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‘Love, Sex and Violence’ more charming than name implies

September 13, 2010 1 comment

By Cynthia Citron

Cynthia Citron

SHERMAN OAKS, California — Sometimes a book of short stories is a welcome diversion from the usual industrial-strength novels.  Just as an evening of short one-acts can provide a satisfying evening at the theater.  And that’s just what playwright Helena Weltman and producer/director Pavel Cerny have brought to the stage of the Whitefire Theater in Sherman Oaks.

The six vignettes, collectively titled Love, Sex, and Violence Too is subtitled Or False Advertising, since there is mostly yearning for love, rather than love itself, and no sex or violence at all.

Although the first act gives sex a good college try as a young man (Allen Yates) brings home a waitress (Olivia Peri) from a nearby café.  He slips into a gaudy red dressing gown and plies her with wine in a paper cup.  But she is looking for a “meaningful relationship,” while he is just looking to get laid.

In the next scene a married couple (Lisa-Beth Harris and Joshua Grenrock) are having a late-night drink after a triumphant party celebrating the publication of her book on baking.  He is heaping her with platitudes, which only annoys her, and very soon their marriage is falling apart right before your eyes.  (Grenrock was the “brilliantly poignant” lead clown—the man with an air of desperation and a rubber face—in Circus Welt, which director Cerny adapted from Leonid Andreyev’s  He Who Gets Slapped, presented earlier this year.  Grenrock has been nominated for a 2010 Ovation Award for that role.)

Adrian Lee Borden and Desi Jevon are strangers marooned in a stalled elevator in “Boring,” the third vignette.  In contrast with the recent play Elevator, in which seven people are stranded in a large elevator, a situation that doesn’t seem at all frightening or claustrophobic, this elevator in “Boring” encloses the two actors in a very small square with little room to move around, and so their getting-to-know-you conversation is close-up, personal, and bizarre.

“Thirteen Months, Two Weeks” is how long Lacey Rae has been wasting the time of her psychiatrist, Robbin Ormond.  She lies, contradicts herself, and needles the doctor with confrontational personal questions, much to the psychiatrist’s consternation.  In desperation, the psychiatrist protests, “You hear my interest as a judgment…”

In the next scene Robbin Ormond plays the psychiatrist again, this time alone on stage talking to her own psychiatrist.  This vignette is the best of the lot, beautifully written and gloriously acted, as Ormond expresses her frustration and anger with her clients and deals with—and avoids—her own personal dramas.  “I can’t take life any more, it’s too painful,” she says.

And finally, ending on a lighter note, Lacey Rae meets a dancer (Eddy Hawks) in a hamburger joint and with headwaiter Ward Edmondson, the three “tap dance to survive,” as Eddy puts it.

While the six vignettes differ in tone and intensity, they make for an engaging mix—even though some scenes are considerably better than others (and sometimes make more sense).  For the most part, the overarching themes are loneliness, disappointment, and estrangement, but surprisingly, there is a good deal of humor in the midst of all the pathos.  And director Cerny has done a good job of bringing out the best in his actors.  Making it a very pleasant outing for a Sunday afternoon.

Love, Sex and Violence Too will be performed every Sunday at 2 p.m. through October 17th at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., in Sherman Oaks.  Call 866-811-4111 for tickets.

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Citron is Los Angeles bureau chief of San Diego Jewish World

ZOA challenges TIME magazine to debate on Israel

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)–The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned TIME Magazine for the anti-Semitic and misleading cover/article in its September 13, 2010 issue, falsely claiming Israel doesn’t care about peace, while ignoring the reality of Palestinians having repeatedly rejected every extraordinary peace deal Israel has offered. Not only do they reject peace offers, they also responded with terror and more incitement against Israel and Jews.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein is publicly challenging the author, Karl Vick, or the TIME Magazine Editor, Richard Stengel, to a public debate on the subject of whether the Israelis or the Palestinians have shown little interest in a peace deal.

“The cover depicts a Star of David composed of daisies with the caption contained within, ‘Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.’ The cover and the article are a malicious depiction of Israelis as a people more interested in making money and enjoying material pleasures than in concluding a peace agreement with the Palestinians. To prove its bogus thesis, TIME Magazine primarily relied on the words of two Israeli real estate agents, a left-wing columnist, a left-wing academic and a few others, while totally ignoring Palestinian Authority (PA) lack of interest in peace.

