Sunday, April 01, 2007

"The Birth of Smoked Meat"

37th Canadian Student Film Festival Winner

Third-year Cinema students Jeanne Pope and Zoé Mapp received one of the night’s two main prizes, the Kodak Imaging Award – which includes an all-expenses paid trip to the 2007 Cannes Film Festival – for their film about Montreal’s legendary deli, The Main.

“A gorgeous, black & white look inside The Main, inspired by the late great Stanley Lewis.”

“When they announced the winner, I nearly fell on the floor,” said Pope, who juggles filmmaking with being a single mother and a massage therapist.
The Birth of Smoked Meat was the result of teamwork, she emphasized, and would not have happened without cinematographer Glauco Bermudez.

Pope’s first film, Where’s Stanley? documented the life of the late Montreal sculptor Stanley Lewis. She also credits him as the inspiration behind Smoked Meat and an upcoming film about L. Berson and Sons, the headstone carvers of St. Lawrence Blvd. His atelier had been in the same building.

The 19 minutes movie is scheduled for distribution on the students’ website later this year.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dylan: Still one of us?

Despite the scholarship applied to Dylan's career, his Minnesota roots have gone largely unexplored, including his time at what biographer Robert Shelton calls the "university of Dinkytown."
From February 3 through April 29, the Weisman Art Museum on the Twin Cities campus will explore that sound as well as Dylan's contribution to American music and art with Bob Dylan's American Journey, 1956-1966. The exhibit comes from Seattle's Experience Music Project, but is augmented to reflect Dylan's Minnesota roots. Lectures, workshops, and a three-day symposium will add richness and depth to the exhibit.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mazal Tov!

Shoah survivor celebrates belated Bar-Mitzvah.
By Neta Sela
The Jewish community in Rome celebrated on Monday with 77-year-old Samuel Modiano on the occasion of his Bar-Mitzvah.
Modiano, a member of the community, was born in Rhodes. Sixty-four years ago, at the age of 13, he was a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp and was unable to celebrate his Bar-Mitzvah.
Modiano lost 60 family members in the Holocaust.
On Monday, in the Great Synagogue of Rome and in the presence of hundreds of community members, he completed what he had missed as a result of the terrible events that he endured in his youth.

Most Jews ever set to enter Congress

3 minyanim in the House + 1 minyan in the Senate

A record number of Jewish members will enter Congress Thursday, but more remarkable are the unparalleled positions of power they will hold on committees related to Israel, many local Jewish activists say.
Six new Jewish legislators will be joining 37 familiar faces as the 110th Congress convenes, making the total the highest-ever, according to Doug Bloomfield, a former legislative director for AIPAC.
"It's unprecedented that there have been so many [Jews] in so many positions of leadership in both houses," Bloomfield said, using a Jewish simile for how that fact will affect support for Israel: Like chicken soup, it won't hurt.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Auschwitz escapee hoped to warn Hungarian Jews

Rudolph Vrba, one of five Jews who escaped from Auschwitz and delivered the first report about the shocking reality of the Nazi concentration camp to the Allied forces, has died in Canada at the age of 82.
Born in Slovakia in 1924, the Holocaust survivor was arrested by the Nazis when he was 18 and was soon transferred to Auschwitz. He managed to escape past Nazi guards in April 1944 with his compatriot, Alfred Wetzler. They then delivered a detailed, eyewitness account about Auschwitz, considered the first document to have alerted the outside world and Jewish leaders about the workings of the death camps.
The report was was initially given to Hungarian Jewish leaders and was in the hands of the Allies by June 1944.
Canadian Jewish Congress chief executive Bernie Farber said: "There are very few stories from those that were actually there... his story was breathtaking".
"He had what's been described as a photographic memory," he said.
Mr Vrba fought with a partisan unit following his remarkable escape.
In 1967, he emigrated to Canada, where he became a professor of pharmacology.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Bnei Menashe

'lost tribe of Israel'

Recognize 200 members of group believing it descended from Joseph

By Aaron Klein© 2005

An official delegation of Israeli rabbis arrived in India last week and began converting to Judaism members of a group that believes it is one of the ten "lost tribes" of Israel, jump starting a process many hope will bring the tribe's remaining 7,000 members to the Jewish state.
The Bnei Menashe say they are the descendants of Manasseh, one of biblical patriarch Joseph's two sons, and a grandson of Jacob. They live in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, to which they claim to have been exiled from Israel over 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire, and have been trying the past fifty years to return to Israel.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Montreal artist Erik Slutsky

