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

Trumah and Truth

In 2010, American philanthropists donated approximately $3.3 billion to charity – and 19 of the 53 top givers were Jews. George Soros ranked first with $332 million contributed in 2010.

Top DonorsNew York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was No. 2 with $279.2 million. Irwin and Joan Jacobs, Eli and Edythe Broad, and Leonard Blavatnik, respectively took places four through six, with $117 million to $119 million in donations.

But are American Jews not doing enough for other Jews? Stephen and Nancy Grand gave more than $20 million of their $28 million of their charitable donations in 2010 to the American Technion Society, that supports the Technion: Israel Institute for Technology. Whereas, Soros gave $1 million to World ORT in September, and Bloomberg gave a smaller donation to the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged, their gifts to Jewish organizations made-up a small proportion of their overall giving.

Hedge fund manager, William Ackman and his wife Karen gave away $59.3 million last year. At 44, Ackman is one of Wall Street’s toughest players and a regular on the dais of the UJA-Federation of New York’s annual Wall Street banquet. He made his most significant Jewish contribution in the past year, directing a move to bail out the Center for Jewish History in New York from its $30 million debt with a gift of $6.8 million.

Irwin Jacobs, founder of Qualcomm, gave a $100 million-plus San Diego Symphony with a $100 million-plus gift last decade, he and his wife, Joan, have chosen to give away most of their savings through a donor-advised fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego, where Joan Jacobs is a board member. Last year, they gave the fund $39.1 million, which will be spent on both Jewish and nonsectarian causes.

Here is the list of Jews gracing the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy 50 top givers of 2010, with their rank and total philanthropic contributions in 2010:


George Soros, $332m

Michael R. Bloomberg, $279.2m

Irwin M. and Joan K. Jacobs, $119.5m

Eli and Edythe L. Broad, $118.3m

Leonard Blavatnik, $117.2m

Meyer and Renee Luskin, $100.5m

Marc R. and Lynne Benioff, $100m

Mark Zuckerberg, $100m

William A. and Karen Ackman, $59.3m

Charles E. Kaufman, $53.3m

Lawrence J. Ellison, $45.1m

Lee G. and Jane H. Seidman, $42m

Lin Arison, $39m

Herman Ostrow, $35m

Stephen and Nancy Grand, $28.1m

David M. Rubenstein, $26.6m

Paul and Daisy M. Soros, $25m

Iris Cantor, $20m

Richard A. and Susan P. Friedman, $20m

Friendship & Kabbalah The Ever Growing Tradition

Dancing Group of Religious Men in IsraelTwo weeks ago, the New York Times had an article about Kabbalistic dancers, it was a reminder of the ubiquity and diversity of the various forms of this ancient mysticism; today, Kabbalah is not just a red-string on the left wrist of Ashton Kutcher, it connects to various aspects of our lives in ways that are sometimes hard to foretell and are always interesting and enriching.

Two of the main fields Kabbalah has always had a hold in are art and jewelry, spiritual home decor and jewelry engraved with verses or blessed with special meaning for a certain purpose. In such a popular and long-established world it’s hard to create something new, but like the Kabbalah modern dancing group, examples of creativity are out there waiting to be found.

Kabbalah Friendship Bracelet by MIZZE
Mizze Jewelry, a company in Israel recently created a new line of handmade jewelry that combines two very traditional and popular ideas, the red string strand from Rachel’s Tomb and the friendship bracelet we all know and love, the result is what they call the Kabbalah Friendship Bracelet.
How is it done you wonder, well, within the hand knit friendship bracelet given by men and women of all ages throughout the world, runs a single Red String strand believed to offer the wearer protection and ward off spiritual harm.

What caught my eye about the combination is the fact that the idea marries a worldwide cultural tradition to the ancient Kabbalah mystical tradition while managing to preserve the beauty and uniqueness of each, love and friendship are interweaved with good fortune and safekeeping.

An Unusual Sign From Graves of Tzaddikim

Graves of Tzaddikim

More Regarding Nixon’s anti-Semitism

Last week, White House documents were released from the Richard Nixon presidential library, bearing unknown details about his aversion towards Jews and his concern about exposing more details on John F. Kennedy’s policy on Vietnam and Cuba.

Richard NixonAccording to the documents, president Nixon ordered his aides to keep Jewish Americans excluded from all Israel policy-making.

Formerly classified notes taken by then-chief of staff H. R. “Bob” Haldeman, from a meeting with the president in July 1971 read:

“No Jew can handle the Israeli thing…” Later in the one-page excerpt, Mr. Haldeman wrote, “Forget the Jews — they’re against the administration”.

