Friday, August 17, 2012

Jewish cross-country bike riders finishing food awareness trek in D.C.

Twenty-nine Jewish cyclists who rode across America to raise awareness about sustainable food systems will finish their trek in Washington.

After nearly two months on the Hazon Cross-USA Bike Ride, the participants are scheduled to arrive in the nation's capital on Wednesday. They have raised more than $120,000 in support of sustainable food systems.

The cyclists have stopped in 13 states to meet farmers, policymakers, rabbis and others to discuss the food system in the United States and the upcoming Farm Bill in Congress.

The Cross-USA Ride is organized by Hazon, a leading faith-based environmental organization and a driving force behind the growth of the Jewish Food Movement.

“The Jewish community has always cared about social justice -- and we’ve always loved food,” said Nigel Savage, Hazon’s founder and executive director in a statement. “In the summer in which the Farm Bill is being considered by Congress, people need to know how strongly many people in the Jewish community feel about sustainable food systems.”

In addition to the fundraising, the riders visited an ethanol plant, toured a grain elevator and windmill farm, and volunteered at bike shops and soup kitchens. -- JTA

Jewish studies flourish in China

From left: David N. Myers and Jerry Gotel at a seminar at Henan University
in Kaifeng in front of 75 Chinese graduate students in Jewish studies.
The last quarter century has witnessed a veritable explosion in the academic field of Jewish studies. During that time, Israel solidified its place as the global center in the field, while in the United States virtually every university and college of note has established its own program, center or chair. In these two venues, the growth of Jewish studies has been closely linked to the presence of Jews, though in the United States an increasing number of non-Jews have entered the field. In other parts of the world where the field of Jewish studies has been expanding, such as Germany, the field is populated almost exclusively by non-Jews.

Surely one of the most interesting sites of the new Jewish studies — and one of the most promising in terms of growth — is China. --  David N. Myers, Jewish Journal

To read more, click here.

Moishe House gains up to $6 million to expand

Moishe House, the international group focused on building communities for Jews in their 20s, will gain up to $6 million to expand its programming.

The funding, part of a strategic growth plan, was offered by the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Leichtag Foundation, the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the Maimonides Fund. The Jim Joseph Foundation alone has offered a dollar-to-dollar match of up to $3 million for funds raised by Jewish federations and individuals for Moishe House in the next 4 1/2 years.

There are 46 Moishe Houses in 14 countries engaging more than 50,000 young adults each year, according to the organization. 

The grants will help Moishe House establish new locations, offer Jewish educational training for residents and their peers, and invest in Moishe House’s organizational infrastructure and fundraising.

“Moishe House already reaches tens of thousands of young Jewish adults each year, providing them opportunities to live vibrant Jewish lives,” Chip Edelsberg, executive director of the Jim Joseph Foundation, said in a statement. “With this Strategic Growth Plan, and the support of numerous organizations and individuals, Moishe House is positioned to cultivate even more young Jewish adults engaged in personally relevant Jewish learning and creating home-based communities for their peers.”

David Cygielman, the Moishe House CEO, said the Strategic Growth Plan "charts a course that is both innovative and comprehensive in its approach, allowing the organization to implement pilot projects and expand our reach to new regions.” -- JTA

Rabbis protest mobile app of ‘Protocols’

 A European rabbinical group is protesting a mobile app of the notorious anti-Semitic text "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement Tuesday that he would contact Apple to urge that the company remove the app. JTA's calls to Apple were not immediately answered.

The app, which was released earlier this year, is available only in Arabic and is attributed to the software developer Ahmed Elserety.

It costs $1.08 to download and is accompanied by a compact description of the "Protocols" stating that "according to many historians, these writings are a hoax." The text describes a supposed Jewish plot to control the world.

The app notes a 1921 investigation by the Times of London and a series of French articles describing how the fraud was perpetrated.

Still, Goldschmidt said, it is unacceptable to have such an app on the market.

Goldschmidt believes it is "the first mobile version of the famous anti-Semitic work," which was first published in Russia in the early 20th century.

“Although the Protocols of the Elders of Zion can and should be available for academics to study in its proper context, to disseminate such hateful invective as a mobile app is dangerous and inexcusable,” he said, warning that it could be "used by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and their fellow travelers to pursue their
racist agenda." -- JTA

College in Israel: Opportunities are growing to study in Israel

International students studying at the University of Haifa. Photo by Keren Or
Hollywood depicts the study-abroad experience as either a starting point for a great romance or an international road trip. But just as most people’s college experience bears little resemblance to movies made about campus life, college students enrolled in a study-abroad experience in Israel are more likely to use their time in a more serious and focused fashion.

