Friday, July 27, 2012

European rabbis protest circumcision bans, plan to lobby

The Conference of European Rabbis will lobby against recent circumcision bans by advocating legislation supporting the practice.

This week, hospitals in Switzerland and a province of Austria announced that they would stop allowing ritual circumcision.

The German lower house of parliament passed a non-binding resolution last week to protect the religious circumcision of infant boys after a district court ban on the practice outraged Muslims and Jews.

“Our fears that the court ruling in Cologne, Germany, could have a knock-on effect across Europe are now being realized,” said Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis. “We must send out the clearest possible message that campaigners against infant circumcision are themselves threatening the human rights of our children in the most fundamental way.”

Rabbinic leaders in Austria and Switzerland have already begun the advocacy process.

“We are working with the government and hope to achieve a commitment for developing specific legislation,” said Chaim Eisenberg, chief rabbi of Vienna.

On Tuesday, Gov. Markus Wallner of the Vorarlberg province in Austria ordered doctors to stop performing infant circumcision for religious reasons until the legal status of the procedure is clarified.

"This is a subject that has to be regulated countrywide," he said.

The French news agency AFP reported that the children's hospital in Graz, the capital of the southeastern province of Styria, also has ceased scheduling infant circumcisions.

On Monday, U.S. military doctors in Germany declared that they would continue to perform ritual circumcision. -- JTA

Learning Yiddish on the Farm: Raising Zucchini With Language Immersion on the Side

Goshen, the fabled Egyptian area that the ancient Israelites settled and farmed when famine struck the Holy Land, was so fertile, according to the Bible, that the Israelites multiplied at rates that made the Pharaohs afraid.

It’s hard to see Goshen, N.Y., in the foothills of the Catskills, as the locus of a similar Jewish explosion. But who knows? This summer, a group of young farmers are launching Yiddish Farm, a new experiment in Jewish agriculture, in the rolling hills of Orange County, some 50 miles northwest of Manhattan.

“Behind me we have 13 rows of Yukon Gold organic potatoes that I planted just before Pesach time,” Yisroel Bass told me on a recent Sunday afternoon, surveying a field of crops. “They’re really taking off with all the rain.” He extolled the garlic a little farther down, and beyond that, rows of white beets, “an heirloom variety.” Below that were plantings of spinach, oats, three carrots, wheat, dill, sunflowers, zucchini and more beets.

This is farming with a diasporist twist. Normally, Bass, a tall, tanned 23-year-old with a straw hat, beard, yellow plaid tzitzis and Hasidic-style peyes, would be speaking Yiddish. For a visiting journalist he was willing to make an exception, but for everyone else taking part in this venture, Yiddish is the lingua franca. -- Ezra Glinter, Forward

To read more, click here.

To view accompanying video, click on image below.

Manchester University installs automated Pray-o-Mat booth

The University of Manchester has installed a Prayer-o-Mat, an automated multi-faith touchscreen prayer booth that allows users to cue up a prayer from a faith of their choice, the UK Press Association reported.

The Pray-O-Mat is an adaptation of German artist Oliver Sturm’s Gebetomat, a coin-operated converted photo booth that contains recorded versions of more than 300 prayers in 65 different languages. Orthodox Jewish prayers are available on the machine, as well as voodoo rituals from Cuba and Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo cries to their ancestors. Sturm gathered some of the recordings; others were taken from radio archives.

The English-language exhibit was introduced by Dr. Ralf Brand, principal investigator for the university’s Multi Faith Spaces research project. The three-year research project on multi-faith spaces has encompassed research of 250 multi-faith spaces in 11 countries, focusing on the United Kingdom.

Sturm’s Gebetomat was inspired by a 1999 visit to New York, where he could not understand directions from a machine in the city’s subway system. In a profile by Der Spiegel last year, Sturm suggested Ground Zero as a possible venue to house his prayer machine. -- JTA

L.A.‘s little-known plaque and grove of trees honor ‘Munich 11’

A few of the trees that were planted in Pan Pacific Park in 1984,
in memory of the Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Photo by Jonah Lowenfeld
In the summer of 1984, when Los Angeles hosted the Olympics, then-Mayor Tom Bradley and the local organizers of the Olympic Games unveiled a large bronze plaque honoring the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich. The Israeli Olympic delegation was present for the unveiling, as were Jewish community leaders, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, at the time an L.A. City Councilman, remembers the ceremony and what stands out most, he said in a recent interview, was that it took place at Los Angeles City Hall. --  Jonah Lowenfeld, Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