Karl Vick’s article drives home the idea that Israelis are not interested in peace repeatedly, even in the article’s subtitle that includes the words, “Israelis feels prosperous, secure – and disengaged from the peace process. Is that wise?” The idea is insinuated in the article that the Israelis are heedlessly ignoring dangers and that Mr. Vick’s warning will be vindicated when violence at some point in the future breaks out – whereas in fact virtually all Israelis desperately want a real peace, but have understandably lost faith in the possibility of one because they see the PA daily fomenting violence and extremism in its schools, media, speeches and sermons.  They have also seen numerous past peace offers rejected by the Palestinians. After striving for years, making concessions, offering almost everything the Palestinians publicly claimed they wanted, only to receive terrorism and hatred in return, it is like the case of the boy who cried wolf – Israelis do not believe the stilted public statements directed to them from the PA about wishing to live in peace. The PA has no credibility with them.

Karl Vick also unsubtly introduces traditionally anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews being preoccupied with money at the cost of human virtues – “they’re otherwise engaged; they’re making money, they’re enjoying the rays of the late summer” and preaches to the Israelis – “don’t Israelis know that finding peace with the Palestinians is the only way to guarantee their happiness and prosperity?” The article shows picture after picture of Israelis enjoying themselves in cafes and lying on sunny beaches (Karl Vick, ‘The good Life and Its Dangers,’TIME Magazine, September 13, 2010).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This anti-Semitic and misleading cover and article plumbs new depths in TIME Magazine’s long-running, historic bigotry towards Israel. The ZOA demands an apology and retraction of this story which ignores all the concessions Israel has made to the Palestinians, including giving away half of Judea and Samaria, all of Gaza and agreeing to the recent 10-month construction freeze.

“During this period, there have been no Palestinian concessions, no fulfillment of its signed agreements to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups and end incitement to hatred and murder against Israelis and, until last week, a refusal to even negotiate. Meanwhile, the PA honors and lauds terrorists. But Karl Vick dishonestly withheld all this from his readers.

“Palestinian polls indicate continuing Palestinian support for terrorism and non-acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinians have been consistently polled supporting the so-called ‘right of return’ to Israel by Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendents, something that would turn Jews into a minority in their own country and end the Jewish state.

“Palestinian Authority leaders have publicly honored and glorified terrorists who murder Jews, including last month holding a public celebration of the 1978 coastal road massacre carried out by Fatah terrorists led by Dalal Mughrabi, in which 37 Israelis, including a dozen children, were murdered. The PA has also named two youth summer camps in Mughrabi’s honor. It has accused Israel and the U.S. of poisoning Yasser Arafat.

“In recent weeks, senior PA officials have called for Israel’s destruction and demonized Israel, not for peace and conciliation. On the very day negotiations between Israel and the PA commenced in Washington, D.C., the PA ambassador to Iran said that the PA will continue its war on Israel until ‘the complete eradication of the fabricated regime in due course’; another PA Minister threatened war if Israel does not return  to its ‘owners’ Jerusalem, which he described as ‘Palestinian … throughout history’ while another PA Minister honored the families of dead terrorists and accused Israel of harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians.

“None of this found its way into Mr. Vick’s article. It couldn’t – had he had the integrity to inform his readers of these issues, it would be impossible to falsely state that the Israelis are a bunch of heedless materialists who are unaccountably uninterested in making peace with Palestinians. Mr. Vick would be forced to admit that Palestinians are not interested in peace.

“Instead, Mr. Vick praises the PA for ‘taking a serious stab at governance, starting by professionalizing the security forces.’ He even writes, in reference to the murder of four Israelis by Hamas terrorists last week, that PA forces, even before that terrorist assault, ‘arrested more than 300 Hamas activists.’ What Mr. Vick didn’t tell his readers is that the PA is in a struggle with Hamas and therefore arrests Hamas members that are a threat to the Fatah-controlled PA, not because Hamas murders Israelis. He also didn’t tell his readers that in January, when Fatah terrorists murdered an Israeli in a similar roadside assault, the PA praised the terrorists as martyrs and heroes while condemning their killing by Israeli forces and that Salam Fayyad personally paid condolence calls on the terrorists’ families.

“As Bret Stephens observes in the Wall Street Journal, ‘Can the magazine point to equally pointed cover stories about internal Palestinian affairs and what, perchance, they mean for the peace process? I checked: It last did so in April 2002 with a largely sympathetic portrait of Yasser Arafat ‘All Boxed In’ by an invading Israeli army.’