Am I a Jew.
"Artist not sure how his work fits into Iraq Museum show"
Montreal artist Erik Slutsky did what many other artists do in their spare time. He checked out his name on Google a few days ago and discovered, to his amazement, that his work was being showcased in the Iraq Museum International Poster Exhibition. He
figured it was probably another Eric Slutsky, until he visited the museum website and saw his art on display.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Minstrel Show

Parodies that make us cringe today used to make people roar. A music critic discovers Abie Cohen, the Jewish version of Aunt Jemima.

by Sara Ivry
Irving Berlin, the man responsible for "God Bless America," was also the brains behind "Cohen Owes Me 97 Dollar," a 1916 number which sent up the stereotype of the tight-fisted Jew. It was one in a slew of Tin Pan Alley minstrel songs that made fun, often affectionately, of greenhorns and their slightly savvier predecessors. Jewface, a new album from Reboot Stereophonic, introduces several of these songs to listeners far removed from the immigrant experience and the Yiddish inflections that infused it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Klezmer Mountain Boys

Margot Leveret and Barry Mitterhoff

Margot Leverett and Barry Mitterhoff are bandmates in the klezmer-bluegrass band Margot Leverett & the Klezmer Mountain Boys. They played a Kentucky mandolin medley of two tunes by bluegrass architect Bill Monroe ("Kentucky Mandolin" and "Wheel Hoss") and put a klezmer dance tune in the middle.

Click below to listen.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Waters Of Healing

The lovely Jewish healing verses below are written by Rabbi Shohama Wiener
Moses prays for his sister Miririam's healing by calling out:
"Ah-na El na", "PLEASE RESPOND GOD!" "r'fa na la", "HEAL HER."

Many find it comforting and effective to draw on this ancient plea in praying for our own healing. Chant it over and over. Perhaps a melody will come to you. Perhaps focus on the pure water of the falls soothing you. If you can, sit near water or an open sky and chant the verse, notice your breath as you do.

May the waters of healing, flow through my soul.
May the waters of healing, flow through my heart.
May the waters of healing flow through my form.
Ah-na El na, please Holy One
R'fa na la...Let your healing be done
Ah-na El na, Please heal my soul
R'fa na la...let me be whole.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Position of Judaism on Organ Donation.

With few exceptions, the obligation to preserve human life ("pikuah nefesh") is an overriding principle of Jewish law. This would support the idea of organ donation.

At the same time, Jewish law prohibits desecration of a dead body ("nivul hamet"). A dead person's body, since it once housed the holy soul, is to be treated with the utmost respect. Every part of the body must be buried - which is why you see the heart-wrenching images of religious Jews dutifully going around after a terrorist bombing, scraping up pieces of flesh and blood for burial.

How do we resolve these two principles?

Complete article:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Congregation Sons Of Israel, Chambersburg, PA

"Together we can extinguish the fire that consumes our sense of unity, and stoke the glowing embers of faith, that build our sense of oneness."
"We are a community of many voices."

Dr. Steve Schwartz,
president, CSI


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rosh HaShanah

Irish Hersh, Public Opinion

Growing up in the 1950s in the Bronx, Dr. Steven Schwartz, president of Congregation Sons of Israel Synagogue, Chambersburg, remembers how school didn't get started in earnest until the High Holy Days were over.

"Unlike the secular holidays, the Days of Awe for me were about feeling a special sense of Jewish identity. I fondly remember walking with my big brother and our dad to the synagogue all dressed up in our best clothes. Back home, Mom was preparing for our return with a hearty meal."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

God, The Ideal Parent
Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman

Complete article:

Like the Borg
Hezbollah possesses a shared consciousness
infused with a ferocious determination
to crush their enemy,
at any cost.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Magen David Adom


Sunday, June 04, 2006


'Housewitz' director gets
40 hours labor

Dutch court sentences 23-year-old student to community service for making video clip inviting people to Auschwitz-themed party,7340,L-3254679,00.html

"The disgusting tale of a Dutch video clip...Racism?...Anti-semitism?...Just insensitivity and ignorance?...You be the judge..."
Marty Roberts podcast, June 1st, 2006

The Video:

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Free Radical

Baruch Spinoza inspired Rebecca Goldstein.
So why is she out to betray him?

Interview by Stephen Vider

Betraying Spinoza, the fourth book in Nextbook's Jewish Encounters series, presents the 17th-century rationalist as both the first modern thinker and the original yeshiva dropout. Baruch Spinoza's rejection of traditional tenets—and his questioning of what it means to be a Jew—scandalized his Amsterdam community....

