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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘PARK’

Park Slope Food Coop – Stick to Food, Not Politics

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

When the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn was founded in 1973, it had a worthy mission:  to make healthy and affordable food available to everyone who wanted it.  But recently, the Coop appears to have lost its way.  In April, it suspended four loyal, long-time members for a whole year – three of them members from the Coop’s inception.  The reason?  Allegedly, the four disrupted a Coop meeting.  But in reality, they were singled out from among hundreds of Coop members who vociferously objected to a hateful and bigoted anti-Israel presentation at a Coop meeting, which was aimed at getting the Coop to boycott an Israeli company called SodaStream.

This wasn’t the first time that an anti-Israel boycott was proposed at the Coop; the membership had already considered and soundly rejected one in 2012.  But the Israel-bashers were persistent, this time displaying inflammatory anti-Israel photos at a Coop general meeting.  The photos weren’t verified, they had no context, and the boycott proponents did not even establish their connection to SodaStream.  Members at the meeting reported that not only was Israel viciously attacked; Jews were, too, with outrageous and incendiary comments like “Jews are aggressive toward black children.”

The four suspended Coop members were no doubt passionate and vocal about their objection to this anti-Israel boycott effort, and they had good reason to be: A boycott of Israeli products such as SodaStream would violate New York State law and could subject the Coop to liability.

New York’s Human Rights Law prohibits boycotts based on national origin, among several other protected categories.  The law doesn’t require evidence of a formal boycott campaign; it’s enough if there’s a pattern of conduct that commercially disadvantages members of a protected class, which describes the anti-Israel vendetta at the Coop.The four suspended Coop members were no doubt passionate and vocal about their objection to this anti-Israel boycott effort, and they had good reason to be:  A boycott of Israeli products such as SodaStream would violate New York State law and could subject the Coop to liability.

Boycotts that protest unlawful discriminatory practices do not violate the Human Rights Law, but that exception couldn’t possibly apply to a boycott targeting SodaStream, a company that exemplifies fairness and peaceful Jewish-Arab co-existence.  When the SodaStream factory was located near Maale Adumim – an area in Judea (part of the so-called “West Bank”) under Israeli control according to the 1993 Oslo Accords, and an area that would likely be included in Israel in any future peace deal with the Palestinian Arabs – approximately 500 Palestinian Arabs worked at the factory alongside Israeli Jews, receiving equal pay and treatment.  The factory even had a mosque for Muslim employees.  The Coop was targeting SodaStream for one reason only:  It’s an Israeli company and the boycott promoters are hateful and hostile to Israel, which is precisely what the law is aimed at addressing.

Recently, New York State made its prohibitions against anti-Israel boycotts even stronger.  Last June, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to prevent state agencies and authorities from engaging in or promoting “any investment activity that would further the harmful and discriminatory Palestinian-backed Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in New York State.”  The Coop isn’t a state entity but it does receive both state and federal benefits.  In addition to the federal money it receives from the food stamps that some customers use, the Coop has been authorized by the state to operate as a non-profit tax-exempt organization.  The Coop thus doesn’t have to pay taxes derived from the revenue it collects.  Given these benefits, it is difficult to believe that New York State would indulge a Coop decision to target and discriminate against Israeli companies, including SodaStream.

These kinds of liability concerns prompted the GreenStar Food Coop in Ithaca to reject a boycott of Israeli products.  The coop’s legal counsel wisely concluded that the boycott could render GreenStar liable under the Human Rights Law.

The four members’ vehement rejection of the Park Slope Food Coop’s anti-Israel boycott efforts made sense for a second reason:  Targeting and boycotting the one Jewish state in the world – and the only thriving democracy in the Middle East – flies in the face of the Coop’s own Mission Statement.  The Coop purports to be committed to “oppose discrimination in any form,” to “make the Coop welcoming and accessible to all,” and to “lead by example” and educate about such topics as “cooperation and the environment.”  The four members, together with hundreds of others who also opposed a boycott of the environmentally-friendly SodaStream, strongly reacted so that the Coop would stay out of a complicated political situation and remain an accessible place for everyone.