N.Y. Jewish Museum to feature medieval manuscripts for first time

An exhibit at The Jewish Museum in New York will feature medieval religious manuscripts, many on display for the first time. The exhibit, titled "Crossing Borders: Manuscripts from the Bodleian Libraries,” will feature manuscripts from the Bodleian Library at Oxford College in England, and include ancient copies of the Bible, the Gospels and other works, according to Reuters. Included in the exhibit will be the Kennicott Bible, created in Spain in 1476 and considered one of the most richly illustrated existing manuscripts of its era. "We are absolutely thrilled to be able to show it," Claudia Nahson, the exhibit’s curator, told Reuters. "It is an incredible manuscript, so profusely decorated. There are so many illuminated pages it is hard to choose which one to show." The works range in date from the third century to the late 16th century. On display from Sept. 14 to Feb. 3, the exhibit will have three sections: on early Christianity and Judaism; the late Middle Ages; and a Hebraica section from the Bodleian Library. -- JTA

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Syrian rebels have rejected Israel’s help, Liberman says

‘We don’t want to impose,’ Israel's foreign minister tells Turkish media
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Flash90)
Israel has offered humanitarian assistance to Syrian rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday, but the rebels have rejected the offer.

In an interview published Monday in Hurriyet, Liberman said Israel had been told that “it is much better to keep [our] distance.”

“We don’t want to impose ourselves on the Syrian opposition,” Liberman added.

Speaking with a group of Turkish journalists at his office, Liberman also said that Israel has nothing to apologize for regarding the Mavi Marmara incident, in which Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turkish protesters who had lynched them. -- Sam Sher, Time of Israel

To read more, click here.

Opinion: Jewish groups must preserve vital records

More than one in three Americans have explored their family trees according to a 2011 “60 Minutes/Vanity Fair” poll. Jews, who tend to skew the curve when it comes to all things nerdy, must certainly be among the greatest shakers of genealogical boughs and branches. How many of us have spent nights pouring over the online records from Ellis Island or the U.S. Census Bureau?

And yet, some of the greatest sources of information about our families and our community lie abandoned and vulnerable in the basements and storerooms of our communal institutions. As Jewish groups -- from synagogues to international organizations -- work to satisfy today’s needs and strengthen the future, preserving records of the past often falls by the wayside.

We have seen historical records treated shabbily by our communal institutions. That is why the recent decision by B’nai B’rith International to turn over its remarkable historical records to the American Jewish Archives is such a unique example -- and a deep blessing -- to the community as a whole. -- Jeff Rubin, JTA

To read more, click here.

Founder of London Shomrim carries Olympic torch

Efrayim Goldstein carries Olympic torch through London's streets.
Photo Credit: Ladaat via Jewish Press
The founder of London's Shomrim patrol carried the Olympic torch in South London.

Efrayim Goldstein, 23, was one of 187 people who carried the Olympic torch through the city on Monday.

Goldstein wore the official white Olympic uniform and was given a matching yarmulke, according to VIN News. He carried the torch for about a half-mile at 8:30 a.m.

After handing off the torch, Goldstein and a group of fellow torchbearers observed a moment of silence in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed by terrorists at the Munich Olympics, according to VIN.

Goldstein is the founder of the Shomrim Safety Patrol and runs a soup kitchen. According to the nomination for Goldstein, he set up seven charities by the time he became 16. -- JTA

Penn State’s Jewish community weighs how to move forward

Sarah Meretsky, second from right, co-director of the Penn State Chabad,
runs a number of programs throughout the year with her husband, Rabbi Nosson Meretsky,
for the approximately 4,000 Jewish students
on the State College campus. (Courtesy Chabad of Penn State)

One unlikely venue for fallout from the Penn State University sex abuse scandal is the campus Hillel, for which now ousted university president Graham Spanier -- the school’s first Jewish leader -- was a fundraiser and vocal supporter. -- Josh Lipowsky, JTA

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Following German court ruling, Switzerland hospitals suspend circumcisions

Two Swiss hospitals temporarily suspend all circumcisions, pending a reassessment of policies; a German court recently ruled the practice illegal. -- Ofer Aderet, Haaretz

To read more, click here.  

