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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish’

Is Someone Framing Women of Wall with Death Threat to Rabbis?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The Chief Rabbis of Israel filed a complaint with the police Monday after receiving letters threatening them with death if they try to stop the Women of the Wall (WoW) movement from praying in the custom of men, complete with a minyan, tallis and tefillin.

WoW officials immediately condemned the death threats and denied any connection with them.

“All those involved and educated on the subject know that there is no connection between the content and style of these letters and the spirit of nonviolence, tolerance and acceptance which drives Women of the Wall,” WoW stated. Addressing the rabbis who were threatened, they added that they “wish them strength and courage during this trying time.”

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and his Sephardi counterpart Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar received letters with a picture of a handgun. The letter stated, “This is your final warning. If the Women of the Wall are not allowed to daven in line with their custom, we will use all means at our disposal and will end up with one hundred Haredi bodies. Your end is near.”

The Chief Rabbinate stated that the threat is a “red line that has not yet been crossed in the past.”

For all those who have been hibernating the past several months, the Women of the Wall, cheered on by American media and the Reform Movement, have successfully won their campaign to be able to pray at the Western Wall, in the back of the women’s section, even if not in accordance with Jewish tradition that is maintained by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. He said he also received a death threat in a letter to his home.

The women will be back in full force at the beginning of the new Hebrew month of Tammuz, which starts Saturday and Sunday, having won permission from the Supreme Court last month to pray in a minyan with tallis and tefillin at the Kotel.

More than 1,000 Haredim, most of them high schoolers, prayed in protest, but the scene was marred by several Haredi men who threw bottles and rocks at the Women of the Wall.

So who sent the death threats?

If a member of WoW sent the letters, she definitely is not a core member of the group.

The writer could have simply been someone who hates Haredim and decided to hitch a ride on the WoW campaign to express outrage at Haredi rabbis, who on the one hand safeguard Jewish law and on the other hand often use religion coercion that distances Jews instead of bringing them closer to tradition.

And there is the worst possibility, if not the most probable.

Someone out there cannot accept the fact that, right or wrong, the women have won the battle. What better way to disgrace WoW by insinuating they are threatening Haredi rabbis to get their way?

This Shabbat, Jews from all over the world will read the Torah portion of Korach, of the Tribe of Levi. He insisted that all of the People of Israel are holy and that Moses was not the only one fit to lead the people.

He met his end when his followers were swallowed up by an opening in the earth, burying them alive.

Opponents to the Women of the Wall will have a field day comparing them with Korach.

There may be something to that comparison, but the same scoffers – and I am far, far from being a supporter of WoW – might recall that a recent Torah reading describes how the “elders” who were close to Moses and complained to him that two of the elders were prophesying.

“And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him [Moses], and took part of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy men of the elders, and it was, when the spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, but did not continue.

“And two men remained in the camp – one was called Eldad and the other was called Medad – and the spirit rested upon them; and they belonged to those who had been recorded, but they had not gone out to the Tent [of Assembly], and they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,’ and Joshua son of Nun, servant of Moses from his youth, answered and said, ‘My lord Moses, restrain them.’ And Moses said to him, “Are you jealous on my account? Would that all the people of the Lord might be prophets, that the Lord would put His spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:25-28)

Brain-Dead Israeli Boy’s Kidney Donated to PA Child

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The kidney of a 3-year-old Israeli boy was successfully transplanted to a 10-year-old Palestinian Authority boy.

The parents of Noam Naor decided to donate his kidneys after their son was declared brain dead nearly two weeks ago after falling from a window in his parents’ apartment.

One kidney went to an Israeli child, and the parents were asked by the National Transplant Center for their permission to give the second kidney to a boy from the Palestinian Authority, according to reports.

The operation on Sunday was successful, according to the Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikvah.

The Palestinian child had been undergoing dialysis for seven years at the Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem while waiting for a match.

“Noam’s parents are noble and an inspiration to us all,” Israeli Health Minister Yael German said. “Their donation is a source of pride and an example of humanity and kindness.”

Frank Lautenberg, Senate’s Oldest Member, Dies at Age 89

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

World War II veteran and New Jersey Jewish Sen. Frank Lautenberg died Monday at the age of 89. His health had failed the past several months, and the Democratic senator has not been seen on the Senate floor for most of the year because of what his office said was “muscle weakness and fatigue.”

Republican Gov. Chris Christie will appoint a replacement until a special election this year, followed by another election in 2014, when Lautenberg’s six-year term of office expires.

Last week, the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus life honored Sen. Lautenberg for his contributions to the Jewish community and Israel. The celebration was broadcast to his home, where he was confined because of his illness, and his wife Bonnie accepted the organization’s Renaissance Award.