Rebecca Goldstein, a novelist and professor of philosophy at Trinity College, Goldstein dares to inhabit the mind of a man who preached objectivity, offering a lucid and often surprising exploration of how Spinoza's Sephardic roots informed his greatest work, The Ethics.

Entire Article:
Author's Portrait:

I Have a Little Dreidel — The True Story
by Susan Wolfe

Everyone knows the song, My Dreidel ("I have a little dreidel, I made it out of clay…"). It’s the obligatory Jewish song tossed into the grammar-school Christmas concert to convert it instantly into a multicultural "holiday" program...and it’s the Jewish folk song seemingly so old that it’s no longer attributed.

When he was a young man living in Brooklyn Heights, eking out a living between the Kane Street Synagogue and the Bureau of Jewish Education of New York... Sam Goldfarb, wrote My Dreidel...

Along with his brother, Israel, he wrote many, many liturgical and holiday melodies, including the haunting Shalom Aleichem, the Friday night Kiddush (the blessing over the wine), Adon Olam,and the "traditional" Birkhat Hamazon (blessing after meals).

Complete Article:

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Remembering the First Five Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court

Lives — and Legacies — in Law

Remembering the First Five Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court


There is an age-old connection between Judaism and law. For centuries, rabbis and other Jewish scholars studied, re-studied and ceaselessly interpreted the Talmud, producing a vast corpus of juridical writing, which to many was the very heart of the Jewish religious tradition. Jews have always prized the scholarship of judges and lawyers in their own tradition. When antisemitic occupational restrictions lessened, they were drawn to the learned professions of the countries in which they lived, including the United States. Law figured prominently among those professions. Law became and remains an avenue of social mobility, a field in which intellectual achievement is rewarded. And, as it evolved in the United States, law also became a bulwark against the kind of oppression Jews historically have encountered and endured. Thus, Jews in large numbers became lawyers in the United States, and some eventually became judges. The best of those lawyers and judges used the law not only for personal gain, but to secure justice for others. So it was with my predecessors, the first five Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court. To celebrate the 350th anniversary of Jews in America, I will recall in quick snapshots their lives in the law, and the legacies they left.
Complete article:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Kielce Memory/Memorial

Friday May 12, 2006

New monument to commemorate 1946 Polish pogrom

by ruth ellen gruber

kielce, poland The American son of Holocaust survivors is creating Kielce’s first permanent public memorial to Poland’s most infamous episode of postwar violence against Jews.

The monument, designed by New York-born artist Jack Sal, is to be unveiled July 4, the 60th anniversary of the Kielce pogrom, an attack by a Polish mob that killed 42 Jewish Holocaust survivors and injured another 50 or so.
According to the artist, "The opportunity to create a work to bring people to visit a monument in the public park of Kielce will allow a meeting of the past and present out in the open, a forum of great importance for this wound of Planty Street to begin to heal."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bernard-Henri Lévy

Touring With Lévy a Dizzying Experience
by Marc Ballon, Senior Writer,
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles

Date: Saturday, April 8, 2006.
Time: 9 a.m.
Place: The Beverly Hills Hotel lobby.
I have come to this palace of privilege to meet Bernard-Henri Lévy, France’s philosophy king, the author of 30 books, including best sellers “American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville,” released earlier this year, and “Who Killed Daniel Pearl?” (Melville House, 2003).
“I believe [being an agnostic] is one of the best ways to be a Jew,” he says. “Jewishness is an experience of the nonevidence of God. That’s one of the main differences between Judaism and other faiths.
The Jewish faith, the Jewish relationship to God, is the one most aware of [God’s] absence sometimes, the silence often.
If you read really the prophets of the Bible, you’ll find that their main experience isn’t one of the warm presence of God, but of the despairing absence of it.”
Passionate Jews like himself need not believe in God to embrace the bedrock Jewish value of tikkun olam.
Complete Article:

Sunday, May 21, 2006

First in North America: Kosher Subway@the J
By: ARLENE FINE, Staff Reporter

Beginning in early May, Subway@the J will be open for business.

This flagship fast food restaurant, the first and only kosher Subway restaurant in North America, will be located in the spacious, sunny living room area at the Jewish Community Center’s main entrance.

Over the next few weeks, this central spot, which at one time housed an Arabica Coffee House, will be refurbished with a warm, Tuscany look.

The meat and pareve (permissible to be eaten with either meat or dairy) menu will feature the traditional Subway fare, but every item served will be strictly kosher and under the supervision of Cleveland Kosher.

Pareve cheese will be used, and beef fry will be substituted for pork products. The mashgiach (kastrut supervisor), partner, and co-operator is Avi Cohen, former owner of Brooklyn Bagels.

