More than 2,000 people have donated funds to plant a grove of more than 3,000 trees in Israel in memory of the victims of the Newtown shooting.
Hadassah has raised more than $61,000 toward the planting of trees honoring the 26 victims of the Dec. 14 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The trees will be part of the Beersheva River Park, a 1,700-acre water, environmental and commercial area being constructed by the Jewish National Fund in Israel’s desert city.
The idea for the Newtown grove grew from a request made by Veronique Pozner, whose son, Noah, was the only Jewish victim of the shooting at the Connecticut school. Pozner said memorial contributions could be directed toward the planting of trees in Israel.
The president of Hadassah, Marcie Natan, said her organization decided quickly that it wanted to honor all the victims of the massacre, not just Noah.
“Everybody was so affected by the massacre and wanted to do something to express their solidarity with the families,” Natan told JTA. “Each of us have had the experience of non-Jews who have found it very meaningful when a tree is planted in the Holy Land. We felt no one would be offended by this and we thought it would be a very appropriate way to honor the memory of the victims.”
The trees will be planted in a section of the park that Hadassah already had committed to populating with trees. At $18 per tree, the gifts in memory of the Newtown victims thus far are enough to cover more than 3,300 trees.
11:13 PM AnIsraeli was injured in rock attack near Kiryat Arba. He was transported to Hadassah Hospital, unconscious with a severe head injury.
The number of rock and firebomb attacks in Judea and Samaria has been very high on Sunday.
9:03 PM In response to increasing tensions in the Middle East, New York police increase security on Synagogues in the city. 8:50 PM El-Al giving major discounts to Israelis overseas who receive emergency call up orders.
7:25 PM Iron Dome systems knock down missiles over Gush Dan/Tel Aviv area. Sirens send residents running to shelters.
6:20 PM: Hamas operator killed along with his family by Israeli rocket. This brings the overall death toll in Gaza since the start of Pillar of defense to 66.
6:12 PM Ben Gurion university in Be’er Sheva will remain closed tomorrow.
6:10 PM IDF has hit 50 terror infrastructure spots in the Gaza strip today.
5:39 PM: Gaza City is in partial darkness this evening. There’s no telling whether the electric power was cut by the Hamas or by Israel.
5:25 PM: Over the course of the day, the IDF has targeted over 50 terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip, including under-ground rocket launching sites and terror tunnels, inflicting severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, the IDF targeted Hamas’ operational communication infrastructures in the northern Gaza Strip, which are used for issuing orders to operatives as well as the spreading of propaganda. In addition, the IDF targeted a launching site, from which a rocket was fired towards the city of Tel Aviv, as well as several Hamas-affiliated terrorist squads. (IDF)
5:20 PM: IDF artillery fire hitting the Gaza Strip
5:00 PM Air raid siren in S’dot Negev.
4:56 PM 4 rockets land in Eshkol region, no reports of injuries.
4:46 PM Once more, Israeli press talking about representatives going to Cairo to discuss a cease fire. UPDATE: Both Defense Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Liberman say there will be no talking while rockets falling.
4:44 PM Rockets fired at S’derot and Sha’ar HaNegev. 4:29 PM Preliminary reports: 4 wounded, one seriously, one moderately in the Ofakim region. UPDATE: 2 seriously wounded. Rocket hit next to car.
UPDATE: 5 wounded, 2 adults and 2 year old daughter were in a car and two passersby.
4:18 PM Sirens going off in S’dot Negev and Sha’ar HaNegev. 7 rockets fired. Most fall in open areas.
4:05 PM Channel 2 TV reports that a car near Ofakim was hit by a rocket, and there are 4 wounded; 2 moderately, 2 lightly.
4:04 PM US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Schapiro met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and reviewed the new Iron Dome (5th installation) protecting Greater Tel-Aviv and promised another 300 Million Dollars — for their to be a total of 13 Iron Dome installations. (source)
3:56 PM Reports of rocket strike in Negev area. MDA forces responding.
3:13 PM Air Raid sirens in Eshkol region 3:10 PM In a lightening fast operation, the IDF Homefront command fixed a number of sirens in Central Israel that were not working well over the past few days.
