Friday, August 3, 2012

Messianic Judaism’s new interfaith push in Beverly Hills

The Interfaith Center in Beverly Hills isn’t really interfaith:
It’s the latest outreach effort by self-described Messianic Jews.
Photo by Jonah Lowenfeld
Since it opened in 2011, the Interfaith Center of Beverly Hills has been sitting mostly empty.

On the one hand, it occupies a piece of prime real estate on the ground floor of a modern office building on a busy stretch of South Beverly Drive. Actors and agents take meetings at Urth Caffé, less than one block away. Just across the street, machers meet for coffee at Larry King’s Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. Although it’s hard to understand exactly what the stark, black letters above the Interfaith Center’s entrance mean, it’s just as hard to miss them….

But for one older man who wandered in on a recent Tuesday afternoon — his full beard and long, curled sidelocks looking especially white against the black flat-topped, wide-brimmed hat on his head and his ankle-length black coat — there was little question about what he thought the space’s function was.

“I see a shul, mit seforim …” a synagogue, with scholarly books, he said, speaking a mix of English and Yiddish that would be instantly understandable to any Orthodox yeshiva student.

Despite the mezuzah on its doorframe and the bookshelves lining the back wall, the Interfaith Center isn’t a house of Jewish prayer. It’s the site of a new attempt by Messianic Jews to draw in the mainstream Jewish community. -- Jonah Lowenfeld, LA Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

The best PR for Israel? Just be nice!

Being nice. It is really that simple. What an opportunity we have with our Jewish state.
 Photo: Dov Lipman
The best and brightest minds in Israel struggle to solve the mystery regarding how to win the public relations war. Both the Foreign Ministry and Tourism Ministry routinely try to improve Israel’s image throughout the world. The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy established a special web site and focuses much of its attention on this issue. While high ranking government officials grapple with this problem, a group of 14- and 15- year-old boys are putting on a clinic regarding how to improve Israel’s image – just be nice.

I am in Oneonta, New York, watching my son play on the Israel national little league team in the Cooperstown Baseball World Classic. The Israeli team is playing remarkably well on the field, having lost their first game 3-2 against the best team in the tournament and winning their second game 7-2. However, their success on the field does not match their accomplishments off the field. Non-Jewish players and coaches from Colorado, Ohio, Indiana, Rhode Island, and New York cannot stop talking about how “the boys from Israel are so nice.” -- Dov Lipman, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Hope for ALS patients

Dr. Esther Priel worked for five years on this breakthrough.
Photo courtesy of Ben-Gurion University

Israeli researcher isolates a compound that increases the production of an enzyme known to slow neurodegenerative disease. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Stitching Up Their Wounds

N.Y.-Israel knitting group ‘calms’ embattled Sderot girls, creates new connections.
Knitting group is bond between teenage girls in Manhattan, Sderot, seen above.
Niv Shimshon
Over a recent Skype video-call, two groups of preteen girls danced to “Never Say Never” by Justin Bieber, made funny faces at the camera, and compared knitting projects, one holding up a scarf, the other a headband.

The only difference: one group was on the eighth floor of the JCC in Manhattan, in an air-conditioned room with a sweeping view of the city skyline, the other in a windowless, rocket-proof Community Center in Sderot, a mile or so from the Gaza border in southern Israel.

The girls are part of a cross-cultural knitting group initiated by Noa Mintz, a 12-year-old girl from Manhattan, and they’re nearing their one-year anniversary. After a visit to Sderot with her family three years ago, Noa decided that she wanted to use her bat mitzvah money to help the Negev community that has, for years, endured a barrage of rocket fire, collateral damage in the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict. -- Hannah Dreyfus, NY Jewish Week

To read more, click here.

Knesset looking into ban on fur sales

A bill proposed in the Knesset seeks to ban fur sales in Israel.

If the bill passes, Israel would become the first country to ban fur sales officially, according to Ynet.

Eight Knesset members from across the Israeli political spectrum sponsored the measure, which must undergo a lengthy legislative process before a vote by the full Israeli parlimament.

"Fighting for people's consciousness is a daily undertaking, and this legislation may yet save millions of animals,” Jane Halevy, chair of the International Anti-Fur Coalition, told Ynet. "It's time to do this at last and finally end the fur trade in Israel. Such legislation should gain immense respect for Israel and its citizens.”

