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The ‘son of Hamas’ just gave a speech that will completely shock you

Jewish Israeli News - Fri, 05/27/2016 - 7:00am
From IsraelVideoNetwork

Mosab Hassan Yousef is an incredible example of someone who was able to break away from a destructive, venomous society which had created its own set of truths and norms, and look at reality from a different perspective. There are very few people in the world that capable of doing that. Yet Yousef, known by his cover name, “The Green Prince”, found himself reexamining all of the axioms he had been taught by his father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the founders of the Hamas. What makes Yousef unique is that is he able and willing to come forward and state that he does not oppose individual people, but he feels that Muslim society needs to rethink its value system. That is what he did individually. “I’ve seen death and I came from hell,” he explains. It is an incredibly courageous thing to stand up against your own society’s basic beliefs, and a equally as courageous to speak about it.

Yousef’s hope and optimism for the Muslim People is utopian, but, having lived in that world and gone through that exact journey himself, he is the one person that can give us all the faith that things can change, and the desire to work to make that hope a reality.

What Is Lag Ba’Omer?

Jewish Israeli News - Thu, 05/26/2016 - 8:14am
The 33rd day of the Omer is an occasion for happiness during an otherwise mournful period.
By Francine Klagsbrun for MyJewishLearning.com

Lag Ba’Omer is a minor holiday that occurs on the 33rd day of the Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot. A break from the semi-mourning of the Omer, key aspects of Lag Ba’Omer include holding Jewish weddings (it’s the one day during the Omer when Jewish law permits them), lighting bonfires and haircuts.

Why We Celebrate
There are a few explanations why we celebrate Lag Ba’Omer, but none is definitive.

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Behar - Reconstructionist

Torahportion Recon - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 9:44am
Leviticus 25:1-26:2

Rabbi Howard Cohen for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities

In the middle of Parshat Behar we read about our obligations towards our fellow Jews when they are reduced to poverty. The Torah uses the term "Collapsed" or "Clowered" (mem, vav, chaf). It also describes the person as having lost the means to deal with his obligations (u-matah yado Cimmakh). When this happens we are not supposed to protect the person from experiencing the logical consequences of poverty, nor are we to force him out of the community. In fact, we have an obligation to maintain this person within the community. In later text, Mishnah, Talmud, and Mishnah Torah, for example, it is explained in greater detail what it means specifically to "let him live by your side" (Leviticus 25:35).

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B'har - Conservative

Torahportion Conserv - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 9:09am
Leviticus 25:1-26:2

By Rabbi Joshua Heller. Provided by the Jewish Theological Seminary, a Conservative rabbinical seminary and university of Jewish studies, for MyJewishLearning.com
Economic Justice for Insiders and Outsiders
Biblical laws of business ethics.
Chapter 25 of Vayikra, which makes up the bulk of parashat B’har, deals with essential laws of economic justice in an agrarian society. No member of the Jewish people may be relegated to lifelong slavery or landless serfdom. Ancestral plots are not to be sold out of the family forever, but rather returned in the Jubilee year. Even though slavery is permitted, a Jewish slave must go free in the seventh year. One may not cheat another in selling or buying, nor earn a profit at the expense of one in need by charging him interest. And yet, there are troubling limits to the scope of this ethical tradition.

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B'har - Reform

Torahportion Reform - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 9:02am
Leviticus 25:1-26:2

D'var Torah By Rabbi Elyse Goldstein for ReformJudaism.org

The Sound of Shofar: Leading Us to Revelation and Freedom
Count off seven sabbath years — seven times seven years — so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. (Leviticus 25:8-10)
In this week's portion, the Jubilee year is established. Called yovel, our parashah explains how every forty-nine years — seven weeks of seven years — in the seventh month, on Yom Kippur, the shofar of freedom is to be sounded throughout the land for all its inhabitants. This iconic verse to proclaim freedom throughout the land is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

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Jewish teenagers want to engage. Just ask them.

Teens - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
From The Blog, jewishva.org

Welcoming teens into Jewish life is both one of the most important and seemingly challenging endeavors of the Jewish community. The rapid decline in teen engagement in Jewish life post-b’nai mitzvah is well-documented and depressing. It’s also an entirely reversible trend, but only if the Jewish community approaches teen engagement in a new way — one that recognizes the whole teen and values her or him as an equal partner in creating experiences that add meaning to her or his life.

In general, Jewish teens (like non-Jewish peers) today are deeply thoughtful, inquisitive and ambitious. Also like their peers, they can be narcissistic and attached to technology. Most of today’s teens are vastly different than a generation ago, and in many ways different than a decade ago. These changes are due in large part to the changing world in which we live, the central role of technology and the nearly endless opportunities for personal customization a click away.