3:04 PM Air Raid Sirens in Eshkol region
2:46 PM Video of Iron Dome taking out GRAD rockets less than an hour ago.
2:45 PM Two GRAD rockets taken out by Iron Dome (fired at Ashdod area
2:21 PM Direct hit on a house in Ashkelon….no injuries.
2:15 PM Reports that the last barrage of rockets towards Ashdod and area was over 15 rockets in one shot.
2:10 PM Air Raid Sirens as another rocket barrage is headed for Ashkelon.
2:05 PM Another rocket hits Ashdod. Forces responding to 2 locations.
2:02 PM Iron Dome working overtime to take out Grad rocket strike on Ashdod and area….
2:01 PM Another Air Raid Siren in Ashdod….GRAD rocket lands in Ashdod…forces responding.
1:44 PM Notice to Ashdod residents. IDF sappers are going to explode a fallen rocket soon. If you hear a boom, its a controlled explosion.
1:40 PM 3 rockets land in Beer Sheva. No Injuries.
1:26 PM Air Raid Sirens in Beer Sheva area.
1:23 PM IDF dropping leaflets into Gaza: Important Message to Gaza Strip residents: Hamas is playing with fire and endangering your lives for naught. The IDF is proceeding to the next phase. For your own safety, we ask you to adhere to our instructions and distance yourselves from Hamas operatives and infrastructure. Sincerely, THE IDF.
1:21 PM Israeli Government meeting to decide on IDF ground incursion (Udi Segal, Channel 1 TV)
1:14 PM Reports of a direct hit in Sederot. Unconfirmed, as MDA and Homefront command responds.
1:04 PM Another barrage of rockets over Southern Israel for the past 15 minutes
12:26 PM IDFSPOX: Rocket fell in Ashkelon near a nursery school.
12:15 PM Siren in Ashdod.
12:08 PM Syria claims IDF killed 3 Syrian soldiers, after IDF shot back at Syrian army position that shot at them on Saturday night.
11:59 PM Ashkelon Beach
11:47 AM IDF takes out launch team that shot at Tel Aviv
11:34 AM Serious injury in Shaar Hanegev from Rocket
11:20 AM Sirens going off in S’derot
11:15 AM Two more rockets shot down over Ashdod.
11:13 AM Rocket fell a short time ago in Ashkelon causing minor damage to a building. More sirens sounding there now.
11:04 AM Sirens in Gan Yavne and Gadera. Also Nitzanim, Beni Aiyish, Chatzor, Ashdod, Iron Dome knocking down rockets.
11:01 AM Two wounded lightly after hit building courtyard in Ashkelon. Car damaged by rocket parts crashing down in Holon.
10:48 AM Warning sirens in Holon, Ashdod. Rocket lands in Ashdod, security forces on their way. 10:39 AM Air raid sirens in Rishon L’Tzion, Givatayim, Gan Raveh.
10:33 AM: Iron Dome intercepted two rockets fired at Tel Aviv.
10:32 AM: Sirens in Tel Aviv, Rishon L’Tzion, Givatayim and Ramat Gan.
10:31 AM: A volley of Rockets fired at Regional Counsil Eshkol, one lands inside a village.
10:30 AM: Iron Dome intercepted two rockets over Ashdod.
10:29 AM: Sirens in Ashdod and Ashkelon.
10:20 AM: Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip has opened and trucks carrying medicine and food are moving into into Gaza City.
10:29 AM Hamas: Using human shields is our policy.
10:26 AM Conflicting reports: High ranking Hamas member – Cease fire within a day or two. High ranking Israeli parliamentarian - We’re not stopping anytime soon.
10:18 AM IDF has, in principle, authorized plans for entry of ground troops into Gaza.
10:17 AM 3 rockets knocked down over Ashdod.
10:05 AM Siren in Ashdod
10:00 AM Most rockets from Northern Gaza.
A number of countries have expressed interest in buying Iron Dome systems.
Islamic Jihad #2 says, “From the first rocket to the last bullet, everything we have is from Iran.” (Galei Tzahal)
9:56 AM Mortar land inside community near Gaza. Shrapnel damage to building. No injuries.