That proviso was explicitly referring to then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger, and included plans to keep him out of the loop: “get K. out of the play — Haig handle it,” says one note, referring to then-aide Alexander Haig.

Apparently – unbeknownst to him – despite being excluded by the president from matters regarding Israel policy on account of his ethnicity, Kissinger has defended Nixon against charges of Antisemitism.

These documents are just now seeing the light of day, yet as the Jewish world may recall, on October 5, 1999, 445 hours of tapes recorded by Richard Nixon were released in which he repeatedly made antisemitic remarks. Nixon had said Washington “is full of Jews” and “most Jews are disloyal“.

Can you imagine catching wind of Barack Obama slandering the ethnicity of former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel?

Slouching Towards Apartheid

Whether you realize it or not, if you are a Jew living in the Diaspora, you are living in peril. Jews living in Israel should keep on smiling, having great ideas and loving their children.

Here are some examples of what I mean. Take Europe for instance, where recently a government-funded Catholic school in Antwerp hosted a ‘Palestine Day,’ sated with anti-Semitic activities for youngsters. In one stall was “Throw the soldiers into the sea”, where kids were invited to throw effigies of IDF soldiers into two large tanks.

In Sweden, an event for children in the Jewish community of Malmo was interrupted by shouts of “Heil Hitler” and “Jewish Pigs.”

Ilmar Reepalu, the newly elected mayor of that Swedish city said “we accept neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism,” equating thereby by Zionism with racism.

Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress said

“Small Jewish communities are facing a situation where they are being physically, verbally and psychologically threatened by fundamentalist elements and their extreme left-wing cohorts on one side and the far-right neo-Nazis on the other.”

He continued,

“If they can’t receive protection or respite from mainstream officials then we are entering a very dark period for the Jews in Europe.”

Kantor, who is hosting a conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia later this month about effective practices in fighting racism and xenophobia said, European Union and European leaders should “launch a campaign against intolerance and anti-Semitism to remind European citizens that the new Europe was established after the Second World War on the concept of ‘Never Again.'”

Say it to my Facebook

Meanwhile, Simon Wiesenthal Center researchers have uncovered about two-dozen Facebook sites with titles like “Kill a Jew Year” and “Kill a Jew Day” in just one week.

“Some have been posted from the United States, others from the United Kingdom,”

Reported Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and director of the Jewish Human Rights NGO’s Digital Terrorism and Hate project.

“Facebook officials have been very cooperative in removing these calls for anti-Jewish violence, but the hate continues to sprout at an alarming rate. We know they are committed to thwarting online bigotry, but if such a trend continues, we will urge Facebook and other social networking hubs to track and preempt online bigots more aggressively.”

Bringin’ it all back home

And concerning Jews in Israel, Noam Shalit, father of Gilad Shalit, IDF captive being held in Gaza since 2006, complained recently that the European Union hasn’t done enough to pressure Hamas. However, he said

“When there is a need to pressure Israel, the European Union knows how to do that very well.”

In the United States, anti-Semitism is less severe; it is reduced to isolated attacks of violence, yet a post-Holocaust trend of anti-Zionism has left its mark in a more inconspicuous way.

When Jimmy Carter, who will be visiting Israel this week, wrote his book in 2006, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” , Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League was quick to have the former president apologize to Israel and Diaspora Jews for the “stigma” the book and its subsequent publicity may have caused them.

In those four years, applying the term ‘Apartheid’ to the Zionist cause has gone beyond ‘wha’ or edginess. It is hip, it is soon to be a norm – and in no consideration of actual facts, I might add. Heck, there is even a Wikipedia page now dedicated to just this. That is to say, I’ve never seen side-by-side Arab and Jewish drinking fountains or parking spaces. Though I’ve noticed the security barrier has reduced terrorism in the Jewish country, some 92 to 97%.

On August 31th, Thomas L. Friedman, the Jewish, sometimes-supporter of Israeli policy, wrote in his New York Times column of the Israeli right-wing, (an educated assumption)

“The opponents want to destroy the idea of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, so Israel will be stuck with an apartheid-like, democracy-sapping, permanent occupation of the West Bank.”