Several cities, such as Dublin, Ireland, have anti-fur laws in place. -- JTA

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Opinion: A Woman's Right to Choose (Not to Breastfeed)

New York City's new pro-breast milk policy stigmatizes infant formula and limits access to it, effectively revoking women's freedom to feed their babies as they choose.
Mathieu Belanger/Reuters
Already leading one of the most aggressive "pro-breast milk" campaigns in the country, New York City has announced that it will now track usage of infant formula. In the latest salvo in the push to turn breastfeeding from a healthy option to a public mandate, hospitals will keep formula locked away, treating it more like contraband than basic infant sustenance.

Women who have heard the advantages of breastfeeding and have decided -- for whatever personal reason -- to feed their newborns formula, will now have to justify their reasoning before they are given access to it.

When, exactly, exercising a personal right about what to do for your child (and with your own body) became a public statement, open to the city's files and others' judgment, is unclear.

Women opt not to breastfeed for myriad reasons. -- Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, The Atlantic

To read more, click here.

Thank Heaven (and Israel) that Syria's Assad Doesn't Have Nukes

As the death toll mounts in Syria and the country slides deeper into civil war, the world should be thankful that the Assad regime never succeeded in developing nuclear weapons -- which almost happened in 2007.

The danger presented today by the presence of Syrian chemical and biological weapons is bad enough. Just think how much more dangerous the situation would have been if there were loose nukes lying around.

According to a new history of the Mossad by reporters Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, Spies Against Armageddon, Israel had become suspicious that the Syrians were building a nuclear facility with North Korean help. The authors said Israel sent Mossad operatives and a special forces unit into Syria several times to take samples of soil, water and vegetation and in March 2007 managed to secure photos taken inside the facility. Who took those photos remains the most closely-guarded aspect of the operation. -- Alan Elsner, Huffington Post

To read more, click here.

Be a Zionist--Drink Wine

Wine is not only for the weekends in Israel

One of the founders of the hit annual Jerusalem Wine Festival, which started Monday night, says Israel makes wonderful wine but sabras need to drink a lot more of it
Last year's wine festival in front of the museum's iconic Ahava sculpture
Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90
There may be no Jerusalem summer festival as eagerly awaited as the annual wine festival, with this year’s, the ninth, beginning Monday evening at the Israel Museum’s expanded Sculpture Garden.

Held Monday, July 30, through Thursday, August 2, from 7:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. each evening, the festival is Israel’s largest wine gathering, hosting thousands of visitors who will taste wines poured by more than two dozen wineries.

The concept was first put together by two Jerusalem wine purveyors, Avi Ben, the owner of Jerusalem’s Avi Ben wine shops, and Shmulik Cohen, who owns Hamashkaot shel Shachar, also in Jerusalem. The festival was first held on Emek Refaim, the busy main drag of the German Colony, moving in its second year to an area of the museum, and eventually to the larger, more spacious Sculpture Garden.

The idea, said Avi Ben, was just to have fun, to get people out on a cool Jerusalem summer evening and drink wine. That aspect of the festival has been overwhelmingly successful, he said.

What has been more difficult to overcome in Israel’s growing wine industry is the lack of a wine culture, said Ben. -- Jessica Steinberg, Times of Israel

To read more, click here.

Opinion: The Religious Silence on Christian Persecution

Why isn't imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani known to activists, politicians and citizens in the West?
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
This month the Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani marked his 1,000th day of incarceration in Lakan, a notorious prison in northern Iran. Charged with the crime of apostasy, Mr. Nadarkhani faces a death sentence for refusing to recant the Christian faith he embraced as a child. He embodies piety and represents millions more suffering from repression—but his story is barely known.

Mr. Nadarkhani's courage and the tenacity of his supporters, many of them ordinary churchgoers who have crowded Twitter and other social media to alert the world to his plight, bring to mind the great human-rights campaigns of recent years: the fight against apartheid in South Africa, or the movement to assist Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate from behind the Iron Curtain. As Nelson Mandela represented the opposition to South African racism, and Anatoly Sharansky exemplified the just demands of Soviet Jews, so Mr. Nadarkhani symbolizes the emergency that church leaders say is facing 100 million Christians around the world.

