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The thrill of genetic genealogical discoveries should be tempered by ethical concerns – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on December 4, 2019

In these times of alarming disregard for scientific data (were talking to you, climate change deniers), lets hear it for science, specifically the astonishing gains made in the field of genetics and genetic testing.

Our three-part Past Lives series highlights the extraordinary resources now readily available to anyone curious about their family ancestry. Easy access to family records on the internet and the mapping of the human genome allows us to peer into our genetic past to learn more about who we are. And we can do both kinds of research from the comfort of our own homes.

For Jews, this has been a blessing for the most part. Unlike those Americans descended from Western European populations who can turn to comprehensive written archives, such as baptismal and marriage records, most Ashkenazi Jews like African Americans and Hispanic Americans lack the paper trail to trace their ancestry back further than a few generations.

Now, with the evolution of genetic testing, we can pinpoint to a remarkable degree of precision the composition of our ethnicity and where we came from. And all it takes is a simple cheek swab.

For some, discovering Jewish roots opens the door to new connections and layers of spiritual meaning.

As our stories show, this technology is about more than percentages and places on the map. For some, discovering the very existence of Jewish roots is a personal marvel, opening the door to new connections and layers of spiritual meaning.

However, as with any technology, ethical concerns run rampant.

Are we now as a global kehillah to rely on DNA test results as a proving ground for belonging to the Jewish people? What about those who convert to Judaism and might hail from different backgrounds? When their DNA pie chart comes back with zero percent Jewishness, does that mean they are any less Jewish?

Though matrilineal descent long ago enshrined a genetic aspect to Judaism, have we not seen enough of eugenics, racism, white nationalism and hate-fueled violence to check a rush to embrace anything that smacks of genetic purity?

These concerns have come to the forefront in Israel, where for the past two years the Chief Rabbinate has been using genetic testing to confirm the Jewishness of immigrants from the former Soviet Union seeking marriage licenses, in cases where the applicants dont have sufficient documentation of their status. Dozens of young couples, and their close relatives, have been humiliated in this way, and the practice is now being challenged before Israels High Court, brought there by the largely immigrant Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Scientific discoveries often involve thorny ethical questions. They must be faced openly.

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The thrill of genetic genealogical discoveries should be tempered by ethical concerns - The Jewish News of Northern California

Rare Disease Q&A: What Rare Diseases Are and Why That Matters – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Posted By on December 4, 2019

Berkeley Lab bioscientists Nomi Harris and Chris Mungall at the Aquatic Park Office. (Credit: Laurent-Philippe Albou/Berkeley Lab)

Rare diseases are rare, right? Not as rare as you might think. As much as 10% of the population is thought to have a rare disease. Unfortunately, due to a lack of understanding, many rare diseases remain very difficult to diagnose and treat.

Inspired by the enormous unmet needs of people with rare diseases, a group of scientists from across the globe has teamed up to develop open-access tools and resources for sharing disease characteristics and treatment information. The research is centered around an artificial intelligence-enabled catalog of disease descriptions called Mondo, which, like a Wikipedia for rare diseases, can be added to and improved by the scientific and medical community.

In a recent commentary in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, the group explained how agreeing on precise definitions of each rare disease can lead to more accurate diagnoses and better treatments. They also shared results from a preliminary analysis that suggests that the number of different rare diseases may be higher than previously estimated.

The project team, led by Melissa Haendel of Oregon Health & Science University, and Tudor Oprea of the University of New Mexico, includes Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers Chris Mungall, Nomi Harris, Deepak Unni, and Marcin Joachimiak. We spoke with Chris and Nomi about the project and why they are participating in it.

How do we decide what qualifies as a rare disease?

Nomi: Theres no single definition of rare disease because it depends on which region or group youre talking about. In the U.S., a rare disease is legally defined as one that affects fewer than 200,000 people; in the EU, a rare disease is one that affects fewer than 1 in 2,000 people. Some diseases are rare in some groups but common in others for example, Tay-Sachs disease is rare in the general population, but much more common in Ashkenazi Jews, and tuberculosis is rare in the U.S. but is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

All of us almost certainly know someone who has a rare disease, though they may be undiagnosed.

How are the current systems or protocols for classifying rare diseases translating into problems in patient care?

(Credit: iStock/marchmeena29)

Nomi: To diagnose and treat a disease, we need to know how to define and characterize the disease. For common diseases, there are many cases to observe, so we have a pretty good idea of what that disease looks like what the symptoms are, how to test for it, how to treat it. For rare diseases, there may be only scattered information maybe one physician in South America has seen a case, and one researcher in China, but they arent sharing their information, so we dont have a complete picture of what that disease looks like. And if we cant precisely define a disease, then its hard to reliably diagnose it, and even harder to treat it optimally.

Our preliminary analysis, included in the commentary, suggests that the number of rare diseases may be higher than we thought maybe around 10,000 different diseases, rather than the 5,000-7,000 that has previously been estimated. That means that distinct rare diseases (for example, different varieties of thyroid cancer) have probably been lumped together, when there might be different subtypes that benefit from different treatments.

What needs to be done to improve and expedite rare disease research, diagnosis, and treatment?

Chris: As Nomi mentioned, its hard to come up with the best treatment for a disease if youre not even sure what exactly that disease looks like, or if it is confused with a similar disease. To address this, our team is working to catalog the whole landscape of rare diseases. Were bringing together separate efforts in rare disease research, and developing computational tools to help experts come up with a precise definition for each rare disease. We developed a new artificial intelligence algorithm that helps disambiguate and unify the disease definitions from different databases and reference sources. We call this unified set of disease definitions Mondo, from the Italian word for world, because it brings together information from all over the world.

To accelerate this important work, we hope that funding and regulatory agencies, patient advocacy groups, and biomedical researchers will join together to support a coordinated effort to build a complete catalog of rare diseases.

How can Berkeley Lab play a role in this effort?

Chris: Berkeley Lab has been at the forefront of efforts to establish standards for representing and sharing biomedical data. My specialty is ontologies, which are like specialized vocabularies for precisely describing a class of things, such as symptoms, diseases, biochemical processes, or even entire ecological systems. One of the most widely used ontologies in biological science, the Gene Ontology, was launched by a team that included several Berkeley Lab researchers. My group has helped to build many other important biomedical ontologies, including Mondo, and we write computational tools to help others build, use, and expand ontologies.

There are many advantages to engaging in this type of work at Berkeley Lab, including the presence of leading researchers in computer science, biology, and other relevant fields, and also a commitment to open science meaning that anyone in the world is free to not only use the resources we develop, but also to contribute to them. When were attacking a big problem like accurately defining all rare diseases, we can use all the help we can get!

Berkeley Lab is a great place to engage in this research, but I also want to recognize the key contributions of our talented Mondo collaborators at Oregon State University, the Jackson Laboratory, the European Bioinformatics Institute, and many others.

What motivated you both, personally, to join this project?

Chris: One of my main areas of research is characterizing and interpreting regions of the genome using ontologies. Many rare diseases are Mendelian, which means the cause of the disease can be traced back to changes within or affecting parts of the genome. Other rare diseases may be environmental, or a mixture of environmental and genetic, and Im very interested in how the environment influences the health of complex organisms like humans. This led to the creation of Mondo as a way to annotate genomes and environments. My role was developing the algorithms that used different kinds of reasoning to bring together multiple sources of information and organize it coherently.

Nomi: My masters thesis involved applying artificial intelligence techniques to predict the risk of inheriting genetic disorders. After that, I worked for years on bioinformatics projects that didnt directly relate to human health. I was excited to have a chance to get back into the medical realm and contribute to a project that we hope will ultimately help to improve the prospects of those with rare diseases.

