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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘boston’

Book of Psalms Printed in US in 1640 Sold for $14.2 Million

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

A copy of a 393-year-old Book of Psalms published by Puritans in Massachusetts has been sold at an auction by Sotheby’s for $14.2 million to American philanthropist and financier David Rubenstein, who plans to lend it to libraries.

Known as the Bay Psalm Book, it is believed to be the first book ever to be published in the colonies that later became the United States of America.

Approximately 1,700 copies of the book were printed in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, known then as the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and only 11 are known to remain.

Nine of them are in libraries and museums, and the Old South Church in Boston disposed of one of its two copies in the auction, which has made the church a lot richer.

The church’s minister Rev. Nancy Taylor said earlier this year, “It’s a spectacular book, arguably one of the most important books in this nation’s history.

Referring to the tiny size of the book, she explained to the Associated Press, “This was a utilitarian book to sing praises to God, so you wanted to be able to fit it in your pocket and take it to church. It probably would have belonged to a single family. It’s a hymn book, made for hard use, to be sung from and held by children, mothers, fathers, widows, widowers, and… who knows? I’m sure it was in the hands of quite a few Puritan worshippers.”

The Bay Book of Psalms fetched a high price despite its containing several printing errors, such as the word “pslame” appearing on the right hand of the page while “Psalm” appears on the left side. It also uses inverted coma instead of apostrophes and has several typographical errors.

For comparison, the last time a copy of the Bay Book of Psalms was sold was in 1947, when it exchanged hands for $151,000, a higher price than other book at the time.

Tuesday’s night sale makes it the most expensive book  ever to be sold in the United States, breaking the previous record of $11.5 million for a compete four-volume first edition of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America,” also sold by Sotheby’s.

Boston Declares Nov. 28 as ‘Thanksgivukkah’

Monday, November 25th, 2013

It now is official. This year’s rare coincidence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will be known as “Thanksgivukkah” where the Boston Tea Party took place, retiring Mayor Thomas Menino  declared.

The proclamation notes the special “diversity of all its citizens” and the values embodied by both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, including “unity, hope and gratitude.”

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah last fell on the same day in the late 19th century and after a couple of more concurrent holidays the next 100 years or so, they are not expected to converge again for more than 75,000 years.

That means most of us will not have to suffer the “Thanksgivukkah” shtick again in our lives.

JNS contributed to this report. 

 

 

 

An IMAX Film of the Jerusalem You Never Have Seen Before (Video)

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Five years in the making, the first IMAX film ever made about Jerusalem is as much a visual tour de force as a marvel of cultural diplomacy.

“Jerusalem,” which had its world premiere last week at Boston’s Museum of Science, uses cutting-edge cinematography to immerse the audience in the ancient city’s historic sites from rarely seen perspectives.

Over the course of 45 minutes, viewers are treated to rare aerial views of the Old City as Jews gather at the Western Wall for the priestly blessing, Christian pilgrims march down the Via Dolorosa and Muslims gather at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of Ramadan.

Distributed by National Geographic Entertainment, the film, narrated by the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, will show on IMAX screens and in digital 3-D cinemas across the United States in the coming weeks.

Gaining access to some of the world’s most sensitive and contested locations was a test of devotion and artful negotiations that took the film’s three producers and a team of advisers years to accomplish. Preparations required dozens of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials, the Israeli army and the many clerics who control the city’s religious sites.

Filming from a low-altitude helicopter in the Old City of Jerusalem’s strict no-fly zone required a permit that had not been granted in more than 20 years, the filmmakers said, and acquiring the permit took eight months of negotiations.

In advance of the shooting, producers took out ads in the major Hebrew- and Arabic-language newspapers to notify residents about the helicopter filming.

“There was nothing that was not complicated,” Taran Davies, one of the film’s producers, said at the premiere.

Even the terrestrial shots were difficult to carry off. For the scene filmed at the Western Wall, an IMAX camera was mounted on a crane above the crowds.

The most challenging authorization by far was for the Temple Mount, known in Islam as the Muslim Noble Sanctuary, which required permission from the Islamic custodial body, the religious affairs ministry in Jordan and Israeli security forces.

A critical figure in helping the producers navigate the logistical maze was Ido Aharoni, now Israel’s consul general in New York. Aharoni first learned about the film six years ago when he directed Brand Israel, a project to promote Israel around the world.

