Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Beach Reading, Israeli Style

Steve Lipman, The Jewish Week

BookmobileNew in Tel Aviv: a chance to check out books instead of bods.

As part of a literacy initiative of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, a two-wheel book cart appeared last week, at the start of the summer sunbathing season, at the promenade of Tel Aviv’s Metzizim Beach, near the city’s port.

The “Library of the Beach” offers more than 500 books, in five languages: Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian and French. Everything is on the honor system; there’s no librarian, no fee, no sign-out process; borrowers are expected to read the books then return them.

The bookmobile is designed for residents, tourists and commuters.

The Tel Aviv beach is a mecca for sunbathers every summer, drawing thousands of people who come to swim or tan or jog.

“Tel Aviv is the city of everybody — one of the services we provide is this lovely beach,” Mayor Ron Huldai told the Times of Israel. “To have the library is very nice; ordinary people can take a book when they come and then put it back when they finish.

“We’ll see if it works,” he said. “If it’s nice, maybe we’ll bring in another one to another part of the beach. Why not?”

For the electronically inclined, the municipality also installed 80 free Wi-Fi hotspots around the city, many along the beachfront. Users can download electronic reading material at no charge; the FreeTLV program makes summer reading easier for those with Kindles and Nooks.

The program is patterned after those offered in other cities, like Barcelona.

Tel Aviv’s 22 municipal libraries coordinate more than 400,000 books borrowed every year, Huldai said. “It is our pleasure to open another library in the summer months — now you can enjoy a good book at the beach as well.”

Monday, July 29, 2013

Seeing Through Mahmoud Darwish’s ‘Eyes’

Ted Merwin, Special To The Jewish Week
IssaNorman Issa is best known as the star of “Arab Labor,” an Israeli TV show about an Arab journalist who toils to become accepted in Israeli society; it is one of the first shows to bring an Arab perspective into mainstream Israeli pop culture.

His new labor, so to speak, is to transform the poetry of the controversial Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish into a stage play about peace. The transformation isn’t such a smooth one.

Issa directs “Eyes,” a new play based on Darwish’s poetry, in which the Arab-Israeli conflict is personified by Darwish, his mother, his teacher and his Israeli lover. It runs next Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening at the Between the Seas Festival, a showcase for contemporary Mediterranean culture. The festival, which takes place at the Wild Project in the East Village, also features Amos Pinhasi’s “Mediterraneo,” a solo dance piece about an Israeli boy growing up by the sea.

“Eyes” is a co-production of Igal Ezraty’s Arab-Hebrew Theater and Issa’s own Elmina Theater for Children, both of which are based in the tourist district of Old Jaffa. Best known for the long-running hit, “Let’s Dance,” a wordless play about the history of Jaffa CafĂ© and Dance Hall from the onset of the Zionist immigration to the present, the Arab-Hebrew Theater Center recently presented two plays, one in Hebrew and one in Arabic, at the prestigious Israel Festival in Jerusalem.

 Continue reading.

Friday, July 26, 2013

British Transport Group Chooses Emirates Over Israel

(JNS.org) Greater London’s major government-owned transportation body has agreed to refuse business ties with Israel or any Israeli companies in exchange for a 10-year, £36 million sponsorship deal with Emirates Airline for a railway car running over the Thames River.
The United Arab Emirates has no diplomatic relations with Israel. On Monday, Transport for London posted the contract with Emirates Airline online. The contract states that the company will default on the agreement if it engages with “(i) any Competitor; or (ii) any person who is a national of, or who is registered, incorporated, established or whose principal place of business is in a country with which the United Arab Emirates does not at the date of this Contract or at any relevant point during the Term maintain diplomatic relations.”
“This sets a dangerous precedent effectively allowing UAE money to dictate government policy through commercial contracts.Bi-lateral trade has doubled over the past year making Israel one of Britain’s key trading partners. This contractual exclusion would not benefit the UK in the long run. I call on TfL to urgently discuss this matter with foreign and trade ministers and reconsider this agreement before any lasting damage is done,” Paul Charney, Chairman of Zionist Federation UK said in a statement.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Alicia Keys and a Brief History of the Israel Boycott

You Can't Tell the Artists Without a BDS Scorecard

By Anne Cohen for the Jewish Daily Forward

KeysThe question of whether or not to perform in Israel can be controversial for Jewish and non-Jewish artists alike. Will it be perceived as a political statement? Will it cost them fans? Not to mention the pressure from supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and, perhaps most influential, fellow artists.

