Monday, February 16, 2015

My Response to Terror

Michael Melchior for The Times of Israel

I woke up this morning to a grim reality. Of  all the recent terror attacks by ISIS, the present one in the  synagogue and  community center in Copenhagen, is one closest to me personally. This is the community in which I grew up. This is the community in which my son, Yair, is serving as its Rabbi, and is now living  with his family, my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren. They are living on the site that was attacked, at which my brother serves  as  Director General.

It’s a difficult day. As attacks grow closer to home, it hurts more and it’s harder to stop the tears. From Jerusalem, I send my condolences to Dan Uzan ‘s ז”ל family, a charming young man who was murdered while voluntarily guarding the bat-mitzvah celebration, which included  many guests, and the entire community.

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Once Again, Israeli Discoveries Promise Medical Breakthrough

From UnitedWithIsrael

While the international media insists on placing a negative focus on Israel, it’s important to know about the positive contributions Israel makes.  Here’s some of the latest news from Israel in the area of medicine.
Preventing Deadly Infections

An anti-inflammatory drug, alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT), could be effective in preventing deadly infections in patients with compromised immune systems, researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) announced last week.

As reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the study, led by Dr. Eli C. Lewis and his team of BGU researchers, examined the effectiveness of AAT as treatment against the growth and spread of bacteria.

Bacterial infections in patients with compromised immune systems can lead to sepsis, multiple organ dysfunction and death, even with the treatment of antibiotics. This is especially problematic when such individuals experience prolonged hospitalization, where they are exposed to large amounts of bacteria.

The unexpected discovery occurred when mice were treated with AAT in an effort to determine whether the drug would strengthen infections. To the researchers’ surprise, the treated mice combated lethal infections better than did untreated mice, and bacteria directly introduced into their systems were almost completely eradicated by the AAT therapy within 24 hours.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Significance of 13 in Judaism

eTeacher Hebrew Blog

There is much confusion regarding the number 13. Why is it considered to be a good number in some places and a bad number in others?

According to Jewish tradition, the number 13 is a very significant one and considered to be a blessed number.

When a Jewish boy comes of age at 13 years old he has become a Bar Mitzvah and he is obligated to observe the commandments.

He is also recognized as having the same rights and responsibilities as an adult. A Jewish girl, celebrates her Bat Mitzvah when she turns 12.

The Maimonides states that the number 13 represents the number of principles of Jewish faith .

In addition, the foundations of Judaism are based on the original 13 Tribes of Israel: the 11 sons of Jacob and the 2 sons of Joseph.

According to the Talmud , the core of the Selichot prayers is the 13 Attributes of Mercy that G-d taught Moses .

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Correction: The Times admits major screw-up on Bibi’s so-called breach of protocol

By Liel Leibovitz for Tablet Magazine

For one whole week, I’ve been staring at The Correction.

I’m a fairly seasoned reader of the New York Times, and a frequent critic of the paper, but the more I gazed at The Correction, the more it gazed back at me, defiant. What the hell?

You might have seen it yourself. It was affixed on January 30 to a story that ran the previous day about Bibi Netanyahu’s fraught relations with the Democratic Party. Here it is, in its entirety: “An earlier version of this article misstated when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accepted Speaker John A. Boehner’s invitation to address Congress. He accepted after the administration had been informed of the invitation, not before.”

The Correction, as corrections do, ran in the very bottom of the story, but you don’t have to be an ink-stained veteran to know it belongs right in the lede. The story is a whodunit, and The Correction shows clearly that the Times got the wrong man.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Why Jews Used to Eat Dried Carob on Tu b'Shvat

Bokser smells like Limburger cheese. It’s also an embodiment of Jewish vitality and endurance.

MEIR SOLOVEICHIK for Mosaic Magazine

I write in praise of the dried carob, known for centuries to Ashkenazi Jews as bokser.

Surely there are many American Jews, at least of a certain age, who still vividly remember, as children in religious school, imitating their ancestors by ingesting this fruit in honor of Tu b’Shvat, the annual Jewish festival of trees that is celebrated today. And there is ample reason why they should remember: carobs are remarkably unpleasant to eat. As my Mosaic colleague Philologos once candidly put it, carobs “are flattish, irregularly curved, serrated along the edges, four to six inches in length, hard as nails to bite into, and yield—if you haven’t meanwhile broken all your teeth—a mealy substance that has been described as smelling like Limburger cheese.”

Perhaps, however, a closer look can reveal just how and why this much-maligned fruit is, in its own way, an ultimate embodiment of Jewish vitality and endurance.

In the Talmud, the holiday of Tu b’Shvat commemorates nothing more than one in a series of halakhic deadlines related to the obligation to offer tithed portions of the year’s crops to the Levites in the Temple. For fruits in particular, the end of one fiscal year and the beginning of the next was marked by Tu b’Shvat, the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shvat. Because these laws of tithing applied only to produce grown in the Holy Land, celebrating Tu b’Shvat became throughout the centuries a way of connecting to the land itself. For Ashkenazi Jews, that meant eating one fruit: carob, whose name derives from the Hebrew haruv and whose Yiddish name, bokser, is short for the German bokshornbaum, the tree with ram’s-horn-shaped fruit.

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