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April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Tel Aviv University’

Israel Haters Around the World, Unite!

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

While there has been an outpouring of individual support, and a trickle of international support (from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany) for Israel’s self-defensive operation, “Amud Anon” or as it is called in English, Pillar of Defense, not everyone is supportive.

Many Jewish day school students in the U.S. and around the world today wore either red, or blue and white to show support for Israel.  Still, there are those who are determined to cast Israel as the aggressor.

For example, at the University of California, Los Angeles, students are being urged to wear black, in solidarity with their “brethren” in Gaza. From 11:30 am – 1:00 pm PST, there will be an Emergency Rally for Gaza in Meyerhoff Park.

Wednesday evening, hundreds of Turks crowded into a square in Istanbul City to protest Israel’s military response to the hundreds of rockets fired at her citizens from Gaza.  The chair of the Turkish “relief foundation,” IHH,  Fehmi Bulent Yildirim, said that the Islamic world is in “extreme anger over the Israeli attack on Gaza” and praised Egypt for withdrawing its ambassador to Israel.  Yildirim called on the Turkish government to throw out Israel’s Ambassador to Ankara.

There are some rallies of support being organized by pro-Israel groups.  At least two are planned for today, in New York City, 5:00 pm ET today, Support Israel’s Right to defend her children! 42nd & 2nd Ave in front of the Israeli Consulate, and one was held this morning outside of TKTS, “Tehilim in the Square in Support of Israel! Duffy Square in New York, New York.

At the University of Florida, Gainesville, nearly 100 people showed up at noon today to sing HaTikva and show support.  A rally is scheduled for tonight in Toronto, outside the Consulate, 180 Bloor Street, West, and one on Friday at noon, in Philadelphia, on the Southwest corner of 19th Street and JFK Boulevard. In a Philadelphia suburb tonight, the Modern Orthodox Lower Merion Synagogue invited the local Israeli Consul General to give them an update on the war, and congregants will be saying tehillim there, for klal Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael.

ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ARE ANTI-ISRAEL DEMONSTRATIONS PLANNED TO DEMONIZE ISRAEL. Cities and as much identifying information as is currently available is provided, as are times and, in many cases, links to the hosts.

THURSDAY, 15 November

Alexandria (Egypt) Qaid Ibrahim, 12:00 p.m. Amsterdam (Holland)  Zuidelijke Wandelweg 41, 6:45 p.m. [link]

Ann Arbor (USA)  Campus Diag, in front of Hatcher Graduate Library, 3:00 p.m. [link]

Austin (USA)  I-35 and 12th Street (overpass), 2:00 p.m. [link] Atlanta (USA)

Israeli Consulate, 4 p.m. [link] Beirut (Lebanon)

Cola, 10:00 a.m. Belfast (Ireland)  City Hall, 7:00 p.m.

Boston (USA) 4:30 p.m., Copley Square [link]

Bradford (UK) | 4.30 p.m. [link]

Brighton (UK) | Outside EcoStream HQ, 12:00 p.m. [twitter]

Brighton (UK) | Victoria Gardens, 5:30 p.m. [link]

Cairo (Egypt) | Omar Makram, 12:30 p.m.

Cairo (Egypt) | Arab League, 4:00 p.m.

Chicago (USA) | Outside Obama HQ, 130 E Randolph Street, 4:00 p.m. [link]

Cork (Ireland) | Daunt sq 6:00 p.m. [link]

Dublin (Ireland) | Israeli Embassy, 5:30 p.m.