All bread baked on the premises has the approval of the Orthodox Union.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rabbi Michael Lerner

Democrats Need a Religious Left Values that the Left already holds, like loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek, need to be embraced politically.

By Michael Lerner

For years the Democrats have been telling themselves "it's the economy, stupid." Yet consistently for dozens of years millions of middle-income Americans have voted against their economic interests to support Republicans who have tapped a deeper set of needs.Tens of millions of Americans feel betrayed by a society that seems to place materialism and selfishness above moral values...

Read article....

Sunday, May 07, 2006


The origins of the work conducted today at Casa Shalom are perhaps unusual , but is an entity that has within a few years made considerable strides, having become both internationally and academically respected and a clear example of how from unexpected events can emerge a catalyst to unique and important research.

The whole concept was initiated almost as a holiday hobby in the Spanish Balearic Islands of Ibiza and Formentera, known as the Pitiuses Islands, in 1978, when it emerged that within these backwaters Jews had been protected by the Islanders and survived after the expulsion in 1492 until modern times.

As Jewish customs and ritual were discovered, as well as documents, which included a 14th century Megilla Esther, (now being restored by the Spanish Government) and four buildings that had been secret synagogues, some in use until the Civil War in 1936, the importance of the discoveries began to be appreciated more widely. Within a few years the research expanded to the larger Balearic Islands of Majorca and Minorca.

Elie Cohen


One most memorable story of spying during the Arab- Israeli conflict is attributed to Elie Cohen who was born in Alexandria, made aliya to Israel and subsequently was selected by the army secret services, for a most daring attempt to infiltrate Syria which at that time was on Golan Hights, and very frequently shelled at Israeli farmers down below. Maurice Mizrahi, the author of «l'Egypte et ses Juifs». «Le temps révolu (19-20e siècles)», reports on the fact that Elie Cohenworked in his business. Mizrahi noticed that Elie took a long time to carry out his duties outside the business. At that time, Cohen was connected with the movement of the young Zionists which explained these long absences. In 1949, Cohen and all other Jewish students were expelled from Farouk University and an investigation was carried out because of their Zionist activities. In 1956, he was jailed during the Sinai campaign and subsequently expelled from Egypt in 1957....

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Jewish Emancipation.

by Isaac Leeser

Our readers are aware that the liberty of conscience and political equality enjoyed by the Jews in Northern America (United States and Canada) and the West India Islands, as also in France, Belgium, and Holland, are not granted to them in other countries, but that we are subject more or less to certain disqualifications for the sake of our religious opinions. It is not alleged that we are not intelligent enough for the rights of men, but that it is unsafe to intrust us with political power in Christian countries. Even in at least one state of this confederacy, to wit, Massachusetts, and probably also in New Hampshire, Jews are ineligible to certain offices; in North Carolina they are eligible to none whatever....

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Nestle, Slavery, and the Festival Of Freedom

Reprinted from

Even though we don’t go to brothels and don’t own our own slaves, in the global economy, none of us are as innocent or as removed from slavery as we’d like to think.

One of the more poignant examples of that is chocolate.
Most of the world’s chocolate is made in West Africa, with 43% of it coming from in the Ivory Coast.

The majority of chocolate workers there are boys below the age of 16. A number of them are trafficked from neighboring countries with promises of good work and high wages. After being sold to plantation owners for around $30 US they are held against their will, working 80 to 100 hours a week. Violence or the threat of violence is omnipresent and they receive no money.

One escaped slave, Aly Diabate has testified “The beatings were a part of my life, anytime they loaded you with bags (of cocoa beans) and you fell while carrying them, nobody helped you. Instead they beat you and beat you until you picked it up again.”

Dear Nestle,

As Jews worldwide observe Passover, the Festival of Freedom, it was brought to my attention the evils of slavery that still persist in the world. Children and others are caught in a web of slavery on cocoa plantations in Africa and elsewhere.

I have since learned that Nestle promised to make their product slave-free by 2005, and have not done so.

Please heed the call of freedom. Stop purchasing cocoa from plantations that exploit and enslave children. Invest in sustainable cocoa industries that heal not destroy lives. Urge competitors to abide by anti-slavery commitments.

I will inform all my congregants, thousands of people that read my websites and listen to my classes to avoid buying your products until Nestle takes action that is independently verified.
We must act now to stop suffering and make the world a better place.


Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Jews of Venta Prieta

Emerging From the Shadows A Visit to An Old Jewish Community
The Jews of Venta Prieta say their ancestors accomplished the impossible -- they remained Jews throughout the Inquisition, even though they had no synagogue and no rabbi to instruct them during the long centuries of hiding.
It is easy to miss Venta Prieta. There is no welcome sign, no landmark visible from the road. It appears at first to be nothing more than a cluster of small stores, unpaved streets, and low flat houses hiding among the dry brown and yellow hills on the outskirts of the old mining city of Pachuca in central Mexico. But visitors keep coming -- journalists, anthropologists, curiosity seekers. If it could choose, Venta Prieta would remain anonymous. Go away, say a man's eyes when a visitor asks if she is in the right place. Leave us alone. And then with words, We are not objects in a museum.
Founded in the 1850s, this small Mexican community lived through its first century guarding a deep secret -- its Jewish identity. Its founders and most of its inhabitants were descendants of families who had spent 300 years hiding in Mexico's mountains after escaping the Spanish Inquisition. The community's founders, a couple named Téllez, settled in Venta Prieta when it was just an outpost, a ghostly presence that came to life with the visit of the occasional traveler. Today the village sits in the shadow of a giant new shopping mall across the road, and its secret has been out in the open for 30 years. But secrecy is an old habit, a vestige of a survival skill that kept the community alive for centuries.
The story really begins with the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims from Spain in 1492, during the Spanish Inquisition. The Holy Office of the Inquisition, established by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1478, had already burned thousands of Jews at the stake in the decade before the expulsion decree. In the half century following the expulsion, roughly a third of Spain's Jews were burned at the stake, a third fled, and another third were forcibly converted to Catholicism. Of those who converted, many maintained Jewish customs in private.
Many Jews left Spain on ships bound for the New World, where they hoped the Inquisition would be less severe. So many took this path of survival that by 1550 almost 25% of Mexico City's Spanish population was known to be Jewish, and the community had its own Grand Rabbi. The number might have been even larger, since many Jews disguised themselves as Catholics.
"The great majority of Mexicans today have Jewish blood, though very diluted," says Orthodox Rabbi Jan Knippers Black is a professor of International Policy Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. Abraham Bartfeld of Mexico City.
New Spain was not the haven Jews imagined. In fact, the Inquisition there lasted longer than it did in Spain, where it was finally suppressed in 1808. In Mexico, the Spanish authorities established a Tribunal of the Inquisition in 1571 which existed until the colony's War of Independence in 1821. During the war, the Inquisition accused the revolutionary priest José Marίa Hidalgo y Costilla, the father of Mexican independence, of practicing Judaism, among other "crimes." By then the Inquisition had become so despised by the general population that it was commonly referred to as the "Unholy Office."
Historians have generally contended that Mexico's colonial Jewish population was either wiped out or converted. But the Jews of Venta Prieta say their ancestors accomplished the impossible -they remained Jews throughout the Inquisition, even though they had no synagogue and no rabbi to instruct them during the centuries of hiding. In the last 50 years, they have built their own temple, bought their own Torah, and, in keeping with biblical tradition, have had an eternal flame of olive oil -- which requires constant attention-burning inside the temple.
But Mexico's orthodox rabbinate, wary of the long centuries that the Inquisition's refugees spent underground, disputes Venta Prieta's claim that it is Mexico's oldest Jewish community. "They can't prove their ancestry goes back to colonial times," says orthodox Rabbi Bartfeld. While he admires their "spirituality," Rabbi Bartfeld considers the heritage of the people of Venta Prieta to be as much Catholic as Jewish. He believes the only legitimate Jews in Mexico today are twentieth-century immigrants from Europe and North Africa and their descendants.
Mexico's entire Jewish population numbers about 50,000.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Amitai Sandy

Born 1976

Graphic artist, comics creator, illustrator, designer, publisher.

Studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, and won an award for outstanding achievements in illustration for his final project.

Published and edited (together with Yaron Nisky and Eyal B) the notorious Israeli comics magazine "Penguins' Perversions".
'Penguins' presented to the baffled audience a combination of raw, black & nonsense humor on the surface, and serious social criticism as an undercurrent.

Since 2003 he's a member of the Dimona comix group, and also the group's publisher. Dimona has participated in European comix festivals and group exhibitions, and the books are distributed all over Europe.

Along with illustrator and animator Uri Ashi he runs Ashisandy studios, and together they illustrate and design books, some of which became Israeli best-sellers. They also do flash animation e-flyers, and other creative projects.

Amitai also dabbles in gig-posters, flyers and e-flyers design for dance clubs and music events. Some of his works appeared in art book collections of gig-posters art, including the prestigious "Art of Rock" book, from Chronicle Books (in the U.S.).


