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Yes, Many Journalists Choose Sides in a Conflict—and Often for the Worst Reasons

Jewish Israeli News - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 7:00am
Zenobia Ravji for The Tower
It’s important to remember that journalists are human beings, too—and just like everyone else at work, they can often be overwhelmed, underprepared, bought with kindness, and subject to unconscious bias.
People always ask me if I’m pro-Israel. No one has ever asked me if I am pro-America or pro-Canada or pro-Kenya, where I was born. What does it mean to be pro-Israel? The question even seems vaguely offensive, as if it questions the legitimacy of Israel itself.
I am sure that the concept of a Jewish state has always made sense to me. Perhaps because I myself come from an ancient ethnic and religious minority, the Zoroastrians, who continue to live in a diaspora outside of what was once our homeland, Iran.

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Torahportion Recon - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:14am
Exodus 25:1-27:19

Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities

The Golden Calf and the Mishkan
This week's parashah, Terumah, begins the section where God gives Moses the instructions on how to build the Mishkan/Dwelling Place - the portable sanctuary that will follow the people through the desert.

It seems strange that following the spiritual high of the Revelation at Sinai the first thing that God tells Moses once he ascends the mountain for his 40-day stay is what material objects are needed for the building of the Mishkan.

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Torahportion Conserv - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 9:49am
Exodus 25:1-27:19

By Rabbi Ismar Schorsch Reprinted with permission of the Jewish Theological Seminary for MyJewishLearning.com.

This week’s parashah and haftarah [reading from the Prophets] are an exercise in counterpoint. Superficially, the construction of sacred space joins them in a common theme. While the Torah portion takes up the erection of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the narrative from the book of Kings recounts the building by Solomon of the First Temple in Jerusalem some 480 years later.

The move is from a mobile sanctuary to a permanent one, from wood to stone. Still, the basic design remains the same, an oblong structure with the Holy of Holies (devir) at the rear, farthest away from the entrance. Likewise, the content of the Holy of Holies is unaltered: an ark covered by two large cherubim with outstretched wings. The ark itself contained only the two tablets which attested to the covenant between God and Israel sealed at Mount Sinai.

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Torahportion Reform - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 9:27am
Exodus 25:1-27:19

D'var Torah By: Beth Kalisch for ReformJudaism.org

Finding God in Large and Small Spaces
Anyone who has lived in New York City is familiar with the challenges of "small-space living." When I was apartment hunting in New York, I looked at one apartment where the kitchen was so small, the refrigerator was placed directly in front of the kitchen sink. In order to wash your dishes, the real estate agent explained, you could just stand off to the side and reach in. In the apartment I ended up taking, one of the bedrooms could only fit a bed — no other furniture at all. Luckily, my roommate was short enough to be able to stand underneath a loft bed to access a desk and a dresser.

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3 maps that explain the Western Wall compromise

Jewish Israeli News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:10am
By Ben Sales for JTA

The Western Wall compromise passed Sunday by Israel’s Cabinet represents a landmark interdemoninational consensus at what many consider to be Judaism’s holiest site.  But describing the deal can be confusing: One worship area will expand, the others will remain untouched and the site’s entrance will change.

So here are three maps, appended to the deal and obtained by JTA, that show what will be built, what will stay the same and how it all fits together.

The non-Orthodox section expands

The deal’s core provision is a dramatic expansion of the Western Wall’s non-Orthodox section, modeled here. The non-Orthodox section lies immediately to the south of the main Orthodox plaza, next to an archaeological park called Robinson’s Arch.

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Bahraini princess had life-saving surgery in Israel, deputy minister says

Jewish Israeli News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
By Raphael Ahren for The Times of Israel

Member of royal family chose Israel over the US, says Likud’s Ayoub Kara; claims he will now meet with officials from Gulf nation

An Israeli hospital recently provided life-saving treatment to a Bahraini princess, Israel’s Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara said Monday.

Kara refused to name the princess or disclose the nature of the surgery. He also refused to specify when it took place, though he said she had the treatment at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center. In its aftermath, he said, he will now meet with officials from the tiny Gulf nation, and intends to use the opportunity to strengthen Jerusalem’s unofficial alliance with Sunni Arab states in the region.

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Heart in the East

Teens - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
by Ivy Bernstein, AMHSI alumna

Before coming to Israel, I would have identified myself as a Jewish American rather than an American Jew. I used to feel more connected to my nationality because I didn’t really understand how much my ancestors fought to remain Jewish and allow for me to be Jewish today. The Jews were constantly fighting Hellenism, both its culture and its reign. In Kislev during the year 165, the Jews reclaimed The Temple after fighting for it for many years. They won despite the odds and the candles of the menorah symbolize this miraculous military victory. The candles represent the Jewish people and the oil represents the Jewish energy that somehow managed to persist.

Despite the odds, the Jews have remained a nation and have continued to have that Jewish energy. I think it’s truly incredible that despite persecution, the Jews have somehow managed to remain unified and continue. The light still shines and I am part of that light.