“This wretched issue of TIME unfortunately partakes of a long anti-Israel tradition that includes instructing readers in 1977 that then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s name is pronounced like ‘Fagin,’ the hideous, villainous Jewish character in Charles Dickens’ novel, Oliver Twist. TIME Magazine also called Begin ‘dangerous.’

“TIME Magazine and Mr. Vick will no doubt repudiate these criticisms. I challenge Mr. Vick or Mr. Stengel to a public debate in which he will have the opportunity to explain why at length.”

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Preceding provided by the Zionist Organization of America

ADL challenges Arizona’s employment law

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release) –The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of a challenge by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others to a stringent Arizona employment verification law that could lead to discrimination against immigrants and other groups.

“Arizona’s employment verification law is unconstitutional as it is clearly preempted by federal law,” said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. “The responsibility to set immigration policy is that of the federal government, not individual states. We are also concerned that the Arizona law invites disparate treatment of immigrants and may foster discrimination.”

In 2008, Arizona enacted the controversial Legal Arizona Workers Act, which imposes severe sanctions on employers who hire undocumented workers and mandates that all employers use E-Verify, a temporary and voluntary federal program that allows employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly-hired employees.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law. 

The brief argues that the law should be struck down as unconstitutional because it frustrates Congress’s intent to balance discrimination concerns with control of illegal immigration.

ADL joined a coalition of civil rights and labor organizations in filing the brief, including the Asian American Justice Center, the Asian American Institute, National Council of La Raza and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

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Preceding provided by the Anti-Defamation League

Conference of Presidents questions Abbas’ sincerity in peace talks

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)–Alan Solow, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday, Sept. 13,  issued the following statement about the Middle East peace negotiations today:

 “We wish the parties success at the talks this week in Sharm El Sheikh and hope that they can continue to move forward toward meaningful direct negotiations. We are deeply concerned by the repeated threats by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to leave the talks, which he made even before the talks began.

“In the last week, President Abbas threatened to leave the talks if he is asked to address the right of return, concessions on borders, recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or if the settlement freeze is not extended. He even said that he will not make ‘any concessions.’ This is not the way to create an atmosphere conducive to successful talks or that will give the people of Israel a sense of confidence that President Abbas is truly ready for serious negotiations that will lead to an end of the conflict.

“We are also concerned about the increasing attacks from Gaza, including several barrages over the Rosh Hashanah holiday, which hit populated areas. These attacks must be met with the strongest reaction from the international community. In particular, those who continue to provide arms, especially Iran and Syria, must be held to account. The many arms caches found in the recent days by Egyptian forces in the Sinai underscores this urgency,” said Solow and Hoenlein.

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Preceding provided by Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Making Israel’s Yom Kippur universal

September 13, 2010 1 comment

By Nachman Rosenberg

LOD, Israel — There’s a commonly held belief that one of the main reasons why Israel’s enemies chose Yom Kippur to launch their attack in October of 1973 was that most of the country would have been in synagogue and it would take that much longer for the reserves to be called up. 

The reality is that unlike the Diaspora where this day is revered as one of communal prayer, many secular Israelis simply stay home on this holiest of days.  Data shocking to some display that the day before Yom Kippur used to have the highest number of movie rentals across Israel of any day of the year.

Contrary to a common misconception, the decision to abstain from actual participation in high-holiday services is not driven by apathy or secularism.  In fact the vast majority of Israeli Jews fast on Yom Kippur and do identify with the day’s solemnity and themes of repentance and judgment.

A leading reason why they stay home is that they are unable to find a house of worship where they can feel comfortable.  As hard as it might be to believe that a Jew in the Jewish State can’t find a good shul / synagogue in which to daven, this is the reality. 

While “traditional” houses of prayer come in every shape and stripe, catering to the panoply of origins that makes up Israel’s Jewish community, if you classify yourself as secular every other day of the year, finding this comfort zone on Yom Kippur can be highly frustrating. As such many simply throw up their hands and choose to commemorate the date at home rather than be forced to feel like a fish out of water.

Given that the very large percentage of Israel’s Jews is in fact secular, yet strives for some sort of accommodation on Yom Kippur, such a situation is untenable.

In recent years, an organization of rabbis called Tzohar, committed to bridging the ever widening gap between secular and religious began to pursue a real solution.

While many well-meaning outreach organizations act just as their name indicates by reaching out to bring fellows Jews into these “traditional” settings, this approach simply does not relate to the interests of many secular Israeli Jews. 