Durham (UK) | Market sq, 4:00 p.m. [link]

Florence (Italy) | Piazza della Repubblica (flash mob), 6:00 p.m. [link]

George Mason University (USA) | The North Plaza, 1:30 p.m. [link]

Glasgow (Scotland) | Ahl al Bayt Centre, 6 p.m. [link]

Haifa | Karma House, 7:00 p.m. [link]

Jerusalem | Outside Hebrew University, 12:00 p.m. L’Aquila (Italy) | Fontana Luminosa, 6:30 p.m. [link]

Leeds (UK) | Parkinson Steps, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT, 1:00 p.m. [link]

London (UK) | Israeli Embassy, 5:30 p.m. [link]

Los Angeles (USA) | UCLA, Meyerhoff Park, 11:30 a.m. [link]

Los Angeles (USA) | Israeli Consulate, 11766 Wilshire Boulvard, 4:00 p.m. [link] [link]

Manchester (UK) | Piccadilly Gardens, 5:00 p.m. [link]

Memphis (USA) | Poplar and Highland, 5:00 p.m. [link]

Mexico City (Mexico) | Israeli Embassy, 4:00 p.m.

Montreal (Canada) | Hall Building, Concordia University, 5:00 p.m. Nashville (USA) | Centennial Park, 3:00 pm [link]

Nazareth  | Kassarat Crossroad, 6:30 p.m. [link]

New York (USA) | Israeli Consulate, 42nd Street & 2nd Ave, 5:00 p.m. [link]

Nottingham (UK)| Nottingham Market Square, 5:30 p.m. [link]

Olympia (USA) | Red Square at Evergreen State College, 12:00 p.m. [link]

Ontario (Canada) | University of Windsor, CAW Student Centre, 12:00 p.m. Oxford (UK)  | Cornmarket Street, 4:00 p.m. [link]

Paris (France) | Ministry of Justice, 6:00 p.m. [link]

Princeton (USA) | Princeton University, outside of Frist Campus Center, 12:30 p.m.

San Diego (USA) | US Federal Building, 880 Front Street, 4:30 p.m. [link]

San Francisco (USA) | Israeli Consulate, 5:15 p.m. [link]

Santiago (Chile) | Croatian Stadium (Vitacura 8049) to Israel Stadium, 8:00 p.m. [link]

Seattle (USA) | Henry Jackson Federal Building, 915 2nd Avenue, 4:00 p.m. [link]

Sydney (Australia) | Parmatta Town Hall, 6:00 p.m. [link]

Tel Aviv | Main Entrance, Tel Aviv University 11:30 a.m. [link]

Toronto (Canada) | Israeli Consulate, 180 Bloor Street (E. of St. George TTC), 6:00 p.m.

Tunis (Tunisia) | In front of the National Theatre, 11:00 a.m.

Tunis (Tunisia) | Front of all Trade Association Buildings (Sa7et Mohamed Ali) 1:00 p.m.

Vancouver (Canada) | The Art Gallery, Hornby and Robson Streets, 5:00 p.m. [link]

Washington D.C. (USA) | March from State Department, 6:00 p.m. [link]

Broader Lessons from Genetic Studies of the Ashkenazi Jewish Population

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the influential paper published by a Mount Sinai physician, Dr. Burrill Crohn, and his colleagues that for the first time characterized a disease associated with severe inflammation of the intestine. Patients with what was later named Crohn’s disease develop diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, and often lose weight. Crohn’s is now classified as an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks its own healthy tissue in the gastrointestinal tract, causing chronic inflammation. It affects young individuals, and, even though it is not curable, it can be treated and controlled by medications and surgery.

Epidemiology and origination of Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s is considered to be a complex disease with both genetic and environmental risk factors. There is extensive evidence to support the role of genetics in the development of Crohn’s disease. Having a relative with Crohn’s disease is the greatest risk factor for other family members. Also, studies of twins have shown that identical twins, who share almost 100% of their genetic information, were more likely to both have the disease than fraternal twins.  The differences in the prevalence of Crohn’s in various racial and ethnic groups further indicate that genetic factors contribute to the risk, even though shared cultural factors, such as diet and lifestyle, might also explain these differences. Specifically, the prevalence of Crohn’s disease in European countries ranges between 1 and 12 per 100,000 individuals, whereas this disease was until recently virtually unknown in the developing countries.

