Monday, January 24, 2011

Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Pope mourns death of Roman Jewish leader

Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Pope mourns death of Roman Jewish leader: "Pope Benedict XVI has sent a message of condolence to the Jewish community of Rome upon the death of Tullia Zevi, the former president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, who died on January 22 at the age of 91.

The Pope recalled Zevi—who was a noted author and journalist as well as a Jewish community leader—for “her exalted moral profile and authoritative contribution to the development of values of democracy, peace and freedom in Italian society, and to sincere and profound dialogue between Jews and Christians.”"

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Echoes of the 30s as rabbi warns German Jews not to wear identifiable religious symbols after spate of neo-Nazi attacks

Echoes of the 30s as rabbi warns German Jews not to wear identifiable religious symbols after spate of neo-Nazi attacks
By Allan Hall
Last updated at 5:07 PM on 6th January 2011
The Daily Mail

Jews living near the German capital Berlin are being warned not to wear items of clothing that identify their religion as fears of neo-Nazi attacks rise.

Sixty five years after the end of World War Two and the Holocaust, a leading rabbi in the state of Brandenburg is urging Jews not to wear yarmulkes (skullcaps), traditional long coats, hats or other 'identifying symbols'.

First black female rabbi to leave congregation

First black female rabbi to leave congregation
January 6, 2011
(JTA) -- The first African-American female rabbi will leave her congregation this summer.

Rabbi Alysa Stanton's contract with Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville, S.C., was not renewed, the Forward reported Thursday.

"We felt Rabbi Stanton has brought a lot of gifts to the congregation, but we felt she wasn’t a good fit for the direction we’re going,” board president Samantha Pilot told the Forward. “I can tell you with certainty that race -- I never heard that come up once during her tenure or now. It’s a non-issue."

Bayt Shalom is a small Conservative congregation that also is affiliated with the Reform movement.

Stanton said she will serve out her contract, which expires at the end of July.

Stanton, 47, a convert and mother to an adopted teenage daughter, was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in June 2009, and took up her full-time pulpit shortly thereafter.

The former Pentecostal Christian converted 20 years ago while in college. She is a trained psychotherapist who specializes in trauma and grief.

Monsey Rabbi Visits Virginia

Leading Rabbis from Monsey, NY visit VA
January 6th, 2011 9:32 am ET
By Joseph Kolakowski, Richmond Examiner

This past Tuesday, January 4, 2011, Richmond had the distinct and rare honor to host Rabbi Moshe Green, Dean of the Yeshivah of Monsey, in Monsey, NY, one of the leading Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis in the US today. It is extremely rare for Rabbi Green to leave Monsey, or to leave NY at all, particularly since he has suffered two strokes and uses a wheelchair, and this was a tremendous blessing to the community. Despite his physical disabilities and ailments, Rabbi Green delivers a highly advanced Talmudic lecture daily in his Yeshivah (rabbinical seminary) in Monsey, NY. Rabbi Green was accompanied by his son Rabbi Abraham Green and his grandson Rabbi Jacob Flohr. The were driven by car from Monsey to Baltimore, MD, where they slept for a few hours, and continued in the pre-dawn hours to Virginia, where they participated in the daily 7:15 am prayer service at the Yeshiva of Virginia in the Near West End of Richmond. After the prayer service, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Chait, the Dean of the Yeshiva of Virginia and a former resident of Monsey, NY, introduced Rabbi Green, and Rabbi Green spoke a few words of inspiration based on the Book of Exodus from the Bible, which is the current Torah portion in Synagogues around the world. He spoke of the Israelite's freedom from Egypt leading to their service to God, and compared it to the freedom that servitude to God through Torah study and observance gives us from our own egos and desires. It was particularly noteworthy that Rabbi Green delivered his words in English, because his main language in New York is Yiddish. A video of Rabbi Green's words can be found here. He then gave individual blessings to the students and local rabbis who were present.

New trendy non-kosher menus inspired by Jewish canon

Nikki Cascone, 38 years old, opened Octavia's Porch in the East Village and Michael Psilakis, 42, launched Fish Tag on the Upper West Side within days of each other. Both chefs are borrowing from the Jewish canon without going kosher. They've modernized kreplach and smoked fish, giving buzz to Bubbe's best.