He recognized the potential of portraying the country’s historical and cultural gems in such a visually powerful medium. IMAX films also typically screen in museums and can run for years.

“The whole purpose of the movie is to produce a visually awesome experience for the moviegoer who happens to be a museumgoer; it can’t be judged like any other movie,” Aharoni told JTA. “Realizing that, we told [the producers], ‘Whatever you need, we’ll help you.’ ”

The film’s mesmerizing visuals are woven into a narrative propelled by the voices of three teenage Jerusalemite women — Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Fluent in English, the women offer eloquent descriptions of the deep religious, cultural and family ties that bind them and their respective religions to their home city.

Though the film was carefully planned down to the last minute and camera angle, Daniel Ferguson, the film’s producer, writer and director, told JTA the teens’ words were their own.

“My goal is to promote understanding,” Ferguson told JTA. “The film will change assumptions and give a window into another point of view.”

The voices of the women are supplemented by that of Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, who guides viewers through an ancient tunnel and visits active excavation sites that continue to unearth the history of the land.

The filmmakers took great pains to balance the presentation of all three religions, according to George Duffield, another producer with longstanding ties to Israel. He and Ferguson say they were at times pressed to take a position on controversial or political issues, but insisted on neutrality.

“Everyone wanted the film to be about their own faith,” Duffield said. “That’s how they see the city.”

The producers hope the film can be used to promote tolerance and understanding. Profits will be donated to the Jerusalem Foundation and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to underwrite projects that benefit all residents of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum in a still from the IMAX film “Jerusalem."

Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum in a still from the IMAX film “Jerusalem.”

Leftist ‘Pro-Israel’ Anti-Zionists Hurting Federations Donations

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

American Jews are debating where Jewish federations in their communities draw the line on funding programs associated with varying opinions about Israel, especially activities by “Zionists” who are nothing but anti-Zionists.

Boston

In the Boston area, a recent test case for the local Jewish federation—Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP)—revolves around its relationship with Leonard Fein, the founder of organizations including the National Coalition for Jewish Literacy, Moment Magazine, and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

In an Aug. 24 column for the Forward, Fein called for a boycott of the Israeli city of Ariel, which is located beyond the 1949 Temporary Armistice Lines that existed until the Six-Day War in 1967.

“Specifically, I believe American Jews visiting Israel should stay away from [Ariel], treat it as an offense against peace,” Fein wrote.

He had been a guest speaker for CJP and has a long-term relationship with that federation’s leadership groups. Asked if that relationship would change due to Fein’s stance on Ariel, CJP Executive Director Barry Shrage said it would not, and regarding whether CJP is willing to continue to invite Fein as a speaker, Shrage said, “Sure.”

“Certainly an argument about settlements, and how to protest settlements and how to support settlements, is part of the daily life of the Jewish community that has a healthy ongoing debate about important issues,” Shrage told JNS.org.

While Shrage believes Fein’s call for a boycott of Ariel was “a very poor tactic,” he stressed that Fein is “a highly respected member of our community.”

“We’d be so much poorer a community if we drive out people like Leonard Fein,” Shrage said. “The future of the community is about binding people together.”

But Charles Jacobs, head of the Boston-based advocacy group Americans for Peace and Tolerance, believes CJP crosses a red line by continuing to work with Fein. Jacobs called the policy of welcoming a “big tent” of organizations and individuals with varying views on Israel a “slippery slope.”

“The CJP-certified Leonard Fein is now one more slip down the slope,” Jacobs told JNS.org. “Leonard Fein, who in the midst of Middle East madness, where Arabs are murdering and gassing and torturing each other—and each other’s wives and children, from Cairo to Damascus to Baghdad—Fein blames Israelis for the lack of peace in the region.

“Beholden to major donors, many of them on the left, it seems that some federations have become disconnected from the larger Jewish community. So if CJP does not excommunicate Fein—if it has no red lines—it will show just how disconnected it has become.”

Shrage said CJP does have red lines. Advocating for the destruction of Israel or harming Israel are “stances that place people outside the community,” but Fein is “a Zionist” and working with him does not cross a line, despite his stance on Ariel, according to Shrage.

“The line here is whether you are anti-Zionist, anti-Israel,” he said.

Fein told JNS.org that while he called for a boycott of Ariel because its location 10 miles beyond the 1949 armistice line presents “a very distinctive problem” and “essentially destroys the possibility of a two-state solution,” he opposes the broader Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“I think each potential target of that kind of approach of boycott, divestment and sanctions needs to be treated on its own terms, on its own merits, or lack of merits,” Fein said, explaining that he disagrees with a movement that issues boycott calls “with a broad brush,” like the BDS movement does.

