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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