Pictures and more after the jump
—Melanie Grayce West
Wall Street Journal
January 6, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rabbi Tendler: Rabbis don't have the necessary background to understand brain-stem death

YU ethics expert censures rabbis over brain-stem death
Rabbi Dr. Tendler determined that brain-stem death constitutes halachic death; "our rabbis don't have the necessary background to understand it."

Scientific ignorance can be dangerous, especially when people with inadequate knowledge are faced with and decide upon questions that demand expertise.

So how is it that some rabbis, who are great Torah scholars but not necessarily medical experts, claim to overrule science in determining the moment of a person’s death, regarding questions of organ donation? A conference at the Bar-Ilan University on Tuesday, part of its Nitzozot study series, dealt with case studies in Jewish bioethical decision-making: brain-death and advanced genetic management.

In the early 1990, Rabbi Dr. Moshe D. Tendler – a biology professor and Jewish medical ethics expert at the Yeshiva University, and rosh yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary – developed for the Rabbinical Council of America a health care proxy that determined that brain-stem death constituted halachic death. A few months ago, a special committee of the RCA, composed of members who do not have the scientific credentials of Tendler, backed away from its previous stance.

Chicago Schedules Marathon for Day after Yom Kippur

Jewish runners: Will you run the Chicago Marathon?
Julie Deirdoff
Chicago Tribune
January 4, 2011

Some Jewish runners are concerned that the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will conflict with Yom Kippur, Chicago Tribune reporter William Lee wrote in "Hurdle arises for Jewish marathon runners."

The annual 26.2-mile run is scheduled for Oct. 9, the day after The Jewish Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur "requires worshippers to fast, abstaining from food and drink for a 25-hour period, and observant runners will only be able to break the fast the night before the marathon," Lee wrote.

Experts gave conflicting views on whether it's safe to run a marathon after prolonged fasting. According to Lee's piece, Dr. Sara Brown, a sports physician in Lincoln Park, said fasting runners should sit out the marathon, adding that long runs after fasting can be dangerous.

"That's what I would recommend to anybody that would be observing the holiday," Brown said. "I wouldn't recommend running 26 miles the next day."

However, Chicago marathon Race Director Dr. George Chiampas said some runners who fast can run the next day and that a 24-hour fast would not harm the body enough to be dangerous if a runner has the proper nutrients.

"If they've done it in the past, and they feel they can get back to baseline, that should suffice," Chiampas said. "It's not a generalization for every runner.

NYC Sanit. dept. dumped tons of snow on Jewish cemetery

Sanit. dept. dumped tons of snow on Jewish cemetery

Even the dead can't escape the ineptitude of the city's Sanitation Department.

Sanit crews dumped tons of dirty snow from the Chirstmas weekend blizzard into the city’s biggest Jewish cemetery, toppling 21 gravestones and wrecking an iron fence.

Jerusalem boxing club unites Jews and Arabs in and out of the ring

Jerusalem boxing club unites Jews and Arabs in and out of the ring
By Joel Greenberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 4, 2011; 12:48 PM

JERUSALEM - In a converted bomb shelter in a low-income Jewish neighborhood, Ismail Jaafari, a Palestinian boxer from across town, bobbed and weaved in the ring, trading punches with an Israeli opponent.

They were sparring at a local boxing club that is something of an anomaly in this ethnically divided city: a place where both Jews and Arabs pursue a shared passion. Palestinians from East Jerusalem have earned their boxing credentials at the club, training with Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants, bearded yeshiva students and settlers from the West Bank.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Aharon Friedman: Give Tamar a Get

Religious Divorce Dispute Leads to Secular Protest
January 3, 2011
New York Times

This should have been a good New Year’s for Aharon Friedman, a 34-year-old tax counsel for the Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee. He spent time with his 3-year-old daughter, and could have been thinking about the influence he will have starting Wednesday, when his boss, Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, becomes chairman of the powerful tax-writing committee.

Instead, Mr. Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, finds himself scrutinized in the Jewish press, condemned by important rabbis, and attacked in a YouTube video showing about 200 people protesting outside his Silver Spring, Md., apartment on Dec. 19. They were angered by Mr. Friedman’s refusal to give his wife, Tamar Epstein, 27, a Jewish decree of divorce, known as a get.

