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Among the world's estimated 100 million to 150 million Beni Anusim (descendants of forced Sephardi Jewish converts to Christianity), some from Spanish and Portuguese communities are reconnecting to their roots in Israel.


Is it a coincidence that the two people most intimately involved in creating the Hebrew Music Museum are both Levis, descendants of the ancient Jewish tribe dedicated to providing music in the holy Temple? For 12 years, Laurent Levy, the museum’s sponsor, and Eldad Levy, its director, (who are not related), both had a vision of creating an interactive, state-of-the-art museum in the heart of Jerusalem that would celebrate Jewish music, writes JNS.org reporter Deborah Fineblum. 

The refugee crisis, escalating terrorism and dissatisfaction with the political elite are blamed for the current rise of Europe’s far-right political parties. Such a revival has not been seen since World War II, writes JNS.org reporter Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman. 

A group of 75 future IDF soldiers who made aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh on Aug. 17 on a flight facilitated in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel, JNF-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar. Among the soldiers were several young men and women following in the footsteps of their siblings by joining the Israeli army, writes JNS.org reporter Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman.

Peter Hegseth, a rising figure in American conservative media, has one eye on the current war on terror and another on history. On a recent visit to Israel, Hegseth toured sites in Sderot, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights to see first-hand Israel’s national defense and the fight on terror. “It is fact-finding trip,” Hegseth told JNS.org reporter Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman in an exclusive interview, over sips of American-style coffee, with the sunlit Old City of Jerusalem gawping through the window.  

Israeli water experts believe by 2050, almost half of the world’s population will live in countries with a chronic water shortage. In Israel’s Negev Desert, which has long been plagued with water challenges, a team of 80 scientists and 250 graduate students are working on ways to tackle the problem using cutting-edge science in partnership with academics around the world, writes JNS.org reporter Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman. 

As anti-Semitism continues to rise in Germany, a new watchdog group in Berlin, the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism (RIAS), is encouraging German Jews to speak up and report incidents in order to to expose, monitor and hence prevent attacks against Jews, writes JNS.org reporter Orit Arfa. 

At 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighing around 150 pounds, 26-year-old optimistic and powerful blonde Ilana Kratysh will become the first-ever Israeli woman to compete in the wrestling events at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, which began Aug. 5. On Aug. 17 she will fight for the gold in the under 69-kilogram category. Ahead of the games, JNS reporter Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman spoke with Kratysh as she seeks to make history for her country and bring home the gold. 

Steven Goldstein’s connection to Israel predates his now-renowned acting and operatic career. He first came to Israel at just 15-years-old and has returned many times, including through what became his first formal opera training. But now, amid an ongoing push by supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to pressure artists to avoid Israel, Goldstein hopes to use his talents and experience to combat these efforts, writes JNS "Israel Girl" columnist Eliana Rudee. 

After their bus pulls up next to the park that hugs the Tel Aviv shoreline, the high schoolers stream off and run straight for the playground. Rather than climb the structures and play on the swings, they begin scrambling through their backpacks for their notebooks. The energy and excitement at being outside seems normal for a group of teens, but these students are part of an experience that is anything but normal. These students who have elected to spend their summer at Jewish National Fund (JNF)’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI), writes JNS contributor Mara Fahl. 

Elie Schiff will tell you flat out that she was born into a family of Zionists. In fact, as far back as she can remember, her parents taught her to love Israel, and in 2014 both her brother and sister made aliyah in the middle of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. While Schiff, too, has always considered moving to Israel in her future, just a few months after she learned of the brutal murder of mother-of-four Dafna Meir in the Jewish religious yishuv (village in Hebrew) of Otniel in Judea by a Palestinian terrorist in January of 2015, the recent nursing school grad decided she could no longer put off making Israel her home.

Colorado's Ramah of the Rockies after several years of planning and considering, invited more than 20 Jewish-Mexican campers, three counselors and Bet El spiritual leader Rabbi Leonel Levy to spend two weeks from July 20 to Aug. 2 at the camp, joining bunks, taking part in traditional camp activities and sharing some traditions of their own. The exchange program is part of an effort by the camp to build bridges between American and Mexican Jewish youth, writes reporter Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman.