He was the son of poor but hard-working Russian and Polish immigrant parents in Paterson, New Jersey, and he succeeded in business and helped found the nation’s first payroll services company, Automatic Data Processing. He served in the Senate for 18 years, retired in 2000 and returned to the Senate in 2002.

Sen. Lautenberg was a strong liberal. He was pro-choice, supported gun control, introduced bills increasing penalties for carjacking and car theft, and criticized the Bush administration on national security issues.

He was vigorous in his opposition to the war in Iraq.

The senator was heavily involved in various anti-smoking and airline safety legislation and co-sponsored legislation to increase drunken driving penalties.

One of his best known bills that passed into law was the prohibition of smoking from most commercial airline flights.

He also authored the Ryan White Care Act, which provides services to AIDS patients.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Hospitalized after Collapsing at Home

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Shas spiritual leader and former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef collapsed at his Jerusalem home early Sunday evening, lost consciousness for a short while and was rushed to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. He is conscious, but doctors are concerned he may have broken his leg when he fainted.

His condition is stable.

The revered rabbi, one of the most influential rabbis in Israel and in Sephardi  communities around the world, was on his way from his study room to prepare fore the evening Maariv prayers when he fainted and lost consciousness for a short while.

He is suffering from weakness and pains in his leg.

Knesset Member Aryeh Deri, who is the political powerbroker in the Shas party, was by his side on the way to the hospital, along with Rav Yosef’s personal physician, Dr. Yochanan Shtesman.

Earlier this year the rabbi, the 92-year-old Iraqi-born Torah sage collapsed in a synagogue during Shabbat prayers and was rushed to the emergency room, where he was said to have suffered a minor stroke.

The rabbi lives in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Yosef, or Rav Ovadia as he is affectionately known, is highly  controversial but even more highly respected as one of the greatest rabbis in recent generations.

One of his projects on Jewish law is an attempt to create a unified Halakhic codex subject to the rulings of Rabbi Yosef Karo and the unification of the customs of the various Jewish groups in Israel by calling upon them to relinquish traditions, often rooted in Kabbalah and practiced in the lands where they resided prior to their immigration to the Land of Israel.

Can Google Glasses Help Your Rabbi Decide if the Etrog is Kosher?

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Over the past few weeks, strangers have begun stopping high school computer science teacher Chaim Cohen on the street. A few accuse him of recording them without their knowledge. Even fewer blame him for all of society’s ills.

But many just want an answer to a simple question: Is he wearing Google Glass?

Cohen is among the approximately 2,000 developers throughout the United States who are trying out the search giant’s much-hyped wearable computer, a futuristic Internet-connected gadget that users wear like a pair of glasses and enables them to stream information from the Web directly into their field of vision.

Using voice commands and hand gestures, Google Glass users can take pictures, record videos, get directions and send messages.

“I offer to let them try it on,” Cohen said. “My goal is to advocate for this and show people that this is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.”

Well before Google Glass is expected to be publicly available sometime in 2014, the device already is generating controversy. Critics worry that users will be able to surreptitiously take photographs with an app that permits wearers to snap pictures just by winking. Some bars and casinos, citing privacy concerns, have preemptively banned the device. In West Virginia, legislators have tried to make it illegal to wear Glass while driving.

But none of this concerns Barry Schwartz, CEO of the Web development firm RustyBrick, who can hardly wait to get his hands on it. Schwartz is one of the 8,000 “explorers” chosen by Google to receive the device for $1,500 apiece.

“We would be programming Jewish-related apps to help Jewish people use the technology to live their Jewish lives,” said Schwartz, whose company has already developed popular Jewish applications for smartphones, like a digital prayer book and Hebrew translator.

Schwartz’s vision of a Glass-enabled Jewish life sounds incredibly futuristic. Notifications flash when it’s time to pray. Nearby synagogues or kosher restaurants are instantly located. Important Jewish dates such as yahrtzeits and holidays are never forgotten.

Recently, a Chabad rabbi at StanfordUniversity set up a Google Glass tefillin stand. Men who chose to don the ritual leather straps then put on Glass and the blessing flashed before their eyes.

Google Glass, which is generating controversy even before hitting the market in 2014, is being seen as a powerful technology for Jewish applications. Potential Jewish applications for Glass are endless, Schwartz says.

“Let’s say you want to buy an etrog,” he said. “You can create a Google Hangout and have a rabbi look at the etrog as you are looking at it. The rabbi can ask you to turn it to the right and turn it to the left, and can give you an opinion about it right away.”

Mike Vidikan of the Washington, D.C.-based organization Innovaro, which provides insights about how new technologies will shape the future business environment, expects that Glass also could significantly change how consumers shop for kosher food.