# # #

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams,Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratoryand its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Labs facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energys Office of Science.

DOEs Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please

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Rare Disease Q&A: What Rare Diseases Are and Why That Matters - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Geneaology ‘mavens’ go old-school to uncover Jewish past – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on December 4, 2019

Final part of three-part PAST LIVES series on Jewish genealogical research.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Sam Ginsburg sat in a library with a mess of papers scattered in front of him. He was looking for an uncle he had never met, and who was most likely dead.

He had little information besides the mans nameMorris Cooperand an address, found in a 1950s New York City directory: 477 FDR Drive. He knew it was the right Morris Cooper, because he matched the address to a wedding invitation for a second cousins wedding. And he also knew Morris family had originally come from Slutsk, Belarus, and that their last name had likely been Cooperman at some point.

But thats all he knew.

So he turned to the mavensvolunteers with the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society who gather once a month at the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco for brainstorming sessions.

Im a little overwhelmed trying to figure out who he was, Ginsburg said. Theres a million Morris Coopers.

At-home DNA testing, which has doubled in usage each year since 2017, and popular television shows like Finding Your Roots on PBS and Who Do You Think You Are? on TLC, demonstrate our growing fascination with, and yearning for, finding clear and convincing evidence of where we come from not simply relying on fading memories and family lore.

For Jews comfortably ensconced in the United States, the improbable life stories of the people who once bore their surnames can feel remote. What is shtetl life to someone in San Francisco? Can we imagine a life lived under threat of a pogrom?

Moreover, many Jewish legacies are not as easily traced as, say, those of Mayflower descendants. Few records were kept in the Russian Pale of Settlement, the center of European Jewish life until the early 20th century. And surnames were rare among Ashkenazi Jews, who used patronymic names roughly until the 19th century.

And yet, the centuries-old struggle of European Jewry to survive makes the drive for Jews to uncover their familial past just as strong as it is in the general public maybe even stronger.

As technology races ahead, a few dozen Bay Area genealogists are still using old-fashioned resources to dive deep into the past, and are surfacing with vital information: resources like ocean-liner passenger lists, newspaper classified ads, Ellis Island arrival records and century-old census data (much of it, thankfully, categorized online, with more being added every year).

Some are members of the S.F. Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, a registered nonprofit that first met officially on Aug. 4, 1981, in the community room at a bank. At the meeting, according to its minutes (society members are nothing if not diligent record-keepers), secretary Peter Tannen volunteered to computerize the mailing list on his Apple II personal computer. Dues were set at $10 a year.

Four decades later, the SFBAJGS is still meeting every month, still sending delegates to national conferences and still producing a quarterly journal, titled ZichronNote (a pun on the Hebrew word for memories). The annual membership fee has inched up to $23.

We exist as an organization to support individuals, to get people thinking, said Jeremy Frankel, a London-born former mapmaker who has served as SFBAJGS president since 2001. Frankels wife, Victoria Fisch, is the president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento.

Frankel described genealogical research as like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but without the box-top picture. As a maven society members prefer it to the word expert hes confident that with a bit of time and effort, most American Jews can find information about their forebears.

I suspect with a bit of work anybody can research their family probably to about 1800, he said. Then it gets challenging.

On the first or second Sunday of each month, SFBAJGS volunteers hold drop-in sessions at the Jewish Community Library in the Western Addition, called Brainstorming with the Mavens. The next session will be held on Dec. 8.

Some attendees come to find a long-lost cousin, or to get to the bottom of a family mystery. Most, though, want to know more about their family tree and where they came from and seek help overcoming brick walls in their research.

The drop-in sessions are organized by the library, though SFBAJGS members are vital participants.

The society is one of about 60 similar American genealogy networks scattered all over the country, all member organizations of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. The IAJGS also has member groups in far-flung places including Australia, Israel, Europe and Jamaica.

The SFBAJGS also hosts speakers and presentations on topics like American Jewish kinship clubs or the Jews of Shanghai. In recent years, members have volunteered to transcribe about 35,000 Bay Area cemetery records into an online database: the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry. The JOWBR represents an effort to document all extant Jewish cemetery and burial records, worldwide.

This goal may never be fully achieved, the SFBAJGS website says, but the results to date represent an amazing resource for all genealogists.

Frankel, who remembers the day 34 years ago when he first became fascinated by Jewish genealogy, is poised to lead the SFBAJGS into its 40th year in 2021, and beyond.

Were very fortunate, he said of accomplished society members like Judy Baston, Ron Arons, Robinn Magid and others. Anyone who joins has access to some of the top minds in the field.

After spending 14 years as a cartographer in the U.K., Frankel moved to the U.S. in 1987. He would go on to lead canal tours in upstate New York, and ultimately wrote a book on the subject: 1991s New York State Canal Guide.

One of the most important things to understand about genealogical research, Frankel says: Its a challenge. And it requires creative thinking.

I suspect with a bit of work anybody can research their family probably to about 1800. Then it gets challenging.

For example, say youre looking for your great-grandfather in the 1920 census, Frankel said. His age could be wrong. His first name could be wrong. He may have a heavy accent. People were mishearing and not writing down names correctly.

You have to look at it as a mathematical problem: How do I minimize errors?

The session Ginsburg attended was led by Baston, a former journalist and 27-year library volunteer, whose areas of mavenhood are Poland and Lithuania. In 2015, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the IAJGS, at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

Baston often says that the world of Jewish genealogy changed for good in the early 1990s.

Two things happened at the same time, she explained. One was the growth of the internet. The other was the fall of the Iron Curtain.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, archives that were previously locked behind byzantine regulations and state-imposed secrecy (in Poland and Lithuania, in particular) became accessible to the general public for the first time. And organizations such as Jewish Records Indexing Poland and the Litvak Special Interest Group invested time and money building searchable, online databases, which now offer around 8 million searchable records with more added every few months, according to JRI-Poland.

Baston advises those searching for Eastern European Jews to use Jewish Gen or JRI-Poland rather than, a company with ties to the Mormon Church whose records are scant, she said.

As to Ginsburg, the man looking for his uncle, the mavens, as usual, started with what they knew.

So he was sent a wedding invitation. Did he go to the wedding? Baston asked.

The bride didnt know who he was, Ginsburg replied. And she has since died.

Im just wondering if anybody had pictures, Baston said. Back then, people often sent photographs by mail to distant relatives, with notes written on the back.

That never occurred to me, Ginsburg said.

Leave no stone unturned, Baston intoned.

Another maven, Steve Harris, weighed in. A professional genealogist specializing in New York City records, Harris has a psychology Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

You know he was living [on FDR Drive] in the 50s, Harris said. Which eliminates the census. Unless he was also living there in 1940.

Since the U.S. Census only releases individual-level data after 72 years pass, person-specific information from 1950 wont become available until 2022.

But Harris had another thought.

He would have been roughly the correct age for what was called the World War II Old Mans Draft, he said. It was for people who were born in about 1870 to 1890, roughly.

Using while sitting in the library, Harris searched and found 27 people with the name Morris Cooper who had filled out these draft registration cards. Each bore an address.

I dont have time to go through all 27, Harris said.

But Ginsburg called that number reasonable and was eager to begin combing through them for clues.

Earlier that day, Baston reflected on why she spends so much time and effort on genealogical research. She was addressing, specifically, past controversies involving the Mormon Church in which it became clear that members of the church were posthumously baptizing Jews, including Holocaust survivors, using their vast troves of genealogical records.

