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Yes, Virginia, There are Good Muslims

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

The Muslim-Jewish Dialogue (MJD) has organized a reception for non-Arab Ajmi Muslims at Baycrest, the Jewish community’s leading edge gerontology and geriatric facility in Toronto, in recognition of May’s Jewish History Month in Ontario.

Tariq Khan, on behalf of Muslim guests, said, “Muslims and Jews are cousins. and I am very glad today we are jointly marking the Jewish Heritage Month. Islam and Judaism share a common origin through Prophet Abraham and thus, both are considered Abrahamic religions. One of the common teachings in both religions is to serve humanity selflessly.”

He maintained that throughout Muslim history, “whether in Khilafat-e-Rashida (The Pious Caliphate), Umayyad Dynasty, Abbasid Empire, Muslim Spain or Ottoman Era, there is no record of any religion based armed conflict found between the two. Muslims and Jews lived in relative peace with one another all over the world, and Muslim Spain is still considered as the Golden Era for Jews.”

“The Palestinian conflict has nothing to do with religion, and it was initiated by communist Arab rulers,” according to Khan. “Instead of welcoming the Jewish people who came back to their holy land which was lost 2,000 years ago and joining hands with them to serve humanity together, so-called Arab nationalist rulers invaded the modern state of Israel.

“To get sympathies and support of Muslims living all over the world, the communist rulers of the Arab world, shamelessly converted their adventurism into a religious battle between the two faith communities. No doubt, God is kind and never supports unjust; they were defeated. Now, it is time for Muslims to understand the facts, recognize the reality and work together with their Jewish cousins to make this planet hate-free and a wonderful place for everyone,” concluded Khan, who is editor of Weekly Press Pakistan.

Mark Adler, local member of Parliament for the Government of Canada and who is involved in the Jewish community, offered full assistance to the group to expand good relations between the two religious communities.

The Muslim and Jewish guests toured the current display in a museum on the main floor of the Baycrest. The exhibition features sacred and secular head gear from all over the world, worn by Jews and non-Jews.

This article was written by Andrea Spindel for the Tazpit News Agency.

Streisand Spouts Off on Women ‘In Foreign Land of Israel’

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Barbra Streisand, now “Dr. Streisand” following an award from Hebrew University on Monday, joined a host of celebrities and politicians who know nothing about Israel but can’t resist telling the country what is best for it, especially for Jewish women.

She played a handicap game, prefacing her remarks about women’s religious rights in Israel with an apologetic remark, “”I realize it’s not easy to fully grasp the dynamics of what happens in a foreign land.”

Let’s stop right there for a minute.

She is the only artist ever to receive an Academy Award, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Directors Guild of America, Golden Globe, National Medal of Arts and Peabody Awards and France’s Legion d’honneur as well as the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Streisand is the recipient of two Oscars, five Emmys, 10 Grammies, a Tony and 12 Golden Globes including the Cecil B. DeMille Award. The three films she directed received 14 Oscar nominations.

She holds an Honorary Doctorate in Arts and Humanities from Brandeis University. She received The Humanitarian Award from the Human Rights Campaign and was awarded the ACLU Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union for her defense of U.S. constitutional rights.

On Monday, she received an honorary PhD from Hebrew University, where, just by coincidence, she contributed a huge sum of money for a building in memory of her father Emanuel, whom she praised as “a teacher, scholar and religious man who devoted himself to education.”

Professor Menachem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University, said, “Her love of Israel and her Jewish heritage are reflected in so many aspects of her life and career.” University officials described her as “a close friend of Israel.”

Okay. Now we have her credentials for her declaring, in a “foreign land,” that it “is distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of the bus or when we hear about ‘Women of the Wall’ having metal chairs thrown at them when they attempt to peacefully and legally pray.”

Streisand loves Israel, so much so that she is visiting the country for the first time in, let me count, 29 years.

There is no doubt she really does love Israel. Almost every Jew, even those who call it an Apartheid state, say they love Israel.

And like every other Jew, not to mention the non-Jews, Streisand thinks she knows what is best for Israel.

Once an American becomes Secretary of State, or a super star in sports or entertainment, or filthy rich, or gives money to Israel, he or she usually realizes that produces instant wisdom concerning Israel.

At least Streisand had the decency to be honest by unintentionally make herself look awkward, stating that Israel is “a foreign land” to her understanding.

She spoke the truth, more than most if not all other foreigners.

Israel indeed is foreign, even to Jews, who feel filled with spirit at the Western Wall but can’t tell the difference between an Arab and a Sephardi Jew, between an “anti-suicide bomber security fence” and an “Apartheid Wall,” and between a settler and a Jew from Tel Aviv.

