Friday, August 10, 2012

A Shabbat prayer for the victims of the Sikh shooting

 The community gathers for a vigil in Oak Creek, Wisc., on Aug 7.
Photo by REUTERS/John Gress
From our Haftarah this Shabbat, the second Haftarah of comfort (Isaiah 50:8)

This prayer was written to recite for the victims and survivors of the Aug. 5 shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  Rabbi Naomi Levy, spiritual leader of Nashuva, wrote the prayer on behalf of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, which distributed it to congregations around the world.

Let Us Stand Up Together (נעמדה יחד)
–From our Haftarah this Shabbat, the second Haftarah of comfort (Isaiah 50:8)
We stand together in grief
For the innocent victims
Of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin
Who perished in their house of prayer.
May their memories be a blessing,
May their lights shine brightly on us.

We stand together in mourning
For broken hearts,
The senseless loss, the shock, the emptiness.

We stand together in outrage,
Weary of this war-torn hate-filled world.
And together we pray:

Send comfort, God, to grieving families,
Hear their cries.
Fill them with the courage
To carry on in the face of this tragic loss.
Send healing to the wounded,
Lift them up, ease their pain,
Restore them to strength, to hope, to life.
Gather the sacred souls of the slaughtered
Into Your eternal shelter,
Let them find peace in Your presence, God.

Work through us, God,
Show us how to help.
Open our hearts so we can comfort the mourning,
Open our arms so we can extend our hands,
Transform our helplessness into action,
Turn the prayers of our souls into acts of kindness and compassion.

Let us stand up together
Our young and our old,
All races and faiths,
All people and nations.
Rise up above hatred
And cruelty and indifference.
Let us live up to our goodness
Let us learn from this tragedy
Let us walk together
Filled with hope
On a path of peace, Amen.
- by Rabbi Naomi Levy, spiritual leader of Nashuva, on behalf of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, printed in LA Jewish Journal

Click here to see the accompanying photos.

A spoonful of honey and the coughing will stop

With hot and humid temperatures soaring outside and air conditioners and fans whirring inside, the summer bedtime ritual is often accompanied by hacking coughs. According to a new Israeli study, a spoonful of honey can improve symptoms of the common cold.

“The cough due to a viral [upper respiratory infection] is generally a self-limited disease,” study author Dr. Herman Avner Cohen, chairman of the Pediatric Community Ambulatory Care Clinic with Clalit Health Services in Petah-Tikva, told HealthDay News.

“However, parents often [want] some active intervention,” Cohen said. This often leads to the use of over-the-counter cough medications, which are potentially dangerous because of the possibility of accidental overdose, he said.

Results of the study have already been published online and will appear in the print edition of Pediatrics.

“Honey may be a preferable treatment for cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory infection,” the authors concluded. -- Viva Sarah Press, Israel21c

Israeli mom’s earth-friendly food and drink wrap

Packaging as benign as an orange peel.
Imagine pulling back the tab of a drink box, drinking its contents, and then throwing what’s left in the backyard compost heap to fully decompose –– just like one would a fruit peel? This was the dream of mother and computer-engineer-turned-entrepreneur Daphna Nissenbaum from Israel.

Her dream has turned into an award-winning green packaging company, Tipa, which won a first-place prize at Israel’s Cleantech 2012 out of 50 promising companies and also won a prize at Anuga Foodtec, a leading food industry packaging conference in Germany.

Tipa is starting to roll out a few products already, and eventually may change the way we consume and dispose of products we use every single day.

The idea for Tipa started with a big pet peeve. Nissenbaum is a doting mother who also cares for the planet. Worn out after years of nagging the kids to bring home their used food packaging and cans so she could recycle them, Nissenbaum hired expert consultants in biopolymers to search the world for a fully compostable packaging material. They found nothing to fit the bill.

She tells ISRAEL21c, “Actually the company really just started with a simple idea of creating a package that is as close to nature as possible. This is a package from which you can drink or eat the inside contents, then throw the package into the organic waste stream to fully decompose –– to go back to nature in the compost bin.” -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Israeli scholar completes mission to 'fix' Bible

A Tuesday, July 31, 2012 photo, shows biblical scholar Professor Menachem Cohen,
reading from a book, at the library of Bar Ilan University, outside Tel Aviv, Israel.
Photo By Dan Balilty
For the past 30 years, Israeli Judaic scholar Menachem Cohen has been on a mission of biblical proportions: Correcting all known textual errors in Jewish scripture to produce a truly definitive edition of the Old Testament.