Whether Peace Talks fell under Abu Mazen’s faint-heartedness or the pressure of Hamas, (or perhaps Bibi whispered something in Abbas’ ear, such as “go back to Saudi Arabia, you dog”) Friedman who supported the Lebanon invasion and Operation Cast Lead just wanted to sound young and hip, so he used the term apartheid; thereby propelling a Liberal American mentality yet one-step closer to further isolation, misunderstanding and eventually resentment toward Zionism and the Jewish State; which can and will act under its own auspices – that is to say, the US is Israel’s biggest ally, but not her boss.

(Even counting the self-interested US as a confidante is something that opposition-Kadima leader, Tzippi Livni has recently warned Bibi about). And as if the soul of the Jewish-American population has not become diluted enough, today 50% of all American Jews wed outside the faith.

A frightening hint of things to come…

Email from Berlin

Hi,

We are well and thank you for the recommendation…

Berlin is a beautiful and edgy city. There is lots to see here. We went to 4 museums so far and today we went for a walk in their Tiergarten park, sort of like central park, beautiful and bigger actually.
The city is huge, its 900 sq. kilometers and has 3.6 million citizens. It also gets 9 million tourists a year…

We took the bus city tour pass, like we always do, and we got a feel for the city. Of course we also got the 3 day museum pass so we can go to as many museums as we want in 3 days. It’s amazing to see how Hitler and the Nazi party fucked this city up in every aspect possible. The city zoo, one of the biggest collection with over 4500 species was cut down to 70. The national museums were all but destroyed and the works of arts they had collected were taken by the allied forces or destroyed. In the center of the city there is a church which was bombed and they intentionally leave it like that, the roof and towers are in pieces and they keep it that way to remember. And of course, the huge mark of shame – the Berlin Wall, that cut this city in half and is still noticeable today.

The city is young but you see older people who have a good life. They go out to restaurants and enjoy the city.

The weather is beautiful, fall and changing colors. Yesterday was sunny and you see the locals all run out and sit along the Spree river and enjoy the last days of sun before the winter. The park was all orange and yellow and it was beautiful.

Yesterday, we went to a shopping areas called Hackensack Market in the Mitte district, what once was East Berlin, and it was great. You walk around between residential buildings in courtyards and each with little boutiques and specialty stores. The area is an East Berlin revamped suburb, young and edgy. We finished the evening in a good Thai restaurant..

We are staying in the Charlottenberg district, right off the Kurfustedam. West Berlin’s very high end street. Sort of the 5th avenue or Madison Avenue of Berlin. We are staying in a very modern hotel called XXX hotel and on the corner of our street is Cartier. The street is 3.5 KM and you can find every major fashion designer and brand on this street. XXX was very busy and visited them all :)

We enjoy a great breakfast every morning, salmon, cold meats and cheese, fresh bread and eggs and bacon. We have Wireless Internet everywhere in the hotel and its really great. When you walk into the corridor the lights turn on to conserve energy and the room looks on to a green treed courtyard (since we are here for a week they upgraded our room).

The first place we went to was the Jewish Museum, interesting place and the 3rd most popular museum in the city.. Its a significant part of the Museum trail here. German kids were there and they are all taken there to see and learn. Some don’t want to be there but at least they are taken there. Berlin had 180,000 Jews when the war started. Today there are 14,000 Jews… when you go to the museum and you see some of the pictures and stories of Jews in the city, you start to recognize the names of the streets they mention.. It’s eery..

You come across the effects of the war and that period of shame all the time. We went to the Helmut Newton exhibition, It’s Berlin’s photography museum. He was a Berliner Jew who left to Australia and became one of the best known photographers in the world. He lived in Paris, Monte Carlo and LA but not Berlin. His mother got him out of the country after things got dangerous in Berlin when he was young… Must really burn their ass..

Everything in Berlin is under construction! I mean everything.. They are building all the time and everywhere. It is once again the Capital of Germany and the Bundestag is the parliament. It’s also the festival of lights this week so they light up the main buildings at night and its beautiful. One thing that was a little creepy was the Brandenburg Gate. The gate with the 4 horses at the top and what once had the Nazi emblem. I saw a photo of it in 1945 right at the end of the war, it was completely destroyed and what’s interesting is that the Berlin wall was a few hundred yards from it so it was also in no mans land for 40 years..

When you walk through the areas where the Berlin wall ran, there is a double cobble stone belt in the road to show you the imaginary line of the wall. It’s a permanent scar across the city’s face, like someone slashed it and left the mark. Again, the result of Nazi regime and past mistakes.

All this makes Berlin an interesting city to visit. Food is great and its not very expensive. There are also lots of Israelis and a few times when we spoke, Germans asked if we were Israelis and recognized the lingo.

Yep.. The Jews are back motherfuckers ….

