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New York Media Unanimously Endorse Jeffries, Condemn Barron

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As the race for Congress in Brooklyn’s 8th Congressional District heats up as the June 26th Democratic Primary fast approaches, an across-the-board range of media outlets – following the lead of the Jewish Voice – have come out with editorials condemning candidate Charles Barron and endorsing his opponent, Hakeem Jeffries.

The New York Times – hardly a bastion of conservatism and pro-Israel sentiment itself – ripped Barron apart for his hate-filled rhetoric and radical extremist left-wing views, calling him “an embarrassing ideologue, who rants against Israel.”

Going into further detail about the City Councilman’s outrageous actions over the years, the Times related how Barron has publicly praised both the late Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafy and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, each of whom gained worldwide notoriety for the brutal oppression of their citizens.

The Times additionally related, “At a speech in Washington calling on the federal government to pay slavery reparations, Mr. Barron declared: ‘I want to go up to the closest white person and say, ‘You can’t understand this, it’s a black thing,’ and then slap him just for my mental health.”

Outlining its support of Barron’s opponent, the Times stated: “Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries is a solid legislator.  He has worked to bring in more affordable housing and strengthened protections for tenants.”
The Daily News has not minced any words in expressing its disgust with Councilman Barron. Calling him “a relic of a bitter bygone era…who plays a one-note trumpet of racial grievance,” the popular newspaper notes that Barron has called for training public school teachers in “Ebonics” and described housing development as “a new wave of Jim Crowism.”

In contrast, the paper offers substantive details to back up its strong support of Jeffries. “He has stood on principle for nonpartisan redistricting — a crucial fix to the DNA of New York’s democracy,” the News explains. “And he fought to lift the charter school cap as part of sweeping educational reforms that won New York $700 million in new federal funding.” Summing up its position in the Congressional race, the Daily News declared, “One man in this contest is a class act. The other is a malignant clown.”

Calling Barron a “shameless racial demagogue,” The New York Post noted that he once called Israel “the biggest terrorist nation on Earth.” Endorsing Jeffries, the newspaper described him as a “top-notch litigator with private-sector experience,” and lauded the Assemblyman for eschewing classic liberal thinking by embracing school choice.

Perhaps most surprising of all is the strong condemnation of Barron released by the well-known liberal website, moveon.org. In an e-mail sent to its members urging voters to vote against the bombastic City Councilman, moveon.org provided a sampling of some of Barron’s incendiary quotes.

“Out there, they don’t know that Qaddafi was our brother,” Barron is quoted as saying. “People say ‘Didn’t he kill all those people?’ I say, ‘I don’t know anything.’” The website conclusively states that “Charles Barron is one of those people who don’t belong in elected office.”

As App Economy Skyrockets, Innovative School Trains Developers

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“This year, Apple flew by Exxon to become the biggest company in the world,” says Newton Academy founder Binyamin Bauman.Yaakov Relkin from Monsey, New York is a recent graduate of Newton Academy who is now earning a salary well into six figures as lead app developer for a large venture capital funded startup. Shimi Hochman, another recent graduate who runs his own thriving independent app development business, Simple Simon Apps, says “the investment I made in Newton Academy has already repaid itself many times over in the first year since I graduated.” Avi Mandelbaum had no background in computer programming, and never considered being an app developer until he heard about Newton Academy. “After graduating,” reports Avi, “I founded freelance app development shop LM Mobile with fellow graduate Eliezer Liebman. We already have quite a few ongoing projects, and a waiting list of clients.”

These are just a few of the success stories shared by graduates of Newton Academy, a revolutionary program training students for careers developing apps for smartphones and tablets like Apple’s’ iPhone and iPad, a job market where the average starting salary is about $90,000 a year.

“This year, Apple flew by Exxon to become the biggest company in the world,” says Newton Academy founder Binyamin Bauman. “Consumers are purchasing a staggering number of iPhones and iPads; more than 500,000 every single day,” he continues. “Every second, users of these devices download more than 500 apps, which are the core programs that make iPhones and iPads so powerful and magical.”

This large and fast growing market that is still in its infancy has resulted in a severe shortage of trained app developers, and there are thousands of excellent job openings waiting to be filled. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this trend will continue to accelerate during the coming decade with this occupation category growing faster than any other.

If they don’t want a 9-to-5 job, graduates can open up shop as freelance contractors, creating apps for businesses on a project basis. But for those with true entrepreneurial spirit, the sky is the limit. Many independent developers, called “indies”, have made small fortunes selling their creations in the App Store. Successful apps such as Instagram, which was recently acquired by Facebook for a staggering $1 billion, often get purchased by larger companies.

Newton Academy’s innovative program “flips the classroom”, a revolutionary approach to teaching in the Internet age that has been proven to achieve far more effective mastery of a subject than traditional methods. It’s called a ‘flip’ because students work together on homework under instructor guidance, and study the curriculum lessons at home with immersive video lessons that include graphics, animations, diagrams, and tutorials.

“This enables each student to learn at his or her own pace,” says Bauman. “Each module is first mastered with the help of instructors and fellow students before the student moves along to the next module. This also enables students to learn part-time or full-time while reaping the benefits of ongoing teacher assistance and peer interaction.”

Newton Academy’s training program is fully online. It takes about a year to complete, and it is designed for students who have no prior programming experience.

Every Newton Academy student who completes the academic curriculum gets a guaranteed apprenticeship. Newton Academy mentors and guides graduates closely while they create and market their first full-fledged app. Newton Academy also provides students with job placement assistance by leveraging its network of trusted recruiters and employers who are urgently seeking trained app developers.

Newton Academy is now accepting applications for its online training program, which begins on July 2. Available spots are filling fast. For more information, contact Newton Academy by phone at (800) 385-1397; by email at [email protected], or visit www.newtonacademy.org.

Lod: More than just Ben Gurion Airport

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Ben Gurion Airport (Photo credit: Gila Brand)I recently read an interesting article about the revitalization of Lod and was fascinated by the narrative of the ongoing gentrification process which is transforming many of Israel’s former development towns.

Lod is a city whose history goes back thousands of years. It is mentioned in the Bible in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah as one of the cities to which the Jews returned after the Babyonian exile.  Lod became a center of Jewish scholarship: Rabbi Akiva, Rabban Gamliel, Rav Huna and Rabbi Tarfon are just a few of the many Talmudic sages who lived there. During the subsequent periods of history – the Roman and Crusader Periods, the Ottoman Era and the British Mandate – Lod continued to be an active and vital urban center. By the end of the British Mandate period, when Lod’s Arab population had grown to 18,000, it became part of the UN’s proposed Arab State. After Israel declared its independence and was subsequently attacked by its Arab neighbors, Lod was captured by Israeli forces and became a haven to many Jews who had fled to freedom from their native Arab countries.