The major genetic risk for Crohn’s disease identified so far is conferred by 3 rare mutations in the NOD2 gene. NOD2 plays an important role in the immune system, as it enables immune cells to recognize bacterial molecules and stimulates an immune reaction. While the frequency of these mutations ranges between 1% and 4.5% in the general population, about 40% of Crohn’s disease patients carry at least one copy. This translates to a 2 to 4-fold risk of developing the disease in carriers of one copy and a 10 to 40-fold risk in those who carry multiple copies of these mutations. Recent advances in the field of genetics have allowed identification of an additional 160 genetic variants associated with Crohn’s disease in individuals of European ancestry. However,  a sharp increase in the occurrence of the disease in children of immigrants from the developing countries who move to Western countries, as well as the well- established effect of smoking on Crohn’s disease risk, suggest a prominent role for environmental factors as well, most likely diet and lifestyle.

Crohn’s Disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish Population

Interestingly, Jews of European descent (Ashkenazim) have a 4 to 7-fold increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease compared to non-Jewish Europeans. Genetic risks alone could not explain why the prevalence of Crohn’s disease is so much higher in Ashkenazim than in surrounding populations. To investigate this phenomenon, researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have recently conducted the largest study which compared 1,878 Ashkenazi Jews with Crohn’s disease to 4,469 Jews without the disease, using DNA samples to evaluate their genetic make-up. They discovered five new genetic risk regions associated with Crohn’s disease in Ashkenazim. Armed with this new information, they can begin to pinpoint additional causal genetic mutations, discover the nature of the malfunctions they create,  and hopefully eventually develop new treatment approaches. That study also demonstrates the value of genetic studies in isolated populations, like Ashkenazi Jews.

 

The Role of Commensal Bacteria in Crohn’s Disease Risk

One possible explanation for the origination of Crohn’s disease is the hygiene hypothesis which suggests that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents causes the immune system to wrongfully recognize its own non-pathogenic microorganisms as imminent risks and to act against them, causing substantial damage. This notion is particularly interesting in light of accumulating evidence suggesting that the identity and relative abundance of members of bacterial communities, or microbiota, normally residing in the human body and referred to as “commensal”, or non-harmful, bacteria, can be associated with different disease states. Microbial cells that live on (skin, eyes) and inside the human body (digestive system) may outnumber the quantity of human cells by 10-fold. This means that we may be carrying more bacterial genes than our own. Some commensal bacteria are essential for our health and provide a wide range of metabolic functions that the human body lacks. They help break down, absorb and store nutrients that otherwise cannot be digested, fight pathogenic bacteria, and play an important role in the development of the immune system.

$100,000 in Gold Found in Israel Crusader Fortress

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

One of the largest-ever gold caches located in Israel was discovered by Tel Aviv University and the Nature and Parks Authority in a dig in the Apollonia National Park near Herzliya.

400 grams of gold – 108 gold coins minted around the year 1,000 in Egypt and valued at over $100,000 – was found last week in  by a TAU student in a potsherd under the tiles of one room of a Crusader fortress conquered by the Mamluks.

The find is part of a three-year excavation in which hundreds of arrow heads and catapult stones have been found, evidence of the mighty battle between the Crusaders and the Mamluks.

Rare glass utensils and Italian shards have also been found.

The coastal fortress and adjacent city were part of the Knights Hospitaller’s most important strongholds.  In 1265, Mamluk Sultan Baybars attacked the city and captured it in a 40 day siege.

Researchers believe the gold was hidden by a Crusader leader, in hopes that the fortress would be ultimately be retaken from the Muslim invaders and the treasure restored to its Christian owners.

Securing Our Future Through Historic Jewish Communities

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Since becoming the first ordained rabbi in Jamaica in thirty-three years, I have been working tirelessly with my community to build a Jewish future on this tropical island. Every Jewish community wants to survive and indeed thrive, but there is a particular importance to the preservation and development of the world’s small, history-rich Jewish communities.

