Music Festival Celebrates Jewish New Orleans
Hot on the heels of Mardi Gras, a recovering Big Easy will soon play host to the inaugural New Orleans International Jewish Music Festival. The two-day gathering on April 1-2 will celebrate the rebuilding of Jewish New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Featured artists include The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars, Blue Fringe, Neshama Carlebach, Moshav Band, Sam Glaser, RebbeSoul, Theresa Andersson, Yom Hadash and Voices of Israel. U.S. artists will kick off the April 1 concert at The Howlin' Wolf with a Havdallah service, while the April 2 show at Tulane University will feature a mix of U.S. and international acts. Sponsors include the Hiddur Mitzvah Project, Moment Magazine and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.
For more information, visit www.hiddurmitzvah.org or call (504) 780-5612.
Kosher Signs for Israeli McDonald's
Two branches of McDonald's in Israel are getting new signs so prospective customers know those outlets are kosher. Under an initiative championed by the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, Yisrael Meir Lau, the two branches of the fast-food chain in the city that have rabbinical certification are getting new Hebrew-language signs with "kosher" clearly marked in the national colors of blue and white.
"I feared that tourists or youths from outside Tel Aviv would come for a visit, eat at a kosher branch and assume that all of the McDonald's branches in Israel are kosher," Lau was quoted saying in Yediot Achronot last week.
The remainder of the some 100 branches in Israel retain the distinctive white, yellow and red signs in English.
Arab Airline Slams Israel Deal With Soccer Team
An Arab country's national airline criticized the decision of a British soccer team it sponsors to promote Israeli tourism. Emirates Airlines, which pays $5.2 million for the naming rights to Arsenal's new stadium, and whose logo appears on team jerseys, censured the $600,000 deal, which will go into effect for the 2006-2007 season, with an option to renew for another year. Israel will be promoted on LCD billboards in Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in London, on banner ads on the team's Web site and in its official magazine, where the Jewish state will be billed as Arsenal's "official and exclusive travel destination."
The club said it cleared the deal with UAE officials, but a spokesman for the national carrier denied this, calling the deal "unfortunate," and adding that the company will "do our best to persuade Arsenal not to renew its deal with Israel."
Israeli Tourism Ministry officials said the ads will "broaden Israel's appeal to sun and fun-seekers," and hope they will bring an added 2 million tourists to the country.
Mubarak Woos Israeli Tourists
Egypt's president reportedly called on Israeli tourists avoiding his country to reconsider their plans. Yediot Achronot quoted a letter sent recently by Hosni Mubarak to Israel's Foreign Ministry, in which he pledged that security at Sinai resorts was satisfactory.
"The Israelis have nothing to worry about," Mubarak wrote. "We want to promote tourism and are doing everything to protect tourists."
Israelis, who long flocked to Sinai, largely have avoided it since a series of Islamist suicide bombings killed dozens of vacationers there in 2004. In the past few years, Israel repeatedly has issued advisories against its citizens visiting neighboring Arab countries. Some Israelis believe they're not truly welcome in Egypt, despite the 27-year-old peace accord between the countries.
Yediot quoted Mubarak as adding in his letter, "We will never return to the path of war. This is our strategic decision, and we will keep with it."
The Foreign Ministry did not immediately confirm the report.
Dublin Opens a Jewish House
The Dublin Jewish community opened a house with kosher facilities for students and young professionals. Located in a former Jewish retirement home near the core of Dublin's Jewish population on the city's south side, the house is open to any Jews living in, working in or visiting Dublin. In addition to providing living space for observant Jews in a city with limited kosher facilities, the house is intended as a place for social contact between the Irish Jewish community and the growing number of Jews who have moved to Ireland for work or study, according to Rabbi Zalman Lent, Dublin's Chabad rabbi, who spearheaded the project with his wife, Rifky. The house's eight residents celebrated their first Shabbat there on Feb. 24.
Passport for Jet-Setting Pets
Looking for the purrrfect way to keep your pet's trip to Israel from being a ruff one? El Al has introduced the "Pet Passport," a single document for pet owners that contains medical and vaccination information, dietary and grooming instructions, space for a photo and personality details, and even a travel diary for your dog or cat. The passport, created by Pocket Reference Journals, follows the 2001 launch of El Al's Points for Pets, a frequent-flyer program so your furry friend can earns points toward future travel on the Israeli airline.
To receive a complimentary copy of the passport, call (212) 852-0628.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Journal staff and Jewish Telegraphic Agency.