Archive for the ‘Ashkenazi’ Category

Netanyahu prepares to strengthen role of security cabinet – The Times of Israel

The Justice Ministry is preparing a draft amendment to Israels Basic law that would allow the prime minister to declare war or order a military operation that could lead to war with the approval of only the 10-member security cabinet, Channel 2 News reported on Sunday.

The legislation is being advanced by Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the report.

The bill would have the full cabinet authorize the security cabinet to make decisions about going to war or taking steps towards war. And it would allow decisions to be made even if not all members of the security cabinet were available at the time.

The full cabinet would not need to be briefed on the decisions or the reasons for the decisions.

According to the report, the Justice Ministry believes the smaller decision-making body would limit the possibility of leaks.

Additionally, it would give greater authority to the security cabinet so that its members would take greater responsibility for their decision. This was a recommendation of the Amidror Report into the functioning of the security cabinet, reportedly added at the request of Netanyahu.

Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, near Gaza, in 2008 (photo credit: David Buimovitch-JINIPIX/Flash90)

Channel 2 suggested that the background to the proposed legislation is an incident which took place seven years ago. Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak approached the then-Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and the then-head of the Shin Bet security service Meir Dagan to prepare the defense establishment to take a certain military position. Ashkenazi and Dagan refused to do so, saying such a move was illegal without the approval of the full cabinet as it could lead to war.

After Ashkenazi and Dagan refused to cooperate Netanyahu and Barak decided not to go ahead with the operation rather than risk presenting it to the cabinet.

There is speculation that the incident was related to Irans missile and nuclear ambitions.

The amendment is expected to come before the Knesset in the coming session.

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How the Jews nearly wiped out Tay-Sachs – Arutz Sheva

Parents of children born with Tay-Sachs disease, a genetically transmitted fatal disease found in Ashkenazi Jews from cerrtain areas of Europe, talk about three deaths.

There is the moment when parents first learn that their child has been diagnosed with the fatal disease. Then there is the moment when the childs condition has deteriorated so badly blind, paralyzed, non-responsive that he or she has to be hospitalized. Then theres the moment, usually by age 5, when the child dies.

There used to be an entire hospital unit 16 or 17 beds at Kingsbook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn devoted to taking care of these children. It was often full, with a waiting list that admitted new patients only when someone elses child had died.

But by the late 1990s that unit was totally empty, and it eventually shut down. Its closure was a visible symbol of one of the most dramatic Jewish success stories of the past 50 years: the near-eradication of a deadly genetic disease.

Since the 70s, the incidence of Tay-Sachs has fallen by more than 90 percent among Jews, thanks to a combination of scientific advances and volunteer community activism that brought screening for the disease into synagogues, Jewish community centers and, eventually, routine medical care.

Until 1969, when doctors discovered the enzyme that made testing possible to determine whether parents were carriers of Tay-Sachs, 50 to 60 affected Jewish children were born each year in the United States and Canada. After mass screenings began in 1971, the numbers declined to two to five Jewish births a year, said Karen Zeiger, whose first child died of Tay-Sachs.

It had decreased significantly, said Zeiger, who until her retirement in 2000 was the State of Californias Tay-Sachs prevention coordinator. Between 1976 and 1989, there wasnt a single Jewish Tay-Sachs birth in the entire state, she said.

The first mass screening was held on a rainy Sunday afternoon in May 1971 at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland. The site was chosen in part for its proximity to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. One of the two doctors who discovered the missing hexosaminidase A enzyme, John OBrien, was visiting a lab there, and another Johns Hopkins doctor, Michael Kaback, had recently treated two Jewish couples with Tay-Sachs children, including Zeigers. Zeigers husband, Bob, was also a doctor at Johns Hopkins.

The screenings used blood tests to check for the missing enzyme that identified a parent as a Tay-Sachs carrier.

With the help of 40 trained lay volunteers and 15 physicians, more than 1,500 people volunteered for testing and were processed through the system in about 5 hours, Dr. Kaback later recalled in an article in the journal Genetics in Medicine. For me, it was like having written a symphony and hearing it for the first timeand it went beautifully, without glitches.

A machine to process the tests cost $15,000. We had bazaars, cake sales, sold stockings, and thats how we raised money for the machine, Zeiger said.

In the days before Facebook or email, activists and organizers spread the word about mass Tay-Sachs screenings through newspaper and magazine articles, posters at synagogues, and items in Jewish organizational newsletters. (Courtesy of National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association)

Before screening, couples in which both parents were Tay-Sachs carriers almost always stopped having children after they had one child with Tay-Sachs, for fear of having another, Ruth Schwartz Cowan wrote in her book Heredity and Hope: The Case for Genetic Screening.

But with screening, Tay-Sachs could be detected before birth, and carrier couples felt encouraged to have children, she wrote.

Dr. Kabacks work helped enable thousands of parents who were Tay-Sachs carriers to have other, healthy children.

What he did for Tay-Sachs and how he helped so many families was amazing, Zeiger said. People named their kids after him.

The screenings were transformative, and the campaign to get Jews tested for Tay-Sachs took off. This was the days before Facebook or email, so activists and organizers spread the word about screenings through newspaper and magazine articles, posters at synagogues, and items in Jewish organizational newsletters.

