Posted by Jay Firestone
By Tamar Rotem of Haaretz.com:
“Two weeks ago, a group of students from one of Jerusalem’s most prestigious junior high schools was called out of class, before their classmates’ stunned eyes.
One by one, the students gathered somberly in their school library. Something in the severe face of their vice-principal hinted that this was leading to a disciplinary measure. A glance around the room was enough to see that these students were far from bring the rowdiest in the class.
Some of them bit their fingernails in anticipation, as potential reasons for their punishment raced through their heads. But not one expected to be accused of forming a hate group against a fellow student on the Facebook social networking site.” more on haaretz.com
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March 5, 2009 | 3:32 pm
Posted by Jay Firestone
This is a statement made by Jewish World Watch president Janice Kamenir-Reznik and JWW executive director Tzivia Schwartz Getzug.
March 4, 2009
In an unprecedented move, judges at the International Criminal Court today issued a long-awaited arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al Bashir – the first time such a warrant has ever been issued against a sitting head of state.
The issuance of this arrest warrant is an essential step towards both peace and justice in Sudan. We are proud that our advocacy efforts, along with those of the anti-genocide movement nationwide, have helped to move us closer to this event. A real and credible challenge to Bashir – prosecution in an international court – now exists. The international community must not let this remarkable window of opportunity pass.
In the lead up to the arrest warrant, Bashir has attempted to mount a charm offensive to convince the international community to defer the arrest warrant, even purportedly calling for free and fair elections.
But this conciliatory approach is thinly veiled, as he has simultaneously escalated attacks against civilians and aid workers and blocked humanitarian relief to over 100,000.
Bashir has also threatened further retaliation against civilians, aid workers and UNAMID peacekeepers if and when this charge came through. This attempt at blackmailing the international community is unacceptable and cannot be condoned.
President Obama must respond to these threats immediately and decisively. We ask that he issue immediate warnings to President Bashir that there will be consequences for any reprisal attacks. He must also urgently announce the appointment of a full-time, senior level envoy to Sudan that has a full
diplomatic team charged with bringing peace to Darfur and fully implementing Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Jewish World Watch is a coalition of more than 60 synagogues working together to mobilize synagogues, their schools, members and the community to combat genocide and other egregious violations of human rights around the world. In response to the 400,000 civilians that have been murdered and the nearly 2.5 million people who have been displaced in the Sudan, Jewish World Watch chose Darfur as its first advocacy campaign. Since its inception, these synagogues have actively mobilized to stop the genocide in Darfur and have allocated more than $2,000,000 in direct assistance to the people in Darfur.
March 4, 2009 | 2:29 am
Posted by Jason Lipeles
My adrenaline is still rushing, my heart is still pounding, and, most importantly, my mind is still racing after attending Jewlicious Festival 5.0 this past weekend. Not only did I dance at the Saturday night concert and sing along at the 45-minute Havdallah Jam, I also discussed environmental activism with passionate young people in an event called “Why We Give A Damn.” What a breath of fresh air!
I wouldn’t consider myself a very observant Jew. Yes, my family does Shabbat dinner every Friday night: my mom makes challah most of the time and we say our prayers. But, I don’t keep kosher, I drive on the Sabbath, I eat pepperoni pizza. Rather than being a setback, my lack of observance was a blessing at the Jewlicious Festival. It just meant that I had that much more to learn from the broad range of Jews.
I learned that some people dip challah into salt after they do the Hamotzi. I learned that women and men dancing separately isn’t that strange. I learned that I can relate to Orthodox Jews. And they can relate to me.
After Orthodox Rabbi Simcha Levenberg brought the house down with his PG-rated comedy performance about his family and his life as a rabbi, we sat down and talked. Although he had a long beard, I wasn’t nervous or thinking that maybe he was judging my lack of Jewishness. We talked about how he got into comedy and his love of improvisational acting.
After this weekend, I feel a sense of relief knowing that the Jewish community isn’t as fractured as I thought it was. Abi Weber from Pomona College agreed with me. Weber said, “What really surprised me was how pluralistic [the Jewlicious Festival] is and how that works. I grew up going to a lot, a lot of Jewish events. And all of the events I went to growing up were mostly conservative. And then I was in Israel for a year and it was mostly Orthodox events. This is the first event I’ve been to where they successfully have had really religious people and totally, totally unobserving, secular Jews and it somehow works. It’s very impressive.”
Amen to that.
See more pictures from this year’s Jewlicious Festival 5.0 here.
March 2, 2009 | 6:52 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, 84, has been confronting his own mortality as of late. He’s saying goodbyes, apologizing to people and expressing regrets for some of his actions while in office. Not that he’s necessarily going to die anytime soon. He just wants to be ready.
The confirmed bachelor mayor (who still refuses to answer questions about his sexuality) is getting a jump on his funeral arrangements, having recruited a rabbi and installed his own headstone, which features the last words spoken by Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, The New York Times reports.
Whenever the ride is over, his funeral service will be held at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. He has given his sister the names of several potential speakers, but has not made any other arrangements, including the music (“I love the Catholic hymns,” he said, “but they can’t be sung even in Temple Emanu-El”).
He will be buried in the nondenominational Trinity Church Cemetery in Upper Manhattan under a tombstone that quotes the last words of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded in 2002 by Islamic terrorists (“My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish”) and includes the most familiar Jewish prayer, in English and Hebrew, (“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One”) and the epitaph the former mayor wrote after his stroke:
“He was fiercely proud of his Jewish faith. He fiercely defended the City of New York, and he fiercely loved its people. Above all, he loved his country, the United States of America, in whose armed forces he served in World War II.”
“That’s it,” Mr. Koch said. “It takes up the whole stone.”
To see the headstone, click here.
March 2, 2009 | 12:54 pm
Posted by Tom Tugend
British star Helen Mirren, regal (and an Oscar winner) in “The Queen,” is now in Israel for her next role, portraying a Mossad spy
hunting a Nazi war criminal. Always one to immerse herself in her characters, Mirren is intensely studying Hebrew and Jewish history, reports the London Daily Express.
She is also hitting the books on the life and times of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and “totally immersed in the way of life over there,” reports the paper.