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Israel’s Happiness Revolution

Jewish Music - Tue, 09/01/2015 - 7:00am
What my preschooler’s taste in Mizrahi pop says about where the country is at
By Matti Friedman for Tablet Magazine
The Israeli culture wars arrived in my kitchen a few months ago when I discovered that the cure for my daughter’s grumpy preschooler moods was a Hebrew dance hit called “Happiness Revolution.” The song is of the genre known loosely as Mizrahi, a blend of Middle Eastern, Greek, and Western influences associated with Israelis who have roots in the Islamic world. In the country’s early decades Mizrahi music was deemed primitive and generally kept off radio and TV, shunted instead into an underground of small clubs, cheap wedding halls, and cassette stores clustered around the grimy bus station in Tel Aviv.

It turned out that my daughter not only knew the words (“A happiness revolution / Because we’re all family! We’ll dance like crazy / Because it’s time to fly!”) but also dance moves that she performed while watching her reflection in the oven door. She had learned the song at her Jerusalem kindergarten from the music teacher, a young ultra-Orthodox woman with no Middle Eastern roots that I can discern. When I attended the year-end party at the kindergarten, the kind of affair where the customary soundtrack has always been Naomi Shemer, the kids put on a performance involving a dozen songs, more than half of which were Mizrahi.

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The Operating Room of the Future - InSightec - Dr. Kobi Vortman Technion Alumnus

Jewish Israeli News - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 12:18pm
INSIGHTEC’s technology completely transforms the world of medicine by offering an innovative, ground-breaking non-invasive therapy platform that significantly reduces the need for invasive surgery, providing a life altering, alternative treatment option to millions of people around the world.


 

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Surfing the Way to More Stable Lives

Teens - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
Oran Bendelstein is exporting his love of shredding—and counting on it to keep at-risk teenagers afloat
By Kylie Ora Lobell for Tablet Magazine
Oran Bendelstein, 33, has always loved to surf. As a kid growing up in Atlantic Beach, New York, he preferred getting up on his board to studying, or even playing video games. It’s a passion he carried into adulthood, with the creation of ReSurf, a nonprofit that refurbishes used, donated surfboards and ships them to underprivileged youth in Israel, Mexico, Long Island, and San Diego. So far, he—or, rather, his boards—have reached more than 500 teenagers. That number will rise yet again this month, when ReSurf, already in the Netanya area of Israel, comes to Tel Aviv, Herzliya, and Akko.

“I think it’s important to give over something that I have and love,” said Bendelstein, from his home in Long Beach, New York. “That something is surfing. It can change your life in one second. I can give these kids a sense of personal value and community and the tools to succeed. That’s my ultimate goal.”

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Dealing with the Anti-Israel Movement on Campus: Advice to Students and Their Parents

Students - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
North American college campuses are often the setting for bitter disputes over Middle East politics, often driven by the global anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In this video, Washington Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff offers practical advice on how to address anti-Israel activism on campus and engage constructively on the politics of the Middle East. He recommends specific ways for students to learn whether their professors endorse the BDS agenda and how to promote constructive dialogue. An historian who is a longstanding observer of the academic world in the U.S. and abroad – and the parent of a college freshman -- Dr. Satloff offers useful ideas and helpful resources for parents and students looking for help in combatting anti-Israel activity on campus.


INTERVIEW WITH FRUM GAY GIRL

LGBT - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
Yanir Dekel for A Wider Bridge

“Frum Gay Girl” is one of the most interesting blogs on the web, bringing personal true stories from the Jewish orthodox religious world, anonymously. We caught up with the girl herself, to find out a little bit more about her own personal background, and her motives for writing this blog.
The stories on the blog Frum Gay Girl, which we often promote here on A Wider Bridge, are so interesting and dramatic that it sometimes seem like they are fictional: the woman who was married for 25 years before admitting to herself that she’s a lesbian; or, the girl who found out her mom is bisexual. But for Frum Gay Girl, who is already known in the Chassidic-lesbian community, these stories just keep on coming, and they get hundreds of views every day- even months after posting.  “Many of the amazing people I interview are friends, or friends of friends, or people I’ve been talking with for years who aren’t out in their communities,” she tells in an exclusive interview with A Wider Bridge. “More recently, I’ve been getting some stunning referrals, so thanks for those!”