Some people say, Why does it matter? she said, of the posthumous Baptisms. Well, to me it matters. Its historical falsification.

Then she asked a rhetorical question: Why do I do this?

I dont really do it for other researchers. I do this for the dead people. So that they will be remembered, and found, she said. People should be remembered as accurately as possible.

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Geneaology 'mavens' go old-school to uncover Jewish past - The Jewish News of Northern California

How to Host the Best Hanukkah Feast Ever – 5280 | The Denver Magazine

Posted By on December 4, 2019

AshKara chef Daniel Asher shares his Middle Eastern-inspired recipes for latkes, lamb, doughnuts, and more.

For Daniel Asher, Hanukkah is synonymous with his mothers cooking. My mom is amazing in the kitchen, says Asher, the chef at year-old Middle Easterninspired restaurant AshKara in LoHi. And Hanukkah was always a time when she would embrace her love of feeding us with reckless abandon. But reminiscing about childhood holidays is bittersweet for Asher these days: His brilliant, hard-working father, Maximo, died in August. The only times when my father would pause and be present were when we were at the table, Asher says. Hanukkah has always symbolized a time when we were together and connected. So, despite the increased levels of activity that restaurants (and their chefs) experience at this time of year, Asher makes sure to commune with his familyhis wife, Steph; their children, Fletcher, Judah, Morgan, and Tulsiand friends around the table during the Jewish Festival of Lights (December 22 to 30). Below, he shares a menu of lamb, latkes, carrots, jam-filled doughnuts, and more, based on the meals that his mother, Sheila, prepared when he was growing upenhanced with the contemporary Middle Eastern flavors Asher is known for. Food is my mothers love language, Asher says, and it became mine, too.

Click here for Daniel Ashers first-person story on what Hanukkah means to him now, in the wake of his fathers passing.

(A shopping list and meal prep timeline appear after the recipes.)

For me, the spirit of Judaismand the basic principle of being a thoughtful humanis about taking care of one another, Asher says. Feeding the ones he loves is part of that ethos. No Hanukkah table is complete without latkes, enjoyed here (above, from left) by Levi and Mason Dinar, sons of Ashers restaurant partner Josh Dinar, and Ashers son Judah. Ashers mother always made latkes traditionally, with potatoes and onions, but Ashers root-vegetable pancakes are what he imagines shed have made if she let loose. If there are latke leftovers, use them as the base for a Benedict the next morning, reheating the pancakes in a low oven.

Makes about 20 3-inch-wide latkes

4 medium waxy red potatoes1 medium sweet onion, halved through the root and peeled1 small beet, peeled small zucchini, trimmed and peeled small fennel bulb, cored small sweet potato, peeled2 Tbs. sea salt, plus more to tasteGrapeseed or rice bran oil, for frying2 large eggs, beaten2 tsp. herbes de Provence1 Tbs. all-purpose flourApple butterCrme frache

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Kugel, an Ashkenazi noodle dish (sometimes sweet, sometimes not), is a mainstay on Hanukkah menus; Sheila, Ashers mother, typically made hers sweet. Ashers version is a mix of styles, with sugar, cottage cheese, ricotta, milk, and raisins adding creamy sweetness and spices, including the Moroccan blend ras al hanout, lending a savory note.

Serves 8

6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the panSea salt12 oz. wide egg noodles2 cups whole milk, at room temperature1 cups full-fat cottage cheese, at room temperature cup whole-milk ricotta, at room temperature4 large eggs, at room temperature cup granulated sugar3 Tbs. ras el hanout spice blend1 Tbs. Madras curry powder1 cup raisins

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My mom would begin cooking for Hanukkah a week ahead of time, Asher says, and Id help her. It was always a feast, combining my dads Eastern European favorites, traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dishes, and a bit of a Sephardic influence, as well. Roasted carrots were a staple at their celebrations, but here, the chef channels a popular AshKara menu item by adding ginger, coriander, pink peppercorns, and a saffron yogurt sauce.

Serves 6 to 8

For the yogurt sauce:1 medium lemon6 saffron threads1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt cup chopped fresh cilantro1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsleySea saltFor the carrots:3 Tbs. olive oil1 Tbs. crushed coriander seeds1 Tbs. sea salt1 tsp. crushed pink peppercorns1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced8 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and cut into large chunksTo serve:2 Tbs. wildflower honey2 Tbs. pea shoots (optional)

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Ashers mother braised a beef brisket for every Hanukkah meal he can recall, but for this menu, he put a Colorado spin on the dish by marinating a local leg of lamb and then braising it in pomegranate juice, red wine, and tamari. Root vegetables, mushrooms, and dried fruits cook with the lamb, giving the resulting jus a rich, complex flavor. You can repurpose leftover jus as the base for stew or nontraditional French onion soup.

Serves 8 to 10

6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil cup stone-ground mustard10 medium cloves garlic, minced2 Tbs. fennel seeds2 Tbs. dried mint2 Tbs. light brown sugar2 Tbs. ground cumin2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper2 tsp. zaatar1 large sprig rosemary, leaves picked and choppedSea salt6 lbs. boneless leg of lamb, tied2 Tbs. unsalted butter1 medium sweet onion, peeled and diced12 baby turnips, trimmed and halved6 assorted mushrooms, stemmed and coarsely chopped1 large parsnip, peeled and diced small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced4 cups chicken or vegetable stock1 cup dry red wine1 cup pomegranate juice cup tamari18 dried mission figs14 dried apricots12 pitted prunes cup dried currants2 dried bay leaves

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This colorful dessert salad, drizzled with creamy tahini and flavored with fragrant orange blossom water, is an homage to Ashers father, Maximo, who snacked on fresh fruit every night after dinner while drinking a cup of chamomile tea. Asher recommends buying orange blossom water at Arash International Market in Denver or Mediterranean Market & Deli in Boulder. Leftover fruit salad is delicious for up to two days.

Serves 8 to 10; yields about 14 cups

4 small oranges (navel, blood, or a combination)1 small pineapple1 medium, ripe melon (honeydew, cantaloupe, Harper, or muskmelon)1 lb. red grapes2 cups blackberries1 Tbs. orange blossom water cup fresh mint leaves, sliced into thin ribbons cup tahini

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Jam-filled fried doughnuts, or sufganiyot, are a Festival of Lights classic that represent the miracle of the oil. When Asher was young, he helped his mother fry doughnuts; today, six-year-old Judah is in the kitchen with his father. Cooking with my mom for Hanukkah was all about the joy of the family being together, Asher says. Now, its a time for me to be present and to cook forand withmy family. For me, cooking is the greatest expression of care for others. Take note that the doughnut dough needs to be prepared a day ahead of frying. Feel free to use any jam or jelly flavor you like, but Asher recommends Denver-based RedCampers whiskey-peach or blueberry-gin.

Makes 8 to 10 doughnuts

cup whole milk, at room temperature3 Tbs. granulated sugar2 tsp. active dry yeast1 large egg, plus 1 yolk3 Tbs. sour cream tsp. ground cinnamon tsp. sea salt tsp. vanilla bean paste or tsp. pure vanilla extractZest from medium blood orange plus 3 Tbs. juice12 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for rollingGrapeseed or rice bran oil1 to 1 cups jam or jellyPowdered sugar

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A savvy host like Asher knows that a make-ahead punch recipe (courtesy of AshKara) and drink-mixing assistance free him up to complete last-minute kitchen tasks such as frying latkes and carving lamb. This citrus-and-spice-scented Miracle Punch is named for the Jewish story in which a small quantity of oil, used to light a menorah in Jerusalems holy temple, lasted for eight days instead of one. The fragrant base for this festive punch is oleo saccharum, a syrup of citrus peels and sugar that bartenders use to unlock the essential oils in the fruit. You can make the oleo saccharum up to 1 week ahead, but the punch base is best made within a day of serving.