His edits, focusing primarily on grammatical blemishes and an intricate set of biblical symbols, mark the first major overhaul of the Hebrew Bible in nearly 500 years.

Poring over thousands of medieval manuscripts, the 84-year-old Cohen identified 1,500 inaccuracies in the Hebrew language texts that have been corrected in his completed 21-volume set. The final chapter is set to be published next year.

The massive project highlights how Judaism venerates each tiny biblical calligraphic notation as a way of ensuring that communities around the world use precisely the same version of the holy book. -- Aron Heller, Associated Press via Yahoo News

To read more, click here.

Film critic Judith Crist dies at 90

Film critic Judith Crist, a one-time mainstay of the "Today" show and TV Guide, has died at 90.

Crist died Tuesday in Manhattan following a long illness, according to reports.

She was born Judith Klein to parents Solomon Klein and the former Helen Schoenberg, spending her early years in Montreal before returning to her native New York at age 12.

Crist was a woman of many firsts. At the New York Herald Tribune, she became the first female film critic at any major American newspaper, according to The New York Times, working there for more than two decades. She was also the first film critic at New York magazine before moving on to do reviews on "Today" in the 1960s.

Crist, did not mince words and was famous for her sharp tongue, prompting director Otto Preminger to label her "Judas Crist," according to The Associated Press. In 1974, reviewing the Israeli musical comedy film "Kazablan" for New York magazine, Crist wrote, "You don't have to be Jewish to dislike 'Kazablan,' but it helps. At best, it portrays Jews as stereotypes and clowns."

In 1987, she was among the many Jewish women to respond to an appeal by Lilith, the Jewish feminist magazine, to campaign for the freedom of Soviet Jewish refusenik Ida Nudel. Nudel was released later that year.

Crist taught at Columbia's School of Journalism intermittently over the course of more than half a century, and in 2008 she received an alumni award from the school. -- Uriel Heilman, JTA

Haredi Women’s Lit Explodes

The writers and editors behind the astonishing rise of Orthodox magazines and fiction

Photoillustration Tablet Magazine;
original photos Matthew C. Wright/Flickr and Afton Almaraz/Getty Images.
Libi Astaire, who has written three mystery novels, faces a set of challenges quite unlike any other writer in her genre. Here are her ground rules: 1. No murders or gratuitous violence. 2. No unredeemable characters. 3. No inappropriate language or sexual immortality. Of course, she doesn’t write for the same audience that reads Laura Lippman or John Grisham. Astaire writes mysteries for Haredi women.

“Can this be good literature?” she asked during a recent interview. “I personally think so. Because I can’t rely upon sex and violence to sell my books, I have to do old-fashioned things like create vivid characters, insert humor, recreate historical periods in a convincing way.”

Astaire, 57, who has been called (by herself, and also by others) “a Jewish Jane Austen,” is a prominent contributor to the Haredi literary scene. She grew up in Prairie Village, Kan., and now lives in Jerusalem. She is also a frequent contributor to Mishpacha, one of a slew of ultra-Orthodox publications that has found an ever-growing readership over the past 15 or 20 years. Indeed, the three major Haredi magazines are among the most canny negotiators between the requirements of Jewish law and the imperatives of literature. They are all based in New York and are favored reading material for many Sabbath-observant families. There is Binah, “the weekly magazine for the Jewish woman”; Ami, which declares itself the “premier Jewish magazine”; and Mishpacha, which bills itself as a “Jewish family magazine.” All three are glossy publications with high production values, run by professional writers and editors who occasionally solicit advice from rabbis about what they should or should not publish. -- Zackary Sholem Berger, Tablet

To read more click here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jewish gal shows up IOC with a gold salute to Munich 11

To read the article by Leonard Greene of the NY Post, click here.

Also see, "Raisman says she was for Munich 11 moment of silence" by clicking here.

Israel’s Blind Golf Star

Zohar Sharon and his caddie, Shimshon Levy.
Photo by Nimrod Glickman

After losing his eyesight serving in the Israeli Army, Zohar Sharon won the world championship for blind golf

Tal Miller, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Be'er Sheva parents refuse to open school year until bomb shelter shortage solved

Shelter at Moshav Komemiyut, near Ashkelon.
Photo by Alex Levac

Be'er Sheva Parent Teacher Association announces that it will delay opening of upcoming school year due to the lack of bomb shelters for nearly 20 pre-schools in the city. -- Yanir Yagna, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Naming Holocaust denier government minister concerns Romanian Jews

The appointment of a Romanian lawmaker who denied his countrymen's complicity in the Holocaust "seriously concerns" Romanian Jews, a community leader said.