Volunteers and medical professionals spoke on college campuses and sent promotional prescription pads to rabbis, obstetricians, and gynecologists. Doctors and activists enlisted rabbis and community leaders to encourage couples to be tested before getting married.

Another early mass screening event was held at a school in Waltham, Massachusetts, guided by Edwin Kolodny, a professor at New York University medical school. The first mass screening in the Philadelphia area was on Nov. 12, 1972, at the Germantown Jewish Center, and drew 800 people, according to a Yale senior thesis by David Gerber, Genetics for the Community: The Organized Response To Tay-Sachs Disease, 1955-1995.

Nearly half a century later, the Tay-Sachs screening effort remains a model for mobilizing a community against genetic disease. Parent activists, scientists and doctors are trying to emulate that model with other diseases and other populations.

You cant be complacent, because now there are 200 diseases you can test for, said Kevin Romer, president of the Matthew Forbes Romer Foundation and a past president of the National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association. The foundation is named for Romers son Matthew, who died of Tay-Sachs in 1996.

Romer and others involved with this issue stress the importance of screening interfaith couples, too. Non-Jews may also benefit from pre-conception screening for Tay-Sachs and other diseases. Some research indicates, for example, that Louisiana Cajuns, French Canadians and individuals with Irish lineage may also have an elevated incidence of Tay-Sachs.

Scientific progress means that Jews can now be screened for over 200 diseases with an at-home, mail-in test offered by JScreen. The four-year-old nonprofit affiliated with Emory Universitys Department of Human Genetics has screened thousands of people, and the subsidized fee for the test about $150 includes genetic counseling.

While some genetic tests are standard doctors office procedure for pregnant women or couples trying to get pregnant with a doctors help, JScreen aims for pre-conception screening. The test includes diseases common in those with Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrahi backgrounds as well as general population diseases, making it relevant for Jewish couples and interfaith couples.

Carrier screening gives people an opportunity to plan ahead for the health of their future families. We are taking lessons learned from earlier screening initiatives and bringing the benefits of screening to a new generation, said Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, executive director of JScreen. It was a path pioneered by the Tay-Sachs screening that began in 1971.

In Cowans book, she mentions a chart prepared by Dr. Kaback reporting on 30 years of screening: 1.3 million people screened, 48,000 carriers detected, 1,350 carrier couples detected, 3,146 pregnancies monitored.

Kaback and his colleagues could well have stopped there, she wrote. But they did not. There is one more figure, the one that matters most and that goes the furthest in explaining why Ashkenazi Jews accept carrier screening after monitoring with pre-natal diagnosis, 2,466 unaffected offspring were born to parents who were both Tay-Sachs carriers.

In Israel, the Dor Yesharim NGO, screens prospective couples, students and people of dating age so that they know if they are carriers of Tay-Sachs and a list of other genetically transmitted diseases. The information remains completely confidential. In the case of arranged dating, this testing can be used to prevent setting up dates when both the man and woman have the genes or inform couples so they go for prenatal testing. As their website says, Dor Yeshorim was built on the premise that fatal and debilitating recessive genetic disorders, prevalent in Jewish circles, have absolutely no reason to be perpetuated.

This article was sponsored by JScreen

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Brandeis course fields competition between Team Latke and Team Hamentashn – Brandeis University

Are you Team Latke or Team Hamentashn?

By Julian Cardillo 14 and Caroline CataldoAug. 10, 2017

Deciding which of these two Jewish culinary staples is the most quintessentially Jewish would be much easier if there was a cook-off, tasting and debate pitting one against the other.

But look no further: Brandeis hosts such an event every year.

Students in the precollege programs class Culinary Art and Anthropology at Brandeis engaged in the third annual latke-hamentash debate on July 27 as part of the course, which seeks to deepen ones understanding and appreciation for Jewish cuisine and the role it plays in Jewish culture.

During the latke-hamentash debate, students turned into young chefs and worked with instructors Elizabeth Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, the authors of The Gefilte Manifesto, a cookbook featuring 98 modernized recipes of typical Ashkenazi Jewish dishes.

For Alpern and Yoskowitz, who have years of experience in the restaurant industry, teaching students about Jewish cuisine is a passion.

We found no one was exploring Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine, which was our culinary heritage, said Alpern. Theres this rich, beautiful tradition of Ashkenazi cuisine that has a really bad reputation in U.S. and has been slipping into irrelevance for our generation. But Jeff and I had enough exposure to this cuisine to say, Wow, this food is colorful, vibrant, multi layered and absolutely deserves to stay relevant for our generation.

For me its important to keep these recipes evolving, added Alpern. Food connects us to our place in the world, which gives value and meaning to our lives and contributes to the conversation about the multicultural world we live in.”

For the debate, the audience, along with a panel of four judgesAlpern, Yoskowitz, Rabbi Charlie Schwartz and precollege programs director Marci Borensteincritiqued the freshly-made latkes and hamenstashn using strict criteria: presentation of food, taste and creativity. Judges also voted on which of two culinary staples they felt was the most quintessentially Jewish based on how the students explained the foods historic roots.