Streisand’s comments were not so far off the mark, except that they were totally redundant and damaging to Israel in that they simply broadcast exceptions as a rule.

It indeed was distressing that a handful, more or less, of Haredim threw metal chairs and objects – on one day and only one – at women trying to pray in their own minyan at the Western Wall, which officially is an orthodox synagogue.

Granted, the official Haredi attitude towards the Women of the Wall movement is questionable and is expressed in a way that is destructive. But it is more or less a dead issue.

Ditto regarding her comments about women sitting in the back of the bus, a phenomena that is disgusting, which occurs on a tiny percent age point of buses and is on its way to the recycle bin.

After addressing both issues that already are old and irrelevant news, she admitted, “Repairs are being made, and that’s very good.”

Streisand, as a good liberal Jew who is visiting Israel to sing at the Israeli Presidential Conference Tuesday night, undoubtedly is undergoing a spiritual experience this week.

‘What’s Bad for the Goose is Worse for Kosher Slaughter’

Monday, June 17th, 2013

A senior rabbi from Paris has warned Israel’s agriculture minister that legislation in Israel to ban the import of goose liver could jeopardize kosher slaughter in Europe.

“Imagine how it will look if Israel itself is the first to ban the import of goose liver, which was an issue raised by these animal welfare groups [opposing kosher slaughter],” Rabbi Yirmiyahu Cohen, the head of the rabbinical court in Paris, wrote Minister of Agriculture Yair Shamir.

Cohen’s letter was sent on Sunday, the same day that Shamir said he would remove his appeal against a bill prohibiting the trade of “foie gras,” a delicacy made from goose liver which is produced commercially by force-feeding ducks and geese.

The practice was banned in Israel several years ago after the High Court of Justice deemed it abusive, but the import and sale of the product remain legal.

“It is known that some European nations are listening to animal welfare groups’ concerns in order to proscribe shechitah,” Cohen also wrote, adding that the same groups also oppose the production of “foie gras.” Cohen warned, “Proponents of this law give a weapon to our enemies.

He wrote that that he is familiar with the process of force-feeding and the kosher slaughter of geese after visiting on a number of occasions one of the largest facilities in Hungary and witnessing the procedure for himself. He said, unlike previously, where the procedure was done in a manner injurious to the geese, Hungary developed a method that is not harmful to the birds.

Los Angeles Freeway Project Causes Havoc with ‘Eruv’

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Observant Jews in Los Angeles are bracing for the possibility that they will not be allowed to carry anything or even push a baby stroller on Shabbat due to a freeway project that will knock down the ‘Eruv.” which transforms a public area in to a private space in terms of Jewish law.

The eruv can be formed by hills or fences, but in urban areas, it usually is created by a thin wire that runs along light poles.

A project to widen the 405 Freeway ′s Wilshire Boulevard interchange will require tearing down the poles – and the wires, breaking the eruv and prohibiting observant Jews from walking with anything in their hands or pockets on Shabbat.

“We hope to have a workaround for next week, but the next three weeks will be problematic as the contractor rushes to finish new, and demolish old bridges at Wilshire,” according to Hoard Witkin, who heads the Los Angeles Community Eruv.

Montreal’s First Jewish Mayor Arrested in Corruption Crackdown

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Montreal’s first Jewish mayor and a Jewish former alderman were arrested as part of a crackdown on corruption.

Michael Applebaum, who was appointed mayor last November, was taken into custody Monday morning by agents of the anti-corruption unit, l’unite permanente anticorruption (UPAC). Also arrested was Saulie Zajdel, an Orthodox Jewish former city council member who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in Canada’s last federal election.

Charges are expected to be announced later Monday.

Zajdel was a Montreal city councilor from 1986 to 2009. He also served as a director of the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation for more than four years.

Zajdel listed his current job as a municipal affairs consultant and real estate broker, according to his LinkedIn page.

Applebaum, 50, won a city council vote in November to serve as interim mayor for only a year, with a promise not to run in the next municipal election. He replaced the previous mayor, Gerald Tremblay, who resigned in a corruption scandal that linked him to graft and organized crime.

A third man, Jean Yves Brisson, also was arrested Monday. Police say both he and Zajdel had previously worked in the local electoral district of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dâme-de-Grace, which Applebaum had represented as either a councilor or mayor since 1994.

All three were being held Monday by Quebec Provincial Police.

Rare Discovery of Mikveh in New England Rewrites US Jewish History

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Researchers in  Connecticut have unearthed in a old farming community a 19th century mikveh that has totally changed view of Jewish history in the United States.