The latest artist in this ongoing saga is Alicia Keys, who decided to boycott the boycotters and perform in Tel Aviv on the Fourth of July.

The first call for Keys to boycott Israel came from the author Alice Walker, who famously refused to allow “The Color Purple” to be translated into Hebrew.
Walker wrote to Keys that “a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major ‘crime’ is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own.This is actually a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about something sorrowful, and amazing: that our government (Obama in particular) supports a system that is cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil.”

Despite pressure from Walker and from BDS groups and Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, Keys refused to give in. “I look forward to my first visit to Israel,” she told The New York Times in May. “Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”

“Ma koreh, Tel Aviv,” Keys said as she opened her concert.
To play or not to play? Here are the artists who have said yes, no or a very solid maybe to performing in the Holy Land.

 Continue reading.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bambi in the Holocaust

The death of Bambi's mother is, for many children, their first encounter with death. But the history of the book that inspired the film is even darker story than the story it tells.

Born Siegmund Salzmann, Bambi author Felix Salten was brought to Vienna as an infant in 1869, shortly after the government allowed Jews citizenship. Already a prolific writer by the time he published Bambi in 1923, Salten achieved international renown with the novel's English translation. In 1936, however, Bambi was banned by the ruling Nazi party because of its "political allegory on the treatment of Jews in Europe." Burnings of the book were organized across Nazi states.

As anti-Jewish sentiment increased, Salten moved from Austria to Switzerland, where he wrote a sequel, Bambi's Children. Meanwhile, one of Bambi's fans, publishing magnate Max Schuster, introduced Salten to Walt Disney, who was taken with the book and wanted to adapt it. Bambi, the film, was released in 1942. And the rest—as they say in Hollywood—is history.

- Matthue Roth

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Hillel president: We’re going to be inclusive

By Josh Lipowsky for JTA

HillelThe Talmudic sage Hillel famously disagreed with Shammai, but still respected him and promoted ahavat Yisrael — the love of every Jew. As the incoming president of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, Eric Fingerhut wants to channel the spirit of the organization’s namesake.

“I seek to follow his teachings — his inclusive approach to Jewish life,” Fingerhut told JTA Monday. “Ahavat Yisrael is the model we follow.”

A former Ohio congressman and chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents from 2007 to 2011, Fingerhut was confirmed this week as the successor to Wayne Firestone, who resigned the post last year. He comes to Hillel with more than three decades’ of experience in education and public service, most recently as vice president of education and STEM Learning (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at Battelle, a research institute in Columbus.
From 1993 to 1994, he represented Ohio’s 19th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. After losing his reelection bid, he ran for a seat in the Ohio state senate, where he served from 1997 to 2006. In 2004, he was the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, losing to George Voinovich, a former Cleveland mayor and Ohio governor.

“Hillel has a very compelling and frankly clear mission and vision, which excites me and motivates me,” Fingerhut said. “We are going to reach out and be there for the Jewish students on all of our campuses to provide them with the highest quality activities so they can figure out what their connection to the Jewish people is, and what their Jewish life is going to be like.”
Hillel has more than 550 locations in North America, Israel, the former Soviet Union, Europe, and Latin America. More than 400,000 students participate in Hillel activities in North America alone, while the organization says 100,000 students join every year. Fingerhut would like to see Hillel continue its growth on the campuses where it already has a presence and expand to new locations, which means promoting the organization’s importance to potential donors.

“We have to be aggressive in communicating to the Jewish community that the future of their communities is on our campuses,” he said.

It’s no secret that some campuses have become havens for anti-Israel activity in recent years, a fact that certainly concerns Fingerhut. A pro-Israel stance is essential not just to Hillel but to his own personal beliefs, he emphasized.

“Hillel is pro-Israel. It exists to help build love for and support for a safe, secure, free, democratic Jewish homeland, and that is part of our core mission,” he said.

But with a vibrant and vocal pro-Palestinian community on many campuses, Fingerhut conceded that Hillel has not done an adequate job winning hearts and minds.

“We’re clearly not succeeding where we need to be, but the goal is clear. And as president I will be constantly working with our partners to improve our strategy and introduce new and better ways to install that love of Israel in the next generation,” he said. “They will act on what they have learned in these formative years.” 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Nazareth Code: Can Israel’s Booming Tech Sector Heal the Wounds of Israeli Arabs?

