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Jewish life in Israel and in the world, humor, news, and commentary in OneJerusalem.com

An Award for Jewish Educators

In 1994 the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) established the Jewish Educators Award as a way of acknowledging the work of outstanding educators who work in the field of Jewish education. The Award is presented annually to honor these individuals for the high quality of their work, their professional leadership, their community involvement and support of their schools’ families.

MFF, led by co-founder Lowell Milken believes that a Jewish Day School education will nourish a child’s Jewish identity as it guides the student to develop strong Jewish values and remain faithful to his Jewish heritage. To strengthen the Jewish Day School movement, MFF embarked on a project that would publicly honor some of the talented and dedicated educators who work tirelessly to make Jewish education an exciting and engaging experience for the students. The Award is intended to recognize the contributions that superior Jewish educators make to the Jewish community.

Award recipients include teachers, specialists and administers who work in Jewish Day School network. The Milken Foundation’s Jewish Educator’s Award has been presented to professionals representing almost 40 schools nationwide as a way of recognizing the recipients’ scholarship, creativity and compassion in their work.

In naming Award recipients the Milken Foundation considers the educator’s practices in the classroom as well the individual’s relationship with the school’s families and with the community. Educators are expected to demonstrate originality in their educational methods and leadership skills which influence policies that affect the school’s children, their families and the community.

Four educators are named to receive the Milken Educators Award each year. Nominees must teach in a Board of Jewish Education-affiliated school at the K-12 level. A committee of professional educators and lay community members select each year’s recipients who receive $15,000 each, together with the acknowledgement of the Milken Family Foundation and their own communities.

Yair Lapid’s Centrist Party Seizes Parliament Control

Yair Lapid’s Centrist Party Seizes Parliament Control

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu may still be in office, but there is no question his right-wing bloc took a hammering in the parliamentary elections. Netanyahu and his conservative Likud Party just barely pulled away with a victory despite news media analysis that his party would win by a landslide.

The Likud Party just barely snagged 31 seats in the 120-member Knesset. Yesh Atid made away with 19 seats, far more than what was predicted. Labor, the dominant party of the left, came in third with 15 seats.

The results clearly demonstrate the polarization among Israeli voters and present an opportunity for the centrist Yesh Atid party to break into the political landscape that has been dominated by Netanyahu’s right-wing faction.

Yesh Atid is led by Yair Lapid, a man who is no stranger to the camera. He is an ex-journalist, published author of seven books, talk show host and even had a brief stint as an amateur boxer. Unlike Netanyahu who emphasized on national security and the threat of Iran, Lapid’s priority was on issues that had a more direct effect on the people. This included issues regarding the rising cost of living, education reform and ending military service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The election campaign focused primarily on the economy and social issues with very little discussion about Iran and foreign affairs. There have also been discussions regarding the occupation of the West Bank, which Netanyahu has been criticized for after ordering the construction of an additional 4,500 settler homes. The election results also mean that Netanyahu may have to compromise when it comes to Palestinian’s demand for statehood. The Yesh Atid party is in favor of a return to negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the West Bank.

The new parliament is now virtually evenly split, which means there will certainly be heated discussions over issues like Iran and Israeli annexation of the West Bank.

Milken Archive Releases Oldest American Jewish Music in Existence

The Milken Archive of Jewish Music announces the release of a significant new project which provides new insights into the development of Jewish music during the pre-Independence and first century of post-Independence America. “The Song of Prayer in Colonial and 19th Century America” provides an opportunity to learn about the foundations of early American Jewish music through the music that accompanied the Jewish immigrants as well as the original compositions and melodies that emerged in America.

The Milken Archive has been documenting, preserving and disseminating music which relates to the American Jewish experience since 1990. The archive holds a large collection of American Jewish music including oral histories, video footage of performances and many of the archive’s own recordings. The goals of Lowell Milken founder of the Archive, include the research of American Jewish music, compilation of historical documentation and encouragement of academic research relating to the American Jewish music experience.