New York

Shrage called hosting Fein a “far cry” from hosting BDS activist Alice Walker, author of “The Color Purple, who appeared at New York’s 92nd Street Y in May, a story that The Jewish Press exposed here.

The Y also scheduled an event this spring with Roger Waters, the anti-Israel Pink Floyd band member, which was ultimately canceled after The Jewish Press revealed it here.

On Sept. 12, JCC Watch and Americans for a Safe Israel partnered on a protest outside the UJA-Federation of New York building that called for Jews to stop donating to the federation, due to a lack of guidelines preventing federation funding of programming that gives a platform to anti-Israel voices like Walker and Waters. The Y receives $900,000 annually from the federation.

“We have a pattern of forces within the UJA-Federation diverting charitable dollars to further political purposes, and these purposes are anti-Israel,” Richard Allen, head of JCC Watch, told JNS.org.

When a UJA donor and volunteer told Allen at the protest that the funding in question is “only a small part” of the federation’s budget, Allen said he replied, “Even if it’s one penny, it’s wrong, and it makes the whole organization basically treif.”

The UJA-Federation declined to comment for a JNS.org article on the Sept. 12 protest and did not return a comment request for this article.

Washington, DC

Like JCC Watch, Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art (COPMA) is calling for a halt to donations to its local federation, citing the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s funding of the Washington DC Jewish Community Center’s Theater J.

COPMA was formed in 2009 as a response to Theater J’s work on “Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza,” a series of short plays in which parents repeat anti-Israel narratives while mulling how to speak to children about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One actor advises a parent not to tell a child that “Arabs used to sleep in her bedroom.”

Robert G. Samet, COPMA’s chairman, said his group does not intend to impede artistic freedom, but rather specifically opposes the federation’s support of Theater J.

“It’s just, don’t do it on our nickel,” Samet told JNS.org. “Don’t do it on [federation] contributors’ support, it’s not appropriate. It’s a fringe view that’s being supported by mainstream contributors.”

Four days after The Jewish Press exposed Jewish funding for Theater J here, Robert Levi, chairman of the board of the National Council of Young Israel, wrote an an Aug. 26 letter to the DC Federation and joined COPMA’s call for the discontinuation of federation support for Theater J, due to the theater group’s planned performance of Motti Lerner’s “The Admission” from March 20-April 27, 2014.

“As you may be aware, [‘The Admission’] reflects a neo-anti-Israeli perspective, which is contrary to the mission of the Federation,” Levi wrote. “The climatic scene of play implies a fictitious 1948 massacre conducted by a colonel in the Israeli defense brigade. You may not be aware that many of Mr. Lerner’s dramas are not performed in Israel due to their harmful message.”

Last week, the federation responded to COPMA with an “open letter to our community.”

“Love of Israel and openness to a diverse array of thought are compatible goals,” the federation’s letter stated.

Ari Roth, artistic director of Theater J, told JNS.org that “The Admission” is all based on “actual research done by three historians,” rather than implying the “fictitious 1948 massacre” that Young Israel’s Levi described in his letter. “The Admission” was also featured in an April 2013 workshop that was underwritten by the Israeli Consulate of New York, which Roth called an Israeli “hechsher” on the play.

COPMA does not acknowledge Theater J’s slate of more than 35 plays and workshops relating to Israel over the last 16 years, said Roth, who among other plays the group has performed cited “Dai” (“Enough”), which details the experiences of 14 different Israelis in the moments before a suicide bombing.

Theater J also never actually produced “Seven Jewish Children,” explained Roth. Instead, the group held a “critical dissection” of the play, featuring readings of “Seven Jewish Children” and response plays, as well as a talk to start the event that included “what troubled me about the play,” Roth said.

The DC federation, in an April 2011 statement, said it would not fund “any organization that encourages boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel in pursuit of goals to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish State.” Theater J “stands squarely” against the BDS movement, Roth told JNS.org.

“We are all about bringing Israeli art over here, engaging with Israel,” he said. “We are a leading importer of Israeli cultural talent to Washington.”

In its letter on COPMA last week, the federation said it was not its job to meddle in the “autonomous decision making” of its partner agencies, or to “single out a few programs from the thousands we support that may make some uneasy.”

