But the targeted locations, a Jewish Community Center and a Jewish Retirement Home; and an attack fueled by racism and anti-semitism, do not mean that only some of us need worry: Two of the victims were not Jewish — just folks who came to participate in an activity at a place open to and serving an entire community.
Already it is clear that at least two major forces were at play in Kansas City: the shooter was filled with hate, and he had access to guns despite a serious criminal history involving hate crimes, firearms and other weapons.
After many months of gloomy weather and eating winter offerings of potatoes and cabbage, I am ready to welcome my spring crop of fresh herbs. I am especially excited to see the first shoots of dill. Dill originated in Eastern Europe, and has a high tolerance for cold weather. This healthy, aromatic herb is high in iron, calcium, and fiber. It is a very popular addition to salads in Eastern Europe.
For the first Seder dinner, I'll include the dill in an amazingly refreshing Spring Green Salad which combats the heaviness of brisket, potato kugel and the multiple pieces of matzoh. I've made this salad, which has the right balance of crunch and tanginess, for years. It reminds me of a good friend who happens to always be open to new experiences, encouraging others to join in on the fun. And, that's what Passover should be about - a surprising and ever-changing blend of history, tradition, novelty, openness and joy.
Last week, unconfirmed reports indicated that the U.S. might free Jonathan Pollard in return for concessions from Israel on the peace process.
Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1987, for spying for Israel against the U.S. He will be eligible for parole in November 2015. Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush and thus far, Obama, have refused to release him.
Some have argued that his sentence was excessive, and may have been motivated by anti-Semitism.
Some, seemingly in a position to know, maintain that the damage Pollard did to our intelligence network was so great that his sentence was not excessive; while others seemingly in a position to know maintain that he has served enough time, and is no longer dangerous.
For the last 70 years our economy has grown almost steadily. Until 1970, this increase in productivity was shared between growth in wages for labor and profit growth for business. Since then, virtually all the growth in productivity has gone to increase corporate profits, while wages have not even fully kept pace with inflation.
Beginning with the film "Inequality for All" starring Professor Robert Reich, and continuing with a panel discussion a week later, JSPAN has initiated its year of focus on the problems of economic inequality. The programs, held on March 9 and 16 (after a one-week snow delay), drew substantial audiences at the host site, Germantown Jewish Centre.
One segment of our society that is disproportionately facing unemployment, debt load and powerlessness is our youth who are considering college, going to college, or recently graduated.
Issues today include whether taking on the high cost of a private college education is worthwhile, how much student tuition debt accumulates during college, and how the debt affects lives after graduation. Here is an excellent video seeking to expand understanding of the true dimension of the economic difficulties facing many of these young people and their families.
Rabbis Charles Sherman and his daughter, Nogah Marshall.
— by Bonnie Squires
When Rabbi Charles Sherman's son, Eyal, was 4 years old, a tumor was discovered in his brain stem.
Despite the severe consequences of a stroke following his initial surgery, leaving the boy unable to move or speak, Eyal's brain remained as active as ever. Even though his vocal chords were paralyzed, he could mouth words, and his family, especially his mother, have learned to read his lips.
With the devotion of his family, and innumerable trips to doctors' offices and hospitals, Eyal was graduated from high school and then from Syracuse University.
Last week, Rabbi Sherman was the kick-off speaker in the series Open a Book... Open Your Mind created by the Sisterhood of Har Zion Temple and the Jane Fishman Grinberg Religious School in Penn Valley. All through March and April, various authors will be giving talks and signing books at the synagogue.
Sweet or savory, spreads are very addictive. Put a bowl of crackers and a spread in front of me and they both will be devoured within minutes.
I never cared for store-bought chocolate spreads. Overall, I find them to be too sugary for my liking. Nutella happens to be on the top of my favorite spreads, because the sweetness is not as overpowering.
The lack of sugar, minuscule amount of oil, and natural ingredients are what set this homemade chocolate spread apart from most chocolate spreads. This chocolate spread takes minutes to make and can be used as a chocolate frosting or icing.
Adjust the measurements in the following ingredients depending on the consistency you like. You can even add a nut spread to the ingredients if you like.