Love you,
xxx

Feeling a little #ish today?

Nice campaign for the Jewish Federation :)

Yom Kippur War Documentary

Hugo Boss: Despite Attempted Name-Clearing, Venezuela Grows Increasingly Cold to The Jews

Down in Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez has agreed to meet with delegates of the country’s Jewish community for a discussion about antisemitism in the state-run media.

Last June, Mr. Chavez made a public declaration that he believed the Mossad was scheming to assassinate him and that the Israeli government was bankrolling his Venezuelan opposition.

Vice president of the Confederation of Israelite Associations of Venezuela (CAIV), David Bittan Obadia, made the following statement according to the Jewish Chronicle Online in anticipation of the meeting set for September:

“We do not deem [anti-Semitism] a state policy, but the government has the tools to stop it…We will be very straightforward in expressing our concerns. We can see that the government is willing to cooperate…” Stoically he then declared, “This anti-Semitism is troubling us all and it needs to cease immediately.”

According to Jewish journalist Jennifer Lipman:

Anti-Jewish sentiment has been a problem throughout the presidency of Hugo Chavez. In his 12 years in power, the populist leftist leader has made speeches accusing “Semitic banks” of sabotaging the economy and lent his support to an indigenous Islamic group known as “Hizbollah Venezuela.”

In just one isolated instance of antisemitism in the Bolivarian Republic, only days after a public rant in opposition of Israel’s actions in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, in January of 2009, vandals broke into Sephardic synagogue, Tiferet Israel, only a mile from Chávez’s presidential palace in Caracas. Torah scrolls were trashed and spray paint informed the walls of death threats for Jews and the Jewish country.

A member of the Carcas Jewish community predicted that:

“Chavez and his supporters will not give up power, irrespective of the election result, and many members of our community are concerned that if there are disturbances, we will be targeted. When there is anarchy, there are always people who use it to attack Jews.”

She also observed that:

When the mood intensifies, like during the current election campaign, there are politicians who immediately bring out the incitement against the Jews. Is this by order of the president? I don’t know, but the president sees and hears everything in the government-controlled area. Many Jewish families in my area have left or are leaving.

Also, earlier this summer, Chavez met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and called on Latin America and the Arab world to fight together what he deemed “America’s imperialist and capitalist interests abroad.”

Meanwhile, amid delays to negotiate with Syria, due to rumored Israeli reticence, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of General Staff Lieutenant, General Gabi Ashkenazi, OC Military Intelligence Major General Amos Yadlin and OC Planning Branch Major General Amir Eshel are all giving a stalwart push for peace meetings with the Syrian government – while an effort is being made to stall the sale of weapons to that country from Russian suppliers.

ROSH HASHANAH: SHOFARING IN THE NEW YEAR

According to the Mishnah, or the Oral Torah:

There are four New Years: on the first of Nisan the New Year for kings and for festivals; on the first of Elul the New Year for the tithe of animals. Rabbi Eleazar and Rabbi Shimon say, on the first of Tishrei: on the first of Tishrei the New Year for years and for the shemittin and for the Yovalot, for the planting and for the vegetables; on the first of Shevat the New Year for the tree, according to Bet Shammai. Bet Hillel says, on the fifteenth thereof.

ShofarWell Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Tishrei, the New Year for years is what I would like to talk about today.

This is not just a time to rejoice and give Rosh Hashanah Gifts, it is also a time to look around us and see the renewal of the world, humanity, nature, the body, the soul.

Rosh HaShanah is the anniversary of the Creation of the Universe.

One symbol of this Holiest of all days is the Shofar, which is really a trumpet made from the horn of ram.


In synagogue on Rosh Hashanah it is blown to the following pattern:



Tekiah – one long and straight blast
Shevarim – three medium, blasts
Teruah – nine staccato blasts in



According to Rabbi Shraga Simmons:

In Jewish tradition, a king is first and foremost a servant of the people. His only concern is that the people live in happiness and harmony. His decrees and laws are only for the good of the people, not for himself. (see Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6)
The object of Rosh Hashana is to crown God as our King. Tekiah — the long, straight shofar blast — is the sound of the King’s coronation. In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s first act was to proclaim God as King. And now, the shofar proclaims to ourselves and to the world: God is our King. We set our values straight and return to the reality of God as the One Who runs the world… guiding history, moving mountains, and caring for each and every human being individually and personally.

And

When we think about the year gone by, we know deep down that we’ve failed to live up to our full potential. In the coming year, we yearn not to waste that opportunity ever again. The Kabbalists say that Shevarim — three medium, wailing blasts — is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart — yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve.

