Friday, June 17, 2016

Rawabi: the new city in the Palestinian territories

by Elliott Abrams in Pressure Points

The Associated Press reports this week on the arrival of the first families moving into Rawabi, a new city being built in the West Bank.

Rawabi is a marvel in many ways. I visited there in January, toured around a bit, and spoke with the founder, Bashar al-Masri. Rawabi is about 5 miles from Ramallah, and will eventually house 25,000 residents. (Its web site is here.) Construction has been slowed by grudging cooperation from Israel, and even today Rawabi has not been permitted to construct an adequate access road and to connect to sufficient water supplies. But the project is an extraordinary achievement, well designed for living and shopping, with common spaces such as a beautiful open air amphitheater.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How Should We Write About Tragedy?

By Laura Duhan Kaplan, Rabbis Without Borders, for

Heartbreaking news from the U.S. Violence against gays. The worst mass shooting. Hints of international terrorism.

How should my fellow spiritual writers and I respond? Should we write prayers? Statements of solidarity? Or just post blank, speechless pages?

Many of us call out for justice in a loud voice. We name what is wrong with our society. We share strategies for fixing it. We point out the mistakes of individuals. We call for their punishment. We speak with certainty.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

‘Post-denominational’ Orthodoxy gains new leadership in historic ordination

By Amanda Borschel-Dan for The Times of Israel

A Jerusalem ceremony for 21 male and female students of modern Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Landes celebrates their alt-neu role in halacha while pushing the egalitarian envelope

According to Jerusalem lore, when the line at the city’s chief rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank’s home-based rabbinical court was too long, impatient petitioners would instead seek out his wife, Gita Malka, for her rulings.

As a girl in 1880s Kovno, Lithuania, Gita Malka did what was then considered impossible for a woman: She studied Judaism’s sacred texts with Rabbi Chayim Yaakov Shapira, who sat on the rabbinical court of one of the foremost Talmudic sages of the 19th century, Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spektor. Later in life, Shapira moved to the Holy Land and became the head of the court of Jerusalem.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Cache of Hasmonean-era silver coins uncovered in Modiin

By Sue Surkes for The Times of Israel   

2,150-year-old hoard likely buried by a Jew who was never able to return for it, found in dig at agricultural estate that took part in Bar Kochba uprising

A treasure trove of 2,150-year-old silver coins excavated in the central Israeli city of Modiin apparently belonged to a Jew who had to leave the nearby house but never managed to retrieve his hidden cache.

The 16 coins from the Hasmonean period (2nd-1st century BCE) were concealed in a rock crevice up against a wall of a large agricultural estate, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Israel hosts first-ever anti-BDS conference at UN

Israeli envoy says movement represents ‘modern-day anti-Semitism’; WJC’s Ron Lauder vows to ‘commit all resources’ to fight it

By Cathryn J. Prince for The Times of Israel

UNITED NATIONS – More than 2,000 people attended on Tuesday the first-ever conference at the UN General Assembly aimed at combating the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, the largest gathering to date focused on battling the attempt to pressure Israel over its perceived ill-treatment of the Palestinians.

Students, activists, dignitaries legal professionals and representatives of Jewish organizations took part in the “Building Bridges, Not Boycotts” day-long summit, a partnership between Israel’s Mission to the UN and a dozen pro-Israel organizations including the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America, StandWithUs, B’nai B’rith International, Hillel and CAMERA.    

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Friday, May 27, 2016

The ‘son of Hamas’ just gave a speech that will completely shock you

From IsraelVideoNetwork

Mosab Hassan Yousef is an incredible example of someone who was able to break away from a destructive, venomous society which had created its own set of truths and norms, and look at reality from a different perspective. There are very few people in the world that capable of doing that. Yet Yousef, known by his cover name, “The Green Prince”, found himself reexamining all of the axioms he had been taught by his father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the founders of the Hamas. What makes Yousef unique is that is he able and willing to come forward and state that he does not oppose individual people, but he feels that Muslim society needs to rethink its value system. That is what he did individually. “I’ve seen death and I came from hell,” he explains. It is an incredibly courageous thing to stand up against your own society’s basic beliefs, and a equally as courageous to speak about it.

