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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘work’

Israel and Facebook to Work Against Social Media Based Terrorism

Monday, September 12th, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan met with the international directors of Facebook Monday to discuss rampant incitement on the social network.

“Israel is at the forefront of combating terrorism on all fronts, including the internet front,” said Shaked. “In my view, Facebook and other social networks can do much more in the war against incitement.”

The two Israeli ministers traveled to the United States and met with Joel Kaplan, Vice President of Public Policy and Monika Bickert, head of the Global Policy department at Facebook.

Erdan and Shaked discussed the widespread use of the social network to motivate and encourage terrorist activity, stressing that the latest wave of terror attacks known as “lone-wolf” attacks was directly connected to online incitement. The ministers asked the Facebook management team to remove incitement-filled material within 24 hours of its publication, similar to the website’s policy in European Union countries.

According to a spokesperson with the Ministry of Public Security, the sides agreed to establish task forces to collaborate on combating the proliferation of incitement on social media.

Facebook previously commented to Tazpit Press Service that the company “wants people to feel safe when using Facebook. There is no place for content encouraging violence, direct threats, terrorism or hate speech on Facebook.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

In the Kosher Trenches: The Work of KosherQuest

Monday, September 5th, 2016

What does a man who is rav of a shul, overseer of two eruvim and the executive director of a school do with his spare time? Well, if you are Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz of North Hollywood, CA you dedicate yourself to helping those with kashrus questions.

Rabbi Eidlitz is a busy man – he has a full time job as the executive director of Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov Ohr Eliyahu in Los Angeles, in addition to his responsibilities as the rav of Beis Midrash Mordechai Yaakov, a congregation of about 150 people, and as the rav hamachshir of two eruvim in the Greater Los Angeles area. Yet Rabbi Eidlitz carves out about two hours every day to attend to the needs of the millions of visitors to KosherQuest, the website of the Kosher Information Bureau, a job for which he receives no financial compensation whatsoever. He sees KosherQuest’s work as his way to express his dedication to klal Yisrael.

The idea behind KosherQuest was born when, back in 1977, Rabbi Eidlitz was teaching a class on kashrus to seminary girls in Northern California. The girls asked a lot of practical questions, and Rabbi Eidlitz suggested calling up different kosher certification agencies. The girls called a number of agencies, large and small, but found that they would only answer questions regarding the particular products that they certify, but had no answers for general kashrus questions. Rabbi Eidlitz encouraged his students to do their own research. Under his guidance, they explored the local supermarkets and took notes on the kosher items. They also contacted the manufacturers of the products for additional information.

Slowly, Rabbi Eidlitz’s class complied a shoe box, and then two boxes, full of index cards with information about various products. Before long, people began calling Rabbi Eidlitz with their kashrus questions. Surprised that no other organization provided comprehensive kashrus information that was not limited to a specific company or hechsher, Rabbi Eidlitz decided to make the information stored in the shoe boxes available to the public, first through the phone, and then online. Thus, KosherQuest was born.

Over three decades later, KosherQuest remains unique in its breadth. Over a thousand kashrus agencies and individual certifiers are listed in its database of hechsherim. Rabbi Eidlitz does extensive research on each one of them before including it in his list, making sure it meets his standards of reliability. In addition, he advises new agencies that are starting out in the field of kosher certification.

To keep up with the times, KosherQuest has recently released a new app, available for both Android and iOS, making it even easier for those with kashrus questions to use its services, which are provided completely free of charge.

Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz

Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz

KosherQuest also sends out a weekly email newsletter with the latest kashrus updates and alerts. Whenever inadvertent errors happen, the kashrus agencies are quick to notify the community. Rabbi Eidlitz explains that sometimes the manufacturer prints a kosher symbol on a label by mistake. Once a company printed an OU on pork and beans. Another time, a store on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn was selling treif food in packages with a chassidishe hashgacha. It turned out that it was a halal store which did a lot of business with kosher companies and had purchased a labeling machine from one of these companies, not realizing that everything the machine printed had that hechsher. Once mistakes like that are discovered, kosher alerts are immediately placed on the KosherQuest website. “If there is an error, [the kashrus agencies] want people to know so that nobody is nichshal because of them,” says Rabbi Eidlitz.

