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Title: The Oral Law: The Rabbinic Contribution to Torah sheBe’al Peh – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Posted By on January 15, 2020

Photo Credit: Maggid Press

Title: The Oral Law: The Rabbinic Contribution to Torah sheBeal Peh Publisher: Maggid PressBy Rabbi Chaim H. Schimmel

Is there any value in trying to understand the origins and development of the Oral Torah? The Five Books of Moshe were dictated by G-d to Moshe and the remainder of the Bible was written by various prophets under inspiration. Where do the Mishnah and Talmud come from? More important than authorship of the great Jewish works is the origin of their laws and ideas. Does a committed Jew gain anything from exploring all that has been written on this subject?

Rebellious Jews have long rejected the Oral Torah, whether Sadducees, Karaites or otherwise. In response, great rabbis have addressed the history of the Oral Torah. For example, Rambam discusses the history, theology and technical details of the Oral Torah in his introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah and his classic halachic work, Mishneh Torah. Like others, Rambam had to work backwards in reconstructing this description.

The Mishnah and Gemara spare little room for methodical descriptions of the Oral Torah. The Mishnah focuses on laws and the Gemara adopts a style of free-flowing discussion rather than methodical progression. By doing so, the texts more effectively teach the ideas and methods of the Torah, engaging students in its direct study rather than talking about the Torahs background. Instead, we have piecemeal comments across rabbinic literature, by different rabbis living in different times and places. Unlike in later generations, at that time there was no need for a comprehensive catalog. As often occurs in Talmudic study, the puzzle pieces are put together slightly differently by various commentators.

In The Oral Law, Rabbi Chaim H. Schimmel summarizes the consensus approach based on Rambams writings and subsequent discussions. Originally published in 1971 with comments from Rav Simcha Wasserman, and extensively revised in 2019 with a new foreword by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, this book systematically explains the history and methods of the Oral Torah utilizing a combination of yeshiva-based texts, such as Rav Elchanan Wassermans Kovetz Shiurim, with moderate academic treatments of the subject, such as Prof. Chanoch Albecks Mavo Le-Mishnah.

Broadly speaking, the Written Torah was given in the Sinai Desert together with an Oral Torah that contains instructions on the details of the laws and additional laws and ideas not recorded in writing at that time. Throughout the subsequent centuries, both the Written and Oral Torahs were taught and observed. Additionally, methods to interpret the Written Torah (hermeneutic rules) were given together with the text, so the Sages could appropriately understand the sacred writings and most significantly deduce laws from the biblical words.

Here is where confusion arises and debate ensues. Sometimes the Sages decreed new laws rabbinic legislation. Sometimes they interpreted the text using the hermeneutic rules. The former is derabbanan, of rabbinic origin and not claimed to have come down to us from Sinai. The latter is deoraisa, biblical law. When the rabbis used these hermeneutic rules, which we can see debated throughout the Midrash and Talmud, were they using hermeneutic rules to derive new laws and details, or were they merely finding hints in the text for traditions already existent in the Oral Torah from Sinai?

To the Talmud student, this is a big question. We spend so much time breaking our teeth trying to understand these clashing interpretations. Are these just hints for what the Sages already knew or did they really believe they were deriving new laws from these textual cues? Rambam leaves room for both but does not tell us how often each method is used. The great Malbim of the nineteenth century, who was defending Judaism from Haskalah critics, argues at great length that these are legitimate derivations. Rav Yitzchak Halevy, in his classic history Doros Harishonim, harshly criticizes Malbim and argues that the Sages mostly searched for hints to laws they already knew from tradition. Rabbi Schimmel gently asks in a footnote why, according to Rav Halevy, the Sages of the Talmud debated so fiercely what he considers to be mere hints.

Rabbi Schimmels greatest contribution, aside from his organization and clarity, is his discussion of the rabbinic mind. According to the author, the Sages used logic and moral reasoning (sevara) to interpret the text and derive laws. Rav Simcha Wasserman, in one of his comments to the book, disagrees that logic is a unique category and classifies it as one of the hermeneutic rules. The Oral Torah, and Judaism as a whole, is based on logic and morality. According to Rav Shmuel Landau (son of the Noda Bi-Yehudah), the Sages applied to a law that seemed to them contrary to reason (sevara) the limitation of ein bo ela chidusho, a restriction against expanding the law. Rabbi Schimmel expands this by applying it to moral reasoning, as well. The law itself must be moral, even if we cannot fully comprehend it, but the Sages refrain from expanding this law because they found it morally surprising, contrary to the conclusion they would have reached on their own (see Lechem Mishneh, Hilchos Mamrim 7:11).

Rabbi Schimmel concludes his discussion with a quotation from Rambams Mishneh Torah (Hilchos Meilah 8:8), encouraging people to search for explanations of the Torahs laws but cautioning against treating lightly laws you may fail to understand. If something seems illogical or immoral to the student, he needs to refine his understanding of the Talmud or his skills of logic and sense of morality.

Rabbi Schimmel addresses many more, equally complex subjects. He distinguishes between a legal fiction as found in British law and an artifice (haaramah) found in Jewish law. The former is intended to circumvent the law while the latter is designed to strengthen and guard the law. The author also discusses rabbinic enactments and legislation their textual legitimacy and their authority. He addresses the writing of the Mishnah and its redaction, and its relation and contrast to Midrash. These subjects have been widely treated but Rabbi Schimmel presents them in a clear and very relevant way to the contemporary reader, adding his own insights along the way. This book was a classic when published and, on revision, has managed to become a new classic all over again. A beginner will benefit from this overview as he delves into the world of the Talmud while an experienced scholar will appreciate the work of putting together all these disparate pieces into a comprehensive whole.

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Title: The Oral Law: The Rabbinic Contribution to Torah sheBe'al Peh - The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com

This Week’s Torah Portion: The Promise in Progeny – The Jewish News

Posted By on January 15, 2020

The opening verses of the Book of Exodus are an abridged, shorter repetition of a much more detailed account of the family, which grandfather Jacob brought with him on his journey to Egypt to meet his beloved son Joseph.

Rashi and Ramban, two classic biblical commentators, explain that with these opening verses, Exodus establishes its connection to and continuity with Genesis; they both add that the repetition of names expresses the great love God has for Jacob and his family.

I believe the seemingly repetitive verses contain a messagethat not only goes beyond this, but also holds the key to understanding the major mission and national mystery of the eternity of our people.

Many young Jews today are raising these questions: Why get married? And even more to the point: Why have children?

The Hebrew-Yiddish word nachas joyous satisfaction is heavily identified with celebrations involving ones children and grandchildren. But when I investigated the negative population growth of many European countries, I realized perhaps it is observant Jewry that seems out of step with the world. I am truly convinced it is our Jewish obsession with progeny that is responsible for our continued survival and contemporary rebirth, and will guarantee our future.

One early talmudic commentary, Rabbenu Asher (1250-1328), maintains there is no specific command to be married; marriage is merely the necessary preparation for fulfilling the commandment to be fruitful and to multiply. (Ketubot 1:12)

For, you see, Judaism is a grand unfinished symphony: The Abrahamic mission is to convey to the world of nations a God of love, morality and peace in historic time. God promises through His prophets that eventually a more perfect society will be formed, and the world will be redeemed. Our narrative is to be found in the Bible. Our unique lifestyle, celebrations and memorials are detailed in the Talmud, and each Jewish parent lives in order to convey this mission to his/her child: To be a Jew is to parent or to take responsibility for a Jewish child of the next generation.

Hence the formation of our nation in Exodus emanates from the continuity of the family in Genesis. Each family of patriarchs and matriarchs bequeathed those in the direct chain of continuity. Jacob the man and his household, the man and his forebears came along with all his children and their children into Egypt.

These verses are not repetition of past events; they are guideposts for our future. All Jews must carry with them wherever Jewish destiny takes them the Jewish portable household civilization that formed our peoplehood. Only on the basis of that glorious past will we be equipped to shape a significant and blessed future.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone and chief rabbi of Efrat, Israel.

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This Week's Torah Portion: The Promise in Progeny - The Jewish News

Where’s Waldo? A striped t-shirt becomes an American Jewish sensation – Forward

Posted By on January 15, 2020

courtesy of Yonatan Gray

Yonatan Gray poses as Waldo at the Siyum HaShas.

The Siyum HaShas a nationwide celebration that ends each cycle of Talmud study occurs only once every seven and a half years. So when Brooklyn accountant Yonatan Gray had a belated idea for how to celebrate it, he had to wait a long time to put it in action.

At the 2012 Siyum, which took place at New Jerseys Met Life stadium, Gray looked out at the sea of black-clad attendees and thought about how funny it might be to dress up as the perennially missing childrens book character Wheres Waldo. During this years Siyum, he did exactly that, donning a red and white striped shirt and cap long enough to snap some photos against the crowd. Not wanting to disrespect the proceedings, Gray took off the costume after a few minutes. But before he even left the stadium, he was inundated with messages from friends who had seen the photo on Twitter alongside captions like, Waldo does Daf Yomi. So can you. He had already gone viral.

My phone was pretty much blowing up, he said.

On Twitter, pictures appeared of sweatshirts emblazoned with his image and the hashtag #Siyum2020. Gray posted a snapshot of a Siyum attendee in England copying his look. He even appeared as a meme in the Flatbush Jewish Journal, an Orthodox publication.