Today, Lod has a population of over 70,000, of whom 75% are Jews, most of whom emigrated in waves from Morocco and Tunisia, then from Ethiopia, and most recently from the Soviet Union.  This ongoing pattern of housing recent immigrants has contributed to Lod becoming known for its high crime rate and many sociological challenges. Yet, the facts on the ground – with many businesses attracted to the city due to its central location, and the numerous residential real estate projects being developed – are much more positive than the city’s unkind reputation would suggest.

In addition to housing Ben Gurion Airport, Lod is also host to Airport City, a burgeoning business park located near the airport. Airport City serves as a hub to the aircraft industry and has become a center for many types of businesses, offering a wide range of facilities from hi-tech office buildings to industrial and storage centers. Lod provides an inexpensive alternative to the more traditional business locations and is well-situated – less than 15 minutes from Tel Aviv, within a half hour from Jerusalem and an hour from Haifa – offering excellent highway access and superb public transportation via trains and buses.

Almost two years ago, The Lod Community Foundation started reaching out to university students and young couples in an effort to gentrify the city and upgrade its demographics, and has successfully attracted dozens to the student village being built to house university students. A key figure in this process is Itzik Shmuli, who heads the National Union of Israeli Students and was a major force in rallying students to participate in last summer’s tent rallies. Shmuli moved to Lod this past January and is now encouraging other students and young professionals to move to Lod as an extension of last summer’s social protests, explaining “we, the young people, need to be part of the change that we want to see here in Israeli society. We need to ask ourselves where we as young people can contribute to society, where society needs us, and to get involved in its weaker points.”

With such activity going on, it’s understandable why many people feel that Lod has the opportunity to finally step out of the shadows of its development town roots and step up to stake its claim as a significant metropolis. 

Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home, a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. You may contact him at [email protected] To read previous articles, please visit his blog at www.myisraelhome.com.

The Message and the Messenger: It’s Bob Turner Again

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It was just over nine months ago when a sole Republican generated a political earthquake in Washington, D.C.

Bob Turner, once an unknown Catholic businessman, unexpectedly defeated Democratic Candidate David Weprin— an Orthodox Jewish politician— by a significant margin to secure a seat held by Democrats for over eighty years. The stunning victory made national headlines, particularly due to the fact that an overwhelming majority of Jewish voters— an historically Blue voting bloc— rallied for a Republican candidate. The election results were largely cast as a popular message to President Obama on his disappointing performance while in office (in terms of fostering Israel-American relations and improving the economy).
The resounding message was heard loud and clear. Only a few days later, the President acknowledged it by giving one of the most pro-Israel speeches in the U.N. chamber during his term as president. Ever since, the settlement freeze demand has been dropped, the treatment of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has improved, and the approach on stopping Iran’s nuclear development has been sharpened by taking affirmative action – imposing the harshest of economic sanctions on the Iranian regime.

Besides serving as a messenger on behalf of New York voters, Congressman Turner— in his short term in office— has proven to be a strong advocate for Jewish causes, a steadfast supporter of the State of Israel, and a sincere friend of the Jewish community in Brooklyn. Serving on the homeland security and foreign affairs committees, Congressman Turner has co-sponsored several bills imposing pressure on Iran and other initiatives that consider Israel a vital ally and serve in the best interest of Turner’s district and the American Jewish Community.

The Democratic response to losing a key constituency, and a traditional voting bloc, was turned over to local Democrats— who toe the party line— to eliminate the congressional seat and split up the Jewish votes in several Democratic strongholds. Instead of paying a price for neglecting the largest Jewish community outside of Israel, admitting mistakes and addressing issues of concern to most voters, the Democrats have elected to ignore the call, punish voters, and fire the representative they picked—killing the messenger, rather than heeding and responding to the message.

While the presidential election might be close, New Yorkers will not be able to effectively influence the race other then using their right to vote and rejecting Obama’s policies. But there is one guy that could once again serve as a messenger on our behalf, if Obama manages to pull this through and win reelection, and that guy is familiar to most of you: Bob Turner.

Just imagine the shockwaves that would result if a Blue state like New York sends a Republican senator to replace one of Washington’s most liberal Senators and one of Obama’s closest allies, to effectively check the President and his policies.

Congressman Bob Turner is in our view the most credible candidate, the man who has a proven record of surprising observers from across the political spectrum, and the necessary credentials to make the Senate race competitive. In addition to the burning issues of the day and the national focus on jobs and the economy, Turner has the ability, with a strong Jewish base, to force Jewish issues into the national debate again.

Thereby, the Jewish Voice is proud to enthusiastically support and endorse Congressman Bob Turner as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s June 26th Republican primaries.  
In an expected low turnout, New York Republicans can make a difference. Every vote counts; it’s worth every effort to make a change, and be part of history yet again.

CBS Stands Behind Anti-Israel Slander

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Pictured above: more than enough time to slander the Jewish stateIt does not take sixty minutes but a mere few moments to level a smear against an entire nation. The recent CBS 60 Minutes program on Israel and its falsely alleged mistreatment of Christians was nothing less than a version of a modern day blood libel against the Jewish State.

The program ignored the real facts and the realities, as well as the many testimonies of Muslim persecution against Christians in the PA territories. A letter by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) Director Andrea Levin to Jeffrey B. Fager, Chairman of CBS News, quoted one such testimony by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the guardian of the Roman Catholic Church’s property in the Holy Land that appeared in the New York Sun in 2005, “Almost every day⎼I repeat, almost every day⎼our communities are harassed by the Islamic extremists in these regions. And if it’s not the members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, there are clashes with…the Palestinian Authority.” 

Program host Bob Simon, even described Israel’s security fence as ‘completely surrounding’ Bethlehem, which is simply false.

It is truly unfortunate in light of the tragic persecution of Christians in so many Islamic nations that 60 Minutes conjured up a spurious account in order to malign Israel, while disregarding those whose stories truly need to be told.

One must appreciate the efforts of the organization CAMERA and others like it which refuted the tendentious reporting by Simon.

On May 24, at a CBS shareholders meeting board members of CAMERA were in attendance to respond to the charges leveled in the program. A letter by Andrea Levin which was distributed just prior to the meeting, expressed the organization’s goals: “Although we have attempted through Mr. Radcliffe to elicit corrections for a number of material errors and omissions, our efforts have been unsuccessful. These factual shortcomings do need to be rectified and we are writing once more to urge that CBS adhere to the fundamental tenets of journalism that require news reporting to be accurate and fair and that instances of false reporting be fully and forthrightly corrected⎼on the air.”

