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Tel Aviv professor is first woman to receive Israel Prize in Talmudic Studies – Jewish News

Posted By on February 16, 2020

Vered Noam of Tel Aviv University has been awarded the Israel Prize in Talmudic Studies the first time that a woman has received the award.

Noam, current chair of the universitys Chaim Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies and Archaeology and a full professor in the Department of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud, is recognised internationally for her research.

Education Minister Rafi Peretz, making the announcement on Monday evening, called Noam a source of inspiration for a whole generation of women studying Torah.

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Her work, her research, and her efforts to make Talmud studies accessible to many populations have been a breakthrough, he said.

In an interview Tuesday with the Kan public broadcaster, Noam said that women still have a way to go before they have equality in the study of Torah and Talmud.

A religious woman experiences freedom of choice and broad educational freedom in the everyday part of life, while a proper Torah education, especially around the Talmudic and Talmudic studies, is not yet open to her, Noam said.

She added: In our world Jewish women have a right and a duty to be part of the multi-generational conversation of the Jewish people and to belong to study and Torah.

The Israel Prize will be presented on April 29, Israel Independence Day.

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Tel Aviv professor is first woman to receive Israel Prize in Talmudic Studies - Jewish News

First Woman Awarded the Israel Prize for Talmudic Studies – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Posted By on February 16, 2020

Photo Credit: TPS

Professor Vered Noam, a Talmudic studies lecturer at Tel Aviv University, was announced on Monday the recipient of the 2020 Israel Prize for Talmudic Studies, the first woman in history to receive the prestigious award.

Noams focus is on Rabbinic literature, Second Temple literature, and early Halakha.

The committee that chose Noam stated she is being recognized for her many achievements, demonstrating, first and foremost, impressive research excellence expressed in first-class publications.

The committee underscored the breadth of her academic field that covers diverse areas from Second Temple literature to Talmud literature, through ancient traditions rooted in the Sages literature, to the Talmudic versions expressed in its commentaries.

The committee further noted that Noam is an internationally renowned researcher and is very much recognized for the importance of her research.

Finally, she is an exemplary figure in her contribution to the general scientific and public community, making the rabbinic literature and Talmud accessible to the entire Israeli public.

Noam will receive the accolade on Israels 72ndIndependence Day in April.

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First Woman Awarded the Israel Prize for Talmudic Studies - The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com

The rift between the first and second Israel – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on February 16, 2020

Ever since Benjamin Netanyahus indictment was submitted to the Jerusalem District Court on January 21, Dr. Avishay Ben Haim, who for the last decade has served as a reporter on haredi affairs, first on Channel 10 and now Channel 13, has been full of anger and rage.Ben Haim is especially furious about the headlines in part of the media following the attorney-generals decision to submit the indictment against Netanyahu, immediately after the latter asked to withdraw his previous request from the Knesset to apply his procedural immunity.The headline that enraged Ban Haim was: The State of Israel versus Benjamin Netanyahu, even though he admits that it accurately reflects the actual title of the indictment. His complaint is that it reflects a political attitude: that of the old (Ashkenazi) elites, who wish to see Netanyahu convicted and kicked out of the political arena, and who represent only half of Israel. The other half the so-called second Israel which represents Israels predominantly non-Ashkenazi population in the periphery, adores Bibi.Ben Haim, a mizrahi intellectual with a long ponytail and a small, Bennett-style skullcap on his head, after years of serving (in his own words) the liberal agenda of the Left, has recently turned into an outspoken advocate of the second Israel. According to him, this second Israel still suffers from discrimination, and views the secular, Ashkenazi Netanyahu who despite belonging to the top socioeconomic decile in Israel still perceives himself as a victim as its most authentic representative.Ben Haim did not invent the idea that there is a deep schism between Israels old Ashkenazi elites who support a liberal agenda as to how Israels democracy ought to be run, and large segments of Israels mizrahi population, which is more traditional in the social and religious senses, and estranged from many elements of the liberal being. Nor is he the first to try to explain why this second Israel views Netanyahu as its savior, and why it has not developed any leaders of its own, with the exception of Shass political leader, Arye Deri.In fact, there are numerous impressive mizrahi intellectuals, who express radical positions of various political shades, and who share the basic anger and rage about the continuing discrimination against mizrahim (descendants of local Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa) in Israel, and their allegedly being prevented from reaching the highest positions of power. Strangely enough, they all seem to believe that it is the liberal Ashkenazim who must change their disc, while the mizrahim themselves must simply insist on their right to remain as they are. The problem is that their practical demands from the liberal Ashkenazim are simply not realistic from a psychological or sociological point of view.For example, the Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow demands that the old Ashkenazi elites agree to voluntarily hand over state assets (i.e., lands) of which they allegedly gained control when they still ran the country. Sociology professor Nissim Mizrachi, recently stated in an interview with Haaretz that the left-wing Ashkenazim must give up their aggressive universal liberalism, and connect in a very deep and pragmatic manner to problems that must be resolved in reality, and manifest real respect for the concerns of people out of a position of solidarity: to Jews who are worried about the Jewish identity of the state; Muslims who worry about the Muslim identity of their community none of them are waiting for a feminist salvation or liberalism that will bring redemption into their lives. When asked whether what he was suggesting was that the (Ashkenazi) Left should simply die, his answer was: It is already dead.SUCH TALK together with the habit of many of the members of the Mizrahi Rainbow to use derogatory and insulting language about Ashkenazim, when talking to Ashkenazim is simply not effective. I am not dead, I am not a cow (or whatever), all my assets were legally and honestly earned by my family and myself, and were not bestowed upon me by the state, and I do not believe Israels main problem is the weakness of the Jewish identity of the state, or the Muslim identity of the Muslim community, rather than the deliberate undermining of its democratic institutions by recent Netanyahu-led governments. If certain sections of the mizrahi society disagree with me let it be, but dont ask me to give up my identity and beliefs in order to appease them.Incidentally, I am not denying that a second Israel exists, or that Israels governments in the early days of its existence did not mistreat and discriminate against the immigrants who arrived in Israel from Muslim countries. I dont even reject the narrative presented by many of the mizrahi intellectuals, and I empathize with some of the changes that they advocate, though I certainly do not accept this narrative and the agendas that accompany it lock, stock and barrel.I have already mentioned in the past Dr. Hani Zubidas talk show on the Knesset Channel 99. Zubida, who like Ben Haim and Prof. Mizrachi is in his 50s, is a political science lecturer at the Yezreel Valley College and an active member of the Mizrahi Rainbow. In his talk show he raises issues from the daily news, as well as various issues from the sidelines that have to do with the mizrahi social agenda. Almost all of the participants in his program are mizrahi social activists religious, secular, right, left and center. Anyone who is accustomed to listening to the news or watching talk shows on channels 11, 12, 13 and even 20 will see here totally different faces, and hear totally different voices. It is refreshing, though frequently enervating.Ron Huldai the mayor of the secular, liberal capital, Tel Aviv, is frequently slandered for his alleged lack of sympathy for the problems of the weaker mizrahim. Solomon Tekah, the Ethiopian youth who was killed from an indirect bullet shot by a police officer out of uniform several months ago, is referred to on a regular basis as the boy of us all, even though the complicated background of the incident is never referred to, nor the identity of the shooting police officer, who might or might not have been mizrahi (most of the recent police commissioners, and most of the police force, are mizrahim).I believe Zubida is basically a left-winger, though not a left-winger in the Ashkenazi sense, but if there is a contradiction between left-wing values and mizrahi solidarity, Zubida will invariably opt for the latter. I have never heard Zubida confront mizrahi supporters of Netanyahu or mizrahi members of Shas, and he, like other radical mizrahi intellectuals, has never tried to lead an effective, independent, non-haredi alternative for mizrahi voters, with the goal of winning for those of them who havent made it themselves a more worthy place under the sun. They seem to prefer the role of preachers to that of shepherds, and at the moment they are more inclined to deepen rifts than build bridges.I would say, however, that at the moment they are the least of the worries of secular Ashkenazi liberals, and I believe that after the Netanyahu era, the rifts will have a better chance of healing. With or without them.

