Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Passover Survival Tips for Vegans

By Mayim Bialik for Kveller

Imagine if you will that in addition to the five Biblically prohibited grains (rye, wheat, barley, spelt, oats) and the Eastern European custom of refraining from eating kitniyot (including beans, peas, corn, and rice), you add on the excitement of choosing not to consume any byproducts of animals (no beef, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, or honey!). That’s Pesach in our house, including for our 2 ½- and 5-year-old boys.

Eight days and eight nights, baby. All vegan. All kosher for Pesach. And no eating out at non-Passover certified restaurants. Ready to call Child Protective Services on me yet?

Well, don’t. I find it fulfilling, meaningful, and spiritually satisfying to raise my sons the way Jews have fought to live for thousands of years, despite persecution and threat. Every holiday is an opportunity to impart some lesson, some tidbit of meaning, and some dose of enjoyment and pride in our heritage.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

What Does A Return To The ’67 Borders Mean To Israel?

Donny Reich, Op-Ed, The Times of Israel

In the aftermath of the recent elections, pressure has increased on Israel to return to the ’67 borders, also known as the 1949 armistice lines. This is the basis of the ‘2 State Solution’ that most of the world would like to impose on Israel.

But on a practical level, what does a return to the ’67 borders mean?

Here is just a taste of what would happen:

1. Jewish access to all significant Jewish holy sites would be, at best, severely limited. We know this from both past and present experiences. Before 1967 Jews were banned from Jewish holy sites In Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Jews could not visit the Kotel, or the Temple Mount. Jews were not only banned from the ancient Mt. of Olives cemetery, but helplessly watched as the Jordanians defiled graves. Access to Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and Cave of the Machpela was completely banned.

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Ice Cream Pyramids for Jon Stewart (and You)

This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 

by Sarah Ruderman Wilensky

Jon Stewart, born Jonathan Leibowitz, is one of America’s best known Jews, and also in an inter-faith marriage. In 2012, as Passover and Easter were approaching Stewart encouraged Jews to up the ante on Passover as it wasn’t competing very well against Easter, especially for kids. In the “Faith Off” clip below, from The Daily Show, he says where Easter has chocolate, Passover has Matzah. Where Easter has Peeps, Passover has hard boiled eggs. You get the idea.

“Oh wait, I’ll see you over at the Red Sea ride when I’m done building ice cream pyramids.”

What about spicing things up, Jon asks? What about ice cream pyramids? Well Jon, in honor of your last Passover behind that Comedy Central desk where we’ve come to depend on you to deliver us news we can actually digest, we’re giving you just what you asked for: Ice Cream Pyramids.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Meet Google Israel’s Yossi Matias, The Genius Behind Many Of Google’s Most Stunning Achievements

By Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels

You know that function on Google Search that finishes your sentences for you? Or what about the helpful information boxes that you often see at the top of a search inquiry? These central features of Google’s most valuable offering have helped the Internet giant beat out other worthy competitors, like Yahoo and Bing, and continuously do their share to make information more accessible.

What you may not know is that autocomplete, Google Trends, Knowledge Graph and a number of other features on Google were developed in Israel under the supervision of global Google VP of Search Yossi Matias. Tasked with establishing one of Google’s first research and development centers outside of the United States in 2006, Matias has been responsible for directing the Israeli R&D center towards stunning achievements and technological breakthroughs in the realms of search, big data, and internet privacy, as well as initiating impressive cultural entrepreneurship programs that too have “gone global”. In an exclusive interview with NoCamels, Matias paints a picture of just how important a member Google Israel has become in the company’s global family, and offers up his assessments on where the future of Israeli entrepreneurship is heading.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Australian theater rejects Jewish act, cites ‘Zionism’

Sydney’s Red ­Rattler Theatre refuses Hillel request to book venue for stage play because of ‘occupation of Palestine’

By Times of Israel staff

An Australian theater rejected a booking from a Jewish cultural group for a series of performances, saying it did not not host groups supportive of “the colonization and occu­pation of Palestine.”

The Red ­Rattler Theatre in Marrickville in Sydney responded to a request by Hillel, a Jewish organization for students and young adults, to hire the venue for a series of performances, reportedly about the Holocaust, with an email reading: “Our policy does not support ­colonialism/Zionism. Therefore we do not host groups that support the colonization and occu­pation of Palestine.”

The incident has angered the local Jewish community.

“It’s sad to see an artistic group practise outright discrimination and, worse, impor­ting divisiveness based on conflicts taking place far from Australia. We ought to be able to get along and work with each respectfully, despite political views or differences of opinion, ” said NSW Jewish Board of Deput­ies chief executive Vic Alhadeff, according to The Australian.