Dan Sova was appointed minister for parliamentary affairs on Monday. In March, Sova was filmed saying that Romanians never participated in the persecution of Jews. The Social Democrat lawmaker added that only 24 Jews, not thousands, had died during the violent Iasi pogrom, which he attributed to the German army. Sova later retracted his statements.

In an interview for the Romanian B1 television network on Monday, Aurel Vainer, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania, said that Sova’s appointment made him “want to wear a black armband” as a sign of mourning.

Historians say some 15,000 Jews from Iasi were murdered in the streets or asphyxiated in "death trains" in June and July of 1941. Some 250,000 Romanian Jews were murdered by 1945. Romania has a Jewish population of slightly over 6,000, according to the European Jewish Congress.

Sova’s promotion “raises questions” in light of his past statements, Vainer said. “It is hard to accept that a young, educated man would claim the Holocaust never happened in Romania,” added Vainer, himself a Romanian lawmaker.

Vainer also said that Sova’s promotion “did not send the correct message to young people.” -- JTA

Glitch sends thousands to Israel cheap via El Al

Thousands of travelers bought bargain basement-priced tickets to Israel on El Al Airlines after a third-party mistake sent the price plummeting.

The tickets, sold Monday, were going for as low as $335 round trip, The New York Jewish Week reported.

A spokeswoman for El Al told the newspaper that the low prices were a third-party mistake, but that all of the tickets would be honored, despite what some Facebook and Twitter users were claiming.

People were alerted to the deal through the travel website Dan’s Deals.

"I’m not going to speculate on why the tickets were so cheap, though it does seem likely that they forgot to include a fuel surcharge,” Dan wrote. “However the [Department of Transportation] has strict rules that prohibit airlines from charging additional fees after a ticket is issued or from cancelling paid tickets, so I do think that these tickets will be honored."

One traveler told VIN News that he booked 26 tickets for family and friends.

The airline told VIN it is not clear how many tickets were purchased at the low fare. -- JTA

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In Wisconsin, Jews seek ways to help Sikhs after Milwaukee shooting

A candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., Aug 6, 2012.
(Courtesy of Overpass Light Brigade)
Almost as soon as she heard the news about a deadly shooting at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Elana Kahn-Oren’s phone started ringing.

As director of the Jewish Community Relations Council at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Kahn-Oren fielded call after call from concerned area Jews asking what they could do to help.

“We have to make sure to be respectful of the Sikh community and to make sure that we find appropriate avenues to express that support,” Kahn-Oren told JTA.

A day after Sunday's shooting, the federation was offering counseling services, had opened a mailbox to receive donations for assisting with the financial needs of the victims and their families, and was in talks with the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee to figure out a way to bring religious leaders together for an interfaith prayer service. -- Charlotte Anthony, JTA

To read more, click here.

Sweden marks 100th anniversary of Wallenberg’s birth

Sweden marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis.

The event, sponsored by the Raoul Wallenberg Academy, was held Saturday in Sigtuna, located north of Stockholm.

"Those who knew how to confront hate and who saved lives were perhaps unable to prevent the evil and the destruction, but their memories should be cherished as strongly as possible," Hungarian Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog said at the ceremony.

The Kaddish memorial prayer was recited for Wallenberg.

Swedish Democracy Minister Birgitta Ohlsson called for an annual remembrance day for Wallenberg in an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Wallenberg, a neutral Swedish diplomat in Budapest during the German occupation in 1944, issued Swedish travel documents -- known as “Wallenberg passports” -- to at least 20,000 Jews and also set up more than 30 safe houses for Jews. Other neutral diplomats collaborated in the effort.

The details of Wallenberg’s fate have remained a mystery. He disappeared while being escorted out of Hungary toward the Soviet Union. The Soviets claimed that he died of a heart attack in 1957, but other evidence indicated that he was killed in Lubyanka prison or that he may have lived years longer.

In July, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to award Raoul Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award given by the Congress.

Wallenberg events also were held in Budapest, Moscow and Berlin.-- JTA

Opinion: Circumcision and the ancestor factor

A feature about a father's dilemma over having his son circumcised has provoked a huge and impassioned response -- Jake Wallis Simons, UK Telegraph
Jake Wallis Simons and son Isaac, who remains uncircumcised despite his Jewish heritage
Photo: Andrew Crowley
To read more, click here.