Yet Mr. Nadarkhani has almost none of the name recognition that Messrs. Mandela and Sharansky had. --Ben Cohen and Keith Roderick, Wall Street Journal

To read more, click here.

Jewish LGBTQ teen retreat to be held

Jewish organizations are partnering for a Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) teen shabbaton.

“This shabbaton is an incredible opportunity for LGBTQ Jewish teens to celebrate who they are,” Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, one of the sponsoring groups, said in a statement. “Bullying and peer pressure are day-to-day realities for so many young people.”

The shabbaton, the first organized by the groups, will held Aug. 24-26 at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Conn.

The weekend will include workshops on “LGBTQ Themes in Jewish Text” and “Starting a Gay-Straight Alliance,” along with a performance from hip-hop music artist Y-Love, an Orthodox Jew who recently came out publicly as gay, and a talkback with film director Irena Fayngold, who made the documentary “Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School.” 

“The shabbaton will provide a space for queer teens to express their identities as Jews as well as members of the LGBTQ community,” Amram Altzman, a gay teen from New York and a member of the weekend’s steering committee, said in a statement. “It will give our generation of Jewish leaders the tools we need to continue to work for equality in our home communities."

In addition to Keshet, other organizations joining as partners in the August weekend are the BBYO, Habonim Dror North America, Jewish Community Centers Association, Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth's Aleph Project, National Federation of Temple Youth, No’ar Hadash, Rockville Open House, United Synagogue Youth and Young Judaea, along with the gathering’s financial sponsor, UJA-Federation of New York. -- JTA

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Moscow exhibition explores Chagall’s Russian Jewish roots

Many of Marc Chagall's paintings include repeated symbolism of Menorahs and the Torah
A new exhibition on the Jewish painter Marc Chagall has opened in Moscow to celebrate the 125th anniversary of his birth and aims to explore the impact his Russian and cultural background had on his work.

Marc Chagall:The Origins of the Master’s Creative Language at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow explores some of the celebrated artist’s lesser known works, in the form of drawings, watercolours, sculptures and paintings to show how the untaught master drew his inspiration from his natural habitat and his exposure to Jewish and Russian culture. -- AFP and EJP [European Jewish Press]

To read more, click here.

Opinion: Mind the (Gender) Gap--Learning from British Jewish Community

Where are the women? It’s a question the Forward has asked repeatedly for several years now, as we’ve documented the paucity of women leaders in Jewish communal life and sought to ignite a community conversation about how to better include half the population. It seems that the issue is not ours alone — the British Jewish community is facing the same, stubborn gender gap in both its professional and lay leadership. But a new commission has issued an action plan that could serve as a model and a prod to efforts in America. We may just be able to learn something from our kin across the pond. -- Forward

To read more, click here.

Emanuel welcomes Farrakhan help in crime fight

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed the help of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to help stop the violence in Chicago neighborhoods.

Farrakhan has a history of making anti-Semitic statements. In welcoming Farrakhan's help, Emanuel said Wednesday that he was more concerned with reducing a 40 percent surge in Chicago homicides.

“People of faith have a role to play and community leaders have a role to play in helping to protect our neighborhoods and our citizens," said Emanuel, the first elected Jewish mayor of the city. “You cannot get there on just one piece of an anti-crime strategy.”

For the past two Mondays, Farrakhan has dispatched hundreds of "Fruit of Islam" members on patrols in city neighborhoods in the city. Farrakhan ordered the show of force in response to last month’s murder of 7-year old Heaven Sutton, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

Chicago Alderman Debra Silverstein, an Orthodox Jew, said  it’s good that Farrakhan is “helping” in the fight against crime, “but it doesn’t eradicate the comments that he’s made about the Jewish community,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. -- JTA

Black Jews Gain Wider Acceptance: Gaps Between African-American and Mainstream Groups Narrow

Rabbi Capers Funnye places a miteron the head of rabbi-to-be James Brazelton.
Michael Eldridge
The ordination took place on a sun-drenched Sabbath, in a synagogue used many decades ago by Lithuanian Jews. But on June 23, it was 200 mostly black worshippers, many in brightly colored African dress, who were on their feet, eyes fixed on a procession of eight white-robed rabbis with ceremonial miters crowning their heads as they strode, single file, down the aisle separating the men’s and women’s seating.

All were gathered at Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation to create a new rabbi for this small, passionate but scarcely known tradition of black Judaism.

