Wednesday, December 31, 2014

U.N.S.C. Rejects Palestinian Statehood Resolution


Eight nations vote in favor, leaving Ramallah one vote short

France votes 'yes,' Nigeria abstains

UPDATE: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked those who helped defeat Tuesday's Palestinian attempt to ram an anti-Israel resolution through the U.N. Security Council.

At the same time, the Palestinians announced their intention to vote on whether to join the International Criminal Court as soon as possible, where they hope to charge Israel with "war crimes" despite the obvious hypocrisy of doing so, given their own long history of war crimes.

Netanyahu told the press, "I want to express appreciation and gratitude to the United States and Australia," who voted against bringing the resolution to a confirmation vote.

But he reserved particular gratitude for two African nations who ensured the resolution's defeat. He expressed special appreciation to the President of Rwanda, my friend Paul Kagame, and to the President of Nigeria, my friend Goodluck Jonathan. I spoke with both of them, they promised me personally that they would not support this decision, and they stood by their words. That is what tipped the scales.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Rabbis of Selma

Abraham Heschel and others marched with Martin Luther King

By Elon Green for Tablet Magazine

My wife and I, as we had Christmas Eve to ourselves, went to see Selma. It’s terrific, as good as you’ve heard. And it was immensely satisfying to see figures who, unlike Martin Luther King, Jr., have not achieved great fame given real screen time.

I’m thinking particularly of John Doar, a true hero of the Justice Department; Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the March on Washington; and Amelia Boynton, who helped organize the Selma march. They all deserve to be enshrined, and it’s disgraceful their names are not more widely known.

The entire movie is powerful, but it’s particularly so when clergy across the country drop what they’re doing to join King, in the face of almost certain violence. The rabbis are not on screen much–and that’s fine; it’s not their story–but it’s worth taking the opportunity to briefly revisit their role in Selma.
The most famous of them, surely, is Abraham Joshua Heschel, an enthusiastic supporter of the civil rights movement (as well as a passionate opponent of the war in Vietnam). “You  cannot worship God,” he said, “and then look  at a human being, created by God in God’s own image, as if he or she were an animal.”

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Hilary Clinton on the Daily Show

From earlier this year but worth repeating.

Hillary Clinton on the Daily Show actually explains the facts to John Stewart. When asked by Stewart if she can’t understand the Palistinians turning to Hamas as the only ones fighting to improve their lot, Clinton answers: “When Israel withdrew from Gaza, and I was aware of that, I was in the Senate, I was talking to the people who were organizing it, they left a lot of their businesses. There was a very valuable horticultural business that was set up by the Israelis that had lived in Gaza , and the idea was that this would be literally turned over, money was provided, there would be a fund that would train Palestinians in Gaza to do this work. And basically, the leadership said, ‘We don’t want anything left from Israel.’ Destroyed it all. That mentality, to me, is hard to deal with.”

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

MSU department announces major archaeological find

Office of Public Affairs, MSU

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Six official clay seals found by a Mississippi State University archaeological team at a small site in Israel offer evidence that supports the existence of biblical kings David and Solomon.

Many modern scholars dismiss David and Solomon as mythological figures and believe no kingdom could have existed in the region at the time the Bible recounted their activities. The new finds provide evidence that some type of government activity was conducted there in that period.

Jimmy Hardin, associate professor in the MSU Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, said these clay bullae were used to seal official correspondence in much the same way wax seals were used on official documents in later periods.

Hardin, co-director of the Hesi Regional Project, has been excavating each summer at Khirbet Summeily, a site east of Gaza in southern Israel, since 2011. Hardin's findings were published in the December 2014 issue of Near Eastern Archaeology, a leading, peer-reviewed journal for this field.

"Our preliminary results indicated that this site is integrated into a political entity that is typified by elite activities, suggesting that a state was already being formed in the 10th century B.C.," Hardin said. "We are very positive that these bullae are associated with the Iron Age IIA, which we date to the 10th century B.C., and which lends general support to the historical veracity of David and Solomon as recorded in the Hebrew biblical texts.

"These appear to be the only known examples of bullae from the 10th century, making this discovery unique," he said.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

7 Reasons Jews Should See The Latest 'Hobbit' Movie

By Hody Nemes From the Seesaw at The Jewish Daily Forward

I’m a Tolkienite and a lover of everything hobbit. There, I said it.