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Michael Douglas and Natan Sharansky Make Odd Couple on College Pro-Israel Road Show

Students - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
By Noel Rubinton for The Jewish Daily Forward   

Talk about your odd couples: actor Michael Douglas, winner of last year’s Genesis Prize, kicked off a three-college speaking tour with Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky on Thursday night at Brown University.

The choice of Douglas for the Genesis Prize, whose stated aim is to recognize excellence and achievement by an individual who can serve as a role model for the Jewish community and as an inspiration for the next generation of Jews, sparked surprise when it was announced in January 2015. The son of a Jewish actor Kirk Douglas a his non-Jewish, British wife, Douglas is himself married to the non-Jewish actress, Catherine Zeta Jones and has long identified as secular.

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For transgender teens, Jewish rite of passage is a multi-layered transition

LGBT - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
By Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, JNS.org

A young woman is in the process of transitioning to be a young boy. While the rabbi and close family members are aware of the transition, the congregation is not.

Such was the scenario faced five years ago by Rabbi Eric Gurvis, senior rabbi of Temple Shalom in Newton, Mass. It was among the handful of bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies he has performed for transgender boys and girls.

“There were a lot of details involved, even in the language around the celebration.… [For] people who did not know [about the gender transition], we had no interest in making a spectacle of any kind that day, rather than just celebrating with the child,” recalls Gurvis.

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LEGO Releases First Minifigure with a Wheelchair

Kids - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
Joanna Valente (Editorial Assistant) for Kveller

Recently, we reported that American Girl launched a line of dolls with a diabetes care kit and British toymaker Makies released a line of dolls with disabilities. Both of these toy lines were inspired by the social media campaign, Toys Like Me, which is a campaign encourages parents and kids with disabilities to customize their toys, and then post them online.

Toys Like Me did it again, calling for LEGO to start featuring more characters and toys that reflect real life, and actually include characters with disabilities. All kids should feel included–and it’s hard to feel included if all of your toys represent some limited one dimensional version of what kids are “supposed” to look like.

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1,700-Year-Old Galilee Inscriptions Refer to ‘Rabbis,’ Affirm Jewish Presence

Traditions - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
From the algemeiner.com

JNS.org – Three 1,700-year-old funerary inscriptions referring to “rabbis” were discovered in Moshav Zippori in Israel’s Galilee region, a finding that affirms a Jewish presence in Israel during the Roman period, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday.

“The importance of the epitaphs lies in the fact that they reflect the everyday life of the Jews of Zippori and their cultural world,” said Dr. Motti Aviam of the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology, which partnered with the IAA on the discovery.

Two of the Aramaic inscriptions were found buried in a cemetery in Zippori, but their names have not yet been deciphered. One of the inscriptions bears the name “The Tiberian,” Aviam said.

“This is already the second instance of someone from Tiberias being buried in the cemetery at Zippori,” said Aviam. “It is quite possible that Jews from various parts of Galilee were brought to Zippori to be buried in the wake of the important activity carried out there by [the Mishnah-era sage] Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi.”

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Why We Should Applaud New York Philharmonic's Next Director

Jewish Music - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
By Benjamin Ivry for The Jewish Daily Forward   

On January 27, after the New York Philharmonic named Jaap van Zweden as its next music director starting in 2018, an outcry from local journalists and international bloggers decried the decision. One blogger confidently proclaimed: “New York Philharmonic appoints the wrong music director.” These premature judgments based on insufficient evidence ignore the fact that in his demonstrated knowledge and appreciation of Jewish ritual and cultural history, van Zweden is a fine match for music-loving Manhattanites. He was a protégé of Leonard Bernstein, who decades ago urged van Zweden, once an orchestral violinist, to seriously embrace conducting. In return, van Zweden became a Bernstein devotee, prepping for a 2015 performance of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3, “Kaddish” with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra by filming a meditative visit, wearing a kippa, to Amsterdam’s venerable Portuguese Synagogue. In another video, about a work by Shostakovich reflecting the sufferings of World War II, van Zweden explains how his grandmother fought in the anti-Nazi resistance and “killed a lot of Germans,” which he assured her was the “right thing to do” at the time, although decades after the fact, she had reservations about having taken so many human lives. Would that the Philharmonic resolved to rename the revamped Avery Fisher Hall in honor of van Zweden’s admirable grandmother instead of the unheroic media mogul David Geffen who merely forked over the loot for the renovation.

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Quick Spinach Egg Drop Soup

Jewish Cooking - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
From EveryDayMaven.com

A comforting, healthy Vegetarian bowl of soup you can have ready in minutes!
Asian food is my comfort food. I grew up in a pretty urban part of a major city that had a bustling Chinatown and luckily spent many a meal exploring different cuisines and dishes there. Ask anyone who knows me, if you give me the choice to pick a restaurant out, it’s most likely going to be Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Korean or Japanese.

And I’ll almost always start the meal with a steaming bowl of soup.