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Matisyahu Hasidic Reggae Superstar

Funny, He Doesn't Look Jamaican

Chart-Topping Matisyahu Wants to Be More Than Just a Hasidic Reggae Superstar

By Teresa WiltzWashington Post Staff WriterSunday, February 19, 2006; N04

Backstage at Madison Square Garden, Matisyahu cuts a striking figure, more rabbinical than reggae, 6 feet 3, all Talmudic beard and tzitzit fringe, shaking hands with the men, smiling at the women, saying, yes, yes, hopefully, one day soon, he'll be the one headlining. God willing .
Just minutes before, he was onstage, rapping and beatboxing, singing praises, bouncing like Bob Marley. Folks in this mostly white crowd of college kids were standing in their seats, arms in the air, jamming to the beat. Hollering. Not a bad way to debut at the Garden, especially for an opening act with an unusual concept -- a Hasidic reggae singer.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hidden synagogue a relic of early era of intolerance

The Associated Press

PORTO, Portugal — A chance discovery during renovations of a building in this Atlantic port city has revealed a dark secret from Portugal's past: a 16th-century synagogue.

Built at a time when Portugal's Jews had been forced to convert to Catholicism or risk being burned at the stake, the house of worship was hidden behind a false wall in a four-story house that Father Agostinho Jardim Moreira, a Roman Catholic priest, was converting into a home for his old-age parishioners.

A scholar of Porto's Jewish history, he says that as soon as the workers told him of the wall, "I knew there had to be some kind of Jewish symbol behind it."

His hunch was confirmed when the wall came down to reveal a carved granite repository, about 5 feet tall, arched at the top and facing east toward Jerusalem. It was the ark where the medieval Jews kept their Torah scrolls. Pieces of decorative green tiles in the ark further confirmed the age of the ark when experts dated their glazing to a method used in the 16th century. Only two other arks from the period have been found in Portugal, and last month the Portuguese Institute of Architectural Heritage authenticated this one as the third.

Jardim Moreira, 64, knew his parish had been an officially designated Jewish quarter in the 15th and 16th centuries. He also knew that after they were forced to convert to Catholicism in 1496, many Jews privately kept their faith and worshipped in secret, while behaving like Catholics in public. "I suspected that false wall was hiding something," the priest said. The secret synagogue dates from a convulsive period in the Jewish history of the Iberian peninsula.

In 1492, neighboring Spain had expelled all Jews who refused to convert to Catholicism, and some 60,000 poured across the border into Portugal. At a time of Portuguese empire-building, they prospered, but they were kept at arm's length, forced to live in a Jewish quarter subject to a curfew.

Then came the harsher crackdown. Portugal's King Manuel I, hoping to seal a royal alliance with Spain's powerful rulers, Ferdinand and Isabella, by marrying their daughter, forced the Jews to convert. Some fled, but those who stayed were subjected to humiliating public baptisms.

Jardim Moreira says he intends to place a protective glass screen over the ark while authorities decide how it can be exhibited.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

Torah and Jewish Spirituality

A rabbi once told a fellow rabbi, "People aren't coming to synagogueas much these days because they're just not spiritual!"
The other rabbi answered, "You've got it all wrong! They're not coming because they ARE spiritual!
They come to synagogue looking for something uplifting and meaningful. When they don't find it, they don't come back!"

Monday, January 02, 2006

Man for all seasons conquers mental illness

One bright sunny day, Barry Shainbaum, 18, stood at a bus stop in his hometown of Hamilton with a guitar in his hand. As he got on the bus, he had a premonition that he was somehow leaving.

Shortly after, standing in his girlfriend’s living room, he experienced a mental breakdown.
Two days later, he awoke from a long sleep to see his mother sitting beside his bed in the psychiatric ward of a local hospital. “You’re sick, and you will be for the rest of your life,”
she said, repeating the doctor’s comment. “We’ll take care of you.”

This was where he spent the rest of that summer before returning to school. Then at age 21, Shainbaum experienced another episode while on his way to see his psychiatrist, who then diagnosed him as manic depressive. Now known as bipolar disorder, the condition is characterized by a series of moods that fluctuate between mania (feeling indestructible and hyperactive) and depression. He was then put on Lithium to level his moods and was told he’d be on the medication permanently.

Today, youthful looking, with a zest for life, Shainbaum, 53, is completely cured of a mental illness rarely defeated. He continuously sprinkles inspiration working as a successful commercial photographer, author, professional speaker, musician, and most recently, host of his new Jewish talk show Sundays at 11 a.m. on Kitchener’s Christian radio station, CJTW 94.3 Faith FM.