Jewish Food Trucks Hit the Road

Challah Dogs, Latke Tacos and Deli Go Mobile
Emily Israel
When culinary historians look back at the first two decades of the 21st century, they’ll no doubt conclude that this was the golden age of food trucks. Brightly colored trucks with kitschy names roll out onto the streets of cities across North America each day, dishing out delicacies like artisanal ice cream sandwiches, snacks from the Far East and gourmet tacos roadside.

This is particularly good news for lovers of Jewish cuisine. From Austin to San Diego to Atlanta, trucks have been doling out a range of Jewish and kosher food. In Los Angeles you can munch on egg rolls stuffed with corned beef; in Toronto, sample divine deli sandwiches served out of a truck with a pickle spear, and in New York, feast on a perfectly fried falafel.

Though the Jewish gourmet food truck may be a product of the 21st century, its roots go back to the early 20th century Jewish street food of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. -- Margaret Eby, Forward

To read more, click here.

A Pensioner and a War Criminal: Csatáry Case Tarnishes Hungarian Justice System

Suspected war criminal Lásló Csatáry
leaves a courthouse in Budapest on July 18.

Officials in Budapest sat on information that suspected war criminal Lásló Csatáry was living there for more than a year without acting. It was only after a British tabloid reported the incident that action was finally taken. The case underscores Hungary's troubled dealings with its own history. -- Jan Puhl

To read more, click here.

Opinion: Jewish Blood Is Cheap

Members of the Israeli team at the Munich Olympic stadium Sept. 6, 1972,
for the memorial ceremony honoring their countrymen
who were killed by Palestinian terrorists. (AFP/Getty Images)
The real reason the Olympic Committee refuses to commemorate the Israeli athletes murdered in Munich --  Deborah E. Lipstadt, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Jewish Camps Spawn a U.S. Playground Hit

Jake Downing and D.J. Cicero playing gaga, a game similar to dodge ball,
at the Decathlon Sports Club in Woodside, Calif., near San Francisco.
Photo by Heidi Schumann for The New York Times
Campers had barely finished chewing their lunches at the Decathlon Sports Club summer camp before they sprinted to the newly built gaga court, eager to play a game like dodge ball that is fast becoming an obsession at camps and schools nationwide.

Believed to have originated in Israel, the game — which translates to “touch, touch” in Hebrew — has been a standby of Jewish summer camps and community centers in the United States since at least the 1970s. Now, to the surprise of parents who recall the game from their youths, gaga is solidly mainstream.

Young people are playing gaga this summer with fervent devotion, from this sunny day camp in Silicon Valley to Lake Beauty Bible Camp in Long Prairie, Minn., to the 20,000-square-foot Ultimate Gaga arena in Syosset on Long Island. -- Karen Alexander, NY Times

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jerusalem Mayor Sets Record Straight on BBC's Questioning of Jerusalem as Jewish Capital

In response to the BBC's decision not to refer to Jerusalem on its 2012 Summer Olympics' website as the capital of Israel, but rather "the seat of government…though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv" Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat issued the following statement:
"Throughout the history of Jerusalem, with over a dozen conquerors, only the Jewish people have called the Holy City of Jerusalem our capital. Jerusalem today, under Israeli sovereignty, has returned to the role it played 2000-3000 years ago. There is unprecedented freedom of movement and religion and the world is welcome and encouraged to enjoy the beauty and majesty of Jerusalem."

"We will not accept those who deny our history, our sovereignty, and our right to determine our own capital. Irrespective of the BBC's political agenda, Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel and the spiritual, political, and physical center of the Jewish people." 

-- Office of the Prime Minister of Israel

Hummus ice cream anyone?

When the summer gets hot, Israelis like to cool off with ice cream.
Photo by Chen Leopold/Flash90.
Israel may not be traditionally thought of as an ice cream capital, but it’s time for a rethink.

After all, the average Israeli eats about 10 liters of ice cream per year, compared to 6.2 liters per capita in Italy, home of gelato.

But we’ve got our own takes on the frozen treat. Try, for instance, hummus ice cream, made with chickpeas and topped with olive oil and pine nuts. Or 10-spice ice cream, reminiscent of chai latte.