The taste of instant fame inspired Gray to reprise the costume on a slightly different occasion: the No Hate No Fear rally that took place just a few days after the Siyum in protest against the epidemic of anti-Semitic incidents that has swept through New York this fall. His colorful t-shirt wasnt as noticeable among wide array signs and slogans, but by now he was sufficiently famous that strangers approached him for pictures.

On his way home that same day, Gray made the news for a third time but not the way he wouldve liked. As he was riding on the subway, a woman noticed his yarmulke and began verbally harassing him, shouting anti-Semitic slurs until he eventually left the train.

Not the reason I wanted to be on TV, Gray captured a video of the incident on Twitter. The NYPD has since filed the incident as a hate crime.

The costumes multi-day odyssey across New York (and across Twitter) captured the spirit of this particularly tumultuous moment in American Jewish life, a time when the Jewish community gathers to celebrate beloved texts and protest fiercely against resurgent anti-Semitism in the span of a few days, all while traveling in public with caution.

And perhaps the timing explains Waldos appeal. I think people always need that moment of humor, Gray said.

On social media and in person, strangers have contacted Gray, offering congratulations, condolences, and even overnight accommodations one admirer told Gray to feel welcome at his house if he ever passes through Vancouver. But Waldos most lasting impact may be on Grays dating life: Gray said (and the Schmooze has independently confirmed) that since his adventures as Waldo began, his dating resume has made the rounds of several WhatsApp group chats in the frum community. Recently, a friend told him it was circulating as far afield as Israel.

One things for sure: If any successful set-up happens in the next few months, itll be a great story to tell the kids.

Irene Connelly is an intern at the forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com.

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Where's Waldo? A striped t-shirt becomes an American Jewish sensation - Forward

The Orthodox Union Study Program By and For Women – Jewish Journal

Posted By on January 15, 2020

On Jan. 5, Jews around the world began a new Daf Yomi cycle, studying a page of the Talmud every day for the next 7 1/2 years. In the Orthodox community, participating in Daf Yomi was traditionally designed for men. Nowadays, women are seeking ways to participate.

To help facilitate this, the Orthodox Union (OU) Womens Initiative has created a two-year study cycle called Torat Imecha (Torah of the Mothers) under its Nach Yomi learning initiative.

The cycle, which began on Jan. 9, features daily podcasts and videos on the books of Neviim (Prophets) and Kethuvim (Writings) and covers a chapter per day. In total, there are 742 chapters, and the classes can be found on the OU website.

This is an opportunity for us as a community to learn together our holiest texts, to be spiritually engaged in a meaningful way, [and] to be introduced to each book through a unique presentation and voice, said OU Womens Initiative Founding Director Rebbetzin Adina Shmidman. Its an opportunity for personal and intellectual growth. It is about creating an international community of Nach Yomi learning.

Rabbanit Shani Taragin, an international scholar based in Israel, delivers an introductory video for each book, which will then be discussed by 25 teachers from the United States and Israel.

This series presents a world-class roster of female scholars bringing nuance and erudition to the participants in these exciting new shiurim (lessons), Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Allen Fagin told the Journal.

While the Nach Yomi program was established in 2007, Shmidman said this time around students can learn about peoples relationships with God; kingship; learning how to grow as a person; and transitions the Jewish nation has gone through. The books studied include Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos.

We are presenting a plethora of voices, each one with a unique take on the book theyre teaching, Shmidman said.

One of the teachers, Michal Horowitz, is based in Woodmere, N.Y., and instructs students on Long Island and in New York City at synagogues and Jewish organizations. She will be talking about Joshua, when the Jewish people were first entering the land of Israel following Moses death.

This is an opportunity for us as a community to learn together our holiest texts, to be spiritually engaged in a meaningful way. Rebbetzin Adina Shmidman

I feel very strongly that its important to always be advancing in our learning, Horowitz told the Journal. At any age, there is always more to learn, and delving into the wisdom of the Neviim and Kethuvim is a wonderful journey to embark on in our quest for authentic Torah knowledge.

Horowitzs approach to her classes is to take the text, strive to understand it and then make its messages relevant to modern life. Only if we view the Torah as relatable to Jews in each and every generation can we be excited about learning and practicing Judaism, she said.

This, in turn, will ensure that we can successfully transmit the truism of the authentic mesorah (tradition) and Torah to the next generation, she added.Hence, my goal in teaching and presenting is to find a take-home lesson from the text that resonates strongly with us as Jews today.

Women also can learn Torah messaging by participating in the other learning opportunities the OU Womens Initiative offers, including virtual monthly Rosh Chodesh lunch-and-learn classes; a scholar-in-residence program in the period between Passover and Shavuot; a Simchat Torah learning program at synagogues; and Alit, a summer learning program for recent college graduates.

Though the Womens Initiative focuses on womens learning, Shmidman emphasized that the classes are open to anybody.

Each person should be engaged in Torah study, she said. This is an opportunity to be spiritually inspired by excellent women scholars and be part of a growing and engaged community across the globe.

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The Orthodox Union Study Program By and For Women - Jewish Journal

Skirball Cultural Center Founder and President Rabbi Uri Herscher on Passing the Baton to Bet Tzedeks Jessie Kornberg – Jewish Journal

Posted By on January 15, 2020

Its hard to imagine that the 15-acre site housing the Skirball Cultural Center at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains didnt exist 24 years ago. The landmark center that opened in 1996 and links West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley has become a permanent fixture alongside the Getty museum in the Los Angeles landscape, and to date has drawn nearly 10 million visitors.

But the vision for this remarkable structure that boastsa permanent museum alongside regularly changing exhibitions, film events, music and theater performances and cultural programs belongs to 78-year-old Rabbi Uri Herscher, its founding president and chief executive.

And while Herscher first floated the idea to the Reform movements Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 1980, the seeds for the center stretch all the way back to his boyhood in Tel Aviv, where he was born and raised until the age of 13, when his family came to the United States and settled in San Jose in 1954.

Herscher is one of the most revered people in the community a rabbi, a professor, a teacher, a mentor, a philanthropist, an author, a historian and a seeker, who has used his talents to raise millions of dollars and bring Jews and non-Jews together.

Anyone who has met him and has spent time in the company of this erudite man whose love for Judaism and all humanity is infectious will tell you that Herscher is one of the most generous and warm people theyve met.

Indeed, on my visit to Herschers vast office, despite the large, wooden desk in one corner, Im ushered to a series of soft armchairs in the opposite corner, situated around a low, circular table. Late afternoon light bounces off the large window overlooking the Skirballs sun-dappled courtyard. Herscher, dressed casually in gray slacks, an open-necked cornflower blue shirt and soft, black leather loafers sinks into one chair and gestures for me to take the one next to him.

Were here for a serious interview; for Herscher to announce his official retirement on June 30 and discuss his successor, Jessie Kornberg, the young, dynamic president and CEO of Bet Tzedek, the nonprofit human andpoverty rightsorganization. And yet, there is nothing formal about this interview as Herscher settles in for what can only be described as an almost two-hour chat.

Despite the extraordinary institution Herscher has built, he refuses to take sole credit for the Skirball. There is no I in Judaism, he says. We say anachnu (we) in Jewish prayers. When I speak with Moshe Safdie (the Israeli-born architect who designed the Skirball Cultural Center), we always say, Mah Shlomeinu? (How are we?)

Which is why, Herscher explains, hes been cognizant of succession since his late 40s. I also was very frightened by the history where successors did not do well in passing the baton and I was not going to be one of those people, he says. My goal was all about the Skirball and not about me. You cant do anything alone and the Skirball was built with that knowledge. I call upon everybody constantly. This is an open door and it feels safe but it also takes one person to lead this institution.

He then reveals that he started to take the issue of succession seriously eight to 10 years ago, when he was in his late 60s. And despite four decades between them, Herscher says that 37-year-old Kornberg is absolutely the right person to succeed him.

Her lenses are so clear on the world and we want [the Skirball] to remain young, and she is a young woman with a timeless soul, he says. He also cites Kornbergs character, her integrity, out-of-the-box thinking, courage, knowledge and her passion for advocating for those who need it most, along with her intelligence and eloquence and her capacity to connect with everyone meaningfully in the room and her commitment to pursuing social justice in whatever she does.

Early sketch of the Skirball Cultural Center by Safdie Architects.

Herscher says he is confident Kornberg will lead the Skirball in expanding our reach and fulfilling in new ways, perhaps, our mission to create a more civil and a more just society.

In a separate phone interview, Kornberg says, I am so excited. Its been a long time coming. Its still a ways off. Ive been keeping the excitement at bay. She adds that while shes thrilled about taking on this role, Im also totally cognizant of the challenge. The Skirball is a huge institution with a really serious responsibility, not the least of which is Uris legacy. Replacing a founder, the creative genius behind the vision and the construction of the place is not a small thing, and I care about protecting his legacy and his vision.

As to their generation gap, Kornberg says, Ive always been lucky to be in intergenerational environments. I grew up very close to my grandparents. We were kids who sat at the adults table. At Bet Tzedek, we are not just an agency that has a unique focus on elder law and delivering services to low-income seniors, but we are a community made possible by the volunteerism of retired lawyers and judges and a staff with real intergenerational exchange.

Kornberg also speaks passionately about the warmth that Herscher generates, describing him as warm and welcoming. I felt so at ease with Uri and felt so lucky that he was willing to spend time with me. I walked away from [our] first meeting feeling really special. But what Ive come to appreciate over the years is that really is how he is with everyone. It is not we who are special but he who is special. He just really opens himself up and creates with people in an extraordinarily short amount of time a deep connection.