Rather than looking for any awakening or return to traditional practice, on Yom Kippur these already spiritual Jews are only in search of an outlet to convey their individual forms of spirituality.

For this reason Tzohar has developed a global network of close to 200 prayer services in community centers, sports facilities and public spaces specifically designed for Israel’s secular majority. Imbued with an appreciation for the unique sensibilities of this community, the service is neither designed to preach nor condescend.  It simply gives Israelis an environment of prayer where they can feel welcome and in sync with the holiness of the day.

The greatest evidence for the need for such an institution is borne out through the ever growing numbers of participants we see each year.  Founded in 1996, when the Tzohar rabbis were still unsure whether the secular community would trust anything that even felt like institutional religion, we were thrilled to quickly earn their trust. (Due to the success of these services, similar programming has been created for Purim, Shavuot and Israel’s Independence Day.)

This Yom Kippur, over 40,000 Israeli Jews will welcome the power that is Yom Kippur in these special prayer services.  Expressing their Judaism in a forum that is both in total context of Jewish tradition but respectful of the parishioner’s real emotions, we know it will be a high holiday that they will long remember. Most fundamentally these services will imbue a heightened love for Judaism and Jewish tradition that will last throughout the year.

As even the most casual observer of Israeli society will tell you, this is a nation with no shortage of inner division and conflict- on top of all the other external challenges that befall our beloved homeland.  There are no easy solutions to any of these problems.  But to even hope to overcome the social divide, we know we must feel the spiritual pains of all sectors of the population.

Throughout our history, Yom Kippur has been a constant reminder of our humility, and that regardless of our differences we are a united people. 

Across Israel this year, thousands more Jews, who might otherwise have passed the day in front of their television screens will be reminded as such. And in so doing their actions will give hope for a brighter future for our land, our religion and our people.

Nachman Rosenberg is the Executive Vice President of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization. To find out more about the Yom Kippur program and other efforts supported by the organization throughout the year visit www.tzohar.org.il

Some asteroids may be like gravel glued together by gravity

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

TEL AVIV (Press Release)― Though it was once believed that all asteroids are giant pieces of solid rock, later hypotheses have it that some are actually a collection of small gravel-sized rocks, held together by gravity. If one of these “rubble piles” spins fast enough, it’s speculated that pieces could separate from it through centrifugal force and form a second collection ― in effect, a second asteroid.

Now researchers at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with an international group of scientists, have proved the existence of these theoretical “separated asteroid” pairs.

Ph.D. student David Polishook of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences and his supervisor Dr. Noah Brosch of the university’s School of Physics and Astronomy say the research has not only verified a theory, but could have greater implications if an asteroid passes close to earth. Instead of a solid mountain colliding with earth’s surface, says Dr. Brosch, the planet would be pelted with the innumerable pebbles and rocks that comprise it, like a shotgun blast instead of a single cannonball. This knowledge could guide the defensive tactics to be taken if an asteroid were on track to collide with the Earth.

A large part of the research for the study, recently published in the journal Nature, was done at Tel Aviv University’s Wise Observatory, located deep in the Negev Desert ― the first and only modern astronomical observatory in the Middle East.

According to Dr. Brosch, separated asteroids are composed of small pebbles glued together by gravitational attraction. Their paths are affected by the gravitational pull of major planets, but the radiation of the sun, he says, can also have an immense impact. Once the sun’s light is absorbed by the asteroid, rotation speeds up. When it reaches a certain speed, a piece will break off to form a separate asteroid.

The phenomenon can be compared to a figure skater on the ice. “The faster they spin, the harder it is for them to keep their arms close to their bodies,” explains Dr. Brosch.

As a result, asteroid pairs are formed, characterized by the trajectory of their rotation around the sun. Though they may be millions of miles apart, the two asteroids share the same orbit. Dr. Brosch says this demonstrates that they come from the same original asteroid source.

During the course of the study, Polishook and an international group of astronomers studied 35 asteroid pairs. Traditionally, measuring bodies in the solar system involves studying photographic images. But the small size and extreme distance of the asteroids forced researchers to measure these pairs in an innovative way.

Instead, researchers measured the light reflected from each member of the asteroid pairs. The results proved that in each asteroid pair, one body was formed from the other. The smaller asteroid, he explains, was always less than forty percent of the size of the bigger asteroid. These findings fit precisely into a theory developed at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which concluded that no more than forty percent of the original asteroid can split off.

With this study, says Dr. Brosch, researchers have been able to prove the connection between two separate spinning asteroids and demonstrate the existence of asteroids that exist in paired relationships.