Schools' secular-religious integration to begin next year

 Five years after legislation, Education Ministry introduces secular-orthodox integration programs in schools across Israel
Rabbi Michael Melchior
Photo: Dov Grobgeld
How can one teach the Bible to a class of both secular and religious students? Will the approach be too blasphemous for the religious or too missionary for the secular? And how will such complex issues affect the Jewish and Israeli identities of the students? Many parents have been asking these questions in light of the Education Ministry's Integrated Education Act. -- Itamar Marilus, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

'Chorus Line,' 'The Way We Were' composer Marvin Hamlisch dies at 68

Marvin Hamlisch
Cindy Ord / Getty Images

Composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch, best known for the torch song "The Way We Were," died Monday. He was 68 years old.

Hamlisch collapsed after a brief illness, his family announced.

In a career that spanned over four decades, Hamlisch won virtually every major award: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, and three Golden Globes. --  Brent Lang,

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beit Shemesh: Signs excluding women still up

Offensive sign in Beit Shemesh Photo courtesy of Israel Religious Action Center
Despite promises made by politicians, complaints filed with police and municipality, signs calling for segregation between men and women in Beit Shemesh still up year after media hype ended. -- Moshe Heller, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

Norwegian official: Jews, Muslims should replace circumcision with ‘symbolic’ ritual

Norway’s ombudsman for children's rights has proposed that Jews and Muslim replace male circumcision with a symbolic, nonsurgical ritual.

Dr. Anne Lindboe told the newspaper Vart Land last month that circumcision in boys was a violation of a person’s right to decide over his own body.

“Muslim and Jewish children are entitled to the same protection as all other children,“ she said, adding that the practice caused unnecessary pain and was medically unbeneficial.

Lindboe, a pediatrician, was appointed ombudsman in June. Her predecessor, Reidar Hjermann, proposed setting 15 as the minimum age for circumcision. According to Jewish religious law, Jewish babies must be circumcised when they are eight days old.

The children’s ombudsman is an independent governmental institution entrusted with safeguarding the rights of minors.

Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community of Oslo, said that Norwegian Jews “will not be able to live in a society where circumcision is forbidden.” He noted that the mandate of Norway’s children’s ombudsman did not extend to devising Jewish rituals. Norway has a Jewish community of about 700.

In June, a spokesperson for Norway’s Centre Party, which has 11 out of 169 seats in parliament, proposed a ban on circumcising babies. -- JTA

Opinion: Iran’s anti-Semitism makes it the greatest threat to Jews

Blame it on my upbringing, or what I learned in school, or what I saw when I visited the Dachau concentration camp in 1968. The Holocaust was the most evil event of the 20th century.

So it is abhorrent to me that a government in today’s world would advocate a repeat of that horror. And it is almost beyond belief that the rest of the world would hear such an outrage and look the other way.

I am referring, of course, to the leaders of today’s Iran and the global ho-hum response to the most virulent form of state-sponsored anti-Semitism since Nazi Germany.

I say this as a great-grandson of slaves, as the son of parents whose potential was stifled by unrelenting racism, as a man whose youth was stymied by Jim Crow and racial prejudice, as a father who aches with anger and sorrow that he has failed to give his children and grandchildren an America that will not regard their skin color as a blemish on their humanity. -- Colbert I. King, Washington Post

To read more, click here.

Estonia to change shechitah law but says no ban is planned

Estonia will change its law on religious slaughter, a government official said, but “there is no plan to ban" it.

Sirje Jalakas, the head of Estonia's Animal Welfare Bureau, told JTA that a change is needed because religious slaughter “does not take new scientific knowledge into account.”

The change is being determined based on the 2010 DialRel report, Jalakas said, which says that kosher slaughter, or shechitah, causes higher risk, pain and suffering in animals than methods that involve stunning. Jewish religious law requires animals to be conscious when their necks are cut.

The DialRel document served as the scientific basis for a 2011 Dutch bill to ban ritual slaughter. The Dutch Parliament approved the bill, but its Senate scrapped the measure in June.

Estonia's current policy on ritual slaughter is among the European Union’s strictest. Authorities must be notified 10 work days ahead of each planned slaughter and a government inspector oversees each procedure. The animals are stunned after their throats are cut -- a procedure known as post-cut stunning, which not all rabbis permit.