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The rift between the first and second Israel - The Jerusalem Post

Mixed ethnic backgrounds make it that much harder to find a bone marrow transplant – MLive.com

Posted By on February 16, 2020

ANN ARBOR, MI They searched the world for a match.

Bennett Sevack needed a bone marrow transplant. He was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome after treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. But there was no match for the Ann Arbor resident in the international registry.

So, his family started making calls.

Doctors first tried his siblings and cousins. When that didnt work, his sisters, friends and family spent six weeks calling and sharing flyers with synagogues around the world to encourage people to join the bone marrow registry, hoping someone with Sevacks Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish background would be willing to donate.

By fall, a partial match was found in an Italian obstetrics hospital in an umbilical cord blood sample. Soon after, another cord blood match was found in the U.S. It was enough to perform a transplant.

Sevack has gained an intense appreciation for donors.

You can save somebodys life..." he said. Its a blessing to do.

Finding an acceptable bone marrow donor is a challenge in general, but its that much harder for people of color and patients of complex ethnic backgrounds like Sevack, according to health care providers and families whove embarked on far-reaching searches for a match.

A white person has a 77% shot at finding a matching donor, according to Be The Match, a widely used donor registry. A black persons chances are 23%. For people of mixed backgrounds, the search can become more complex.

Part of the issue is the relatively narrow population of donors in the registry. Another part is the science: Certain HLA types, the protein that needs to match in bone marrow transplants, are more unique to specific backgrounds.

A closer look at plans for the new $920M University of Michigan hospital

Sevacks transplant was completed in October 2019 more than three years after his initial diagnosis, and four months after getting news that he would definitely need a transplant.

He spent eight weeks healing from his transplant and two weeks healing from a bout of graft-versus-host disease in the hematology oncology clinic on the seventh floor of Ann Arbors C.S. Mott Childrens Hospital.

On the same floor, a 9-year-old Ann Arbor-area patient undergoing chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia is in the same predicament that Sevack once faced. She may need a bone marrow transplant as well, but a donor match her ethnic background is Cantonese, Hispanic and Caucasian has yet to be found in the registry.

The search

Genetics play a major role in finding a good match, said Mark Vander Lugt, a pediatric bone marrow transplant specialist at C.S. Mott working with the 9-year-old. People get four HLA types from each parent, meaning donors need to match in at least six spots, though sometimes a stronger match is required.

You get combinations that are hard to find in the registry because of that, Vander Lugt said.