An ambitious new high-tech industrial park doubles as an initiative to bring more Arabs into the Israeli economy

By Yoav Fromer for Tablet Magazine

Tech ParkDriving through Nazareth’s industrial zone is no easy task. Congested, confusing, and somewhat chaotic, it is not very inviting to first-time visitors. But at the end of the freshly paved road lined with auto-body shops, garages, warehouses, and one oddly situated girls school, awaits a surprising sight: a new industrial park, recently built by the Israeli billionaire and philanthropist Stef Wertheimer.

Constructed to promote Arab-Jewish economic cooperation and coexistence by providing “quality employment” in export-oriented industries, the park, which formally opened in April, is also an attractive tourist destination: Towering above the biblical Jezreel valley to the south, it affords a stunning view of one of Israel’s lushest landscapes. Once you enter, it looks more like a museum than a place of business. The illuminated sunlit lobby exhibits bronze sculptures by the local Arab artist Sana Farah Bishara that suggest the work of August Rodin, while the surrounding stone walls are draped with abstract-art tapestries by the Israeli choreographer Noa Eshkol. With top-notch facilities, breathtaking views, and a work atmosphere evocative of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the park appears to have everything necessary for an ideal industrial hub—except for one thing.

There are very few people. Operating at only 30 percent occupancy, the Nazareth Industrial Park has the feel of a luxury ghost town.

Continue reading. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Israel Open to Talks Based on 1967 Borders — Netanyahu Denies Report

Palestinians Would Accept 'Jewish' State

KerryPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman denied on Thursday Israel had agreed to a formula for new talks with Palestinians based on the border of their future state being drawn along lines from before a 1967 war, with agreed land swaps.

An Israeli official had earlier told Reuters that if the Palestinians accepted the formula, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry could announce the relaunch of peace talks. He would describe the future Palestine as existing alongside a “Jewish state” of Israel.

But Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, called Reuters and said “the report is untrue”. Netanyahu’s office had earlier declined to comment on what had been said by the first official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

Kerry is visiting the region and hoping to find enough common ground for Israel and the Palestinians to renew peace talks stalled since 2010.

Israel has previously balked at agreeing to the 1967 borders as a basis for talks. Netanyahu demands that the Palestinians explicitly recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Asked about Reuters’ initial report that Israel had agreed to the 1967 formula, a U.S. official cautioned that “there is a great deal of inaccurate information out there right now and our focus is continuing to work through details with both parties”.

Kerry said on Wednesday after talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan that gaps between the sides had “very significantly” narrowed.
An Arab League committee said proposals for resuming peace talks made by Kerry, which have not been made public, “provide the ground and a suitable environment to start negotiations”.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Modigliani Painting Sold at Jerusalem Auction for $8.6 Million

ModiglianiJERUSALEM— A painting by Italian-Jewish artist Amedeo Modigliani sold at auction in Jerusalem for $8.6 million, to a bidder from France.

“Portrait de Anne Bjarne,” the 1919 oil painting that sold recently, is believed to be the most expensive piece of art ever sold in Israel.

The Modigliani work, from the private collection of Israeli businessman and millionaire Meshulam Riklis, was sold by the Matsart gallery and auction house.

According to a story in the Jerusalem Post, the previous record- holder was Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro’s “The Meadow with the Grey Horse, Eragny, 1893,” which sold for $1.2 million in 2010.

Modigliani’s 1919 painting, is being held in New York, which will save the buyer roughly $1 million by avoiding the 18 percent VAT that would have applied if it was sold in Israel.

Modigliani, a descendant of Sephardic Jewish intellectuals, was born in 1884 in the port city of Livorno, Italy. He suffered from alcoholism, drug addition and was destitute when he died of tubercular meningitis at the age of 35.

Modigliani was best known for incorporating a modern style characterized by mask-like faces and elongation of form.

Riklis, the JPost story said, is donating some of the proceeds of the record sale to the Israel Dignity Fund, which utilizes art therapy to assist wounded IDF soldiers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Berlin hoteliers to refuse rooms to British Holocaust denier Irving

BERLIN (JTA) — Berlin’s hotel and restaurant association has warned members not to book a room for Holocaust denier David Irving during his planned visit to the German capital.

The British self-styled historian – who was banned from entering Germany until last March — plans to visit the city in September, where he will address guests at a Sept. 10 dinner event with a $120 cover charge, according to reports.  The location has not yet been divulged, and only advanced bookings will be accepted, the Berlin Tagesspiegel newspaper reported.