As a child, I read — and reread — all the hobbit-related books, painted the Misty Mountains, set a Tolkien poem to music, and played the “Lord of the Rings” Risk board game whenever I got the chance. Theoden’s speech at the Battle of Pelenor Fields, playing on loop, gave me the courage to write my senior thesis in college (“Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise, Riders of Theoden!”). Now I read the series over again almost every year.

For Jewish hobbit folk like me, this is a big week: “The Battle of the Five Armies” is hitting theaters — and on Hanukkah, no less.

Here are 7 Jewish reasons why you should join me in seeing the end of Bilbo’s quest on the silver screen:
1) Erebor is Israel.

When I was a child, my father read two books to me before bedtime: the Book of Joshua and “The Hobbit.” I loved both books and pleaded with him to keep reading long after I should have gone to sleep. The two have become muddled in my mind — and with good reason: both describe great battles (the Battle of the Five Armies and the Battle of Jericho, for starters), magical wizard leaders (Joshua and Gandalf, duh), treasure hunts, and — most importantly — exiled peoples reclaiming their lands.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ancient rock adds evidence of King David’s existence

Stone slab with earliest reference to House of David, on display at Met, said to be ‘one of the most important Biblical artifacts ever found’

By Menachem Wecker, The Times of Israel

NEW YORK (JTA) — Dimly lit, the stone slab, or stele, doesn’t look particularly noteworthy, especially when compared to the more lavish sphinxes, jewelry and cauldrons one encounters en route to the room where it is installed

Indeed, in a Twitter post this fall, art journalist Lee Rosenbaum described the nearly 13-by-16 inch c. 830 BCE rock, as “homely.”

What’s significant about this stone — on view at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of its “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age” exhibit running through January 4 — is its inscription: “the earliest extra-biblical reference to the House of David.”

“There is no doubt that the inscription is one of the most important artifacts ever found in relation to the Bible,” Eran Arie, curator of Israelite and Persian periods at the Israel Museum, wrote in the exhibit catalog.

As is to be expected with a rock nearly three millennia old, the slab is missing considerable portions, and Arie’s translation of the remaining 13 lines of text is full of ellipses and bracketed additions. What is clear is that the Aram-Damascene king Hazael brags of having killed 70 kings, including of Israel and of the “House of David” (The round number, scholars agree, is probably exaggerated, although Hazael did have a reputation for being ruthless and successful).

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Atheist-turned-Orthodox Christian has a problem with the Star of David

By Raffi Wineburg from the St. Lous Jewish Light

Is wearing a Star of David the same as teaching about religion? (Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

Here’s a tough question: Where might it break the law to wear a Star of David around your neck?

(Hint, the answer is not Nazi Germany.)

Give up? The correct response is the Township of East Pennsboro, Pa., where one man has a filed a formal complaint with the school district after his son’s teacher wore a Star of David necklace to class.

“[Students] are there to learn about education, not to learn about religion,” Ernest Perce, the offended parent told a local ABC affiliate.

Despite his questionable understanding of U.S. public school curriculum (do students learn about education?) Perce’s complaint has some legal backing.

A 1949 Pennsylvania statute holds that “no teacher in any public school shall wear . . . any dress, mark, emblem or insignia indicating the fact that such teacher is a member or adherent of any religious order, sect or denomination.”

The school district has reportedly sided with the teacher, although Perce has vowed to pursue the complaint. He says that the board could be fined and the teacher suspended if no action is taken.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

In the Jewish nation-state kerfuffle, much ado over very little substance

The controversial proposal to pass a law defining Israel’s Jewish status threatens to fell the third Netanyahu government — and for what?

BY HAVIV RETTIG GUR for The Times of Israel

The third government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been marked by infighting and distrust almost from the start. The drafting of ultra-Orthodox youth to national service, reforms to the state rabbinate, the controversial “0% VAT” tax cut for some first-time homebuyers, a constitutional amendment demanding a national referendum before Israel can withdraw from sovereign territory – all these were the subject of bitter public spats between members of the ruling coalition

But none produced the sheer spectacle of angry recriminations witnessed at Sunday’s cabinet meeting over the efforts to draft a constitutional Basic Law formally defining Israel as the Jewish nation-state.