Justin Levinson from Woodland Hills was drawn to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s (BGU) Medical School for International Health because of the curriculum’s precise ties to his long-term career goals. -- Elyse Glickman, Tribe Magazine

To read more, click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shlomo Carlebach’s life comes to the stage in ‘Soul Doctor’

The company of the off-Broadway musical "Soul Doctor,"
about the life of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. (Carol Rosegg
As he researched the complex life of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach for a new musical, playwright Daniel Wise found a surprisingly candid source.

Neshama Carlebach, a successful recording artist and popular performer of her father’s compositions, openly revealed his many struggles as “a lonely and conflicted” Orthodox rabbi -- both rock star and spiritual shepherd.

“When someone collaborates on a show and at the same time is the daughter of the subject matter, and she is serving of the show rather than her own perspective, it helps make the show what it is,” Wise says. “It was also very brave.”

As Neshama explains, her father’s message is that everyone “can surpass their own walls. Some people say he was an angel. He was a person. But he was a strong person. He made beautiful choices and that should be a inspiration for the world.”

Some of Carlebach’s followers aren’t so pleased with the candor. -- Lisa Alcalay Klug, JTA

To read more, click here.

The Frozen Chosen: Alaska Jews Talk About Life on America's Last Frontier

In 1939, Harold Ickes, President Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of the interior, proposed that four Alaskan locales play refuge to thousands of Europe’s fleeing Jews. Ickes’s idea -— which would become the premise for Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” — was later bucked by Roosevelt and by several prominent American Jewish organizations.

But over the years, Jews still made their way to the largest state in the union, forming a loose-knit community that today numbers at around 6,000 and call themselves the “frozen chosen.”

Many are ex-urbanites who enjoy the adventure to be found in the 49th state, and some even say that being in Alaska has heightened their attachment to their Jewish roots. -- Molly Arost Staub, FOrward

To read more, click here.

Bill calls for Jewish prayer times on Temple Mount

Separate prayer times would be held for Jews and Muslims, with overlap for Christians at Jerusalem holy site.
Photo: Ilan Evyatar
On the heels of a US State Department report delineating Israeli policy barring non-Muslims from praying on the Temple Mount, MK Arieh Eldad (National Union) has drafted a bill mandating separate hours for Jews and Muslims to pray at the holy site. -- Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Circumcision, long in decline in the U.S., may get a boost from a doctors’ group

San Francisco was the site of a debate over infants circumcision last year
Eric Risberg/AP.

Article by  Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post

To read this article, click here.

62 Year Old Jewish Triathlon Athlete to Compete in New York’s First Ironman

Elie Hirschfeld in the 2010 NYC Triathalon. Photo: Elie Hirschfeld.
A 2.4 mile swim, a 112- mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run will be the challenge for this weekend’s first ever New York City Ironman Triathlon and at 62 years old, New York developer Elie Hirschfeld could not be more excited to participate.

“I think this is a great celebration of a sport that isn’t yet fully appreciated,” Hirschfeld told The Algemeiner. “This is going to be a very significant event for New York because there is no other urban Ironman out there.”

A veteran of over 75 triathlons around the world, including races in Hawaii and Israel, Hirschfeld says that when New York announced it would be hosting the Ironman event last year, it was an opportunity he could not pass up. --

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ontario government approves anti-Israel rally

Jewish groups are decrying the approval of an anti-Israel rally on the grounds outside of Ontario's provincial capital.

A rally by an Islamic group marking International Al-Quds Day, a commemoration begun in 1979 by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini to mark the last Friday of Ramadan, was approved by the sergeant-at-arms of Ontario's Legislature building in Toronto. The rally is scheduled for Aug. 18 on grounds that surround the building, known as Queen's Park.

Last year's rally heard from several speakers who called Israel an "apartheid state" of "oppressors and criminals." One speaker said, "I see that day when we, the Muslims, will march on Palestine and liberate Palestine ... under Islamic law."

Jewish groups say last year's event offended Canadian values and violated the park's terms of use. They say permission for this year's rally should have been denied because public spaces should not be used to voice anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment. -- JTA

To read more, click here.