The absolute injustice of the Coop’s suspension of its four loyal members led the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) to intervene and urge the Coop to first, reinstate the members immediately and second, stop promoting discriminatory and potentially illegal practices targeting the Jewish State.  But the Coop has disgracefully stayed silent, keeping the harsh punishment in place, which is directed against not only the four members, but also all the members of their respective households who have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Everyone in the community – especially our public officials – should be calling on the Coop to stop indulging a group of Israel-bashers who seem obsessed with singling out and discriminating against Israel, in violation of public policy.  Instead, the Coop should stick to its mission to make healthy and affordable food available to everyone who wants it.

Zionist Organization of America

Gateway to Temple of the ‘God’ Pan May Have Been Excavated at Golan National Park

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Has the gate to the compound of the god Pan been discovered at Sussita (Hippos) National Park in the Golan? A monumental Roman gate discovered in the excavations by the University of Haifa at Hippos may cast light on the bronze mask of Pan – the only object of its kind found anywhere in the world – that was discovered in the same site during last year’s excavation season. “Now that the whole gate has been exposed, we not only have better information for dating the mask, but also a clue to its function. Are we looking at a gate that led to the sanctuary of the god Pan or one of the rustic gods?” wonders Dr. Michael Eisenberg, the head of the expedition.

Last year, researchers from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa made one of the most unique and unusual findings of recent years. They unearthed a bronze mask representing Pan, the god of shepherds. Half man and half goat, Pan also represents fields, music, and merriment. The discovery was huge on a global scale. It also seriously complicated efforts to date the item or explain its possible function.

Dr. Eisenberg notes that for the time being it has only been possible to suggest hypotheses regarding the mask’s original functioning and to use artistic and stylistic criteria to propose a possible date for its casting.

Hippos saddle side – an accurate photogrammetric model of the gates' structure, the two towers and the gate between them. The mask of Pan is placed where it was found. (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg, Photogrammetry: Eli Gershtein)

Hippos saddle side – an accurate photogrammetric model of the gates’ structure, the two towers and the gate between them. The mask of Pan is placed where it was found. (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg, Photogrammetry: Eli Gershtein)

The mask was discovered in the remains of a large basalt ashlar building, and the researchers assumed that uncovering the building would provide additional information about the unique object. As happens almost every year, Sussita did not fail to yield some surprises. The researchers were working on the hypothesis that the building formed part of the fortifications of the city, but as they dug deeper they found two square basalt towers with dimensions of approximately 6.30 meters x 6.30 meters and a portal of 3.7 meters wide in-between. The researchers concluded that the original gateway was over six meters high, while the building (propylaeum) itself was even taller. The propylaeum can probably be dated to the period of the Emperor Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138 CE, or slightly earlier. The mask was presumably fixed to a wall or altar at the compound, as its rear side included remnants of lead used for stabilization purposes. Now, however, the researchers can offer a fuller analysis regarding not only the mask’s dating, but also its function.

The team that exposed the portal at the end of the day, next to the structure of the gate (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg)

The team that exposed the portal at the end of the day, next to the structure of the gate (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg)

“When we found the mask on its own, we assumed that it had filled a ritual function. Since we found it outside the city, one of the hypotheses was that we were looking at evidence of a mysterious ritual center that existed outside the city. However, as we all know, monumental gate structures lead to large compounds. Accordingly, it is not impossible that this gate led to a large building complex – perhaps a sanctuary in honor of the god Pan or one of the other rustic gods – situated just before the entrance to the city of Hippos,” Dr. Eisenberg suggests.

“The mask, and now the gate in which it was embedded, are continuing to fire our imaginations. The worship of Pan sometimes included ceremonies involving drinking, sacrifices, and ecstatic rituals including nudity and sex. This worship usually took place outside the city walls, in caves and other natural settings. We are very familiar with the city of Paneas to the north of Hippos, which was the site of one of the best-known sanctuaries for the worship of Pan. But here we find a monumental gate and evidence of an extensive compound, so that the mystery only gets stranger. What kind of worship of Pan or his fellow Dionysus, the god of wine, took place here in Hippos? To answer that question, we will have to keep on digging,” concludes Dr. Eisenberg.

Since 2000, the ancient city of Hippos has gradually being unearthed by an international expedition under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa. Hippos lies within Sussita National Park, which is managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The next excavation season will be held in July 2016, with the participation of dozens of researchers and volunteers from Israel and around the world.

JNi.Media

Masbia To Reopen Facility In Boro Park with Crowdfunding Campaign

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Brooklyn, NY – June 7, 2016 — Renowned for their kosher soup kitchens that have served millions of meals to the hungry and the needy, Masbia will be reopening in Boro Park, this time with a centrally located facility that will enhance its services in many ways.