Not everyone needs a transplant once theyre diagnosed. Doctors often treat blood cancers and related illnesses with chemotherapy first killing off the bad cells and waiting to see if healthy cells regenerate. If they dont, a transplant replaces the bone marrow, where blood stem cells are made.

Mothers breast cancer pushes Ypsilanti woman to get preventative mastectomy

The registry is so low on certain populations that some began taking matters into their own hands. Athena Asklipiadis founded Mixed Marrow, a nonprofit that conducts outreach to encourage multi-ethnic bone marrow and blood cell donations. She said the misconceptions of donation is one of the largest challenges in getting people registered. She started by reaching out to Facebook groups and college clubs on the West Coast, where she is based. Eventually, families began reaching out to her to help in the donor search.

People use this phrase, When theres a cure for cancer or If theres a cure for cancer, Asklipiadis said. But these are actual blood diseases and cancers that are curable. Theyre curable by the selflessness of a donor and thats the beautiful thing about it.

Sevacks sister Laurel Bernstein was part of the group of relatives and supporters who called synagogues in search of donors. She estimated they called hundreds of people and added more than 1,000 to the donor registry while searching for Sevacks match.

The nine of us all felt so energized by what happened, Bernstein said. "We had not finished calling the list, even though we got the match. We went through to the end of the list to help pay it forward, to help other people, to get that much more DNA into the database.

The transplant

For Sevack, it was umbilical cord blood that saved his life. DNA from the two samples created enough HLA type matches to begin the transplant.

Vander Lugt said the preferred transplant method is still donor transplants, because cord blood units are smaller and in more limited supply than donor cells.

Misconceptions of transplants are another roadblock. A bone marrow harvest in which a donor undergoes surgery to collect marrow from the hip is widely believed to be painful. But experts describe the process as a mild discomfort with a two-to-three day recovery time, instead.

And direct harvest is no longer the only method. Many hospitals also practice apheresis, which collects the peripheral blood that can generate new bone marrow through a process that looks like dialysis. Theres no surgery involved.

Choosing between the two collection processes is based on multiple factors, including the health of the patient undergoing general anesthesia and doctor and donor preference, Vander Lugt said.

The value

Fear of the unknown is what affected Sevack the most going into surgery. He said he had an anxiety breakdown the morning of his transplant, when he realized what was about to happen.

My heart was to the moon, Sevack said. I was fully dressed and every part of me was drenched. In about eight minutes I had gone through this journey of fear because the reality of what was going to come was upon me. (My wife) calmed me down, I changed my clothes and this journey began. Theres been plenty of times when Ive been scared to death.

Finding a transplant match taught his wife Phyllis Sevack the importance of facing each day separately. Fighting cancer was about healing every day making big battles smaller.

The reality of it hits all at once, Phyllis Sevack said. "I wouldnt want anybody to be afraid to go through it because it is every day take it day by day. And as soon as Bennett got over that hes not doing everything on one day, (he got better mentally).

Now at home, Bennett Sevack may take a year to fully heal. He looks forward to small improvements in his quality of life, like an expanded diet and doing his own grocery shopping at Meijer, he said.

Even the routine blood and platelet donations he received in treatment were invaluable to him. They saved his life.

Where to donate blood in Washtenaw County during shortage

Every day, theyd give me sacks of stuff that made me sick to think about it, Sevack said. It was someones donation that was given, that was literally giving me life. People who donate would do an amazing service to someone. You may not know who that is but its somebody.

Potential donors can begin the registration process by filling out a questionnaire about their medical history at bethematch.org. A cheek swab will confirm whether you meet the medical guidelines for donation. You may remain on the registry for years before a match is found. More information is available here.

Wolverines for Life and the Michigan Medicine Bone Marrow Transplant department are hosting a registration drive from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 at the Pierpoint Commons lobby, 2101 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor.

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Mixed ethnic backgrounds make it that much harder to find a bone marrow transplant - MLive.com

How Blue and White tries to break the cycle of electoral purgatory – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on February 16, 2020