9:55 AM Rocket fell in Be’er Tuvia region. Open area. No injuries.
9:51 AM ALL the rockets landed in open areas from the massive barrage!
New Alert in Shaar haNegev
9:45 AM 2 rockets taken out by Iron Dome over Ashdod.
9:42 AMMASSIVE rocket barrage on its way to southern Israel, all along Gaza region, over 40 areas listed. Iron Dome Responding
9:32 AM Eshkol Region Siren
8:38 AM: A Grad rocket hit a residential building in Ashkelon, one resident injured. A second missile hit a car in the city, and two rockets landed in open areas out of town.
8:02 AM: Two rockets fell and exploded in an open area in the Regional Council Eshkol.
7:08 AM: Overnight, IAF aircraft targeted dozens of underground rocket launchers, causing severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of Hamas and other terror organizations.
A short while ago, two sites in the northern Gaza Strip were targeted: Saraya – a Hamas primary training base and command center – and a communications antenna used by Hamas to carry out terror activity against the State of Israel. A number of training bases owned by Hamas were also targeted throughout the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Israeli Navy soldiers targeted terror sites on the northern Gaza shoreline.
The sites that were targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of months.
6:50 AM Sunday Morning Update
Shimon Ben-Hamu (23), a resident of Tekoa was killed on Saturday night when his car was hit by a large rock thrown at his car. Ben-Hamu lost control, the car overturned, and he was killed. (HNN)
After midnight, Israel saw a noticeably visible decrease in rockets shot from Gaza. While Israel continues to hit terrorist sites, some air attacks were called off due to the presence of too many civilians above the terror target sites (human shields). We are not yet speculating as to the reasons why Hamas fired less missiles overnight.
The Palestinian appealed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and asked him to stop the Israel attacks, saying Israel was in violation of the Geneva convention.
Gazans are reportedly terrified of an Israeli ground invasion, and many have picked up and moved to the center of Gaza.
There are unconfirmed reports that some of the journalists that Hamas took as Human Shields may have been injured in an IAF strike. This is still unconfirmed and will be updated as soon as we know more.
Rumors continue to fly about a possible Cease-Fire. Netanyahu denies the rumor is true.
12:39 AM (Sunday) Shooting attack at IDF forces from Syria in the Golan Heights near Tel-Chazeka. No injuries to IDF forces, which returned fire.
Some 2000 women are in Jerusalem this week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization. See them marching in the street of Jerusalem like a lovely, mobile poppy field.
Henrietta Szold founded the organization in 1912, to empower Jewish women, and, indeed, over the century of its existence, Hadassah has empowered thousands of Jewish women, showing the world what they can get accomplished if you just let them.
“Hadassah Zionism is broad-based, pragmatic, welcoming, and activist. It is about building bridges and uniting Jews around the idea of a Jewish State, not testing each other for ideological or religious purity on a dozen dimensions. And it is about a purifying, transforming, altruistic activism,” writes Gil Troy in the Jerusalem Post.
Israeli scientific breakthroughs are restoring freedom and ease to the lives of millions of patients throughout the world.
A breakthrough medical smartphone devised by an Israeli company will not only enable patients to consolidate ongoing medical tests and diagnostics in one handy place, but will also provide them the freedom of travel and ease of use lost with conventional medical monitoring.
LifeWatch Technologies , based in Rehovot, has introduced the new LifeWatch V Android-based phone, the first of its kind smartphone device to measure blood glucose levels, oxygen saturation, blood glucose levels, stress levels, heart rate, and body temperature, as well as chart diet, provide reminders to take medications, and even measure daily activity through embedded sensors. Data and results are provided to the user and to third parties such as healthcare providers or caretakers, via email or text message. The device wirelessly interacts with a remote cloud-based environment, enabling users to take advantage of related complementary medical and wellness-related services. And it makes and receives regular phone calls. Medical information will also be sent to one of LifeWatch’s US emergency call centers – one for each time zone – with a center currently in development in Israel.