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Anti-Semitism: The only hate allowed in campus ‘safe spaces’

Students - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
By Lawrence Summers, Opinion for the New York Post

It has seemed to me that a vast double standard regarding what constitutes prejudice exists on American college campuses. There is hypersensitivity to prejudice against most minority groups but what might be called hyper-insensitivity to anti-Semitism.

At Bowdoin College, holding parties with sombreros and tequila is deemed to be an act of prejudice against Mexicans. At Emory, the chalking of an endorsement of the likely Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, on a sidewalk is deemed to require a review of security tapes.

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Get to Know Hovi Star

LGBT - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
A Wider Bridge Staff

Israel’s 2016 Eurovision Song Contest delegate is Hovi Star, a flamboyant 29-year-old singer and reality idol. Star, whose real name is Hovev Sekulets, was voted to the top spot of the Rising Star television song contest, thereby winning the ticket to Eurovision.
Star first came to public attention when he took part in another televised song contest, Kochav Nolad (‘A Star is Born’), in 2009. He also does voice overs for cartoons. “Hovi star is a nickname I received from my friends, because I’m, like, a diva,” he told Israeli website NRG. “But I’m not really a diva, because there’s no such thing in Israel. There’s Shiri Maimon, and there’s Dana International, and that’s it. In Israel you don’t get to do things in a big way.”

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Why You Should Bless Your Kids…Even When They Don’t Want It

Kids - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal    for Kveller

Every Friday night of my childhood, my sisters and I would line up in front of my father as he placed his hands on our heads and recited the priestly blessing. This is a tradition that continues to this day, even as my sisters and I are adults with children of our own. In my mind, my sisters and I were fairly well behaved during our blessing. I remember some pushing and shoving around whose turn it was to be in the middle (without a hand directly on your head) but otherwise, I remember us standing still to receive our blessing—although my parents might dispute that.

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In India, with the Lost Tribe of Ephraim

Traditions - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
by Rabbi Keith Flaks for aish.com

We transcended barriers through the power of music and prayer. This Passover my wife and I went to Southern India to visit the "lost tribe of Ephraim."

This clan of about 150 claims to be descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. They practice Jewish traditions, celebrate most of the holidays, and have started to observe many mitzvot, often in their unique style.

For example, in their tradition, on Erev Pesach they actually slaughter a goat and put the blood on their doorposts! They were shocked to discover that the Jewish world doesn't do that. In general they were thrilled to learn more about how "mainstream Judaism" is being practiced in the rest of the world. Many dream of a day when they could move to the holy land of Israel.

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Categories: All

Andalusian Love Song

Jewish Music - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
By Rahel Musleah for Hadassah Magazine   

The raspy strains of the ney, a Persian flute, give way to the swelling percussive rhythm of 35-piece Andalusian Orchestra Ashkelon—and suddenly Israeli singer David Broza’s voice emerges with his beloved hit “Shir Ahava Bedoui,” fused with a popular Arabic melody. The collaboration between Broza and the orchestra that began five years ago with new arrangements by director and conductor Tom Cohen has resulted in a fabulous reworking of Broza’s boy-with-guitar sound.

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Chocolate, Halvah, and Tahini Swirl Buns Recipe

Jewish Cooking - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
By Chaya Rappoport in The Nosher for MyJewishLearning.com   

I had my first proper halva experience at The Halva Kingdom in the Machane Yehuda Shuk in Jerusalem. I’d never really liked halva before that–the one or two times I’d tasted it, it always had a weird, crumbly texture and slightly bitter aftertaste. But in the shuk, surrounded by dozens of varieties of blocks of halva, I couldn’t resist trying the sample offered to me by the charming vendor.

You guys, it was so, so good! I was pleasantly shocked at how much I liked it. It had this unbelievably creamy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency and a satisfying richness. I bought two varieties–pistachio and coffee–to take home, and couldn’t resist nibbling on the candy the whole tram ride back.

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All the Respect

Family - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am

Papa Plony is obsessed with beating the Baloney family in the annual relay race. But when Yasmin flakes out on practice, and a new team member shows up with an unexpected physical difference - he panics. SHABOOM! Sparks Gabi and Rafel come to the rescue with incredible upsie-downie magic, including an upside-down rainbow ramp, a giant stuffie and a lesson in showing kavod, or respect. Tune in and find out who wins the race. Kol hakavod!

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Advanced Style: Older & Wiser

Jewish Books - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
By Amy Klein for Hadassah Magazine
When Ari Seth Cohen moved to New York more than eight years ago, he was missing his grandmother Bluma, his “best friend” who had recently passed away. So in tribute to her, he started documenting the style and stories of the city’s most inspiring older people. And a phenomenon was born.