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz have both had a busy week. The leaders of the two largest parties have been crisscrossing the country, meeting voters, giving speeches, doing events and trying to drum up support and enthusiasm for the coming election. But the truth is, the country is in political gridlock, and the polls are not moving decisively in any direction. One week the Center-Left picks up a couple of seats, the next week they swing back to the right wing, and neither side ever obtains a majority of 61 MKs to form a coalition. And it has been this way ever since new elections were called at the end of May last year. Although Blue and White is currently the biggest party, with the polls consistently predicting that it will preserve this status after the March election, Gantzs party still does not have a path to a government of the Center-Left. Blue and White strategist Israel Bachar says that the political deadlock is a result of not having had a new government to assess since the first election in April. The polls have barely changed from those election results, since no government has taken office and been able to enact a series of measures by which the public could evaluate it.Combined with the tribalism of the pro-Bibi, anti-Bibi camps, this situation means that there is little that can change the mind of the electorate. WHAT, IF anything, can Blue and White do to extricate the country from a seemingly interminable cycle of electoral purgatory? There are potential alternatives for Gantzs party to form a government, such as a unity government with the Likud, peeling off the more moderate elements of the right-wing bloc such as the New Right component of Yamina, or the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, which is more moderate than its Ashkenazi counterpart, United Torah Judaism. And there is also the nuclear option of forming a minority government with external support of the Joint List of Arab parties to ensure that such a government is not defeated by votes of no confidence. But all of these possibilities are extremely difficult to achieve for their own reasons. Blue and White itself has promised not to sit in a government with Netanyahu since he has been formally indicted, Shas and New Right have pledged not to sit with Blue and White, and relying on support from the Arab parties is political kryptonite. Senior Blue and White sources acknowledge the impossibility of forming a center-left government of 61 MKs, but are now aiming for a more modest achievement: beating the Likud by a larger number of mandates than in the September election, to give it greater legitimacy as the leading political party in the country, and affording it greater credibility as the only party able to form a government. If Blue and White can beat the Likud, not just by the one seat it did in the last election, but by three or four seats, it could bring greater pressure to bear on Shas and New Right to abandon the right wing, given public loathing for fourth elections. It might even bring about greater pressure on Netanyahu from within the Likud to stand down as head of the party and pave the way for a Blue and White, Likud unity government. Alternatively, Blue and White could try to claim a popular mandate based on its plurality of the Jewish vote to form a minority government supported externally by the Arab parties, just to overcome the political stalemate that the overwhelming majority of the country is sick to death with. The most realistic way for Blue and White to get more voters at this stage is on the Right, since its positions on security issues and the conflict with the Palestinians are considered right-wing, and left-wing voters are more likely to stick with Meretz-Labor. WHAT, THEN, is the partys strategy for boosting the number of votes it receives in March?The first aspect of its strategy is the population segments it is targeting. Among those are disillusioned, moderate Likud voters, the kind of people who identify with the Likuds founding as a Revisionist Zionist party, are socially and economically liberal, hawkish on security and the Palestinians, but put off by Netanyahu and his shift to the populist Right, as well as his criminal indictments. Then there are young Russian-speaking voters, the second generation of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are also hawkish on security issues, secular in their outlook and resentful of the state religious establishment that repeatedly insults and scorns them. Moderate religious-Zionist voters, those who are also politically right-wing but socially liberal and put off by the radicalism and conservatism of the hard-line segment of the community and its political leadership, are another target for Blue and White. Two other population groups mentioned as possible sources of more votes are the Arab sector and the Ethiopian Jewish community. There are not large numbers of swing votes available in any of these groups, but if Blue and White can peel off a segment of each group from the parties they traditionally vote for, then it may have a chance to boost its total Knesset seats tally further above the Likud. And each target population may be amenable to a different message.Moderate religious Zionists may be persuaded to leave the right-wing bloc by the state-oriented attitude of Blue and Whites religious-Zionist MKs, which the party has juxtaposed to the increasing radicalism of the hard-line politicians of the religious-Zionist parties, one of whom says he wants a state based on Jewish law, and another who said he wanted to take a bulldozer to the Supreme Court.Disillusioned Likud voters may be swayed by messaging about Netanyahus alleged corruption, and Russian-speaking voters by Blue and Whites pledges on boosting the healthcare system.Blue and Whites recent heavy focus on the failings afflicting the health service is based on the idea that voters may be swayed to change their political allegiance based on problems they might have experienced in their daily lives. And it is hoped that the very fact that Blue and White has a manifesto detailing its different policy positions and objectives, and that it is talking about real issues affecting the public, will contrast with the Likuds continued failure to produce a similar party platform and discuss everyday concerns of the electorate.One final gambit that Blue and White has in store in the final days of the election campaign is to make a push for left-wing voters, appealing simply to their desire to remove Netanyahu from office. By arguing that this will be possible only if Blue and White defeats the Likud by as big a margin of Knesset seats as possible, Gantzs party may be able to gain a few more thousand votes in this way as well. Ultimately, the number of potential swing voters out there who may switch sides to Blue and White remains very small, and the party will be hard pressed to improve on its previous two results. But its ability to break the countrys political logjam in its favor does appear dependent on whether it can mop up the wavering voters from the marginal segments of the populations varied sectoral divisions.

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How Blue and White tries to break the cycle of electoral purgatory - The Jerusalem Post

The Illusion of Genetic Romance – Scientific American

Posted By on February 16, 2020

Genetic matchmaking is entering the mainstream. The prospect of meeting and selecting potential romantic partners based upon purported DNA compatibilityuntil very recently the subject of science fiction from films like The Perfect 46 to independently published romances by Clarissa Lakehas increasingly garnered both scientific and commercial attention. Earlier this year, Nozze, a well-established Japanese dating service, established a DNA Matching Course and hosted a related DNA Matching Party, both first-time offerings in that nation. For 86,400 yen ($790), men are paired with prospective dates based upon 16,000 variations in HLA gene complexes.

Nozze joins a market commercializing the science of attraction that already includes Swiss pioneer GenePartner, Houston-based Pheramor and services that combine genetic and non-genetic profiles like Instant Chemistry and SingldOut. Considerable media attention has been devoted to investigating the science behind these services; unfortunately, both the ethical and sociological implications have received relatively short shrift.