Yousef’s hope and optimism for the Muslim People is utopian, but, having lived in that world and gone through that exact journey himself, he is the one person that can give us all the faith that things can change, and the desire to work to make that hope a reality.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What Is Lag Ba’Omer?

The 33rd day of the Omer is an occasion for happiness during an otherwise mournful period.

By Francine Klagsbrun for

Lag Ba’Omer is a minor holiday that occurs on the 33rd day of the Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot. A break from the semi-mourning of the Omer, key aspects of Lag Ba’Omer include holding Jewish weddings (it’s the one day during the Omer when Jewish law permits them), lighting bonfires and haircuts.

Why We Celebrate
There are a few explanations why we celebrate Lag Ba’Omer, but none is definitive.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

White House screens ‘Rosenwald’ for Jewish American Heritage Month


The White House screened the documentary “Rosenwald,” about the Jewish philanthropist who worked with blacks to build schools throughout the South, to mark Jewish American Heritage Month.

More than a hundred invitees attended the screening Monday of the documentary about Julius Rosenwald at the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. Aviva Kempner, the Washington, D.C., documentarian who made a film about Jewish baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, directed “Rosenwald.”

Speaking at the event was Valerie Jarrett, a top aide to President Barack Obama whose great-grandfather, Robert Robinson Taylor, designed the schools.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

An unexpected tale of unity and hope on Independence Day

When a stranger collapsed with heart failure at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, two Israelis rushed to help, one an Israeli Arab, the other an Israeli Jew – my husband.

By Nicky Blackburn, Israel21c

As Israelis took the lids off their foam sprays and silly string, and adorned themselves in blue and white to celebrate Independence Day, we stepped off a plane at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and began making our way towards baggage control for a four-day trip to the French capital.

Just a few hundred meters into the terminal, a woman came running down the ramp shrieking in panicked French. We had no idea what she was saying, but a moment later spotted a middle-aged man collapsed on the floor, with a small crowd of anxious people around him.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Why Is the Left Silent About Gaza Tunnels?

Jay Michaelson, The Jewish Daily Forward

The recent discovery of yet another Hamas tunnel from Gaza into Israel elicited shock and condemnation throughout the Jewish world.


Actually, though widely reported in Israel, and sporadically here in the United States, you could hear a pin drop in much of the progressive world, especially among those organizations pressing Israel to pursue peace with Palestine.

This deafening silence is a moral and political mistake.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

68 Reasons To Respect, If Not Love, Israel On Its 68th Birthday

Robert Sarner Jewish Daily Forward

This week, as Israel celebrates the 68th anniversary of its hard-won independence, it’s worth celebrating the unlikely success story of this embattled little country, amid all its imperfections.

Like other countries, Israel is a work in progress. Blemishes abound and Israelis are the first to criticize and question their own shortcomings: political corruption, a dysfunctional electoral system, the extortion and blackmail of the ultra-Orthodox parties, the rampant economic iniquities, the status of Israeli Arabs, the treatment of Ethiopian immigrants, the situation of Palestinians in the West Bank, the plight of African refugees. The problems are longstanding and a searing indictment of Israeli leadership.

But show me another country on the planet that, within such a relatively short time and against such daunting odds, has done what Israel has achieved since its inception in 1948. So, in honor of its birthday, here are 68 reasons to respect, if not always love, the world’s one and only Jewish country.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

6 ways Israel is counting its blessings on Independence Day

By Ben Sales for

A growing population, an even faster-growing economy, more cellphones per capita than the US, as well as more women in its parliament – plenty to celebrate at 68

When Israel entered its 1948 War of Independence, the coastal city of Rishon Lezion was a hardscrabble settlement with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants.

As waves of immigrants inundated Israel in its founding years, many were settled in temporary camps on Rishon Lezion’s sandy outskirts. The arrivals braved rainy winters in tents and subsisted on the national food rationing program, which limited Israeli consumption of eggs and meat.