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Preceding provided by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Israel makes gains in unexpected places

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The “delegitimization” of Israel is not to be taken lightly – professional agitators make the case that while Israel may have some theoretical “right to exist,” nothing that Israel does to protect itself, advance itself or enhance itself is legitimate. 

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) long ago rejected begging the Arabs to give Israel what no other country requires – permission.  Israel is legitimate by its history, the circumstances of its birth as a modern country and its defense of its territory and people. But, while the problem is real, two incidents remind us that there are circles and cycles to international affairs as there are to everything else; one made us smile.
 
1. Fidel Castro’s comments to Jonah Goldberg of Atlantic Monthly have now been widely circulated. Castro criticized Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust and talked about the “unique” history of anti-Semitism. “I don’t think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews. I would say much more than the Muslims. They have been slandered much more than the Muslims because they are blamed and slandered for everything. No one blames the Muslims for anything… The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust.”
 
Castro is an old dictator and a liar – and he’s already recanted his comments on Cuban economics. But, in fact, in the early days he was far from an enemy of Israel or Jews. In the journal Cuban Studies 23 (University of Pittsburgh press), Jorge Perez-Lopez relates that Jews who left Cuba for Israel in 1961 were called “repatriados” (people returning to their native lands) although, he notes, most were of Eastern European origin. Other Cubans fleeing the revolution were called “gusanos” (anti-revolutionary worms). Israeli agricultural workers were common in Cuba and when Israeli president Yitzhak Ben Zvi died in 1963, Castro declared three days of official mourning. Algerian dictator Ahmed Ben Bella subsequently canceled his trip to Havana. Castro said he didn’t care.
 
Only in 1974, when seeking leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement did Castro break relations with Israel. Which itself is a reminder that “delegitimization” is an old art form: after the Yom Kippur War, 29 African states severed diplomatic relations with Israel under severe pressure from the Arab states. And only two brave countries – Costa Rica and El Salvador – maintain embassies in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Israel is the only country the United States considers unable to determine its own capital.

2. Click here to watch “Red Square Moscow with IDF Band” Large screens behind the band show band members, the Israeli flag and – hold on here – the Knesset, the Western Wall and broad views of Jerusalem. The band chose Fiddler on the Roof, Machar (“Tomorrow”) a modern Israeli favorite, “Hava Nagila” and “Shalom Aleichem” (with which the Russians were clearly familiar).

The faces of the Israeli soldiers are extraordinary – they understand the moment. For those of us old enough to have grandfathers who fled Russia to escape the Czar’s Army, not to mention “duck and cover” in school in fear of the Soviets, watching a large and enthusiastic Russian audience clap in time to the IDF Band on Red Square with the Kremlin lit up in the background is eye-popping.
 
Coincidentally (?), Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was in Russia last week to sign a military cooperation agreement, declaring Israel “ready to continue sharing experience with the Russian military on fighting terrorism and ensuring security, including by using air drones.” The Russian Defense Minister said Moscow was “studying seriously and attentively” the experiences and practices of the IDF. Barak met with Vladimir Putin as well to discuss proposed Russian arms sales to Syria.

It doesn’t make us at all comfortable to watch Israel and Russia cooperate at what surely will be the expense of Georgia. And it doesn’t let Castro off the hook for policies that have made Cuba one of the poorest and most repressive places in our hemisphere – and we are not overlooking the Cuban government’s treatment of Alan Gross, a Jewish American imprisoned while on a humanitarian mission.

But there are things we thought we would never see. The IDF Band being cheered in Red Square is one.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

B’nei Mtzvah movies

MELBOURNE, 8 September – Modern Orthodox youth
movement Bnei Akiva members have followed up on
an initiative started at their recent winter camp.

Aimed at the senior students, the camp program
saw the group learn about eight different charities before separating into groups to each film and edit an ad for the chosen charity.

“The children’s dedication was extraordinary, with most of them editing through lunch, choosing to eat by the computers, and into their free time to ensure the movies would be perfect,” shaliach Oded Stern said.

“After the screening session later that day, the groups voted for which advertisement they thought was the best. And here’s the catch: $1000 that was kindly donated by an anonymous donor actually went to the charity that won.”

Known as Movie Money Makers, the program culminated last week when Bnei held a
presentation evening for winning team Zichron Menachem ­ a charity that supports Israeli children and families.