The underlying science itself is hardly convincing. Since the 1970s, researchers have found that variations in the genes of the major histocompatability complex (MHC) play a role in mate selection in mice. Similar patterns have subsequently been found in fish, pheasants and bats, but not in sheep. The possibility that MHC plays a role in human mate selection first arose as a result of a well-known experiment by Swiss biologist Claus Wedekind that is colloquially known as the sweaty T-shirt study. Researchers had men wear T-shirts for extended periods of time before placing the shirts in boxes; then they had women sniff the shirts to rate the former wearers sexual attractiveness. They found an inverse correlation between MHC similarity and attraction score.

Since that time, studies in human beings have yielded mixed results. The most persuasive data come from an investigation of Hutterite couples in North America who appear to display nonrandom MHC assorted mating preferences. But this correlationgiving genetic matchmaking the benefit of the doubtestablishes at most a natural preference, and a natural preference is a far cry from connubial compatibility. To our knowledge, nobody has actually surveyed married Hutterite couples to determine whether MHC compatibility plays a role in their levels of marital bliss, or the quality of their dinner conversation, or the frequency of their escapades between the sheets. On a more global scale, no data have yet established a relationship between MHC compatibility and lower divorce rates.

One must ask precisely what we mean by compatibility. At the most fundamental level, couples with MHC-dissimilarity (and thus more so-called mating compatibility) demonstrate lower rates of spontaneous abortion. The dissimilarity may also increase genetic polymorphism, which in turn may lower the manifestation of recessive diseases. However, the impact of MHC-dissimilarity on either of these phenomena is likely to prove relatively small, and therefore should not be expected to play a significant role in the marital happiness or cohesion of many couples.

In addition, genetic polymorphism may help species survive environmental challengesyet evolutionary advantage is probably not a major variable that most couples consider when seeking romantic bliss. One cannot also ignore the unknowns: Matching couples based on MHC markers may pose some survival benefits, but nobody knows at what cost; it is theoretically possible that the offspring of such couples are also more aggressive or less creative, just to name two traits arbitrarilyand magnifying these effects artificially might prove significantly deleterious to our civilization in the long run.

Harvard geneticist George Church has championed another version of compatibility. Using whole genome sequencing, he hopes to match couples so as to reduce or eliminate many recessively inherited diseases. In Ashkenazi populations, the Committee for Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases (better known as Dor Yeshorim) already uses a voluntary testing and matching system to prevent disorders such as Tay-Sachs, Canavan and Niemann-Pick. Church hopes to implement a variation of this program for couples everywhere, claiming it could end some 7,000 genetic diseases and save 50 million lives a year.

The ethical implications of Churchs proposal are complex. If couples are encouraged to use his pairing system, then those who find love outside the realm of genetic matchmaking and produce offspring with genetic disorders may be unfairly stigmatized. At a more practical level, even if the elimination of recessive illnesses is a social good, it is clearly not the sort of compatibility most daters seek in a matchmaking service.

When most people speak of romantic compatibility, the odds are that they mean factors like temperament, tastes and interests. To date, no study has connected these with any genetic variable. MHC-dissimilarity is as likely to lead to partners with temperamental and aesthetic difference as to those with similarities. Ironically, even compatibility appears to have minimal impact on satisfaction in relationships. Multiple studies have shown that universal traits such as kindness, rather than similarities, are the keys to marital happiness.

Genetic matchmaking reflects two concerning trends in modern society. The first is the pandemic loneliness and search for connection that has arisen in the wake of the breakdown of traditional community structures. To use a metaphor first introduced by political scientist Robert Putnam, we are a society bowling alone. We are increasingly willing to shell out a few hundred dollars or a few thousand yen for anything that smacks of a cure.

Genetic matchmaking also manifests the misguided belief that science can solve all of our problems. Unfortunately, we cannot discover, pay or invent our way out of our isolation. Science may ultimately provide tools that help us rebuild societal cohesion, but without meaningful changes in social policy and human behavior, science alone has little to offer. In this case, the science in question is, at best, being misusedand arguably not science at all.

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The Illusion of Genetic Romance - Scientific American

Rivlin leads initiative against bullying on social media – Arutz Sheva

Posted By on February 16, 2020

President Reuven Rivlin participated this morning, Sunday, in the launch of the the #__ (DontStandBy) initiative at Beit HaNasi in Jerusalem. Director-General of the Ministry of Education Shmuel Abuav and Director-General of the Ministry of Public Security Maj Gen (ret) Moshe (Chico) Edri also participated in the event and spoke about the work of their ministries in this field, as well as young influencers on social media who are taking part in the initiative and heads of organizations and youth movements dealing with children and young people.

Noa Kirel was the host of the press conference and singer Agam Buhbut performed her song Little Girl. Other participants include Omer Hazan, Stephane, Ofek Adanek, Luai Ali, Reef Neeman, Kim Or Azulay, Kevin Rubin, Shiran Sendel, Karin and Ariel Kleinberg and Dennis. Others involved in the initiative and who posted tips and advice include Netta Barzilai, Yael Shelbia, Tom Aviv, Anna Zak, Mergi, Nevo Amrani, Moti Taka, Liel Eli, Titi Eyenew. Maayan Ashkenazi, Orel Tsabari, Gal Zehavi, Maggie Tabibi, KatriX, Max and Noa Cohen.

The initiative, in partnership with the Ministry of Educations psychological-counselling service, includes a range of activities on social media using the hashtag #__ (DontStandBy)

The story of a kid who has to bear such great pain is the story of many children, too many, said the president. Not because social exclusion and bullying are new, but because the digital age we live in has brought new ways to harm and abuse.