Not seven decades later, Rishon Lezion is Israel’s fourth largest city, a bustling hub of nearly 250,000 freckled with malls.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Newly Unearthed Version of Elie Wiesel's Seminal Work Is a Scathing Indictment of God, Jewish World

Ofer Aderet for Haaretz

In Wiesel’s uncensored Hebrew 'Night' manuscript, unveiled here for the first time, the author expresses desire to take revenge on the Hungarians, lashes out at fellow Jews and describes sexual scenes from the train to Auschwitz.

The 150-page work that historian Dr. Joel Rappel pulls off the shelves of his vast library is a difficult document to read. It’s not the handwriting that makes the task hard – it’s actually quite legible. The content – a searing indictment against God and anyone who believed in him during the Holocaust – is what causes the reader to shudder.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The truth perfectly articulated by Melanie Phillips

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist, author and public commentator. She started on the left of the political spectrum, writing for The Guardian and New Statesman. During the 1990s she moved to the right, and currently writes for The Times, Jerusalem Post and Jewish Chronicle, covering political and social issues from a social conservative perspective. Phillips defines herself as a liberal who has "been mugged by reality."

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

On Israel, Springsteen’s guitarist outriffs Ken Livingstone

By David Horovitz for The Times of Israel   

Op-ed: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Labour’s ex-London mayor would have you believe it’s all Israel’s fault. But as Steven Van Zandt insists on Twitter, it’s complicated

As someone who has loved Bruce Springsteen’s music for most of my life, whose soul is lifted by the passion and ambition in his songs, who has played his second, third and fourth albums more than any others and inflicted them upon my long-suffering children… and as a Zionist, I have always wondered what Bruce makes, if anything, of Israel. And I still do wonder.

As someone who has loved Bruce Springsteen’s music for most of my life, whose soul is lifted by the passion and ambition in his songs, who has played his second, third and fourth albums more than any others and inflicted them upon my long-suffering children… and as a Zionist, I have always wondered what Bruce makes, if anything, of Israel. And I still do wonder.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Rock legend Phil Lesh gathers musician friends for a Grateful Dead Passover

By Alix Wall for JTA

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (JTA) – “Why can’t we eat veggie burritos tonight? Will I be miracled? Will they play ‘The Wheel?’ Will Phil sing?”

These four additional questions were asked at a Passover seder this week that’s quickly becoming a new Bay Area tradition.

Fans of the legendary psychedelic band the Grateful Dead celebrated Passover for the third year in a row Wednesday night at Terrapin Crossroads, the Marin County club owned by the band’s bassist, Phil Lesh.

This was the first year that seders were held on consecutive nights, Tuesday and Wednesday. Tickets for both sold out within minutes; 150 guests attended each night.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

When they say that ‘Israel is a light unto the nations’, this is what they mean…

One shining star in a sea of darkness!

Next door to the war raging in Syria, doctors at the Galilee Medical Center are showing the true character of Israel.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Judaism Is a 3,000-Year-Old Love Affair With a Land

Rabbi David Wolpe for Time

The connection to Israel is important in understanding modern politics

On Passover, Jews all over the world change one sentence in their daily prayers; instead of praying for rain, we begin to pray for dew. For in Israel the time for the grain harvest has begun, and if the winds blow and the rains fall, the grain cannot be harvested and will will rot in the field. Dew on the other hand, will moisten the grain without damaging it. That simple change in the prayer marks a profound truth about Judaism that touches on modern politics as well.

Twenty-five years ago I was returning from a two-day trip to New York. I ran into my teacher, the late Rabbi Henry Fisher. We began talking, and he asked me if I had changed my watch to accommodate New York time. “No,” I said, “I kept it on Los Angeles time.” “Why?” he asked? “Because,” I answered, “I would soon be home.”

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Sefirat haOmer: The Inner Journey of Liberation

By Shmuel Gonzales for Hard Core Mesorah

Taking steps daily on our journey towards freedom

We now find ourselves in Chol haMoed Pesach – the intermediate days of Passover, the middle days of this ongoing eight-day holiday. After a gruelling week of preparation and a very energetic first two festival days, we are all physically spent, ready to relax and enjoy the rest of the week to come.