A campaign by Green Party Bundestag member Volker Beck, the party’s parliamentary human rights spokesman, led the Berlin hoteliers association to urge members not to “fall for the right-wing extremist trap.”

With a link to the letter from Beck on its website, the association urges members: “Please don’t give any ‘room’ to right-wing extremist propaganda.”

Irving had been barred from entering Germany until 2022, due to convictions for Holocaust denial in the 1990s. In late 2012, a Munich court announced the ban would be lifted as of March 2013.
Though Irving has in recent years admitted he is now convinced that there were gas chambers in Auschwitz and that Germany killed millions of Jews, he still apparently is a darling of the far right, which questions the facts of the Holocaust and claims that German civilians were the real victims, particularly of Allied bombings
Not all who detest Irving think that barring him is the best idea. Berlin-based journalist Alan Posener of the newspaper “Die Welt” commented in a column Tuesday that, “while I abhor the idea of advocating a Holocaust denier, it only makes sense to stand up for the rights of others when it’s someone with whom you normally wouldn’t want to be breathing the same air.”

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

8,000 Athletes From Around Globe Head To Israel for Maccabiah Games

Aly Raisman Will Help Lead American Delegation

By Seth Berkman for forward.com

Maccabiah‘Golden girl’ gymnast Aly Raisman will lead a parade of more than 8,000 athletes from around the world to Israel next week for the 19th Maccabiah Games in which they will compete, mingle, and display their Jewish heritage.
This year’s event will see many first-time competitors, including delegations from Cuba, Nicaragua and Mongolia. Some nations will only send one or two athletes, like El Salvador, whose delegation consists of a lone squash player.
The United States will send more than 1,100 athletes, coaches and managers to compete in 33 sports. Along with youth and over-35 categories, there are also half a dozen events for Paralympic athletes.

Jed Margolis, executive director of Maccabi USA, said the American team will include athletes ranging in age from 14 to 84 and it will be double the size of the 2102 U.S. Olympic team.

“We’re building Jewish pride through sports, connecting people to their culture and heritage,” said Margolis, a member of the ’73 U.S. basketball team. “We don’t just go to compete and come home.”

The Games, often called the Jewish Olympics, first began in 1932, with 5,000 athletes from 22 countries, including the United States. Delegations of motorcyclists, led by Yosef Yekutieli, creator of the event, circled throughout Africa and Europe to promote the Games. This year, the Games are expected to draw more than 8,500 athletes competing from 71 countries.
Famous names have often competed — before and during the height of their athletic glory. Mark Spitz competed in the 1965 Maccabiah Games as a 15-year-old. This year, American Olympic gold medal gymnast Raisman is scheduled to compete. New York Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire will also be in Israel to coach the Canadian basketball team.

Other famous Maccabiah Games alumni include Olympic gold medalists Kerri Strug and Lenny Krayzelburg and NBA champion Dolph Schayes and Larry Brown.
The opening ceremony will take place on July 18 at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Mourning Jerusalem: A Brief History of the First Temple

reprinted from JewishTreats

On Tuesday, Jews all over the world will observe the fast of Tisha B’Av.It is on this day that the Jewish people mourn the destruction of both the First and Second Temples. The First Temple was destroyed almost 2,500 years ago and the Second Temple 1,943 years ago. It is therefore not easy to understand what exactly it is that the Jewish people mourn.

A brief history of Jerusalem and the First Temple:

King David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and established it as his capital (c. 1040 BCE). He desired to build a sanctuary in which the Divine Spirit could dwell. However, God told David “You have been involved in war. The Temple is to be a site of peace, so your son, King Solomon, who will be anointed after you, will merit to build the Temple” (II Samuel 7).

“Solomon’s Temple” stood for 410 years. It served as the center of Jewish life, and Jewish pilgrims from all over ascended to Jerusalem three times a year. Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers (5:5) states that ten miracles occurred in the Temple--for instance, the fire of the altar was never extinguished by rain.

Unfortunately, during the rule of Solomon's son Reheboam, the united kingdom dissolved. The northern ten tribes formed one kingdom and the southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin) another. Strife between the two kingdoms, and their worship of idolatry, led to foreign conquest. First the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom (719 BCE) and then the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzer (586 BCE) conquered Jerusalem, destroying the First Temple and sending most of the Jews into Babylonian exile.

The destruction of the First Temple was a massive trauma for the Jewish people, for the nation was now bereft of its spiritual epicenter.