The Milken Archive’s new project, “The Song of Prayer in Colonial and 19th Century America” follows early Jewish immigrants who arrived in America during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Beginning with families who fled the turmoil caused by the Spanish Expulsion and following through to the development of America’s Reform Movement, the multimedia volume explores the musical traditions of America’s earliest Jewish settlers.

The first American Jewish immigrants arrived from Spain and Portugal, often by way of South and Central America. Their liturgies included tunes and melodies of the Western Sephardic traditions. During these years, Ashkanazi Jews who immigrated to America generally joined the existing Sephardic community and integrated into their institutions.

The volume also highlights the religious music which accompanied the 19th century wave of Jewish immigration. Many of these individuals were adherents of the new Reform movement and introduced new melodies sung in German, Hebrew and English. The first volume of “Song of Prayer in Colonial and 19th Century America” demonstrates how these Jews worshiped with music that was often arranged in the style of Protestant hymns or sung to tunes borrowed from classical compositions. These immigrants sought to create a distinctly Jewish-American liturgy and their music expresses the infusion of their heritage with their new life in America.

Girl Censorship in Haredi Press 2012

In a weird story of religious based censorship, a local newspaper blurred the faces of little girls that appeared in a toy store ad, without telling the store, drawing the ire of both customers and the chain. It seemed that this newspaper, which should be somewhat neutral in the process, angered everybody, and now the toy store Red Pirate is paying the price for it. This is a report of the recent events in Beit Shemesh.

It all started with innocent sounding ads, where boys and girls modeled some Purim costumes for a series of ads. These ads were then sent to Haredim papers, and that’s where the trouble began. According to the store, the newspaper board of editors took the decision to blur the girls faces, while the boys stayed fully exposed, without ever telling them about it. The firs to find out were those who read the paper and were shocked to see the advertisement. It didn’t take for many people in Beit Shemesh, where the papers are produced, to flock to the Red Pirate Facebook page and complain. One writes “I am a woman with a face, now I’ll know not to buy from your store!” Another asks “How disgusting.. Do you also spit on little girls?” The Facebook page in question was still growing daily with disappointed girls posting their thoughts.

Red Pirate meanwhile has to deal with the angry customers, while it claims it actually knew nothing of the situation. In a press release, the chain says that the newspaper took the decision and did not tell them about it. Meanwhile, the ultra-orthodox paper responds “Haredim won’t have an unclean paper enter their home.” indicating that it was done purposely. The protest meanwhile grew to impressive proportions in the community, and has no sign of stopping. It remains to be seen whether the paper will change it’s views or not on the issue, and whether the store will try to get financial reparation from Haredim. These types of cases often end up in court, as the store will no doubt suffer from loss sales because of this. Historically, there’s been many such calls for action from protest groups, and the stores affected usually see drops in sales.

This isn’t the first time religious based decisions lead to anger, and likely won’t be the last. Many religious texts prone things that have become known as unjust in modern civilizations, such as inequalities between men and women, or archaic practices. Often however, these religions change much slower than many would like to. One thing is certain, this event is more than likely not over, and we’ll see how each party handles this issue in the future.

Some Stories from the World

At the CIA headquarters in Langley, one of the most recently uncovered artifacts in the agency’s private museum is a message from a father to his toddler son. And, get this! The gold-embossed letterhead features a swastika and the name Adolf Hitler.

The letter reads:

“Dear Dennis… The man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe — three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins.”

Dennis is the 69-year-old Dennis Helms, intellectual-property barrister in New Jersey. The writer of the letter was his father, Richard Helms, the CIA director during the Vietnam War and Watergate eras, who died in 2002. Directly after Germany’s surrender, Lt. Helms, an intelligence operative, snuck into Hitler’s chancellery in Berlin and filched the Fuehrer’s stationery. He dated the letter “V-E day” for May 8, 1945.