What motivated you to start this blog?

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Co-Sleeping Doesn’t Have to Wreck Your Sex Life

Kids - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
Wendy Wisner for Kveller

Since becoming parents almost nine years ago, my husband and I have always had a child (or two) in our bed, camped out on the floor, or on an extra mattress smushed up against ours. Basically, my husband and I have given up all bedroom privacy since kids entered the picture. I’m not going to lie and say it’s all sunshine and roses, but it’s what we do, and everyone (including my husband) is happy with the arrangement. I totally get that not everyone wants to share a bed or a bedroom with their kids, and it goes without saying that every family should do what works for them.

But anytime someone mentions co-sleeping, there is always a lot of chatter about how it will supposedly destroy your sex life (almost always coming from someone who has never co-slept). Again, if you don’t want to share a bed with your kids, don’t do it. But I want to make one thing clear about those of us who co-sleep: We still have as much sex as we damn well please.

Really.

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Ask the Expert: Why are High Holiday tickets so expensive?

Traditions - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
Affordable alternatives inside and outside the synagogue.
By MJL Staff

When is Rosh Hashanah 2015? Find out here. Or wondering when is Yom Kippur 2015? Click here to find out!

Question: My wife and I decided not to buy High Holiday tickets this year because they’re so expensive. What can we do to mark the holidays at home, on our own?
–Norman, Chicago


Answer: Every year as the High Holidays approach I hear people grumbling about the price of tickets. And it’s true, at some synagogues it’s upwards of $500 a head. But why is it so expensive? It’s only a few hours, right?

First of all, in most synagogues, High Holiday tickets are included in membership fees. So, if you join the synagogue as a member, there’s no need to pay for tickets. It’s only if you want to go without paying membership fees that your tickets are so costly. Think about it like a membership to a gym, or health club. If you only go three times a year, then yes, what you pay is a lot per visit. But if you regularly visit your gym, then the monthly fee probably breaks down to only a dollar or two per visit. And the gym needs your membership fees to pay for machines, classes, maintenance, etc.
 
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Find out even more about the High Holidays with our High Holidays + Spotlight Kit.

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Jorma Kaukonen Finds Somebody To Love

Jewish Music - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
The former Jefferson Airplane guitarist and Hot Tuna lead man comes home to his mother’s faith at his Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio
By Wayne Robins for Tablet Magazine

I. ‘Shalom, Brother’

At Fur Peace Ranch, hidden away on an unpaved road in the Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio, one expects to hear the moo of cows, the rustling of corn. But Fur Peace doesn’t raise dairy cattle or crops. Its primary product is guitar players, mentored during numerous weekend retreats each year by owner Jorma Kaukonen. One of the most celebrated and influential rock guitar players of the last 50 years, Kaukonen was a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, the band whose very name represents the base camp of the 1960s counter-culture in all its striations: lysergic visions, political upheavals, feedback-fueled rock ’n’ roll, the San Francisco-born soundtrack to collective hallucinations, urban revolution, and pastoral pleasures.

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23 Gluten-Free Recipes for Rosh Hashanah

Jewish Cooking - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
By Shannon Sarna on The Nosher for MyJewishLearning.com

Holidays can evoke such a sense of warmth and happiness just by their sounds, smells and tastes. For me, the smell of chicken soup and brisket reminds me of my grandmother’s house and there is nothing quite like it.

But for those who have dietary restrictions or have chosen particular eating styles and cannot indulge in traditional holiday foods, this time of year can be anxiety-ridden or even feel sad.

Jewish food can be lots of things including healthy, vegetarian and even gluten-free. And this round-up of traditional food and sweet treats is for our gluten-free friends. Hope this helps make your New Year a little sweeter.

Got a favorite recipe? Please make sure to post below.

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Check out Jvillage’s High Holiday+    page.


For more information and ideas visit our High Holidays Spotlight Kit


Dear Gefilte: How Do I Talk About God with My Kid When My Husband Is Atheist?