At Aldo Gelato in the Tel Aviv Port, cheesecake is the most popular flavor among 130 choices.

Itay Rogozinsky, chef and co-owner of Vaniglia in Tel Aviv, says it’s important to produce ice cream that matches the area and the people. “I like to work with many ingredients from all over the world, but still to build and to invent the Israeli style, because we are here.” -- Marian Lebor and Sally Halon, Israel21c

Click on image below to see accompanying video.

Camp Songs for Neurotic Parents

Anxious about sending your kids to camp? Don’t just fret—sing along to some of your favorite songs.
Photo by Maureen Sill/Flickr
This week, many Jewish kids—mine included—return from the first session of sleepaway camp. Maybe yours are getting ready right now for the second session. Or maybe they’re staying for both sessions and you’re in withdrawal. Whatever the case, this summer your kids will be learning a lot of camp songs, often the same ones you learned yourself many years ago. (A lot has changed since you went to camp—cell phones, social media, the need to fill out gazillions of legal forms before your child is allowed to breach the camp gates—but, as Led Zeppelin once said, the song remains the same.)

But why should kids be the only ones singing? Camp is an important touchstone for parents, too: It marks our children’s growing independence, a social and emotional life in which we’re no longer central, the beginning of the end of childhood. And that’s a source of anxiety for some parents, especially the ones who really, really don’t want to let go.

That’s why we’ve rewritten some familiar camp songs for today’s over-invested, lunatic helicopter parent!  -- Marjorie Ingall, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Hollywood’s hair secrets

Antonio Corral Colero using Moroccanoil on a model’s hair.
Charlize Theron is one of the hottest A-list celebrities in Hollywood. In a recent red carpet event at the MTV Movie Awards she wore a Lanvin dress, Jimmy Choo shoes, Cartier jewels, and hair styled with Moroccanoil from Israel.

Also on the list of celebs reported to be using the products based on oil from the rare argan nut are Madonna, Katy Perry, Angelina Jolie, Scarlet Johansson and French beauty Marion Cotillard. -- Karin Kloosterman, Isarel21c

To read more, click here.

Warsaw Ghetto liquidation remembered in city

A ceremony commemorating the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto was held in the city for the first time.

Sunday's ceremony marked the 70th anniversary of the day that the Germans began mass deportations of Jews to Treblinka, on July 22, 1942. More than 250,000
people were deported to the Nazi death camp.  

Israel's deputy minister of education, Menachem Eliezer Mozes, at the ceremony quoted excerpts from the diary of Hillel Seidman, who wrote about the underground yeshivas and the involvement of Orthodox Jews in armed resistance in the ghetto.

Pawel Spiewak of the Jewish Historical said that children were the greatest victims of the Holocaust.

"Only 500 children survived in Warsaw after the 'Great Action,' " he said

A prayer for the victims of the terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, was held earlier Sunday in the city's Nozyk synagogue. Later, a march of remembrance passed through the streets of Warsaw. Several hundred people from Poland and Israel walked on the road opposite the one that Janusz Korczak went with the children from his orphanage instead of saving himself from certain death. From Umschlagplatz, the site of the deportation, the marchers continued to the site of Korczak's orphanage.

At the end of the march Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland, said that "We are not the same people we were an hour ago. We have this march of
remembrance, march for life, and we must remember not the perpetrators but the victims."

Also Sunday, an exhibition of drawings from the Warsaw Ghetto opened in Kordegarda Gallery. In the evening a concert of Jewish music was held next to the old walls of the ghetto. -- JTA

Monday, July 23, 2012

Israel plans to revive ailing Jordan river

Youths bathe in a stream at the Valley of Springs near the Jordan River July 16, 2012.
The Biblical river, which has inspired countless spirituals and folk songs,
is just a narrow stream in many parts - polluted and stagnant.
But that's about to change. Thanks to desalination and wastewater recycling,
there is more fresh water to go around and the Jordan will slowly
be returned to its former glory.
Picture taken July 16, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner
The River Jordan is neither deep nor wide these days.

The Biblical river, which has inspired countless spirituals and folk songs, is just a narrow stream in many parts - polluted and stagnant. But that's about to change.

Thanks to desalination and wastewater recycling, there is more fresh water to go around and the Jordan will slowly be returned to its former glory....