And

On Rosh Hashana, we need to wake up and be honest and objective about our lives: Who we are, where we’ve been, and which direction we’re headed. The Teruah sound — 9 quick blasts in short succession — resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness, and focus.
The Talmud says:

“When there’s judgement from below, there’s no need for judgement from above.”

What this means is that if we take the time to construct a sincere, realistic model of how we’ve fallen short in the past, and what we expect to change in the future, then God doesn’t need to “wake us up” to what we already know.

shana tova, happy and sweet new year

Russia Refuses to Comply with Chabad

Despite a lawsuit by the Chassidic movement, Russia will not turn over a library of Chabad-Lubavitch documents to the group’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York City; and a U.S. district judge has upheld the Russian’s plea.

Rebbe FrierdigerThe library, collected since 1772 and comprising over 12,000 volumes and 381 manuscripts was originally seized by the Red Army in Nazi Germany as war loot. The Foreign Ministry of the former center of the Soviet Union said that the ruling – that is to hand over the documents to the United States was a “rude violation” of international law. The ruling claimed that because the Rebbe, Joseph Isaac Scheersohn, who was forced in 1927 to leave Russia, had no heirs, that the library was nationalized.

The Russian ministry claims that the library is available for scientific study and worship. Spokesmen of Chabad-Lubavitch in Brooklyn fear that some of the manuscripts in the library could be for sale on the black market.

Another possibility for the future of the library, one which was not mentioned in the proceedings, would be to hand over the manuscripts to the Israeli government since it is the National body of the Jewish people.
For towns such as Kfar Chabad (founded in 1948), Nachalat Har Chabad (founded in 1969) and Kiryat Chabad (founded in 1979), Israel has become a welcome homeland for the Chassidic Movement.

American district Judge Royce Lamberth said the plaintiffs can sue to recover more than 25,000 pages of manuscripts and letters, which properly belong to the Scheersohns. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2004 in California against the Russian Ministry of Culture, the Russian State Library and the Russian State Military Archive.
All of the documents were originally taken to Latvia and then Poland after the Rebbe left Russia in 1927. The Russians seized the library after the outbreak of the Second World War when the Rebbe left for Brooklyn. Since then, they have been filed in a Russian Military Archive.

Flames


Rafal Betlejewski, a Polish performance artist burned down a barn in the central region of the country in a commemoration of the July, 1941 Jedwabne incident.

In this deadly pogrom, in the presence of Nazi German Ordnungspolizei, approximately 340 Jewish people were locked inside a barn and burned alive by gentile Polish nationals.

Betlejewski said:

“Poland is a completely different country than it was 80 years ago when there was a big and significant Jewish minority, which participated in Poland’s cultural, social and scientific development…These people are gone after the Holocaust and later waves of emigration, and I miss them more and more. This performance is addressed to Poles first and foremost, to those ignorant who know nothing about Jews’ input in Poland’s history.”

A typical shtetl, consisting of 757 Jewish people, that is 61.9% of the town’s total population, Jedwabne was established sometime during the 18th century.

More than 1,000 people were present to witness the barn burning ceremony.


Betlejewski read out the names of people who sent in their thoughts and left their notes inside a barn rebuilt outside of the town of Zawada. He poured petrol inside the structure and lit it.

As the wooden bar went ablaze, the Polish artist rushed out of it.

So today I think of the pressure on the Jewish Country to give up its settlements in the Golan Heights and in east Jerusalem.

I think of Helen Thomas’s recent comments; and I think of the post-Nazi Kielce pogrom on July 4th, 1946 when a false tale of child kidnapping and blood libel allegations resulted in the murder of 39 Jewish Poles.

Let us never allow it to happen again and let us never forget.

Am Israel Chai…

The Future

A fascinating conference was held at the impressive Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzilya. The topic was “Jewish Peoplehood circa 2110“.
Such futuristic issues were touched upon as: tensions between religious and secular populations, the reconciliation of democracy and a Jewish state and other issues about demographics.

The panel was made up of the following Jewish intellectuals:
Dr. David Passig: An occupational futurist and author of the forth-coming book “2048”. A professor at Bar-Ilan University, who describes himself as optimistic, even in the face of all the challenges which face the Jewish people today.

Dr. Noam Lemelshtrich Latar: The Dean of the School of Communications at IDC-Herzilya. Some might have perceived him to be the “resident pessimist” of the conference in his fearless readiness to challenge the assumptions of the questions put to the panel.