This year, victory went to Team Hamentashn.

This has been a great course and its open to everyone, whether you know a lot about Judaism and Jewish culture, or you dont, said Sabrina Axelrod of Minnesota, who was on Team Latke. Theres not just one type of cooking, I learned so many different things that I hadnt known before about Jewish culture. It really makes me appreciate the culture I grew up with.

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Bosnia’s Muslims, Jews, Christians chide politicians – AOL

SARAJEVO, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Bosnia’s religious leaders say politicians are standing in the way of peaceful coexistence between Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities trying to forgive and forget after the atrocities of a devastating 1990s war.

Hundreds of churches, mosques and synagogues bear witness to more than five centuries of Bosnia’s multi-faith past, and the capital Sarajevo is known locally as a “small Jerusalem” with its main ethnic groups – Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaks – all worshipping within meters of each other.

But Mufti Husein Kavazovic, head of the Islamic community in Bosnia, says people of faith cannot achieve peace alone.

“It is up to political elites to do more. For a start, it would be good that they stop their ideological manipulation of religion for their own political goals. It is up to us, of course, not to allow them to do that,” he said.

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Religious leaders take on politicians in hopes of peace

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People walk past the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 28, 2017. Supervising architect Josip Vancas modelled the 19th century cathedral after the Notre-Dame in Dijon, France. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Decorations adorn the walls of Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. The mosque dates to 1757. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Decorative paintings adorn the walls and ceiling of Zitomislic Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The monastery dates to 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete. “It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” Hierodeacon Nektarije said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Orthodox Temple Hercegovacka Gracanica stands in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. Serbian poet Jovan Ducic (1871-1943) is buried at the temple. He was originally buried at Saint Sava Orthodox monastery in Libertyville, U.S., but was reinterred at Hercegovacka Gracanica when the temple opened in 2000 in accordance with his wishes. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A copy of the Koran lies on a carpet at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A crucifix is fixed to the roof of The Old Church in Vares, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 22, 2017. It is one of the oldest preserved catholic churches in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is dedicated to St. Michael, the patron saint of the parish of Vares. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A decorative wooden door is seen at Zitomislic Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The monastery dates to 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete. “It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” Hierodeacon Nektarije said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Hierodeacon Nektarije poses for a photograph at Zitomislic Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The monastery dates to 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete. “It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” Nektarije said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Zitomislic Serbian Orthodox Monastery stands amongst trees in Zitomislici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The monastery dates to 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete. “It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” Hierodeacon Nektarije said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

An entrance leads to an underground church and crypt in Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 6, 2017. The site dates to the end of the 14th century. Duke Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic had the site built as a final resting place for himself and his family. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A detail of a section of a wall is seen at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Decorative paintings adorn the walls and ceiling of Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 28, 2017. The Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue was designed by architect Karel Parik and built in 1902. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Light filters through decorative windows inside Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque in Pocitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque dates to 1562 and is a single-dome mosque. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

The interior of the Old Synagogue is seen in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 2, 2017. The Sephardi Synagogue dates to 1581. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Decorative paintwork adorns the walls and ceiling of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina July 28, 2017. Supervising architect Josip Vancas modelled the 19th century cathedral after the Notre-Dame in Dijon, France. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Rabbi’s assistant Igor Kozemjakin poses for a photograph at Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 2, 2017. Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue dates to 1902. “For Jews as members of a minority ethnic and religious group in Bosnia and Herzegovina, multiculturalism is a positive thing, because it is very important to have this kind of diversity,” Kozemjakin said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A man prays at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. Sulejmanija Mosque dates to 1757. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Chairs are lined up in Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Cathedral in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Cathedral dates to 1888. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail poses for a photograph inside Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque stands in Pocitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque dates to 1562 and is a single-dome mosque. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue stands in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 28, 2017. The Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue was designed by architect Karel Parik and built in 1902. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A statue stands in the interior of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 28, 2017. Supervising architect Josip Vancas modelled the 19th century cathedral after the Notre-Dame in Dijon, France. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A chandelier hangs from the ceiling at Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 22, 2017. Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery dates to 1385. “Bosnia can only survive as a multi-ethnic state, no matter how much politicians try to convince us that this is not possible,” Friar Zeljko Brkic said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Paintings cover the ceiling of Orthodox Temple Hercegovacka Gracanica in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. Serbian poet Jovan Ducic (1871-1943) is buried at the temple. He was originally buried at Saint Sava Orthodox monastery in Libertyville, U.S., but was reinterred at Hercegovacka Gracanica when the temple opened in 2000 in accordance with his wishes. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Friar Zeljko Brkic poses for a photograph inside Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 22, 2017. Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery dates to 1385. “Bosnia can only survive as a multi-ethnic state, no matter how much politicians try to convince us that this is not possible,” Brkic said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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Even though nationalists from all three ethnic groups still insist on exclusivity for their own groups, religious leaders are keen to heal rifts after the 1992-1995 war in which about 100,000 civilians were killed and millions displaced.