Though it was mid-afternoon and the morning shacharit service was long finished, very few had left the sanctuary; the ordination of the new rabbi was the day’s big event. As a delegation of black Jews visiting from New York for the important occasion looked on, the rabbis mounted the bimah and, with the open ark as a backdrop, arranged themselves into a half circle and faced the congregation.

For many mainstream Jews, this is a ceremony that might seem alien. But today, the differences between them and these black Jews, who have long been ignored or dismissed as inauthentic by the Jewish establishment, seems more like one of culture and ethnicity than Jewish identity.

While they once called themselves Hebrew Israelites exclusively to distinguish themselves from Jews of European extraction, the black Jews now readily count themselves among the Jewish people without qualification. An increasing number seek out formal conversion, a practice previously seen only as a concession to the expectations of mainstream Jews. Some 85% of the members at Beth Shalom have done so, according to Rabbi Capers Funnye (pronounced Fun-NAY), their spiritual leader, who is himself a member of the mainstream Chicago Board of Rabbis (and cousin to First Lady Michelle Obama).  -- Len Lyons, Forward

To read more, click here.

Also see:
The account of Black Jewish services: It’s not your typical Saturday at shulby clicking here.

Disabled soldier fulfills dream of becoming IDF officer

In spite of being born with cerebral palsy, 21-year-old soldier graduates from officers' training course. 'I felt obligated to Israel,'  he says. -- Reuven Weiss, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Aly Raisman leads U.S. to gymnastics team gold

Photo from
Aly Raisman, a Jewish American, won the floor exercise in helping the U.S. women's team to the gold medal in the gymnastics competition at the London Olympics.

The Americans on Tuesday won their first team gold medal in women's gymnastics since the Atlanta Games in 1996,  finishing with 183.596 points to defeat Russia (178.530) and Romania (176.414).

Raisman, 18, of Needham, Mass., scored 15.300 in the floor exercise to win the event, performing her routine to a string-heavy version of "Hava Nagila" as she did on Sunday. Raisman also had performed to "Hava Nagila" when she gained a berth on the U.S. team last year.

Raisman is favored to win the all-around individual competition on Thursday, as well as the floor exercise on Aug. 7, when she also will be competing in the balance beam final. She and Gabby Douglas are representing the U.S. in the individual finals.

Raisman is a recipient of the Pearl D. Mazor Outstanding Female Jewish High School Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award given out by the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in New York. -- JTA

Op. Ed: Why the IOC will never memorialize the '72 Munich massacre

Volunteer Abby Idowu, of London, stretches under the Olympic rings
while being photographed by friends on the other side of a hill
at Olympic Park prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics,
Thursday, July 26, 2012, in London.
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (AP2012)
Recently, new information about the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games was released by German police as a result of pressure from German investigative reporters. It was reported that the “Black September” terrorists were helped by a Nazi group in Germany to get fake IDs, weapons and access to the Olympic Village.

This was not too shocking, as the head of the IOC in 1972 was Avery Brundage, a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite. His protege, Juan Samaranch, eventually served the second longest IOC term as president, but his support of Nazis and the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco was kept a dirty secret. Most IOC members knew the truth but stayed silent because he organized a regal lifestyle for them -- with money diverted from sport….

In 1996, I, along with other Munich orphans and three of the widows, were invited for the first time to the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Before the Opening Ceremony, we met with Alex Gilady. Gilady has been a member of the IOC's Radio and Television Commission since 1984 and has been the senior vice president of NBC Sports since 1996.

I have known Mr. Gilady since I was a kid; in fact, I grew up with his daughter. He had been supportive in the past regarding our plea for a moment of silence during the Opening Ceremonies, so we arrived with high hopes. Gilady informed us that a moment of silence was not possible because if the IOC had a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes, they would also have to do the same for the Palestinians who died at the Olympics in 1972.

My mother said, "But no Palestinian athletes died."

Gilady responded, "Well, there were Palestinians who died at the 1972 Olympics."

I heard one of the widows say to Gilady, "Are you equating the murder of my husband to the terrorists that killed him?" --  Guri Weinberg*, Fox News

* Guri Weinberg is an actor and the son of the Israeli wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg who was one of the Israelis killed at the 1972 Olympics. 

To read more, click here.