U. of Calif. Weighs Banning 'Hate' Speech

Stringent Restrictions Coming to Cradle of Free Speech?
Free Speech? A report is urging the University of California to ban
a wider range of conduct considered ‘hate speech,’ which could include anti-Israel protests.
milesgehm/via flickr
The University of California, birthplace of the 1960s campus Free Speech Movement, is now considering a proposal that would ban certain forms of speech as a result of a report on Jews and the Israel debate at its schools.

The July 9 report, issued by an advisory panel to UC President Mark Yudof, concluded that Jewish students sometimes face a hostile environment at UC schools in the form of anti-Israel protests. It recommends that UC “seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus.”

The panel “recognizes that changes to UC hate speech policies may result in legal challenge,” the report reads. But it encourages UC to “accept the challenge.” -- Naomi Zeveloff, Forward

To read more, click here.

Canada to release Raoul Wallenberg stamp

Canada will honor Swedish Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg with a postage stamp.

The stamp will be released on Jan. 17 to coincide with the 68th anniversary of Wallenberg's arrest by Soviet troops in Budapest during the dying days of World War II.

Wallenberg was made Canada's first Honorary Citizen on Jan. 17, 1985, and the government declared the date as the annual Raoul Wallenberg Day in the country. It is the first time that Canada is paying tribute to one of its five honorary citizens with a postage stamp.

Wallenberg, who would have turned 100 on Aug. 4, is credited with rescuing an estimated 100,000 Hungarian Jews from death during the Nazi occupation of Budapest. He issued thousands of protective documents to Jews and spirited thousands of others to safe houses that flew the neutral Swedish flag.

He also persuaded the Nazis to call off the destruction of Budapest's Jewish ghetto along with its inhabitants.

His fate remains unknown. The Soviets have said he died in custody in 1947. Other reports, including from eyewitnesses who spent time in Soviet prisons, reported to have seen him alive long afterward.

"To recognize Mr. Wallenberg with a stamp is a fitting way to mark his courage and his contributions to our country, and we are proud to add him in our stamp program," said Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra.

The stamp "will help raise the profile of a person whose courage served as a beacon of light during such a dark period," Israel's ambassador to Canada, Miriam Ziv, said in a statement.

The United States issued a stamp paying homage to Wallenberg in 1997.  -- JTA

Israel National Trail named a top ‘epic’ hike

 The Israel National Trail was named one of the World's Best Hikes by National Geographic magazine.

The trail, which extends up to 620 miles from southern to northern Israel, was named one of the 20 top hikes in the Epic Trails section.

It is joined on the list by such trails as the International Appalachian Trail, which extends into several countries, including the United States and Canada;  the Yoshida Trail, Mount Fuji, Japan; the Great Himalaya Trail, Nepal; and the Continental Divide Trail, United States.

The magazine says the Israel National Trail is best for "Long-distance hikers with a love of both ancient and contemporary history."

"Passing through vast empty desert and winding into kibbutzim, the Israel National Trail (INT) delves into the grand scale of biblical landscapes as well as the everyday lives of modern Israelis (with opportunities to stop in the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). But beyond the immense sense of history and breaking news, the trail powerfully connects to something that often gets lost in all the headlines -- the sublime beauty of the wilderness of the Middle East," writes the magazine's Doug Schnitzspahn.

National Geographic's insider trip to trail travelers reads: "The biggest blessing here comes in the form of 'trail angels' along the INT who give a helping hand and often offer a place to stay free of charge to thru-hikers." It also provides a link to an updated list of trail angels with contact information. -- JTA

Actor Patrick Stewart arrives in Israel to appear in film

British actor Patrick Stewart arrived in Israel to appear in a film by Israeli director Reshef Levi.

Stewart, a Shakespearean actor known for his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," arrived Aug. 9 in Israel and will spend about three weeks in the Jewish state.

Stewart will play a disgraced, eccentric British lord in the heist comedy "Hunting Elephants," in which three Israeli senior citizens help a 12-year-old boy hatch a plan to rob a bank in order to save his family home.

He will replace British actor John Cleese, who reportedly withdrew from the project due to heart trouble. -- JTA

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Saudi Arabia to Build All-Women City

Businesswomen behind 5,000-job scheme designed to give women greater independence while maintaining segregation
Proposals for four similar women-only cities in Saudia Arabia have been submitted.
Segregration of the sexes is applied throughout the kingdom.
Photograph: AFP/Getty
Proposals for four similar women-only cities in Saudia Arabia have been submitted. Segregration of the sexes is applied throughout the kingdom. Photograph: AFP/Getty

A women-only industrial city dedicated to female workers is to be constructed in Saudi Arabia to provide a working environment that is in line with the kingdom's strict customs.