To wit: first the blog, then the book, then the documentary Advanced Style, showing photos of the flashy, the classy, the colorful and the eclectic “elderhood” around the world.

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A Surprise Announcement (aka a Love Story)

Interfaith - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily

by Amy Beth Starr

Once upon a time, Amy, a divorced Jewish girl from Jersey, met Matt, a divorced Irish Catholic boy from Philly, in the unlikely state of Maine. They went on some dates. Amy tried to convince herself Matt was too “nice and normal” and Matt ignored her and made her dinner and bought her flowers.They both realized pretty quickly that they were living a real-life Disney movie and suddenly the two found themselves blissfully in love, minus the talking animals of course.

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What Is Lag Ba'Omer

Holidays - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
This year Lag Ba'Omer falls on May 26
By Ariela Pelaia for about.com

Lag Ba'Omer is a minor Jewish holiday that falls between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot. "Lag" is a combination of two Hebrew letters: lamed and gimmel. According to Hebrew numerology, lamed stands for the number thirty and gimmel stands for the number three. These two numbers are significant for Lag Ba'Omer because it is celebrated on the 33rd day of Counting the Omer.

The Significance of Lag Ba'Omer

Lag Ba'Omer is a joyous holiday but no one is sure what it celebrates. The Talmud mentions a plague that is thought to have killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students during one Omer, and some have suggested that Lag Ba'Omer is celebratory because the plague abated on the 33rd day. Others have suggested that Lag Ba'Omer is connected to Rabbi Akiva's support of Simon Bar Kokhba, a Jewish rebel leader against Rome. The Romans responded to Bar Kokhba's revolt with incredible brutality, but perhaps Lag Ba'Omer was a day when either the Jews won a victory or there was a brief respite from the violence.

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The Jewish Farm School

Going Green Jewishly - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
A Sustainable Organization Rooted in Jewish Traditions
The Jewish Farm School teaches about contemporary food and environmental issues through innovative trainings and skill-based Jewish agricultural education. 

We are driven by traditions of using food and agriculture as tools for social justice and spiritual mindfulness. Through our programs, we address the injustices embedded in today’s mainstream food systems and work to create greater access to sustainably grown foods, produced from a consciousness of both ecological and social well being.

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Ancient Jerusalem: The Village, the Town, the City

Feature Article - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:00am
Hershel Shanks as published in Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2016
How Many Jews Lived in Ancient Jerusalem?It’s made such an enormous impact on Western civilization that it’s hard to fathom how small its population really was—small compared even to the centers of contemporaneous empires to the east and to the west. Of course, I’m talking about Jerusalem.
Today many of us live in cities of millions. Very few of us live in towns of only thousands, but hardly any of us live in a village as small as King David’s capital.

A new study of Jerusalem’s population in various periods has recently been published by one of Israel’s leading Jerusalem archaeologists, Hillel Geva of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Israel Exploration Society. Geva bases his estimates on “archaeological findings, rather than vague textual sources.” The result is what he calls a “minimalist view.”1 But whether you accept Geva’s population estimates or those of various other scholars he cites, to the modern observer the ancient city of Jerusalem can only be described as “tiny”—with population estimates at thousands and tens of thousands during many periods of the city’s history. (In comparison, Rome in the century before Jesus lived is estimated to have had a population of 400,000 tax-paying males—so the entire population must have been about a million.)

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White House screens ‘Rosenwald’ for Jewish American Heritage Month

Jewish Israeli News - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 10:15am

The White House screened the documentary “Rosenwald,” about the Jewish philanthropist who worked with blacks to build schools throughout the South, to mark Jewish American Heritage Month.

More than a hundred invitees attended the screening Monday of the documentary about Julius Rosenwald at the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. Aviva Kempner, the Washington, D.C., documentarian who made a film about Jewish baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, directed “Rosenwald.”

Speaking at the event was Valerie Jarrett, a top aide to President Barack Obama whose great-grandfather, Robert Robinson Taylor, designed the schools.

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An unexpected tale of unity and hope on Independence Day

Jewish Israeli News - Tue, 05/17/2016 - 9:25am
When a stranger collapsed with heart failure at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, two Israelis rushed to help, one an Israeli Arab, the other an Israeli Jew – my husband.
By Nicky Blackburn, Israel21c

As Israelis took the lids off their foam sprays and silly string, and adorned themselves in blue and white to celebrate Independence Day, we stepped off a plane at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and began making our way towards baggage control for a four-day trip to the French capital.

Just a few hundred meters into the terminal, a woman came running down the ramp shrieking in panicked French. We had no idea what she was saying, but a moment later spotted a middle-aged man collapsed on the floor, with a small crowd of anxious people around him.

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