At a cabinet debate over a three-page statement of principles that would guide the drafting of the new law, Finance Minister Yair Lapid charged that the proposal was a “bad” one, and that Likud founder Menachem Begin and the party’s ideological forebear Ze’ev Jabotinsky would have opposed it. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni rallied to defend democracy, she said, by opposing the measure.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Why do people hate Israel?

by Dennis Prager for

We live in a bad world.

There is nothing new about that. The world has been pretty bad since its inception. That’s why God destroyed it and started all over again (with little to show for the new experiment, one might add).
From a moral perspective, look at the world since 2000.

North Korea remains an entire country that is essentially a large concentration camp.

Tibet, one of mankind’s oldest cultures, continues to be occupied and destroyed by China.
Somalia no longer exists as a country. It is an anarchic state in which the cruelest and strongest (usually one and the same) prevail.

In Congo, between 1998 and 2003, about 5.5 million people were killed — nearly the same as the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

In Syria, about 150,000 people have been killed in the last three years, and millions have been rendered homeless.
In Iraq, there is a mass murder from terror bombings almost every week.

In Mexico, since 2006, approximately 120,000 people have been killed in the country’s drug wars.

Iran, a genocide-advocating theocratic dictatorship, is very near having the capacity to make nuclear weapons.
Christian communities in the Middle East are wiped out; Christians in Nigeria are routinely massacred.

Of course, the 20th century was even bloodier, but we are only in the 15th year of the 21st century. Nevertheless, showing how awful the world is for so many of its inhabitants is not my point. My point is that, despite all this evil and suffering, the world has concentrated its attention overwhelmingly on the alleged evils of one country: Israel.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

PM: Palestinian failure to recognize Jewish links to Israel is a 'tragedy'

The Jerusalem Post

It is a “tragedy” that many Palestinians deny any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday at the start of a meeting with visiting Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

This marks the first ever visit to Israel of a Serbian prime minister.

“Here, in the State of Israel, the Jewish people have achieved their self-determination in a democratic state that guarantees equal rights for all its peoples, all its citizens, regardless of race, religion or sex,” Netanyahu said, as the debate over the Jewish state bill seemed to animate part of his welcoming comments to Vucic.

“It is indeed a tragedy that so many of our Palestinian neighbors still repudiate the basic facts of history. They deny the more than three thousand year-old connection between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu bewailed what he said was the Palestinian denial of Israel's right to national self- determination, even as they demand that right for themselves.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Blaming Israel for Palestinian violence is racist: it denies that Arabs are moral agents

The media response to the Jerusalem killings betrays a widespread assumption: that Palestinians are "noble savages" who are not responsible for their actions

By Alan Johnson for The Telegraph

There were some odd media reactions this week to the murder of four Jews at prayer (and the heroic Israeli Druze first responder Zidan Saif who tried to rescue them) by two Palestinians perpetrators in Jerusalem.

• The Canadian Broadcast Company tweeted “Jerusalem police fatally shoot 2 after apparent synagogue attack 
• The CNN headline read ‘4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians dead in Jerusalem’ without noting that the two Palestinians were the terrorists. (CNN later apologised. See the memes here.)
• The Guardian altered a Reuters dispatch about the massacre in Jerusalem to remove any reference to Palestinians.
• In the Left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the writer Amira Hass wrote about "the despair and anger that pushed the Abu Jamals to attack Jews in a synagogue (emphasis added)."

Of course not all reporting was of this character. But still, what explains the exculpatory impulse, also widespread on social media?

Part of the explanation lies in the profound influence that the anti-Zionist ideology (a system of demonising ideas and representations about Israel and the Jews) now exercises in our culture. At the heart of the ideology is a deeply buried, often unconscious, assumption about the dichotomous natures of Israelis and Palestinians that warps our understanding of the conflict. Here it is: Palestinians (and Arabs in general) do not have agency and choice, and so cannot be held accountable and responsible. Israelis do and can; always, and exclusively.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

New York Times Suppresses Kerry Condemnation of Palestinian Incitement

Gilead Ini for The Times of Israel

In an impassioned and unequivocal statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said Palestinian incitement was directly responsible for yesterday’s brutal murder of Jews praying in a Jerusalem synagogue. The murders were “a pure result of incitement,” and of calls by Palestinian leaders for “days of rage” against Israel

It was an important and newsworthy indictment by one of the highest ranking US officials. But readers picking up a copy of The New York Times this morning learned nothing about it. That’s because the newspaper, whose reporters had at one point quoted the most dramatic portion of Kerry’s condemnation, first replaced it with a less pointed passage, and later excised any reference whatsoever to the comments.