Friar Zeljko Brkic at Kraljeva Sutjeska – among the oldest Franciscan monasteries in Bosnia and dating from 1385 – said: “Bosnia can only survive as a multi-ethnic state, no matter how much politicians try to convince us that this is not possible.”

His Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim peers agree.

“It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” said Nektarije, a deacon at the Orthodox monastery Zitomislici in what is now the Catholic Croat-dominated southern part of the country.

Jakob Finci, the president of the Jewish community in Bosnia, gives Sarajevo as an example of close cooperation, citing Muslims there helping Jews to hide during War World Two and Jews providing food for people of all faiths in the three-year siege by Bosnian Serb forces.

“Sarajevo is the best proof that living together is possible and that it represents the only way of life for us,” he said.

This week, about 120 leaders from 27 countries arrived in Sarajevo to take part in a meeting of the youth-led Muslim Jewish Conference, founded by Ilja Sichrovski in Vienna in 2010.

“We feel at home here,” Sichrovski said.

More from AOL.com: 21 of the most beautiful places of worship around the world Pope tacks sign on his apartment door: ‘No Whining’

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Verdict in 100-year American shul dispute – Jewish Chronicle


Jewish Chronicle
Verdict in 100-year American shul dispute
Jewish Chronicle
Ironically, it may take the highest secular court in America the Supreme Court to decide who owns its oldest shul in a case that highlights historic tensions between the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities. That scenario became a real possibility
Who owns America's oldest shul?The Jewish Star

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The ancient Jewish art of preserving kept fresh – The Times of Israel

Like the sauerkraut carefully placed inside a hot pastrami on rye, or the jam peering invitingly through the triangular windows of hamantaschen, preserves play a central, centuries-old and perhaps-overlooked role in Jewish cuisine. Now, a first-of-its-kind book aims to, ahem, preserve the tradition.

In The Joys of Jewish Preserving, Chicago-based food writer and blogger Emily Paster shares 75 recipes that will get readers reaching for their cans and jars as they learn to make jams and pickled foods, including holiday fare.

There are so many iconic particularly Ashkenazic foods we so love that include some preserve elements, Paster said, listing kosher dill pickles, sauerkraut on a reuben sandwich, jam in rugelach, jam in hamentashen, applesauce on latkes

Feeling hungry yet? Paster hasnt even mentioned her favorite-tasting recipes her plum butter, for instance.

Its absolutely delicious, she said. I love to make it. I use it as a fill-in for rugelach. Its definitely a favorite.

All of the recipes, she said, are my own original creations.

But, she added, many are inspired from a particular tradition, something I found in the course of research.

Consider another of her favorites pickled okra. Some might wonder whether okra, which originated in West Africa, is a Jewish food, Paster said. But, she pointed out, it has actually been used in Sephardic cooking for hundreds or thousands of years, after migrating into North Africa and the Mediterranean.

From The Joys of Jewish Preserving, by Emily Paster. (Courtesy)

A lot of historical contexts and anecdotes are in the book, she said, emphasizing that, I dont want it to be a book on food history, food anthropology. Its a cookbook, reflecting how we cook, eat and shop today.

And, equally important, how we preserve.

Theres a very robust preserving tradition on the Ashkenazi side, Paster said. I discovered [an] equally robust side among Sephardim.

Both traditions evolved from the same fertile crescent. Preserving food is an ancient practice, she said. It was a matter of survival for people for many centuries. Before refrigeration and cargo transport, it was a matter of necessity starting in biblical times.

The first preserved food, she said, was probably dates, which she called an ancient, very special food.

Scholars believe the Land of Milk and Honey did not have honey from bees, but date syrup

[Scholars] believe the Land of Milk and Honey did not have honey from bees, but date syrup, she said. Theres no evidence of people being beekeepers in the Bible.

Wine was important, too. Of course, winemaking is a form of preserving dating back thousands of years, she said.

As the Diaspora gradually compelled Jews to migrate from the desert to the shtetl, preservation techniques changed as well.

When Jews pushed north into the cold places where my ancestors are from, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, of course its an absolutely life-saving technique, Paster said. Youre not going to get through winter unless you preserve fruits in jam root vegetables, cucumbers, carrots, beets to get through the long winter.

Preserved cherries from The Joys of Jewish Preserving, by Emily Paster. (Courtesy)

Both Ashkenazim and Sephardim found another way to preserve food pickling.

In Ashkenazi cuisine, pickling is very important, Paster said. It cuts through the fatness, the richness, of Ashkenazi food. Pickled cucumber is so fabulous. A pastrami sandwich is so rich. The vinegar tang cuts [through].

Sephardic food, she said, is very interesting, with pickled marinated vegetables as a meze before meals. And she praised the fabulous Israeli breakfast, with a lot of pickles as well, traditional Ashkenazi pickles, beets, sauerkraut, and Middle East pickled cauliflower.

As both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews immigrated to the US, cooking styles changed still further.

Fermented dill pickles from The Joys of Jewish Preserving, by Emily Paster. (Courtesy)

Pasters recipe for pickled eggs arose after her rabbi, Max Weiss of the Oak Park Temple, asked if she could look into why Jews were nicknamed egg-eaters in the South not as an insult, she noted.