Situated just one block from the Shomrei Shabbos 24 hour synagogue at 5402 New Utrecht Avenue, the new Masbia facility will continue to fulfill the mission begun by Alexander Rapaport and Mordechai Mandelbaum in 2005, serving nutritious, filling meals with the utmost dignity. Catering largely but not exclusively to the area’s significant Chasidic population, the soup kitchen will be open late hours to accommodate the lifestyle of area residents.

“We have found that in the Chassidic community in general and in Boro Park in particular that people struggle with the decision of bringing their family for a meal, often not bringing themselves to it until the desperation peaks, which is usually at bedtime for their kids,” said Alexander Rapaport, executive director of Masbia. “Unlike our site on Queens Boulevard, where we serve many senior citizens, we have found that we need to have an early dinner since our clients want to get home before dark, but in Boro Park it is exactly the opposite, with many people going back and forth on whether or not they should accept help or not.”

In its new spacious Boro Park facility, Masbia will offer client choice raw groceries to take home, allowing clients to choose the foods that most appeal to them from a huge display area set up in a dedicated portion of the soup kitchen.

“We serve full meals in grocery form,” explained Rapaport. “There are those who would rather cook the food themselves and some who prefer to be eating in their own kitchens. We prepare groceries so that every member of the family will have food for three meals for three days. Our goal is no matter how people choose to have their meals, that we make it a pleasant and easy experience.”

Rapaport said that the Boro Park Masbia branch will be open for Shabbos and holiday meals and will have the ability to seat 40 clients at any one time.

Masbia needs help to outfit the new facility and is reaching out to the public for help in financing this new endeavor in a variety of ways. Dedication opportunities are available in all amounts, giving generous souls the ability to sponsor one of Masbia’s ten tables, the naming rights for the soup kitchen and even a beautification project to enhance the dining experience for clients and provide them with a greater sense of dignity.

Contributions can be made via an innovative online dedication chart on Masbia’s website, through conventional installments or by starting crowdfunding campaigns, the latest trend in charitable fundraisers.

“If someone knew that their Zaidy was renowned for always inviting people to dine with him, what greater way could there be to honor his memory than by starting a crowdfunding campaign, allowing so many other family members and acquaintances to join in and make a contribution in his honor to secure a coveted dedication option in his honor?” noted Rapaport. “Those small donations add up quickly and could make a huge difference in the lives of the needy.”

Heavy duty equipment, light fixtures, refrigeration system, and more are pending delivery depending on our ability to raise the funds to pay for them. In order to receive those deliveries, we urgently need the cash flow to make the renovations complete.

Rapaport is confident that the public will step forward and help get the ball rolling so that Masbia can once again open its doors in Boro Park, the site of its very first soup kitchen of its current network of three.

“We are ready to go,” said Rapaport. “We just need the funding.”

To find out more about Masbia or to make a donation visit them online at www.masbiaboropark.org/capacitycampaign

Jewish Press Staff

Jerusalem’s Gazelle Valley Urban Wildlife Park Takes the Prize

Friday, April 8th, 2016

It’s a park like no other in the holy city of Jerusalem — so different, in fact, that the municipality received the 2016 Designers Award for this stunning island of urban serenity.

The award came from Ot Haltzuv, a consortium of designers and architects. Undoubtedly the enchantment of the gazelles ensnared them all.

You can stroll over a wooden bridge to an island to watch the birds, or sit by a pond and contemplate the ripples in the water. It’s quiet, and peaceful.

The park stretches over 250 dunams of land and features five natural and man-made ponds. There are also two flowing streams and areas to watch the birds and other small creatures like chipmunks and such – a manmade island that can be reached by way of wooden bridges.

There are dozens of wild gazelles roaming free, after whom the park is named.

This approach, applied nowhere else in Israel, stresses the importance of creating a ‘green lung’ composed of natural greenery. The park hosts a variety of animals and birds, all to be enjoyed by city residents as well as visitors from Israel and abroad.

“The park’s guiding principle is revolutionary in terms of Israeli urban public spaces – a nature reserve in the middle of Jerusalem,” Mayor Nir Barkat said at the opening of the park last month.