And while both Herscher and Kornberg attest to their deep connection, to truly understand how and why Herscher chose Kornberg also requires an understanding of his legacy and vision. Publicity material on the Skirball emphasizes that the center is a place for all people to come together, guided by the Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger and inspired by the democratic ideals of freedom and equality.

The center itself is designed to be like a sukkah and open on all four sides, much like the biblical Abrahams tent. Its built around essential Jewish tenets, welcoming the stranger being just one of them. The others are building community, pursuing justice, seeking learning, showing kindness and honoring memory.

Herschers vision was so singular and unique, when asked where his ability to dream big came from, he hesitates and says, Im not sure, but lets try it. After a few moments, he declares, It has to start very early. My brother, who is seven years younger, and I were born in the basement, and theres no question that I always desired light.

Uri Herscher likens Los Angeles to Ellis Island. It still remains an immigration port and I wanted to be with other immigrants. I was one myself. I couldnt think of a better place to build a Jewish institution embracive of the total community.

Its an incongruous statement given that his name, Uri, means my light, in Hebrew. In 1948, during the establishment of the State of Israel, Herscher was only 7. Tel Aviv was bombed, he recalls. My mother remembers my giving her a heart attack by not being in the shelter and then she sent out some people to find me. They found me with a slingshot aiming at the Arab airplanes. I cant tell you what drove me to do that. I think I became a fighter at that time because the first Israeli young soldiers died then and they paraded them in a funeral procession on Sderot Rothschild in Tel Aviv. I was standing on a bench watching it. I saw their yellow feet. They were dead. And I heard crying. And the spirit that I instilled in myself was that Im alive and I have to do something to make a difference.

That passion also was fueled by the summers he spent on kibbutzim in Israel, where his cousins lived. My mothers brothers were all kibbutzniks, he says. I appreciated the ideology of how important equity and social justice was; how important it was to create a safe community. Everybody was equal. I loved it.

Uri Herscher

He also recalls how culture would be brought into the kibbutzim by inviting poets and writers and musicians-in-residence. So I got a flavor of what that culture meant and how elevated that was for me. It very much defined my thinking about what is right and what is wrong when it comes to the treatment of human beings.

Officially, Herscher conceived the Skirball as an outreach effort of HUC-JIR when he was executive vice president and dean of faculty. He moved his office from Cincinnati to Los Angeles in 1979, and in 1980 approached HUC-JIRs board of governors about his radical idea for a cultural center.

He knew after graduating from HUC in 1970 that he would not become a congregational rabbi. I struggled with theology, he says. So I think [the cultural center] vision started while I was still a student and then as a member of the faculty.

He chose Los Angeles to create his vision because L.A. was not and still is not rooted, allowing us to have the type of freedom rarely seen in other cities. No group ran the city of Los Angeles and that was a huge attraction for me. There was always that opportunity for new thoughts. And this was a mighty thought.

Herscher likens Los Angeles to Ellis Island. It still remains an immigration port and I wanted to be with other immigrants. I was one myself. I couldnt think of a better place to build a Jewish institution embracive of the total community.

He confesses the meeting with the board of governors was tough. I think HUC had different plans for me. It was an academic institution. Basically, I was reaching out beyond the walls of study. I was saying, Lets take our learning to the streets. Theres a really important space for the ivory tower. But I was born in the streets and I wanted to go back there.

Which is why, Herscher believes, the seeds for the center were first planted during his high school graduation, when his father gave him a stack of old family letters written by his grandmothers. While Herschers parents had escaped Germany in the 1930s and fled to Israel, most of his family (on both of his parents sides) perished in the Holocaust. Herschers paternal grandmothers last telegram in 1942, a month before she was sent to Auschwitz, said Kiss Uri for me.

My goal was all about the Skirball and not about me. You cant do anything alone and the Skirball was built with that knowledge. I call upon everybody constantly. This is an open door and it feels safe but it also takes one person to lead this institution. Uri Herscher

That telegram is framed on Herschers wall, along with letters and photographs from family members who perished. I took that kiss and wrote my own narrative, Herscher says. I dont know what was in [my grandmothers] mind, but I think what she was messaging to me was, I hope you create safe environments.

Then, after graduating from UC Berkeley in 1964, Herscher hitchhiked through Europe for 3 1/2 months to learn his familys history. That trip had a profound effect on him and, he notes, I think my grandmothers hopefulness helped create a safe place on Sepulveda Boulevard.

He also credits his parents with having the courage to leave their families and homeland first from Germany and then from Israel to come here [to San Jose]. We were fully welcomed by our neighbors, and that was a very special embracive welcome.

Herscher talks about how his parents were blue-collar immigrants (his mother was a laundress and his father a cabinetmaker) and how their employers did not always treat them with dignity. Thats why when I talked about the Skirball and its creation, I wanted to make sure everyone felt respected and valued.

He also speaks of having always seen the Skirball as a storyteller. Our core exhibition is the story of the Jewish people, he says. [The] Noahs Ark [exhibition] is the story of immigration. Every visitor becomes Noah and is taught to take people in a storm and find shelter for them. The story has to do with when we first immigrate, we stick with our groups because we are unsafe. As we journey toward the rainbow, we no longer need to be in these groups because we feel safer. The rainbow is all about possibilities and the Skirball is all about possibilities, and I see the rainbow within us.

This was also part of Herschers evolving vision for the Skirball, and after he was appointed to the Ethics Commission of Los Angeles in 2001, he expanded the Skirballs mission statement to go beyond just the Jewish community and include people of every ethnic and cultural identity.

Back in 1980, Herscher told HUC-JIRs board that he wanted the center to attract unaffiliated Jews. I knew at the time 80% of Jews in L.A. were unaffiliated. I said they were uninspired and I felt the Skirball could possibly bring them back to being affiliated through culture and learning about their heritage.

Its one of many things that Herscher and Kornberg bonded over. Kornberg, who was born in San Diego and raised in Northern California before moving to New York as a teenager, didnt move to Los Angeles until 2004, to study law at UCLA.

My Jewishness has been largely cultural, Kornberg says. I dont come from a religious family, and what I have learned over time is that makes me more similar to more people my age who identify as Jewish than I realized.

She notes that 90% of Jews in America are unaffiliated and for a long time that identity of Jewish by tradition and heritage and not active and organized made me feel like I was getting it wrong and that I wasnt fully a member of the community that was still my identity.

In spending time at the Skirball, though, over these past five years, Kornberg says it has been a gift. Its a place that is overtly and expressly Jewish that tells me I am welcomed and I belong and Im OK.

Herscher and Kornberg first met when Kornberg was appointed president of Bet Tzedek. Herscher recalls attending her first Bet Tzedek gala in February 2015.

I had such an appreciation for her elegant character, he says. With all of her great achievements, humility is at her core. There is no egomania here. He rattles off some of those achievements, including her expansion of Bet Tzedek, and the number of people whom she has brought in to support the organization, which he says, is very much because of her leadership. She has a leadership gene.

And in terms of the Skirballs mission, Herscher says his and Bet Tzedeks dovetail. We apply them differently, he explains, but its essentially the same mission. We do it through performance and the arts and they do it as legal aid.

Jessie Kornberg

He also recalled her speech that night describing Bet Tzedeks mission. It certainly entered my heart, he says. Im just so confident that she is a star in this community. For me, she gets a standing ovation for what shes achieved.

The two got to know each other better after Kornberg approached Herscher at that gala five years ago.

I was aided in my transition [as president of Bet Tzedek] by several of my predecessors, Mitch Kamin and David Lash, Kornberg explains. They helped me by putting a list together of people they felt I had to know in my first 60 days. The list was like 400 people long and right at the tippy-top of it was Uri Herscher, who I had not known before.

Herscher recalls Kornberg approaching her at the gala and saying, Youre at the top of my list. Youve been suggested as a leader in the community to meet with and learn from as it applies to my job. And so, over the next few years the two would meet for lunch.

[Herscher] gave me great advice about thinking about a board of directors and thinking about managing the finances of a nonprofit and thinking about leadership, Kornberg says. He has deep experiences with all of those things and I had a very shallow experience with those things. He was a mentor, really, from my very first days.

She also recalls initially calling him up every six to 12 months and theyd have lunch. Wed check in and Id share with him how things were going at Bet Tzedek. Over time, looking back, I realized we transitioned from me inviting myself over to him saying, Come on up. I havent seen you in a while. It really became a friendship.

At some point, Kornberg says, Herscher started to talk to her about his own professional plans and the idea that he was thinking about succession and retirement, but she didnt think it had anything to do with her. It was only a year ago, she says, that he started specifically talking to her about taking over from him. For his part, Herscher says he spent the entire five years interviewing Kornberg for the position without her knowledge. Kornberg laughs upon hearing this and quips, The next time someone says a hiring process seems slow, Im going to make sure to revisit that story.

Those meetings were meetings of trust and confidentiality, Herscher reveals. I think it was [philosopher Martin] Buber who said all living is meeting. [Kornberg] certainly was the person I met who brought enlightenment to my journey.

Jessie Kornbergs lenses are so clear on the world and we want the Skirball to remain young, and she is a young woman with a timeless soul. Uri Herscher

Herscher was also delighted to learn that Kornberg has a background in ballet and was a professional dancer for a time, and Kornberg says she feels lucky to have come circuitously back into arts and culture. Its a gift and Im so excited about that.