Leah Biteolin: An employee at the Jewish Agency for Israel; a 1984 Jewish Israeli immigrant from Ethiopia. Leah shared her personal story of returning to Zion.

Jewish Peoplehood circa 2110 – Leadel LIVE Panel from Leadel dot Net on Vimeo.

SHALOM IN THE VATICAN

The Catholic Church has been in a curious light as of late. The world community was like way grossed-out by several salacious sex scandals. The ball started rolling over in Ireland and the Pope began to sweat — not too sweet. Then more was uncovered from under the covers, that is, in: Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and even Brazil, priests and other members of the Roman clergy were accused of molesting youngsters — and, well the rest is really too terrible to tell.
The Vatican
They say that Pope Benedict, while still a German archbishop, knew of such activities but kept them in the dark. There were rumors that he would be forced to step down now that the past has been brought to the light. The likelihood of that is not good.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is something of a hero – he is to me anyway. His Website calls him, “America’s Rabbi“, and I wonder if that is not untrue, a kind of post-Lubavitch religious hipster with clout and growing at that, minus one red string on wrist – thank God. You had to love his show, Shalom in the Home, on The Learning Channel.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
He debates everybody! He debated Christopher Hitches at the 92nd street Y in Manhattan about the existence of God, and sounded like a brilliant post-enlightenment, science age Theologian – an Orthodox rabbi steeped in all kinds of philosophical and scientific fact – cold hard facts. Yes we checked out the Taliban and the current state of extreme Islam, we’ve read Darwin, Einstein and that other loud-mouth Briton with all of the books and documentaries – what’s his name? No we won’t stop believing in God, as Americans, Jews and human beings! And have you reduced your carbon footprint today?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach knows that Pope Benedict has an ambiguous stance about Jews. The one-step forward, two-step back kind of post-Holocaust Pope. Pro-life and pro environmental reform who was photographed last week dozing off in the middle of Mass. God bless him.

So Boteach’s reaction to the Pope, now sweating in embarrassment over the sex scandal, who brought back to Catholic liturgy a call for Jews to save themselves by converting to the religion of the cross – the old one, the Roman one – has gone to console the panicky Vicar in the Vatican. The Vicar who quietly protests on behalf of Palestinians but kisses Kotels and visits Manhattan synagogues – and who knows what happened to the Jews of Italy during the Second World War? Anyone?

Boteach’s suggestion was that the church – in all of its glory – promote family Shabbat dinners on Friday nights, similar to the Jewish custom. Rabbi Shmuley claimed it would be a good way for the church to re-establish its pro-family image. This initiative, said Boteach, would help the church demonstrate that it is not only concerned with opposing same-sex marriages and abortions – other issues which have found it further damned by disagreers and offendees – (?) and they who hate their family (?)

No real response was received on the matter.

After meeting with the Pope Boteach received an invitation to have lunch with Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is responsible for the Vatican’s relations with Jewry.
During this meeting the rabbi harshly criticized the church for covering-up the sex abuse scandals – surprising, that’s all he could think of criticizing the Vatican for?

Meet the artist Shraga Landesman

Pomegranate Hebrew Seder Plate by Shraga Landesman

When you visit the Website of artist Shraga Landesman you’ll see this quote:

“My spiritual sources are the Bible and the ancient cultures that lived in the region. A disappearing world that I miss which does not exist anymore. I confront this world my way, trying to decode familiar cultural codes from those magic objects that these cultures left behind”.

Shraga Landesman was born in Israel where he studied sculpture and painting at the Oranim College of Art and Tel-Hai College. There was seemingly no limit to the borders of Landesman’s creative output. In 1982 he won first prize in a documentary photograph competition in Israel. His photographs were widely exhibited in Haifa.

At this successful juncture in Shraga’s career, he traveled through Europe where he was exposed to the origins of Western culture, hints of which were left there by the ruins of ancient civilizations such as that of Greece and Rome. Inspired by this, he enrolled at Haifa University, concentrating on small scale sculptures. A constant itch for creative expression led him to the designing and creation of ceremonial Judaica – this is what he is best known for, and this has been the focus of his artistic output since 1996. Shraga Landesman’s creations in functional Judaica are even featured at several museums, galleries and fine craft-stores throughout Israel, Europe and the United States.

Shraga’s Judaica comes in the form of mezuzot, Hanukkah menorahs, pesach items, candle holders, serving items, havdallah sets, Kiddush sets, and more. Currently his photography focuses on Birds of Israel.

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