As I see it, our collective Jewish future depends on it.

Before I explain my reasoning, let’s briefly review the momentous – but often overlooked – history of our community in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Jewish community of Jamaica traces its origin to Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, who came to the Caribbean in order to escape from the Inquisition. In most cases they originated from parts of Spain that bordered on Portugal. When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella issued an expulsion decree on March 30, 1492, the Jewish community was given exactly four months to liquidate their affairs and leave the country. Those who fled to Portugal were forcibly converted in 1497. Because the Inquisition was not introduced in Portugal for several decades, many Jews in Portugal continued to practice their religion quietly.

In 1536 the Inquisition reached Portugal and Conversos began to leave. The Portuguese held their first auto-da-fe in 1540. This obviously frightened our ancestors, who made discreet attempts to plan their escape. Slowly, Portuguese Jews made their way to a number of cities that had or developed Converso communities. Amsterdam was the largest of these communities. From Amsterdam, they pursued business opportunities in the Caribbean, settling in Port Royal or later, Spanish Town and Kingston. We can trace our current community back to Neveh Shalom Synagogue, which was founded in 1704, but our roots go back even further.

There are similar communities throughout the Caribbean and Central America, including Willemstad, Curacao; St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; and Suriname. Each of these communities still conduct services on a regular basis. Preserving these and other historic Jewish communities is critical for a number of reasons.

First, the fact that the Jews were the original Diaspora needs to be emphasized at a time when various other communities are discovering their own Diasporas. This can help build strong bonds between various national groups, allowing us to share common experiences with those who may not have obvious connections to the Jewish people. This would, of course, promote tolerance, which is always “good news for the Jews.”

Second, the experiences of the Jewish people in virtually every corner of the globe over the course of hundreds and, in many cases, thousands of years is part of the narrative that needs to be told to those who are legitimately asking questions about Jewish existence and Jewish history.

Whether in Israel or in various parts of the Diaspora, we need to be able to explain to skeptics that we have survived seemingly unending persecution and numerous expulsions and have nevertheless maintained our commitment to our people and our religion.

This narrative needs to be preserved and enhanced in actual living terms, and not just through books and museum exhibits. We must be able to tell the story of our peoplehood and be able to demonstrate living examples of that history.

Finally, when individuals travel the world looking for adventure and existential meaning, it is important that we “surprise” them with Jewish history and living, breathing Jewish tradition. Visitors are beside themselves when they discover that the Caribbean island they are exploring not only had a historic Jewish community but has living indigenous Jews who continue to gather together for communal events.

In my short time here, I have met and interacted with numerous individuals and groups who come searching for the Jamaican Jewish community in an effort to discover their own Jewish identities. Some of those who seek us out come away with a new perspective on life and a revitalized commitment to their Jewish observance. In a way, we are like a living exhibit from the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv.

Over the past seventy years there has been a dramatic contraction of the Jewish Diaspora. From a large and diverse population spread out among most of the countries of the world, we have concentrated ourselves in a handful of countries, living mostly in a couple of dozen large urban regions. This is quite an unfortunate demographic trend.

Stop Funding Tel Aviv University

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

One of Israel’s leading universities seems to have lost its way.

In a move that is as incomprehensible as it is shameful, Tel Aviv University (TAU) agreed to allow a student group to hold a ceremony commemorating “Nakba Day,” when Palestinians bemoan the establishment of the state of Israel.

The event included the reading of Palestinian poetry, a moment of silence and the recitation of an alternative version of the Yizkor prayer Jews traditionally say in memory of their loved ones.

In case their intent was unclear, the organizers of this anti-Israel hatefest went out of their way to elucidate the reasons behind it, with one telling Haaretz in no uncertain terms that Israelis need to realize that, “We’re talking about a disaster that must be known on a human level.”

Another student involved in planning the event said she saw it as a way “to remember the tragedy and great loss that befell the people who were here before ’48.”