The Skirball, she adds, is doing a little bit of what she did as a dancer, which is stewarding the original creators work. My mother is a poet, my sister is an artist, my uncles are musicians and I always looked at those creators as very special, precious people who are able to share their view of beauty in the world in a way that can bring beauty to mine. And Im just thrilled and lucky to get to participate in that kind of work again.

Moving away from the law may seem like a seismic shift, but Kornberg says, What I came to feel was that my work at Bet Tzedek is the best job Ill ever have with my law degree and that I could either do it for the rest of my life or try a different direction.

She saw the opportunity Herscher handed her as the chance to learn new skills, different from the legal work that I have done but also in a context in which my experience will be useful and I will be of value to the institution. It is hopefully of mutual benefit. To have an opportunity professionally like that at a place that is also inspiring and personally meaningful is incredibly rare.

And its why, Herscher says, its easy to pass the baton to Kornberg. Theres that talmudic statement: Its not for us to complete the task. I live that, he says. Im totally realistic. The baton was passed to me by my mentors telling me, We have confidence in you, Uri, just as I have confidence in my successor. They were my cheerleaders as I am the cheerleader of my successor.

Mentors, Herscher says, have guided him his entire career, starting with those letters from his grandmothers and his family, to his teachers at HUC, other philanthropists, Safdie and, of course, rabbi, real estate developer, film producer and philanthropist Jack Skirball, for whom the center is named.

When the HUC-JIR board of governors approved the center, they told Herscher he would have to raise the funds independently. Skirball was among the first to invest in Herschers vision and also was instrumental in locating the site.

Herscher first met Skirball in 1965 when Skirball was on HUC-JIRs board and established a sermon prize. Herscher was one of the first to give his sermon, on the life of Moses.

[Skirball] came up and introduced himself and said, I want to congratulate you. You will win the prize. Herscher recalls asking him how that was possible given that there were still many people who hadnt given their sermons. Skirball told him, I was impressed with the content, but truthfully much more impressed by your brevity. I doubt others will be as brief.

From that point on, Herscher says Skirball became his lifelong mentor and he championed [the centers] mission. I was looking for the grandmothers and grandfathers I lost and he became a surrogate grandfather.

Kornberg also cites a list of mentors, including Kamin her mentor at both Bet Tzedek and the law firm she worked at before moving to Bet Tzedek, her family, including her husband, her parents and her late grandfather, whom she calls a teacher and a discoverer and a pioneer.

After his death, Kornbergs sister found an interview her grandfather gave to a television station where he said his advice to young people was, Be bold because you dont have as much time as you think. This chance to do something bold and audacious is fleeting, so make the most of it.

Kornberg says, I have turned back to that advice in moments of insecurity and at forks in the road and said, Dont settle for complacency. That advice has been empowering for me.

She also confesses to a mentor/hero shes never met that comes out of left field: Dolly Parton.

I think that she is an incredibly inspiring person, Kornberg says. She is an artist, an incredibly talented creative person, but I also think of her as this very strong spark that flew out of the Smoky Mountains and has lit up so many homes and minds, and she does it in a way that Ive described Uri and the Skirball. She does it for everyone. She refuses to allow her message to be made exclusive.

I promise to come to the Skirball every day with my heart open to the visitors I meet there. I promise to be at the Skirball every day to welcome, the way that [Uri] welcomed me. And I promise to do for others what he has done for me, which is to raise the horizon of the future I saw for myself to something I had yet to imagine. Jessie Kornberg

None, though, she says, have had as transformative an effect on her life as Herscher. Although she had visited the Skirball in the early 2000s with her father (who is an architect) and had attended a wedding at the center, it wasnt until she met with Herscher that she appreciated how differently the security and informational staff acted with the community compared with other institutions. The parking attendants, the docents in the lobby and every person I interacted with was, to use a word important to the Skirball, so welcoming. And that, of course, is an echo of the welcome Uri extended to me, and that is an important value the Skirball continues to express every single day.

Herscher concurs. The biggest, most wonderful surprise [over the years at the Skirball] has to do with the relationships; the depth and strength of collaboration that kindness does exist, that goodness persists. May I help you? is the first word out of everyones mouth. People who serve as guards also say, Do you remember where you parked? Can I help you find your car? Those to me are the tenets that help undergird the Skirball.

In taking the reins on July 1, Kornberg says she is willing to talk about one aspect of her vision for the center, with the caveat that anything I say is automatically in the context of speaking from the outside.

The Skirballs mission, she says, speaks of Jewish values broadly and then articulates one in particular and that is to welcome the stranger. That resonates strongly with me. Its often referred to in the context of stories of migration and immigration. At Bet Tzedek, I have been up close and personal with the day-to-day experiences of underserved immigrants. One of the things I have longed for is a place where immigration advocates and migration storytellers and immigrant communities could come together to think more creatively and more audaciously about what the future could hold for similar people in similar circumstances.

In passing the baton, Herscher says he is particularly proud of how the recognition of what the Skirball stands for has evolved. We have now become embedded in the community with a mission that is recognized by the community and the pride in this place now has no boundaries, he says. People dont just give you money because youre Uri Herscher. You have to have a mission. And the non-Jewish community has funded this place to so many millions of dollars because they understand that were Jewish and they like that, because they dont like people who hide.

The Skirball is a huge institution with a really serious responsibility, not the least of which is Uris legacy. Replacing a founder; the creative genius behind the vision and the construction of the place is not a small thing, and I care about protecting his legacy and his vision. Jessie Kornberg

In trying to pinpoint a couple of things at the Skirball that have stood out for Herscher, among them are the summer concert programs. They are so welcoming and embracing of everyone, and the fact that we often give a first stage in America to some of these groups.

From the centers changing exhibitions, he chooses two from hundreds: the Albert Einstein exhibition in 2004-2005 and the 2018 Notorious RBG (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) exhibition. He picked out the Einstein exhibition because it introduced people to an Einstein we didnt know. Everyone knows about his science and Nobel Prize but very few people knew his Jewish ethical compass.

Both Einstein and Ginsburg, Herscher says, were united in their pursuit for justice: one through science, the other through the law. [Ginsburgs] story is seen through the Jewish values with which she was raised, and she quotes all the Jewish [biblical passages] that deal with justice, including tzedek, tzedek tirdof, (justice, justice, shall you pursue.)

Asked what he will miss most, Herscher flips the question on its head and says, What I wish not to miss is the companionship of this community. I love to come here every day. Ive never lived in such a kind and enriching community. I dont want to miss that.

Asked what she would like to say to Herscher, Kornberg says, I think thank you feels too small. The best way to repay his kindness is with the work that comes ahead. I promise to come to the Skirball every day with my heart open to the visitors I meet there. I promise to be at the Skirball every day to welcome, the way that he welcomed me. And I promise to do for others what he has done for me, which is to raise the horizon of the future I saw for myself to something I had yet to imagine before I met him but what has been made possible because of him. And better than to thank him for that is to do it for someone else, and that is what I promise to keep trying to do.

As for what he would like to say to Kornberg, Herscher says he has to quote his dear friend, the late Rabbi Harold Schulweis, who died in 2014. He picks up a sheet of paper and says, These are his last words he said to me before he died: Uri, continue the dream. Expand the vision. Bring us together into a brighter, kinder, saner world. Remind us to sanctify our quest for meaning and purpose, to connect the shining stars above with the foundation stones below. We have come into being to build, to unite, to bless. To labor and to love the families of the Earth.

I would say to Jessie: Continue the dream. Expand the vision.

Kelly Hartog is the Managing Editor for the Journal.

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Skirball Cultural Center Founder and President Rabbi Uri Herscher on Passing the Baton to Bet Tzedeks Jessie Kornberg - Jewish Journal

First Herbalist Conference in Israel Comes Under BDS Attack – COLlive – Chabad News

Posted By on January 15, 2020

An Israeli conference for herbalists has come under attack by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement; Crown Heights resident Sara-Chana Silverstein is the only Jewish Herbalist from the US still planning to speak. Full Story

Algemeiner.com

An inaugural Israeli conference for herbalists has come under pressure from supporters of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, though organizers plan to continue with the gathering and raise awareness of plant medicine.

Betina Thorball a volunteer organizer of the Ancient Roots Herbal Conference, planned for Feb. 9-11 near the Sea of Galilee said the event had initially attracted 11 speakers and aimed to accommodate some 50 attendees. It was a grassroots effort, she said, brought forward with no organizational affiliation or financial support.

Yet the planned gathering drew the ire of BDS supporters earlier this month, prompting a backlash that saw two speakers back out of their commitment, and the president of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG) who previously recorded a congratulatory video message for the conference withdraw her support, according to organizers.

The boycott calls were led in part by Shabina Lafleur-Gangji, a self-professed BDS supporter and AHG staff member who was recently appointed as the new editor of the Journal of the American Herbalists Guild.

In a Facebook post on Jan. 3, Lafleur-Gangji complained that the conference had no Palestinian or Muslim speakers included in their line up, and included a speaker who made offensive comments about Palestinians.

We decided something needed to happen and reached out to the herbalists involved, who then made the decision to retract their support for the conference in solidarity with folks in living under the brutal force of Israeli apartheid, she added.

Ancient Roots organizers said boycott advocates targeted some of their speakers and supporters with serious harassment endangering their work and livelihood by a campaign that is fostering the politics of division.

On its website, Ancient Roots said it respects political diversity, but believes political discussions should take place in other forums and not in the context of an herbal conference.

Sara-Chana Silverstein, a lactation consultant and master herbalist member who plans to speak at the Israeli conference, raised concerns over whether Lafleur-Gangjis backing of BDS would impact her editorial work and engagement with Israeli herbalists.

We cant stand quiet, she said. Because then it will happen to the [physical therapists], to the [occupational therapists], to the speech therapists.

What if we wanted to organize a conference on Down syndrome children in Israel, asked Silverstein, who recently published the herbalist guide Moodtopia. We cant let BDS stop that conference. Thats not okay.

Thorball, who helped plan the Ancient Roots gathering, told The Algemeiner that it was about trying to start something like this in Israel and [seeing] where it takes us.

Announcing this to our respective networks, several speakers came forward, others were asked directly, and yes there were speakers of Arab ethnicity amongst them, she said. One of the confirmed speakers is of Moroccan-Jewish heritage, and while an Arab and a Druze speaker were also considered, one could not participate due to scheduling conflicts in one case, and logistics in the other, she said.

Following the withdrawals, organizers were pressed to find new speakers on short notice, but some qualified people came forward and offered and we gratefully accepted, Thorball added.

The controversy still took its toll on the conference, she noted, as organizers spent their time on damage control to our event and we could no longer engage in marketing to the local communities.

While ticket sales have declined amid a lack of promotion, organizers said they received a couple of ticket requests this Monday.

AHG and Lafleur-Gangji did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

BDS advocates have previously targeted gatherings in Israel for boycott and cancellation, saying they help normalize the country and ignore violations against Palestinians. The campaign says it aims to address the perceived injustice of Israels founding in 1948, and has been criticized as antisemitic by major Jewish communal groups in the United States and globally. The co-founder of the boycott movement, Omar Barghouti, has endorsed armed resistance against Israel and rejects the states continued existence, saying Jewish people do not have the right to self-determination in the Levant.

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First Herbalist Conference in Israel Comes Under BDS Attack - COLlive - Chabad News

My Jewish father found sanctuary in that town – The Age

Posted By on January 15, 2020

Dennis Martin, Brighton

The home owner says she was flying the flag on her house in Beulah because of her German heritage. She should know that it is illegal to do so in Germany and is punishable by up to three years in jail. While the police were waiting on legal advice and the local council, state and federal governments have condemned the flying of this flag, no immediate action was taken. It is clearly against the spirit if not the letter of anti-discrimination laws.

More than this, it is offensive to the families of the more than 27,000 Australians killed and 23,000 wounded in World War II. They fought to defeat the Nazis and their murderous regime. Some self-described patriots use the Nazi symbol but it's time we called it what it really is un-Australian.

Pauline Brown, Woodend

The flying of this flag has nothing to do with "German ancestry". If you want to display your German ancestry then perhaps fly the German flag. This flag represents an affiliation with a political party that not only cowardly murdered millions of Jewish people but also was in direct conflict with Allied troops in the Second World War.

It is also a direct insult to our serviceman and women who fought against the Nazi regime to give us the freedom we enjoy today. Make no mistake, Hitler wouldn't have spared non-Jewish citizens had he been victorious.

Julian Roberts, Burwood

The report of a Victorian couple flying a flag featuring a swastika and other Nazi-related symbols over their home, justified by the resident as honouring her German ancestry, has appropriately raised significant issues and concerns.

It is at the same time heartening to read that this action has outraged some of the couple's neighbours and has led to condemnation by both the government and opposition. This is a key example of the power of those who choose not to be bystanders in the face of unacceptable behaviour.

It is only the silence of witnesses to such a display that potentially leads to the unaware and ill-educated admiring that defeated, discredited philosophy.

Tony Weldon, Caulfield

The couple who were flying the Nazi flag are insulting the memory of those gallant Australians who fought Hitler's monstrous regime as well as many who died in the service of our country. It must be a chilling reminder to Jewish Holocaust survivors and other victims of the regime such as Roma and other "racially impure" or undesirable groups. I deeply honour the service of all who have worn our uniform including that of my great-uncle Ben Morgan who died as a German prisoner of war in February, 1945.

The Nazi flag with all the evil that it represents should never be flown in our nation.

Peter Curtis, Werribee South

Blaming Scott Morrison for his response to bushfires is pointless. At the last election the Australian people chose him and his government to run the country, a key factor being more tax breaks, even for the wealthy.

It was clear then the Morrison government's environmental policies were almost non-existent. It has consistently ignored expert scientific opinion on many issues.

Despite the dire circumstances of the fires, Morrison has not changed his policies. Why should he when he was given a mandate by Australians?

Preserving the future of our planet comes at a cost. Australians have not been prepared to pay the cost of acting on climate change. And, as we are experiencing, the human and environmental costs are rising. Australians must be willing to pay for the future.

They must elect a responsible, science-based government that will implement changes and ensure that the major generators of climate change and environmental destruction contribute, rather than just taxpayers. The free lunch of riding on the sheep's back is over. Are we prepared to pay the cost for a future?

Leigh Ackland, Deepdene

We don't need a royal commission into the bushfires. What we need is a high-level panel of experts in the fields of forest management, firefighting, meteorology, climate science and other disciplines.

The panel would bring together the existing practices and sciences. The panel would report directly to the Prime Minister and consider prior royal commission reports and the existing mountains of data and current knowledge.

David Fry, Moonee Ponds

What about the Grand Prix?It is extraordinary that the Andrews government, always loud and proud of its environmental activism, continues to throw money at the staging of the Grand Prix.

The race is a component of sport's largest carbon footprint, with teams flying about the world to various places where their machines do even more damage to the planet. It is a relic and Andrews should do the right thing and consign it to its inevitable fate.

Kevin Summers, Bentleigh

Your correspondent (Letters, 15/1) observes that the public should not have to wear the contractors' costs associated with contaminated soil in the West Gate Tunnel.

Yes, contractors do bid artificially low and then make further claims after they've got the job. But, in truth, the only people who believe there are such things as cheap, fixed-priced contracts are politicians, lawyers and those who've never actually run one.

Contracting for big civil works is a risky business; it is usually impossible to do enough soils investigation before you submit your price. It would be very easy to go broke. So, in many jobs the contractors decline in the contract to take total cost responsibility for all soils risks. Not afterwards, but actually in the contract.

Maybe they did decline to take all soils risk in this case. Who knows? It's probably "commercial in confidence", a ploy used by politicians so they can deny any fault in their own processes.

As a former energy industry project manager, I have no great sympathy with the construction contractors but sometimes you do have to see the whole picture.

Colin Simmons, Woodend

Scott Morrison is very good at choosing words. He says that the government's climate policy will "evolve". Evolution is an extremely slow process. He means "don't expect any appreciable development in the near future". His statement that we should concentrate on "resilience" and "adaptation" translates to "get over it and learn to live with it".

The words sound positive but are not encouraging at all.

Wal Close, Surrey Hills

If we exercise, we increase our health risks under these smoke-haze conditions. If we don't exercise, our health suffers anyway. Those with respiratory sensitivities are obviously at risk. Our fruit and vegetables will cost more; another health risk.

Health is just one sector that will suffer for some time. Action is needed now to plan for Australia's changing fire profile. We cannot have "business as usual" scenarios any longer.

Carmel McNaught, Balwyn North

The Great Smog of London, or Great Smog of 1952, was a severe air-pollution event that affected the British capital. A period of cold weather, combined with an anticyclone and windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants mostly arising from the use of coal to form a thick layer of smog over the city . I remember that as commuters emerged from the Underground, local people who were blind or sight-impaired were waiting to guide them home; a great gesture.

Sixty-five years on, and in 2017 Scott Morrison brings a lump of coal into our Parliament and tells us not to be afraid; a foolish gesture.

Ros Collins, Elwood

Your correspondent's churlish criticism of the choice of wine made by Lyn McPherson of the Ark Clothing Company in her Spectrum interview over lunch is a clear example of the human trait of negativity bias (Letters, 14/1).

Ms McPherson is a fantastic flag-bearer for the Australian-made rag trade trying to compete with the overwhelming number of labels who use cheaper labour offshore.

As an Ark customer of both the clothing and the Indigenous painted boab nuts, I have utmost admiration for her. Yet your correspondent manages to make a negative out of so many positives in her interview.

Human nature. Makes me sad.

Diana Yallop, Surrey Hills

Every year there is a dispute about the choice of January 26 for Australia Day. This has a negative connotation for the Indigenous people of this country because it commemorates the settlement of Europeans in Australia.

I suggest that Australia Day become the fourth Monday in January. It no longer ties Australia Day to an event that is controversial for our Indigenous people.

Nevertheless, it retains the essentials of our current Australia Day, namely: a public holiday at the end of January before school holidays end; an Australia Day that will always fall on a Monday, making it always a long weekend; an Australia Day that is often a hot, summer, beach and barbecue day, which is quintessentially Australian.

We have the precedents of non-date-related holidays already with Easter, Labour Day and the Queen's Birthday. Let us have an Australia Day in which every Australian can participate and celebrate, no matter what our origins, background, heritage, religion or culture.

Laurence Harewood, Kew

Of course the Prime Minister wants a royal commission into the bushfires.

He was part of a government that desperately tried to avoid the banking royal commission, but he learnt that having a royal commission can generate a lot of information and chatter, and a few token heads can roll (no matter how widespread the egregious behaviour), but overall the government can get away with doing very little about the recommendations.

And that's exactly what the Prime Minister wants to do about the environment very little.

Linda Skinner, Mooroolbark

There is no surprise that WorkSafe bureaucrats avoid owning their part in transferring deceptively and incorrectly labelled hazardous materials to an unsuspecting legitimate facility.

For the EPA the legitimate facility is an easy target.

How on earth were Worksafe unaware of the hazardous nature of the materials being transferred?

The EPA should investigate WorkSafe, and WorkSafe should prosecute its own for their role in creating an unsafe work environment for the employees at the legitimate facility.

When a bureaucrat makes a mistake there is no need to be concerned about truth or justice you can predict the likely course of action by identifying the self-interest.

Chris Wallis, Albert Park

As your headline states, "Climate denial 'a waste of time"' (The Age, 15/1), but as the adage says, time is money.

Every day, week, month and year coal, oil and gas interests can pressure governments into delaying climate change action is another period of time when their profits flow unimpeded by carbon taxes or other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Fossil fuel companies spend millions creating uncertainty about climate science not because they think the science is wrong but because they prioritise profit over planet.

Helen Moss, Croydon

I write with reference to the article "Two popes face off over celibacy" (The Age, 13/1). In the Bible in Matthew's Gospel chapter 8 and verses 14 and 15 we read: "Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever. So he touched her hand and the fever left her." Surely if the Roman Catholic Church's first Pope was married, why not all the clergy? Pope Francis has said that celibacy is a tradition not a doctrine, so let them marry.

Richard Cooke, Warrnambool

There is an enormous amount of money pouring into the relief effort for the bushfires, the latest figure I could find being $200 million. With such widespread devastation this can go a long way.

The last thing we need is a royal commission into the fires. What we do need is a commissioner to oversee the distribution of these funds to make sure it doesn't get swallowed up by bureaucracy in all its wasteful and self-serving ways.

And for god's sake, don't let local councils get involved; they will all go on research trips to Europe investigating fire-proof rubbish bins.

Don Relf, Pascoe Vale South

To my country friends, I guess I really do live in the big smoke now.

Carl Harman, Brighton

The world's worst air pollution. A one-off or "the new normal"?

Paul Murchison, Kingsbury

In late 2019 Australia was ranked as the worst-performing country on climate change policy on the Climate Change Performance Index. How appropriate it is, then, that Melbourne is now recording the worst air quality of any major city in the world.

Peter Martina, Warrnambool

Given Melbourne's hazardous air quality, and warnings not to do any strenuous exercise outdoors, why were Australian Open qualifying matches scheduled here on that day? Where was the duty of care to the players?

Garry Meller, Bentleigh

An announcement by the Prime Minister that he will focus on "practical measures" in relation to climate change is an admission that he will do practically nothing.

Jane Edwards, Peterhead, SA

Peter Harris (Comment, 15/1) warns that the Coalition seems more concerned about public perception than actual policies. That's what happens when you get an advertising man leading a government.

Phil Alexander, Eltham

Where is Peter Dutton (is he busy counting the numbers)?

Kevin Pierce, Richmond

Going forward, is there any chance that legislation can be passed to prevent politicians from saying "going forward"?

Ross Coulthard, Glen Iris

Just wondering how useful our submarines will be in combating climate change?

Andy Indrans, Taradale

Now the world knows of our vulnerability to fire, can we be sure that our nation's best defence is a fleet of billion-dollar submarines?

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My Jewish father found sanctuary in that town - The Age

Get Out: Everything You Should Be Doing in Cleveland This Week (Jan. 15-21) – Cleveland Scene

Posted By on January 15, 2020

WED 01/15

Cleveland Stories Dinner Parties

Cleveland Stories Dinner Party is a weekly series that pairs fine food with storytelling. Through it, the folks at Music Box Supper Club hope to raise awareness of the mission of the Western Reserve Historical Society's Cleveland History Center. The goal is to "bring to life some of the fun, interesting stories about Cleveland's past from sports, to rock 'n' roll, to Millionaires' Row," as it's put in a press release. Admission is free, with no cover charge, although a prix fixe dinner, designed to complement the night's theme, is $20. Tonight, David Spero, a guy who's represented artists like Michael Stanley, Joe Walsh, the Raspberries, Billy Bob Thornton, Dickey Betts and Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) over the course of his career, will speak. Doors open at 5 p.m., dinner is served at 6, and the storytelling starts at 7. (Jeff Niesel)

1148 Main Ave.,

216-242-1250,

musicboxcle.com.

Katie Hannigan

New York-based comedian, actress and writer, Katie Hannigan admits she was "the crazy girl" in college and is now "just living the epilogue." Hannigan, who's appeared on The Late Show with Steven Colbert, Comedy Central, The Travel Channel and MTV, brings a manic energy to the stage. She performs tonight at 7 at Hilarities. Tickets start at $10. (Niesel)

2035 East Fourth St., 216-241-7425, pickwickandfrolic.com.

THU 01/16

Disney on Ice Presents Road Trip Adventures

In what's become a tradition for this time of year, Disney on Ice storms into town to take over the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for a 10-day period, sending the Cavs and Lake Erie Monsters out on long road trips so parents can bring their toddlers and tweens to the arena for some family entertainment. Expect to see familiar figures such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Disney princesses. There will be singalongs to songs from films such as Finding Dory, Frozen, Toy Story and more. Tonight's performance begins at 7, and shows continue through Sunday, Jan. 19. Tickets start at $15. (Niesel)

1 Center Court, 216-420-2000, rocketmortgagefieldhouse.com.

Midwinter Blues and Other Tunes

In an attempt to beat back the wintertime blues, the Akron Art Museum launches a new winter concert series tonight, dubbed Midwinter Blues and Other Tunes. Each week, the museum will present an evening of local music along with art activities, live artist demos and additional musical performances in the galleries. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the headliners take the stage at 7 p.m. Tonight, Cory Grinder Band headlines; advance tickets are $8 for museum members and $10 for non-members. (Admission at the door is $9 for members and $12 for non-members.) However, admission to the museum galleries and lobby is free and open to all. (Niesel) 1 South High St., Akron, 330-376-9185, akronartmuseum.org.

FRI 01/17

78th Street Studios Third Friday Art Walk

Tonight, the Third Friday Art Walk returns to the cavernous 78th Street Studios. More than 50 studios and galleries will participate in this popular indoor art walk; be sure to check out spots like the Derek Hess Gallery, Tregoning & Company and Hilary Gent Studio. Look for food trucks out front and live music on the first floor. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. and admission is free. (Niesel) 1300 West 78th St., 78thstreetstudios.com.

Flanagan's Wake

No one knows grief and mourning like a Catholic, let alone an Irish Catholic. Flanagan's Wake transports the audience to an Irish wake where villagers tell tales and sing songs for their dearly departed Flanagan. Finding the humor in life and death, the wake acts as a dark backdrop to an otherwise hilarious show in which alcohol fuels the humorous reminiscing. Sort of like a tragic Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding, the interactive and improvised show engages the entire audience as the guests are treated as the friends and family of the deceased. Tonight's show starts at 8 and repeats tomorrow night at 8 at Kennedy's Theatre. Performances continue weekends through April 25. Tickets are $27. (Patrick Stoops)

1501 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Gift

Inspired by Lewis Hyde's 1983 bestseller about precious things that can't be bought and sold, this 2018 documentary film examines Lee Mingwei's Sonic Blossom (performed at the Cleveland Museum of Art this past July) and three other gift-based artist installations. The movie makes its Cleveland premiere tonight at 7 at the Cleveland Museum of Art's Morley Lecture Hall. Tickets cost $10 or $7 for CMA members. (Niesel)

11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org.

The Mozart Effect: Live! A Symphony for the Senses

The Mozart Effect: Live! A Symphony for the Senses promises to "take the presentation of the live symphony orchestra to an entirely new place." The event features the 40-piece Cleveland Pops Orchestra conducted by Charles Cozens. There will be high-definition large format immersive video and visual effects timed to the orchestra's performance of Mozart's music. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Connor Palace on Playhouse Square. Tickets cost $38.50 to $93.50. (Niesel)

1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Pain and Glory

Pain and Glory, the latest film from writer-director Pedro Almodvar, finds the veteran Spanish director looking inward for inspiration. The movie centers on Salvador (Antonio Banderas), a filmmaker and writer who has decided to retire. "What will you do?" a friend asks him when she hears of his decision. "Live," he dryly retorts, suggesting the way in which the film will examine how he comes to terms with his past in order to proceed into the future. Anchored by a compelling performance by Banderas, who won the Best Actor award last year when the movie made its international debut at the Cannes Film Festival, Pain and Glory makes for a riveting character study. The movie shows at 7 tonight and at 7:40 tomorrow night at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. Tickets cost $10, or $7 for Cinematheque members and students. (Niesel)

11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450, cia.edu.