When CBS called for a vote on the new directors, CAMERA board member Carol Greenwald arose and asked if CBS has a policy in line with standards of professional journalists which requires prompt corrections of factual issues. Another CAMERA Board Member, Richard Allen, then asked if CBS had taken into account the impact on earnings if CBS News lost the confidence of the public as an institution devoted to accurate and balanced reporting.

CBS responded by attempting to whitewash the entire matter. Its general counsel replied that they had received 476 comments on that 60 Minutes program and that half of them were positive. However, information supplied by CAMERA, which monitors complaints by viewers, told a very different story, stating the number of complaints was significantly higher. The organization, CUFI, Christians United for Israel had sent 29,602 emails within the first 24 hours of its ‘action alert’ and Jewish Council for Public Affairs had sent 3,000, not even counting those of CAMERA and other individuals not affiliated with any of the aforementioned organizations.

During the meeting, Greenwald read a statement reiterating the requests of CAMERA, that CBS “go on the air and correct the calumny that Israel mistreats Christians,” and stated that CBS “needs to broadcast a correction that distinguishes between the violence towards Christians in the Palestinian Authority controlled territories and the security enjoyed by Christians in Israel.” Greenwald then continued, “We have provided an attachment which gives a brief litany of the horrors being visited upon Christians by Muslims in Muslim countries which puts the ridiculous accusations against Israel in perspective.”

Many shareholders responded to statements by CAMERA members with applause.  One individual thanked the CAMERA representatives and stated that she had been very upset by all the letters about the distorted 60 Minutes segment that were published in the newspaper, The Jewish Week. When the general counsel said Greenwald had to stop speaking because of time, several people called, out, “let her talk, we want to hear what she has to say.”

When Richard Allen said it was “too bad that CBS had decided to throw the Jews down the well.” Les Moonves, the president of CBS responded that he was offended by that remark which he denied was true. Allen countered that he was “sure that Moonves was offended and he should be because it was true.” The chairman of CAMERA’s board, Robert Weisberg, then spoke and told Moonves that he should not be “so defensive” about criticism of 60 Minutes because the problems were eminently “solvable by the Board of CBS.”

Will CBS admit that its reporting was biased and offer a public correction? Not only have they not retracted the story but the head of CBS news, Jeffrey Fager wrote to CAMERA stating that CBS stands behind the story as fair reporting.

So much for accuracy and accountability at CBS.

Larry Domnitch teaches history at Touro College’s Miami branch, Touro College South. He has written two books: The Jewish Holidays: A Journey Through History and The Cantonists: The Jewish Children’s Army of the Tsar, and is an op-ed contributor to Jewish media outlets like Arutz Sheva.

The SPLC’s Shameful Attack on Defenders of Freedom

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The Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center, recalling the days when the SPLC was dedicated to fighting extremism… as opposed to silencing its opponents.The Southern Poverty Law Center’s (‘SPLC’) newly released June “Intelligence Report” titled “30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right” is another attempt by the Left to silence those who seek to educate the public on the Islamist threat. While this report purports to describe persons who are so-called dangerous members of the “radical right,” it is a misleading work product. Specifically, this report lumps together respectable critics of Radical Islam, including World Net Daily Publisher Joseph Farah, founder and president of the American Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney, blogger and activist Pamela Geller, writer Cliff Kincaid, and attorney David Yerushalmi, in with bigoted members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and the New Black Panthers. This shameful attack on Free Speech is an attempt to silence SPLC’s ideological opponents by castigating them “as political opportunists and hard-line Islamophobes.” This report serves as another example of the SPLC further destroying its reputation as an unbiased civil rights observer by maligning respectable critics of Radical Islam as bigoted members of the so-called ‘radical right.’

The SPLC knows full well that people like Frank Gaffney, an ex-Reagan Defense Department official, and David Yerushalmi, a nationally respected attorney, are neither bigots nor radicals of any sort. For the SLPC to categorize individuals seeking to protect our homeland and rule of law with the likes of David Duke and Malik Zulu Shabazz is both preposterous and unsettling. For example, Malik Zulu Shabazz, the leader of the leftist New Black Panthers organization, is well known for his “long history of anti-Semitism” which “includes promoting conspiracy theories about Jewish foreknowledge of the September 11 terrorist attacks.” The SPLC’s intellectual dishonesty is a transparent attempt to silence those who educate the public on the threat of radical Islam and Islamist terrorism. It is also axiomatic that this report will be used as a tool by the Islamist’s to quiet their opponents – the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has already cited the report’s attack on both Dr. Gaffney and Mr. Yerushalmi.

Unfortunately, the SPLC has become increasingly known for its deceptive labeling of its ideological opponents. Their common practice was confronted head on this past December 2011, when 22 Republican lawmakers, including Speaker John Boehner along with three governors, and a number of conservative organizations took out full-page ads in two Washington papers castigating the SPLC for “character assassination” by listing the conservative Family Research Council as a hate group.

Not only have SPLC’s practices recently been called into question but also its true motives. Richard Samp of the Washington Legal Foundation has stated that “he finds it difficult to take anything the SPLC does nowadays seriously. There are so many of these [liberal groups] that they have to speak in particularly shrill tones in order to distinguish themselves from the many other groups out there. I certainly disagree with their saying America is racist. I don’t think they really believe that,” he said. Samp concludes that SPLC’s hyping of racism in America is “simply fundraising puffery.” Other observers from across the ideological spectrum, including left-of-center writers, such as Ken Silverstein and JoAnn Wypijewski, have also theorized that fundraising is behind the SLPC’s inflammatory language. Wypijewski has written that “(n) o one has been more assiduous in inflating the profile of [hate] groups than the center’s millionaire huckster, Morris Dees…’”

The threat of Radical Islam across America is very real issue and should not be trivialized by vilifying its opposition. By generalizing that Ms. Geller and Messrs. Farah, Gaffney, Kincaid and Yerushalmi are part of “an anti-Muslim movement,” the SPLC has acted irresponsibly and in an inflammatory manner. And by labeling these critics of Radical Islam as “bigots,” the SPLC is serving as a true impediment against its own mandate.

The Cold War Between Turkey and Iran

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With American clout in the Middle East on the decline, the historic power struggle between Turkey and Iran has intensified, each attempting to fill the vacuum in the region by expanding its influence. Syria and Iraq have become the battlefields between Turkey and Iran. In Syria, a proxy war is underway, with Iran supplying weapons to its Alawite client and Turkey actively arming the opposition. In Iraq, Turkey and Iran vie for political influence along Sunni-Shiite fault lines. In neither arena is Turkey seen as the regional leader it aspires to be.

Neo-Ottomans vs. Persians on a Middle East Chessboard
The US withdrawal from Iraq, and its corresponding decline in regional influence, has left a power vacuum in the Middle East. Two historic rivals, Turkey and Iran, have stepped into the fray; each hoping to extend its influence at the expense of the other. With Syria and Iraq serving as the battlefields, the lines of battle have been drawn mostly along Sunni-Shiite sectarian divisions.

In Syria, where the Sunni majority is struggling to overthrow the Alawite Assad regime, Turkish-Iranian differences can have dire consequences for Arab lives. A proxy war has effectively developed, with the Iranians supplying weapons to their Alawite clients and Turkey actively arming the opposition.

The victims of the recent massacre in Houla, who numbered more than 100, half of whom were children, served as pawns in the regional game between the ancient rivals. Tehran sided with the Assad regime in claiming that the murders were perpetrated by terrorists and foreign forces. Whereas Ankara demanded that Syria withdraws its diplomats from Turkey within 72 hours. The Turkish foreign ministry also threatened to take further “measures” if such crimes against humanity continued in Syria.

In contrast with the Syrian scenes of carnage, the Turkish-Iranian showdown in Iraq includes less bloodshed and more political maneuvering. Ankara and Tehran each has its favored political groups and personalities. The pro-Iran Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the pro-Turkish Sunni Vice President Tarek Hashimi each serves as a respective “man in Baghdad.”

Under pressure from the Iran-aligned Maliki, an arrest warrant was issued for Hashimi on charges of running death squads against Iraqi Shiites. Interpol subsequently issued its own arrest warrant for Hashimi. However, the erstwhile vice prime minister has found refuge in Turkey, and Ankara has made clear that it is not about to hand over its man in Baghdad.

Clearly, a Cold War has developed between Turkey and Iran in the Middle East. While so far tensions have remained relatively stable, there is a real possibility of things heating up.

Syria: The Proxy War
In Syria, the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad is coming under increasing pressure from an expanding insurgency. Ankara has offered sanction and armed and moral support to the opposition.
Turkey’s Hatay province has become the headquarters of the Free Syrian Army, while the Friends of Syria, which is critical of Assad, held a meeting in Istanbul on April 1, 2012.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has told the Turkish Parliament that Damascus has the blood of innocents on its hands, and that Turkey “would not offer its hand to such a regime unless it cleans itself up.”

In contrast, Iran continues to support the Baathist regime politically and militarily. Iran even acknowledges that its Quds Forces, the arm of the Revolutionary Guards tasked with overseas operations, has conducted operations in Syria. Ismail Gha’ani, the deputy head of the Quds force, has claimed that, “Before our presence in Syria, too many people were killed by the opposition but with the physical and non-physical presence of the Islamic republic, big massacres in Syria were prevented.”

There is also reason to believe that Iran’s Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, has played a supportive role in the bloody crackdown.

Syria has become the test field of Ankara’s and Tehran’s proxy war capabilities. Iran is much more experienced in waging proxy wars in a wide array of areas, ranging from Afghanistan to Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian radical Muslims. However, as atrocities similar to the Houla massacre continue to mount, there is increasing risk that the low intensity conflict could provoke a military intervention.

The scenario of an intervention would be a game changer. Currently, Iran can leverage its superior experience in proxy warfare. However, Turkey holds the advantage with regard to conventional warfare capacity. Thus, Iran can have the upper hand as long as the Syrian crisis does not force a military intervention by the West and/or Turkey.

Iraq: The Political Contest
Ever since the American departure from Iraq, Turkey and Iran have each tried to use their weight to affect the political makeup of the country and extend their influence. The competition first surfaced in the parliamentary elections of 2010 when Ankara supported the relatively secular and Sunni dominated Iraqiya party, which included Hashimi’s Renewal List. Tehran on the other hand, stood behind the State of Law Coalition, which included Maliki’s Islamic Da’awa Party, and other Shiite Islamist groups which gathered under the National Iraqi Alliance bloc.

Although the Sunni Iraqiya garnered two seats more than the State of Law Coalition in the elections, Maliki managed to keep his position as prime minister by consolidating his power with the more radical, pro-Iran Shiite groups of the National Iraqi Alliance, including the Sadrists and Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council. Maliki has gradually seized greater personal control over the country by simultaneously retaining multiple critical posts, such as acting interior minister, defense minister and national security affairs minister.

It was under these circumstances that the pro-Ankara Vice President Hashimi was forced to flee the country. Hashimi first took refuge with the regional government of Northern Iraq, and then travelled to the Sunni Gulf states before settling in Turkey.

In Iraq, the regional Sunni-Shiite fault lines are clearly visible. Baghdad has aligned itself with Iran in support of the Alawite regime in Syria. It has blocked an attempt by the Arab League to adopt a harsh resolution against Assad’s crackdown.

The formation of a Shiite bloc has corresponded with a Turkish-Iraqi divergence, which peaked in April 2012, when Maliki labeled Turkey “a hostile state.” This statement was made in response to Prime Minister Erdogan’s accusation against the Maliki administration of fomenting sectarian tensions in Iraq.

Ankara responded to the Shiite bloc by deepening its ties with Sunnis and with Kurds in northern Iraq, in addition to hosting Tarek Hashimi in Istanbul.

Turkish-Iraqi, and sectarian, tensions have simmered to the point that they have been manifest on the street. On May 19 there were anti-Turkey demonstrations and a burning of the Turkish flag in Basra, a Shiite province. These acts infuriated the Turkish public.

Turkish Regional Leadership?
Adherents of the Turkish foreign policy doctrine, the so-called Davutoglu Doctrine, wish to see Turkey as the rising star of the region; as the leader of a regional “spring.” Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu has declared that, “Turkey will lead the change in the Middle East as its master and servant.”

However, in Syria and Iraq the “Arab Spring” has turned into the sectarian winter of the Islamic world, with Turkey as a problematic protagonist, not a leader. Early on, Davutoglu promoted a ”zero problems with neighbors” foreign policy, which aimed to enhance Turkey’s power in the historical Ottoman territories and promote integration for making national borders meaningless – all in an attempt to restore Turkish (Ottoman) regional hegemony. Yet Turkey’s involvement in Shiite-Sunni conflicts renders this doctrine an unattainable utopia. None of the local players see Turkey as the regional leader it aspires to be.

Can Kasapoðlu, who holds a Ph.D. from the Strategic Research Institute at the Turkish War College, is a visiting post-doctoral researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. This article was originally published as BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 172.

Municipal Bonds 101

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What are municipal bonds?
Municipal bonds are debt obligations of a local government (e.g. city or county) or one of its agencies, which can be issued for such projects as the building of schools, medical facilities, water and sewer systems, roads and other purposes that benefit the public. When the government entity borrows money for such purposes they promise to pay interest on a semi-annual basis and return the principal sum either at maturity or on a date on which the bond can be called in early (usually call dates are ten years from initial issuance).  For purposes of this article let’s concentrate on tax-exempt bonds which offer income that, because it is exempt from federal, state and city taxes, is commonly known as triple tax-free income. A resident of New York who purchases a bond with after-tax dollars issued by a NY government entity is exempt from paying taxes on the interest received. The purchase of Puerto Rico, Guam and Virgin Islands Bonds are also triple-tax-free. 

When purchasing a bond, one needs to familiarize themselves with credit ratings, maturities, call features, and sinking funds. Two major risks involved in the purchase of bonds are credit risk and interest rate risk, which will affect its marketability if the bond is sold before maturity. The rule of thumb is that the higher return means higher risk.

A bond buyer would also need to ascertain if they are subject to Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) which is a federal tax that requires wealthy individuals to pay a minimum tax.

Individual bonds can be generally bought in blocks of $5000 denominations, and can trade at par, a premium, or a discount to its face value.

A bond fund is an alternative to buying individual bonds, and offers diversification of bond issues.  A bond fund can include in their portfolio general obligation bonds, revenue and industrial development bonds, hospital bonds, healthcare bonds and, tobacco master settlement bonds. Certain fund families offer limited or short term maturities, or AMT-free bonds for investors who are subject to alternative minimum tax.
In the current interest rate environment, tax free municipal bonds offer exceptional value when compared to other income vehicles such as treasury bills, CDs, or corporate bonds.  A treasury going out ten years yields a paltry 1.72%.  This is the lowest yield on ten year treasuries since the Eisenhower administration.  Thirty year treasuries yield 2.81%, and five year CDs, 1.49%.  Although some real estate investment trust can fetch upwards of 13%, they are a riskier investment than the others discussed here.  A ten year Puerto Rico general obligation rated BAA1/BBB yields 3.793% with a taxable equivalent of 5.2% in the 28% tax bracket. New York City GOs whose term extends to 2035 yields approximately 4.4% and Puerto Rico GOs, generally cheaper than New York paper, will yield approximately 4.8% to 5%.

While some investors choose to get the highest possible return by buying long term bonds, other choose to stay short term so as not to see their principal go down when and if rates go up. Some investors hedge their portfolios by building a ladder and spreading out the maturities. An example of this would be to buy 3,5,10,15,20,25, and 30 year maturities, and re-evaluate when each bond matures.

Robert Kirschner is a registered representative offering securities through Walnut Street Securities Inc. (“WSS”) Member Finra, SIPC. If you would like to learn more about income-producing financial investments, you can contact Mr. Kirschner at [email protected], or by phone at 212-769-3411.

Namibia Halts Supply of Rough Diamonds to Leviev’s Company

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Namibia’s state diamond company has announced its decision to halt the supply of uncut diamonds to Israeli businessman Lev Leviev’s company. The southwest African country’s Minister of Mines and Energy said that the move comes in response to Leviev’s inability to meet the government’s legal requirements. Leviev’s firm, LLD, had contracted to buy the diamonds from Namibia for a five-year period.

The Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), a partnership between the country’s government and the De Beers diamond firm, which manages over 40% of the world’s supply of rough diamonds, will discontinue providing diamonds to LLD. According to the newspaper The Namibian, a spokesman for the NDTC, Brian Eiseb, stated, “Due to intense competition for rough diamonds, NDTC is not in a position to meet the needs of all companies wishing to receive rough diamond supply from NDTC.” Eiseb explained that his firm carried out a selection process last year based on “criteria aimed at the long-term viability and sustainability of the cutting and polishing industry in Namibia.”

The newspaper additionally reported that the managing director of LLD in Namibia, Kombandayetu Kampwanga, “disputed the reasoning behind the rejection” of LLD, and expressed his hope that an agreement would still be reached between Leviev’s firm and the Namibia Diamond Trading Company. It was reported that the cessation of the supply of Namibian rough diamonds caused LLD to have to send 150 employees home on unpaid leave. While sources close to LLD corroborated the report, they claimed that the standoff was the result of differences with De Beers. A little over a month ago, Kampwanga denied rumors that LLD might terminate its Namibian business operations.

De Beers and Leviev have been involved in a dispute over the international supply of rough diamonds. When De Beers controlled over 80% of the world market share, Leviev challenged their monopoly through efforts to expand LLD’s share.

Prestigious Law Firm Files Complaint in Defense of Litzman

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Lewin & Lewin, LLP, the renowned Washington D.C.-based law firm, filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the New York City Police Department, the City of New York, and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly last Thursday on behalf of Fishel Litzman, a Probationary Police Officer who was discharged less than one month before he completed six months of training at the Police Academy because he refused, for religious reasons, to trim his beard. The opening paragraph of the Complaint stated:

This is an action to remedy the unconstitutional discriminatory termination of Fishel Litzman’s career as a Probationary Police Officer. That termination was based entirely and exclusively upon Mr. Litzman’s refusal to trim his beard, which naturally extends to not more than about one-half inch from his face, prior to his graduation from the Police Academy with the 2012 class. Although Mr. Litzman advised the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) at the outset of the application process that his religious observance forbade the trimming of his beard, the NYPD swore him in as a Probationary Police Officer and caused him to resign the job he previously held as a paramedic. Since the NYPD permits police officers to grow beards after they graduate from the Police Academy, there is no legitimate governmental purpose in directing him to trim his beard to a length that does not exceed one millimeter while he is in the Police Academy. The NYPD directive that he trim his beard once – although he would not be required to trim it after his graduation – is “targeted” at conscientious religious observers who will refuse to commit such a violation even one time. The “accommodation” purportedly provided by the NYPD would not satisfy the federal and local legal standards governing religious discrimination in employment if Mr. Litzman initiated proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or before New York State and New York City Human Rights Commissions. Mr. Litzman has demonstrated by his outstanding performance at the Police Academy that he would be a first-rate New York City Police Officer, and the Court should promptly give him the opportunity to achieve his lifelong ambition in this regard.   