We at CAMERA have often criticized The New York Times for its failure to cover with the seriousness it deserves the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, and anti-coexistence messages that saturate Palestinian society and inflame the conflict. This latest example, in which editors actively removed Kerry’s dramatic criticism of incitement, highlights the extent to which the newspaper feels uncomfortable exploring Palestinian responsibility for the conflict in the same way they scrutinize Israeli actions — especially if such hard-hitting coverage might reflect poorly on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is often described by the newspaper as a “moderate.”

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Four Israelis killed in terror attack on Jerusalem synagogue

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Four Israelis were killed in a terror attack during morning prayers at a Jerusalem synagogue.

Two Palestinian assailants entered a synagogue and rabbinical seminary in the Har Nof neighborhood of western Jerusalem and attacked worshippers at the morning prayer service with a gun, axes and knives.

At least eight worshippers also were injured, some seriously, in the Tuesday morning attack on the Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue. Three of those killed are dual American and Israeli citizens.

Police killed both of the assailants, who have been identified as residents of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber.  Police reportedly began searching the homes of the assailants after the attack. Palestinian reports say the assailants, who are cousins, are relatives of terrorists released in the exchange to return Gilad Shalit.

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations praised the attack, and said it was in retaliation for the death of a Palestinian bus driver who was found late Sunday night hanged in his bus at a terminal in Jerusalem.

An autopsy Monday at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv found that the death was not criminally related, Israel Police said. The body was returned to the family. However, a Palestinian pathologist said in a separate report that there were signs of violence on his body, and the family said he was killed by “settlers.”

Hamas called for more such attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a security consultation for Tuesday afternoon following the attack.

He blamed the attack on “incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen” – the nom de guerre of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and blamed the international community for “irresponsibly ignoring” such incitement.

“We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers,” Netanyahu said following the terror attack.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is London, called Netanyahu to offer his condolences. “This simply has no place in human behavior,” Kerry told reporters, and called for Palestinian leaders to condemn the attack.

“Jerusalem bows its head in pain and sorrow on this difficult morning. Jerusalem residents peacefully praying in a synagogue in the heart of Jerusalem were cruelly slaughtered in cold blood while wearing their prayer shawls,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement. “We will not surrender to terror. We will stand strong and defend our city from those who try to disturb the peace of our capital.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Arafat’s widow calls for negotiations instead of armed struggle

(JTA) — The widow of deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat denounced violence and accused Hamas of “genocide” in an interview on the 10th anniversary of his death.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Suha Arafat argued that the Palestinians’ best hope lies in negotiation rather than armed struggle. She said that the unequal strengths of the Israelis and Palestinians would lead to the Palestinians being crushed in an armed fight, while negotiations would expose Israel’s unwillingness to make peace. She said she was pleased that Switzerland has recently recognized the Palestinian state and urged Italy to do the same.

Suha Arafat also denounced Hamas, which cancelled a celebration in memory of Yasser Arafat in Gaza earlier this week. She accused Hamas of taking the people of Gaza hostage and argued that the current desperate conditions in the territory amount to genocide. She also said that the current generation of young Palestinians growing up in Gaza, with only violence and no education, have no hope but emigration.

Suha Arafat, who has been accused of embezzlement from the Palestinian state and currently lives in Malta, said she has no plans at this time to return to the West Bank or Gaza.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Letter of Apology to the world media

By Rolene Marks, The Blogs, from The Times of Israel

Written this summer, but even more poignant today.

Please allow me to apologise on behalf of all the citizens of the State of Israel. I humbly apologise to you and your readers and to the world for our leaders defending our right to live. Here in Israel, we consider living a basic human right

The indignation of journalists, commentators and your readership has prompted them to spew forth some of the most vile invective we have seen other than that of Der Sturmer circa 1940’s and the letters and op-eds posted in your publication have educated me in a new level of hatred.

I apologise that it is left up to our army to make sure that the citizens of Gaza are evacuated from dangerous zones safely through pamphlets, text messages and roof knocking. I guess my text message and pamphlet were lost due to Hamas being on strike. Literally.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Canada Vows to Fight Anti-Semitism on Holocaust Month

Canadian ministers note Canada has been 'profoundly shaped' by 40,000 Holocaust survivors, pledge to preserve memory.