The city, to be built in the Eastern Province city of Hofuf, is set to be the first of several planned for the Gulf kingdom. The aim is to allow more women to work and achieve greater financial independence, but to maintain the gender segregation, according to reports.

Proposals have also been submitted for four similar industrial cities exclusively for women entrepreneurs, employers and employees in Riyadh.

Segregation of the sexes is applied in Saudi Arabia, where Wahabi sharia law and tribal customs combine to create an ultra-conservative society that still does not allow women to drive. Saudi women are said to make up about 15% of the workforce, with most in female-only work places. Although the number of mixed gender workplaces has increased these are still few. -- Caroline Davies,

To read more, click here.

Freshwater from the sun

An experimental desert oasis in Israel is testing a new solar-powered nanofiltration system to desalinate water for African crops.
Israel is an undisputed leader in providing desalination plants, equipment, novel technology and know-how for removing salt from water. Israeli company IDE Technologies has installed hundreds of desalination plants around the world to help parched regions make sea and brackish water drinkable.

While IDE is making inroads in becoming more environmentally and economically viable -- its new plant in China, for instance, runs on some of the waste heat produced by a power plant -- there is still much to be done to make desalination technologies accessible for the world’s neediest citizens, especially in inland locations in the Middle East and Africa.

Thanks to funding from Swiss philanthropist Samuel Josefowitz, a very successful new model for desalinating water in poor regions like Africa has been developed in Israel. Josefowitz chose Israel for its expertise in making water solutions that work. -- Rivka Borochov, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To read more, click here.

Six decades later, fibbing ex-flying ace really sees the London Olympics

Mitchell Flint standing in front of his P51 Mustang fighter plane in Israel in 1948.
Photo provided by Tom Tugend
After a 64-year detour, Mitchell Flint, a former fighter pilot for the United States and Israel, has finally landed for the London Olympic Games.

In the summer of 1948, Flint, with a four-year wartime stint as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot in the Pacific under his belt, graduated as an industrial engineer from the Berkeley campus of the University of California. At the same time, the newly declared State of Israel was struggling to defend itself from six invading Arab armies.

“I’m Jewish, Israel desperately needed trained fighter pilots, so I thought I could perhaps do something to sustain the state,” Flint recalls.

Applying for a passport in San Francisco, Flint was asked by an official about the purpose of his trip. It was illegal for an American citizen to fight for a foreign nation, so Flint, on the spur of the moment, said, “I’m going to London to see the Olympics.” -- Tom Tugend, JTA

To read more, click here.

Florida woman sues El Al for gender discrimination

A Florida woman reportedly is suing El Al for gender discrimination after she was forced to change seats to accommodate a haredi Orthodox man.

Debra Ryder charged that a flight steward moved her to a seat in the back without her prior consent, Israeli media reported. The haredi Orthodox man had refused to sit next to her and then moved into her aisle seat.

Ryder reportedly filed a lawsuit on Aug. 9 seeking some $12,500 in compensation, including for distress. She had obtained an aisle seat for medical reasons, she told Israel Army Radio.

Ryder's attorney, Orly Erez-Likhovsky of the Israel Religious Action Center, also has sent a letter to El Al demanding that it set and distribute specific instructions to employees on how to act when confronted with such cases, Globes reported.

"Flight attendants are at the service of passengers, they are faced with different requests and they try to help as much as possible," El Al said in a statement. "The passenger's complaint will be looked into and dealt with accordingly." -- JTA

Opinion: Israel’s Olympic Shame

Israeli gymnast Alexander Shatilov competes in the finals of the men’s floor exercise
at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug. 5, 2012.
(Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Leaving London’s games without a single medal, Israel needs to get serious about its commitment to sports  -- Liel Leibovitz, Tablet

To read more, click here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men offered glasses to keep women out of sight

It's the latest prescription for extreme ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who shun contact with the opposite sex: Glasses that blur their vision, so they don't have to see women they consider to be immodestly dressed.

In an effort to maintain their strictly devout lifestyle, the ultra-Orthodox have separated the sexes on buses, sidewalks and other public spaces in their neighborhoods. Their interpretation of Jewish law forbids contact between men and women who are not married.

Walls in their neighborhoods feature signs exhorting women to wear closed-necked, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts. Extremists have accosted women they consider to have flouted the code.

Now they're trying to keep them out of clear sight altogether.