Family - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
Dear Gefilte is Kveller's advice column
Dear Gefilte,

I grew up Modern Orthodox and have been through various stages of religiosity. I no longer practice, except to celebrate some traditions like holidays and cultural events. I married a secular atheist, though, who celebrates the same cultural Jewish milestones I do, but he is vehemently opposed to anything religious, especially the idea of God. I have never given up on the idea of God, or perhaps a benevolent being or “the universe” or something amorphous beyond our rationalist minds.

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Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist by Pierre Birnbaum

Jewish Books - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
A Proud Jewish Native Son
by Andrew Nagorski for Moment Magazine

In November 1938, as Hitler was preaching his gospel of hate, French Prime Minister Léon Blum delivered a speech to the International League Against Anti-Semitism about “the tragic Jewish question.” Urging European nations to open their doors to the growing number of Jewish refugees who had been condemned “to a bitter and unfortunate fate,” he left no doubt about his identity. “I am a Jew who has never boasted of his background but who has never been ashamed of it either, a Jew who has always opened up to his name,” he declared.

This was vintage Blum, and explains why he is a perfect subject for Yale’s Jewish Lives series. Pierre Birnbaum, professor emeritus at the Sorbonne, points out that Blum’s electoral victory in France in 1936 as head of the Popular Front, a coalition of leftist parties, was not the first time that a Jew had risen so high in European politics. Benjamin Disraeli served as Britain’s prime minister in the previous century—but he was a convert to the Anglican faith. “For the first time, not only in France but in the modern era, a Jew who did not hide his identity but often proclaimed it with pride had become the head of a major government,” Birnbaum writes.

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Will Other Movements Follow?

Interfaith - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
By Lisa Hostein for The Jewish Week

When Rabbi Aaron Panken took over as president of the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion in June 2014, one of the first issues he inherited from his predecessor was the very question the Reconstructionist movement is grappling with now. A group of students at HUC was pushing the administration to re-examine its ban on admitting and graduating students in interfaith relationships.

Rabbi Panken, whose movement is the largest in the country, launched an extensive process to solicit the views of the seminary’s faculty and students along with congregations, rabbis and other stakeholders, to determine if such a change was warranted.

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Preparing for the High Holidays

Holidays - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
for ReformJudaism.org

As summer winds down and the back-to-school season approaches, so, too, do the High Holidays. Jewish tradition provides us with several reminders of the upcoming Days of Awe, as well as a number of ways we can prepare for them.

The days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are known at the Days of Awe, or Yamim Noraim in Hebrew. During this period, individuals examine their behavior over the past year, consider atonement for misdeeds, and seek a closeness with God. Practically, this is done through repentance, reconciliation, and forgiveness. The Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is known as Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of Return. The name of this Sabbath is derived from the first words of the week’s haftarah, Shuvah Yisrael, “return, O Israel” (Hosea 14:2). The custom in synagogues in Eastern Europe had been for rabbis to give impassioned pleas for repentance during their sermons on this Shabbat.

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For more information and ideas visit our High Holidays Spotlight Kit


Chinese Delegation Tours Negev Agriculture and Forestry

Going Green Jewishly - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
By KKL-JNF for Jpost

A delegation from China visiting Israel toured the Negev with KKL-JNF personnel to learn from KKL-JNF's experience in agriculture in arid regions, combating desertification and soil and water technology.

On their tour in Israel, the Chinese delegation got acquainted with KKL-JNF's diverse projects in these fields and encountered landscapes and people all over the country.

 “I have no doubt that we can learn a lot from Israeli know-how,” said Mr. Wang Shuwen, the head of delegation and the Deputy Secretary General of the Society of Entrepreneurs & Ecology (SEE).

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What Does it All Mean? Glossary of Jewish & Hebrew Words

Feature Article - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
From Mazeltot.org

Latke? Mechitza? Mohel? What does it all mean?
Here we offer definitions of some Jewish and Hebrew words you may have heard before. If there's a word you'd like defined, email Josh Gold. For more information about Jewish holidays, terminology and teachings, visit www.myjewishlearning.com.