Serves 12

For the oleo saccharum:2 medium lemons2 large oranges1 cup granulated sugarFor the punch base:2 black tea bags1 cup (8 oz.) boiling water3 oz. Greek Mastiha liqueurTo serve:Pebble ice1 cups (12 oz.) brandyChampagne or sparkling wine12 star anise pods

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(Note: Daniel Asher recommends buying organic produce, dairy, and proteins whenever possible.)

Fresh Produce2 large, 1 medium, and 4 small oranges (navel, blood, or a combination)3 medium lemons1 small pineapple1 medium, ripe melon (honeydew, cantaloupe, Harper, or muskmelon)1 lb. red grapes2 cups blackberries8 large carrots, preferably multicolored4 medium waxy red potatoes12 baby turnips6 mushrooms (button, cremini, shiitake, or a combination)1 large parsnip2 medium sweet onions1 small zucchini1 small butternut squash1 small fennel bulb1 small sweet potato1 small beet10 medium cloves garlic1 sprig rosemary1 small bunch fresh cilantro1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley1 small bunch fresh mint1-inch piece fresh ginger2 Tbs. pea shoots (optional)

Meat & Dairy6 lbs. boneless leg of lamb, tied1 qt. whole milk1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt (8 oz.)3 Tbs. sour cream1 cups full-fat cottage cheese (12 oz.) cup whole-milk ricotta (6 oz.)Crme frache2 sticks unsalted butter

Other Groceries4 black tea bags cup tahini1 Tbs. orange blossom water1 qt. chicken or vegetable stock1 cup dry red wine1 cup pomegranate juice cup tamari18 dried mission figs14 dried apricots12 pitted whole prunes cup dried currants2 dried bay leaves cup stone-ground mustard2 Tbs. wildflower honey12 oz. wide egg noodles2 Tbs. light brown sugar6 saffron threads2 Tbs. ground cumin2 tsp. zaatar (available at Marczyk Fine Foods and Middle Eastern markets)2 Tbs. fennel seeds2 Tbs. dried mint (available at Marczyk Fine Foods and Middle Eastern markets)1 Tbs. coriander seeds1 tsp. pink peppercorns2 tsp. herbes de Provence3 Tbs. ras el hanout spice blend (available at Marczyk Fine Foods and Middle Eastern markets)1 Tbs. Madras curry powder10 whole star anise1 cup raisins (5 oz.)1 jar apple butter (preferably Ela Family Farms brand, available at Marczyk Fine Foods or package active dry yeast8 large eggs, preferably cage-free1 to 1 cups jam or jelly (preferably RedCamper whiskey-peach or blueberry-gin, available at Marczyk Fine Foods or bean paste or pure vanilla extract5 oz. Greek mastiha liqueur10 oz. brandy1 bottle ChampagneOlive oil (preferably extra-virgin)All-purpose flourGranulated sugarPowdered sugarGround cinnamonGrapeseed or rice bran oilSea salt (preferably Jacobsen kosher sea salt, available at Whole Foods Market and Marczyk Fine Foods)Black peppercorns

Specialty Equipment/ToolsRolling pinCheesecloth or thin kitchen towel9-by-13-inch baking dish3-inch ring mold or cookie cutterCandy thermometerPastry bagLarge, round piping tip

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Up to 1 week ahead:

1 day ahead:

5 hours ahead:

4 hours ahead:

3 hours ahead:

2 hours ahead:

1 hour ahead:

As guests arrive:

Just before dinner:

30 minutes before dessert:

Just before dessert:

Denise Mickelsen oversees all of 5280s food-related coverage, and feels damn lucky to do so. Follow her on Instagram @DeniseMickelsen.

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How to Host the Best Hanukkah Feast Ever - 5280 | The Denver Magazine

What Is Genetic Testing? The Complete WIRED Guide – WIRED

Posted By on December 4, 2019

As these clinical tests became more common, scientists were also busy trying to drill deeper into the substance of DNA, the chemical structure of which had only been deciphered in 1953 by James Watson, Francis Crick, and Rosalind Franklin. Over the next few decades, scientists would come to understand that its helix-shaped pattern of paired basesadenine, thymine, cytosine, and guaninefunctioned like letters, spelling out words that a cell would decode into amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. They would also begin to realize that most of the human genomeabout 98 percentdoesnt actually code for proteins. In the '70s, junk DNA became the popularized term for these nonfunctional sections.

Not long after, in 1984, a British geneticist named Alec Jeffreys stumbled upon a use for all that so-called junk DNA: crime-fighting. In these regions of the genome, the DNA molecule tends to duplicate itself, like its stuttering over the same word over and over again. Scientists can capture and count these stutters, known as short tandem repeats. And because the number of STRs a person has at various locations is unique to them, they can be used to build a personally identifiable profile, or DNA fingerprint.

Genetic Testing Glossary

GenotypingTesting technology, often chip-based, that generates a partial list of your unique genetic differences.

Whole-genome sequencingA method used to determine the exact sequence of your entire genome, all 6.4 billion letters.

Whole-exome sequencingA method used to determine the exact sequence of the protein-coding portion of your genome, comprising about 22,000 genes.

Coverage/DepthA measure of how many times a DNA sequence has been proofread. 30X average depth of coverage is the benchmark of a high-quality sequence.

VariantA generic term referring to places in someones genome that differ from a reference genome

Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP)A variant defined by a single letter change

Polygenic Score (PGS)An algorithm that adds up the effects of multiple variants to predict the likelihood of a physical or behavioral trait based on your DNA.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)A method for testing IVF embryos for genetic defects prior to starting a pregnancy.

Non-Invasive Prenatal TestingA method for screening a fetus for certain genetic disorders by testing the mothers blood. Confirming a diagnosis requires more invasive procedures.

Carrier ScreenA test used to find out if you carry any genes for disorders that you could pass on to your children.

Short Tandem Repeat (STR)A pattern of repeating sequences in the noncoding part of your genome used in forensic DNA testing

CODISA national database of genetic profiles collected from criminals and crime scenes, maintained by the US government.

In 1987, this technique was used for the first time in a police investigation, leading to the arrest and conviction of Colin Pitchfork for the rape and murder of two young women in the UK. That same year, Tommie Lee Andrews, who raped and stabbed to death a woman in Florida, became the first person in the US to be convicted as a result of DNA evidence. Since then, forensic DNA testing has put millions of criminals behind bars. In 1994, Congress signed the DNA Identification Act, giving the US Federal Bureau of Investigation authority to maintain a national database of genetic profiles collected from criminal offenders. As of September 2019, this database, known as CODIS, contains DNA from nearly 14 million people convicted of crimes, as well as 3.7 million arrestees, and 973,000 samples gathered at crime scenes.

Throughout the '80s and '90s, while cops were rushing to use DNA to catch rapists and murderers, geneticists were slowly doing detective work of their own. By linking health records, family pedigrees, disease registries, and STR locations and lengths, scientific sleuths painstakingly began to map traits onto chromosomes, eventually identifying the genes responsible for a number of inherited conditions, including Huntingtons disease, cystic fibrosis, and sickle-cell anemia. These diseases linked to single genes, so-called monogenic conditions, are basically binaryif you have the genetic mutation youre almost certain to develop the disease. And once the sequences for these faulty genes were revealed, it wasnt too hard to test for their presence. All you had to do was design a probea single strand of DNA attached to a signal molecule, that would send out a fluorescent burst or some other chemical flare when it found its matching sequence.