I am proud to see who is with us here today educators, influencers and opinion-formers, young people who have decided to pick up the gauntlet and say enough is enough. We will not stand by. We will not stand by, because even if it is not the easy thing to do, it is the right thing to do. We do not stand by. And next time we see a hurtful response near us or online, we will speak up against it, report it to the app, a parent or a teacher.

"We do not stand by, and if we see someone who is bearing the pain of abuse or exclusion, we will go up to them and say, Im with you. We will remember, always, how it felt to be on the other side, the one who was hurt, and will think about how we want others to treat us. Verbal violence kills. It kills childrens dreams and hopes every day and has already claimed the lives of children who did not find a way out of the suffering and ended their own lives. We have all come across cases of verbal aggression and violence. And when I say all of us, I mean myself as well. I also get violent responses on social media and even though I am a grown up, it is still hard. We must not allow this to become routine. We must not stand by when we come across behavior like this, even if it is not aimed directly at us. Let us promise today, together, all of us, to save lives and not to stand by!

Director-General of the Ministry of Public Security Maj Gen (ret) Moshe (Chico) Edri: The complex reality and the rapidly developing world of technology dictate the need for this initiative, which aims to get those who stand by the silent majority to take a stance, to do something and not to be silent any more when it comes to exclusion and bullying of children and young people. The National Child Online Protection Bureau, established by Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan MK, is a unique, innovative and ground-breaking body at the international level, and is a partnership between the Ministry of Internal Security, Israel Police, and the Ministries of Education, Social Welfare, Health and Justice. This is a civil-law enforcement body which aims to increase online personal security and to protect children and young people on social media. In a world first, police and civilians are working together in a single national bureau.

Director-General of the Ministry of Education Shmuel Abuav: To be an Israeli citizen and to be a graduate of the Israeli education system is to be a person with values and mutual concern. A person with a sense of justice, who works for the good of the whole and for society at large. A person who promotes mutual responsibility and does not stand by. As educators, we ask Israeli schoolchildren have you witnessed other students being harmed? Has one of your friends been bullied? They cannot stay silent. Report, talk, stop. Do not allow it to pass you by. It is in your hands.

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Rivlin leads initiative against bullying on social media - Arutz Sheva

Jewish bakeries on the rise in the Bay Area – San Francisco Chronicle

Posted By on February 16, 2020

Sam Tobis never intended to open a Jewish bakery.

The New York native moved to the Bay Area 12 years ago to attend UC Berkeley. Like many other Cal grads, he stayed. And even though he hadnt joined a synagogue or felt particularly tied to Jewish life, he gradually felt a longing: for the Jewish foods that seemed ubiquitous in New York, for the connection to his roots.

In 2017, with no real baking experience, Tobis purchased Grand Bakery in Oakland, a long-running kosher bakery that had closed several months earlier.

It was a combination of nostalgia and insanity, he says.

Nostalgia for New York, for Israel is behind a number of new or recently reopened Jewish bakeries in the Bay Area. They take many forms: a kosher bagel shop in Berkeley inspired by New York legend H&H Bagels; a bread bakery in San Leandro that makes unusually dark, shiny loaves of challah; a home kitchen in Santa Clara that delivers stretchy Yemeni flatbreads.

For many of these bakers, food was a second career something they just had to do.

Theres nothing like food from your home country, said Doreet Jehassi, who started the Malawah Bar last year. Its going back to your roots and enjoying the comfort foods.

Jehassi, who is Yemenite Israeli American, quit her tech job to start her delivery-only bakery out of her Santa Clara home. It takes 18 hours to make the doughs for her two signature items: jachnun and malawah. Both require stints of rolling out the dough; adding a thin film of fat; and folding, resting and repeating until many layers form, all techniques she learned from her mom.

Jehassi estimates that 85% of her clientele is Israeli or Jewish people already familiar with these Yemeni specialties. But other bakers are finding a much wider audience.

At Emily Winstons Boichik Bagels in Berkeley, long lines form daily for her chewy, malty bagels. In the last year, Iliana Berkowitz has quadrupled her wholesale accounts for San Leandros As Kneaded Bakery, a purveyor of stellar challah and bialys and also pointy baguettes and custardy porridge loaves. Ayelet Nuchi, who recently closed her 1-year-old Palo Alto bakery Babka by Ayelet but plans to reopen soon in Los Altos, was surprised to see her yeasted Jewish cakes become a hit with the Asian community.

Babka by Ayelet currently only taking online orders is the only American bakery Nuchi knows of to focus on babka. While most bakers just make chocolate or cinnamon babka, Nuchi creates unusual renditions like halvah, raspberry-cheese and Nutella.

Each loaf starts with a buttery broiche-like dough infused with orange zest and vanilla bean. Its rolled super-thin and spread with a thick layer of filling a recent experiment saw almond cream with slivered almonds and lots of orange zest before getting twisted and baked. The result is stunningly layered and more moist than the breadier versions made elsewhere.

You take the tradition and you upgrade it, she said.

Nuchi remembers that when she moved from Israel to the Bay Area 20 years ago, she was unable to find much Jewish food at all. A turning point was certainly the 2012 arrival of Wise Sons Deli, which proved there was huge unmet demand for Jewish eats in the Bay Area, a region with 350,000 Jews the fourth-highest concentration in the country. Now, Wise Sons pastrami on house-made rye, bagel sandwiches and classic sweets like babka and rugelach are available across six locations, including one in Japan not to mention Wise Sons farmers market stands and growing wholesale business.