In addition to the rarity of finding a mikveh in the United States dating back approximately 120  years, the University of Connecticut researchers were astonished to see that the mikveh was more similar those in ancient Israel rather than in America.

“The stone and wood-lined structure from Old Chesterfield may be the only mikveh excavated outside a major North American city and may be the only example of its kind at one of the settlements created by a wealthy philanthropist who in the 1890s established farming communities for Jewish immigrants in New Jersey and Connecticut,” according to the university’s UCONN website.

Approximately 500 people lived in the old rural eastern Connecticut community. Historians have generally assumed that Jewish immigrants shunned tradition as part of their assimilation into the American “melting pot.”

Many immigrants clung to Jewish laws, such as kosher slaughtering, but the observance of ritual bathing was far from common, especially in a rural community.

“The image many people have of those who belonged to the earliest agricultural communities is that they were largely socialists, and that they weren’t particularly religious,” said Prof. Stuart Miller, Academic Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the university and an expert on ritual baths in ancient Israel. “This is going to enable us to write a chapter of Jewish history which to my knowledge hasn’t been written, one that will deal with the spiritual life of these communities.”

“This mikveh is very exciting because there’s really nothing else like it in the United States,” Miller said. “It’s intact, it’s magnificent, and from a religious law point of view, it’s a marvel.”

It was a routine message from  State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni that brought Miller to the site, where he later realized that mikveh was located there.

Miller was raised in New Jersey but spent several years researching ancient mikvehs in Israel. Colleagues mentioned Miller’s name to Bellantoni, who called him to ask if he would look at an old ritual slaughterhouse that had been found.

“I’ll be honest. I wasn’t really expecting anything,” Miller said. “I was thinking, ‘I write about and work at sites that are 2,000 years old. What am I going to find in Chesterfield?’”

When miller arrived. he noticed the high walls of the slaughtering house and was told that a mikveh might be located at the site, despite rabbis at the time who were bewailing the disappearance of traditional Judaism.

Previous discoveries of mikvehs, one of them dating back to the 1840s in Baltimore, didn’t prepare Miller for what he found in Connecticut because the rural mikveh was made of stone with concrete floors, unlike those found in Baltimore and elsewhere.

“I know what a mikveh is,” Miller said. “And this doesn’t look anything like a modern mikveh. What I’m expecting is a tiled pool. And suddenly I’m seeing concrete. I’m standing there staring at this and thinking, ‘Where am I? Am I in Sepphoris [an archaeological site in Israel]? Is this really Chesterfield, Connecticut?”

Miller knowledge of mikvehs, both in the United States and in Israel., led him to work with his team to excavate a pipe that provided water from a nearby slope.

“They theorize that the settlers fulfilled the religious command to use only water from the heavens or the earth by connecting the mikveh to a brook or pond about 200 yards away and relying on gravity to draw the water into the ritual bath.,” the university website reported.

Further research in archives allowed the researches to get a clearer picture of Jewish life in the farming community 120 years ago. One letter, written in Yiddish around 1915, lamented the demise of a creamery that was going bankrupt.

One surprise concerning Jewish law was that the Connecticut mikveh’s stairs were made of wood, which also lined the walls and in apparent contradiction to laws in the Talmud that forbid the use of wood in building a mikveh. Further research revealed that many Eastern European communities interpreted the law differently.

The researchers plan further excavations to uncover the remains of the old synagogue in Chesterfield, which was partially destroyed by arson in 1972 and completely destroyed eight years later.

Pillar of Melbourne Jewish Community Dies

Monday, June 10th, 2013

A Vilna Ghetto survivor and partisan fighter whose restaurant in Melbourne became a meeting place for the postwar survivor community died on Saturday at the age of 89.

Avram Zeleznikow was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust and waded through more than 30 miles of sewers to escape the ghetto in 1943 and join the partisans.

After the war, he and his wife-to-be, Masha, met in a Parisian cafe named Scheherazade, and soon after immigrating to Australia they opened their own Cafe Scheherazade, which became an iconic institution in Jewish Melbourne.

His son John said his parents served meals even to those survivors who could not afford to pay.

”He did not want to make a profit; he wanted to help people,” John Zeleznikow told The Age newspaper. ”They would talk, they would eat and they would argue. He provided sustenance for the body and sustenance for the soul.”

A Bundist, Avram Zeleznikow taught Yiddish at Sunday school, was president of the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society, on the executive of the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies, chairman of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and a representative of the Jewish community on the Ethnic Communities Council.

He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2003 “for service to the Jewish community of Victoria.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/pillar-of-melbourne-jewish-community-dies/2013/06/10/

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