Have these people lost their minds? What on earth would prompt Jewish students at an Israeli institution of higher education to lament the founding of their own country?

Clearly, something is very wrong at Tel Aviv University. Though ostensibly a Zionist institution, its administration ignored the pleas of various public figures and permitted this outrage to go forward.

Indeed, for an institution whose website states that it has “a deep commitment to Israeli society and the Jewish people,” it is hard to fathom what would prompt university officials to sign off on such nonsense.

After all, this has nothing to do with the boundaries of free speech or the fundamental right to criticize one’s government. It is about delegitimizing Israel and attempting to undermine its very existence.

Promoting Nakba Day is a crucial political goal of the Palestinians. Giving it a platform not only fosters a false narrative of history, but it also plays directly into the hands of those who wish to dismantle the Jewish state.

At a time when Israel is facing existential threats from its neighbors, there can be no excuse for allowing the publicly funded grounds of an Israeli university campus to serve as a staging area for assaults on its continued survival.

Clearly, university administrators have lost sight of one of the essential purposes of education. As the 18th-century political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu pointed out, the promotion of love for one’s country “ought to be the principal business of education.”

This is so patently obvious that it should not even need to be stated.

Then again, given some of the radical faculty that populates various departments at Tel Aviv University, it should hardly come as a surprise that this basic idea has been all but overlooked.

As Dr. Steven Plaut and the IsraCampus organization have been documenting for years, various TAU departments have become hothouses for anti-Israel hotheads.

These range from a professor who denies that the Jews are a nation to another who has referred to the residents of Judea and Samaria as “Jewish Cossacks.”

Yet another TAU instructor justified a Palestinian grenade attack on Israeli soldiers as a legitimate act of resistance while others have affirmed their support for efforts to boycott the Jewish state.

If you find this hard to believe, just go to the IsraCampus website (www.isracampus.org.il) and see for yourself how various anti-Zionist and Marxist loons have been indoctrinating Israel’s younger generation at TAU with toxic views. Anyone concerned for the future of Israel should be concerned by what is happening on campuses such as Tel Aviv University.

A growing cadre of Israeli academics are preaching extremist far-left views and turning the hallowed halls of higher education into profane pillars of puerile Palestinian propaganda.

There is no reason why the Israeli taxpayer, or pro-Israel Diaspora Jews, should continue to generously fund TAU even as it serves to undercut the values they hold dear.

For all their talk of principle, college administrators can be swayed if enough pressure is applied. And that is what needs to be done in order to restore some sanity, and Zionist commitment, to Israeli academia.

So the next time you reach for your checkbook and consider making a donation to Tel Aviv University, do yourself and the Jewish people a favor: stop and think whether your money is truly going to a good cause. In the current environment, chances are it isn’t.

Ancient Biblical Gardens “Bloom” Again

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

According to livescience.com, a newly discovered 7th century B.C. palace garden near Jerusalem could reveal details about how royals liked to let loose in ancient times.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Germany’s Heidelberg University uncovered the royal garden at the site of Ramat Rachel, a kibbutz (communal farm) in Israel, and are leading the first full-scale excavation of this type of archaeological site in Israel.

“We have uncovered a very rare find,” archaeologist Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University said.

The garden was a massive and lush green space royals would use to relax. Such pleasure spots were once the ultimate symbol of power, according to the researchers.

Title: God’s Favorite Prayers

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Title: God’s Favorite Prayers

Author: Tzvee Zahavy

Publisher: Talmudic Books


 

            God’s Favorite Prayers, by Tzvee Zahavy, makes for fascinating reading. It is an intelligent, sometimes amusing, and always highly readable essay addressed first and foremost to those who know “everything” – those so familiar with the prayers that they don’t really need a siddur to follow the service.

            At the same time the book can also serve as an appetizer, a first introduction to the synagogue and its most significant prayers, for those from outside shul life – people who have not been inside an Orthodox synagogue since their bar mitzvah.


