More than five months after the Pew Research Center’s “A Portrait of Jewish Americans” survey drew widespread pessimism over rising intermarriage and assimilation, as well as declining connection with synagogues and other institutions, proponents of a newly released study believe they may have the antidote for what ails the Jewish community. On March 10, the Jewish nonprofit Hazon and six funders released “Seeds of Opportunity: A National Study of Immersive Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE).” The acronym, although coined specifically for the purpose of the study, is lingo that the report’s supporters hope will grow to define a movement and become part of the Jewish vernacular.
The recently deceased Sid Caesar made America laugh, and in so doing, revolutionized television comedy. The youngest of three sons born to Jewish immigrants living in Yonkers, NY, Caesar’s father Max emigrated from Poland, and with his wife Ida, who had come from Russia, operated a luncheonette. Young Sid developed his foreign-sounding double talk by listening closely to the luncheonette’s multinational clientele. “Sid was part of the Jewish tradition of storytelling,” said Eddy Friedfeld, co-author with Caesar on the comedian’s biography. “The difference was his was not joke telling, it was comedy based on character. His sketches were stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. That was not coincidentally a function of the Jewish influence.”
While critics lament the lack of haredi integration into both the military and the Israeli workforce, the city of Beit Shemesh is home to innovators like Rabbi Joel Padowitz, whose ventures have a direct relationship with the haredi community. Padowitz is co-creator of what he believes is a “game-changing” product called the “Israel App,” which contains GPS-guided tours for any tourist who needs to find sites or hotels or restaurants, a virtual concierge for making reservations, coupons, and background content. Meanwhile, the app's programming team comes from Beit Shemesh-based NetSource, a company whose employees are 95-percent haredi.
Imagine that your child is born seemingly normal, but by age 1 or 2 her or she has mental and physical disabilities. By 3, the child has epilepsy and is virtually vegetative. This phenomenon, known as Progressive Cerebro-Cerebellar Atrophy (PCCA), affects dozens of Israeli families of Iraqi and Moroccan-Jewish descent. But thanks to the team of Dr. Ohad Birk, that number may soon be reduced. On March 8, just four years after Birk’s discovery of genetic mutations in Iraqi and Moroccan Jews that lead to PCCA, he announced that his lab has identified a different genetic mutation that leads to another similar disease in Moroccan Jews, a disease he is calling PCCA2.
While international attention continues to focus on the Iranian nuclear program and diplomatic efforts to address it, the Israeli Navy’s March 5 interception of an Iranian ship full of Syrian-made missiles bound for Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza sheds new light on other dimensions of the Islamic Republic’s strategy. “The nuclear program is the fast mover in international discussions, but the delivery capabilities are extremely important,” Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC, told JNS.org. “The Iranians are working very diligently on expanding the scope and legality of their missile program (a delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons).”
Unlike its commercial competitors, Al Jazeera America doesn’t care that much about general viewer ratings. Rather, the network aims to influence opinion makers—including teachers, broadcasters, and editorial writers. Its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict features superficially interesting but substantively biased segments that assail Israel while omitting mention of Palestinian Arab terrorism or Muslim persecution of Christians in the West Bank and Gaza. A long-term effect of such coverage might be to undermine the current strong U.S. public support of Israel over the Palestinian Arabs, write Myron Kaplan and Eric Rozenman of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
American Jews should play close heed to any anti-Semitic episodes in Ukraine. At the same time, let’s recognize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea and his threat to the rest of Ukraine for what it is—naked aggression in violation of the United Nations Charter that ultimately poses a threat to all of us, Jewish or not, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
The U.S., U.K., and Dutch governments are helping to fund a March 10-14 conference called “Christ at the Checkpoint,” which attempts to sway Evangelical Christian opinion against Israel and whose themes have anti-Semitic undertones, according to a new report by the watchdog group NGO Monitor. The report titled “Christ at the Checkpoint: How the U.S., U.K. and Dutch Governments Enable Religious Strife and Foment in the Mideast Conflict,” first obtained by JNS.org, examines how the American and European governments are directly and indirectly funding the conference.
The 23rd installment of Harvey Rachlin's new comic strip, "The Menschkins." See the color version above, and the black and white version below. Click here for an introduction to the series. Click here for more JNS.org coverage on Jewish arts.
An Israeli organization is mulling taking a legal fight against Oxfam International to the global aid conglomerate’s donors, in an attempt to cut off a source of funds it says is ending up in the hands of people allied with terrorist groups.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel will fail, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference. “Israel’s best economic days are ahead of it, mark my words,” Netanyahu said.
After he was apparently criticized by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for comments he made last month on boycotts of Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry in his Monday address at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference sought to allay skepticism on nuclear negotiations with Iran and Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations.
Close to half a million members of Israel’s haredi public rallied on Sunday protested a proposed bill that would mandate them to participate in the Israel Defense Forces and would criminalize those that refuse conscription. Some political parties—led by Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid—have made the issue of religious enlistment a focal point of their political agendas, while religious leaders, who are conspicuously absent from the current governing coalition, are digging in their heels to fight the impending change in the status quo. “What we are witnessing is the politicization of an important social process,” Professor Yedidia Stern, vice president of research at the Israel Democracy Institute, told JNS.org.
In early 2014, the partners controlling the Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields off the northern coast of Israel signed supply contracts with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, establishing the Jewish state as a formidable regional energy supplier in the Middle East. The deals, and the degree to which they can be successfully implemented, highlight a growing number of continuously fluctuating regional developments that affect Israel’s geopolitical position.
For well over a century, Christian Zionists have been steadfast in their support for a Jewish homeland. Emerging from this movement, Evangelical Christians have formed the foundation of the Christian Zionist movement due to a number of theological, moral, and political reasons. At the same time, there has been a movement among mainline Protestants, including the Presbyterian Church, who have grown more critical of Israel. With the support of anti-Israel Palestinian groups as well as non-governmental organizations funded by liberal philanthropists like George Soros, some are seeking to threaten Evangelical support for Israel. Can Israel and the Jewish people take Evangelical support for granted? Or will Evangelicals follow the path of mainline Protestant groups and their growing criticism of Israel?