Friday, July 12, 2013

White House Appoints New Jewish Liaison

Matt Nosanchuk played key role on administration’s DOMA litigation team 

By Stephanie Butnick for Tablet Magazine

White House

Meet Matt Nosanchuk, your new White House Jewish liaison (technically, he’s the new associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement for Jewish Outreach). Nosanchuk replaces Zach Kelly, who took over the position on an interim basis when Jarrod Bernstein stepped down in January.

At the time, Allison Hoffman offered a helpful description of what the position actually entails:

The liaison role is not, by itself, especially well-compensated, and as a result traditionally has fallen to either mid-level staff or people with other jobs to do. (George W. Bush had seven liaisons in his eight years as president.) But in Obama’s first term, the president was able to rely on a deep in-house bench of Jewishly connected senior advisers to help manage the president’s sometimes fraught relationship with the organized Jewish community: Rahm Emanuel, Dennis Ross, Jack Lew. All of those people have now moved on. At the same time, Obama seems determined in his second term to bypass official channels and take his policy fights directly to the public.

Hoffman had her own suggestion for the spot, a candidate Sorkin fans could get on board with: Josh Malina. While the White House Office of Personnel Management may not have gotten her memo, Nosanchuk does bring his own impressive qualifications to the position.

Nosanchuk, who received both his undergraduate and law degree from Stanford University (senior note editor of the Stanford Law Review, not too shabby), joined the Obama administration in 2009 as a senior counselor in the Justice Department’s civil rights division, where, according to JTA, he “helped shape the Obama administration’s response to a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.” He was awarded the inaugural Stonewall Award by the American Bar Association in February.

He’s also a longtime member of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland, which seems as good a place for liaising as any.

 Watch a video of Nosanchuk humbly discussing the Stonewall Award and his career of civil rights work.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Media Warfare Is the Middle East’s Latest Blood Sport—and the U.S. Is the Loser

Who owns the widespread and influential new Arab media, source of much of our news about the region?

By Lee Smith

Arab MediaEarlier this week, Al Jazeera staffers were driven out of a news briefing held by the Egyptian military—apparently because of perceptions by those in the crowd that the Doha-based network is biased toward the Muslim Brotherhood government. This incident is only the latest salvo in what’s emerging as an ongoing media war in the Middle East. Last month I wrote about the Middle East media war and its role in the real-world conflict in the Middle East pitting the Sunni powers—from the Arab states in the Persian Gulf to Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey—against the Iranian-led resistance bloc of mostly Shia states and organizations like Hezbollah, Syria, and, increasingly, Iraq, whose bloodiest battlefield right now is in Syria, but which is claiming lives and minds throughout the Middle East.

Pushing the resistance bloc’s narrative are a host of media organizations, including the Beirut-based daily newspapers Al-Akhbar, publishing in Arabic as well as English, and As-Safir, as well as the newly founded satellite TV station Al Mayadeen, which is reportedly owned by Bashar al-Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf.

Promoting the Sunni narrative of the media war—and of the shooting war in Syria—are the two giants of Arab satellite TV: Al Jazeera, which is supported financially and politically by the emir of Qatar, and Al Arabiya, which is owned by a consortium led by members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. There are also various other television stations, newspapers, and websites representing the interests of Persian Gulf Arab powers, including the two great pan-Arab daily newspapers Asharq al-Awsat and Al-Hayat—which are both owned by members of the Saudi royal family and headquartered in London. Where satellite television has captured the largest audiences, these two papers publish leading Arab intellectuals in their op-ed pages while faithfully chronicling the opinions and policies of Riyadh decision-makers for other Arab elites throughout the region.

 Continue reading. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Delaware’s Jewish governor brings mission to Israel

GovMarkellJERUSALEM (JTA) — Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, the only sitting Jewish governor in the United States, is visiting Israel with a delegation of his state’s business leaders and entrepreneurs.

The weeklong economic development mission that began Monday includes meetings with local economic and government leaders, as well as Israeli high-tech and biotech companies.

The mission was planned to highlight Delaware’s strong economic ties to Israel and further raise Israeli business interest in the state.
The delegation was set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, as well as the president of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Esther Levanon, among others.

Thousands of Israeli-based businesses are incorporated in Delaware.
“We’re really trying to focus in on opportunities to create more partnerships between Delaware and the evolving and emerging high-tech economy of Israel,” Markell told The Jerusalem Post in an interview upon his arrival. “In the midst of a volatile region, Israel has been this incredible beacon of stability, which is truly remarkable and impressive.”