Kaptain Sunshine, the luckiest guy on the planet

Wearing his signature yellow kippah,
Abramowitz teaches about solar power
in the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda.
Yosef Abramowitz’s list of accomplishments looks like résumés of several high achievers all stapled together.

But no, every larger-than-life item – including three Nobel Peace Prize nominations for his work in freeing Soviet Jews – was really done by this 2006 immigrant from Massachusetts, a celebrated human rights activist, environmentalist, Jewish educator, journalist, solar-power pioneer, investor and entrepreneur all rolled into one.

“No wonder I’m so tired,” he quips in a phone interview with ISRAEL21c during the week CNN was airing Green Pioneers, the network’s tribute to Abramowitz and five other major environmentalists across the globe.

Following three hours of sleep, he was flying to London to meet with partners about spreading solar energy to developing African countries. “I seem to have business meetings wherever Madonna is playing, so I’m also going to my fourth Madonna concert,” reveals the co-founder of Arava Power, the force behind Israel’s first solar-energy field.

“On her previous visit to Israel, she said onstage that Israel is really the energy center of the world, and that was a sign from God that everything would be okay. Madonna is my secret weapon,” he says with a laugh.

Honestly, however, Abramowitz is his own secret weapon. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Women Join Talmud Celebration

As the daf yomi cycle of Talmud learning concludes this week, a Jerusalem study group breaks a barrier
(Margarita Korol)
This week, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather in various venues around the world for what’s being billed as “the largest celebration of Jewish learning in over 2,000 years.” The biggest American event, in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on Aug. 1, is expected to fill most of the arena’s 90,000 seats. The occasion is the siyum hashas, the conclusion of a cycle of Talmud study first proposed by Meir Shapiro, rabbi of Lublin, at the First World Congress of World Agudath Israel—an umbrella organization representing ultra-Orthodox Jewry—in Vienna in 1923. Shapiro’s idea was that Jews around the world could build unity by studying the same page of Talmud at the same time. If a Jew learns one page per day, known as daf yomi, it will take almost seven and a half years to complete all 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud. This week’s siyum hashas marks the conclusion of the 12th cycle of daf yomi study since 1923.

Historically, one group of Jews has often been limited in access to this text: women. The ultra-Orthodox world does not, for the most part, approve of women studying Talmud; as one rabbi representative of this view, or hashkafa, explains, such scholarship is “not congruent with the woman’s role” in Judaism. But other ultra-Orthodox, as well as Modern Orthodox and non-Orthodox, communities are making it possible for women to become increasingly involved in daf yomi study. -- Beth Kissileff, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Despite militarized society, Israel has strict gun laws

Young israelis carrying M16 and Tavor assault rifles
on Jaffa Street in the center of the city of Jerusalem.
Serge Attal/ Flash 90
First-time visitors to Israel might be taken aback to see groups of armed teenagers walking through a city plaza on a weeknight, or surprised to walk into a public bathroom and see an M-16 laying across the sinks as a soldier washes his face.

But guns are ubiquitous in Israel, where most 18-year-olds are drafted into the army after high school.

However, once those soldiers finish their service two or three years later, they are subject to civilian gun control regulations that are much stricter than American laws.

In fact, it’s pretty much impossible for civilians who live in Israel to acquire an arsenal of weaponry of the sort used by the alleged shooter in last week’s massacre in Aurora, Colo. -- Ben Sales

To read more, click here.

President Peres meets with Israel's new ambassador to Ethiopia

President Peres with Zevadia Belaynesh,
Israel's new ambassador to Ethiopia
Photo: Moshe Milner/GPO
President Peres: I am very proud of you and your work. You are the first blossom of the Ethiopian community – I am full of pride, and the entire nation congratulates you. -- Israel Office of the President via Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Jewish stars shine in Emmy nominations

Mayim Bialik, Larry David and Lena Dunham are among the Jewish performers nominated for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Jewish filmmaker and actress Lena Dunham was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Hannah Horvath on the HBO series "Girls." The show has also been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series and was inspired by Dunham’s experiences as a Jewish young woman living in New York City.

Larry David, who is best known as one of the creators of the TV show "Seinfeld," was nominated as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The show also was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Mayim Bialik was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as Amy Farrah Fowler on the CBS show "Big Bang Theory." The show has also been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Max Greenfield, an American actor known for his roles on "Veronica Mars," "Ugly Betty" and "Modern Men," has been nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Schmidt in the Fox series "New Girl."