“Gazelle Valley is one of the biggest and most important Jerusalem projects in recent years, representing above all community involvement in the city and the power of joint brainstorming and planning by City Hall and residents.

“For us, the Gazelle Valley project represents the direction in which we want to take the city: developing Jerusalem’s green spaces together and in partnership with the community and with the backing of many municipal entities working to enhance the environment and protect Jerusalem’s natural assets.”

If you’re in Israel and looking for something to do during the intermediate days of Passover, check out the new Gazelle Park in Jerusalem. It’s located in the city’s southwestern corner at the foot of Highway 50 (Begin Boulevard) and Pat Junction.

You won’t be disappointed.

Hana Levi Julian

My Park

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

I grew up a few blocks from the Ramat Gan National Park, a man made urban park, which isn’t really national, with a nice, little man made lake. It’s only 0.7 square miles, but when I was growing up it was plenty.

Googlemaps screen shot

Googlemaps screen shot

On summer afternoons, my dad would come home early from work and we’d drive over, rent a boat (you had to leave your watch as deposit in the rental booth, to make sure you didn’t steal your boat, which occasionally made it difficult to come back on time).

They made the artificial lake in 1959, and dad and I were regulars there. They also built a restaurant in the middle of the lake (see top picture), which I don’t think ever actually operated. I could be wrong. Throughout my childhood it was just this cement shell you’d circle with your rowboat.

I suppose some ideas need to be thought through better. But the park continues to be a source of safe fun for the locals. It’s gotten more Haredi in recent years, but it’s still as happy as it used to be, I think. I don’t go there much these days, since we live in Netanya. I don’t know if they still rent boats. I should take my daughter one day and check it out.

The local ducks and the cats are very happy.

ducks in the park

Yori Yanover

Turkey: A House Divided

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute

There is no doubt that the Gezi Park demonstrations in May and June, which spread to most of Turkey, represent a seismic change in Turkish society and have opened up fault lines which earlier may not have been apparent. What began as a demonstration against the “development” of a small park in the center of Istanbul ended as a widespread protest against the AKP government — and particularly Prime Minister Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule.

The European Commission in its latest progress report on Turkey has recognized this change when it writes of “the emergence of vibrant, active citizenry;” and according to Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül, who in the report is praised for his conciliatory role, this development is “a new manifestation of our democratic maturity.” The Turkish government, however, has chosen to see these demonstrations as a challenge to its authority and has reacted accordingly.

The report mentions various repressive measures taken by the government, including the excessive use of force by the police, columnists and journalists being fired or forced to resign after criticizing the government, television stations being fined for transmitting live coverage of the protests and the round-up by the police of those suspected of taking part in the demonstrations.

However, there is, in the EU report, no mention of the campaign of vilification led by the Prime Minister against the protesters, or reprisals against public employees who supported or took part in the protests; also, measures taken to prevent the recurrence of mass protests, such as tightened security on university campuses, no education loans for students who take part in demonstrations and a ban on chanting political slogans at football matches.

Not only the demonstrators themselves have been targeted but also the international media, which Prime Minister Erdoğan has accused of being part of an international conspiracy to destabilize Turkey. The “interest rate lobby” and “the Jewish diaspora” have also been blamed. As the Commission notes, the Turkish Capital Markets Board has launched an investigation into foreign transactions to account for the 20% drop on the Istanbul Stock Exchange between May 20 and June 19, which had more to do with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering than the Gezi Park protests.

In August, however, a report on the Gezi Park protests by the Eurasia Global Research Center (AGAM), and chaired by an AKP deputy, called the government’s handling of the situation “a strategic mistake” and pointed out that democracy-valuing societies require polls and dialogue between people and the local authorities.

Polarization

The Commission is correct, therefore, when it concludes that a divisive political climate prevails, including a polarizing tone towards citizens, civil society organizations and businesses. This conclusion is reinforced by the observation that work on political reform is hampered by a persistent lack of dialogue and spirit of compromise among political parties. Furthermore, the report emphasizes the need for systematic consultation in law-making with civil society and other stakeholders.

This division was underlined by Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek in June, when, at a conference, he deplored the lack of a spirit of compromise in intellectual or political circles. This lack is not only illustrated by the occasional fistfight between parliamentary deputies, but also when the AKP government in July voted against its own proposal in the mistaken belief that it had been submitted by the opposition. Or when the opposition two days later passed its own bill while the government majority had gone off to prayers.