By Dalit Halevy, Ari Yashar for Arutz Sheva
Canadian Minister for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal released a joint statement on Monday timed for Holocaust Education Month.

"The Holocaust stands alone in history for its sheer brutality and inhumanity. The Shoah will forever serve as a powerful reminder of the odious effects of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance, and why it is important to prevent these poisonous ideologies from spreading," wrote the ministers.

The statement continued "Canada has been profoundly shaped by the 40,000 heroic Holocaust survivors who made our country their home in the years following the war. We owe an enormous debt to those survivors who have dedicated their lives to sharing their personal testimonies in our schools and communities."

As time advances and the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, the ministers noted this new reality is "a special challenge for the future of Holocaust education."

"That is why it is important to preserve the stories of survivors for future generations. The Azrieli Foundation’s Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program is a touchstone Canadian educational resource that reaches classrooms across the country. The Government of Canada is also providing funding to Canadian Holocaust Education Centers to help them preserve and catalogue the video testimonies of Canadian survivors."

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Should Jewish Judges Recuse Themselves From Cases Involving Palestinian Terrorism?

Parallels, and precedents, in recusal cases based on race, sex, ethnicity, and sexual orientation

By Sam Kleiner for Tablet Magazine

In 2007, the Jewish Federation of Detroit bestowed its highest honor on Judge Paul Borman, a longtime leader in the Jewish community who worked as a federal prosecutor and a law professor and worked hard to improve relations between the Jewish and African-American and Arab-American communities before being nominated by President Clinton in 1994 to be a federal judge. This year, Judge Borman became the latest in a series of Jewish judges who have been asked to recuse themselves because of their personal identity. Judge Borman was assigned the case of Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian who was accused of lying on her U.S. naturalization papers and covering up the fact that she had been convicted in an Israeli court of playing a role in two bombings. She admitted this was the case but turned down a plea deal with the goal of proving that she should not be deported because she had been mistreated in an Israeli prison and had PTSD when she filled out the naturalization forms. Her case became a cause celebre with dozens of activist groups calling for her not to be deported.

Wanting to avoid Judge Borman, the defense counsel filed a motion that went through Borman’s record as a Jewish leader, even citing his 2007 award from the federation as evidence that Borman could not be impartial in the case. The motion went so far as to argue that he had “personal extra-judicial knowledge” about the case because of his trips to Israel.
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Israel Tops List Of Best Destinations For Medical Tourism

By David Shama, on No Camels. This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted  with permission.

Israel ranks as one of the world’s best places for foreigners to get medical care, according to an authoritative annual report. The Medical Tourism Index (MTI) ranks Israel highest in a survey of 25 of the most popular destinations for medical tourism for care, services, and best patient experiences and third overall as the best place for non-Israelis to get medical care.

It’s clearly a compliment, but some warn that medical tourists might be taking up beds and care that would otherwise go to Israelis.

Traditionally, “medical tourists” have been residents of less developed countries seeking treatment in the US or Europe that was unavailable in their countries. That has changed — much of the medical tourism “traffic” is now in the opposite direction, from developed countries to places where similar procedures are available more cheaply. The 2013 report of the Medical Tourism Association (MTA) shows that nearly 80% of demand for medical travel is driven by cost savings, and almost 76% of patients who have or would be interested in medical travel are Americans. As many as 1.6 million Americans traveled abroad for medical treatment in 2021, the organization said, reflecting the high cost of health care in the US.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Israel isn’t perfect, but we ARE a miracle

by Sarah Tuttle-Singer | The Blogs | The Times of Israel

Oh, this distance.

This rift between my people in “the Old Country” — America — and my people here in Israel.

It’s killing us.

Even though we grew from the same seed: We drew water from the same wells on the way to Jerusalem. We survived the rough earth of Babylon. And expulsion from Spain. And pogroms, too many to count, uprooting, upending, like the wisps of a dandelion, we floated and fell. And then the Holocaust. Even that.

We survived.