The show "Homeland," which was loosely based on the Israeli series "Hatufim," has also been nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" has also been nominated for Outstanding Variety Series.

The Emmy Awards will be hosted live on ABC on Sept. 23. -- JTA

The Israeli fish that lay golden eggs

Super-expensive Karat caviar, coveted by restaurateurs in several countries, starts out in river-fed ponds in the Galilee.
Yigal Ben-Tzvi with sturgeon at Kibbutz Dan.
Think “caviar” and the Caspian Sea probably comes to mind along with Russia and maybe Iran. Well, think again. Because some of the finest caviar in the world today originates from ponds at Kibbutz Dan in Israel.

It all started with a business trip to Russia in 1992. Aquaculturists Yigal Ben-Tzvi and Avshalom Hurvitz, who grew up on Kibbutz Dan and run its fish farms, bought some prized Osetra sturgeon eggs to hatch for the growing Israeli population of Russian immigrants who love this variety of fish.

At the time, harvesting the fish’s precious eggs was not on their agenda. Russia and Iran had that market cornered. But when the United Nations declared wild sturgeon endangered in 2003, Ben Tzvi and Hurvitz decided to go for it even though that entailed holding onto their stock of fish for about another six years until they reached the peak age. It was a good decision, because in 2006 the export of all wild sturgeon caviar from the Caspian and Black seas was banned.

The little Galilean kibbutz just had to wait until 2009 to conquer the market. -- Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c

To read more, click here.

Kosher Olympics hurdles

Kosher Olympics

Preliminary reports indicate that kosher food consumers looking to dine at the London 2012 Olympics should prepare for some 'hurdles.'

Writing for the Jewish Chronicle on Thursday, Marcus Dysch reported that strict advertising restrictions imposed on this year’s food servers will make finding Kosher food difficult:
    "Labels will only tell the buyer what food they are buying, and show both a kosher hechsher and a halal stamp.
    Instructions regarding the availability of kosher food have not been included in the handbook given to Olympic volunteers, meaning guides will not be able to direct spectators directly to the outlets selling kosher items.
    Jewish athletes, staff and volunteers who notify their supervisor or boss that they want a kosher meal will be provided with the food within half an hour."
The Forward noted that arrangements to make kosher food widely available hit a few snags early on:
"More than three years ago, the Jewish Committee for the London Games (JCLG), set up to coordinate UK Jewish community activity at the Olympics, called for kosher food stands to be provided by McDonald’s — given their experience with a “large number of outlets in Israel, a considerable number of which are kosher.” McDonald’s resisted plans for any special Olympic provisions..."
The provision that all Olympic food must meet the UK’s Red Tractor food standards was reportedly not conducive to kosher dining options, since "

Still, the Forward reported that “a spokesperson from the Olympics press office was ‘confident that we have made provisions for spectators who follow Halal and kosher diets.’” And for those wondering where to find kosher eats, some Twitter users in London are throwing a kosher bone.

Still, the Forward reported that “a spokesperson from the Olympics press office was ‘confident that we have made provisions for spectators who follow Halal and kosher diets.’” And for those wondering where to find kosher eats, some Twitter users in London are throwing a kosher bone.
But this is a step down from the first kosher Olympics arrangements to appear in the JTA archive: 1928 Amsterdam games.
 " A central office will be opened where Jewish visitors from abroad will be given any information they require, especially with regard to Jewish institutions, accommodation in Jewish homes, attendance at synagogue. Rabbi Sarlonis stated that the Dutch Olympic Committee in conjunction with the Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam is arranging for a number of hotels and restaurants to provide kosher food."
-- Adam Soclof, JTA

To read more, click here.

In Praise of Day Schools: Mother Sees Enduring Benefit in Learning Jewish Values

Jewish Values: Recent findings that
Jewish day schools strenghten identity
came as no surprise to one day school mother.
As the mother of two grade-school boys in a Conservative day school, I read the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011, a comprehensive survey of the world’s largest and most diverse Jewish community outside Israel, with great interest. It has clearly raised some significant issues and pointed out real challenges facing the Conservative movement. But there is one finding that has not yet received much attention. The evidence of the study points to the effectiveness of day schools, Jewish summer camps and trips to Israel in strengthening Jewish engagement. But, apparently, if these findings are any guide, children who receive a day school education will end up quite a bit more engaged in the Jewish community as adults than those who receive only the other, “supplemental,” Jewish education.