It was because of traveling Jewish peddlers in the 19th-century American South, the land of the pig, Paster explained. Traveling peddlers were not at all sure if what they ate out on the road was kosher. So, she said, they would have jerky and pickled eggs. The Cherokee first dubbed them [egg-eaters]. Its a little phrase and a really fascinating piece of history.

Pickling itself features two styles fermented and vinegar. Fermented pickles are the most traditional, Paster said. [Theyve been around for] hundreds and hundreds of years in the old country. Fermented pickles just need salt, salt-water brine, and time to ferment. The two [most famous examples are] sauerkraut and fermented kosher dill pickles.

The alternate tradition vinegar pickles, in a vinegar brine is easier for people to do, she said.

But, she pleaded, at least give fermenting a try.

Paster is a champion of do-it-yourself cooking in general. It all stemmed from helping her young daughter deal with numerous food allergies about a decade ago.

[My daughter and] I were starting to make a lot of foods from scratch, she said. I was concerned about the ingredients in prepared foods.

I was concerned about the ingredients in prepared foods

Preserving offered a solution. It was a project she and I could do together, Paster said. It was hard with all the allergies. We could make jam its fruits and sugar.

It helped that the Paster family Emily, her husband and their two children lives in Chicago, home to a thriving farmers-market scene, with the fruit orchards of Michigan nearby.

Preserves extended the local season a bit, Paster said. It became one of my areas of specialty as a cook.

But it also led to an accumulation of cans and jars in their basement more jams and pickles than one family could ever eat, Paster recalled.

Serendipitously, she learned about how fellow DIY-ers, in Philadelphia, were preparing and bartering their homemade creations through a concept known as a food swap. This led her to co-found the Chicago Food Swap, in 2011.

An assortment of preserves from The Joys of Jewish Preserving, by Emily Paster. (Courtesy)

Its become a very important part of my life, she said, a wonderful community from all different parts of Chicago, different ages, walks of life, races, religions, united by a passion for homegrown foods over five years, a vibrant, exciting way to connect with people around food.

It even inspired her first book, Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing and Giving, published last year.

While Food Swap was about a familiar subject, The Joys of Jewish Preserving was more like going back to school, a big research project, she said.

Paster has experience with research shes a Princeton and University of Michigan Law School graduate, as well as a former lawyer.

For this particular project, inspiration came from fellow Jewish food writers, including the late Gil Marks, author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, as well as the work of people like Joan Nathan, I admire her, and Claudia Roden as well, she said. These were starting places where I could find out a particular tradition or ingredient.

For Paster, the main ingredient is doing it yourself especially with preserving.

If you get too much food at a farmers market and it starts to go bad, you can whip up a bowl of jam and it will not go to waste, she said. Its jam your family can eat.

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Full breast cancer screening may benefit Ashkenazi Jewish women – medwireNews

medwireNews: Ashkenazi Jewish women with breast cancer may benefit from comprehensive genetic screening for all breast cancer genes, not just founder mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2, US researchers report.

They found that around one in 25 women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry with breast cancer not linked to founder mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 carried either a different pathogenic BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation or a pathogenic mutation in another breast cancer gene.

Of 1007 Ashkenazi Jewish women participating in the New York Breast Cancer Study who did not carry any of the three BRCA1 and BRCA2 founder alleles, seven (0.8%) carried another pathogenic mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2, detected using a targeted multiplexed gene panel that included 23 known and candidate breast cancer genes.

A further 31 (3.4%) women carried a pathogenic mutation in another breast cancer gene: 29 in CHEK2, and one each in BRIP1 and NBN.

Among the women with CHEK2 mutations, 24 carried CHEK2 p.S428F, which the researchers say has previously been identified as an Ashkenazi Jewish founder allele that can triple breast cancer risk. Four mutations were CHEK2 c.1100delC, and one was CHEK2 c.444 (+1)G>A, both of which are common in Europe.

Mary-Claire King and colleagues from the University of Seattle in Washington, also report that 73.8% of the 142 women with an inherited predisposition to breast cancer carried a BRCA1 or BRCA2 founder mutation, 4.9% had another BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, and 21.8% had a mutation in another gene.

However, the researchers point out in JAMA Oncology that the likelihood of an Ashkenazi Jewish patient with breast cancer without a founder mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 carrying a different mutation in the genes is only around 1%, increasing to 3% if she was diagnosed before 40years of age, a frequency which may be below the threshold of consideration for additional testing for most patients.

But such testing is strongly suggested, they believe, when multiple cases of breast cancer in a family remain unresolved by the mutation of the proband.

King et al also note that current US national screening guidelines recommend genetic testing for all Ashkenazi Jewish patients with breast cancer.

This recommendation is fine, but testing women only after they develop cancer severely limits the power of precision medicine, they remark.

To discover a mutation only after cancer is diagnosed is a missed opportunity to have prevented that cancer. Many of these cancers could be prevented by offering genetic testing as described here to all women before they develop breast cancer, as part of routine medical care, the researchers conclude.