On July 18 Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed publicly told a group affiliated with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that his city would continue to allow the Atlanta Police Department (APD) to be trained by the Israel Police in spite of the group’s demands to cease the training relationship due to their treatment of the Palestinians. The decision by Mayor Reed comes amid nationwide protests and counter protests over police treatment of minority groups. Despite this heated environment, both criminal justice experts and organizers behind the U.S. police exchange programs with Israel agree that BLM claims are unsubstantiated and that it is vital to maintain these types of cooperation as police face growing threats from terrorism. 

“In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us,” Israeli MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) reminded a packed Knesset hall earlier this month during the premier joint meeting of the Knesset Caucus to Fight Delegitimization of Israel and the Christian Allies Caucus. The focus of the event: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and how Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel can work together to quash the economic warfare movement against Israel.

Sonnenallee, a street in Berlin’s Neukölln district, looks like it comes straight out of an Arab city. Kebab and bakery shops are advertised in Arabic; men sit in men-only coffee shops; and bridal shop windows showcase glittery, not-so-stylish gowns. But take a random turn, and you’ll find a swath of bars, burger joints, and Indian restaurants where hip Berliners announce that they have arrived to urban coolness. In this gentrifying neighborhood, Israeli investors are hoping to find some of the remaining affordable gems in the German capital’s increasingly competitive housing market. According to Gili Waldman—an investment consultant for Berlin Inspiration, one of several Israeli real estate companies marketing Berlin properties to Israeli investors—Berlin property values increase at a rate of about 10 percent a year. The rising costs have made Israeli investors in Germany turn east for real estate bargains.

Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer told JNS.org. Last month, Kremer became the first Israeli citizen to sign with an MLB team. The right-handed pitcher was selected by Los Angeles in the 2016 draft and subsequently joined the Dodgers’ Ogden Raptors minor league affiliate in Utah. “I was raised in the Jewish tradition and we speak Hebrew at home,” said Kremer, who grew up in Tel Aviv. “Everything will stay the same [while I’m playing professional baseball], but it is difficult, especially when we get meals catered here. But I try not to eat pork….The values and morals of a Jewish person were instilled in me, and that’s the way I live my life.”

A new technology endorsed by the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America (JCCA) could play a key role in preventing future attacks such as the 2014 shootings at the JCC of Greater Kansas City and the Village Shalom geriatric center. Earlier this year, JCCA announced FST Biometrics, an Israeli developer of In Motion Identification (IMID) technology, as its preferred identity management vendor. Brian Soileau, JCCA’s manager of corporate partnerships, told JNS.org that he immediately found favor in the IMID solution, which uses biometric identification technology—including facial recognition and body behavior analytics—to allow JCC staffers and members to move freely into and through facilities, while restricting access to unauthorized visitors.

In the era of e-books, tech and publishing companies compete aggressively for market share. Writers, artists, and readers often get caught in the fray. While new media innovations empower individuals to experiment, creative works are readily exploited. In 2013, this situation prompted Israeli innovator and children’s book author Prof. Mel Rosenberg to found Ourboox.com. Described as “the world’s simplest platform for uploading and sharing digital picture books of any genre, in any language, for free,” the Ourboox community is growing rapidly in Israel. “We have books on 70 different genres, including biographies, picture books…you name it, and we’ve got it,” Rosenberg tells JNS.org.

The names of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher are familiar as prominent symbols of strong female leadership in times when women heads of state were rare. By 2015, however, the number of female leaders of nations reached 19, according to the United Nations. On July 13, British Home Secretary Theresa May joined the club by replacing outgoing U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, becoming the U.K.’s second female prime minister after Thatcher. As America waits to see if Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton becomes the country’s first female president in the November 2016 election, JNS.org provides eight examples of current and former non-Jewish female heads of state, their relations with Israel and the Jewish community, and how they embody tikkun olam—the Jewish value of repairing the world.

Russell F. Robinson, CEO of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), believes that Israel has reached an important milestone in its development as a nation. “I think this is our moment of real Zionism,” he tells JNS.org, intimating that the Zionist experiment has come of age. The turning point in history invoked by Robinson presents new opportunities for Israel’s oldest philanthropic organization, as well as for individuals interested in exploring Israel. The nascent Jewish state was initially impoverished and represented “the gathering of the exiles,” but the new Israel “is a place where people can go by choice,” he reflects, explaining that instead of organizing to ensure Israel’s survival, “now we get to be Israel’s greatest partner.” As such, JNF has in recent years rolled out several programs geared towards creating awareness of Israeli culture and stimulating investment in Israeli public works projects.