Markell, who has served as governor of Delaware since 2009, also heads the National Governors’ Association.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why Were Those IDF Recruits Dancing With Their Guns? One Word: Facebook

The IDF’s veteran commanders fear that easier access to Internet and softer treatment of new recruits create lax fighters

By Amos Harel for Tablet Magazine

IDF-FBA relatively small social-media scandal in the IDF last month caused much more interest abroad than it did in Israel itself. Four female soldiers, new recruits assigned to serve in the future as instructors for male infantry, posted pictures of themselves on Facebook wearing nothing but their underwear and combat helmets. A few days later, another group of female soldiers followed their example. This time, a short grainy video, filmed through a cellular phone, showed some of the IDF’s finest dancing half-naked while holding an M-16 assault rifle as if it was a stripper pole, as an off-camera (female) voice encouraged them to “dance like sluts.” The international media, which can’t get enough of hot female Israeli soldiers with guns, got predictably excited. The editors at the London Daily Mail’s website invited readers to “watch half-naked Israeli soldiers,” while their colleagues at The Sun, ever wittier, gave the story a front page spot with the headline “Gaza Strip.”

Israelis were not particularly shocked. The IDF spokesperson’s unit settled for a short condemnation. The soldiers’ behavior, it said, did not reflect the army’s values, and their commanders will discipline them accordingly. (No details or pictures have surfaced documenting this, to the likely disappointment of the British editors.) The female soldiers’ parents explained to reporters that the young women were newcomers and had not realized that new regulations applied once they were in uniform (or in this case, out of it).

Continue reading.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Israel’s Ice Cream Gets Creative For Summer

From to monkey orange to tahini, glidah flavors keep getting wackier

By Dana Kessler for Tablet Magazine

GelatoConsidering Israeli weather, it’s no surprise that this is a country that takes its ice cream very seriously. Ice cream may not be a traditional Israeli dessert, but every summer more and more ice cream shops pop up all around the country–some independent, others part of chains–and each year, in order to entice new customers, they add stranger and more imaginative flavors to their menus. Some prove to be favorites, others serve mainly for novelty purposes and disappear at the end of the season.

The examples are endless. Allora, located on Marmorek Street in Tel Aviv, opposite Habima square, specializes in Italian-style gelato as well as refreshing sorbets. Among Allora’s new sorbet flavors for summer 2013 are red raspberry and rose-water, and one mixing two popular Israeli summer-drinks: arak and limonana. These new flavors join older but no less strange offerings like tomato sorbet with basil, avocado sorbet (with or without wasabi), and chocolate ice cream with chili peppers.
Capitolina, which has three branches in operation plus two more on the way, serves flavors like baharat, white chocolate with black pepper, and something called ‘white coffee’—made out of Yemenite coffee and ground green coffee bean-peel with Hawaij. They also offer quince sorbet with arak.

One of Israel’s most highly-regarded boutique ice cream parlor chains is Vaniglia. At their 13 branches, Vaniglia offers wacky flavors like popcorn, oak tree, vanilla pods and olive-oil, 10 spices, and a flavor known as “masculine ice cream,” which combines what are apparently four very manly flavors: licorice, malt, rum and tobacco.

Continue reading.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Jewish Woman Who Inspired the Defeat of DOMA

By now you probably know all about Edie Windsor, the octogenarian whose lawsuit led to the defeat of DOMA. What you might not know is the life story of her Jewish late wife, Thea Spyer, in whose name Windsor fought for marriage equality.

As detailed in United States v. Windsor, an 8-year-old Spyer fled the Nazis’ rise in the Netherlands with her parents, finally settling in the U.S.

Years later, she was expelled from Sarah Lawrence for kissing another woman, but that didn’t stop her from earning her doctorate, practicing psychology, and meeting Windsor at an NYC cafe. They danced all night. Later, Spyer proposed with a diamond brooch so as not to attract attention, but when they legally married in Canada, in 2007, they announced it for the world to see.

The couple faced Spyer’s eventual MS diagnosis together, modifying their dancing as her paralysis worsened: whirling first on crutches, then a wheelchair. As Windsor told the crowd at Stonewall on Wednesday, in the eyes of the government, “The woman I had loved and cared for was not my legal spouse but a stranger with no relationship to me.” Thanks to years of tireless effort, Windsor and Spyer’s love is not just known by the public, but recognized by it, too.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pope Says Anti-Semites Not True Christians

Still, new report reveals anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe