For Mideast plants, it’s dew or die

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

TEL AVIV (Press Release)― When the scientific and spiritual worlds collide, they do so in the most surprising ways. Classical meteorological and plant science has, in the last century, insisted that dew negatively affects plant life, leading to rot and fungus. But in the Judeo-Christian tradition, dew is most welcomed as an important source of vegetative and plant life, celebrated in poetry and prayer.

Now Prof. Pinhas Alpert of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences has developed an explanation for the perplexing paradox with his colleagues. According to scientific literature, he says, dew that accumulates through the night has a negative effect on vegetation and fruits because it creates a “spongy” effect. But in a recent issue of the Water Resources Journal, Prof. Alpert demonstrates that dew is an important water source for plant life in climates such as those in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the Judeo-Christian tradition originated, and parts of the U.S. Great Basin Desert.

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New software may help physicians repair your RNA’s

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

TEL AVIV (Press Release) – About ten years ago, the discovery of microRNAs ― tiny cellular molecules that regulate our genetic code ― unlocked a world of scientific possibilities, including a deeper understanding of human disease.

One new analytical technology is “deep sequencing,” which gives scientists the ability to discover invaluable information about human diseases at a genetic level. Now, Tel Aviv University researchers have developed the cutting-edge technology to better analyze these results.

The software, called miRNAkey, was developed by Roy Ronen as part of a team of researchers headed by Dr. Noam Shomron of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Shomron says that miRNAkey searches for microRNA patterns in both healthy and diseased tissues, improving scientists’ understanding of the data collected from deep sequencing technology.

The software package was recently described in the journal Bioinformatics

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However well meaning, Obama has blundered in Middle East

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM — It was they who put on the table the demand for a total freeze in Jewish construction throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The result was to increase the political demands of the Palestinians, as well as the Israeli settlers and their supporters. 
Increasing demands of both sides before the start of intense negotiations is not my understanding of wise guidance.
Perhaps the damage was slight, insofar as there never were great chances for a full blown agreement on the issues separating Israel and Palestine. However, the flub distracted the leaders of Palestine and Israel from domestic concerns. For Palestinians of the West Bank, the great advances of recent years came from foreign investments in housing, infrastructure, and industry, plus the upgrading of security forces with the help of the United States and Jordan. More effective security allowed Israel to reduce its own military incursions and restrictions of travel, and those provided further boosts to Palestinian development. 

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New bill introduced to penalize bias against students from religious ethnic groups

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–U.S. Senator Arlen Specter and U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman on Friday, Sept. 24, announced the introduction of legislation to protect students from religious discrimination. 

Recently, there have been multiple incidents involving anti-Se­mitic, anti-Muslim, and anti-Sikh epithets, slurs and obscenities, and even physical vi­olence towards students at American school.

 “All students should be protected from discrimination and harassment on the basis of their religion as well as their race, color, and national origin,” said Senator Specter. “We need to close the loop-hole that allows students to be harassed and threatened because of their religion.  The law specifically forbids discrimination on the basis of religion in virtually every other area, including employment and housing, and it’s about time it protects our students as well.  This legislation will give the Department of Education clear jurisdiction over all incidents involving harassment on the basis of religion and will assure all of our students are equally protected.” Read more…

The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

September 26, 2010 1 comment

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Appealing for appeal respect

MELBOURNE, 23 September – Communal organisations
have called into question the effectiveness of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria’s (JCCV) campaign calendar.

Despite paying a large annual sum for the exclusive right to fundraise during certain weeks of the year, groups say this schedule is not being enforced.

Magen David Adom (MDA) has accused a number of  community not-for-profits of failing to respect  its exclusive appeal period, which falls for a  week at the end of August and another at the start of October.

A JCCV affiliate, the Australian arm of the  Israeli ambulance service ­ like other organisations ­ pays to guarantee a sole  fundraising window. However, it claims some  bodies have not respected its two-week block. Read more…

La Jolla Playhouse basks in Chaplin’s ‘Limelight’

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Limelight's Rob McClure as Charlie Chaplin (Craig Schwartz photo)



By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

LA JOLLA, California —  Right out of the gate…don’t miss Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin by Christopher Curtis and Thomas Meehan (book) and Christopher Curtis (music and lyrics). It is now in its world-premiere production at the Playhouse, where it  is directed by Warren Carlyle and Michael Unger. I am confident that there are big things in store for it, like a Broadway run. I never underestimate the powers of a really, really good show!

Let’s start off with Rob McClure who plays the inimitable Chaplin. He was recently seen as Princeton in Avenue Q in Broadway and the national touring productions.

When you’re good, you’re good and he good as in excellent. He is talented and has just the right look and stature of a Chaplin as he weaves his way through the Chaplinesque years and more. With Warren Carlyle’s choreography and Linda Cho’s perfect costume designs, McClure is at home as Chaplin.