Nuchi and Jehassi say theyve noticed more Israelis these days in the Bay Area, too, drawn to Silicon Valley after working in Tel Avivs booming tech sector. That trend coincides with the soaring popularity of Israeli food in the United States a product in part of Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghis bestselling cookbooks like Jerusalem and Plenty that introduced many Americans to the wonders of zaatar and tahini. Last year, Zahav, an Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia, won the countrys biggest food industry honor: the James Beard Award for outstanding restaurant.

Israeli restaurants have been opening in droves, such as Sababa, which has two San Francisco locations, and Orens Hummus, which has five restaurants in the Bay Area.

Its easy to see why Israeli food has taken ahold of San Francisco. Isaac Yosef, owner of San Franciscos Israeli and kosher Frena Bakery, noted its light and vegetable-forward two traits Bay Area diners have been wanting more of. It also tends to be vegan-friendly 60% of Frenas menu is incidentally vegan.

And thanks to the domestic rise in Israeli cuisine which draws from the traditions of Jews who migrated to Israel from North Africa, Yemen, Ethiopia, Syria, Turkey and other countries non-Jewish Americans are increasingly aware of the immense diversity of Jewish food. Its not just challah and black-and-white cookies.

Israel is a melting pot of food. It doesnt matter where you are from, there you are going to eat Yemeni food and cook Moroccan food, Yosef said.

Sure, customers still wander into Frena and ask why there arent bagels and lox. But as soon as Yosef explains Frena is Sephardic Jewish that is, from the Mediterranean as opposed to the Ashkenazi Jewish culture from Eastern Europe those customers quickly understand and order one of Frenas burekas, flaky Turkish pastries stuffed with cheese, or sambusaks, pita-like pockets baked in a brick oven.

At Oaklands Grand Bakery, Tobis has been working to subtly evolve the 60-year-old legacy business. He recently added bagels as well as house-cured gravlax, though the staple items of challah, hamentashen and coconut macaroons remain prominent fixtures. Grand Bakery is solely a wholesale operation, but Tobis likes the idea of opening a cafe one day it could expose Grand Bakery to more people beyond its core customer base of Jewish moms and rabbis.

As Kneaded Bakery

585 Victoria Court, San Leandro. 510-924-7490 or http://www.askneadedbakery.com. Chewy bialys, with a center full of onions and poppy seeds, can only be found at the retail bakery, which opened in 2018. But As Kneaded also supplies many Bay Area grocery stores with gorgeous, crusty loaves of many types of bread. Fair warning: The challah is only sold Fridays and Saturdays.

Babka by Ayelet

http://www.babkabyayelet.com. The Palo Alto bakery closed in January after roughly a year, but its rich, moist babkas in different sizes and different flavors including chocolate, halva and Nutella are still available for online orders and delivery throughout the Bay Area. A new brick-and-mortar is planned for Los Altos.

Boichik Bagels

3170 College Ave., Berkeley. 510-858-5189 or http://www.boichikbagels.com. The lines havent ceased since Boichik opened in late 2019. Fans say the bagels really taste like they were made in New York a comment that rarely follows other Bay Area bagel spots. Most customers walk off with a bagged dozen or two, and there are also sandwiches loaded with lox, whitefish salad and more from this kosher shop.

Daily Driver

2535 Third St., San Francisco. 415-852-3535 or http://www.dailydriver.com. Handsome, New York-style bagels are the ideal vehicle for Daily Drivers excellent cultured butter and cream cheeses. The original location a stunning, enormous operation opened in the Dogpatch in 2019, while a kiosk in the Ferry Building followed earlier this year.

Frena Bakery

132 Sixth St., San Francisco. 628-444-3666 or http://www.frenabakery.com. Modeled after an Israeli bakery, Frena debuted in 2016 with a focus on savory breads and pastries as opposed to sweets. Try stuffed puff pastries known as bourekas or one of the lunch-appropriate pockets, filled with options such as slow-cooked chickpeas or feta and olives.

Grand Bakery

510-465-1110 or http://www.grandbakeryoakland.com. Reopened in 2017 as a strictly wholesale operation, Oaklands Grand Bakery supplies more than 40 Bay Area stores with kosher treats like hamentashen, honey cakes and macaroons as well as bagels. Its best known for pillowy challah. Look for products at Berkeley Bowl, Draegers Market, Mollie Stones and some Safeway stores.

The Malawah Bar

http://www.themalawahbar.com. A delivery-only bakery started last year out of the owners Santa Clara home, the Malawah Bar specializes in Yemenite-Israeli breads, including jachnun, a slow-cooked layered bread; kubaneh, a pull-apart yeasted bread; and lachuh, a spongy pancake. Dont miss the namesake malawah, which is flaky, stretchy and puffs up beautifully in a frying pan. Delivery is available throughout the Bay Area.

Janelle Bitker

On a personal level, running Grand Bakery gives Tobis a stronger sense of Jewish identity. Purim is coming up, and hes excited to make thousands of hamentashen, the triangle-shape pastries filled with jam that symbolize evil Hamans hat or ear, or pocket, depending on whom you ask. (Purim celebrates the Jewish people being saved from Haman.) Regardless, Judaism is manifested in its traditional foods: the round challah for Rosh Hashanah, the latkes and sufganiyot fried in oil for Hanukkah.