“The event was well attended and Baruch Levy from Zichron Menachem in Israel honoured our chanichim [members] with certificates recognising their efforts,” Stern said.

“We are proud that this tochnit [program] gave our chanichim the chance to learn the balance between keeping for themselves and giving to others. We learnt that you care most about a cause when you put effort into it ­ a lesson that will hopefully stay with chanichim and madrichim for life.”

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Australian Labor Party firm on Israel
CANBERRA,  8 September – The Australian Labor Party has insisted its official agreement with The Greens is unlikely to have an impact on its support for Israel.

 

Signed last Wednesday afternoon, the document cements a deal for The Greens to vote with the ALP on financial bills and to oppose no confidence motions against Labor.

It also commits Julia Gillard to a weekly policy meeting with The Greens and allows Greens MP Adam Bandt and the party’s senators to propose new policies, with Labor committing to respond within 10 working days.

While both parties believe in a two-state solution to resolve tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, The Greens’ policy favours a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the settlements, the dismantling of the security barrier, United Nations sanctions and more aid for the Palestinian people.

In addition, Greens foreign affairs spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlum, in the last parliament, called for a nuclear-free Middle East, including tough action against Iran, and added it was “shameful” Australia had abstained from a United Nations resolution that called on Israel to renounce its alleged nuclear program.

These policies clearly stand in opposition to many of Labor’s historical stances.

A spokesperson for Labor’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, however, said the party’s policies would not be changed.

“The Government’s policies are the policies that it took to the election,” the spokesperson said. “Australia’s longstanding support for Israel and
for a two-state solution to the conflict in the Middle East will not change.”

She added: “Australia will also continue to stand at the forefront of international community efforts to have Iran meet its international obligations in relation to its nuclear program, one of the most serious security challenges facing the international community.”

Foreign policy adviser to Greens’ leader Bob Brown,  Anna Reynolds, said that apart from a commitment to debate Australia’s presence in Afghanistan, she was not aware of any other international issues canvassed in meetings between Labor and The Greens.

Asked whether foreign policy reform is a high priority for The Greens, she said The Greens had no specific plans.

“The Greens will take all its policies into the next parliament to promote them and look for opportunities to have them implemented. This is no different from our normal method of operation in the parliament.”

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Foreign Minister Smith welcomed Japan’s announcement last week it would increase sanctions against Iran.  “Japan’s announcement of new sanctions  demonstrates its continued strong commitment to
nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation and reinforces United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 on June 29.”

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The Sermon of the Year

MELBOURNE, 10 September – For many of us, Rosh Hashanah represents a time of renewal, when we can reflect on the year that was and re-energise for the year ahead.

For rabbis, it is also a time when their synagogues are full, giving them the best
opportunity to inspire, uplift and challenge as many of their congregants as possible with the words of their sermons.

Rabbi Shmuel Cohen from Cremorne Synagogue said speaking to many more people presented a challenge. “You can look in the eyes of every person [when
there’s] 60 or 70, while with 400 you have to be much more inspiring,” he said.

His topic this year will be the role and priority of humankind in creation. “On Rosh Hashanah, humankind was created . so if humankind is worthy, he is slightly less than God [according to] the psalms, the Book of David,” he said.

“But if he is not keeping to his duties ­ that is to upkeep the land and to make life better ­ in this case he was the last to be created [so] he is the least of importance.”

Rabbi Dovid Gutnick from East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation said that preparation time and sermon length are inversely linked.

“The less you prepare, the longer you keep speaking. So for Rosh Hashanah I’m actually going to be fairly short because I’m preparing a few days in advance,” he said. “In a sense there is more pressure, but it probably ends up being a better sermon because you actually sit down to think things through.”

He plans to take a fresh and positive look at the concept of rebellion.

“Jews throughout history have often had a rebellious streak ­ the first Jew, Abraham, was a massive rebel; he rebelled against his parents, and he rebelled against society,” he said. “I have a few ‘rebellious’ people in my congregation, I want them to understand that, in a sense, to be Jewish is to rebel against a lot of the norms of society, which can be negative or constricting.”

Meanwhile, Rabbi Gersh Lazarow of Bentleigh Progressive Synagogue will be talking about the place of God in our lives and the modern world.

“What I’m trying to do is really explore the idea of what God is,” he said. “So much of what we believe and what we do as modern Jews recognises that there are forces greater than ourselves acting on us. One of our challenges in life is to connect, and then reconnect to those forces or that singular force, although we might identify
in a multitude of different ways.”