“As they start inspecting a particular group of foods,” he explained, “notifications could pop up with information about the kosher certifications, as well as reviews, and who in their social networks recommend it.”

In education, where information technology already is transforming the classroom experience, Glass could be yet another game-changer. Hebrew school classes could tour Israel virtually, seeing the country though the eyes of a guide equipped with the device. Students in various locations could participate in classes together, following text as seen through the eyes of a teacher.

Cohen, who teaches at a public school in central New Jersey, plans to develop an application that will help him learn his students’ names.

“I don’t remember all the names of my students during the first weeks of school,” he said. “I want to be able to look at them and have their names overlapped on top.”

Despite the enthusiasm, tech experts from Jewish day schools are skeptical. Price is one factor. At $1,500, Glass is significantly more expensive than an iPad or similar devices.

Educators also are understandably uneasy about a device that can snap pictures, literally, with the wink of an eye. Others point out that since Glass’ apps are still being developed, its educational value remains to be seen.

‘Danger of Fire’ from Shabbat Candles Shuts Out Jewish Tourists

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Orthodox Jews from Manchester and London have decided to end their annual summer visit to a campus on the Welsh coast after the host University of  decided that lighting candles on Shabbat is a fire hazard.

Jews have not always been welcome guests at the University of Aberystwyth, which is empty of students during the summer vacation. In 2009, the Jews were welcomed with swastikas on the grass and on piece of paper found in residence halls.

University authorities insisted there was nothing anti-Semitic in their new condition for the Jewish tourists to visit, according to the London Independent.

It quoted a university spokesman as saying, “The university… would be delighted to welcome this group back, as long as they are able to sign our terms and conditions.”

However, one of the annual visitors, identified by the Independent as ”Mrs. Brander,” said, “We have found a holder to make each candle safer. We offered to  discuss it with the fire brigade, but  the university was not interested.”

Jewish families rent the university’s facilities on the coast for a vacation away from the Britain’s urban centers. In the past years, they have lit candles on Friday nights at the University of Aberystwyth without any question, until last year, when they were told of the new condition. During the same summer, a visiting rabbi drowned.

The tourists ignored the request until recently, when they decided they could not give up the lighting of candles.

“Ultimately, there was no real decision for us – our religion requires the lighting of candles,” Brander told the British newspaper.

The University of Aberystwyth five years ago defended itself against charges of anti-Semitism by London Spectator columnist Melanie Phillips, who published charges by a student that he had to write anti-Israeli and anti-American opinions or face receiving lower marks.

The student complained that in one course, a comparison was made between the treatment of Jews in Germany before the Second World War and the treatment of Muslims today. The lecturer reportedly told the student, “My assertion that Israel has been engaged in state terrorism lies first in a clear understanding of what the aims and consequences of terrorism are.”

The university replied that the course was given with the aim of being “objective, with no bias and no prejudice against any race or country.”

World Oldest Torah Identified in Italy from 11-12th Century

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

A Torah scroll thought to be the oldest in the world has been identified in the library of the University of Bologna.

The parchment scroll, slightly more than 118 feet long and 25 inches high, previously had been wrongly catalogued when experts estimated its age at about 350 years.

“Instead, ‘Roll 2′ was copied in a period between the second half of the 12th and the early 13th century (1155-1225) and is therefore the most ancient complete Hebrew scroll of the Torah known today,” according to a university statement.

The age of the Torah scroll was authenticated by “the textual, graphic and paleographic examination of the scroll,” as well as by two carbon-14 tests, carried out at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Despite the library’s previous determination that the Torahs scroll was written in the 17th century, Hebrew University Prof. Mauro Perani, who is working on catalogue of Judaica at the Italian university,  noted that the script was in the oriental Babylonian tradition. Furthermore, the Torah script included certain features that did not follow the rules laid down by Maimonides, the Rambam.

“I immediately thought it was much older,” he said, because the Rambam had banned some of its letters and styles in the 12th century.

The Torah scroll had been misdated when it was included in the first catalogue of the library’s Hebrew manuscripts, made in 1889.

It is not known how or when the scroll was acquired by the library, but the university’s statement said it was “very likely” to have been acquired in the 19th century “after Napoleon’s suppression of monastic and religious orders.”

Prof. Perani added, “The scroll is very rare because when manuscripts spoil they lose their holiness and can no longer be used. They are then buried. The state of conservation is excellent.”

Fragments of the Torah have been found from the 7th century, but complete text has been identified as being as old as the on in Italy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/world-oldest-torah-identified-in-italy-from-11-12th-century/2013/05/29/

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