As the new millennium approached, companies were beginning to pilot such tests in various clinical settings, i.e. with a doctors order. That included testing amniotic fluid as part of prenatal screening, testing the blood of prospective parents (whats known as carrier screening), and testing the cells of embryos created by in vitro fertilization, in a process called pre-implantation diagnosis. These tests were expensive and targeted only at people with family histories of so-called monogenic diseases. Developing tests to assess a healthy persons risk of developing more complex conditions caused by the interaction of multiple genesthings like heart disease, diabetes, and cancerwould require a more detailed map of human DNA than the fragmented picture scientists had so far decoded. Luckily, that was just around the corner.

In 2000, a rough draft of the human genome sequence was made freely available online, followed three years later by a more complete, high-resolution version. With it, scientists and engineers now had enough information to load up chips with not one or two DNA probes but thousands, even hundreds of thousands. These microarrays made it possible to simultaneously scan a persons genome for thousands of SNPs, or single nucleotide polymorphismssingle changes in the arrangement of DNA letters that make people unique. These SNPs, or variants as theyre alternatively known, can be tallied up to rank a persons susceptibility to various illnesses.

And because this SNP snapshot technology, known as genotyping, could be done much cheaper than full sequencingin 2006 it cost $1,000 as opposed to $1 million for a full-genome scanit launched not only a new wave of research but a new industry: direct-to-consumer DNA testing.

Starting in the mid-2000s, dozens of companies began selling people a new genetic experience that didnt have to take place in a doctors office. They would take a sample of your DNAa few laboriously salivated milliliters of drool sent through the mailscan it, and peer into your ancestral past as well as forecast your genetic future. In the early days, these tests could provide only a limited amount of information. And many companies went under while waiting for researchers to amass more knowledge about the links between certain genes and human traits. But one deep-pocketed Silicon Valley startup weathered the creeping adoption curve (and a spat with the US Food and Drug Administration) to become synonymous with the retail genomics business: 23andMe.

Today though, as costs sink even further and the internet makes the exchange of cheek cells for genetic insights virtually frictionless, 23andMe again has plenty of competition. A recent study identified nearly 250 companies offering DNA tests that people can buy online. Most of these are tests for disease predisposition, ancestry, and paternity. But others offer biological inheritance as infotainmenttests offering matchmaking services, predicting childrens talents, recommending the right diet, or even identifying wines you might be genetically inclined to enjoy.

Customers should be aware though, that many of these recreational tests offer results with little relationship to realitythe science is still just too premature to be truly predictive for most complicated traits. They might be fun, but dont take them too seriously. (And if you care about genetic privacy, dont take them at all!) Even the more medically focused tests, like 23andMes health reports, should be taken with a grain of salt. Its testing formula for breast cancer risk, for example, is built around just three genetic variants in the BRCA genes, common in Ashkenazi Jewish populations and known to be associated with cancer. But there are thousands of other variants in those genes that can also raise your risk of breast cancer. Its just that 23andMes DNA chip isnt set up to capture them. In other words, a clean bill of health from 23andMe shouldnt be taken as definitive. The company emphasizes that its tests are probability readings, theyre not meant to be diagnostic. So if anything does come up, you still have to go see a doctor for confirmatory clinical testing.

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What Is Genetic Testing? The Complete WIRED Guide - WIRED

She wanted to discover her Jewish roots. She ended up finding her biological father. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on December 4, 2019

Part two of our three-part PAST LIVES series on Jewish genealogical research. Part three will be available tomorrow.

Kimberley Schroder was 15 years old when she finally got some details about her biological father.

Born through in vitro fertilization via a sperm donor, she found out he had been a UC Berkeley graduate student studying biology. He was from the East Coast. He was also Caucasian of Jewish extraction.

This information, discovered around 2002, would spark a decade-and-a-half journey for Schroder in discovering her religious and genealogical connections to Judaism, culminating most recently in a face-to-face meeting with her biological father.

Schroder, now 32, has spent most of her life in Lafayette. She currently works for Better Place Forests, a natural alternative to cemeteries in which a loved ones ashes are spread amongst nature.

Schroder, who says her parents used a sperm donor because her mother had trouble getting pregnant, described her childhood as very secular. The whole concept of religion was foreign to me, she said. But Schroder, whose parents divorced when she was 3, does remember going to church with her cousins an experience that left her curious but unsatisfied.

I would enjoy going to church as a cultural immersion project, Schroder said. I didnt believe every word the priest was saying, but I found some universal meaning. But it didnt feel like mine.

After finding out her biological father was Jewish, Schroder said, I slowly started to dunk my toes into Jewish identity. At Cornell University, where she studied environmental science as an undergrad, a Jewish bone-marrow donation group came to campus and asked for a cheek swab; perhaps she could be a match for someone who needed a transplant.

This was a big moment for Schroder. A thing that is specifically Jewish applied directly and undeniably to me, she said.

And those moments kept coming.

After graduating from Cornell in 2010, she moved to Canticle Farm, a 24-person urban farm and living community in Oakland, where a housemate began inviting her to Shabbat dinners.

There was something about these dinners that did feel like mine, she said. I was like, Is my DNA activating? There was something about these Hebrew songs and sounds and the rituals that I really liked and that resonated with me that I had never experienced before.

In 2015, with a former Jewish boyfriend in tow, Schroder started going to musical Friday night Shabbat services at Temple Sinai in Oakland. The time she spent there pushed her to look for a more permanent Jewish community, which she found in 2017 when she joined a womens Rosh Hodesh circle in Berkeley. This year, she got involved with Wilderness Torah, a Berkeley-based nonprofit that promotes Earth-based Judaism.

As Schroder continued building her Jewish community and practice, she wanted to understand where her family was from. Four months ago, she ordered a 23andMe DNA kit, which provides an analysis of a persons genetic background. It also connects them with relatives who have used 23andMe and are in the companys fast-growing database.

When Schroders results came back, it said her ancestry was 49.9 percent Ashkenazi Jewish.

But the results gave her more than that. Her biological father had also done a 23andMe test, and he had opted in to be connected to other relatives.

Boom! There he is! Schroder said in recalling the moment his name popped up on her screen. It went from so big and far away to a concrete, real person.

She messaged him through 23andMe, and he responded a month later. He had made other sperm donations, he told her, but she was the first of his offspring to reach out.

Its this interesting dynamic of I know you, but I dont know you.

As the two continued to message each other, Schroder said that she could feel a visceral connection to him. I understand how his brain works, she said. His asides, how he goes on tangents. The way he closes threads and brings up information. Because my brain does the same thing. Its this interesting dynamic of I know you, but I dont know you.

With services like 23andMe becoming more popular, finding a surprise relative is also becoming more common. In the first of our Past Lives series, Portland resident Jennifer Ortiz was caught off guard when she found out from a DNA kit that her biological father was a Jewish man who lived in San Francisco.

Schroder met her biological father earlier this month when he was in San Jose for business. They spoke at a restaurant for four hours, sharing each others life stories. He shared that he lived in Portland with his wife and two kids. (He declined an interview request from J.)

He was super excited to meet me, Schroder said. He was a nice warm guy. It just felt validating. It felt like I got a sense of peace around it.