“I once read that God doesn’t give someone any more challenges than he or she can handle,” he said, his eyes sparkling as he smiled from his seat on the black leather couch of his downtown Toronto photography studio. “I think there’s a lot of truth in that. And we strengthen ourselves through life’s challenges.”

Shlomit KrigerTribune Correspondent

To read complete article follow link below.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Afternoon Prayer of Isaac

"Isaac went out to meditate ('lasuach') in the field toward evening."
[Gen. 24:63]
"The soul is always praying.
It constantly seeks
to fly away to its Beloved."
According to Rav Kook,
what we call 'prayer'
is only an external expression of the inner prayer of the soul.
In order to truly pray, we must be aware
of our continuous inner prayer.
Through prayer, the soul flowers with new strength...
just as a tree naturally flowers and sends forth branches.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Birth of Eve

Eve was created from Adam’s rib,
which also can mean in Hebrew, shadow.
How a man views the opposite sex is
a shadow of his own self-esteem.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Kinky Friedman For Governor 2006

Kinky makes his case for governor at UTB

Written by Kevin Garcia--The Brownsville Herald
Friday, 02 December 2005
November 30, 2005 — Independent candidate for Texas governor Kinky Friedman said during a visit to Brownsville on Tuesday that he’d like to see the border closed so a new system for keeping it open can be made..........

"They don't make Jews like Jesus anymore."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fractal Geometry of Torah

Richard S. Ellis
Professor: Department of Mathematics and StatisticsAdjunct Professor, Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies

The Book of Leviticus and the Fractal Geometry of Torah

By Richard S. Ellis

The statement of Galileo that "the great book which ever lies before our eyes—I mean the Universe—is written in mathematical language and the characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures" applies as well to the Halakhah. And not for naught did the Gaon of Vilna tell the translator of Euclid’s geometry into Hebrew [R. Barukh of Shklov], that "To the degree that a man is lacking in the wisdom of mathematics he will lack one hundredfold in the wisdom of the Torah."

The Archangel Gabriel warned the prophet, "God is hidden by 70,000 veils of light and darkness............

Human Logic, G-d's Logic, and the Akedah By Richard Ellis

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Mandelbrot Set

Benoit Mandelbrot

20-Nov-1924 Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Gender: Male Religion:
Jewish Occupation: Mathematician

Benoit Mandelbrot is a Polish-born French mathematician best known as the father of fractal geometry. In addition to coining the term "fractal" to describe objects and surfaces which are irregular at various dimensions of scale, he also introduced such concepts as "fractal dimensions" and the particular fractal known as the Mandelbrot set, frequently represented with the mathematical formula z -> z^2 + c . Mandelbrot joined an IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in 1958, and remained with the company ever since, eventually becoming first an IBM Fellow, and then a Fellow Emeritus. He is currently a Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences Emeritus with Yale University.

Mandelbrot means "almond bread" in German..........................
The Torah is a fractal because, as the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot explained, each small portion can be viewed as a reduced scale replica of the whole.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Jewish Atheist

A Jewish Atheist?


A Jewish Atheist!

by Dave Silverman

I know a lot of Atheists, many of whom hate the reaction they get when they tell people what they think. We've all seen it, the rolling eyes, the open mouth, and the obvious questions.But there's one thing that you can tell people and get an even stronger reaction, one so strong that even I am hesitant to tell someone unless I know I'll have the time to explain. You see, I'm a Jewish atheist. Telling people this has almost always followed with a long drawn-out explanation of how the two ideas are not mutually exclusive and how I'm "really an Atheist" even though I also call myself a Jew as well............

Click the link below to read the entire article

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Rabbi David Zeller

"Living Judaism is not meant to cut you off from the world around you.
It is intended to keep you from getting cut off from the world within you. "

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Allen Stewart Konigsberg
A few notable quotes

When I was in school, I cheated on my metaphysics exam:
I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.
What is it about death that bothers me so much? Probably the hours.
The good people sleep better, while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more.
To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.
The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won’t get much sleep.

(Born to an Orthodox Jewish family Dec. 1st ,1935)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cantorial Music Catching On

Yitzchok Helfgot

Cantor Helfgot was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. At the very young age of five, after hearing Moshe Koussevitzky's recording of "Akavia Ben Mehallel" Yitzchok Meir knew what his life calling was to be.

At age eight, Cantor Helfgot recorded his first works. He spent the majority of his childhood and teenage years studying voice and Nussach (The Art Of Prayer). He married at the age of twenty. At age 23, Cantor Helfgot held his first concert, he performed three great works, Zilbert's "Mimkomcha", Kwartin's "Tiher Yishmael" and Rosenblatt's "Ad Hena", all of which were masterfully executed, not to mention extremely well received by those in attendance.