And you’re there in the Old Country — America — in that place I still dream about that holds my childhood in the palm of its hand. The Old Country, where there are bagels and lox, and a map of Israel next to the chalkboard, where we drove to Temple and sang hinei ma tov u ma nayim, how good it is to be together. Where we love IsREAL from afar, from a map, from the quickening we would feel in our hearts when we would do folk dancing in the social hall…(shafte mayim b’sason — draw water joyfully… mayim mayim mayim mayim…) Where the relationship wasn’t messy, but easily compartmentalized as I would drop a few coins in the blue JNFA box in front of the sanctuary.

(It’s a mitzvah after all.)

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Muslim Twins Convert to Judaism, Join IDF

By: Shira Kipnees for

Fatima and Zukra Islambakov are twins born to a Muslim mother nineteen years ago in Uzbekistan.

After several years in a Muslim school and years of considering themselves Muslims, the twins discovered that they had Jewish roots and that their father was Jewish, after Jewish Agency representatives showed up at their home and suggested the twins make aliyah.

The twins abandoned the local tradition and decided to arrive in and move to Israel with their families. However, they were still considered Muslims by Israeli law. Today, however, they serve in the Israeli Defense Forces after converting to Judaism and undergoing a name-change process. One of the twins even took part in one of Operation Protective Edge’s important missions.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How My Family Will Celebrate This Year’s “Shabbatoween”

By Maurie Backman for Raising Kvell

Growing up, Halloween was never something I celebrated. My Orthodox parents didn’t think it was appropriate for their children to go around trick-or-treating, and since most of my friends’ parents felt the same way, it was never something I felt I was missing out on. (Besides, we had Purim, which to me was just like Halloween, minus the spooky stuff.)

My husband, on the other hand, grew up trick-or-treating and loved it as a kid. So last year, when my son was almost 2, we decided to take him trick-or-treating, and he had a blast (even though we confiscated the vast majority of his candy once we got home, as we weren’t about to give him free reign over his stash). I know Halloween is one of those gray areas for a lot of folks who are Jewish—after all, celebrating Halloween is not the same thing as celebrating Christmas or Easter, but it doesn’t seem to be as accepted a holiday as Thanksgiving, which many observant Jews celebrate without hesitation.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Is This ‘the Face of the Future of Judaism’ for a New Generation in Los Angeles?

TV and film director Jill Soloway has been running a de facto Jewish community. The question is whether it can outlast her success.

By Ari Karpel for Tablet Magaine

Jill Soloway“I was channeling my Aunt Rose.”

Jill Soloway was excitedly recounting LoveFest, the matchmaking event she held in July to mark the rarely celebrated holiday of Tu B’Av, known as the Jewish Valentine’s Day, where she and a few friends donned fuchsia babushkas and played yentas.

“Sooooo,” she said, dragging out the “O” and raising her voice half an octave for a nasal, Fran Drescher-style accent. “Tell me what you’re looking for.”

Soloway reverted to her normal voice: “I squeezed my nails into this girl’s arm.”

And Fran Drescher again: “You say you want to have children? Ohhhhkaaaay, we’re looking for someone who wants to make babies.”

“It was so stupid and so fun,” Soloway said, back to her normal tone. “I was deputized by the babushka to do the thing I’ve always wanted to do, which is putting people together. It was total chaos. It became more like a theater event than actual matchmaking. Some people really wanted my services, and some were completely annoyed by me.”

In other words, it was just another Saturday night in the life of Jill Soloway, television writer, movie director, and part-time yenta.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Abbas' strategic threat could be more dangerous than Hamas

Op-ed: Palestinian leader's initiative to isolate Israel is not aimed at achieving a better starting point for future negotiations – but at putting an end to the Zionist enterprise.

by Michael Oren for Ynet

AbbasIn his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas proved that he is not a partner for peace.

And a Palestinian leader who accuses the State of Israel, which arose from the ashes of the Holocaust, of committing genocide in Gaza, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, has no intention of becoming a partner for peace either.

In his previous General Assembly speeches, Abbas denied the Jewish people's historical connection to the Land of Israel and Jerusalem. But this time he conveyed an unprecedented message: He does not want negotiations – not even American-brokered talks – and is not interested in durable pace based on security arrangements and mutual recognition.