The DialRel report states post-cut stunning results as "intermediate” for pain and suffering during the post-cut period. In methods involving previous stunning, pain and suffering are “low,” the report said.

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, told JTA that his organization "calls on all nations to show the utmost restraint when attempting to change the status quo regarding Jewish traditions and practices." He added that "Proscribing or limiting Jewish practices sends entirely the wrong message to the Jewish community."

Shmuel Kot, Estonia’s chief rabbi, said the authorities are consulting him on the planned change. Approximately 1,000 Jews live in Estonia, according to the Estonian Institute.

A spokesman for the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, a Brussels-based group, said the organization was "confident that any decision on animal slaughter in Estonia would not end in banning the practice.”

Shechitah is banned in Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. Along with Estonia, countries that impose post-cut stunning include Finland, Denmark and Austria. -- JTA

Natalie Portman married in Jewish ceremony

Actress Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied reportedly were married in a Jewish ceremony.

The wedding took place Saturday night at a private home in Big Sur, Calif., People magazine reported.

The couple have a 14-month-old son named Aleph and have been engaged for two years. They met on the set of the 2010 movie "Black Swan," for which Portman won an Academy Award for best actress. -- JTA

Monday, August 6, 2012

Alive and well: Judaism is enjoying an unexpected revival.

Judaism is flourishing, both in Israel, where 43% of the world’s Jews now live, and throughout the Jewish diaspora. The Jews as a nation are flourishing too. Israelis, for all their problems, are the 14th-happiest people in the world, happier than the British or the French, according to a recent global happiness report commissioned by the UN. In the diaspora Jewish life has never been so free, so prosperous, so unthreatened. -- David Landau, The Economist

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

Millions to be invested in critical systems fortification


Fortification of water, power, facilities to begin next week at companies' expense; Home Front Command to oversee project -- Yoav Zitun, Ynetnews

To read more, click here.

What is Jewish food, really?

The Saturday morning bagel queue.
Photo by Wikipedia Commons

Let’s be frank here: there is little that separates Jewish food from any other, save for the kosher aspect. Kosher Chinese food is just as Jewish as a kosher Aussie barbeque, which is just as Jewish as kosher New York deli sandwiches. -- Yael Miller, Haaretz

To read more, click here.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple renovation offers renewed history

Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s restoration is just the start of a new vision of outreach for the Eastside campus
The exterior of the synagogue is surrounded by scaffolding for the two-year restoration project,
which will repair damage and return the structure to its original earthy hue.
Photo courtesy of Wilshire Boulevard Temple
Early on a recent Wednesday morning, architect Brenda Levin bounded up the metal steps temporarily installed at the center of the historic sanctuary of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Leading the way up 10 flights — that’s 100 feet — she climbed to the normally inaccessible domed ceiling, high enough to touch the enormous Hebrew letters circling the oculus’ opening. Those letters, inscribed in gold, spell out the most sacred words of Torah: Shema Yisra’el ...

Levin, dressed in a hard hat and elegant silk blouse, stood amid a forest of scaffolding and took a moment to greet the conservator meticulously fixing spots where gold leaf had flecked off the ceiling during the 83 years since the moguls of Hollywood bankrolled the structure. Wilshire Boulevard Temple was built to be the fanciest building money could buy for the denizens of the silver screen’s Reform Jewish congregation, and its dramatic, quasi-Byzantine-Moorish design by architect A.M. Edelman (son of the congregation’s first rabbi, Abraham Edelman) was constructed over a span of just 18 months, at a cost of $1.5 million, under the leadership of Senior Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin (who presided from 1919 to 1984). It was made to compete with the cathedral-scaled churches and ornate office buildings that were lining up along Los Angeles’ grandest new street, because, in 1929, the temple’s site on Wilshire Boulevard, just east of Western Avenue at the then-westernmost tip of the city, was one of the best addresses in town. Nothing else would have satisfied the ambitions of Jack and Harry Warner, Carl Laemmle, Adolph Zukor or the boy-wonder producer Irving Thalberg. --  Susan Freudenheim, Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

New Bible translation has screenplay format

A new Bible translation tackles the challenge of turning ancient Greek and Hebrew texts into modern American English and then adds a twist: It's written like a screenplay.

Take the passage from Genesis in which God gets angry at Adam for eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil:
"Adam (pointing at the woman): It was she! The woman You gave me as a companion put the fruit in my hands, and I ate it.

"God (to the woman): What have you done?

"Eve: It was the serpent! He tricked me, and I ate."