One of the things I love about being a Jewish bakery, Tobis said, is making these foods that are meaningful.

Janelle Bitker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: janelle.bitker@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @janellebitker

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Slamdance 2020: Tahara – Solzy at the Movies

Posted By on February 16, 2020

Tahara focuses on pair of young Jewish women who are grieving the loss of their Hebrew school classmate following a suicide.

Carrie Lowstein (Madeline Grey DeFreece) and Hannah Rosen (Rachel Sennott) are best friends. When we first meet them in Tahara, they are Hebrew school classmate Samantha Goldsteins funeral. Following this, they attend a session run by Moreh Klein (Bernadette Quigley) allowing for them to learn the Judaic teachings on grief. Its a film that runs short of 80 minutes so theres not enough here as far as Talmudic teachings are concerned. It would certainly be interesting to see what the film could do with a longer running time.

Tahara seamlessly weaves between live-action and animated footage with a distinct difference in the aspect ratio. The latter gets wide-screen treatment while the live-action footage is depicted by way of a 1:1 square. The younger generations are constantly living life on their cell phones so this makes for a bold yet interesting choice. This choice definitely makes it more experimental in nature.

For non-Jewish readers, the film takes its title from the Jewish purification ritual of cleansing the body prior to burial. This ritual takes its root in the Book of Kohelet 5:14. Its a ritual performed by the funeral director and staff or the chevra kadisha (holy society). The more you know!

Having grown up with a Jewish education and inside Jewish synagogues, it can be very easy to nitpick even the small things. Granted, Ive also grown even more observant over the years so I hope you can see where I am coming from. Appropriately, theres a lot of Hebrew in the film and the actors have a good grasp of it. If youre not familiar with the denominations within Judaism, the use of Siddur Sim Shalom means that the film takes place within a Conservative synagogue.

For all that I have to be critical about in the film, there is a lot to enjoy about this film. Within the Jewish community of late, there has been a lot of dialogue when it comes to racism. We see this by an increase of police in Jewish neighborhoods at the expense of the People of Color living in the neighborhood. On top of this, there are Jews of Color who are constantly having their Jewish credentials questioned. Lets be honestthis isnt fair and people should do better. The fact that Carrie Lowstein is a Jew of Colorlet alone in the LGBTQ communitymay be a cinematic first. Its a breakthrough in Jewish representation because Jews of Color do exist but are so often ignored when it comes to the stories told on screen.

Lets hope more films follow Taharas lead when it comes to representing people who reside outside of the largely white-passing Ashkenazi Jewish community.

DIRECTOR: Olivia PeaceSCREENWRITER: Jess ZeidmanCAST: Madeline Grey DeFreece, Rachel Sennott, Daniel Taveras, Joe Burns, Shlomit Azoulay, Bernadette Quigley, Lynne Taylor, Jenny Lester, Keith Weiss, Martin Leubitz, Ellie Anthony, Melissa Juliet Lawson, Rachel Wender

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Slamdance 2020: Tahara - Solzy at the Movies

What is Zionism? – Vox

Posted By on February 16, 2020

Zionism is Israels national ideology. Zionists believe Judaism is a nationality as well as a religion, and that Jews deserve their own state in their ancestral homeland, Israel, in the same way the French people deserve France or the Chinese people should have China. Its what brought Jews back to Israel in the first place, and also at the heart of what concerns Arabs and Palestinians about the Israeli state.

Jews often trace their nationhood back to the biblical kingdoms of David and Solomon, circa 950 BC. Modern Zionism, building on the longstanding Jewish yearning for a return to Zion, began in the 19th century right about the time that nationalism started to rise in Europe. A secular Austrian-Jewish journalist, Theodor Herzl, was the first to turn rumblings of Jewish nationalism into an international movement around 1896.

Herzl witnessed brutal European anti-Semitism firsthand, and became convinced the Jewish people could never survive outside of a country of their own. He wrote essays and organized meetings that spurred mass Jewish emigration from Europe to whats now Israel/Palestine. Before Herzl, about 20,000 Jews lived there; by the time Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, the number was about eight times that.

Though Zionists all agree that Israel should exist, theyve long disagreed on what its government should look like. In the most general terms, the Zionist left, which dominated the countrys politics until the late 1970s, is inclined to trade Israeli-controlled land for peace with Arab nations, wants more government intervention in the economy, and prefers a secular government over a religious one. The Zionist right, which currently enjoys commanding positions in the Israeli government and popular opinion, tends to be more skeptical of land-for-peace deals, more libertarian on the economy, and more comfortable mixing religion and politics.

Arabs and Palestinians generally oppose Zionism, as the explicitly Jewish character of the Israeli state means that Jews have privileges that others dont. For instance, any Jew anywhere in the world can become an Israeli citizen, a right not extended to any other class of person. Arabs, then, often see Zionism as a species of colonialism and racism aimed at appropriating Palestinian land and systematically disenfranchising the Palestinians that remain. Arab states actually pushed through a UN General Assembly resolution labeling Zionism a form of racism and racial discrimination in 1975, though it was repealed 16 years later.

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