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June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘education’

No Ramadan Fasting Allowed for Muslims in Xinjiang, China

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

Residents of the majority- Muslim province of Xinjiang in China are not being allowed to celebrate their religious holiday this year.

The Chinese government posted statements banning the traditional month-long daily fasts on the websites of schools, government agencies and local party organizations.

“No teacher may participate in religious activities, instill religious thoughts in students, or coerce students into religious activities,” read a statement on the website of the No. 3 Grade School in Ruoqiang County in Xinjiang, according to the Virtual Jerusalem website.

“Students shall not participate in religious activities; they shall not study scripts or read poems at script and choir classes; they shall not wear any religious emblems; and no parent or others can force students to have religious beliefs or partake in religious activities,” another post on the website read.

Restaurants have been ordered to stay open in the province, including those owned and operated by Muslims, according to the Saudi Arabian Arab News website. Shops have been threatened with closure if they do not continue selling cigarettes and alcohol throughout the month of Ramadan.

According to the post, the ban is intended to “protect students’ well-being” and “prevent the use of schools and government offices from promoting religion.” But the ban may be adding fuel to a fire that is already beginning to blaze in the province against the Han ethnic majority in China, the largest such group in the country.

Dilxat Raxit, the Sweden-based leader of the Uighur people, however, warned in a statement last Friday, “The faith of the Uighurs has been highly politicized and the increase in controls could cause sharp resistance.” The second-largest ethnic group in China is comprised of the Uighurs, who largely identify with Islam. All told, there are some 56 recognized ethnic groups in the country.

“China’s goal in prohibiting religious fasting is to forcibly move Uighurs away from their Muslim culture during Ramadan,” said Raxit, a spokesperson for the exiled World Uighur Congress. “Policies that prohibit religious fasting are a provocation and will only lead to instability and conflict.”

The ruling party, which officially is atheist, is “encouraging” its members to avoid daytime fasting – a direct slap at the Islamic practice during Ramadan.

“They are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won’t fast on Ramadan,” Raxit said in an interview with Radio Free Asia.

In December 2014, China prohibited the wearing of burkas – Islamic full-body, veiled robes – in public in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, referred to by some as East Turkestan. Some eight million Turkish-speaking Uighur Muslims populate the northwestern Xinjiang region, which has been autonomous since 1955, but remains subject to security restrictions by Chinese authorities.

Last month violence in a Xinjiang open air vegetable market left 43 people dead. A year ago 13 radical Islamic terrorists were killed in a clash with police. Attacks at train stations in Urumqi and in southwestern China were also blamed on Muslim extremists.

The most populous nation in the world, China is also the third largest country in size geographically. Its role as a leader in world politics as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council is also bringing China to global prominence as well.

Up to this point, China has maintained a relatively low profile on the world stage with regard to the issue of terrorism driven by radical Islam. But its obvious return to the traditional Communist government intolerance for any religious practice, however – particularly timed to coincide with Ramadan — indicates a likely change in that attitude.

What remains to be seen is how local Muslims will respond to the whip, and whether – and how – fellow Muslims around the world will protest on their behalf.

Bloomberg Donates $100 Million to Cornell Campus of Technion University

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated the foundation carrying his name is donating $100 million towards a $2 billion the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, which is being developed with Israel’s Technion University.

The new campus is scheduled to open in 2017 and move from the small and temporary location since the Cornell-Technion project began two years ago. The new campus, to be called Bloomberg Center will cover 12 acres and accommodate approximately 2,000 students.

Cornell teamed up with Technion despite protests that the Ivy League university was tacitly supporting the “occupation.”

Giant Swastika Spread On San Francisco HS Football Field

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Anti-Semitism is alive and kicking in San Francisco, California.

A giant swastika was plastered on El Camino High School’s football field sometime after graduation last Friday, and stayed there, unnoticed, the entire weekend. Removable, snap-together tiles were linked together to construct the massive Nazi symbol of the Third Reich.

Assistant Principal Gary Gooch called the incident “dispiriting and disturbing,” telling the SFGate news site in an interview this week “it just really puts a damper on things.”

Gooch said police have launched an investigation into the incident. “It kind of boggles the mind that someone would do that,” he said.

“You hope it’s someone who has no idea what that means.”

Custodians only noticed the swastika when they arrived at the field on Monday. They immediately alerted school officials and then pulled it apart. But some residents had already seen the hateful symbol.

Brisbane resident Robin Belinsky, who is Jewish, certainly noticed it as she drove by the school; she stopped to snap photos and shoot video of the swastika on the field.

Although she said the community is one that is very “accepting,” she said “these types of incidents need to be brought to the public’s attention. Hate still happens.”

Belinsky said she remembers her own experiences with anti-Semitism as a child in school in Pacifica, and she wants to make sure her own child does not have to do the same.

Israel Parents’ Group Slams New Education Rules

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Israel’s national parent group has condemned new guidelines by the Education Ministry designed to ensure there will be no cheating on final exams.

The regulations call for student “lockdown” during the 45 minutes prior to the start of the Bagrut exams, which are similar to New York’s Regent exams.

Students will not be allowed to have access to their cell phones but will be allowed to study for the exams with regular study materials.

The National Parent Association stated its regret that the ministry chose not to consult or cooperate with its group. “The decision on the new guidelines is far-reaching and presents severe harm to students during their matriculation exams – the most sensitive and stressful time of their school year.”

Last week the Education Ministry explained that although officials realized the decision would cause “discomfort and unrest, and it is not perfect or ideal” the strategy had been reached “after examining all the other options, [and] analyzing the risks and chances they could be implemented.”

Ultimately, the ministry “found that this decision was the right one for the time being,” and maintained that “the rights of the students to take the matriculation exams be upheld.”

