant step to fruition thanks to the Haifa municipality’s gift of a building, her excitement bubbles over: “I am so full of the stories of what women did in Israel!” she tells ISRAEL21c.

Most of the 40 women on her initial list are less well-known than Golda Meir, Israel’s first and only female prime minister – though Meir is certainly included.

“Golda Meir brought $100 million to Israel — $50 million at beginning of the War of Independence and $50 million after. [David] Ben-Gurion asked her to go to America, and she gathered small groups of women in every town to solicit funds. So actually, women built Israel,” Nitzan states.

Some 4,000 women served in the Jewish Brigade of the British army, including Sonia Peres, the late wife of Israeli President Shimon Peres. “Five women from this corps became founders of the women’s division of the Israeli army,” says the former IDF captain.

Over the past few years, Nitzan has gleaned ideas from women’s museums in Denmark and New York, and from a traveling exhibition on innovative women in the United States.

Museums dedicated to women aren’t the norm, even in larger and older countries. But that doesn’t faze Nitzan.

“There’s nothing quite like Israel in the world and nothing quite like the women of Israel,” she says.-- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Op-ed: Jews unwelcome on campus: Western universities becoming frightening bastions of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish hostility

From the outside, Western faculties appear as genteel oases of wisdom and knowledge. In truth, institutions of higher education are becoming brutal offspring of anti-Jew hatred. Famous faculties that have been an historical cradle of European civilization are sacrificing freedom and Israel to barbarism and obscurantism.

Even in America the gloves are coming off. The Institute for Jewish & Community Research in San Francisco recently published a report titled "Alone on the quad: Understanding Jewish Student Isolation on Campus,” one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind. More than 40% of students confirm anti-Semitism on their campus; some 41% of students have encountered anti-Israel remarks made in class by professors. -- Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

French groups drop suit against Google

French groups have settled a lawsuit accusing Google of violating French anti-racism laws because of a function that they say perpetuated anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Google’s “autocomplete” feature suggests the word “juif” or “Jewish” as a top choice in connection with public figures such as Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp., The New York Times reported.

The terms of the settlement came after court-ordered mediation and are confidential, the newspaper reported. Google has not said whether it would change the feature, but said it will work with the suit's plaintiffs on efforts to combat anti-racism and anti-Semitism, the paper added.

Among the groups suing Google were SOS Racisme and the French Union of Jewish Students. They argued that by using the term juif, Google was furthering ideas about Jewish conspiracies.

Google has said the feature’s terms are generated by an automatic algorithm that includes frequency of searches linking items. -- JTA

Holocaust survivors beauty pageant crowns Romanian-born winner

14 women participated in the "Miss Holocaust Survivor" beauty pageant in Haifa, June 28, 2012.
(Avishag Shaar Yashuv/FLASH90/)
A beauty pageant for Holocaust survivors was held in Haifa, featuring female survivors walking down a red carpet and sharing details of their travails during World War II.

Fourteen women, aged 74 to 97, participated according to news reports. Hava Hershkovitz, 79, who had fled her native Romania to survive the Shoah, was crowned the winner.

Organizers called the event a celebration of life, but critics denounced it as trivializing the horrors of the Holocaust. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

Israeli company grows new bones from fat

The bone takes a few months to grow inside a unique bioreactor.
Make no bones about this technology: Bonus Biogroup, a regenerative medicine company in Israel, has found a way to grow human bone from a patient’s own fat, culled during liposuction.

Following successful pre-clinical testing, clinical trials will begin within the next year in Europe or in Israel on applications ranging from growing bones for dental surgery to replacing bone tissue lost through trauma or illness.

“The standard of care today is autologous bone grafting — taking bone from other parts of the body, breaking it and putting it in where needed,” Bonus founder and CEO Shai Meretzki tells ISRAEL21c. “Two operations are needed for the treatment of harvesting bone from another part of the body,” he says. Obviously, this solution isn’t optimal.

“Our advantage is that the healing process is much faster, and patients of course don’t have to suffer the harvesting procedure,” he adds.

The new innovation pioneered by Bonus evolved from years of research and development at the NASDAQ-traded company Pluristem Therapeutics, which Meretzki founded previously. The technology involves extracting stem cells from a person’s own fat tissues, and transferring them to a special matrix that coaxes the cells to grow into real human bone. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.