Still for many people the joy of the festival and that sense of momentum in our souls remains with us. As we each work through own personal exodus during this season. Now that we have determined to become free people, naturally there is a new passion to experience and actualize that freedom. And to continue this spiritual journey to become more liberated. A desire to push forward in this march of freedom still inspiring many of us.

So who do we do that? How do we become freer and more liberated people?

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Thanks to Israel, Africa Will Never be the Same

From Israel Video Network

Together, they are bringing access to clean water and light to over 6,000 people across Africa, using Israeli technologies!

Innovation: Africa - Broadcast version from CBN Documentaries on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

This Day in Jewish History 1925: A Natural Computer Scientist Is Born (But She's a Woman)

David B. Green for Haaretz

Evelyn Berezin invented the first word processor, and designed the first digital booking system for airlines – which never crashed, not once.

April 12, 1925 is the birthday of computer scientist and entrepreneur Evelyn Berezin, the rare woman who in the field’s early days, was involved in both the development and the financial ends of the business.

Berezin got involved in designing computers in 1951, and a little over a decade later, she developed the first digital reservations system for an airline. In 1969, she established her own company, Redactron, and went up against IBM in the production and marketing of one of America’s first office word-processing machines.  

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Israel is fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah right before our eyes

From Israel Video Network

From cancer-sniffing dogs, to amniocentesis; wireless lasers for dental care to a pillcam to detect colon cancer; the Orcam for sight-imparied and special devices for the blind, such as the bionic eye; the Rewalk for  parapalegics - Israel leads the way in scientific, medical and technological innovation.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Jewish settlement, synagogue from Second Temple era unearthed on Sea of Galilee shore


2,000-year-old bronze incense shovel and jug discovered in excavation of ancient site of Magdala.

The excavation of a 2,000-year-old Jewish settlement and synagogue from the Second Temple period in Magdala, located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, recently revealed rare and well-preserved antiquities, including a bronze incense shovel and jug. 

The dig, overseen by the Israel Antiquities Authority prior to the construction of a building there, took place in an area considered to be the crossroads of Jewish and Christian history for its historical and religious significance for both Jews and Christians.

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Monday, April 4, 2016

British-Jewish chef sends English food to space

Heston Blumenthal spent 2 years learning to make dishes that can be consumed at zero gravity, just to sweeten astronaut Tim Peake’s palate

The Times of Israel

In a culinary first, a Jewish-British celebrity chef created English dishes, including a bacon sandwich, for consumption in space.

Heston Blumenthal spent two years preparing the dishes for the English astronaut Tim Peake, who ate the bacon one on his very first day in space in December, Channel 4 revealed in “Dinner in Space” — a special program about Heston’s endeavor which aired last week.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Diverse and Divided: Who Are the Jews of Belgium?

Belgium's 40,000 Jews split between Brussels and Antwerp, two communities so separated that couples from those ares consider their union a mixed one.

By Cnaan Liphshiz  for Haaretz

JTA - Reflecting the history of their complicated bi-national country, the Jews of Belgium form a community that is both defined and divided by its diversity.

A tale of two cities

Brussels, the capital of the federal Belgian state (population 11 million), and Antwerp, the center of one of the world’s biggest diamond markets, are the two poles of Belgian Jewry.
The two communities progressed on parallel tracks after Belgium’s creation in 1830 on land taken from the Netherlands in the north and France to the south. The country’s two communities are so separated by language and worldview that some Jewish couples from those areas consider their union a mixed one.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Reflections of a Lebanese woman in Israel

Dr. Carol Jahshan, special blog for The Times of Israel

As a Lebanese woman who grew up in Beirut and made the move to the United States at age 22, I think it is fair to say it was an unusual choice to spend a 3-month sabbatical in Israel at the end of 2015. Add that my father was born in Haifa in 1948 and left with his family for Lebanon at that time, and my choice to live and work in Tel Aviv is even more interesting. To be honest, I had some misgivings and fear around this decision, but at the end of a 3-month working collaboration at Bar Ilan University, there was no doubt that this visit had been a very positive and eye opening experience for me on many levels. It is an experience that I wish were much more common amongst my fellow Lebanese because of the humanizing and understanding it added to my perspective on Israeli society and especially regarding Israelis themselves, who I grew up knowing only through the lens of news reports and conversations that were invariably unfavorable. I would like to share my story.