Now Schroder is thinking of either converting to Judaism or having an adult bat mitzvah. She has approached Jewish Gateways, a Berkeley-based organization that helps people discover Judaism regardless of their background. Rabbi Bridget Wynne, the agencys executive director, said she has heard many stories similar to Schroders. She said that it shows why an open and inclusive Jewish community, rather than a rigid and exclusive one, is so needed.

This discovery opens up a lot of questions, Wynne said of Schroders journey. I think its so important to find ways to help make people feel welcome. From my point of view, if they want to be Jewish, they have the right to explore and make a decision. I encourage people to not let other people say they arent Jewish.

Eva Orbuch, organizer of the Rosh Hodesh circle Schroder is part of, says she has seen Schroder go through a transformation. She was more uncertain before about who she was and her identity, Orbuch said. Now I see her owning Jewish spaces. Ive noticed a little more confidence and willingness to go in [to these spaces].

Orbuch said that Schroder is a pillar of the circles community.

She gathers people together. She shows up willing to be vulnerable and share herself. She is a seeker.

Its belonging, Schroder said simply. But its also a connection to something greater that feels authentic and personal to me. I can see my sense of self in time a little bit more.

Schroder said she now wants to do a pilgrimage to the countries 23andMe said her ancestors were from.

Shortly after Schroder met her biological father in San Jose, she sent him a text that read, I just wanted to express again how grateful and elated I am to have met up with you I didnt quite know what to expect and it turns out youre a sweet guy that I enjoy connecting with.

He responded with the same candor: Although I was not able to share in your wonderful upbringing for the first 32 years I hope to witness more of the next 64 years and beyond.

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She wanted to discover her Jewish roots. She ended up finding her biological father. - The Jewish News of Northern California

Russian prosecutors seek arrest of US rabbi in fight over Jewish manuscripts – The Times of Israel

Posted By on December 3, 2019

JTA Escalating the legal dispute between Russia and the United States over the Schneerson collection of Jewish texts, prosecutors in Moscow sought an arrest warrant for an American rabbi.

The request for an international arrest warrant against Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber Levine, the director and curator at the Central Chabad-Lubavitch Research Library, was reported on Wednesday by the news site MK. He is wanted for failing to return cultural property to Russia.

According to the report, the move is connected to seven manuscripts from the Schneerson library, a historic collection of 12,000 books and 50,000 documents named for Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, who led the Chabad Hasidic movement until his death in 1950.

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Russias state archive is holding the collection inside the Jewish Museum of Moscow. In 2013, a US judge ordered Russia to pay $50,000 a day in fines for failing to honor a 2010 ruling by the US District Court in Washington, DC, to hand over to the New York-based movement the entire library.

But Russia insists the library is part of its national heritage. In 2014, a Russian court demanded that the US Library of Congress hand back seven precious Jewish texts to Moscow and, in a tit-for-tat ruling, said it should pay a massive fine for every day it delays.

The request for an arrest warrant is over those seven books, which Chabad loaned in 1991 to the Library of Congress, MK reported.

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Russian prosecutors seek arrest of US rabbi in fight over Jewish manuscripts - The Times of Israel

Morton Klein: 107 Democrats Are Wrong About Judea and Samaria – Breitbart

Posted By on December 3, 2019

Today, 450,000 Jews live in the heart of the Jewish homeland in Israels Judea and Samaria regions the holy land where Jewish people lived and prayed for thousands of years.

Judea/Samaria is where Abraham purchased a burial cave and surrounding lands; where the Maccabees fought off foreign invaders and Hellenists; where the shepherd David tended his flock, was anointed king, and first established his kingdom; and where Hebrons ancient Jewish community lived for centuries, until Arabs massacred the Jewish community in 1929. It is where the Jewish people planted the fields and cultivated its spiritual heritage.

It was thus a great moment last month when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo affirmed the truth: that Jewish towns and communities, a.k.a. settlements, in the Jewish homelands of Judea and Samaria are not illegal under international law, and arenotan obstacle to peace.

Secretary Pompeos statement was widely praised in Israel, including by both major political parties, and by Israels strongest U.S. friends such as our organization, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

But almost half of the House Democrats, 107 of them, sent a perfidious, Israelophobic letter, demanding that Secretary Pompeo should reverse the his simple statement of the legal truth.

The 107 Democrats falsely claimed that it is illegal for Jewish people to live, work, pray, have businesses, and study in Judea and Samaria.They ignored Judea/Samarias long Jewish history, U.S. treaty obligations, and additional binding international treaties and doctrines guaranteeing the Jewish peoples unequivocal rights to settle these lands under international law, including:

Further,the fundamental, well-established, clear border-determination international law rule, calleduti possidetis juris,entitles new countries, including the reestablished state of Israel, to the borders of the preceding top-level administrative mandated territory namely, the British Mandate, including Judea/Samaria and Jerusalem.

Moreover, the settlement of Judea and Samaria doesnotviolatethe Fourth Geneva Convention.Instead of examining or even mentioning any of the applicable international law, the 107 Democrats anti-Israel Letter wrongly labeled Judea/Samaria occupied Palestinian territory, and falsely and absurdly claimed that Jewish settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention an inapplicable document aimed at the Nazis extermination and slave-labor policies.

The Fourth Geneva Convention also hasnoapplication to Jewish communities/settlements in Judea/Samaria, because: (1) the Palestinian Authority never signed the Convention; (2) the Convention only concerns forcible population transfers, and thus does not apply to Jewsvoluntarilyreturning to parts of the Jewish homeland; (3) the Convention has never been interpreted to prevent voluntary population moves; (4) the Convention only applies to occupying powers who occupy another states sovereign land and Israel isnot an occupying power because it has the sovereign right to Judea/Samaria; and (5) there was never a sovereign Palestinian Arab state in Judea/Samaria (or anywhere else).

The 107 Democrats attempt to use the Fourth Geneva Convention to ethnically cleanse Jews from Judea/Samaria is particularly pernicious, because it is the polar opposite of the Conventions purpose.

The late renowned international law professorJulius Stonestated that it would be historically incorrect, ironic, absurd and tyrannical to claim that Article 49(6), designed to prevent repetition of Nazi-type genocidal policies of rendering Nazi metropolitan territories judenrein [devoid of Jews], has now come to mean that. . . the West Bank [Judea/Samaria] . . . must be made judenrein and must be so maintained, if necessary by the use of force by the government of Israel against its own inhabitants.

Finally, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are not an obstacle to peace. The 107 Democrats anti-Israel Letter also promoted a so-called two-state solution a euphemism for eliminating Jewish communities and creating a Hamas-Fatah-Hezbollah-Iranian-proxy-Palestinian-Arab terror state on Israels sovereign land. Such a state would be the real obstacle to peace,because it would place every Israeli within rocket range.

The real obstacles to peace are also that the Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to preach hatred and violence towards Jews in every conceivable venue (schools, media, mosques, sports teams, etc.); pays stipends to jailed terrorists and the families of dead terrorists; and seeks to annihilate the Jewish state and her people. The PA has turned down generous offers of a Palestinian Arab state multiple times, to avoid giving up its genocidal goal of completely destroying Israel.

The 107 Democrats Anti-Israel Letter also had the gall to invoke the term human rights while demanding that the Jewish people should be denied their most basic lawful human right to live in the Jewish homeland.

To borrow phrasing from the great former Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then serving as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the infamous 1975 Zionism is racism debate, the 107 Democrats lie that Jews are illegal occupiers of lands to which the Jewish people have the sovereign legal right is simply todays new justification for excluding and persecuting Jews and is an abuse of the language of human rights.

Morton Klein is the National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).Elizabeth Berney, Esq. is ZOAs Director of Special Projects.