The letter flabbergasted the CIA museum’s curatorial staff when it was first acquired in May. Mainly because it also conveyed a certain historical intuition about the evil which one man could do. The letter happened to arrive at Langley only one day after Osama bin Laden was discovered and shot to death in May.

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In other news, the cardinal who helms Vatican relations with Jews found himself in hot water during his very first United States visit in his new position. After a speech on theology and Jewish-Catholic dialogue at Seton Hall University, Swiss Cardinal, Kurt Koch, repeated a comment he made earlier this year in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Rabbi Alan Brill, a Seton Hall professor who assisted in organizing Koch’s talk.
Koch wrote that:

“Since the cross of Jesus erases any desire for vengeance and calls everyone to reconciliation, it rises above us as the permanent and universal Yom Kippur.”

Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni of Rome had erstwhile complained that Koch seemed to be indicating that Jews should consider Christian beliefs as definitive.

Hungarian Nazi Dies of Natural Causes

According to OneJerusalem.com sources, one Sandor Kepiro, former Hungarian war crimes suspect, wanted for his connection to the massacre of as many as 2,000 Serbs and Jews during World War two has died of natural causes. He died in Budapest on Saturday at the age of 97.

Kepiro was once the numeral uno most wanted man on the most wanted list at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles-based organization of Nazi hunters.

The center and Hungarian prosecutors said that Kepiro was a member of Hungary’s pro-Nazi police during World War Two; he was what is known as a gendarmerie. He was accused of participating in the January 1942 massacre and allegedly assisted in the dumping of the bodies into the icy Danube River. Kepiro was specifically accused of the murder of thirty people.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s top Nazi hunter found Sandor Kepiro living in Budapest in 2006 and he alerted the Hungarian authorities. He had returned to Hungary in 1996 after spending the post-war years in Argentina. However, Hungarian court dismissed Kepiro in July of this year, on grounds of a lack of evidence. Many of those in attendance at the court session cheered and clapped when Judge Bela Varga read out the verdict of the three-member tribunal.

However, the ruling by the Hungarian court ignited demonstrations in Budapest and Novi Sad, the town where the massacre took place. In January 1944, Kepiro and several other officers were convicted of disloyalty by a military court for their role in the Novi Sad raids. The 10-year prison sentence, originally applied to the deceased Hungarian, of which he served a few weeks in January 1944, was later annulled and his rank reinstated.

Prior to reading out the verdict, Mr. Varga said that Kepiro was brought to the tribunal by ambulance and had spent the past week in a hospital after being given the wrong medication.

In a statement read out by Kepiro’s psychologist, the accused said:

“I am innocent. I never killed, never stole. I served my country…because for him without Hungary there is no life.”

Prior to the Kepiro’s trial, the last man to be accused of Nazi-era war crimes was John Demjanjuk, a retired autoworker from Ohio. He was convicted in May of 2011 of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder by a court in Munich.

This week Demjanjuk became the subject of a new investigation, accusing him of guarding not only the Sobibor death camp, for which he has already been convicted, but also the Flossenbuerg concentration camp. This case was the first ever instance of someone being convicted on evidence of being a guard alone, sans evidence of any specific killing. Attorney Cornelius Nestler said that his goal in filing the new complaint was to expand the precedent to apply to concentration camp guards and death camp guards alike.

Upper East Side Inferno

East 85th Inferno
Last Monday, a ferocious four-alarm fire all but destroyed the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue on East 85th Street on the upper East Side in Manhattan. The blaze broke out at 8:30 pm. Originally constructed in 1901, the synagogue has been closed since May for renovations scheduled for September completion. Thank God, the synagogue’s religious artifacts were housed elsewhere.

East 85th InfernoThe congregation, whose rabbi converted Ivanka Trump to Judaism before her marriage to Jared Kushner, has more than 1,200 members. The source of the blaze is still under investigation reports the New York Daily News.

Chillin’ in the Hood: Russell Crow

A proposed ban last November on circumcision in San Francisco is not restricted to just the city on the Bay. Santa Monica could actually be the first American city to see the ban make it onto the ballot.

The nonprofit MGM or Male Genital Mutilation Bill has called for circumcision bans on a national level. Early in 2011, the nonprofit’s regional directors around the country submitted proposed bills to 2,800 different legislators in a host of states and in the U.S. Congress.

Recently, actor Russell Crowe decided to opine about what he calls a “barbaric and stupid” tradition. On Twitter, Crowe slammed those who practice circumcision, saying it is an “immoral” practice.

Responding to those who told Crowe that circumcision was done for hygienic reasons, he retorted “Hygienic? Why don’t you sew up your a** then”

When other twitter followers mentioned the Bris ceremony, when a newborn Jewish boy is circumcised, he wrote:

“Honestly you are comparing sexual mutilation with a Jewish ceremonial act?! F**K that. The Mayans had ceremonial acts too!”

Crowe also wrote:

“I love my Jewish friends, I love the apples and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting your babies @eliroth”

Yeshiva Scandal Will Work In Favor Of Yeshiva Bachors

According to a recent report from the Ministry of Education, a state-funded yeshiva recorded nearly 10,000 “ghost workers” on whose behalf the yeshivas received scholarships. According to Treasury estimates, the damage came to something like 55 million shekels a year.

According to reports from Israel’s economic media, this amount will not be returned to the budget of the Ministry of Education, and will actually remain in the yeshiva.

The Ministry of Finance and the Knesset approved a financial decision that the yeshivas obtained funds fraudulently, but the funds nevertheless, will be used to increase the benefits of the students who do learn in these institutions. The Stipend for each student will grow at 60 shekels a month to 515 shekels a month.

Is anti-Semitism on the Rise or Decrease in Venezuela?

A Jewish advocacy group in Venezuela is protesting a state-run radio broadcast referencing the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

The Venezuelan Confederation of Israelite Associations filed a formal complaint with the Public Ministry denouncing the broadcast in which journalist Cristina Gonzalez read the anti-Semitic text and suggested listeners should read it:

“Venezuelan Jews know that promoting this anti-Semitic document only sows hate and discrimination, violating the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela…I do not have an anti-Semitic stance, I’m not anti-anything, I read everything that falls my way…”

Salomon Cohen, the confederation president requested a formal investigation into the matter and a meeting with government officials.

Last year, President Hugo Chavez met with Jewish community representatives to discuss what they described as an “incessant barrage of anti-Semitic commentaries” on state-run media. As a positive result, there was a detectable decrease in anti-Semitic rhetoric. Increasing diplomatic signals from the Chavez government explained that relations between the Jewish community and the revolutionary state of Venezuela were improving.

However, Venezuelan anti-Semitism seems to be brewing again among the most radical elements of government supporters as Chavez gets ready for a reelection campaign next year.

Beck to the Rescue

Glenn Beck will be holding a major rally in Israel in August.

He said recently:

“Things in Israel are going to get bad…it’s only a matter of time…They are going to attack the center of our faith, our common faith, and that is Jerusalem. And it won’t be with bullets or bombs. It will be with a two-state solution that cuts off Jerusalem, the old city, to the rest of the world…It is time to return inside the walls that surround Jerusalem and stand with people of all faiths all around the world.”

The event will be called “Restoring Courage,” a spinoff of last summer’s “Restoring Honor” rally held on 8/28 in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, last Sunday, Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, TX devoted an entire service to honoring the Jewish State. Pro-Palestinian protesters got the scoop and showed up at the service, planting themselves in the audience, and standing to shout anti-Israel messages.

OneJerusalem.com Jew of the Year: Richard Goldstone

South African corporate and intellectual property barrister and judge, head of United Nations Human Rights Council fact finding crusade for Operation Cast Lead and 21st century bard, Richard Goldstone, has much of Israel singing a familiar tune. The “See I Told To You So Blues.”

Richard Goldstone as fruhmHis Op-Ed in the Washington Post last week was sent to the wrong newspaper. Why wouldn’t Goldstone have sent it to Yediut Achronot or Haaretz? Does the South African Jew not know Hebrew? Does he need ulpan? Nefesh bNefesh perhaps?

Goldstone wrote:

“To be clear: Our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding. We did not investigate criminal conduct on the part of any individual in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank. We made our recommendations based on the record before us, which unfortunately did not include any evidence provided by the Israeli government.”

So Goldstone said, “whoops, I forgot to let the Judenräte explain itself.”

He also wrote:

“I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes…”

Justice Goldstone gave the impression that Israel is an acerbic cum sadistic child-killing pariah state, that carpet bombs refugee camps stuffed with innocent Arabs (the punching bag of Hitler’s victims as it where). Hitler’s victims that sell the organs of Palestinian children.

However the United Nations is resolute in its artful, underhanded anti-Semitism. The very same UNHRC which:

“Commissioned an investigation of Israel’s 2009 incursion into Gaza will continue to treat it as a legitimate working document, even though the lead author has backtracked from some of the report’s most damning allegations against Israel.”

In other words, they will continue to damn Israel.

“U.N. reports are not canceled on the basis of an op-ed in a newspaper,” said one representative.

Bibi told his cabinet that Goldstone’s article in The Washington Post was a rare instance “in which those who disseminate libels retract their libel.”

He said:

“This leads us to call for the immediate cancellation of the Goldstone report…”

Ironic timing though. Operation Cast Lead was in response to hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians. Israel is still, two years later, under an almost-constant rain of rockets fired from Gaza.

Click here to see how Israel responds to post-Operation Cast Lead bullying.

Austria to Renovate Mauthausen

The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that in a $2.4 million restoration project, Austria is to renovate the site of the Mauthausen concentration camp.

Mauthausen  LiberationThe two-year project includes building a hall of names in memory of the camp’s victims, similar to the one at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and a new display about the Shoah and upgradings of the permanent exhibition.

A statement on the website of the Austrian Interior Ministry said:

“We are sending a signal that the republic is assuming its national and international responsibility to commemorate the victims of the Nazi regime,” Interior Minister Maria Fekter said in a statement. “We are also standing against intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism.”

At least 95,000 prisoners died in Mauthausen; more than 14,000 of whom were Jewish. About 200,000 people visit Mauthausen each year.

Song of a Prisoner

Alan GrossLast month, Alan Gross, a 61 year-old US aid contractor was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison for crimes against the state. After a two-day trial, a panel of judges accused the American Jew of being involved in a US-funded “subversive project” to “topple the Revolution.” Actually, Gross was working for the Bethesda, Maryland-based Development Alternatives, Inc. on a USAID-backed democracy-building project. He was hired under an $8.6 million contract.

Bonnie Goldstein of PoliticsDaily.com, wrote last year, of the project, from the American perspective:

“Since 1996, a small effort to stick our thumb in the island’s eye developed with the formation of a “Cuba democracy program” within USAID to deliver “humanitarian aid” and “information” to “human rights and political activists” and families of dissidents. For years the democracy program’s budget, about $2 million to start with, was funneled into grants to Cuban American groups in Miami that ostensibly used the money to somehow promote freedoms for Cubans still on the island.”

Unfortunately, program funds were misused. A 2006 audit and investigation by the GAO highlighted taxpayer monies used to purchase Godiva chocolates, Nintendo GameBoys and cashmere sweaters. An alleged embezzlement scheme by another grantee was discovered in 2008, leading a member of the House to challenge USAID’s annual program allocation, which had by then grown to $45 million per year. The agency agreed to more closely monitor its contractors, and soon after Alan Gross was hired via DAI to travel to Cuba.

He was convicted of “acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state” for setting up covert Internet networks for Cuba dissidents utilizing “sophisticated” communications technology. The prosecutors sought a 20-year sentence for the worker, who has been jailed since his Havana arrest on December 3, 2009.