Visitors come to KosherQuest from all over the world, and many contact Rabbi Eidlitz directly with their questions. Once,Rabbi Eidlitz even received a phone call from the Pentagon at 2:00 a.m. The Pentagon urgently needed a database of kosher products as they had been sued for not providing kosher food to their Jewish soldiers who were dispatched to Iraq. With Rabbi Eidlitz’s help they were able to send thousands of kosher ready-to-eat meals to soldiers. Since then, the Pentagon has been in touch with Rabbi Eidlitz whenever a kashrus issue comes up.

Many kosher consumers consult KosherQuest while traveling, as they find it difficult to identify kosher food in an unfamiliar location. Others live in places with small Jewish populations all year. Having the kashrus information accessible to them “affects their quality of life,” says Rabbi Eidlitz.

Some people who visit the site or contact Rabbi Eidlitz for information are not even Jewish. They prefer to buy kosher food because they trust the integrity of the certifiers. For example, many Muslims, including those who serve in the army, request kosher food when halal food is unavailable. Others rely on kosher symbols because of severe food allergies. “Some product was labeled non-dairy, and highly allergic people almost died,” recalls Rabbi Eidlitz. They turned to KosherQuest for product information because they know that if something is labeled pareve then it truly is pareve, with no dairy ingredients whatsoever. Some people have to avoid even dairy equipment due to their allergies, and they appreciate the “dairy equipment” label on kosher products.

Living in Los Angeles, Rabbi Eidlitz has received inquiries from movie producers. They wanted to know if ostrich eggs were kosher because they wanted to use them in a movie involving Jews. Rabbi Eidlitz had to disappoint them – ostrich eggs are not kosher.

In addition to general kashrus questions, Rabbi Eidlitz is sometimes contacted for information about specific chumros or minhagim. Familiar with many of them, he is able to provide the needed information to his callers. For example, when a Chabad callers ask about their own minhagim Rabbi Eidlitz is able to tell them if the product meets the requirements of the Shulchan Aruch Harav. When a litvishe caller asks whether a dairy product is chalav yisrael, Rabbi Eidlitz specifies whether the milk used in the product is fresh or powdered, since some hold that chalav yisrael doesn’t apply to powdered milk.

Yehudis Litvak

Let Us Violate Shabbat So As To Sanctify It

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

“He who wants to enter the holiness of the [Sabbath] day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man. Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else….

The seventh day is the exodus from tension, the liberation of man from his own muddiness, the installation of man as a sovereign in the world of time….

The Sabbaths are our great  cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither the Romans nor the Germans were able to burn…”

(Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man [NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1951] pp. 13, 29, 8)

Shabbat is serious business, not only because of its halachic requirements but also because of its magnificent and majestic message. To violate it is not just a transgression but a tragedy. Its desecration undermines what it means to be human and to be a real Jew. It deprives mankind of its own sublimity.

It is not the renouncement of technical progress that Shabbat requires but rather the attainment of some degree of independence from an ever-increasing race and cruel struggle for our physical existence, in which we are all involved and which denies us embracing the presence of an eternal moment.

There is only one sanctity that is even greater than Shabbat and that is the holiness of the human being. When we have to choose between these two sanctities, Jewish law is clear: The human being takes precedence. (Yoma 85b; Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Shabbat 2:3)

If it is true that the Tel Aviv Light Rail and the high-speed train connecting Tel Aviv and Yerushalayim will indeed save countless human lives by having people switch from car to rail, Halacha will without any doubt demand of us to work on Shabbat to complete construction as soon as possible. Any postponement would be a terrible violation of Halacha itself.