The Complaint seeks an injunction to restore Mr. Litzman to the position he was in when he received his termination notice on June 8, 2012, and to compel the NYPD to give him a religious accommodation from its no-beard rule. The Complaint alleges that there are uniformed NYPD officers who wear beards, and that the order to Mr. Litzman to trim his beard as a condition of completing training at the Police Academy “targets” religious observers in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Complaint also alleges that the NYPD order to Mr. Litzman violated Article I, Section 3 of the New York Constitution because it is not justified by any overriding governmental interest.

On filing of the Complaint, the case was assigned to United States District Judge Harold Baer.

During his attendance at the Police Academy Mr. Litzman performed at or near the top of his class of more than 850 Probationary Police Officers. In a letter of this date to Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo, Mr. Litzman’s counsel requested that, in view of his outstanding record at the Academy, Mr. Litzman be immediately reinstated at the Academy so that he could graduate with his class and begin service as a uniformed police officer promptly if he prevails in his lawsuit. Mr. Litzman offered to waive any claim for money damages if he is reinstated immediately and enabled to make up the classes missed since he was terminated so that he might graduate with his class.

Nathan Lewin, Mr. Litzman’s lead counsel, said, “This case is doubly sad because not only has the Police Department thwarted Fishel Litzman’s lifelong ambition to be a police officer solely on account of his religious observance, but it is depriving New York’s residents of the services of an individual whose performance during the training period and whose personal qualities demonstrate, beyond any doubt, that he would be an outstanding uniformed policeman.” 

Mr. Lewin also sent a letter to the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice noting that NYPD’s termination of Mr. Litzman because of his religious observance violates the non-discrimination provision of the Safe Streets Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3789d(c), and its implementing regulations.

Boro Park Hate Crime Draws Swift Reaction from Authorities

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One of the locations that was “treated” to a swastika late last week in Boro Park.A series of swastikas painted on a variety of structures in Boro Park late last week prompted a swift reaction from the police and strong condemnation by government officials. Mostly centered around 16th Avenue, a security camera at Fishman’s Market caught two young perpetrators in the act of committing the hate crime.

The supermarket’s owner, Scheindel Fishman, disclosed that she reviewed her security tapes and saw two young people, who were wearing hoods, vigorously shaking cans of spray paint and spraying the outside of the store just after 2:40 AM.

Local elected officials were quick to speak out against the latest incident of anti-Semitism.

 “What kind of sick person does this in a neighborhood of Holocaust survivors?” asked Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn). “This is yet another example of the type of hate crimes that result from bigoted rhetoric. There will be no tolerance for hatred here and our community will address this from top to bottom. We’ll show that we’re serious about prosecuting criminals who would hurt us with their vile actions.”
Hikind added that such hate crimes highlight the need for greater security in the Orthodox Jewish enclave. “The Security Initiative that is being put in place,” he said, “will go a long way towards protecting Borough Park and Midwood residents.”

Speaking out passionately against the disturbing display of hate, City Councilman Brad Lander said, “This despicable act of anti-Semitism pains our community, but brings us together. At times like this, we must unite with communities across New York to keep our city a tolerant, welcoming home.”

Councilman David Greenfield announced that his office is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the vandalism. “Once again, we find ourselves under attack from individuals who think nothing of spreading hate and fear throughout the community,” Greenfield stated. “This is absolutely unacceptable. Rest assured, I will work with the NYPD until those responsible for this horrific crime are caught and held responsible. Our community will not be intimidated by these senseless acts of hate.”

Public advocate Bill de Blasio joined the chorus of condemnation as well. “Nothing but hatred can explain why someone would scrawl swastikas in a community of families and Holocaust survivors,” de Blasio said. “The perpetrators will face consequences for what they’ve done.”

“I join with millions of other New Yorkers in condemning such vulgar symbols of anti-Semitic hatred wherever they surface,” commented Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “We must never forget that our city was built on the concept of diversity, and every time a crime like this takes place, we must speak out affirmatively in support of our proud heritage.”

Daniel Jasper, a 21-year-old Boro Park resident, was standing outside Fishman’s Market as community members attempted to come to grips with the upsetting incident. “It makes me wonder,” he said. “Is there somebody after us?”

Anyone with information about this crime is urged to call the NYPD’s confidential tip line at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Torah Giants Enthusiastically Greet News of Dirshu World Siyumim

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Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Nasi of the Dirshu (left), greeting Hagaon Harav Yehuda Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the well-known Sephardic Yeshiva, Yeshiva Yakirei Yerushalayim“You are asking me for a blessing? You yourself are the source of all blessing, because you are responsible for hundreds of thousands of extra hours spent in Torah study. You are responsible for facilitating the completion of untold numbers of Masechtot, tractates of Talmud.”

Those were the words of Hagaon Harav Yehuda Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the well known Sephardic Yeshiva, Yeshiva Yakirei Yerushalayim, to Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Nasi of the Dirshu organization, an organization that has transformed Torah study through its myriad structured programs that promote serious Torah study with accountability.

Harav Yehuda Cohen, shlita, is the Rosh Yeshiva of one of the most successful Sephardic Yeshivot in Eretz Yisrael. His Yeshiva, Yeshiva Yakirei Yerushalyim, is one of the prime producers of future Sephardic Torah giants. The venerated Rav Cohen, a master educator, recently hosted Rav David Hofstedter together with senior members of Dirshu’s leadership in his office at his yeshiva in Yerushalayim.
Rav Cohen hailed the profound contribution that Dirshu has made to his yeshiva and said that the 65 young men in his yeshiva who participate in Dirshu’s special program that encourages Yeshiva students to complete the entire tractate that they are learning that year in the Yeshiva, has revolutionized and infused the entire Yeshiva with newfound energy. “The Dirshu participants, who take the tests and are rewarded for exemplary scores, are boys who forge a lifelong connection with Torah learning, even years after they leave the Yeshiva. They will never cease learning Torah for the rest of their lives,” Rav Cohen said.

The Transformative Effect of Dirshu’s Unique Method of Structure and Accountability

Similarly, thousands of people from all over the world are participating in Dirshu’s Torah study programs that bring structure to one’s Torah learning. Every month, those who participate in Dirshu’s Gemara and Halacha programs take tests on the material learned the previous month and are awarded cash stipends for their efforts.

This summer, Dirshu will be making a massive World Siyum featuring 48 hours straight of siyumim on Shas and Halacha, celebrating the dedication to Torah learning of its participants.

Indeed, Rav Yehuda Cohen, in his conversation with the leadership of Dirshu, echoed the recent outpouring of goodwill for Dirshu expressed by the venerated senior Rosh Yeshiva, Hagaon Harav Aharon Leib Shteinman, shlita, and numerous other Rabbis representing all segments of Orthodox Jewry the world over.