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Israeli company hopes to replace batteries with dye solar cells


The product, developed by the firm 3G Solar Photovoltaics, is an advanced form of dye solar cell (DSC) technology.

An Israeli company says it has developed solar energy technology so efficient that it can power office appliances and wearable technologies, making the need for batteries obsolete.

The product, developed by the firm 3G Solar Photovoltaics, is an advanced form of dye solar cell (DSC) technology, which uses glass-printed photovoltaic cells to power everyday electric devices, from a computer mouse to smart watch.

While solar energy typically requires sunlight to produce electricity, these dye solar cells are so sensitive they can generate power from indirect, indoor lighting.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

UN World Water Day 2016: Better Water, Better Jobs


March 22

In honor of UN World Water Day 2016: Special feature on how KKL-JNF has helped Israel become one of the world's most water-efficient countries.

Thanks to its commitment to finding solutions for water related issues in Israel, KKL-JNF has amassed a great amount of knowledge relevant to the theme of World Water Day 2016 - Water and Jobs.  

In 1992, the United Nations Conference of Environment and Development recommended that the UN General Assembly designate March 22 as annual World Water Day, when countries and people worldwide focus on water-related issues and how to positively affect the world’s water economy. 

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Monday, March 21, 2016

The Strange and Violent History of the Ordinary Grogger

David Zvi Kalman for The Jewish Daily Forward   

Some objects look like they have stories to tell, but the grogger never seemed as though it was one of them. A single photograph convinced me I was wrong, though. You’ll be forgiven if you think it is a photo of two men dressed up in hazmat suits for Purim —how were you supposed to know that those aren’t groggers, but World War II gas alarms issued by the Royal Air Force, and that the hazmat suits and gas masks are all too real?

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Can you name these 18 places in Israel?

From Israel Video Network

How well do you know Israel? Can you guess the following locations from a single picture?

Take the Quiz.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Woman Hiking in Israel’s Galilee Thought She’d Stumbled on a Toy. She Soon Discovered She Had Made a 2,000-Year-Old ‘World Class Find.’

Sharona Schwartz for The Blaze

A woman hiking with friends in Israel’s Galilee region stumbled upon an extremely rare 2,000-year-old gold coin that offers a unique glimpse at the experience of soldiers serving in the Holy Land during the days of the Roman Empire.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said Monday that the coin — minted by Emperor Trajan in 107 A.D. in homage to Roman Empire founder Emperor Augustus whose image is on the front of the coin — was the second such coin ever found in the world.

Until now, the only known ancient gold coin of this kind was located in the British Museum.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

How the Fonz takes care of a plant smuggled out of Nazi Germany

Geoff Edgers, the Washington Post

“Everybody got a cutting.”

Henry Winkler is jumping back to West 78th Street now, telling the story of a plant. It’s not just the story of a plant, it’s likely the only story of a plant that includes an escape from Nazi Germany, the sitcom hero named the Fonz and the acclaimed Amazon series “Transparent.”

But let’s get back to the story.

“I grew up with a woman, Tanta Erma,” Winkler explains.

Erma wasn’t a blood relative. Almost all of Winkler’s extended family died during World War II. Harry and Ilse, his parents, somehow managed to escape. That was 1939. How close a call was it? Harry’s brother, who decided to wait an extra day to get his dinner jacket back from the cleaners, did not get out.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Arab League declares Hezbollah a terrorist organization

Decision near unanimous, save for ‘reservations’ from Lebanon and Iraq; comes days after similar move by Gulf states

By Times of Israel staff and AFP

The Arab League on Friday declared Lebanon-based Shiite group Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, a day after the Cairo-based body elected Ahmed Aboul Gheit, a former aide to ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, as its new leader.

Nearly all members of the pan-Arab body supported the decision, expect for Lebanon and Iraq, who expressed “reservations,” the 22-member bloc said in a statement read out at a news conference by Bahraini diplomat Wahid Mubarak Sayar.

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