Aleph-bet: The Hebrew alphabet

Aliyah: The honor of being called up in synagogue to read from the Torah - or - a term used to describe Jewish immigration to Israel

Avodah: Work, often used in reference to work that serves God

Bar/Bat Mitzvah: A 13 year old Jewish boy or girl who is seen as an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community - or - a religious ceremony in which a 13 year old boy or girl reads from the Torah and/or leads a prayer service for the first time

Birkat Hamazon: Grace after meals

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Ki Teitzei

Torahportion Reform - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:00am
Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19

We Are What We Remember
D'var Torah By: Rabbi Shira Milgrom for ReformJudaism.org

The last paragraph of Ki Teitzei is the maftir reading in non-Reform congregations on the Shabbat before Purim. Its opening word, zachor, "remember," names that Shabbat.

"Zachor, Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt—how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. Therefore, when the Eternal your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Eternal your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!" (Deuteronomy 25:17–19).

I was present on a Yom Kippur morning many years ago when Rabbi Harold Schulweis asked his congregation if they could name members of Hitler's SS. And the names came pouring out from all corners of the sanctuary: Himmler, Eichmann, Goering, and on. And then Rabbi Schulweis asked the community to name the people who tried to save Anne Frank and her family. Silence.

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Ki Teitzei

Torahportion Recon - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:00am
Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19

Ownership of Property, Returning Lost Property
Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities

This week's parashah, Ki Tetzey, contains the greatest number of mitzvot/ commandments of any Torah portion. The 72 mitzvot found in the parashah focus on everything from the treatment of captives, defiant children, lost animals and the poor through laws of inheritance, weights and fair weights and measures. This amalgam of mitzvot may seem random at times, and yet there is a guiding principle that reminds us not to be indifferent to other people and the world around us.

One of the mitzvot found in the parashah concerns the obligation that we have to return lost property, no matter what it may be or how long ago we may have discovered it. In reading the commentaries on Ki Tetzey I came across many stories from throughout Jewish history dealing with this specific mitzvah.

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Ki Teitzei

Torahportion Conserv - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:00am
Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19

Let’s Get Physical!
The commandment to remove a corpse from the stake on which it is impaled teaches us the importance of respecting the holiness of the body.
By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com

The definition of what is "religious" shifts throughout the ages. In antiquity, being religious meant offering sacrifices (of children, women, prisoners taken in war) and making regular gifts to the gods. In biblical Israel, it meant being aware of God’s presence, by bringing animal sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem at the designated times.

By the Second Temple period, a new emphasis, one of ritual purity, ethical rigor, and obedience to a growing oral tradition became the defining feature of pharisaic religiosity, which the Rabbis of the Talmud extended into an emphasis on the performance of mitzvot (commandments) and study as religious acts.

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Tooting My Own Horn

Teens - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:00am
I gave up playing a musical instrument — until I walked into beginning band my freshman year.
By Rachel Chabin for Fresh Ink for Teens
My first stint with instrumental music was back in elementary school. Every few days, a group of students would be escorted down a flight of stairs, past the clanking boiler and into our teacher’s basement classroom. For a year I took great pride in what I thought was my prowess with the recorder, managing to play a small, simplified part of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Once I moved up to playing the flute, however, my enthusiasm for band stalled and I struggled to play even the simplest notes. In middle school — where we didn’t have any music program — I forgot about my wind instrument experience, convinced I wasn’t cut out to be a musician after all.

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Chai Ceremony

Students - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:00am
A Jewish way of sending young people off to college
By Rabbi Julie H. Danan for MyJewishLearning.com

The following ceremony is an adaptation of havdalah, the ritual for ending Shabbat. which includes blessings over wine, fragrant spice, a multi-flamed candle, and one known as Hamavdil explicitly commemorating the shift from Sabbath to weekday. Reprinted with permission from Ohalah.org.
Background

The “chai ceremony” is an innovative ritual celebrating the life passage at age 18. Chai means “life,” and the young adults, having finished high school, are embarking on a new chapter in their lives.

Chai equals 18 in gematria (Hebrew numerology), and most young adults in our culture make this transition at about age 18. The chai ceremony is centered around havdalah, the traditional ritual separating Shabbat from the days of the week. It is also a time of separation, as our young adults go to college. (Even if they continue to live at home, the nature of the relationship will change.)

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