 Rav Shteinman had also been extremely gratified by the special level of achdut, unity, that will permeate this year’s summer of siyumim in Eretz Yisrael as Dirshu will make its own two large siyumim in Tel Aviv and Yerushalayim as well as Dirshu’s siyum in Petach Tikvah and Yerushalayim in conjunction with Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah.

The Four Huge Siyumim
Dirshu will be hosting or co-hosting four massive siyumim on 11-12 Av/July 30-31with a combined crowd of nearly 60,000 men. There will be many thousands more women and children watching it in Eretz Yisrael and in locales worldwide on a live audio-visual hookup. The first event will be for Dirshu participants at the Nokia Yad Eliyahu Stadium in Tel Aviv on Monday afternoon. That siyum will honor the thousands of Dirshu participants in Eretz Yisrael and the throngs of guests from throughout the world. It will be attended by senior venerated Torah giants from across the spectrum. Following the celebration, hundreds of buses will transport the crowd from Yad Eliyahu to the Eim Hamoshavot Stadium in Petach Tikvah to participate in a colossal Siyum HaShas for the general community sponsored jointly by Dirshu and Degel HaTorah / Agudat Yisrael of Eretz Yisrael. 

The above mentioned live hookup for women of the events in Yad Eliyahu and Eim Hamoshavot will be shown at the Binyanei Haumah Convention Center in Yerushalayim, as well as locations in Bnei Brak and other communities throughout Eretz Yisrael.  There will also be live hookups for both men and women to the Yad Eliyahu and Eim Hamoshavot events in numerous cities throughout the world. 

The following afternoon, Tuesday, 12 Av/July 31, Dirshu will be holding a siyum tailored for English speakers at the Binyanei Haumah Convention Center in Yerushalayim, the largest center in Yerushalayim. Venerated English-speaking Torah giants including Hagaon Harav Yosef Sitruk, former Chief Rabbi of France who was instrumental in bringing a teshuvah revolution to French Jewry, as well as Hagaon Harav Yitzchok Scheiner, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Kaminetz Yeshiva, and Hagaon Harav Simcha Hakohein Kook, shlita, Chief Rabbi of Rechovot, as well as numerous others will address the event.

After that event too, buses will bring the massive crowd to the immense, open-air Daf Hayomi Siyum HaShas in a large park in the French Hill neighborhood co-sponsored by Dirshu and Agudat Yisrael of Yerushalayim. 

Additionally, there will be a simultaneous women’s English program in an adjacent, separate hall at Binyanei Haumah. That event will feature live video of the event with separate programming. One highlight will be an address by the consummate educators and internationally acclaimed speakers, Rabbanit Tzipporah Heller and Rabbanit Yitty Neustadt.

Scramble for Seats at Yad Eliyahu!
According to Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, a senior member of Dirshu’s leadership, the Dirshu staff is having a difficult time finding enough tickets for the Yad Eliyahu Stadium event to be held exclusively for Dirshu participants and their families. “When we tally up the number of people actively participating in Dirshu’s Daf HaYomi Bavli testing program, the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha testing program, Kinyan Halacha testing program, Bnei Yeshivot , yeshiva student program, the delegations from America and the numerous Gedolei Yisrael, we are finding it difficult to contain everyone in the more than 12,000 seat arena. “Nevertheless,” Rabbi Bernstein says, “We will make sure there is a seat for every active Dirshu participant, to enable them to celebrate the true simchat haTorah of learning Torah responsibly and with accountability. Indeed, Dirshu has hired engineers to ensure that every bit of available stadium space will be used to the utmost and that every person in the stadium will have an excellent view.”
At the English speaking event, it is anticipated that yeshiva students and kollel members representing the massive Anglo Community will arrive in droves. In fact, Dirshu’s special representative to the Anglo Communities in Yerushalayim and Beit Shemesh has already been bombarded with requests for tickets and additional details about the program.

Such an amazing event that embodies colossal simchat haTorah engenders great joy in the Jewish Nation and a spontaneous outbreak of song. To give voice to this profound simcha Dirshu has released a special music tribute CD in honor of the event, featuring remarkably moving and joyous songs about Torah and its transformative effect. The songs are sung by some of the Jewish world’s most distinguished singers including Rabbi Yirmiyahu Daman, Isaac Honig and Shloime Daskal.

The French Connection
Another very heartwarming occurrence was the special request from members of Dirshu’s programs in France who have expressed their desire to personally attend the World Siyum. A delegation of some 700 Dirshu participants from France led by their Rabbanim and Torah lecturers will make the journey this summer to Eretz Yisrael. At the English speaking siyum, there will be a special section for the French delegation that will have simultaneous translation from English to French. As mentioned earlier, the delegation will be lead by Hagaon Harav Yosef Sitruk, shlita, former Chief Rabbi of France.
Dirshu Unifying the Jewish Nation

Dirshu unites the Jewish Nation through the one thing that binds all Orthodox Jews together, their holy Torah. Enhancing Torah learning is Dirshu’s raison d’etre, its sole purpose. That is why so many Torah giants feel such a deep affinity for Dirshu and so appreciate what it does for the Jewish People on five continents.

In fact, when Rav Hofstedter invited Rav Yehuda Cohen to the Dirshu siyumim, Rav Cohen said, “What you are doing is tremendously important. I would be honored to participate in such a momentous event that gives such honor to the Torah.”

With just weeks to the World Siyum, Dirshu’s offices worldwide have been receiving a flurry of inquiries and reservations from people who desire to join the special VIP delegation from the Diaspora for what promises to be a once in a lifetime spiritual experience of honor for the Torah and strengthening of Torah! In addition to the four remarkable siyumim, participants will have the opportunity to have unforgettable, private, unhurried visits with numerous senior Torah giants.

Those wishing to join the special delegation should call Dirshu’s offices as soon as possible as there are only a limited number of seats available.  Please call 1-888-5-Dirshu. Special discounted fares are available.

Ahi Ezer Yeshiva Wraps up an Exciting Year

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The students of Ahi Ezer enjoy a buggy ride through Amish country.Mother Daughter Dinner
Ahi Ezer’s annual mother daughter dinner was once again a spectacular way to end off the year for its graduating class. The special program was filled with music, dancing, a lavish feast, and many more beautiful presentations performed by the graduating eighth graders. Every girl wants to express her feelings to her mother, and the program proved a perfect way for them to do so.

The night was a mixture of smiles, laughter, and tears. The girls sang beautiful songs about their mothers, and a slide show was created by a very talented eighth grader, Judy Shapir, featuring lovely photos of our Ahi Ezer students with their mothers. For the grand finale, each girl presented her mother with a picture frame and a thoughtful poem written for the occasion, as a thank you to mom for helping her grow throughout the years.