In his AIPAC keynote speech last Tuesday, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, emphasized that Iran is an "outlaw terrorist state" that should not be permitted to enrich uranium:
Pressure is what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place, and only more pressure will get [them] to abandon their nuclear weapons program. Greater pressure on Iran will not make war more likely; it will make war less likely — because the greater the pressure on Iran and more credible the threat of force on Iran, the smaller chance that force will ever have to be used.
Netanyahu made a case for the peace process, noting that peace with the Palestinians would open up the possibility of establishing formal ties between Israel and the Arab world, leading to great economic and other gains in the region.
On July 13, 1948, thousands of Arabs left their homes in Lydda (now Lod) and marched in the heat of the summer toward Ramallah, then held by the Arab Legion. Why they did this has been the subject of great historical and political debate.
One account explains the exodus as a product of the civil war that preceded the May 1948 attack on Israel by its Arab neighbors.
Another account, now making the rounds of Jewish book clubs across the U.S., is Ari Shavit's My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. Ignoring the recent work of prominent Israeli academicians and the growing body of first-hand narratives and other primary sources, Shavit paints the exodus as an act of ethnic cleansing.
Israeli academicians Avraham Sela, Alon Kadish and Arnon Golan's book, "The Occupation of Lod, July 1948," meticulously documents the unfolding of events. The book cites primary sources, from Israel Defense Forces (IDF) telegrams and reports, to documents found at the Lydda Military Command, to personal accounts by both Jewish and Arab participants. Here is the account, in brief.
The Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia announced that it will not provide consular services until further notice, except for life threatening situations and burials in Israel, as part of a labor dispute in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As of Tuesday, March 4, Israeli diplomats worldwide have renewed their work sanctions due to the Finance Ministry's refusal to resolve the dispute.
Under these sanctions, Israel's diplomats will no longer engage with foreign representatives, take care of official visits of any kind (either in Israel or overseas), issue visas or provide any consular services.
Akiba Hebrew Academy graduates Michael Bihovsky, Adam Levinthal and Andrew Davies star in the newly-released, full-length musical animated comedy DVD Megillas Lester, presented by EMES Productions, produced by Kolrom Animation Studios, and distributed by ArtScroll.
Bihovsky, who directed and starred in One Grain More and Fresh! now voices Doniel "Lester" Lesterovitch, an average boy in a Jewish elementary school. While directing his school's Purim play, Lester gets a knock on the head from a fallen box of puffy paint and falls unconscious. Suddenly, Lester finds himself in the middle of the feast of King Achashverosh, and through a case of mistaken identity, it is Lester who is asked to go summon Queen Vashti to the party.
The Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia will mark its 18th year Saturday, March 8, with a screening of the comedy "Hunting Elephants" and a gala dessert reception at the University of Pennsylvania's International House.
The movie features Sir Patrick Stewart, joining Israeli acting veterans Sasson Gabai and Moni Moshonov in a cinematic romp in which three elderly men and a young teenager decide to rob a Jerusalem bank.
On Sunday, March 9, the International House will offer three movies. First at 2:30 p.m., "Hunting Elephants" will be screened again.
(CAMERA) On a number of college campuses, this week is "Israel Apartheid Week," a week where anti-Israel activists try to fool students into believing Israel systematically and legally oppresses minorities.
How can we help our children become academically accomplished? Parents want to do what is best for their children, but don't always know how they can help. According to a Northwestern University 2007 study of 35,000 preschoolers in the United States, Canada and England, when controlling for IQ, family income, gender, temperament, type of previous educational experience, and whether children came from single or two parent families, the study found that the mastery of early math concepts on school entry was the very strongest predictor of future academic success. "Mastery of early math skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement," Greg Duncan, author of the study, said. "And it does so just as reliably as early literacy mastery of vocabulary, letters and phonetics predicts later reading success. The opposite, reading skills predicting math success, does not hold up." However, in early learning environments, most of the time and attention are focused upon early language and literacy skills.
Every U.S. administration has had disagreements with Israel, including on settlements and building in Jerusalem. But unlike many other administrations, the Obama administration has never threatened Israel, let alone taken action against it.
— by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center
Like millions of concerned people around the world, we hope that the emerging leadership in Ukraine will steer a course based on democratic values and inclusion, including guaranteeing rights and safety for its large Jewish communities and their communal institutions.