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Student class in real politics

CANBERRA, 13 September – Against the backdrop of election uncertainty, 35 politically minded Jewish students set off for a three-day political training seminar to Canberra last week.

Hosted annually by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS), this year’s seminar gave participants the chance to dissect the campaign with political strategists, Members of Parliament, and representatives from government departments.

Labor MPs Michael Danby and Mike Kelly addressed the group ­ which included students from Australia and New Zealand ­ discussing their respective experiences during the campaign and their reflections on the election’s implications
for the future of Australian politics.

“Being able to hear from two politicians who our community hold in such high regard was an honour. They understand Australian politics like the back of their hands, but particularly also our relationship with Israel, and the broader campaigns Australia’s involved in to stabilise the Mid-East, and the world as a whole,” AUJS chairperson Liam Getreu said.

Students also heard from Tim Harcourt, the chief economist of AusTrade who recently returned from a trip to Israel, as well as retired major
general Jim Molan, the former chief of operations in Iraq, who provided insight into the role Australian troops played in Iraq. The group also ran into a number of big names, including Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, former prime minister Kevin Rudd and independent Bob Katter.

Uniquely, this year was the first with a large hasbarah (public relations) training element, and community leaders from the NSW Board of Deputies, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry were all on
hand to address the group on Israel advocacy.

“We were also lucky enough that Einat Weiss from the Israeli embassy and Michelle Rojas-Tal from StandWithUs were able to run a number of enlightening sessions to help us understand the way in which they advocate, and how we can be
better activists for Israel,” Getreu said, adding that students participated in a session to learn how best to “disarm” anti-Israel messages on campus.

“Students were also given opportunities to plan some very exciting campaigns to be run for Jewish and non-Jewish students into the future,” Getreu explained. “The 35 students there are really some of the best young Jewish minds and their understanding, activism and experience is amazing.”

In addition to the political program, AUJS recently announced it had formed a partnership with Jewish Aid Australia to send a group of 15 students to Nepal on a five-week education and volunteering program in December.

“This represents much of the direction of young Australian Jews ­ social justice projects around the world.

“It could be in Israel, but increasingly young Jews are seeing war-torn regions, Third-World countries and disaster-struck areas, such as Nepal and Haiti and Pakistan, and wanting to go there and actively make change for the better. It really is a wonderful opportunity to activate that desire,” Getreu said.

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Israel Author brings good news story to Australia

SYDNEY, 13 September – “Israel is not just a conflict – it’s a country making a tremendous impact in the world.”

That’s the message behind the best selling non-fiction Start-Up Nation: The Story of
Israel’s Economic Miracle
, co-author Saul Singer said last week during a trip to Australia.

The Israeli writer said the book, which has reached number five on both The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller lists, was never intended to “make the case for Israel” or directly intended to promote the country, but rather was simply meant to tell Israel’s high-tech story, which until that point had been neglected by writers.

Singer said, “Israel is home to more foreign correspondents than probably any other country of its size”, but they were missing an important part of Israel’s story – about its impact on the world through technology.

“This story is not just important for Israel and not just an academic interest – it’s important for anyone who cares about innovation, solving world problems, health, energy or about the environment,” the long-time columnist for The Jerusalem Post said.

The book, Singer said – which has been cited publicly by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who has also used the book’s title to describe the country itself – has just received a new foreword written by Israel’s President Shimon Peres. It has also just been translated into a many languages.

Singer, who gave in interview following a speaking engagement with WIZO in Sydney last week, said his first visit to Australia had also included a meeting with Liberal MP and entrepreneur Malcom Turnbull. The author added that he is in discussions with
his collaborator Dan Senor for a follow-up book, but said that it would not be a direct sequel.

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Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

‘100 Voices: A Journey Home’ explores Poland’s cantorial past

September 13, 2010 1 comment

By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

SAN DIEGO–On Tuesday, September 21, the movie 100 Voices: A Journey home will air across the country at 488 select theatres, including seven movie complexes in San Diego County. It’s a must see movie for Jews and non-Jews alike, but bring tissues. The documentary traces an historic trip to Poland by no less than 100 cantors who pay tribute to the 1300 cantors who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Cantors from around the world journeyed to Poland to be a part of this celebration.

It reunites Jewish and Polish cultures, ‘Building people and nations together’, for the first time since WWII. Poland; once a thriving country where Jewish culture dominated for centuries and the birthplace of cantorial music was brought to its knees by Hitler wiping out almost any and every image of that life. But from the ashes, this beautiful and moving story unfolds with commentary from several of the cantors.