The lockdown strategy that is so vehemently being debated is designed ensure that students do not have time to access information about the exam while the questionnaire is being printed by school officials.

It comes in the wake of repeated incidents of cheating on the exams in various schools and population sectors.

This year’s questionnaire will be sent directly to the schools electronically via the Internet prior to the exam.

Nazis Continue to have their Evils Undone

Friday, May 15th, 2015

A brilliant German scientist was denied her doctorate back in 1938 because, as the daughter of a Jewish woman, she was ineligible as “a first-degree crossbreed,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

But now, at the age of 102, Inbeborg Rapoport will finally receive her doctorate for work on the infectious disease diphtheria, which was ravaging European and American children when she submitted her doctoral papers.

Rapoport was a student at the University of Hamburg, which declared itself “the first national-socialist institute of higher learning in the Reich,” and refused to allow her to complete her oral defense of her dissertation.

But now, almost eight decades later, Rapoport will finally receive her doctorate. Rapoport is already a doctor, having obtained a medical degree from Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, after having arrived alone and penniless in the U.S. in 1938.

Rapoport has had quite the life – she fled Nazi Germany, came to the States and married an Austrian-Jew who came under suspicion as an active member of the Communist party, then fled the U.S. for Europe and now lives in Berlin.

Her son, a Harvard Medical School professor, was able to connect with the dean of the University of Hamburg’s medical school. After many obstacles, Rapoport finally was given – and passed – her oral defense of her dissertation and will receive the long-denied doctorate on June 9.

Rapoport will be the oldest person on record to receive a doctorate.

Meretz Warns against ‘Danger’ of Bennett as Education Minister

Monday, April 27th, 2015

The left-wing Meretz party, the one whose former Education Minister ruled out learning the Book of Joshua because it describes wars, is worried about the “danger” of national religious Naftali Bennett heading the ministry.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering Bennett as the next Minister of Education after Bennett gave up his demand to be Foreign Minister or Defense Minister.

Former Meretz chairman and Education Minister banned the Book of Joshua from the school system because it describes the successful wars fought by the Jewish People after they entered Israel.

Current Meretz leader Zehava Galon now wants to ban Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, from heading the ministry because he probably will fund religious schools no less than secular schools.

That would be undemocratic, according to the leftist definition of the word, by which any public money to promote Judaism comes at the expense of promoting democracy, which apparently is not only a religion in itself but also is the only religion.

Galon wrote on Facebook:

It is dangerous and irresponsible to place the Education portfolio in the hands of Naftali Bennett. Last year outrageous information showed that the Ministry of Education invested 56 million shekels ($14 million) in organizations linked with the study of Jewish values ​​compared to only 5.5 million shekels for those that promote democratic values. It is painful and frightening to imagine what those numbers will look like next year if Naftali Bennett will be appointed.

Her argument promotes the idea that Judaism contradicts democracy and vice-versa.

Sarid hates the Book of Joshua because it deals with reality. Sarid forgets that Israel fought wars only when the “peace process” did not work.

He told the Jerusalem Post he was “disgusted” at the idea of Bennett as Minister of Education.

Galon wrote that if Bennett will be the minister of Education, she will be looking over his right shoulder all the time to check where every shekel is allocated and perhaps how many copies of the Book of Joshua are bought for schools.

The Book of Joshua not only describes war and peace. It also includes the command of God to set up cities of refuge:

Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘Prepare for you cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses To which a slayer that kills any person unawares, unwittingly, shall flee and they shall be for you as a refuge from the avenger of blood.

What democracy other than Israel has such a principle that embodies the heart and soul of leftist ideology?

My Encounter with Rav Lichtenstein

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Some 25 years ago I decided I wanted to go to Israel and debated over which Yeshiva I would attend.

The “Gush”, Yeshiva Har Etzion, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s yeshiva in Israel, was one of the options on my very short list.

I applied, and was invited to come down to Yeshiva University for an interview with Rav Lichtenstein.

I spent weeks preparing for that interview. I picked out an interesting piece of Gemorah, and learned it backwards and forwards.

I walked confidently into Rav Soloveitchik’s apartment in YU where Rav Lichtenstein was holding interviews with prospective students, and we began to learn. He asked questions and I answered them. I defended my positions. Very straightforward.

And then I don’t know what happened.

He raised a question from a different Gemorah related to this particular sugiyah. A Gemorah I had also studied in preparation for this interview.

I don’t recall it even being a complex question. But his question came from a perspective I hadn’t considered, and it turned everything upside down. Suddenly we had to take everything I learned apart, and we started again from a completely different angle.

I walked into that interview thinking I knew that Gemorah like the back of my hand, and by the middle of this experience, I realized I knew almost nothing, including how to learn.

What was supposed to have been a 15 minute interview, turned into an intense, more than hour-long learning session and intellectual battle, the likes of which I had never experienced in my entire life.

I walked out of the apartment as white as a sheet, and covered in sweat from the energy I expended in the intellectual battle I just fought and lost with Rav Lichtenstein, realizing that my weeks of learning, where I thought I knew the Gemorah inside and out, had barely scraped the surface of the depths of what learning truly was.

The students who were waiting patiently outside for for their turn, took one look at me and were afraid to go in next for their interviews.

While it had been intellectually satisfying, I was sure I hadn’t been accepted to the Gush after displaying how embarrassing little I had managed to actually learn in the few weeks ahead of the interview, compared to what we had accomplished in such a short time.

But to my surprise I was accepted.

Ultimately, I chose a different path to Israel, but that encounter — learning with Rav Lichtenstein — was the yardstick by which I measured the quality of my learning from that point forward.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/first-person/my-encounter-with-rav-lichtenstein/2015/04/21/

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