Samet, chairman of COPMA, told JNS.org that it was “only with great reluctance that we went to a mass email campaign urging people to suspend or terminate contributions until such time as [the] federation does something about [the Theater J issue].” But the federation ultimately crossed COPMA’s red line.

“We didn’t want to take it that far, but they pretty much forced our hand by ignoring us, and ignoring the issue,” he said.

British Academy Supporting Racist Lecturer Condemned by UK

Monday, August 26th, 2013

The British Academy is supporting a lecturer who has been strongly condemned for racism by British Prime Minister David Cameron and by the Foreign Office’s anti-discrimination division, reported UN Watch.

The Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group today urged the head of the British Academy, Lord Stern of Brentford, to immediately remove all support for the scheduled September 11 Canberra appearance by Richard Falk, a UN Human Rights Council official recently denounced by world leaders for suggesting that the Boston bombings were the fault of the U.S. and Israel.

Falk was condemned by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, and by the US, UK and Canadian governments, for blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”

The Sept. 11 timing of the conference is doubly offensive because Falk was also condemned by the UN chief for spreading 9/11 conspiracy theories.

A copy of UN Watch’s letter was sent to Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the UK’s envoy to the UN, and to the London anti-discrimination division, both of whom recently condemned Falk for racism.

UN Watch today also sent a similar protest letter to Gareth Evans, chancellor of the Australian National University, which is hosting the conference. Evans, a former Australian foreign minister, served on a 2004 UN panel that led to the creation of Falk’s Human Rights Council.

Following is the UN Watch letter sent today:

Lord Stern of Brentford President of the British Academy

Dear Lord Stern,

UN Watch is shocked that the British Academy, whose purpose is to support excellence in the humanities, is funding a September 11th platform for Mr. Richard Falk, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who was just condemned by your own government for racism, and who was denounced by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and world leaders for his vile comments blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”

According to a website called Human Rights in Palestine, the Australian National University in Canberra will soon host a “groundbreaking conference” on Palestinian human rights, on September 11. Mr. Falk is listed as a keynote speaker at this event.

This highly problematic event prominently displays a large British Academy logo throughout the website.

Notwithstanding a barely legible footnote on one of the pages containing a disclaimer written in tiny, faded grey letters, the website clearly implies the endorsement and support of the British Academy on its “Home”, “Program”, “Speakers”, “Exhibition” and other pages.   

We understand that this British Academy endorsement may be related to your 2009 grant of £29,836 to Dr. Victoria Mason — a convener of the Canberra conference whose avowed specialties include “Israeli State Terror” — in order to study “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the West Bank.”

In that regard, please note that while the conference program claims to address human rights, Mr. Falk is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing who uses the language of human rights to absolve terrorists of culpability. He is the only UN expert in history to have been condemned for racism by Britain, or any other member state of the European Union.

We are sending a copy of this complaint letter to the attention of UK Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant — and to Ms. Philippa Thompson, Deputy Team Leader of the Equality and Non-Discrimination Team within the Human Rights & Democracy Department of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who recently examined and addressed Mr. Falk’s racism.

The UK Non-Discrimination Team determined that Falk’s recent writings are “resonant of the longstanding antisemitic practice of blaming Jews (through the State of Israel by proxy) for all that is wrong in the world.”

As the British Academy, you may also wish to take note that:  

1. British Prime Minister David Cameron “strongly condemned” Falk’s 2011 publication of an antisemitic cartoon, showing a dog wearing a Jewish head-covering urinating on a depiction of justice and devouring a bloody skeleton. Falk was also condemned by British MPs David Burrowes and Theresa Villiers.

2. The British Foreign Office last year condemned Falk for providing the cover endorsement of a book that asks whether “Hitler might have been right after all.” The UK Mission in Geneva protested to the UN human rights office, expressing London’s “serious concerns.” The book endorsed by Falk, “The Wandering Who,” also accuses “the Jews” of being “the only people who managed to maintain and sustain a racially orientated, expansionist and genocidal national identity that is not at all different from Nazi ethnic ideology.”

3. The British Mission to the United Nations condemned Mr. Falk’s April 19, 2013 remarks on the Boston bombing as “anti-Semitic,” highlighting it was the third time the British Government had to do so.