Graduation Trip

Ahi Ezer’s eighth grade trip was an unforgettable experience and a perfect way for the school to say goodbye to its graduating class. The students spent a very full busy day traveling around Lancaster, Pennsylvania, sightseeing and having a blast. The trip included a visit to the renowned Herrs potato chips factory. Trip participants watched the production of many different kinds of chips—and even got a bag for free. Next, the students went to see a home that had been part of an Amish town some 50 years ago. Students were able to try on their distinct form of clothing, see their kitchens and bedrooms, and followed it up with an absolute ball of a buggy ride all around Amish Town.

To end their day, the girls of Ahi Ezer were in for a delightful surprise when they found themselves at Wonder World Amusement Park. Even in the rain this was the highlight of the trip. The graduation trip was one filled with memories and experiences which Ahi Ezer’s students will likely cherish in their hearts forever.

Graduation
The graduating class of 2012 consisted of 31 students who graduated on June 12 in the Ahi Ezer Shul on Avenue S. After the ceremony, Ahi Ezer’s graduates, teachers, families, and friends were invited to attend a beautiful party. There were refreshments and baked goods to celebrate this tremendous milestone.
Says one representative of Ahi Ezer, “The girls will be moving on to great schools in our community.”
“We hope that the girls will continue in the right ways that which we taught them.”

YU Summer Programs Bring Torah Study to Jewish Communities Nationally

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This summer Yeshiva University will once again host an assortment of learning and internship programs in cities across the country. Presented by YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) in partnership with congregations in local Jewish communities, the YU Summer Learning and Internship Series will feature adult and youth programming, shiurim (lectures) and Torah and Talmud study for both men and women.

Some 45 YU students, kollel members and faculty will oversee the programs taking place in Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Houston, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles, California; South Bend, Indiana and Stamford, Connecticut.

Participants will have the opportunity to grow in their personal Torah study through rigorous learning and daily shiurim as well as to share their knowledge of Torah with their host communities in order to gain confidence and experience. These programs aim to help students develop skills in public speaking, as well as prompt shiur and drasha [sermon] development, and to experience Jewish life outside of the tri-state area.

Each city will have its own unique program schedule and curriculum. In South Bend, for example, two students will join the local Jewish community for three weeks, spending their days interning at the Steel Warehouse Company and dedicating their nights to Torah study and community outreach.

In Houston, four pre-med men and women from Yeshiva University will become a part of the local Jewish community for a month, serving as interns at the University of Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center during the day and dedicating their nights to energizing and learning Torah with the Jewish community.

“These programs, as with the many others we sponsor, represent our continuing effort to shape the summer learning paradigm and create experiences that will serve as incubators for Jewish leaders,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “They also represent a vibrant initiative to enable communities to experience the wealth of resources and presence of Yeshiva University right in their backyard.”

Touro Awards 698 Degrees at 38th Commencement

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Touro College awarded 698 degrees at its 38th annual commencement exercises held at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall and conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Richard B. Stone, Esq., the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a professor of distinction at Columbia Law School.

At the ceremonies, Touro awarded baccalaureate and associate degrees to graduates from the Lander College for Men in Kew Gardens Hills (LCM); Lander College for Women-The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School in Manhattan (LCW); Lander College of Arts & Sciences in Flatbush (LAS, with separate men’s and women’s divisions); the School for Lifelong Education in Brooklyn; and Machon L’Parnasa-Institute for Professional Studies, also in Brooklyn.

Dr. Stone told the graduating students that his good friend, Dr. Bernard Lander, the founder and first president of Touro College, strove to create an institution in which serious bnei and bnos Torah could acquire a quality education and career training without compromising their Jewish values.

“Your arrival to this moment shows that you understand the need to navigate the outside world [and] make a living that enables you not only to support families in dignity, but hopefully also to help others and to sustain our institutions,” said Dr. Stone.

However, Dr. Stone added that the graduates need not choose between the Jewish or secular world.

“You don’t have to drag along either part of life in mediocrity,” he said. “You can be truly excellent and committed in both parts of your life: the learning of Torah and the living of a Torah life—surely the first priority— and the conduct of a business or professional career.”

The program began with valedictories from four Touro graduates, followed by remarks from Dr. Mark Hasten, chairman of the board of trustees of Touro College, and Touro University and Alan Kadish, M.D., the president and CEO of Touro.

“We serve a variety of communities in keeping with the historic Jewish commitment to the transmission of knowledge, social justice and compassionate concern for society,” said Dr. Kadish. “It is my hope that each of our graduates will grow in their personal quest for Limud Torah as well as midos and maasim tovim, appreciate the knowledge you have acquired at Touro and its role in your Torah life.” Valedictories were presented by Nathaniel Yankelev of LCM, who plans to pursue a career as an actuary once he completes the rabbinical program at LCM; Rivka Halpert of LCW, who is applying for internships in psychology and child life and is planning to attend graduate school the year after, either in clinical psychology program or social work; Aliza Batya Grossman Rubenstein of LAS-Women’s Division, who is entering a Ph.D. program in Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics at Rutgers University; and Yakov Glickman of LAS-Men’s Division, who has been accepted to New York Medical College.  

The degree candidates of the Lander Colleges represent 15 different states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Texas, as well as four foreign countries—Canada, France, Israel and Russia.
By the end of the 2012 commencement season, the Touro College and University System, which educates approximately 19,000 students at its schools and campuses, expects to have awarded a total of 5,745 doctor of osteopathic medicine, juris doctor, master’s, baccalaureate and associate degrees. 

Three Israelis in finals of YouTube film competition

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Three Israelis have reached the finals in the Your Film Festival competition, sponsored by British director-producer Sir Ridley Scott and YouTube. The competition began June 12, with 50 finalists selected by Scott from more than 15,000 short films submitted by creators from 160 countries.

Voting for the 10 winners ended June 13, and the results will be announced Aug. 1. Among the three Israelis who made it to the semi-finals is Harel Yanna, 30, who produced a short film titled “Photo for Baba” centering on Isam, a Tunisian boy who agrees to carry out a terrorist attack in Munich to save his sick father.

The 10 winners will have their work screened as part of the opening days of the festival and judged by a jury of industry professionals, including Scott and actor Michael Fassbender. The winners will then propose their next film project to Scott’s team at the Venice International Film Festival in August, in an attempt to win a $500,000 production grant to work with the award-winning crew in creating a new work for YouTube.

Israel Hayom Courtesy of JointMedia News Service