As the late Simon Wiesenthal said, "Where democracy is strong, it is good for Jews and where it is weak, it is bad for Jews." Nothing will better guarantee a future for Ukrainian Jewry than the end of violent confrontations and the restoration of true democratic rule.
When was the last time you heard about Chuck Hagel or Samantha Power from our Republican friends? Remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth that preceded their confirmations?
After taking office, Hagel issued a statement firmly reiterating our support for Israel and our commitment to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Then, he went to Israel and finalized a huge arms deal with the Jewish State.
After taking office, Power reiterated our determination to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. She recently announced that the U.S. "strongly supports Israel's candidacy" for a seat on the U.N. Security Council and that she will "never give up" on that effort.
Last week, Obama appointed Robert Malley to the National Security Council, and those of us who are subscribed to the "right" emails are now being treated to another round of Republican hysteria, courtesy of recycled smears from 2008.
This week, the federal government released new comprehensive statewide and national data on how many Americans have enrolled in new, more affordable health coverage through the Affordable Care Act's Marketplaces.
The data shows that nearly 3.3 million people had chosen health plans through state-run exchanges as well as the federal exchange by February 1 — a 53% increase over the number enrolled a month earlier.
Many of these individuals are already receiving coverage as of January 1. Those who enroll by March 15 will receive their coverage starting April 1.
Open enrollment ends on March 31. Anyone who hasn't enrolled by then, may have to wait until 2015 for health insurance and may be subject to a penalty.
During a Monday meeting in her Philadelphia office, the regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Joanne Grossi, told local organizations working on enrollment that the area had achieved the second-highest percentage in the federal marketplace, after Miami. This ranking was among cities in the 36 states that allowed the federal government to run their insurance exchange. Some larger cities, including New York and Los Angeles, are in states that created their own insurance marketplaces.
More than half of the enrollees (55 percent) are women and nearly 1 in 3 enrollees in January were younger than 35.
Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania's CEO, Dayle Steinberg, said, "These numbers are not surprising, given the law's protections and benefits for women.
"That's why Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania is working to ensure that our patients and the communities we serve understand what they are eligible to receive."
The Kirk-Menendez bill started out as a bipartisan effort to increase pressure on Iran. It was introduced in December with 13 Democratic and 13 Republican cosponsors, amidst concerns that the clock was ticking and the interim agreement with Iran had not yet been implemented.
But once the interim agreement took effect, and after the administration shared more details about the plan, support for a vote on Kirk-Menendez began to evaporate, especially among Democrats. It began to look less like a bipartisan effort to do the right thing and more like a vehicle for Republicans to drive a wedge between pro-Israel Democrats and President Obama.
The bottom finally fell out on Thursday, when Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and 41 other Republican senators sent a letter demanding a vote. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the bill's co-author, responded by warning against making the bill a partisan issue.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) released a statement saying that, "We agree with the Chairman [Sen. Menendez] that stopping the Iranian nuclear program should rest on bipartisan support and that there should not be a vote at this time on the measure."
For decades, Abe Foxman has been a tireless voice against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all of its forms, always calling us to reject hatred and embrace our common humanity.
Michelle and I wish him well as he prepares to leave the leadership of the Anti-Defamation League — an organization that he built, and led with such passion and persistence. Abe is irreplaceable, but the causes that he has dedicated his life to will continue to inspire people in the United States, Israel, and around the world.
Take Issa Abd Rabbo. When he was released recently, he was welcomed home personally by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who raised Rabbo's hand in victory and referred to the double killer as a hero.
He calls men like Rabbo "the best of the Palestinian people".
Rabbo killed two university students, Revital Seri, 22, and her friend Ron Levi, 23.
Some on the far right are telling us that Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Israel with a boycott if peace talks with the Palestinians were not successful. In fact, Kerry and the U.S. strongly oppose and will oppose any boycotts of Israel.
Kerry was simply pointing out the irrefutable: If Israel is seen as unreasonably blocking peace negotiations, the chance of more boycotts against Israel will increase.
The State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said on February 2 that, "At the Munich Security Conference yesterday, [Kerry] spoke forcefully in defense of Israel's interests, as he consistently has throughout his public life."