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Morton Klein: 107 Democrats Are Wrong About Judea and Samaria - Breitbart

The Case for Progressive Zionism – lareviewofbooks

Posted By on December 3, 2019

DECEMBER 1, 2019

WHEN I WAS a seventh grader in Queens, New York, an entire unit of social studies class was devoted to Israel. I remember reverently tracing the map of the young Jewish state. Its creation story was inspiring: the Jewish nation rose like a phoenix from the ashes of genocide. I had recently learned from my parents that these ashes included their families, killed in Treblinka and Auschwitz.

The year was 1960. I was 13, a transplant to America from the Displaced Persons camp in Germany in which I was born and that served as home for my first four years. Israel was the antidote to my familys history of despair. Zionists were the visionaries and pioneers who gave birth to the Land of Milk and Honey and made the desert bloom noble warriors who fought and won the battle for Israel against its surrounding enemies.

Sixty years later, this narrative has been largely erased and replaced. Zionism has become a dirty word synonymous with racism, apartheid, and oppression; the white Europeans who established an outpost of Western colonialism in a land belonging exclusively to dark-skinned Arabs. Jewish settlers in Palestine have been cast as imperialists in a land to which they have no moral claim.

How did this story change so drastically? In a word: occupation. Six million dead in the Holocaust made Jews the worlds greatest victims, deserving of their own state as an antidote to a history of genocidal persecution. But as the memory of the Holocaust faded, and especially after the 1967 War of self-defense resulting in the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, this story flipped. The victims became the victors. Palestinians languishing in refugee camps drew the worlds sympathies.

The occupation has been a disaster for Palestinians. The relentless expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank, balkanization of Palestinian land, denial of water rights, and daily indignities suffered by Palestinians have made their struggle a legitimate cause for justice-seeking progressives. Over the years, Israel has continued to expand its settlements with an eye toward geographical growth and border security. Like the Arab and Muslim nations that could not tolerate a Jewish state in their midst in 1948, Israels current leadership can no longer tolerate the idea of a truly independent Palestinian state.

At the same time, the occupation, for many progressives today, refers not to 1967 but to 1948. The demonization of Israel has gathered steam over the years and is the backbone of the PC brand of antisemitic anti-Zionism that flourishes today, in which the ancient animosity toward Jews as a race has been transposed to Israel as a nation.

Hence, an important question for leftists. In the context of Israeli military domination and West Bank expansionism, can a legitimate case be made for a progressive Zionism?

For anyone who believes that Jewish nationalism is as defensible as any other nationalism, the answer is yes, but a complicated yes. Defending Zionism without condemning the occupation and supporting a Palestinian state is untenable. But so too is supporting the Palestinian struggle for statehood without condemning the antisemitic elements of Nazi-influenced Arab nationalism and its existential threat to Israel.For a vivid description of the latter, see The New York Times op-ed written by a Jewish student at George Washington University, On the Frontlines of Progressive Anti-Semitism.

Extremists on both sides have a lot in common. Just as extremist Israel supporters deny the validity of any criticism of Israel and dub it antisemitic, so extremist Palestinian supporters deny the validity of any support for Israel and call it racist. In the either/or framework of these partisans, there is no room for a viewpoint that is sympathetic to both Jews and Arabs. One must choose sides in a zero-sum game.

Whats been lost in all the heat on this subject is the simple truth that Zionism is a nationalist movement for Jewish liberation crossing a wide swath of other ideologies. Some of the first pioneers were socialists, for whom the dream of a Jewish state was synonymous with an end to all forms of economic and racial exploitation and oppression. Some were Jewish fundamentalists who believed that Eretz Yisrael had been promised to the ancient Israelites by God. Most were adamantly secular, insisting that Jews must reject their traditional Old Country passivity, arm themselves in their own country, and never again allow themselves to be rounded up for mass murder.

All agreed that if Jews had a nation of their own, where they werent subject to the laws and traditions of entrenched European antisemitism, they would be safe to live their lives as Jews. The Zionist aim was the ingathering of threatened diaspora Jews to the land in which they had a continuous presence from antiquity, a return to a cherished homeland.

It is this fundamental Zionist idea that many progressives have discredited and that should now be defended with the same passion as it was in 1948.

Given the alarming rise of antisemitism on the right, the left, and in Muslim immigrant communities in the United States and Europe, the defense of the original Zionist vision of Israel as a safe haven for the worlds Jews is more urgent now than at any time since the Holocaust era.

A neutral description of the 100-year clash between Jews and Arabs in Israel/Palestine is that of a war of competing nationalisms. A landless people persecuted, scapegoated, and expelled in their host countries, Jews were propelled to Zionism as a solution to the problem of antisemitism. Palestinians, in their own nationalist struggle against the British Empire, saw Jewish settlers as an alien European force in cahoots with the British, no different from any other white colonialists (a painful historical irony, considering that Jews were not considered white by the Nazis, most Jews in Israel are black Middle Eastern Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, and, far from being indistinguishable from the white British colonizers of the region, European Jews were also fighting the British for their own independent state).

Three wars, two intifadas, several failed attempts at peacemaking brokered by the United States, hundreds of attacks on Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists and suicide bombers and retaliatory attacks by the Israel military, six decades of the expanding occupation and of an ideological rumble that takes no prisoners none of these events have succeeded in substantially altering this long war.

Israel is the military victor, for now. But Palestinians have been the winner of the ongoing propaganda war. In social justice movements in the United States and Europe, the BDS movement to dismantle Israel and erect a binational state has become an article of faith. Some go so far as to declare that you cant be a real feminist, anti-racist, or progressive of any kind if you dont support the mutation of Israel. For Jews like me, the call to rub out the only Jewish nation in the world resounds with terrible echoes from the past.

Jewish nationalism or Palestinian nationalism which do you legitimize and which do you invalidate? Decades of vitriolic verbal war between partisans on both sides indicate that the answer often hinges on the unstated passions, prejudices, and fears that dictate a compulsive, non-empathic emotional attachment to our side. The more important question, not asked by extremists on either side, is: Why must this be an either/or choice?

Jewish nationalism is as legitimate as Palestinian or any other nationalism no more and no less. When all countries founded on the displacement of ethnic, religious, tribal, or native groups renounce their right to exist, Israel should be among them. Until then, the struggle for human rights must include the support for Jewish national survival alongside a Palestinian state not a binational state that would nullify Israel and invite a war of ethnic cleansing on both sides. Progressives should be able to call themselves Zionist without being shamed, shunned, attacked, and vilified, as they are on American campuses and in progressive circles here and abroad.

While there may be disagreements over strategy, progressive Zionism is a both/and perspective that calls for an end to West Bank expansionism and Palestinian terrorism. To be a progressive Zionist is to have the courage to challenge Israel to clean its house of racist policies toward Palestinians while also calling on anti-Zionists to clean up their antisemitism. It condemns both the racist leadership of Netanyahu as well as the incitements to anti-Israel violence from Hamas. It envisions Jerusalem as a shared capital of two nations.In a recent article in Jewish Currents, How to Fight Antisemitism, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders rejects the idea that there is an inherent contradiction between supporting both Israel and Palestinian independence.

This opens the door to coalitions of progressive Palestinians and Israelis as well as black, Muslim, and Jewish social activists that conjointly resist prejudice in all forms a badly needed antidote to the identity wars dividing the left and the nation. Progressive Zionists know that antisemitism and racism together are the core of white supremacist ideology. These connected bigotries split progressive forces, thereby feeding the rise of fascism here and abroad.