JB Smoove

Famous for his portrayal of Leon, a fast-talking friend of Larry David's on the HBO hit Curb Your Enthusiasm, comedian JB Smoove was born in North Carolina and grew up in New York. He started his career back in 1999, when he moved to Los Angeles and landed a recurring role on MTV's The Lyricist Lounge Show. He also starred opposite Adam Sandler in Mr. Deeds. After a season as a cast member on the sketch comedy program Cedric the Entertainer Presents, he worked as a writer on Saturday Night Live before landing the Curb Your Enthusiasm gig. Smoove returns to the Improv tonight at 7:30 and 10 and tomorrow night at 7 and 9:30. Tickets cost $30. (Niesel)

1148 Main Ave., 216-696-IMPROV, clevelandimprov.com.

SAT 01/18

Aretha: The Queen of Soul

Singer Charity Lockhart stars in this homage to Aretha Franklin, one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. Franklin's iconic career spanned six decades, and she received 18 Grammy Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom during that time. Rolling Stone magazine also put her atop its list of the Greatest Singers of All Time. A 10-piece band will accompany Lockhart at this show that takes place at 4 and 7:30 p.m. at the Hanna Theatre. Tickets cost $47.50. (Niesel)

2067 East 14th St., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Greener Grass

This film centers on two soccer moms who live in a pastel-colored suburban Neverland. Things begin to go awry when one of them gives the other her newborn daughter for keeps. Two veteran female improv comics direct and star in the movie, a hit at last year's Cleveland International Film Festival. It screens at 9:50 tonight at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. Tickets cost $10, or $8 for Cinematheque members and students. (Niesel)

11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450, cia.edu.

SUN 01/19

Barry Lyndon

As part of a special series devoted to the films of director Stanley Kubrick, the Cinematheque will show his 1975 film Barry Lyndon tonight at 6:30. Set in England in the 18th century, the film centers on an Irish rogue (Ryan O'Neal) who wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband's position. Admission is $12, or $9 for all Cinematheque members and students. (Niesel)

11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450, cia.edu.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blach

Directed by Pamela B. Green and narrated by Jodie Foster, this documentary film examines the life of forgotten French-American film pioneer Alice Guy-Blach, history's first female film director and perhaps the first moviemaker to direct a narrative film. During her career, she experimented with color, synchronized sound, close-ups and minority casting. She even started her own company before disappearing from filmmaking. The movie screens at 1:30 p.m. today at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Tickets cost $10 or $7 for CMA members. (Niesel)

11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org.

Nelsin Davis

Shop local. Eat local. Laugh local. That's what Cleveland-native Nelsin Davis hopes you'll do tonight when he performs at the Improv. Davis has been making his rounds throughout the state for the last few years, leaving a trail of side-split Ohioans in his wake. The situational comic focuses on storytelling in his routine, so expect more of a clever audiobook than a standup performance. Davis takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. (Brittany Rees)

1148 Main Ave., 216-696-IMPROV, clevelandimprov.com.

MON 01/20

Cavaliers vs. New York Knicks

The Cavaliers have a good chance of notching a win today as the New York Knicks come to town. Like the Cavs, the Knicks are rebuilding. And while they likely have a superstar in guard/forward Rowan Alexander "RJ" Barrett Jr., they're a long way from becoming the kind of competitive team that the storied franchise deserves. Part of the NBA's special MLK Day celebration, the game commences at 5 p.m. at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Check the website for ticket prices. (Niesel)

1 Center Court, 216-420-2000, rocketmortgagefieldhouse.com.

Free Programs at the Maltz Museum

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day with an all-day free event. Cleveland's own Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. will give a sermon at 10:30 a.m., the Evelyn Wright Quartet will perform at 1 p.m., and the documentary film Soundtrack for a Revolution: Freedom Songs from the Civil Rights Era, with talk-back by Kyle Kidd, will screen at 3 p.m. Guests are invited to tour the galleries and participate in family friendly hands-on crafts and activities at no cost. The museum opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. (Niesel)

2929 Richmond Rd., Beachwood, 216-593-0575, maltzmuseum.org.

Open House at Severance Hall

Today from noon to 5 p.m., Severance Hall hosts a free day of music and community engagement. The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus will perform, and there will be a special presentation of Dr. Mark Lomax II's 400: An African Epic, a "journey through music that chronologically represents the Afrikan experience, past, present and future." A discussion led by Joy Bostic, interim VP of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at CWRU, will follow the performance. There will also be line dancing in the Bogomolny-Kozerefski Grand Foyer. Admission is free, and tickets aren't required. (Niesel)

11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111, clevelandorchestra.com.

MLK Day at the Rock Hall

Today's special MLK Day celebration at the Rock Hall begins at 10:30 a.m. with a screening of the film Let Freedom Ring in the Foster Theatre and a performance by the Rainey Institute Dance Team on the Klipsch Audio Main Stage. Throughout the day, there will be more film screenings and live performances as well as family activities and Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech will screen on a 22-minute film loop. Admission is free. (Niesel)

1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., 216-515-8444, rockhall.com.

MLK Day at the Art Museum

Normally closed on Mondays, the Cleveland Museum of Art will be open today for a special MLK Day Celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be youth performances, gallery talks, art activities, and educational programs about King's legacy. Admission is free. (Niesel)

11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org.

MLK Day at the Aquarium

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium will team up with the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, Inc. (UBF) for a community fund- and friend-raiser that takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the aquarium. Every guest who donates $1 or more to UBF today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, will receive discounted same-day $10 admission to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. In addition to regularly scheduled Sharks & Scuba talks and animal encounters, the aquarium will highlight African-Americans who played prominent roles in the fields of marine science and scuba diving. There will also be a MLK Day Search for Greatness scavenger hunt and the chance to win an annual family pass. UBF volunteers will be stationed in the aquarium lobby to take donations and provide discounted admission vouchers. Both adults and children will receive the general admission rate of $10 when donating at least $1. No presales are available. (Niesel)

2000 Sycamore St., 216-862-8803, greaterclevelandaquarium.com.

Shit Show Karaoke

Local rapper/promoter Dirty Jones and Scene's own Manny Wallace host Shit Show Karaoke, a weekly event at the B-Side Liquor Lounge wherein patrons choose from "an unlimited selection of jams from hip-hop to hard rock," and are encouraged to "be as bad as you want." Fueled by drink and shot specials, it all goes down tonight at 10 p.m. (Niesel)

2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-1966, bsideliquorlounge.com.

TUE 01/21

Classical Revolution Cleveland

Today, and the third Tuesday of every month, Classical Revolution Cleveland brings chamber music to the Happy Dog. Performers like the Trepanning Trio, students of Cleveland Institute of Music, and even Cleveland Orchestra members grace the stage in these exciting, free concerts. Tonight's performance starts at 8. (Stoops) 5801 Detroit Ave., 216-651-9474, happydogcleveland.com.

Gauguin from the National Gallery, London

This documentary film about the life and work of Paul Gauguin examines the artist's legacy through the lenses of art history, gender and postcolonial politics. It also provides an up-close and personal guided tour of The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Gauguin Portraits at London's National Gallery. The film screens at 1:45 p.m. today at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Tickets cost $15, or $11 for CMA members. (Niesel)

11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org.

Jersey Boys

This hit musical tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and chronicles how the group went from the streets of New Jersey to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Expect to hear hits such as "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)." Tonight's opening-night performance takes place at 7:30 at Connor Palace. Performances continue through Jan. 26. Tickets cost $39 to $119. (Niesel)

1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Open Turntable Tuesday

Tonight from 6 to 9, the Winchester hosts its weekly Open Turntable Tuesday. Jason Gokorsch will book guest DJs and offer slots to people who want to bring their own vinyl and spin their favorite songs or deep tracks. First time DJs are encouraged, and equipment is provided. Patrons can also bring records for the night's DJ to add to their set. Sign up on Northeast Ohio Vinyl Club's Facebook page. (Niesel)

12112 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-600-5338, facebook.com/TheWinchesterMusicTavern.

Vinyl Night

Jukebox owner Alex Budin has described his 1,350-square-foot music-focused bar in the Hingetown 'hood as "a place where people can expect to hear and learn about music of multiple genres, all of which is concentrated in a constantly evolving jukebox." The club hosts a vinyl night every Tuesday that serves as a listening party for new releases, partnering with Loop in Tremont, so patrons can hear a new album on vinyl. You can bring your own vinyl and spin it too. It all starts at 5 p.m. (Niesel)

1404 West 29th St., 216-206-7699, jukeboxcle.com.

Read more:

Get Out: Everything You Should Be Doing in Cleveland This Week (Jan. 15-21) - Cleveland Scene

Evening Update: Peter MacKay joining Tory leadership race; the latest on UIA Flight 752 – The Globe and Mail

Posted By on January 15, 2020

Good evening, lets start with todays top stories:

Putin accused of seeking to become Russias leader-for-life through constitutional changes

Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed changes to the constitution that critics say clear the way for him to remain the countrys leader-for-life.

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Hours later, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that he and his entire cabinet would resign to provide the president of our country with the ability to make all necessary decisions for this.

Later in the day, Putin named Mikhail Mishustin a 53-year-old political unknown who had previously headed Russias tax service as the countrys new prime minister.

This is the daily Evening Update newsletter. If youre reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you, you can sign up for Evening Update and more than 20 more Globe newsletters here. If you like what you see, please share with your friends.

Canadian government may offer interim compensation to families of Flight 752 victims

Ottaway says its considering paying out interim compensation to families of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 victims who died last week in Iran after Tehrans military shot down their aircraft.

The Canadian government says it ultimately expects Iran to pay compensation to the families, but has acknowledged a full investigation could be take time to determine what happened. At least 57 Canadians were among the 176 people killed.