The ultra-Orthodox community's unofficial "modesty patrols" are selling glasses with special blur-inducing stickers on their lenses. The glasses provide clear vision for up to a few meters so as not to impede movement, but anything beyond that gets blurry — including women. It's not known how many have been sold.

For men forced to venture outside their insular communities, hoods and shields that block peripheral vision are also being offered. The glasses are going for $6. -- Associated Press

Israel: An Oasis of Sustainable Development

Israel has emerged as a pioneer in environmentally clean technologies,
including solar energy. This giant solar field is located
outside the southern Israeli town of Dimona.
Israel's successes in sustainable development – where resource use meets current human needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs – have won the country wide acclaim. A scientist whose work in Israel revolutionized food production was recently named the winner of this year's World Food Prize, and an entrepreneur responsible for Israel's first solar field has been named one of six global "Green Pioneers" by CNN. -- Near Eastern Report

To read more, click here.

Researchers identify mechanisms that allow embryonic stem cells to become any cell in the human body

Pictured here are Ph.D. student Shai Melcer (left)
with Dr. Eran Meshorer in the department of genetics
at the Hebrew University's Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences.
New understanding of the mechanisms that give embryonic stem cells their plasticity could allow preparation of cells in the laboratory for treating Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases
New research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem sheds light on pluripotency—the ability of embryonic stem cells to renew themselves indefinitely and to differentiate into all types of mature cells. Solving this problem, which is a major challenge in modern biology, could expedite the use of embryonic stem cells in cell therapy and regenerative medicine. If scientists can replicate the mechanisms that make pluripotency possible, they could create cells in the laboratory which could be implanted in humans to cure diseases characterized by cell death, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes and other degenerative diseases.

To shed light on these processes, researchers in the lab of Dr. Eran Meshorer, in the Department of Genetics at the Hebrew University's Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, are combining molecular, microscopic and genomic approaches. Meshorer's team is focusing on epigenetic pathways—which cause biological changes without a corresponding change in the DNA sequence—that are specific to embryonic stem cells....

The research was funded by grants from the European Union (ERC, Marie Curie), Israel Science Foundation, Ministry of Science, Ministry of Health, The National Institute for Psychobiology, Israel Cancer Research Foundation (ICRF), Abisch-Frenkel Foundation and Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP).

The research appears in the journal Nature Communications. -- Dov Smith, Hebrew University

To read more, click here.

Israel sees record foreign tourism in July

In July, 296,000 visitors arrived, which was 8% more than the corresponding month last year. -- Zohar Blumenkrantz, Haaretz
Tourists at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Photo by Emil Salman
To read more, click here.

Rabbi Heschel's Papers Headed for Duke

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, right, marches with Dr. Martin Luther King
and other civil rights leaders.
Rabbi Heschel was the civil rights leader who coin the phrase
'We Pray With Our Legs'
Getty Images
Duke University has acquired a collection of the papers of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, including correspondence, publications, documents and photographs which have never been available to scholars.

“The acquisition of the Heschel papers assures scholars that the legacy of social activism, human rights and the highest standards of Judaic scholarship will be central to the pursuit of Jewish studies at Duke and many other places,” said Eric Meyers, the Bernice & Morton Lerner professor of religion and director of the Duke Center for Jewish Studies, reported Duke Today. The acquisition was announced Monday.

Heschel, who is recognized as one of the most influential religious leaders of the 20th century, was involved with the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. He famously marched side-by-side with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala., and is credited with coining the civil rights slogan, “We pray with our legs.”

The collection includes notes and drafts for nearly all of his published works, as well as correspondence with leading religious figures, including Martin Buber and Reinhold Niebuhr. Also included in the collection are his social documents: correspondence with organizers, speeches and even hate mail. -- JTA via Forward

To read more, click here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The women of Israel advocacy: Challenges and benefits of female leadership in the world of Israel advocacy.

Less than 10 percent of the speakers at the Israel Presidential Conference last month were female. At a forum that purported to represent “Tomorrow,” the under-representation of women drew criticism. Today however, this is the reality of female leadership in Jewish organizations.

Women have played important roles throughout Jewish and Israel’s history, but a recent study found that very few women currently lead Jewish and Israel advocacy or education related organizations across North America. On college campuses, there is a greater balance of female and male leadership, leading some observers to believe that this generation of college Israel activists may be a force for change in the broader community.

The Jewish Daily Forward’s recent survey found that only 9 of the country's top 76 Jewish organizations were led by women in 2011, reflecting on a general national trend. There is also a wage gap in the Jewish world: Female CEOs earn 62.5 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. This figure worsened from 2010, when the number was 67 cents.