It was at this point the world began to realize it had been given a gift from above in Cantor Helfgot, a reincarnation of cantors Rosenblatt, Koussevitzky and Kwartin rolled in to one. Truly living up to his name Helfgot, which is defined as someone who helps G-d, he accomplishes this with his golden voice.

The first position formally held by Cantor Helfgot was at "The Great Synagogue" of Bat Yam, Israel. At 26, Cantor Helfgot was called to be the Head Cantor of "The Central Synagogue" in Frankfurt, Germany where he spent five years until he was recruited to be the Cantor at "The Shule" in Bal Harbor, FL.

Cantor Helfgot regularly appears for Shabbatot around the world where he routinely draws record crowds. Leading the way in the revival of Liturgical Music, Cantor Helfgot has given concerts, spanning six continents. He is currently booked for Shabbosim and concerts through the Spring of 2005. His most recent recording, entitled "Borchi Nafshi“ - Bless O My Soul" has broken Jewish recording sales records. A new album has just been released, "Habeit Mishamayim".

Cantor Helfgot resides in Israel with his wife and six children.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Nostra Aetate / Debru Emet

Conference recalls historic Vatican document.

Jews and Catholics must continue with interfaith dialogue and educate their co-religionists on their historic rapprochement that began a scant 40 years ago, a day-long conference at the University of Toronto heard last week.

After nearly two millennia of hatred, oppression, vilification and annihilation of Jews by Catholics, the last four decades of reconciliation are "just the beginning of the beginning," and there’s much work to be done, more than 100 Christian and Jewish participants heard at last Thursday’s seminar, which marked the 40th anniversary of a landmark Vatican document that laid the foundation for the Catholic Church’s improved relations with non-Christians, especially Jews.

Nostra Aetate, (Latin for "In Our Time"), issued by the historic Second Vatican Council on Oct. 28, 1965, represented a turning point for the Church. The document deplored Christian anti-Semitism, stated that God’s covenant with Jews is irrevocable, and repudiated the age-old deicide charge that blamed Jews for the death of Jesus.

Another major achievement of Nostra Aetate has been that Catholics no longer missionize to Jews and have abandoned the notion that Judaism is a failed religion that has been replaced by Christianity. Christianity has not replaced Judaism, but improved it.

In 2000, scholars produced Dabru Emet ("Speak the Truth"), a Jewish response to Nostra Aetate that suggested Jews should view Christians in a better light. Many Jews, he said are "unaware" of the respect and friendship for them that Nostra Aetate produced. "For that, we need education."

Opening the archives "will remove suspicions and contribute to a more mature understanding," he said, but he didn’t indicate when or if that would happen.

While Jews and Catholics disagree on who is the messiah, what unites them is the shared belief "in an unredeemed world that needs a messiah," Cardinal Cassidy said.

A gloomier picture was painted by the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, who said that Catholics tend to regard Jews "like a beautiful piece of silver on a shelf to be shown to guests, but not as a vibrant religious people that has a mission and strength."

The two faiths have had 40 years to implement mutual respect, but Rabbi Di said he can’t agree that "the era of suspicion is finished."

Adapted from an article by Ron Csillag staff reporter to the Canadian Jewish News

Hebron Massacre 1929

Hebron preceded Jerusalem as Israel's first capital under King David.

The year 1929 dealt a heavy blow to the Jewish settlement with the killing of many of Hebron's Jews by Arab rioters. The assault was well planned and its aim was well defined: the elimination of the Jewish settlement of Hebron. The rioters did not spare women, children, or the aged; the British remained passive. Sixty-seven were killed, 60 wounded, the community was destroyed, synagogues razed, and Torah scrolls burned. However, those who remained did not surrender and 35 families went to resettle in 1931. The community slowly began to rebuild itself, but everything was again destroyed in the upheavals of 1936. On the night of April 23, 1936, the British authorities evacuated the Jewish inhabitants of Hebron. The Jewish settlement of Hebron thus ended and only one inhabitant remained there until 1947.

After 1948. In 1948 Hebron was incorporated into the kingdom of Jordan. It was captured by the Israel army in the Six-Day War of June 1967, and Jews again returned to visit Hebron. The old Jewish quarter was found destroyed and the Jewish cemetery almost obliterated.
According to the 1967 census, conducted by Israel, Hebron had 38,309 inhabitants, all of whom (excepting 106 Christians) were Muslim. Hebron has a smaller percentage of Palestinian Arab refugees than most other places of the West Bank.