Attempts to contact the theater to explain that Hillel was apolitical were unsuccessful, said Alhadeff.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Madeleine Kunin Never Felt Anti-Semitism in Vermont — but Switzerland Was Different Story

By Madeleine May Kunin for The Jewish Daily Forward

Trailblazing Governor Felt Hatred in Europe

The only whiff of anti-Semitism that I experienced during my campaign for governor of Vermont took the form of a reporter’s question. He asked my campaign manager Liz Bankowski: “How are you going to deal with Madeleine Kunin’s liabilities?”

“What liabilities?” Liz asked.

“Well, she’s a woman, a democrat and she’s Jewish.”

Liz thought for a moment before posing him a question: “Has anyone said that being Jewish was a liability?

“Err, no,” the reporter weakly replied.

“Then it isn’t a story,” Liz said. With that retort, she quashed the story.

The main reason I didn’t experience anti-Semitism during my three terms as governor was that people couldn’t figure out the derivation of my name, or how to pronounce it. I sometimes speculate whether my life would have been different if I had married a Cohen or a Goldberg. I’d like to think not.

As it turned out, my name often morphed into something else — McCuen, McKeon, McKay, Cunin, or some other variation of Kunin, which gave me Irish or Scottish forbearers.

When, in 1984, I was elected as the fourth woman governor (in her own right) in the United States, several groups took credit. The American Medical Society ran this headline: “Doctor’s Wife Is Elected Governor.”

The Aufbau had a different angle: “Jewish Woman Elected Governor.”

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

After electoral trouncing, what future for the Israeli left?

A lot of lessons can be gleaned from Tuesday’s results. Some of them might be uncomfortable

By Haviv Rettig Gur, The Times of Israel

A lot of groups are licking their wounds after Likud’s trouncing of the Labor-led Zionist Union on Tuesday.

The Israeli left, to be sure, did better than it has done in almost a generation. It rallied around the Labor party, energized the base, sent thousands of volunteers to “get out the vote.”

And it lost. Spectacularly.

In the process, politicians, pundits, pollsters and analysts learned some important lessons – not just in humility, but also in the changing face of the Israeli electorate.

The right learned that Likud is its great indispensable party, the big tent to which it rallies in times of danger. That ethos of underlying unity among the usually bickering factions of the right headed off on Tuesday the left’s most potent challenge in almost two decades. It won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

We all learned that the right knows how to get out the vote. Or, at least, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does. His method was simple: talk incessantly about the turnout of the enemy – the left, the Arabs, the shadowy foreign funding behind it all. It wasn’t exactly a noble or honest final few days in Likud’s campaign, but it worked.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Shabbat Across The Bow

Joshua Hammerman, Special To The Jewish Week

On Friday, March 13, Jews will gather in over 500 locations for the annual happening that has come to be known as “Shabbat Across America.” But in only one community, mine, will congregations ranging across the denominational spectrum from right to left come together for this event. True, Hillels do this kind of thing routinely, as do utopian gatherings like Limmud, and small, isolated communities where there is little choice. But otherwise, according to the organizers, we’re it. In a historic show of unity, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and unaffiliated Jews will celebrate Shabbat. Over 300 people have signed up thus far, and the number is climbing.

I’m not writing this for self-congratulatory purposes, though it is nice to live in a community where progressive and traditional Jews get along. I appreciate that our community mikvah is available to all; our day schools, JCC and other agencies stress diversity, and our local federation, which is coordinating Shabbat Across Stamford, sets a highly inclusive tone.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

For its survival, Israel must abandon the one-state option

By Amos Oz for the LA Times

Let's start with a matter of life and death. If there are not two states, there will be one. If there is one, it will be Arab. If Arab it is, there is no telling the fate of our children and theirs.

One Arab state from Jordan to the Mediterranean. Not a binational state. For to expect Palestinians and Israelis, having inflicted so much pain on each other for so long, to suddenly turn a page onto harmonious, co-equal cohabitation in one state seems delusional.

Thus, absent two states, and as equality in binationalism is a fantasy, the prospects of one Arab state undoing our Zionist dream looms large.

In an attempt to delay it, the land from the river to the sea might be governed by a zealot Jewish dictatorship, characterized by racial fanaticism, forcing its will on both an Arab majority and Jewish opponents. It would face international boycott, internal bloodbath or both, until it was forced to give way to the inevitable: one Arab state.

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5 Stories You Haven’t Heard About Collaboration Between the IDF & Palestinians

From IDFblog.com

Did you hear about that time the Israel Defense Forces came to the aid of Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria at the request of the Palestinian Authority during a heavy snowstorm? Did you see soldiers pushing a Palestinian taxi out of the snow? Odds are you missed this story, and many others like it that show how Palestinians cooperate with the IDF.

Cooperation between the Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces is something that is usually glanced at or completely forgotten about in the international media. It is important to recognize that the IDF is an army with a great moral compass, and takes many intiatives to serve Israelis and non-Israelis alike. There are many examples of cooperation between Palestinians and the IDF.