But as Jews, let us make it into a celebration. We can observe Shabbat while working on this holy day. Instead of asking non-Jews to take our place, let us gather as many religious Jews as possible to join in this undertaking and do this work in the spirit of Shabbat and Halacha. Here are some suggestions:

We can organize shacks at the work sites where some people will make Kiddush and where a special Shabbat atmosphere will be created and tasteful Shabbat meals, kept warm according to the laws of Shabbat, will be served. There will be alternate minyanim where the workers can hear the reading of the parsha and say their Shabbat prayers in shifts. Participants can sing Shabbat songs and someone can say a nice d’var Torah informing everyone of the great mitzvah they are performing by working on the holy Shabbat so as to save lives.

Lets us give all the workers colored Shabbat helmets and ask all others who stand by to give instructions to wear nice kippot.

There can be flags and ribbons flying and large posters displayed at the work sites proclaiming: “The people of Israel shall keep the Shabbat, observing the Shabbat throughout the ages as a covenant for eternity.”(Shemot 31:16);“And one shall live by them [My laws]” (Vayikra 18:5)… “and not die because of them.” (Sanhedrin 74a)

Let us make a Jewish celebration out of this. We can show our fellow Israelis and the world that we love Shabbat but that it will not stand in the way of the sanctity of human life. It will actually advance our spirit and commitment to Judaism. Let us reveal that Halacha can deal with the requirements of a modern democratic Jewish state in an unprecedented way.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Let us not fail to live up to the challenge of making us all proud to be committed Jews.

After all, is it not Shabbat that made us Jews and that now gives meaning to the State of Israel? Why, in fact, be Jewish if not for this great institution called Shabbat?

Sure, some of my readers will say that these suggestions are insane. But let us not forget what philosopher and writer George Santayana once said: Sanity is madness put to good use.

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Meretz Chairwoman Forced Supreme Court to Work on Shabbat

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

Meretz Chairwoman MK Zahava Galon forced the Israeli Supreme Court to desecrate Shabbat, with an appeal which was already irrelevant when she filed it, argued pundit, author and Holocaust scholar Itamar Levin in a column he published on the News1 website.

Galon appealed to the court on Shabbat day, Sept. 3, asking that it order the Ministry of Transport to carry out the scheduled works on the Railroad infrastructure which had been halted on Friday night due to Haredi party pressure. “This meant that the employee on call at the reception had to receive the appeal and pass it to the Justice on call, which happened to be Anat Baron,” Levin wrote, suggesting this could also mean that the people on call in the Justice’s chambers had to work on Shabbat as well.

But, as turns out from the Justice’s ruling, also given on Shabbat, the appeal was not urgent and did not justify forcing a state employee to desecrate Shabbat. Justice Baron wrote: “The appeal was submitted today, Shabbat day, at 3 PM. When it was submitted, the infrastructure works had been ceased yesterday, following the prime minister’s order shortly before the start of Shabbat. Under these circumstances there is no point in issuing the requested injunction in response to a situation which the appellant claims was created on this weekend.”

Justice Baron instead ordered the State to respond by Monday, Sept. 5, to Galon’s appeal for an injunction — an appeal she could have submitted Saturday night, Levin wrote.

Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, maintain skeletal Shabbat and Holiday shifts to respond to the most urgent needs. These include police requests for injunctions to prevent the smuggling of children, or for arrest warrants. But Levin wrote that he did not recall any other time when the Supreme Court was compelled to desecrate Shabbat to deal with an administrative issue such as the works on the railroad.