While I’ve shared many, many Asian food recipes on here with you, I realized a couple of weeks ago, chin deep into my 17304398’th bowl of this Spinach Egg Drop soup that I’ve never shared this super easy, 5 minute soup recipe with you. This is healthy comfort food at its finest.

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15 Chore Ideas for 4-Year-Olds

Family - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
from Money Saving Mom
Yesterday, I posted about 10 Chore Ideas for Toddlers. Today, I’m going to share some chore ideas for 4-year-olds.

Why 4-year-olds? Well, because I happen to have a 4-year-old right now. :) However, don’t feel like these chores are only appropriate for 4-year-olds. They’d probably work great for children of other ages, too.

3 Important Things to Remember
1. Children Need to Know What You Expect of Them
If you don’t show your children how to do a job well, you can’t expect them to know how to do it right. Before asking them to do a chore on their own, work alongside them a few times showing them specifically how to do it.

2. Don’t Expect Them To Do It Well–Especially At First
It often takes a lot of repetitive teaching, gentle correcting, and practice before a child can do a job well. Don’t expect perfection–especially when they are young. What matters is that they are putting forth effort and trying their best.

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The Raging Skillet, From Microwave to Top Caterer

Jewish Books - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
By Amy Kritzer for Hadassah Magazine

Oprah. Cher. Madonna. Rossi. One of those names may not immediately conjure up a powerful, take-no-prisoners woman, but as the owner of The Raging Skillet catering company, Chef Rossi has earned her mononym nonetheless. She shares her wild rise to award-winning caterer in her memoir with recipes, appropriately titled The Raging Skillet: The True Life Story of Chef Rossi.

Chef Rossi has a vivacious and unapologetic personality that gives life to her almost unbelievable anecdotes, from rebellious, runaway teenager, to a short-lived stint in Lubavitch Brooklyn (“Feminism was not popular in shul,” she writes) to maritime bartender, to her eventual success as an “anti-caterer.” Chef Rossi’s favorite career moment? Catering the celebrity-packed Vagina Monologues after-party. Complete with an anatomically correct feast including a giant vagina-shaped fruit platter.

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I’m Trying to Figure Out How to Raise a Jewish Kid as a Non-Jewish Woman

Interfaith - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
Elizabeth Raphael for Kveller
2015 was a year of change for me, facilitated largely by the birth of my lovely dumpling of a daughter in February. Among the normal challenges of being a first-time parent (learning to cobble together a working brain when it has been addled by lack of sleep, perfecting the art of acting casually when your child decides to poop on you in a public place, and so on), I had the additional challenge of being a non-Jewish woman raising a Jewish daughter.

A bit of background on me: My religious upbringing can best be described as “vaguely Christian.” I went to a Catholic church a handful of times as a child, but I was never baptized, nor did I undergo confirmation (in fact, I had to do a quick Internet search while writing this article to make sure that “confirmation” was even the right term for the process I was thinking of).

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QUIZ: What Jewish Holiday Are You?

Holidays - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
By Holly Lebowitz Rossi for Kveller

From Yom Kippur to Rosh Hashanah to Passover, there’s tons of Jewish holidays out there to choose from. Which one are you most like? Take the quiz to find out!

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The Secret of Israel's Water Miracle and How It Can Help a Thirsty World

Going Green Jewishly - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
From holistic management to advanced toilets, Israel has pioneered ideas that can help the planet manage its increasingly threatened water sources.

Ruth Schuster for Haaretz

The world's problem with water isn't that it's disappearing. The water is there. The problem is that in many areas, growing populations have less and less water per capita because of crumbling infrastructure leading to massive leaking; short-sighted and self-interested water management, leading to egregious waste, and polluted groundwater. Can ideas from Israel really help solve these problems at a planetary level?

Yes, because in a process lasting decades, Israel achieved something unique. It largely separated its water consumption from Mother Nature. Israel doesn't have some one-stop-shop magic solution, neither desalination (which it didn't invent) nor some breakthrough dreamed up by geniuses in garages. What it has is holistic, centralized water management, designed over decades, from which thirsty areas from California to Egypt can cherry-pick ideas, argues Seth Siegel, author of the best-selling book "Let There Be Water". Why reinvent the wheel when one can emulate it?

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American Jewry's Great Untapped Resource: Grandparents

Feature Article - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:00am
They’ve got time, money, and love to spare, and there are more of them than ever. Why isn’t the Jewish community enlisting their help?
Jack Wertheimer for Mosaic

In The Best Boy in the United States of America, the Jewish educator Ron Wolfson pens what amounts to a love letter to his grandparents, whose wise and benevolent influence has continued long after their demise to shape his life, his values, and his loyalties as a Jew. Wolfson’s story has elicited paeans of confirming praise from readers eager to share their own grateful memories of grandparents like his.

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Laugh of the day from a Brisith Chat Show

Jewish Israeli News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 11:00am
Because sometimes you just need to laugh.


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