Progressive Zionists have persisted since the creation of Israel. I remember the rancorous struggles of 1970s New Leftists between those of us who demanded two states for two peoples, and those who wanted Israel to disappear. Today organizations like J Street, a progressive alternative to AIPAC in the Jewish community that is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, Tikkun magazine and its Network of Spiritual Progressives, and a host of other groups supporting Israeli/Palestinian unity have been continuous voices for sanity, solidarity, and peace.

A hopeful recent development began with the 2017 launch of Zioness, a group of feminist activists that spoke out against antisemitism in the Womens March leadership and other left demonstrations. Its mission is to empower Jews to be activists in the struggle to advance social, racial, economic, and gender justice in the United States without trying to hide their Jewishness or their Zionism. Its slogan sums it all up: Unabashedly Progressive. Unapologetically Zionist. You can indeed be both.

Miriam Greenspan is the author of A New Approach to Women and Therapy and Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair.

Banner image: Jerusalem Temple Mount view from Mount of Olives by brionv is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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The Case for Progressive Zionism - lareviewofbooks

Yoursay: Don’t blame all Jews for what the Zionists did – Malaysiakini

Posted By on December 3, 2019

YOURSAY | 'Herr Ambassador, I can well imagine how outraged you must be over this latest racism'

German embassy condemns UMS student's Nazi salute

Tidak Harapan: Adolf Hitler condemned the whole Jewish race and this was supported by other Germans.

On account of the biggest kleptocrat the world has known, does Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad condemn the Malay race for being prone to thievery?

It's as absurd as condemning the whole Jewish population for the racist deeds that some do, particularly certain Israeli politicians.

Gerard Lourdesamy: This Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) students Nazi salute is billed as freedom of expression, just like the case of the Universiti Malaya (UM) student.

But as in the case of the UM student, this UMS student should also be investigated by the police under Section 505 (b) and (c) of the Penal Code.

This will ensure that Article 8 of the Constitution on equality and equal treatment under the law is satisfied. There cannot be a different response just because one student was Chinese and the other, Malay.

And where is the condemnation from the royalty, political parties, NGOs, the so-called National Council of Professors and the UMS faculty, staff, alumni and student associations about this student's allegedly offensive, rude, provocative and uncouth behaviour?

Or is the silence because the hatred for the Jews and Israel is justified?

Anonymous_1544340881: When "Ibn Ruru", or whatever his real name, made the Nazi salute, he was glorifying the Holocaust that caused the deaths of six million Jews and millions of Slavs, gypsies and others.

When a certain UM graduate protested against the vice-chancellor (VC) of UM for racism, the reaction from the universities was so different.

Supporting the Holocaust of millions is just "a personal view" from our Malay Muslim elite but for condemning a racist VC, police reports were lodged and the graduate called to the police station to give a statement.

I would say more, but the facts speak for themselves how racist and religious bigotry have really taken hold among the elites of the Malay Muslim community.

Is it no surprise then that nothing has happened to the Umno Puteri leader who glorified a deranged Islamic State (IS) supporter as a "martyr" for killing an innocent unarmed woman?

Clever Voter: Such example is a bad repercussion of the one-sided propaganda of the present and past governments. There is also much hypocrisy in the way Jews are being portrayed, it is as if every Jew is a murderer.

Such behaviour shows a lack of understanding and ignorance among some individuals. It is obvious many are influenced and misled by the stereotyping perpetuated deliberately by the state.

If anyone wants to point finger at what happened at UMS, we should start with the tip, beginning with the prime minister.

Analyze This: This is yet another ignorant Mahathirs remark, "Who determined those numbers (of Jews killed in the Holocaust)"?

Extensive studies in the West, that's who:

1. Germany's own meticulous records.

2. A tabulation of thousands of survivors' witness accounts.

3. A comparison of the known Jewish population in European cities before and after 1939.

4. The Allies' independent investigations of the body count. They were the ones, after all, who liberated the death camps.

In addition, another five million "untermenschen" (subhumans) such as homosexuals, gypsies and communists were murdered.

Anonymous_1544340881: Guten tag (good day) to the German Embassy. If you by chance are reading this, let me say that I hold Germany with the highest esteem.

Germany, unlike Japan, has faced its history squarely in the eye and grown as a nation and people deserving the respect of the world in how it has dealt with its past failings. We have yet to deal with our May 13, 1969, incident.

You are a country blessed with a government with a generous heart. You allowed more than a million Muslim refugees into your country, provided them with lodging, jobs and healthcare.

We allow illegals and refugees in after they have paid money to the immigration and they can stay and work so long as they can bribe the right police and authority figures.

So, it is with sadness that I apologise to you for the following:

1. The low-quality graduates that we mass produce for the sake of producing to give the impression that we are somehow "highly educated" - when the said graduate does not know the history and background of the Nazi salute.

2. The dismal level of our politics where politicians will not do the right thing, but act based on race and religion, adopting Nazi rhetoric in their speeches based on the concept of "racial superiority".

3. The sub-standard public servants you will meet in your job here as we do not select the best or most competent to deal with you but those with the right race and religion and the right connections.

For your concern about this Nazi salute and its implications, I also apologise on behalf of our education minister.

At present, he is too busy to deal with this as he has more pressing matters to attend, such as insinuating that a person who makes a mistake with the national flag has betrayed the country and ensuring that we maintain our high education standards by wearing black shoes to school.

Vielen dank (thank you).

Vijay47: Herr Ambassador, I can well imagine how outraged you must be over this latest racism that certain members of Malaysian society feel they are obliged to display.

If you have been in Malaysia for at least a few months, you will realise that it comes with the turf, an attempt at proving oneself as a champion of race and religion. The local version is fast catching up with the bearded, imported breed.

I do not sanction such conduct, but perhaps you will also remember that the person in question is a product of a Malaysian university, which by itself would be self-exonerating evidence of acute deficit of wit and intelligence.

To add to his woes, he would have been guided by professors who are better known for imbecility in almost every field they dare to explore; no doubt in your stay here you would have witnessed numerous instances of such talent.

If they say the child is the father of man, the student concerned is merely walking that path so clearly set by the prime minister, who excels in giving vile expressions to his anti-Jew sentiments, all prettily dressed up as freedom of speech.

Should you expect action to be taken against this hero of a master race and compassionate religion, I would suggest that you closely watch the night skies. Condemnation can befall him only when you notice a bovine specimen jumping over the lunar landscape.

On the other hand, there is a greater chance that he would be sent to the United Kingdom, on a scholarship, to pursue a Masters degree in child pornography. Who knows, he might indeed visit Lords to watch England take on Australia for the Ashes.

That is, if said Ashes are not yet strewn over the English Channel or Hyde Park.

Muhibah 76: This has to be seen in the right context. Yes, it was a disgrace - and zero tolerance on this - that the Nazi regime committed those horrible crimes including the Holocaust. But you cant use that to justify the crimes against the Palestinians which Israel is responsible for.

The territory was ruled by the British and they allowed the Jews to settle there and form Israel. But instead of being thankful, they have made life hell on earth for the Palestinians.

All they have to do is accept Palestine as a country and live as good neighbours. But they, for reasons known only to them, do not want a peace treaty to allow for peaceful co-existence. This is the greatest farce on Earth, and supported by the US. This must stop.

The Fog of Life: Indeed, what is happening in Palestine are crimes against humanity and a long-term strategy of ethnic cleansing. We must abhor how the Palestinians are being treated by the Israeli government.

Equally, we must abhor what the Nazis did, not only to the Jews but to millions of other minorities during World War II.

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Yoursay: Don't blame all Jews for what the Zionists did - Malaysiakini

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