In scene after scene from Los Angeles to Warsaw to Krakow to Auschwitz their music is the thread that tied two communities, touchingly and beautifully without reservation.   If any of these names sound familiar to you, and they might, you will be enthralled with their oral stories, their voices and their experiences: Cantor Nathan Lam, Cantor Joseph Gole, Cantor Alberto Mizrahi, Moshe Koussevitzky, Jacob Ben-Mendelson, Faith Steinsnyder, Chiam Frankel, Yossle Rosenblatt (his voice was heard in “The Jazz Singer), Simon Shapiro, brothers Ivor Lichterman and Joel Lichterman and Mordechai Hershman are but a few whose voices are featured.

With the exception of the introduction and the cantor’s beginning their journey in 2009 the entire film is shot on location in Poland. It shows communities, clean cities, original clips of what it looked like before and during the occupation and shots of the great Yiddish star of theatre and film Molly Picon (“Yidl Mitn Fidl”) performing in 1936 in Poland.

Clips of the invasion in 1939, the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau where an emotional service takes place in the one remaining synagogue left in tact, The Nozyk Synagogue where the cantors performed the second of their big concert. It is also where the elder Cantor Lichterman presided and chanted and to that very same Bimah where his sons returned and chanted. It was another emotional and heart rending commemoration.

Before the war there were over 400 synagogues in Poland. By the end of the 19th century their use became more diversified than for just worship. The Nozyk Synagogue was built between 1898 and 1902 financed by wealthy Warsaw merchant Zalman Nozyk and designed by Leonardo Marconi. The area in which it was housed was part of the ‘Small Ghetto’ and became part of the history of Ghetto life in the late 30’s. In 1941 the Nazis used the buildings as stables and a depot. It was partially restored and completely rebuilt between 1977 and 1983 and returned to the Warsaw Jewish Commune. It officially opened in 1983.

Lam, Cantor of Steven S. Weiss Temple in Los Angeles and chairman of the project said he wanted to bring together, as their first performance, a 40 member choir of children from Poland along with Jewish young adults from Los Angeles singing “Ani M’Amin” in the Teatr Weilki Polish National Opera House, the very same prayer a 40 voice children’s choir sang in1941, the night of the liquidation of Warsaw Ghetto, it was followed by the Israeli National Anthem, “Hatikva”.

Charles Fox composer (“Killing Me Softly”) whose father was born in Poland was invited along. His father and his mother were lucky enough to have made it out of Poland before the invasion. He is seen revisiting, 90 years later, the small town his father grew up in. It was an emotional visit walking in, what he felt were his fathers footsteps. Fox was asked to write a piece He has taken it upon himself to establish a museum to the 16,000 Jews that lived in his father’s village.

Fox wrote an aria for this special occasion. It is based Polish born Pope John II prayer of forgiveness, “Lament and Prayer”, the words the Pope put into the cracks of the Wall on his visit to Jerusalem: “God of our Fathers, You chose Abraham and his descendants to bring Your name to the nations: we are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused children of Yours to suffer and we ask Your forgiveness. We wish to commit ourselves to the genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant”.

100 Voices: A Journey Home was produced and directed by Matthew Asner and Danny Gold. Michael Lam and Nathan Lam produced it. Matthew Asner, Danny Gold, Michael Lam and Michael Mayhew wrote it. It is presented by NCM Fathom Productions and Time Management in association with the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Life Television and the Milken Archives of Jewish Music.
I highly recommend you make it to any of the following theatres to see this beautiful film: Mission Valley 20,  La Jolla Village 12, Otay Ranch 12, Plaza Bonita 14,  San Marcos 18,  Mira Mesa 18, or  Horton Plaza You will not be disappointed.

For a peek go to: http://www.100voicesmovie.com/trailer.html

See you at the theatre.

Hillary Clinton heads for the Middle East in second round of peace talks

September 13, 2010 1 comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)– The State Department reported that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is traveling to Sharm el-Sheikh, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman from September 13 to 17, 2010.

On Tuesday, Secretary Clinton will participate in the continuation of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians in Sharm el-Sheikh. She will also have a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Mubarak.

On Wednesday, she will join the parties for further discussions in Jerusalem and will participate in bilateral meetings with Israeli officials.

On Thursday, Secretary Clinton will meet with Palestinian President Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad in Ramallah and will conclude her trip by meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman.

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Preceding provided by U.S. State Department