Why Palestinians Prefer to Work for Israeli Employers

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

{Originally posted to the PMW website}

Conditions for Palestinians working in Israel and the settlements are much better than in the Palestinian Authority, according to an Israeli Arab labor lawyer and a Palestinian laborer in two interviews on the PA TV program Workers’ Affairs. The laborer explained that conditions are so much better that many Palestinian workers prefer or are “forced” to choose to work for Israeli employers.
Israeli Arab labor lawyer Khaled Dukhi, who works with the Israeli NGO Workers’ Hotline, stated on the PA TV program that Israeli labor law is “very good” because it does not differentiate between men and women or between Israelis and Palestinians. However, he explained that Palestinian workers who work in Israel or in the settlements still suffer because Palestinian middlemen “steal” part of their salary:
“The Palestinian female workers in the [Israeli] agricultural sector enjoy many rights, like any Israeli worker in the agricultural sector: The salary is higher than the minimum wage, 14 vacation days a year in the first four years, 2,000 shekels convalescence pay [yearly]… payment for holidays, whether Islamic or Jewish. It is a matter of choice… [But] in reality, Palestinian workers – and especially the female Palestinian workers – do not receive these things. Why? You [PA TV host] said: ‘The Palestinian middleman deducts from her [pay].’ No, he does not deduct, he shares her salary. In practice, he takes 50%, 60%, and even 70% of her salary. If her daily salary is 180 shekels, in the end she receives 60 shekels. The middleman steals two thirds of her salary. Excuse the word [“steals”], but that is the exact word.” [Official PA TV, Workers’ Affairs, March 16, 2016]
On a different episode of Workers’ Affairs, Qassem Abu Hadwan, a laborer from Hebron, stated that Palestinian workers are “forced” to work in Israel because Palestinian employers exploit them and pay less than half:
“The lack of monitoring of [Palestinian] owners of companies and factories and their exploitation of workers is what has forced people to Israel… If only [the salary in the PA] was at least half of the salary [in Israel]… no one would work in Israel. However, workers have to go to Israel, because no one [in the PA] gives them what they deserve for their work.” [Official PA TV, Feb. 4, 16, 2016
Abu Hadwan stated that although Israeli employers “exploit” Palestinian workers too, “they give them what they are entitled to.” He explained that Palestinians would not work in Israel if the conditions in the PA were better, but since “a month’s work here [in the PA] equals a week’s work there [in Israel],” people are driven to seek employment in Israel or in the settlements.
The program’s host concluded that exploitation and low salaries are the reason for Palestinian workers preferring to work in Israel and the settlements, and she suggested how the PA should change that:
PA TV host: “We need investments and for workers’ rights to be honored. What motivates the workers, as we said, to go [to work in] the interior (i.e., Israel) or to the settlements is the exploitation that takes place [in the PA] and the low income.”
[Official PA TV, Feb. 4 and 16, 2016]

The fact that Palestinians are paid double in Israel and by Israeli employers in the West Bank is corroborated by the PA’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Palestinian Media Watch reported on the bureau’s findings for 2014, which showed that Palestinians working for Israeli employers were paid twice what Palestinian employers paid them in the West Bank, and triple of what they received in the Gaza Strip. In February 2016, the bureau publicized similar findings for 2015:

“The average [daily] wage for employees in the West Bank was 94.1 shekels, and 61.9 shekels in the Gaza Strip, while the average for employees in Israel and the settlements was 198.9 shekels.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 26, 2016]
PMW has documented similar statements by Palestinians testifying to the fact that Palestinian workers’ conditions are far better in Israel than in the PA.
Director of Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center Hassan Al-Barghouti stated on PA TV in May 2016 that “120,000 [Palestinians] work in Israel and the settlements.” [Official PA TV, May 11, 2016] The PA’s Central Bureau of Statistics has stated that “the number of workers from the West Bank [that work] in Israel and the settlements reached 112,300 in 2015… and the number of workers in Israeli settlements reached 22,400.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 26, 2016]

Palestinian Media Watch

Hebrew U’s Dr. Yosef Buganim Awarded for Work in Stem Cells

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Dr. Yosef Buganim, a research scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the prestigious journals Science and Science Translational Medicine, and the Boyalife industrial research consortium, for his work in stem cells and regenerative medicine (see Dr. Buganim’s essay Back to basics).