Today, as a result of years of overtaxing for irrigation and drinking water, it snakes irresolutely along the valley from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. As far as the eye can see, it is just a few meters wide.

"It's five percent of what once flowed," said Ben Ari, who is one of the rehabilitation project leaders. "You can easily walk across without getting your head wet."

Almost all the water that feeds the river is diverted by Syria, Jordan and Israel before it reaches the south, he explained.

But for the first time, Israel -- which is two-thirds arid and has battled drought since its establishment 64 years ago -- has a water surplus. -- Ari Rabinovitch, Reuters

To read more, click here.

Op-Ed: To thrive, Conservative movement requires continuity in college

A Conservative Jew, I am a third-generation member of Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim in Cranford, N.J., was very active in the movement’s United Synagogue Youth and helped create a presence for Koach, the movement’s college program, at my college, Pace University. My grandparents and parents have instilled strong Jewish values in me, and I hope to see the Conservative movement thrive for many generations to come.

I am worried, however, about the Conservative movement’s commitment to my age cohort.

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism announced in early June that it would be putting Koach on hiatus for the indefinite future. Within hours, students from across North America, including myself, formed the Save Koach initiative. Thanks to the efforts of many, USCJ gave Koach a reprieve, allocating it $100,000 and giving the program until Dec. 31 to raise an additional $130,000.

Koach is essential to the future of Conservative Judaism. While a great deal of time, money and effort is consistently committed to pre-college programs including Solomon Schechter day schools, Ramah camps and USY, young Jews by themselves cannot make the leap from being Conservative Jewish high school students to becoming committed Conservative Jewish adults. If we do not provide an infrastructure of involvement for Conservative college students, we run the risk of losing a generation of Conservative Jewish members and leaders. 

Sustaining and eventually increasing funding for Koach will allow the Conservative movement to survive and flourish for generations to come.

Many have asked, “Where do we go from here?” -- Douglas Kandl*, JTA

* Douglas Kandl is a junior at Pace University, where he is president of Hillel, which he helped establish, Koach representative and a Hillel Bridging the Gap fellow.

To read more, click here.

Akko’s ancient harbor exposed

The harbor is considered the largest and most important in the country in the Hellenistic period.

A member of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority
standing on the ancient quay. Photo: Kobi Sharvit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
In archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority  is conducting at the foot of Akko’s southern seawall, installations were exposed that belong to a harbor that was operating in the city already in the Hellenistic period (third-second centuries BCE) and was the most important port in Israel at that time.

The finds were discovered during the course of archaeological excavations being carried out as part of the seawall conservation project undertaken by the Old Akko Development Company  and underwritten by the Israel Lands Administration.

The first evidence indicating the possible existence of this quay was in 2009 when a section of pavement was discovered comprised of large kurkar flagstones dressed in a technique reminiscent of the Phoenician style that is characteristic of installations found in a marine environment. -- Israel Antiquities via Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

America’s Jewish Olympians head to London with Jewish pride

Jason Lezak, right, after winning the gold medal
for the U.S. 400-meter medley relay team
at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, August 2008. (Creative Commons)
Jason Lezak -- no newcomer to Olympic glory -- recognizes the difficulty in returning to the medal stand at the London Games….

The Jewish swimmer, the winner of four Olympic gold medals, will race for the United States in the 400-meter freestyle relay -- the event in which he provided one of the most enduring moments of the 2008 Games in Beijing. His frenetic sprint to the finish in the last leg, overcoming world record-holder Alain Bernard, earned victory for the U.S. and kept alive Michael Phelps’ drive for a record-setting eight gold medals.

This year, in his fourth Olympics, the 36-year-old Lezak is one of five captains for the 530-member American squad. Fellow Jews joining Lezak on the U.S. contingent at the London Games, which has its opening ceremonies on July 27, include swimmer Anthony Ervin, gymnasts Alexandra Raisman and Julie Zetlin, rower David Banks, fencer Tim Morehouse and fencing coach Yury Gelman.

(Illinois-born Jillian Schwartz, a pole vaulter on the American team at the 2004 Athens Olympics, will be representing Israel.)