The fact that Israel doesn't have a partner for peace has been accepted by the Israeli public a long time ago. But now we are forced to acknowledge a new fact: That Abbas poses a danger which may be revealed as strategically more serious than the tactical dangers posed by Hamas.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Giant Ukraine JCC provides shelter from the storm — in style

By Cnaan Liphshiz for JTA

Menorah CenterDNEPROPETROVSK, Ukraine (JTA) — Five months into the war that turned him into a refugee in his own country, Jacob Virin has already attended 20 Jewish weddings — including those of his son and two other relatives — at the $100 million JCC of Dnepropetrovsk.

Towering over the skyline of this industrial metropolis, the 22-story Menorah Center is said to be the largest Jewish community center in Europe and a symbol of the remarkable Jewish revival here after decades of communist repression.

But with eastern Ukraine descending into chaos in recent months, the center of late has assumed a new symbolism. With one of its two hotels serving as temporary housing for some of the hundreds of refugees displaced by fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels, and a recent mass wedding for 19 Jewish couples held on its roof terrace, the center has become an emblem of Jewish survival during the current crisis.

“More than any other single complex, the Menorah Center has empowered the Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk to better serve as an anchor for Ukrainian Jewry in difficult times and as an engine for Jewish renewal,” said Zelig Brez, the community’s director.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Paula Abdul Invites You For Shabbos

Former American Idol judge says 'Yes!' to the Shabbos Project.

Hannah Dreyfus, Staff Writer for The Jewish Week

Paula AbdulInternational singing star and former American Idol judge Paula Abdul just sent you a Shabbos invitation.

Abdul, who is herself Jewish (the name 'Abdul' is Syrian), agreed to be a part of the Shabbos Project, an world-wide initiative to encourage Jews to keep the Sabbath together on the weekend of October 24-25. In a recent video promoting the Shabbos Project, she pronounced her love for the day of rest.

“Shabbos is very important to me because it’s my time to be just me—no paparazzi, no invasion of my privacy,” Abdul says in a promotional video. “I can always look forward to the end of the week and say, ‘Thank God I have Shabbos.’”

Abdul heard about the project from the chief rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, who gave her a personal call asking her to participate. “When the chief rabbi calls, like you’re going to turn it down?” she says in the promotional clip. Rabbi Goldstein started the project as a campaign to urge South African Jews to keep one Shabbat together.

One year later, the project has become a global phenomenon. This year, the project will take effect in more than 212 cities and 33 countries around the globe.

Aside from Abdul, other celebrities have also signed on to participate. Actress Maureen Lipman, radio presenter Vanessa Feltz and singer-songwriter Alex Clare have all recorded promotional videos, encouraging participation in Shabbat activities.

Visit to sign up to partcipate.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Israeli app technology in fight against Ebola virus

Volunteers turn to Snapp apps builder to create About Ebola information app in native African languages including Wolof, Jola, Krio and Swahili.

by Viva Sarah Press for Israel21c

Ebola appHealth workers in Western Africa trying to contain the Ebola outbreak continue to voice the need for better communication with the local communities. So, West-African based tech company Code Innovation, with the help of a volunteer team from Chile, Lebanon, Kenya, Senegal and Gambia, turned to an Israeli technology to create a free “About Ebola” mobile application to support public health outreach and communication efforts to educate the public about Ebola viral disease.

The Snapp apps builder technology is the brainchild of Vito Margiotta, Assaf Kindler and Gabriel Gurovich from the Singularity University. Snapp lets anyone with an idea produce a mobile app from any smartphone via its free platform.

According to a Code Innovation press release, the app was created with the Snapp apps builder in response to WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic saying, “What is really important is to inform the population of Guinea and Conakry about this disease, as this is the first time they are facing Ebola. They need to know what it is and how they can protect themselves.”

It took 11 days for the volunteers to build the informational Ebola app.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The High Holidays, According to Daniel Tiger

By Miriam Steinberg-Egeth for Raising Kvell

Daniel Tiger“What’s teshuvah?” my 3-year-old daughter asked as we were getting dressed for services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and talking about the holiday.

I explained that during this time of year from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, we can change things about ourselves and how we act in the world. I said, “If you don’t like how something is going, you can turn it around.”

She thought for a moment, then her face lit up and she said, “Like Daniel Tiger says!” Before I could figure out what the heck she was talking about, she sang, “When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.”

“Yes,” I said. “Like that. That’s what teshuvah means.”

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Check out Jvillage’s High Holiday+    page.

While you're at it, check out our High Holidays Holiday Spotlight Kit for ideas, crafts, recipes, etc.