By Laura Cowen

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. 2017 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature group

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Full breast cancer screening may benefit Ashkenazi Jewish women – medwireNews

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Who owns America’s oldest synagogue? It’s a 350-year-old argument. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Touro Synagogue, nestled in historic Newport, R.I., is the oldest extant synagogue in the United States, Sept. 2, 2004. (John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) The story of Americas oldest synagogue, as told by retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter, is the story of American Jewish history.

Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, Souter wrote, was built in the 1700s by Sephardic merchants whose community then declined. In the late 1800s, Eastern European Jews arrived in the area, occupied the building and have used it to this day. Since then, heirs of the older Sephardic community have tried to maintain a foothold in the historic synagogue that they consider theirs.

On Wednesday, Souter awarded a victory to the Sephardim.

Writing an appeals court ruling on a lawsuit over who owns Touro Synagogue, Souter who has regularly sat on the court following his 2009 retirement wrote that the building and its centuries-old ritual objects all belong to Congregation Shearith Israel, a historic Sephardic congregation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The decision reversed an earlier district court decision that gave ownership of the building and the multimillion-dollar artifacts to the group that worships there: the Ashkenazi Congregation Jeshuat Israel.

Its an odd and oddly enduring dispute being played out in an American courtroom. Souters ruling is a primer on nearly 400 years of American Jewish history, and a dispute that touches on historical tensions between Sephardic Jews with roots in Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East, and Ashkenazi Jews with roots in Eastern Europe.

Touro, built in 1763, has loomed large in American Jewish history. Along with its claim to being the first Jewish building in the country, it also received George Washingtons 1790 letter guaranteeing that the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.

Shearith Israel, hundreds of miles away, has held title to Touro since the early 1800s, when the shrinking Newport community asked the New York City shul to steward the building and its ritual objects.

Its a fitting relationship: Shearith Israel also known as the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue has a sense of its history as well. Founded in 1654, it bills itself as Americas First Jewish Congregation. (Its current building is its fifth home.) Old-time members still wear top hats, and it still worships in the distinctive Sephardic style passed down from its founders, complete with a cantor in robes and choir. Some Shearith Israel members are descended from the original families that started the congregation four centuries ago.

Jeshuat Israel, founded in 1881 as Ashkenazi immigrants began flooding America from Eastern Europe, has worshipped at Touro for more than a century. For a time, according to Souters ruling, its members occupied the synagogue illegally, praying there even as Shearith Israel sought to keep it closed. Only in 1903, following a court battle, did the two groups sign a contract establishing Shearith Israel as the owner and giving Jeshuat Israel a lease on the building.

According to the terms of the contract, Jeshuat Israel must pray in the Sephardic style its own identity be damned.

Seeking to form an endowment, Jeshuat Israel arranged in 2011 to sell a pair of handcrafted, 18th-century silver bulbs, which are used to adorn Torah scrolls, to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where they were on loan. But Shearith Israel objected to the $7 million sale, both because Shearith Israel said it owned the ornaments and claimed the sale violated Jewish law. Jeshuat Israel then sued Shearith Israel, and Shearith Israel countersued both of them seeking legal ownership of the bulbs.

Because the bulbs are meant to rest upon a Torah scroll, Shearith Israel asserted, selling them to a secular institution constitutes an unacceptable decline in holiness.

The district court had ruled in Jeshuat Israels favor on the grounds that it occupies the building and that Shearith Israel had failed in its trustee obligations. But Souter reversed the ruling, partially based on the 1903 contract, writing that Shearith Israel is fee owner of the Touro Synagogue building, appurtenances, fixtures, and associated land.

Now, says Gary Naftalis, Jeshuat Israels lawyer, the congregation is reviewing our legal options going forward. Jeshuat Israel could ask the appeals courts full panel of judges to review the ruling, and may petition to have the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Shearith Israel President Louis Solomon said in a statement that the congregation is gratified by the courts decision and, as a result, has been restored to the position it has held for centuries. The statement added that the congregation hopes to move forward from the court ruling, which enables two great Jewish congregations to regain the harmony that existed between them before this unfortunate episode began five years ago.

But even as Shearith Israel has retained ownership of Americas oldest synagogue, it no longer reflects the community that American Jews have become. The families who founded Americas first Jewish congregations exiles from Spain and Portugal via Amsterdam, London, Brazil and the Caribbean likely would not identify with the largely Ashkenazi, largely non-Orthodox American Jewish community of 350 years later.

Even Shearith Israel has gone with the flow, hiring a rabbi from a renowned Ashkenazi rabbinical dynasty, Meir Soloveichik, in 2013.

Still, part of the New York congregations appeal is its anachronism led by a cantor and choir in an era of lay leadership, formal in an era of casual dress, Sephardic in an Ashkenazi-led community. And now, even if it no longer owns the American Jewish present, it can say that it still holds title to the American Jewish past.

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Revered Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat awaits lifesaving lung transplant – Los Angeles Times

Saeb Erekat, the legendary Palestinian leader and chief negotiator with Israel for the last two decades, is renowned for his persistence against all odds and for a steel-trap legal mind.

But the challenge he faces today may be his most daunting. At 62, Erekar is suffering from advanced pulmonary fibrosis, a debilitating condition that can be cured only by a lung transplant.