Immediately, the United States, who contended Gross was only setting up Internet access for the island’s Jewish community, came to his defense.

CubaThis week, former US President, Jimmy Carter, (famous for criticizing Israeli policy) is scheduled to meet with Jewish leaders in Cuba concerning Gross. According to the agenda, Carter is scheduled to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro and Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega before leaving on Wednesday.

The trip is under the aegis of the Carter Center, who insist the trip’s aim is to discuss economic policies and improve relations between the US and Cuba.

US officials insist that the 15-year sentence imposed on Gross is a “stumbling block to any rapprochement…” between the nations.

In a statement welcoming Carter’s mission, Gross’s wife, Judy, said:

“If he is able to help Alan in any way while he is there, we will be extraordinarily grateful,” she said in the emailed statement. “Our family is desperate for Alan to return home, after nearly 16 months in prison. We continue to hope and pray that the Cuban authorities will release him immediately on humanitarian grounds.”

Last month, the Reverend Jesse Jackson also complained to Cuba concerning the situation; saying “granting him freedom on humanitarian grounds could open the door for better relations.”

He said:

“I am not making a legal case. I am making a humanitarian plea, a moral appeal…I hope that Raul [Castro] and the governing officials see the advantage of letting him go. Every time a prisoner is let go, it opens the door for increased dialogue and possibilities.”

This Week Around the World

Jews in Danger

Last week in London, two men were arrested by the police when a pro-Israel protester, standing outside the School of Oriental and African studies was bitten on the cheek and subsequently taken to the hospital.

Four members of the organization, Stand With Us, decided to go to SOAS after
learning that a Celebrate Palestine event was going down – part of Israel Apartheid Week. Two of these Jewish gentlemen, Tony Coren and Gili Brenner, went into the university and held a conversation with the student
participants.

Palestinian child

“We had placards and some information packs, and we had some very interesting and civilised discussions,” said Mr. Coren. However, the situation quickly, unexpectedly turned antagonistic, “About four or five people were standing around Gili, Ro’i Goldman, and the fourth member of our group, Dean Gold. One man
began to say some extremely unpleasant things about Jews. He said that
the best thing the Jews had ever done was to go into the gas chambers.
Dean asked if he could film him. The man said yes, adding that ‘these
things should be heard
.'”

“Another man then came forward and told the abusive man that he did not
have to be filmed or interviewed. Despite the abusive man agreeing to be
filmed, Mr Coren said, the second man, who was “big and burly and of
Middle East appearance,” allegedly launched himself at Dean, grabbing at his
camera, punching him and then biting him on the cheek….There was a struggle and the university security guards came out. A number of other people then began to say we shouldn’t be there. The president of the union came out and said we had made our point. A policeman strongly advised us to leave.”

Jenni Frazer, of the Jewish Chronicle Online, reported:

“Ro’i Goldman, who plans to study in the UK next year, said he was very shocked by the experience. But Tony Coren said he was not shocked, but was angry that the university authorities had indicated that by their very presence, the Stand With Us
protesters had possibly provoked the attack.”

Meanwhile, an IDF officer suffered slight injuries on Yom Purim during a scuffle on Yehuda Hayamit Street in Jaffa. A captain in the Armored Corps, the officer was attacked from behind by an unidentified assailant while sitting on a bench. The assailant stabbed him once in the chest and snatched his rifle.

The officer was evacuated to the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Beyond the Palin

Meanwhile, 2008 vice Presidential nominee, former Alaskan governor, and American Republican Party mogul, Sarah Palin visited the Kotel on Purim. She is scheduled to have dinner with Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife on Monday. Reuters reported that she said Israel is “too apologetic.”

Reuters Has the Scoop

Meanwhile, on Saturday night, Hamas men broke into a Reuters office in Gaza and assaulted one journalist, clobbering him with a metal pole and breaking his arm.

Hamas is divided over Mahmoud Abbas’ offer to visit Gaza and conduct conference with Hamas leaders about the formation of a Palestinian Unity government.

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