Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Obama: Denying Israel’s Right to Exist as a Jewish Homeland is Anti-Semitic

The president draws a line in the sand in his latest interview

By Yair Rosenberg for Tablet Magazine

Yesterday, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg published a wide-ranging interview with President Obama on the Middle East. Naturally, much of the ensuing commentary has focused on the president’s defense of his Iran diplomacy and his administration’s handling of the fight against ISIS. But in poring over Obama’s comments on these big ticket issues, one of the president’s more remarkable statements has largely been overlooked: his equation of denying Israel’s right to exist with anti-Semitism.

In the latter part of their conversation, Obama and Goldberg turned to the subject of Israel. The president began by making a spirited case against those in the pro-Israel community who equate his criticisms of Israeli policy with an anti-Israel or anti-Semitic outlook. “I completely reject that,” he said. On the contrary, the president argued, by standing up for the shared liberal values of the U.S. and Israel—and pointing out when either falls short—he is ensuring both countries will endure and thrive. “I want Israel, in the same way that I want the United States, to embody the Judeo-Christian and, ultimately then, what I believe are human or universal values that have led to progress over a millennium,” he said. “I want Israel to embody these values because Israel is aligned with us in that fight for what I believe to be true.”

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Why Shavuot Is Jewish Mother-in-Law’s Day

A convert to Judaism reflects on the Jewish woman who embraced her, and honors her with a holiday recipe

By Marcia Friedman for Tablet

As someone who converted to Judaism, I consider Shavuot, the festival on which we read from the Book of Ruth, an especially meaningful holiday. Ruth, a Moabite woman, is considered the first convert to Judaism. Following the death of her husband, Ruth decides to remain with her mother-in-law, Naomi, instead of returning home to her Moabite family.

But Shavuot, with its emphasis on acceptance—the festival marks the day the Israelites received the Torah—isn’t just significant for those who have converted to Judaism. It’s a time to honor all the modern-day Naomis: the Jewish mothers-in-law who accept converts not only into their faith, but also into their families.

My Naomi is named Gloria. The day we met at her son’s graduate-school graduation, Gloria—my then-boyfriend’s mother—seemed overjoyed to meet me. A few years later, when I began conversion classes, however, I feared that I would never truly bridge my knowledge and cultural gap and feel completely “Jewish”—or be considered so by my future husband’s family. Gloria had a concern, too. But it wasn’t about any of that. She later told me she worried that abandoning my family’s religious traditions would be a sacrifice that would ultimately make me unhappy. Even then she placed my well-being above her own interests, just as Naomi urged Ruth to return to her family upon being widowed. But once I completed my classes, Gloria understood: I, too, was along for the journey. And as a gift following my conversion, she and my future father-in-law, David, sent their son and me on a trip to Israel, where I could walk in the footsteps of Ruth.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Illinois State House unanimously passes anti-BDS bill

If Gov. Bruce Rauner signs bill, Illinois will become first state to legislate againt Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

By JTA   

The Illinois State House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would bar state pension funds from including companies that participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

The bill passed the state House on Monday by a vote of 102-0. It previously passed the Illinois State Senate unanimously, 49-0.

The legislation now awaits Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature. With the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the first state to legislate against BDS.

The bill requires the state’s pension system to remove companies that boycott Israel from their portfolios. The bill, an amendment, is based on existing legislation that the Illinois Investment Policy Board currently enforces, mandating that state pension funds be divested from foreign firms doing business in Iran, Sudan or other countries with known human rights violations.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Hasidic woman has first kid at 65

After 45-year wait, Bnei Brak resident gives birth to healthy baby boy


After over 45 years of marriage, a Hasidic woman gave birth to her first child on Monday morning at the age of 65.

Chaya Sarah Shachar became the delighted mother of a baby boy at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba.

The baby boy is in good health, relatives said.

Shachar and her husband Shmuel had unsuccessfully tried to have kids since they got married at the ages of 19 and 21 respectively. The couple had sought fertility treatments as well as blessings from religious figures.

The proud parents, who are affiliated with the Nadvorna Hasidic dynasty, on Monday attributed the “miracle” to a blessing from their rabbi, who died three years ago.

Last year, a 61-year-old woman gave birth to her first son in Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital. The woman, who had been pregnant with twins but lost the baby girl, at the time similarly attributed the rare occurrence to a blessing by the late rabbi Ovadiah Yosef.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Celebrating Jerusalem Day in DC

Yom Yerushalyaim, Jerusalem Day, is Sunday, May 17th

Does the celebration, to be held on Capitol Hill by the Israel Allies Foundation, conflict with the US administration's stance on the Holy City?

Josh Reinstein, director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and founder and producer of the hit TV show "Israel Now News," broadcast to 35 million viewers in 191 countries around the world, joins VOI's Yishai Fleisher to discuss Christian support for a united Jerusalem, even in Washington DC.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Why Lag B'Omer Matters

by Abigail Pogrebin for The Jewish Daily Forward

Twenty four thousand students who studied with the famed 2nd Century Rabbi Akiva were killed by a terrible plague.

What sin made them deserving of such a wipeout?

“They did not treat each other with respect,” the Talmud says plainly.

What does the holiday of Lag B’Omer, which arrives this evening, have to do with Rabbi Akiva’s students? It marks the lifting of the plague that killed them, and the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shim’on Bar Yohai, one of the students who survived.

The fact that Rabbi Bar Yohai – or Rashbi, as he’s known – was spared, must in some part be due to his respect for fellow Jews.

That, to me, is a thread of the elusive Lag B’Omer that I can grab onto: it’s a holiday that elevates consideration of one another, and cautions against what happens when we don’t.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Report: IAF attacks weapons cache in Sudan

Arab news outlets claim Israel bombed a weapons depot near Khartoum. Sudanese army officials deny this, but claim they fired at a “plane or missile” in the sky.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

Arab media outlets reported Wednesday morning that explosions occurred at facilities at Omdurman in Sudan, near the capital of Khartoum, claiming they were caused by airstrikes carried out by the Israeli Air Force (IAF).

The Al-Arabia news site referred to a “foreign entity” that conducted the attack. The exact nature of the facilities that were hit is unclear. Some reports describe them as storage terminals, while others say that factories went up in flames.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Uzi Dayan to ‘Post’: Hamas, Hezbollah likely have ‘unfinished business’ with us

By Yaakov Lappin for Jpost.com
If attacked again, IDF should target groups’ leadership ranks, push Islamists out of their territorial bases, says ex-general and former national security adviser.

Terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah likely have “unfinished business” with Israel, former national security adviser and ex-deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Dayan, who will be addressing the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York on June 7, warned that both Hamas and Hezbollah can be expected to attack Israel again, as “they are terror organizations – terrorism is what they do for a living.”

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