He requested to be added to the waiting list in both Israel and the United States, but the odds are long. In Israel, Erekat, like other foreigners, will qualify for a donated lung only if it does not match the needs of any Israeli patient.

In recent months, friends and colleagues report seeing a steep deterioration in his health. Erekat has lost a significant amount of weight and appears in public tethered to an oxygen tank. He has admonished his associates to refrain from speaking about his condition.

Few people have been more crucial to the Palestinian cause than Erekat.

Uri Savir, Israels former chief negotiator for the Oslo peace accords, has known Erekat since 1994.

Saeb is a brilliant man. A brave man. A man of peace, very moderate, with all the normal critique of the occupation, he said. I dont think hes really a political animal, but he ended up in a top leadership role because his particular talents were essential for the team.

Those talents, said Savir, who is the co-founder of the Peres Center for Peace, include an unusual gift for negotiation, an uncanny ability to formulate the precise lines necessary for a legal document in this he is second to none and an extremely rare ability to represent his leader, who was Yasser Arafat, and represent matters to him.

Eighty-nine Israelis are on the waiting list for a lung transplant, said Dr. Tamar Ashkenazi, director of the transplant center at Israels Ministry of Health. Last year, 50 patients received donated lungs.

Ashkenazi said that in the event an available organ has no match in Israel, she will reach out to the deceaseds family and request special permission, above and beyond the legal necessity, to offer the organ to foreigners. Under similar circumstances, she once sent a childs liver to Germany.

Erekat, who is of average height, suffers yet another disadvantage.

I have no idea why, but we have many tall donors here, Ashkenazi said, noting that height is a crucial factor for matching lungs. A tall patient might wait two weeks, and a shorter person can wait two years.

The order of transplant precedence is determined solely according to medical criteria.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an expert on Palestinian affairs who has known Erekat for 25 years, said his illness has been an open secret. You could tell by looking at him.

Erekats physical deterioration comes laced with irony. As his body has succumbed to illness, his political stature has only grown.

For one, Abu Toameh said, It is important to underscore that his name has never been associated with corruption. Ever.

In recent years his position has gotten a lot stronger, Abu Toameh said. Hes become the leading candidate to replace Abu Mazen, another name for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, 82. Among Palestinians he is considered the most prominent symbol of the Oslo process, and hes taken a lot of flak for being the flag bearer of ongoing negotiations and contacts with Israel.

In part, Erekats popularity can be attributed to renewed Palestinian enthusiasm for the peace process he spearheaded. On Thursday, a poll released by Tel Aviv Universitys Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that 52% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip supported the two-state solution, an increase of 8 percentage points since December. Fifty-three percent of Israelis, a decline of 2 points, agreed.

A peace process waiting for redemption may be awaiting only the renewed vigor of one of its most devoted proponents.

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Netanyahu prepares to strengthen role of security cabinet – The Times of Israel

The Justice Ministry is preparing a draft amendment to Israels Basic law that would allow the prime minister to declare war or order a military operation that could lead to war with the approval of only the 10-member security cabinet, Channel 2 News reported on Sunday. The legislation is being advanced by Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the report. The bill would have the full cabinet authorize the security cabinet to make decisions about going to war or taking steps towards war. And it would allow decisions to be made even if not all members of the security cabinet were available at the time. The full cabinet would not need to be briefed on the decisions or the reasons for the decisions. According to the report, the Justice Ministry believes the smaller decision-making body would limit the possibility of leaks. Additionally, it would give greater authority to the security cabinet so that its members would take greater responsibility for their decision. This was a recommendation of the Amidror Report into the functioning of the security cabinet, reportedly added at the request of Netanyahu. Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, near Gaza, in 2008 (photo credit: David Buimovitch-JINIPIX/Flash90) Channel 2 suggested that the background to the proposed legislation is an incident which took place seven years ago. Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak approached the then-Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and the then-head of the Shin Bet security service Meir Dagan to prepare the defense establishment to take a certain military position. Ashkenazi and Dagan refused to do so, saying such a move was illegal without the approval of the full cabinet as it could lead to war. After Ashkenazi and Dagan refused to cooperate Netanyahu and Barak decided not to go ahead with the operation rather than risk presenting it to the cabinet. There is speculation that the incident was related to Irans missile and nuclear ambitions. The amendment is expected to come before the Knesset in the coming session.

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How the Jews nearly wiped out Tay-Sachs – Arutz Sheva