Meanwhile, officials from five countries, other than Iran, whose citizens died in the disaster Canada, Ukraine, Britain, Sweden and Afghanistan are meeting in London tomorrow over how to deal with Iran.

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Peter MacKay: Im in for federal Conservative leadership race

Ending months of speculation, former federal cabinet minister Peter MacKay entered the Conservative leadership race with a tweet this afternoon: Im in. Stay tuned. The new leader replacing Andrew Scheer, who stepped down after a disappointing election loss and as it was revealed he was using party money to pay for his childrens private school will be chosen June 27.

During the fall election campaign, The Globe and Mail reported that MacKays supporters were laying the groundwork for a possible leadership bid in the event that Scheer was unable to defeat the Liberals.

U.S. politics: Trump impeachment case advances; U.S.-China sign Phase 1 trade deal

The U.S. House today voted to send two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate and approve House prosecutors for only the third impeachment trial in American history.

The seven-member prosecution team will be led by the chairmen of the House impeachment proceedings, representatives Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler. The Senate trial is set to start tomorrow.

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Opinion: Impeachment has risen to a level beyond confidence in a particular official; it is about confidence in an office. - Geoffrey Vaughan, professor, Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.

Separately, Trump signed the Phase 1 trade deal with China, capping more than two years of tense negotiations and escalating threats. Its intended to open Chinese markets to more U.S. companies, but keeps in place many of the tariffs that Trump has placed on US$360-billion worth of Chinese goods.

The latest on Prince Harry and Meghan

The controversy swirling around Prince Harry and Meghan has intensified amid reports that the Duchesss father is prepared to testify against her as part of a legal battle with a British tabloid.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in a long-running battle with the British press. This past October, she launched a lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday that largely centres on a letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle, shortly after the couples wedding.

The Queen this week agreed to a transition period for the couple after their bombshell announcement that they planned to step back from Royal Family duties, seek greater financial independence and split their time between Canada and Britain.

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The Duchess is currently in British Columbia with the couples son, Archie, and paid a visit to the Downtown Eastside Womens Centre yesterday, which shared a photo on Facebook.

Meghan Markle, centre, poses with a group at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre. (Photo via Facebook)

Downtown Eastside Women's Centre/Downtown Eastside Women's Centre

Opinion: Their presence will be awkward. They would be more or less permanent embodiments of a British monarchy that remains attached to our independent Canadian Crown, reminding us of what we were not what weve become. - Philippe Lagass, associate professor, Carleton University.

Read more: Meghan and Harrys Canadian solution: The plan so far, and the questions it raises.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

5G network rollout: Rogers Communications is beginning to roll out fifth-generation wireless networks in the downtown cores of several major Canadian cities as the countrys telecom sector gears up for the global race to deploy 5G networks.

Ontario teachers strike: The Ontario government says it will reimburse parents for child-care costs if public elementary school teachers and education workers in Toronto, York and Ottawa stage a one-day strike on Monday. Also today, the Ontario Secondary School Federation announced its latest rotating strikes for next Tuesday.

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Rare B.C. blizzard warning: A powerful snowstorm that has closed part of Highway 1 east of Vancouver and shuttered every public school and university across southern Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver today has led to a rare blizzard warning for a region just north of the city.

Meningitis acquittal appeal: The Alberta Crowns appeal of the acquittal of David and Collet Stephan in the death of their son 19-month-old Ezekiel is reported to have died from meningitis is set to be heard in June.

Rock HOF inductees: Posthumous inductees Whitney Houston and The Notorious B.I.G. are joining the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, joined by Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails and T-Rex.

Golden Knights fire coach: Gerard Gallant was abruptly fired by the Vegas Golden Knights today, less than two years after leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season. Peter DeBoer, fired last month by the San Jose Sharks, takes over immediately.

Jeopardy! GOAT: Ken Jennings won his third match in the Jeopardy! Greatest of all Time contest televised on yesterday, and pocketed $1-million by dispatching James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter.

MARKET WATCH

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Key world stock market indexes climbed to new records today on hopes a U.S.-China trade deal will reduce tensions, but oil prices slid on doubts the pact will spur world growth and boost crude demand.

Wall Street stocks ended higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 90.55 points to 29,030.22, while the S&P 500 gained 6.14 points to end at 3,289.29 and the Nasdaq Composite closed at 9,258.70, 7.37 points higher.

In Toronto, S&P/TSX Composite index rose 62.27 points to 17,415.17 as marijuana producers shares surged.

Got a news tip that youd like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

TALKING POINTS

Aeroplan, its time to stop grabbing back the miles of your inactive customers

Memo to Air Canada: As you head toward the introduction of a new version of Aeroplan this year, please give some consideration to not having points expire. Really, isnt it on you if your members arent motivated enough to stay active? - Rob Carrick

Tim Hortons identity crisis could erode chains long-established brand

Most of the iconic chains decisions have left Canadians scratching their heads. Many of its choices in recent months have been simply inexplicable. - Sylvain Charlebois, professor at Dalhousie University

LIVING BETTER

Is there such a thing as too niche? When it comes to cruising, the industry is constantly coming up with new ideas for themed trips, trying to show travellers that there is something for everyone. But knitting cruises or heavy metal cruises might not be quite your taste. If you like the concept of a theme cruise but crave tasteful over tacky here are seven choices to keep in mind. They include options for vegans, beer lovers and Jewish heritage enthusiasts.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

What kind of data is my new car collecting about me? Nearly everything it can, apparently

Your car knows all about you your habits, where you like to go and when, and maybe even what sort of temperament you have. Cameras inside cars even track your eyes to see whether youre watching the road.

If you spent as much time one-on-one with a friend as you do with your car, your friend would know an awful lot about you, too. The difference is that car companies, unlike friends, have a financial incentive for knowing things about you.

As cars become like two-tonne rolling smartphones always online, anticipating your needs, listening to your voice, tracking your movements and loaded with apps that have access to your credit card information what your car knows about you and who has access to that data for what purpose could become an increasingly contentious issue. Read Matt Bubbers full story here.

Evening Update is presented by S.R. Slobodian. If youd like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

Go here to read the rest:

Evening Update: Peter MacKay joining Tory leadership race; the latest on UIA Flight 752 - The Globe and Mail

Religious-Zionist politics in turmoil as parties turn on each other – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on January 15, 2020

Defections, betrayals, secret deals, the admission of the far Right, and prime ministerial interference are just some of the events that have characterized the chaos of religious-Zionist politics over the last 12 months.As of this writing, the supposedly liberal right-wing outfit of Naftali Bennetts New Right has united with the decidedly illiberal National Union; Bayit Yehudi is stuck with the extremist Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit; and Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz has become an electoral liability and deeply unpopular within his own party.What has happened?For several months now, substantial parts of the Bayit Yehudi membership and central committee have become increasingly angry with Peretz for refusing to allow primary elections for leadership of the party and its electoral list.Peretz has proved to be an electoral liability, a religious hard-liner, and a generally charisma-less leader of Bayit Yehudi compared to the dynamism and electoral attraction of Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, all of which has seen the partys polling numbers plummet.Because of all this, when negotiations began to reunite Bayit Yehudi with its longtime political partner, National Union, it looked increasingly likely that National Union leader Bezalel Smotrich would wrest the leadership of the joint list away from Peretz.In a Machiavellian move, Peretz then did an end run around Smotrich to unite with the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party to outflank his National Union rival.This move heaped pressure on Smotrich because he essentially had no place to go. Bennett was insisting that New Right was running independently as a liberal, right-wing party, and National Union had no hope of passing the electoral threshold by itself.Enter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Sometime earlier this week, Netanyahu got hold of internal party polling demonstrating that a joint list of Bayit Yehudi, National Union and Otzma would struggle to pass the 3.5% electoral threshold.Panicking that the center-left bloc would almost certainly gain a majority and evict Netanyahu from Balfour Street if close to 140,000 right-wing votes got thrown in the dustbin, the prime minister pressured Bennett to bring in Smotrich, and then Bayit Yehudi and even Otzma.While this was going on, Peretz and Smotrich were still in negotiations to form a united list, but Peretz seemingly reneged on a promise to allow internal primaries after a full party merger, which blew a hole in the proposed agreement.Smotrich was now only too willing to accept Netanyahus proposed unity deal with New Right, since it would rescue him from political oblivion and turn the tables on Peretz.Bennett subsequently folded in the face of Netanyahus pressure, which included threats to fire him from his long-coveted role as defense minister, and Peretz found himself out in the cold with the extremists of Otzma in a joint list, which will be extremely hard pressed to pass the electoral threshold.Netanyahu then weighed in again Wednesday night with the preposterous idea that senior religious-Zionist authority Rabbi Haim Druckman, 87 years old and in poor health, should temporarily take over the leadership of Bayit Yehudi, so as to bring unity to the religious-Zionist political scene and save the prime minister from appearing in the Jerusalem District Court to face his corruption charges.As it stands now, Bennett is resisting the demands to bring in Otzma to his joint electoral list and has invited only Bayit Yehudi, while Peretz is insisting that he will not abandon his radical partners and will join a united list only if the Kahanists can come, too.Whatever happens by the deadline for submitting electoral lists to the Central Elections Committee Wednesday at midnight, the wounds of this latest election campaign will be deep and painful, and will not quickly be healed.

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Religious-Zionist politics in turmoil as parties turn on each other - The Jerusalem Post


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