Later, Eve bears her first son, Cain.

"Eve (excited): Look, I have created a new human, a male child, with the help of the Eternal."
 -- Travis Loller, Associated Press via Yahoo News

To read, more, click here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stone seal may prove story of Samson

A small stone seal found recently in excavations of Tel Beit Shemesh, which could be the first archaeological evidence of the story of the biblical Samson.
Photo courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism
Israel is known for its rich culture and history with archeologists' constantly unearthing artifacts of biblical proportions. The latest finding was a small stone seal found recently in excavations of Tel Beit Shemesh, which could be the first archaeological evidence of the story of the biblical Samson.

The seal, measuring 1.5 centimeters, depicts a large animal next to a human figure. The seal was found in a level of excavation that dates to the 11th century B.C.E. That was prior to the establishment of the Judean kingdom and is considered to be the period of the biblical judges - including Samson. Scholars say the scene shown on the artifact recalls the story in Judges of Samson fighting a lion.

But excavation directors Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz and Dr. Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University say they do not suggest that the human figure on the seal is the biblical Samson. Rather, the geographical proximity to the area where Samson lived, and the time period of the seal, show that a story was being told at the time of a hero who fought a lion, and that the story eventually found its way into the biblical text and onto the seal.

Not far from Beit Shemesh is Tel Batash, which is the biblical Timna, where Samson's wife lived. As the Bible tells it, Samson was on his way to his engagement party when "a young lion roared against him." (Judges 14:5 ) -- Israel Ministry of Tourism via Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Making Aliyah for the Olympics

Why American-born athletes Donald Sanford and Jillian Schwartz are competing for Israel’s team in London
Donald Sanford in the men’s 400-meter semifinals of the 21st European Athletics Championships on June 28, 2012,
in Helsinki, Finland; Jillian Schwartz in the women’s pole-vault final at the same competition
on June 30, 2012. (Photoillustration Tablet Magazine; original photos Ian Walton/Getty Images)
On Saturday morning, Illinois-native Jillian Schwartz and Los Angelino Donald Sanford will put on their uniforms and take the Olympic stage in London where they will compete in the qualifying rounds for pole vault and 400-meter dash, respectively. But the two former U.S. citizens won’t be wearing red, white, and blue. They’ll be competing for Israel, as the only American-born members of the Jewish state’s Olympic team.

Of the 37 Olympians representing Israel at this year’s games, only 20 were born in Israel. Thirteen were born in the former Soviet Union; tennis player Andy Ram moved to Jerusalem at age 5 from Uruguay, where he was born to an Israeli father and Uruguayan mother; Ethiopian marathoner Zohar Zemiro emigrated to Israel at age 10 in a 1987 airlift. But Schwartz and Sanford, who both competed at the highest levels in the United States, only became Israeli citizens since the last Olympic cycle. -- Stephanie Butnick, Tablet

To read more, click here.

The Bagel, Perfected by Science

Photo by Peter McCollough
Two hundred years ago, famed philosopher Hegel wrote “The Science of Logic.” Sixteen decades later, Hall of Famer Ted Williams penned “The Science of Hitting.”

Are we now ready for “The Science of Bagels”?

Dan Graf is. While the 27-year-old resident of Oakland, Calif., hasn’t written a book (yet), he definitely is trying to re-write the predominantly steamed, bready and flavorless history of bagels in the San Francisco Bay Area.

And he’s doing it with science. -- Andy Altman-Ohr, Forward

To read more, click here.

House considering Jewish refugees bill

A bipartisan group of six Congress members is sponsoring a bill that would ensure recognition of the plight of 850,000 Jewish refugees displaced from Arab countries since Israel's War of Independence in 1948.

Their bill in the U.S. House of Representatives also would recognize other displaced populations, including Christians from countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf….

A similar resolution is being considered by the U.S. Senate. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

International autism experts convene in Jerusalem

"Israel is the right place for high-tech relevant to the autism field," says Dr. Joshua Weinstein, founder of ICare4Autism.
Dame Stephanie Shirley and Dr. Joshua Weinstein planning the International Autism Conference in Jerusalem
As cases of atism spectrum disorder continue to increase around the world, hundreds of researchers, educators and policy experts join families affected by autism at ICare4Autism's 2012 International Autism Conference. This unique gathering, held on August 1-2, 2012 in Jerusalem, aims at sharing current research into the causes and treatment of the brain disorder characterized by communication and perception difficulties. -- Avigayil Kadesh, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.