In response to a question about the peace process, he also described some well-known and previously stated facts about what is at stake for both sides if this process fails, including the consequences for the Palestinians. His only reference to a boycott was a description of actions undertaken by others that he has always opposed.
With the Winter Olympic Games underway in Sochi, Russia, the Jewish debate on the games mirrors the discourse taking place in the broader international and athletic communities.
While some Jews say they view the games purely as sport — with social or political issues not factoring into their evaluation — not all can ignore Russia's controversial "gay propaganda" legislation, political detentions, and allegations of Olympic corruption, and the recent terrorist threats against the games.
One Jewish resident of Moscow, Anya Levitov, said the various sensitive issues in Russia "make these games anything but an event to follow."
The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced the launch of a new start-up lab called "Para Bellum Labs, America!" The phrase "parabellum" was used by a German arms manufacturer as a name for its signature guns: first, the light machine gun used by the Kaiser's best during World War I, and then its most iconic gun: the Parabellum Pistole, or the "Luger pistol."
Frankly, I am astounded and sorely disappointed that the RNC would put so little thought into the message of their new venture. Using the phrasing "para bellum" not only exploits horrific symbolism, but also communicates a fatalist & violent message toward any who differ with you.
The RNC should immediately repudiate the name of this venture, denounce the approach it suggests, and apologize to all the people this names offends — those of the Greatest Generation, those who have ever been victims of gun violence, and those in the Jewish community and beyond who were victims of the Nazi genocide.
Left to right: Mayor Michael Nutter and his wife Lisa with the Temple University School of Medicine's vice president for development, Nina Weisbord, and dean, Dr. Larry Kaiser.
— article and photos by Bonnie Squires
More than $1 million was raised at the American Academy of Music's 157th annual anniversary concert and ball in Philadelphia last weekend.
Despite bitter cold and snow-covered streets, the events attracted about 1,200 guests, including Mayor Michael Nutter and many Jewish philanthropists.
The event's theme was "Preserving the Heritage," and accordingly, the raised money will be used for installing a new HVAC system and other repairs to the historic Academy building — the first opera house built in the U.S.
The building resides in the Avenue of the Arts, and is often called the "Grand Old Lady of Broad Street."
Those who oppose the bill are not soft on Iran and are no less concerned about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. They oppose the bill because, in their view, the bill violates the interim agreement, would lessen the likelihood of a diplomatic solution, and weaken the sanctions architecture.
This is not some kind of a litmus test. There are strong friends of the U.S.-Israel relationship on both sides of this issue. No one should equate support for new sanctions with support, or lack of support, for Israel.
Some people are judging the interim agreement by the standards of what we hope will be the final agreement.
The purpose of the interim agreement is to delay, not end, Iran's progress, so that Iran cannot run out the clock while we negotiate. It cannot and will not be the final agreement. If Iran does not fulfill its obligations under the interim agreement, it will lose even a limited sanctions relief.
"Jews in front of the Wall of Solomon" by Alexandre Bida, 1880.
— by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch
Days before its opening, under pressure from Arab states, UNESCO suspended a major exhibit at its Paris headquarters on the Jewish people and Israel.
The UNESCO chief, Irina Bokova, justified her cancellation of Monday's Jewish exhibit by invoking UNESCO's alleged concern not to endanger the fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Yet somehow, this noble principle of caution for peace never stopped UNESCO from excoriating Israel incessantly.
Since 2009, UN Watch has counted no less than 46 UNESCO resolutions against Israel, one on Syria, and zero on Iran, North Korea, Sudan or any other country in the world.
This malicious treatment is especially tragic because UNESCO was founded after World War II with the express purpose of combating the doctrine of the inequality of men and races. Today, as sadly, it has become a serial perpetrator of inequality.
One of Italy's newest culinary trends is coming from an unexpected source: the country's Jewish heritage.
The Cantone family, which has been producing goose salami for more than 40 years, wrote in its website that the connection between the area of Lomellina, Italy and the sausage is dating back to the 11th century.
Today, Italian goose salami is becoming much more popular, and even has a group of aficionados.
An Italian journalist and visiting scholar at the Center for Transatlantic Relations in Washington, D.C., Daniel Moro, said that "Italian goose salami is better than the meat from France."
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