President Gül, in a message of unity to mark the start of Eid al-Fitr (in August, at the end of Ramadan), had called on Turkey to leave polarization behind and unite for the European Union membership bid. But to create a united Turkey will be difficult, given the attitude of the present government. Even the democratization package presented by Prime Minister Erdoğan at the end of September does not indicate any substantive change in the government’s majoritarian approach to democracy.

Irrespective of the Prime Minister’s reference to international human rights and the EU acquis [legislation], both lifting the headscarf ban for most public employees and a number of concessions to the Kurdish minority can be seen as a move to boost Erdoğan’s popularity ahead of the local elections in March.

Robert Ellis

Let’s Connect…Diversely

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Living in 2012 means being ‘connected.’ We are ‘connected’ to our cell-phones, our emails, our Facebook ‘Friends’ , and various email lists of interest.

In a world of so many ‘connections’, it’s hard to believe that connecting to our own family- our fellow Jews, would be such an elevated challenge. Indeed, on one such email list, the following story was posted on a few days ago:

” ….my grandchildren, who look quite obviously Haredi, came to visit me in my town, which is overwhelmingly of a National Religious character. My 13 year-old son took them to the park and immediately, the resident children at play, began to shout epithets at my grandchildren, ‘Stinky dirty Haredim,’ they cried. ‘Go play in your own parks.’…grandchildren who immediately left the park and returned to my home to spend the rest of their visit indoors and safe from the hatred extended toward them during what should have been a pleasant visit to Grandma.”

While kids will be kids (and yes, kids can be cruel even if their parents are far from it), and while the same has happened in (so-called) Haredi communities to those not complying with their local fashion of dress, and while these may just be isolated incidents in a park that usually portrays unity and friendliness, I am still profoundly appalled and disturbed to read of such an event.

“Why bad things happen to good people” is the cardinal question to which even Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t get a clear answer (according to one opinion in Tractate Berachot 7a). Thus, I am not about to say that the above incident is a ‘heavenly sign’ of sorts. However, when bad things occur, all will agree (ibid, 5a) that it’s a good time for a wake-up call – to ask if our actions, deeds, educational system, and general behavior is where is should be.

While I feel remain deeply privileged to be part of such a special community, “perfection” is a word that only exists in the dictionary. As we head deeper into these Three Weeks of mourning, a time still upon us due to the “Sinat Chinam” – senseless hatred – that dominated the eve of the 2nd Temple destruction (Tractate Yoma 9b), allow me to bring up three issues that I humbly believe should be reiterated, and refurbished in our actions, when such an event can transpire during such a sensitive time of the year:

Tolerance to some – Jews have usually been tolerant to groups that stand far from their own vantage point and lifestyle. Thus, I can naturally see the very same kids in the park acting cordially to secular Jews, and even to non-Jews as well. Ironically, the “challenge” of tolerance begins when we meet a group of people who share 85% of our own lifestyle; they daven thrice daily, they keep kosher homes, they devote time to learning Torah, they adhere to a standard of modesty and of course, they are Shomer Shabbat. It’s here that, for some reason, we don’t have the same “tolerance” that we bestow upon those that seem far our own lifestyle! Is it a sense of danger, lack of self-confidence or something else, that naturally allows us to be “tolerant” towards groups far from where we stand, and yet so judgmental and intolerant towards ones that are so similar? If we are to be tolerant, then it should be directed to all sides of the spectrum, especially those that are within the realm of Shemirat Torah Umitzvot. Yes, the 15% of dressing differently, our relationship towards the State of Israel, secular endeavors, joining the army and more, will still be “dividers” between our respective communities, and strong debates will yet go on. But will our level of tolerance towards groups who have passed the 15% mark be extended to those closer to it?  If we believe in Tolerance, it can and should run the entire gamut.

Diversity is not a dirty word – Beyond the need for tolerance towards those closer to us, I believe a deeper challenge lies before our communities, one that is not being spoken about enough in the “heat of the debate” in Israel of late; diversity is not a “b’diavad” – it’s not an Ex Post Facto of “three Jews, five opinions,” or the hardships of our long exile! Rather, it’s my view that, after accepting and fulfilling the “Yoke of Heaven,” – the dictates of Jewish Law -that God never intended for all of us to be the same:

Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/lets-connectdiversely-2/2012/07/19/

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