CEO Dr. Yacov Geva told Israeli science and technology website Israel21c that the device is particularly useful in managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, and said he thinks it is particularly appropriate for children, because it will not only enable parents to monitor health data while permitting children to conduct normal lives at school and elsewhere away from home, but will allow parents to keep an eye on the regularity of testing so they can provide reminders if they see a test is being missed during the day.
The stainless steel-framed phones will be manufactured by TechFaith Wireless Communication Technoogy of China according to Israeli specs and industrial design, and will provide interface options in Hebrew, English, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese. The device will cost between $500 and $700 a unit, and will likely be on the market next year, pending approval in the EU and the US.
New technology may be developed to assist the speech of those unable to communicate due to paralysis or disability, thanks to a joint study between scientists at Haifa’s Technion and UCLA who have uncovered how brain cells encode the pronunciation of vowels in speech.
Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study showed that different parts of the brain are engaged in the pronunciation of different vowel sounds.
The study was conducted by Professor Shy Shoham and Dr. Ariel Tankus of the biomedical engineering faculty at Haifa’s Technion and Professor Itzhak Fried of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, in partnership with the neurosurgery department at the University of California at Los Angeles.
The study was based on knowledge about the brain’s predictable responses to bodily movements, and followed 11 American epileptics whose conditions could not be controlled with medication.
Data was gathered when the patients, who suffered from damaged portions of the brain, had electrodes implanted in their brains to measure neuron activity as they spoke.
The team studied how and where the neurons encoded vowel articulation, and learned that the two parts of the brain associated with the saying of vowels respond in different ways and to different vowels.
The scientists lauded the discovery as a potential starting point for developing neuro-prosthetic devices or brain-machine interfaces to decode the brain’s firing pattern for speech.
Providing freedom from severe clinical depression which has not responded to medication or therapy, the doctors at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem are performing a radical experimental procedure involving a “brain pacemaker”, which will provide Deep Brain Stimulation via electrodes implanted in the patients’ brains. Four Israeli patients are taking part in the trial, and another six are being recruited.
The treatment is covered in Israel by medical insurance, with patients being eligible only after failing at least three different drug treatments and electro-convulsive therapy.
The new device will deliver electric currents to areas of cranial overactivity to help regulate the mood.
So far, the treatment has achieved a 70 percent success rate.
The Hadassah Foundation announced 13 mini-grants for organizations serving Jewish young people in 11 states.
The grants are in honor of Hadassah’s 13 years of grant making and will fund new or expanded programming that promotes the physical, spiritual and emotional well-being of Jewish girls and young women.
Recipients of the $500 mini-grants include organizations from all major Jewish denominations, synagogues, day schools, Hillels, a community-based organization doing outreach to people in their 20s, an after-school high school program and a local board of Jewish education.
“We are delighted that this mini-grant program will enable so many youth-serving organizations in the Jewish community to create feminist-oriented programming,” Donna Gerson, Hadassah Foundation chair, said in a statement. “This program enables us to reach many new communities that normally wouldn’t be touched by the Hadassah Foundation.”
The following organizations have received Bat Mitzvah Year Mini-Grants: Shearim Torah High School for Girls, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Bureau of Jewish Education, San Francisco; Temple Kol Tikvah, Woodland Hills, Calif.; Hillel Foundation at Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.; Congregation Agudath Achim, Taunton, Mass.; Temple Beth El, Traverse City, Mich.; Next Dor STL, St. Louis; Congregation Agudath Israel, Caldwell, N.J.; Solomon Schechter School of Queens, N.Y; Chapel Hill Kehillah Synagogue, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Hillel at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio; B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, Ohio Northern Region, Beachwood, Ohio; and The Jewish Community High School of Gratz College, Melrose Park, Pa.
Young Judaea is en route to full independence from Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.
Hadassah’s board had voted for the separation in June 2011, and both organizations announced this week that the move to independence had begun.
Simon Klarfeld was hired in December as Young Judaea’s executive director.
Hadassah will provide $7 million in transitional funding over the next three years, as Young Judaea works to secure independent funding, according to a spokesperson. Hadassah chapters also will continue to raise scholarship money for the youth organization and Hadassah will have representation on Young Judaea’s board.