In addition we note:

•  That Falk is so extreme in his support for the Hamas terrorist organization that even the Palestinian Authorityas revealed in a Wikleaks cable, and which Falk himself admitshas sought to remove him, on grounds that he is a “partisan of Hamas;

•  That Falk recently published an article attempting to downplay, reinterpret and justify the latest call by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to destroy Israel;  

•  That Falk accused Israel of planning a Palestinian Holocaust,prompting a bloc of dictatorships, including Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, to sucessfully nominate him as the UN Human Rights Council’s expert on Palestine; •  That Falk is one of the world’s most high-profile supporters of the leading 9/11 conspiracy theorists, lending his name to those who accuse the U.S. government of orchestrating the destruction of the Twin Towers as a pretext to launch wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;

•  That Falk actively promotes the writings of David Ray Griffin, a disciple and close friend of Falk who has produced 12 books describing the World Trade Center attack as “an inside job”; •  That Falk not only contributed the Foreword to Griffin’s 2004 “The New Pearl Harbor”—praising the author’s “patience,” “fortitude,” “courage,” and “intelligence”—but Griffin credits Falk for getting the book published, and also specially thanks Falk’s wife, Hilal Elver, someone who remains a member of Human Rights Watch’s Santa Barbara Committee, and who is also speaking at the upcoming Canberra conference;

IBM Buys Out Israeli Data Security Firm for $300-400 Million

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

IBM has announced it is buying up the Israeli data security company Trusteer for an undisclosed sum but which market analysts estimate is in the $300-400 million range. IBM said the purchase advances its investment in cloud-delivered software and services.

Trusteer provides software solutions to protect companies from financial fraud and security threats.

As part of this announcement, IBM is forming a cyber security software lab in Israel that will bring together more than 200 Trusteer and IBM researchers and developers to focus on mobile and application security, advanced threat, malware, counter-fraud, and financial crimes. This lab is an addition to IBM’s existing research and development facilities in Israel.

Trusteer has offices in Boston and Tel Aviv and says its software can identify security threats that can be missed by traditional security software. Most of the top 10 American and British banks use Trusteer software, which helps ensure that banking customers can safely transfer money on a mobile device.

PA Touts Kerry’s Return while He Stays at Wife’s Hospital Bed

Monday, July 8th, 2013

The Palestinian Authority, with the cooperation of “Peace Process media,” is cranking out the propaganda of a supposed dramatic return to Israel by  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, at the same time his wife is on a hospital bed in critical condition in the United States.

Heinz Ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry was flown to Boston Monday after being rushed the day before from the Kerry’s Nantucket home to a local hospital.

Her conditioned was termed stable but critical.

The Secretary of State has been by her side since he returned from the Middle East two weeks ago, but that has not stopped the Palestinian Authority and supportive Israeli media from grinding out stories of his immediate return to Israel.

The left-wing Haaretz and Yediot Acharonot newspapers, without naming sources but presumably relying on Ramallah, proclaimed the supposed visit on Sunday. The story was gladly carried by wire services and Israel media.

“John Kerry is on his way back: the US secretary of state is expected to arrive in Israel for the sixth time towards the end of the week, in order to try and get the negotiations with the Palestinians to move forward,” said Yediot.

Haaretz chimed in that Kerry’s a senior peace process adviser Frank Lowenstein, has been meeting “almost daily” with Israeli negotiators and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.

It is logical they are meeting, though not necessarily together. It is logical they did not stay in Israel to tour the country.

But the story of Kerry’s supposed return seems to be a set-up for the Palestinian Authority’s next pitch, a “secret meeting” with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Former PA minister Ashraf al-Ajrami said at the Knesset Monday, “I want to reveal a secret here. We held negotiations with Bibi Netanyahu, at his home, for many hours recently. Yasser Abed Rabbo negotiated directly with Bibi.”

It was not a secret, according to the response from the office of the Prime Minister. It was a lie.

Even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the government’s “Peace Process Minister,” said no such meeting has taken place since the new coalition government was installed in March.

Kerry has been in Israel five times since he took office early this year. After his last visit, after great expectations of a return to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, he left behind a team of advisers and said, “I will be back soon.”

What is soon? The American Embassy in Tel Aviv told the Jewish Press “soon” means “soon” but admitted there has been no announcement on his travel plans for the week.

His immediate travel plans obviously are to drive back and forth from his home to the Boston hospital where his wife was admitted, all of which makes the Palestinian Authority, and their Israeli media sponsors, look more insensitive and crude than stupid.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/pa-bluffs-on-kerrys-return-while-his-wife-in-critical-condition/2013/07/08/

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