Some touted Jewish athletes didn’t make the cut this time. They include swimmers Dara Torres (five Olympics, 12 medals), Garret Weber-Gale (two gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games), Andrea Murez (2012 NCAA champion in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays), Daniel Madwed (2012 Big Ten champion in four events) and Eric Friedland. Also not heading to London to compete are soccer player Yael Averbuch and gymnast David Sender. -- Hillel Kuttler, JTA

To read more, click here.

Going Green

Jill Stein
Getty Images

The Green Party is set to choose a Jewish doctor as its presidential candidate.

Jill Stein, 52, will officially receive the third party nomination at a convention this weekend. The Lexington, Mass., resident has no chance of beating Republican Mitt Romney or Democrat Barack Obama at the polls this November. But that doesn’t mean she won’t have any impact. -- Josh Nathan-Kazis, Forward

To read more, click here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Alleged movie theater shooter worked at Jewish summer camp

James Holmes, the alleged shooter who killed 12 in a crowded Colorado movie theater, reportedly worked at a Jewish summer camp for underprivileged children.

Holmes, 24, spent a summer working as a counselor for Camp Max Straus in Glendale, Calif., which is run by Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday....

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Randy Schwab, chief executive of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles and director of Camp Max Straus, said of Holmes, "His role was to ensure that these children had a wonderful camp experience by helping them learn confidence, self-esteem and how to work in small teams to effect positive outcomes." In a later e-mail, Schwab added, "That summer provided the kids a wonderful camp experience without incident."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter to President Obama on Saturday expressing his condolences and those of the Israeli people to the families of the Americans who were murdered in the theater.                                                                                                    

"All Israelis stand alongside the American people in mourning over this terrible tragedy which claimed the lives of so many," Netanyahu wrote. "We well understand the pain and loss that you are experiencing." -- JTA

State derails opening of N.J. Hebrew charter school

A Hebrew charter school in Bergen County, N.J., will not open as expected because the state said it failed to provide some needed documents.

Shalom Academy, according to a letter written Monday by Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf to the school's founder, Raphael Bachrach, did not provide a certificate of occupancy for educational use and a "sanitary inspection report with a satisfactory rating," The New York Jewish Week reported.

The charter school, which was scheduled to open in several weeks, was approved initially in January and was set to provide a Hebrew immersion program for up to 240 students from kindegarten to eighth grade.

Local school leaders reportedly opposed the academy, which would serve children in Teaneck and Englewood, saying it would drain resources from the public schools.

Cerf wrote that Shalom can appeal the state's decision to Superior Court, the Record of Hackensack reported. The next application deadline for which the school is eligible is April 1, 2013.

The Shalom Academy would have been the second Hebrew-immersion charter school in the state, joining the Hatikvah International Academy that opened last year in East Brunswick with 108 students in kindergarten through second grade. Ninety percent of its students come from East Brunswick. -- JTA

NBC’s Bob Costas advocates London Olympics moment of silence

NBC sportscaster Bob Costas said he will call out the International Olympic Committee for denying Israel's request for a moment of silence for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Games.

Costas, according to the Hollywood Reporter, will add his voice to the U.S. Senate, the German Bundestag, the Canadian and Australian parliaments, Italian lawmakers and some 50 members of the British Parliament who are also advocating the moment of silence.

"I intend to note that the IOC denied the request," he told the Hollywood Reporter. "Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here's a minute of silence right now."

Costas intends to make his remarks when the Israeli delegation enters the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium for the Olympics' Opening Ceremony, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre, .

"There's a reality in business; there were times when I thought he got too forceful,” said Dick Ebersol, Costa’s former producer at NBC, reported the Hollywood Reporter. “But I'm very proud of the fact that Bob was able to be Bob." -- JTA

The rise of ‘Hava Nagila’

Hold onto your seats -- you never know when you’ll be lifted in them.

"Hava Nagila (The Movie)” premieres at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival on July 19. Writing for The Forward, Renee Ghert-Zand summarizes some of the major developments of the song as outlined in Roberta Grossman’s new film:
The film traces the song from its origins as a wordless Hasidic nigun, a wordless melody, in Sadagora, Ukraine, where the Ruzhiner rebbe, Yisroel Friedman, established his court in 1845. From there it traveled to Palestine early in the 20th century, where Abraham Zvi Idelsohn, the father of Jewish musicology, transcribed it and added lyrics to it in 1915 expressing celebration and brotherhood. 
-- Adam Soclof, JTA Archives Blog

To read more, click here.