“The fact that this is Independence Week in the United States has not been lost on us and is certainly appropriate in the evolution of Young Judaea,” Marcie Natan, Hadassah’s national president, said in a statement. “Like a bird leaving the nest, Young Judaea will always be part of the Hadassah family. Hadassah members take tremendous pride in how effective Young Judaea is in creating permanent connections between American youth and Israel.”
The spinoff comes as Hadassah, which supports two hospitals in Israel and other programs, has faced funding difficulties in recent years, both due to the poor economy and $45 million it was forced to return in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scandal.
Hadassah also recently announced the $71.5 million sale of its New York headquarters.
Founded in 1909 as a Zionist youth organization, Young Judaea serves 5,000 Jewish youngsters and young adults through U.S. camps and Israel programs. The group has been supported entirely by Hadassah since 1967.
Truth be told, Hadassah dreaded answering the doorbell. She knew that it was probably a charity collector, and her financial situation was precarious. She had just received a letter from Countrywide Mortgage. If the mortgage on her home in Morristown were not paid by August 12, the house would be placed in foreclosure.
She had to open the door. She knew that if you turn your back, G-d would look away when you turn to Him.
The man introduced himself as a seventh-generation Yerushalmi who ran a yeshiva in Israel. With his broad smile and full beard, the rabbi reminded Hadassah of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“I see the bicycles outside. It’s very good exercise. You have children?”
“Thank G-d, we have been blessed with eight children.”
“May you have much chassidishe nachas and good health.”
“Amen, amen,” Hadassah said. She looked at her cozy house with the yard and trees. She knew how much smaller the apartments are in Jerusalem. Why should she complain about her own struggles? When someone asks, she knew that you had to give. But what?
She walked over to the pushke (charity box) near the candlesticks, pulled out a dollar bill, and shook out some coins.
“I’m sorry, this is all I have.”
“Thank you, you are very kind. Every coin you give is precious in the eyes of G-d. May you have only simchas in your home.”
“Amen, amen,” replied Hadassah.
“G-d will surely repay you in a manifold way. Hashem rewards us for every mitzvah we do in the World to Come, but He rewards us for the mitzvah of tzedakah in this world as well. May Hashem bless you with bountiful parnassah [livelihood] – more than you need.”
The man’s exuberance and appreciation for her meager donation inspired Hadassah to open her pocketbook. She found a $20 bill, the last of her money until the next paycheck.
“G-d,” Hadassah said, “You said in the Torah, ‘Test Me with tzedakah.’ Well, I’m testing You now. We need to rent our house in Morristown right away or it will be put in foreclosure.” The previous tenants had moved out two months earlier, and the mortgage had not been paid since then.
As Hadassah was handing the man the $20 bill, the phone rang and her six-year-old Shlomo answered it.
“Hashem loves when we give tzedakah,” the rabbi said, “and seeing that you gave so generously, He will surely ”
“Mommy, Mommy, a man wants to speak to you,” Shlomo said impatiently, putting the portable phone next to her ear.
“Is your house in Morristown still available for rent?” asked the voice on the phone.
“Yes. Yes, it’s still available,” said Hadassah.
The next evening, Hadassah’s husband Aryeh drove straight from work to Morristown. He met the interested couple, and showed them the house. They explained that their lease was up at the end of the month, and they needed to move.
“It’s a solid house. We replaced the windows, upgraded the electricity, and put on a new roof. The only drawback is the traffic during rush hour, but you said you leave early to go to work.”
They negotiated, and the rent came down. Now it just covered the mortgage and home equity loan.
“Well, let us think about it.”
“Yes, please think about it. It’s perfect for your 16-year-old son. He can walk to high school in 10 minutes, and play ball behind the elementary school just down the street. Please decide soon, since others are interested.”
But the others might take months to decide, or might not have the money.
A car pulled up along the curb. A well-dressed man and his wife stepped out.
“May we see the house?”
“Rabbi and Mrs. Rubinstein, please come in. So you got my message ”
The rabbi and his wife, who had 10 children, were interested in renting the house. The couple that had just walked down the steps started whispering excitedly. The woman ran back up the stairs. “We decided we want it. We’ll give you a security deposit tomorrow night.”