In the field of Israel advocacy, the heads of the David Project, Hasbara Fellowships, AIPAC, Israel on Campus Coalition and JStreet are all headed by men. The top figures at many of the media outlets, as well as leading commentators followed by Israel activists, also are men. -- Tracy Frydberg, Jerusalem Post

To read more, click here.

Weather forecasting set to undergo high-tech revolution

Meteo-Logic aims to take guesswork out of weather prediction. Photo by
Shipping companies, aviation specialists, sailors, farmers, wind turbine owners – — even the Boy Scouts – know that better weather prediction leads to a better ability to avoid risks to infrastructure, products and lives.

This is especially true when faced with today’s increasingly unpredictable weather.

Professionals with a lot at stake can’t rely on a weatherman’s forecast, which can change like the wind. Meteo-Logic, a new cutting-edge meteorological innovation from Israel, can deliver real-time updates on the weather in what some experts believe is the most powerful way of predicting the weather yet. -- Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c

To read more, click here.

Rabbis among religious leaders to speak out against anti-Muslim violence

Rabbis Burton Visotzky and David Saperstein will be among the prominent U.S. religious leaders who will speak out about the recent shootings and violence plaguing America.

Leading Jewish, Christian and Muslim officials are scheduled to address the media Thursday morning about the faith community’s national response to the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.; the burning of the Islamic Center of Joplin, Miss.; and the opening of the often-attacked Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Speaking at the teleconference will be Saperstein, director and counsel at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Visotzky, director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, Jewish Theologicial Seminary; Bishop Denis Madden, chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, U.S. Conference of Bishops; Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America; Kathryn Lohre, president of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations; and Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

The teleconference is being organized by Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with Muslims; Upholding American Values, a national campaign dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment, a statement said. -- JTA

Brazil’s defense minister inaugurates Star of David monument

The Star of David statue was designed by artist Ruth Kac,
daughter of Brazil’s Lieutenant Abraham David Bregman.
A stylized Star of David sculpture was inaugurated by Brazil’s defense minister, Celso Amorim, at the Monument to the Brazilian soldiers of World War II in Rio de Janeiro's Flamengo Park.

The sculpture was unveiled Aug. 5 with the help of the Jewish Confederation of Brazil and the Jewish Federation of Rio de Janeiro as a tribute to the Jewish community of Brazilian soldiers in the fight against Nazi fascism. 

“I remember as a teenager, my confusion to understand that moment in history,” Amorim said at the event, referring to the Holocaust, according to a news release. “Barbarism and violence which even today defy human comprehension.”

The Star of David sculpture alludes to Brazil’s entry into World War II in August 1942. The sculpture bears the inscription: “Seventy years ago precious lives were lost in the Brazilian coast, because of the perverse action of an ideology unacceptable to humanity. The sea received and led them to the arms of the Creator, opening the way for brave soldiers fighting for the honor of the fatherland and in defense of human dignity.”

Officials attending the event received the book "Soldiers Who Came From Afar," which tells the story of Brazilian Jews in the military in World War II. -- JTA

Israeli hospital first to perform groundbreaking epilepsy surgery

Groundbreaking epilepsy treatment.
An Israeli medical team recently implanted electrodes deep into a patient’s brain to stimulate neurons and halt severe epileptic attacks. The groundbreaking, first-ever surgery was undertaken by Prof. Itzhak Fried the head of the functional neurosurgery unit at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Fried said he used the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) system made by the Medtronic company.

The technique stimulates neurons in the brain in order to stop the epilepsy attacks from occurring in the first place. Electrodes are inserted through a small opening in the skull and implanted on two sides of the brain. Then, electrical activity from the cells in a specific nucleus is measured.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the treatment is available abroad but has not been attempted on epileptic patients at other medical centers.

“It is a new treatment for patients who suffer from severe epilepsy that does not respond to medications,” Prof. Fried said while announcing the use of the system.

Epilepsy affects some 50 million people worldwide. About 60,000 Israelis suffer from the brain disorder that causes repeated seizures and nearly a third of them do not respond well to medications and could benefit from the new treatment.

The DBS system for Parkinson’s and dystonia patients was pioneered in Israel at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem.

According to the Post, some 100,000 such patients have undergone DBS implantation around the world, including about 300 at Hadassah. Hadassah has also performed DBS on patients with intractable depression and Tourette’s syndrome. -- Viva Sarah Press, Isarel21c