Dr. Buganim is a young researcher who recently joined the Department of Molecular Biology and Cancer Research at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC). Part of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, IMRIC is one of the most innovative and multidisciplinary biomedical research organizations in the world.

Awarded for the first time this year, the Boyalife Science & Science Translational Medicine Award in Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine honors researchers for outstanding contributions in stem cell research and regenerative medicine around the globe. AAAS, Science, and Science Translational Medicine joined efforts with Boyalife, an industrial-research consortium formed in Wuxi, China, in 2009, to sponsor the award.  Composed of prominent researchers, the judging panel was co-chaired by a Science and a Science Translational Medicine editor.

At his Hebrew University laboratory, Buganim uses somatic cell conversion models to identify and investigate the elements that facilitate safe and complete nuclear reprogramming. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT, he used single-cell technologies and bioinformatic approaches to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the reprogramming of somatic cells to iPSCs.

Regenerative medicine is a developing field aimed at regenerating, replacing or engineering human cells, tissues or organs, to establish or restore normal function. Embryonic stem cells have enormous potential in this area because they can differentiate into all cell types in the human body. However, two significant obstacles prevent their immediate use in medicine: ethical issues related to terminating human embryos, and rejection of foreign cells by a patient’s immune system.

In 2006, Japanese researchers discovered that it is possible to reprogram adult cells and return them to their embryonic stage, creating functional embryonic stem-like cells. These cells are known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and constitute a solution to these two obstacles. In addition, these cells provide a good basis for modeling diseases and finding medical solutions, because they can be reproduced from different patients and different diseases.

Despite these cells’ enormous potential, their quality is still not sufficient to be used in clinical practice, and there is a need to find the best protocol that will enable production of high-quality iPSCs that will not endanger patients.

Dr. Buganim’s laboratory has made two major breakthroughs in this area, representing a major step forward in the field of regenerative medicine and transplantation.

Project A: To improve the quality of embryonic stem cells, Dr. Buganim and colleagues conducted bioinformatics analyses which pointed to four new key genes capable of creating iPSCs from skin cells, of superior quality to stem cells in current use. These cells produced in his laboratory (in this case mouse cells) are able to clone a whole mouse at a much higher percentage (80%) than other iPSCs (30%). This test is the most important one determine the quality of the cells.

Project B: Many women suffer recurrent miscarriages and abnormal development of the placenta, which causes fetal growth restriction and in some cases produces children with mental retardation. Dr. Buganim’s lab found the key genes of the placenta stem cells and by expressing them in surplus in skin cells, created placental iPSCs. These cells looked and behaved like natural placental stem cells. Various tests showed that these cells have cell-generating capability in a Petri dish and inside a placenta that develops following a transplant. These cells have potential for use in regenerative medicine in cases of problematic placental functioning. The success of this project may enable women with placenta problems to give birth to healthy children and rescue pregnancies at risk of dysfunctional placenta (see Scientists Convert Skin Cells Into Functional Placenta-Generating Cells).

Alongside creating specific cell types (e.g. nerve cells in patients with Parkinson’s disease, ALS and Alzheimer) from a patient’s skin cells, a potential future use of iPSCs is the creation of whole organs (such as heart, liver or kidney) in a suitable animal model using cells taken from the patient.


Rabbi Asher Weiss Calls on All of Klal Israel to Support his Holy Work [video]

Monday, June 20th, 2016

R’ Asher Weiss has dedicated his life to continuing the quest started by his holy father and the Klausenberger Rebbe. As they survived the fires of Auschwitz, to rise up and rebuild Torah after the war, so too is R’ Asher Weiss creating a new army of Torah leaders.

Today Jews around the world have the opportunity to join with him to continue this holy work.

Join him in his life mission to inspire, teach and spread the light of Torah.

Hear R’ Asher Weiss tell in his own words the experience of his father in Auschwitz and how he fought to keep the light of Torah alive.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/home/promotional-content/rabbi-asher-weiss-calls-on-all-of-klal-israel-to-support-his-holy-work-video/2016/06/20/

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