“Well, I need to show it to this other family and see what they say. Why don’t you call me tomorrow?”
The rabbi and his wife walked through the house. “It’s a great house for us, but we’re still trying to find a loan. If you have someone else, let them have it. We hope we didn’t waste your time.”
“Waste my time? Thank G-d, it was perfect timing.”
The following evening, the couple paid a security deposit and signed the lease. The mortgage was paid.
Today, the doorbell has a different ring.
“Test Me, test Me. After all, it’s for your sake that I am sending someone to remind you to give tzedakah, to give even a little more than you think you can. Test Me. My bank is overflowing, and I promise to reward you generously.”
In my interviews with well spouses, the theme of being caged in a box of expectations has repeated itself often. Many well spouses feel that there are values and expectations that are applied to them, as caregivers that are unique to them and not to other members of our community. They have shared with me that they feel others have assigned to them the role of taking care of their spouses, no matter what. It doesn’t seem to allow for how sad they are, if they are ill themselves or even if they are abused by the person they are caring for. The community expectation is that they must remain as their spouse’s caregiver. No alternative is allowed.
Chavie* was a former well spouse. She was also an agunah. It was not that her husband refused to give her a Get (Jewish divorce). It was because he could not. Chavie’s husband had been in a nursing home for the last 15 years. He did not know who she was. He could not stand, walk, feed himself or in any way care for himself. For 15 years, Chavie had come daily to feed him and visit with him even though it was as if she was invisible to him. Her adult children saw Chavie become more and more depressed over time. She was still young, in her 40s, and could make a life for herself. But, she could not obtain a Get because her husband was in a mental vacuum. Without a Get, Chavie could not remarry.
Chavie told me she has an acquaintance, Jenny, who was in the middle of divorcing her husband. They had tried counseling but it had not been successful enough to keep Jenny from seeking a divorce despite her young children. Life with her husband had just been too painful and sad for Jenny to continue in the marriage.
One day Chavie found herself with a group of women, one of them was Jenny, when the topic of conversation turned to marriages. Chavie talked about her own situation as well as women like her who were, basically “agunot” in waiting. As caregivers, they continued to stay married and were there for their husbands, all the while knowing their husband’s illness could progress to the point of loss of mental faculties. At that point, they would be bound in the marriage till his death.
Jenny’s response was to ask Chavie what had happened to the concept of “in sickness and health, till death do us part.” Chavie was speechless. Jenny obviously thought divorce appropriate for herself, as a way to deal with her unhappiness. But this same alternative, in Jenny’s mind, was not one she allowed a caregiver.
Hadassah* was another well spouse. Her rav had been very helpful in getting their community to be there for her, her two children and her chronically ill husband. It had made her life as a well spouse easier. But now, as Hadassah’s husband’s illness worsened he began to get very controlling and abusive. Her husband’s frustration at his physical deterioration and his loss of control over his own body led to verbal abuse of those around him and a desire to control everyone he could. Hadassah was afraid that physical abuse of her and the children were next. But when she went to talk to her rav about divorce, a man who often spoke out against abuse, it was made clear to her that that was not an alternative for her as a caregiver, as it might have been for other members of the congregation.
When she spoke on issues of control, the rav countered with, “but he’s sick.” She got the same response when she spoke of her fear of the escalating abuse. It was as if illness made the behavior acceptable, at least to a well spouse. The rav also reminded Hadassah how divorce might affect future shidduchim for her children and intimated that support for her, as a single mother might be difficult to find.
It is very clear to most well spouses that a double standard exists. There are the values and expectations that we have for most marriages that include acceptable ways of dealing with marital strife. And then, there are the rules for marriages involving caregivers. They bear no resemblance to each other. Most people in the healthy world feel the well spouses should not be allowed an “out.” It doesn’t matter how difficult their life is, how miserable he or she may be or even if there is abuse in the marriage. Caregivers must adhere to a different set of standards. Ones that we decided apply to them. And we do all we can, whether by clear or subtle messages, to make sure they do.