It is livened by autobiographical reminiscences that include how shul felt for the author, as the son of the rabbi of what was then Zichron Ephraim and later the Park East Synagogue. The combination of growing up as the rabbi’s son of one of the most prestigious Orthodox congregations in New York City, and the intellectual honing provided by being part of academe for many years, prepared Zahavy well for writing this unique presentation of Jewish prayer as practiced in the synagogue.


Indeed, his background and credentials make him eminently qualified for this undertaking. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees, as well as rabbinic ordination, from Yeshiva University, where he spent four years studying with Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. He then earned a Ph.D. in religious studies from Brown University, and went on to pursue an academic career at the University of Minnesota, where he was a professor of Jewish Studies and was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award.


In God’s Favorite Prayers, Zahavy describes the prayer service as it is encountered in real-life synagogues, defining it as a series of discrete and somewhat diverse elements that have their own internal coherence. At the same time, it somehow synchronizes and creates a rewarding whole.


The major thrust of the book is what, lacking any better term, I call the psycho-emotional dimension – not the literal meaning of the prayers but rather the impact that their recitation should or could have on regular synagogue goers. It is particularly successful in evoking a renewed spiritual dimension, respecting texts whose essence sometimes tends to fade through their constant use.


The prayers are categorized typologically, a separate chapter being devoted to each of the following: The Performer’s Prayers; The Mystic’s Prayers; The Scribe’s Prayers; The Priest’s Prayers; The Meditator’s Prayers; and The Celebrity’s Prayers. The chapter headings are not intended to indicate either their authorship or their history, both of which Zahavy considers to be largely unknown and, in any event, irrelevant for his purpose.


Following these chapters is one on the Kiddush, both as a special blessing recited several times during the Sabbath or holiday and as the social event held in many synagogues immediately following the Sabbath morning service.


The book closes with a short epilogue portraying the emotional experience accompanying the blowing of the shofar, particularly, but not only, at the close of the Yom Kippur service.


While the book will ring a bell for regular synagogue attendees in all countries, it will have particular resonance for those used to the American experience. An especially noteworthy example: particularly American is the endeavor to be respectful of women vis-à-vis the synagogue experience.


Zahavy has succeeded in relating to women and addressing them “at eye level” as real and active participants in the prayer experience, without “moving the curtain aside” or giving them an active part in the pageantry of the prayer service that in Orthodox Judaism is considered to be an exclusive male domain. He somehow manages to provide his women readers with a feeling of inclusiveness,without their intruding into the traditional male domain of the synagogue service.


He achieves this primarily by choosing women as the archetypes in several of the chapters. He not only uses the biblical Hannah to introduce his discussion of The Mystic’s Prayers. He doesn’t hesitate to introduce a contemporary woman in the ensuing narrative to illustrate his point. So too Zahavy places a lady at the center of his description in his chapter on meditation.


An important insight that in and of itself makes the book worthwhile is its illustration of one of the major axioms of the nature of Jewish prayer – that it is the one who prays who, in the last analysis, determines the content of the prayer that is recited. While the words of the prayers provide the common denominator that make it possible for communal prayer to take place, it is the individual prayer of each of us (and even our own prayer at different times) that provides the common and virtually timeless text with contemporary and personal meaning.


While I too have taught prayer in university classes, and hopefully was interesting and informative, this book is entirely different. While I concentrated on content and sources, Zahavy’s aim here is to re-evoke dimensions of meaning in texts whose familiarity has caused their sharp meaning to fade. For all these and other reasons, the book is an enjoyable read and well worth the time doing so.


Dr. Naomi G. Cohen taught for many years at Tel Aviv University and Haifa University, and is a senior research fellow at Haifa University. She has published extensively on Jewish liturgy and on Philo Judaeus, including Philo’s Scriptures: Citations from the Prophets and Writings. She is married to Rav She’ar Yashuv Cohen, former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Haifa.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-gods-favorite-prayers-2/2011/10/05/

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