Here are 5 encouraging story that display cooperation between the IDF and Palestinians.

1. A heavy snowstorm leads to cooperation between the IDF and the Palestinian Authority

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Monday, March 9, 2015

The Iranian Regime on Israel's Right to Exist

The Iranian foreign minister says his country is friendly to Jews. But it seeks the elimination of the country in which nearly half the world's Jews live.

Jeffrey Goldberg; The Atlantic

The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wants Jews to know that he, and the country he represents, are their friends. In an interview with Ann Curry, he accused the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, of intentionally misreading Jewish scripture in order to make the case that Iran is malevolently predisposed toward Jews: “If you read the Book of Esther, you will see that it was the Iranian king who saved the Jews," Zarif said. "If you read the Old Testament, you will see that it was an Iranian king who saved the Jews from Babylon. Esther has a town in Iran where our Jewish population, which is the largest in the Middle East, visits on a regular basis.”

It is true that, at different times, and in different ways, Persia has been a friend of the Jews. Cyrus the Great (the Iranian king mentioned by Zarif in the interview) restored the Jews to their homeland in the Land of Israel after their Babylonian exile. President Harry Truman, who recognized the state of Israel in 1948, eleven minutes after it was re-born, later proclaimed proudly, "I am Cyrus." 

There is dark humor (or a lack of self-awareness) in Zarif's citation of Cyrus as proof of Iranian philo-Semitism, because today's Iranian leadership does not recognize Jewish sovereignty in Israel, as Cyrus once did, but instead seeks the annihilation of the Jewish state.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

IS group ‘bulldozes’ ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud

From France24.com

The Islamic State (IS) group on Thursday deployed heavy vehicles and bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq, the Iraqi government said.

In a statement on its official Facebook page, Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the militant group had “assaulted the historic city of Nimrud and bulldozed it,” but did not elaborate on the extent of the damage.

An Iraqi antiquities official confirmed the news, saying the destruction began after noon prayers and that trucks that may have been used to haul away artefacts had also been spotted at the site.

On Friday, UNESCO condemned the city’s ruin as a “war crime”.

Nimrud, which was founded in the 13th century BC, lies on the Tigris around 30 kilometres southeast of Mosul, Iraq’s second city and the main hub of the IS group in the country.

The destruction at Nimrud, one of the jewels of the Assyrian era, came a week after the jihadist group released a video showing militants armed with sledgehammers and jackhammers smashing priceless ancient artefacts at the Mosul museum.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Battle for water won by entrepeneur of first Palestinian planned city

A political battle to install a water pipeline for the first planned Palestinian city of Rawabi is now over, with Palestinian American entrepeneur finally able to reach his goal of establishing a beautiful city in area A of the West Bank.

Smadar Peri for ynetnews.com

Bashar al-Masri, a Palestinian American entrepreneur, has finally followed-through with his vision to fully plan a Palestinian city from its initiation, in the city of Rawabi – located in area A in the West Bank.

“I’m satisfied,” al-Masri said in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, “and I’m not crying over the political and bureaucratic milk that was spilled during the long journey.”

With the declaration of the development of the first Palestinian planned city, al-Masri was the subject of much criticism from both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ta'anit Esther / תענית אסתר

Wednesday March 4, 2015 at dawn

The Fast of Esther (Ta'anit Ester, Hebrew: תַּעֲנִית אֶסְתֵּר) is a Jewish fast from dawn until dusk on Purim eve, commemorating the three-day fast observed by the Jewish people in the story of Purim. If the date of the Fast of Esther falls on Shabbat (Saturday), the fast is instead observed on the preceding Thursday. Like other minor fasts, Ta'anit Esther begins at dawn (first light) and ends at nightfall (full dark).

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Netanyahu is coming to Washington because Obama has left him no choice.

By Caroline Glick for JPost.com

It is hard to get your arms around the stubborn determination of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today. For most of the nine years he has served as Israel’s leader, first from 1996 to 1999 and now since 2009, Netanyahu shied away from confrontations or buckled under pressure. He signed deals with the Palestinians he knew the Palestinians would never uphold in the hopes of winning the support of hostile US administrations and a fair shake from the pathologically hateful Israeli media.

In recent years he released terrorist murderers from prison. He abrogated Jewish property rights in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. He agreed to support the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. He agreed to keep giving the Palestinians of Gaza free electricity while they waged war against Israel. He did all of these things in a bid to accommodate US President Barack Obama and win over the media, while keeping the leftist parties in his coalitions happy.

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Israel and Jordan sign ‘historic’ water deal to save Dead Sea

‘Most significant agreement’ since 1995 peace treaty will see construction of ‘Red-Dead’ pipeline and provide water for both nations

By Times of Israel staff 

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