He is nimble and quite adept at the silent film star’s antics of falling down, and that famous rolling up and prancing about in his duck like walk-shuffle. (“Tramp Shuffle”) with a cane that is as flexible as the star himself. Read more…

J Street leader responds to financing disclosures in Washington Times

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Editor’s Note:  Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder of J Street, sent a  letter to his organization’s supporters, with copies to the media, following disclosures in the Washington Times about the sources of the organization’s finances:

By Jeremy Ben-Ami

Within the past 48 hours, you may have heard that the Washington Times published a confidential J Street tax return, containing private information about some of our donors.

I write to provide an explanation, to assume responsibility, and to put the whole matter in perspective in light of critically important events taking place this week on the world stage related to Israel and the Middle East.

You and I have built something spectacular in J Street.  Our success has been phenomenal.  In just two and a half years, our three legally independent entities (J Street, J Street Education Fund and JStreetPAC) have raised more than $11 million from over 10,000 donors. 

As with so many non-profits, our work depends in part on the generosity and support of our largest donors.  Among them are individuals who have provided six-figure financial support and foundations providing major grants to support the work of our Education Fund. 

George Soros and his family decided to donate to J Street in the fall of 2008, well after our launch and two years after he publicly stated that it would not be helpful for him to assist in getting the effort off the ground. The family contributed an average of $250,000 per year over the last three years (2008-2010) and their support amounts to just over 7 percent of the total funds raised by the J Street family of organizations.

I accept responsibility personally for being less than clear about Mr. Soros’ support once he did become a donor.  I said Mr. Soros did not help launch J Street or provide its initial funding, and that is true. I also said we would be happy to take his support. But I did not go the extra step to add that he did in fact start providing support in the fall of 2008, six months after our launch. Read more…

Dissecting President Obama’s U.N. speech

September 26, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — His was an odd speech for a President. He stood before the world and trashed the United States. “The blocks and neighborhoods of this great city tell the story of a difficult decade,” he said of New York, beginning with the attack on the World Trade Center and through the economic collapse that “devastated American families on Main Street.” And he worried that, “Underneath these challenges to our security and prosperity lie deeper fears: that ancient hatreds and religious divides are once again ascendant; that a world which has grown more interconnected has somehow slipped beyond our control.”

America has had a bad decade. We’re devastated. We may turn to ancient hatreds. The world is beyond our control. Is that what Barack Obama thinks of us?

We expected the president of Iran to start his speech with, “President Obama admits his country is on the skids.” He did. “The system of capitalism and the existing world order has proved to be unable to provide appropriate solution to the problems of societies, thus coming to an end.” He noted the horrors of Western colonialism and two World Wars. His take on the September 11th bombings it that there are three theories – all of which implicate the government of the United States.

Read more…

Actor Richard Dreyfuss headlines Oct. 9 county library book festival

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

ENCINITAS, California (Press Release) — On October 9 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., the Encinitas library is hosting the San Diego County Library Book Festival.  The all-ages event will host popular authors, discussion panels, free entertainment and activities, as well as local food vendors.

The Book Festival will feature: a keynote address by Richard Dreyfuss, who will speak on civics and, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Rae Armantrout, and Justin Halpern, author of Sh*t My Dad Says, which has become a television series.  For teens, author of the popular Pendragon series, D.J. MacHale, will be there, along with world-class skateboarder Lynn Kramer who will be hosting a Deck Out Your Deck skateboard art program.  Children can enjoy meeting Gretchen Wendel, author of Becka and the Big Bubble, and Edith Hope Fine, California Young Reader Medal winner, while also taking part in face painting, airbrush tattoos, and a Hullabaloo children’s concert.  Library Director, José Aponte, is “excited to offer the San Diego community this fun all-ages event which also embodies our library’s vision to create and support informed, literate, and engaged communities.”

The San Diego County Library Book Festival is a free, fun-filled day of literacy and entertainment.  For more information, contact the Encinitas library at (760) 753-7376 or visit

Preceding provided by San Diego County LIbrary

Jewish community well represented in local ‘Star’ awards

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Eileen Wingard

Eileen Wingard

SAN DIEGO —   The 2010 Star Awards at the Balboa Theatre, for volunteers in San Diego’s Arts Community, opened with the shooting-star energy of Culture Shock ‘s dance ensemble. These kids, with bodies as pliant as rubber, did their fast-moving break dance and bebop routines to a cheering audience. The Star Award Singers, seasoned professionals, Kate Alexander, Kyrsten Hafso and Ira Spector, accompanied by pianist Rayme Sciaroni, sang about the volunteers and the arts organizations with original lyrics to familiar tunes. The first group of award winners were already on stage as the program got off to a snappy start.
Unfortunately, as the performances and awards continued, some technical difficulties, such as getting the Wonder Morton Organ elevated from the pit, and changing from one act to the other, caused lagging delays. This resulted in the show’s lasting over two hours without intermission. However, the adroit MC, the J Company’s exuberant  director, Joey Landwehr, managed to engage the audience during the lulls with clever antics and a tap and slap exercise resulting in sounds of rain while the Organ inched its way upward. The magnificent tones, which emanated from this ornate instrument played by Chris Gorsuch, were worth the wait. Read more…