This reality, captured by the study, validated and reinforced the decision that my husband and I have made to send our boys to a Jewish day school even though we currently live in Great Neck, N.Y., where the local public schools are terrific.-- Veronica Lurvey, Forward

To read more, click here.

The Queen's Jewry

In the history of the British monarchy, there have been only two Diamond Jubilees.  Last month, Elizabeth II celebrated sixty years on the throne. In 1897 Queen Victoria marked the same milestone. To mark Victoria’s Jubilee the communal leader and scholar Lucien Wolf published an article entitled “The Queen’s Jewry” that set out the progress that Jews had made during Victoria’s reign.

Wolf’s title was curious: in what sense were Jewish subjects of the Queen “the Queen’s Jews”? They possessed no specific rights or privileges from the Crown. They did not pay a special tax. Their leaders were not appointed or approved by the monarch.

Perhaps they were the Queen’s Jews simply because it was useful for them to be so. --  Ben Elton, Jewish Ideas Daily

To read more, click here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gaza Christians sense pressure to convert to Islam

 A Palestinian Christian holds a picture depicting Ramez al-Amash
who they claim was forced to convert to Islam, during a protest
at the Saint Porfirios church in Gaza City July 17, 2012.
Credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustaf
Two conversions that a Christian family says were forced have strained relations between a tiny Palestinian Christian community in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and the Muslim majority.

Hundreds of Christians have staged protests in Gaza's main church in the past week, demanding the return of members of their community of 2,500, whom they said were kidnapped by Islamist proselytizers and forced to convert to Islam.

Christians are blaming the Hamas-affiliated Palestine Scholars Association and its chairman Salem Salama, a senior member of the Islamist Hamas movement. -- Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters

To read more, click here.

Babies will benefit from Israel-Ohio medical deal

Infants can’t be treated with the same devices as adult patients.
Photo by Flash90.
Sometimes the littlest patients get the short end of the stick. Medical devices used in hospitals are seldom available in pediatric versions, especially for tiny preemies. Healthcare workers must adapt devices as best they can, but often they must resort to more invasive treatments or less effective therapies.

A new collaboration between the technology commercialization company of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCH) is coming to the rescue.

The project will combine the medical expertise of CCH physicians with the technical and engineering capabilities of faculty at BGU, says Netta Cohen, chief executive officer of BGN Technologies.

The goal is to improve health outcomes for children by ensuring that the medical and surgical devices used to treat them are customized to their unique physiological differences. -- Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Opinion: Who will protect us from the NRA?

The National Rifle Association (NRA) claims it exists to protect our rights. My question is this: Who will protect us from the NRA?

The gun lobby is not responsible for the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colo., last week that has so far claimed 12 victims.

But its consistent and effective efforts to thwart common-sense laws to reduce gun deaths have turned the NRA into a public health threat. To the mayhem of Aurora, it adds its own brand of madness.

I’m not saying the NRA doesn’t have a right to do what it does. I’m not saying gun laws are a panacea that will stop spree killings or gun deaths — more on that below. I’m saying that by standing up to the NRA and passing a handful of sensible gun laws, we can prevent thousands of gun-related deaths each year. -- Rob Eshman, Jewish Journal

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Opinion: Banning Guns Isn’t the Answer

Stricter gun-control laws won’t prevent the next mass shooting, but better mental-health policies might
A makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting
at Century 16 movie theater, on July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colo.
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
After a maniac shot up a packed movie theater in Colorado last week, the prognoses were quick to arrive: Ban guns. Don’t ban guns, but ban assault rifles. Ban violent movies. Ban midnight screenings of popular movies. It is ungentlemanly to censure anyone’s reactions to such a painful tragedy, but it is in times of crisis that we most need sound ideas, and what we got after the Aurora shooting has been utter drivel. -- Liel Leibovitz, Tablet

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A nice Jewish boy from planet Krypton

George Reeves as Superman. (photo credit: courtesy)
The three legs of the Superman myth — truth, justice and the American way — are straight out of the Mishna, says ‘Superman’ author Larry Tye -- David Elijah Nahmod, Times of Israel

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