Gangsta rapper Shyne, now an Orthodox Jew, plans comeback

Gangsta rapper Shyne, now an Orthodox Jew, plans comeback
January 3, 2011

It was early on during his difficult, isolated years in prison that the former gangsta rapper known as Shyne decided to formally take on the laws of Judaism as his own.

Shyne, who legally changed his name in prison from Jamaal Barrows to Moses Levi—Moses is one of his favorite biblical heroes, and Levi is for the Levites who were musicians during Temple times—remembers the initial skepticism he encountered from prison rabbis at New York’s Rikers Island, where he was first incarcerated, and the other prison rabbis that would follow.

“In prison culture, everyone is trying to make a scam, everyone is a con artist, so who is this dark-skinned guy they wondered? Does he just want the Jewish food?” asks Levi, now cloaked in the black garb of a Chasidic Jew and living in Jerusalem.

Journey into Morocco's past at the New York Center for Jewish History

Journey inro Morocco's past at the New York Center for Jewish History
Sunday, 2 January 2011 12:41
by Norman L. Greene
Morocco Board News

New York / Morocco Board News- Sometimes a museum exhibit invites us to inquire further and uncover a body of knowledge that was always there, that others have studied for decades (if not centuries), and that changes the way we look at things. The small but well-designed museum exhibit, Looking Back: The Jews of Morocco held at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, running through April 18, 2011, is one of these “inviting” museum exhibits.

Taken together with the masterful and lyrical opening night keynote address by University of Oklahoma Professor Norman A. Stillman introducing it on October 14, 2010, the exhibit is recommended for all who are interested in the subject of Jews in Morocco or the Sephardic Jewish experience in North Africa.[1] This article will give an overview of the event and add context with supplemental sources.

Interview with Rabbi of the Sana'a Jews of Yemen

Interview with Rabbi of the Sana'a Jews of Yemen
The once large Jewish community of Yemen numbers a mere few hundred today

The Media Line
Written by Felice Friedson
Published Monday, January 03, 2011

SANA’A, Yemen -- By most estimates, only several hundred Jews remain in Yemen today, split into two communities that have little to do with each other. An enclave numbering fewer than 100 Jews is located in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital city. Its residents, the remainder of the community of Sa’ada, were forced to leave their homes by the Houthis, who in 2004, began a rebellion against the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom they claimed was “an ally of the Americans and the Jews.” Sana’a Jews, who claim their property was confiscated by the Houthis, live in a closed compound under the protection of the government. They are funded and influenced in religious observance by Satmar Hasidim.

The Media Line’s Felice Friedson interviewed Rabbi Yahe Yousif Mousa, the spiritual leader of the Sana’a community, in Yemen’s capital.

The modern trials of the ancient Samaritans

The modern trials of the ancient Samaritans
By Helena Merriman
BBC News, Nablus
3 January 2011 Last updated at 05:36 ET

The Samaritan community has lived in the Middle East for thousands of years - but they are having to find new ways to secure their future, Helena Merriman reports from the West Bank.

On 8 November 2001, during the second intifada (uprising), Joseph Cohen, a 56-year-old Samaritan, was driving home from the Palestinian town of Nablus.

"When I was almost home, I came across two Palestinian boys and they shot me," he says. "The blood ran from me like water."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Podcast: The Guardian (UK) reviews the Jewish highs and lows of 2010

Sounds Jewish: December 2010
Jason Solomons is joined by Jonathan Freedland as he reviews the Jewish highs and lows of 2010

The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland joins Jason Solomons to look back at a year in which Jewish people took centre stage politically and culturally. Listen to it here.

Read highlights below.

Did the human race start in Israel?

The chosen people
Might the human race have started in Israel?
Sunday, January 02, 2011
By Jack Kelly, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Archeologists digging in a cave in central Israel said Monday they've found teeth 400,000 years old they think belonged to a Homo sapiens.

If they're right, then modern man is roughly twice as old as previously thought and didn't originate in Africa, as contemporary scientific theory postulates. The oldest Homo sapiens remains found in Africa are about 200,000 years old.