Parents of children born with Tay-Sachs disease, a genetically transmitted fatal disease found in Ashkenazi Jews from cerrtain areas of Europe, talk about three deaths. There is the moment when parents first learn that their child has been diagnosed with the fatal disease. Then there is the moment when the childs condition has deteriorated so badly blind, paralyzed, non-responsive that he or she has to be hospitalized. Then theres the moment, usually by age 5, when the child dies. There used to be an entire hospital unit 16 or 17 beds at Kingsbook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn devoted to taking care of these children. It was often full, with a waiting list that admitted new patients only when someone elses child had died. But by the late 1990s that unit was totally empty, and it eventually shut down. Its closure was a visible symbol of one of the most dramatic Jewish success stories of the past 50 years: the near-eradication of a deadly genetic disease. Since the 70s, the incidence of Tay-Sachs has fallen by more than 90 percent among Jews, thanks to a combination of scientific advances and volunteer community activism that brought screening for the disease into synagogues, Jewish community centers and, eventually, routine medical care. Until 1969, when doctors discovered the enzyme that made testing possible to determine whether parents were carriers of Tay-Sachs, 50 to 60 affected Jewish children were born each year in the United States and Canada. After mass screenings began in 1971, the numbers declined to two to five Jewish births a year, said Karen Zeiger, whose first child died of Tay-Sachs. It had decreased significantly, said Zeiger, who until her retirement in 2000 was the State of Californias Tay-Sachs prevention coordinator. Between 1976 and 1989, there wasnt a single Jewish Tay-Sachs birth in the entire state, she said. The first mass screening was held on a rainy Sunday afternoon in May 1971 at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland. The site was chosen in part for its proximity to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. One of the two doctors who discovered the missing hexosaminidase A enzyme, John OBrien, was visiting a lab there, and another Johns Hopkins doctor, Michael Kaback, had recently treated two Jewish couples with Tay-Sachs children, including Zeigers. Zeigers husband, Bob, was also a doctor at Johns Hopkins. The screenings used blood tests to check for the missing enzyme that identified a parent as a Tay-Sachs carrier. With the help of 40 trained lay volunteers and 15 physicians, more than 1,500 people volunteered for testing and were processed through the system in about 5 hours, Dr. Kaback later recalled in an article in the journal Genetics in Medicine. For me, it was like having written a symphony and hearing it for the first timeand it went beautifully, without glitches. A machine to process the tests cost $15,000. We had bazaars, cake sales, sold stockings, and thats how we raised money for the machine, Zeiger said. In the days before Facebook or email, activists and organizers spread the word about mass Tay-Sachs screenings through newspaper and magazine articles, posters at synagogues, and items in Jewish organizational newsletters. (Courtesy of National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association) Before screening, couples in which both parents were Tay-Sachs carriers almost always stopped having children after they had one child with Tay-Sachs, for fear of having another, Ruth Schwartz Cowan wrote in her book Heredity and Hope: The Case for Genetic Screening. But with screening, Tay-Sachs could be detected before birth, and carrier couples felt encouraged to have children, she wrote. Dr. Kabacks work helped enable thousands of parents who were Tay-Sachs carriers to have other, healthy children. What he did for Tay-Sachs and how he helped so many families was amazing, Zeiger said. People named their kids after him. The screenings were transformative, and the campaign to get Jews tested for Tay-Sachs took off. This was the days before Facebook or email, so activists and organizers spread the word about screenings through newspaper and magazine articles, posters at synagogues, and items in Jewish organizational newsletters. Volunteers and medical professionals spoke on college campuses and sent promotional prescription pads to rabbis, obstetricians, and gynecologists. Doctors and activists enlisted rabbis and community leaders to encourage couples to be tested before getting married. Another early mass screening event was held at a school in Waltham, Massachusetts, guided by Edwin Kolodny, a professor at New York University medical school. The first mass screening in the Philadelphia area was on Nov. 12, 1972, at the Germantown Jewish Center, and drew 800 people, according to a Yale senior thesis by David Gerber, Genetics for the Community: The Organized Response To Tay-Sachs Disease, 1955-1995. Nearly half a century later, the Tay-Sachs screening effort remains a model for mobilizing a community against genetic disease. Parent activists, scientists and doctors are trying to emulate that model with other diseases and other populations. You cant be complacent, because now there are 200 diseases you can test for, said Kevin Romer, president of the Matthew Forbes Romer Foundation and a past president of the National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association. The foundation is named for Romers son Matthew, who died of Tay-Sachs in 1996. Romer and others involved with this issue stress the importance of screening interfaith couples, too. Non-Jews may also benefit from pre-conception screening for Tay-Sachs and other diseases. Some research indicates, for example, that Louisiana Cajuns, French Canadians and individuals with Irish lineage may also have an elevated incidence of Tay-Sachs. Scientific progress means that Jews can now be screened for over 200 diseases with an at-home, mail-in test offered by JScreen. The four-year-old nonprofit affiliated with Emory Universitys Department of Human Genetics has screened thousands of people, and the subsidized fee for the test about $150 includes genetic counseling. While some genetic tests are standard doctors office procedure for pregnant women or couples trying to get pregnant with a doctors help, JScreen aims for pre-conception screening. The test includes diseases common in those with Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrahi backgrounds as well as general population diseases, making it relevant for Jewish couples and interfaith couples. Carrier screening gives people an opportunity to plan ahead for the health of their future families. We are taking lessons learned from earlier screening initiatives and bringing the benefits of screening to a new generation, said Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, executive director of JScreen. It was a path pioneered by the Tay-Sachs screening that began in 1971. In Cowans book, she mentions a chart prepared by Dr. Kaback reporting on 30 years of screening: 1.3 million people screened, 48,000 carriers detected, 1,350 carrier couples detected, 3,146 pregnancies monitored. Kaback and his colleagues could well have stopped there, she wrote. But they did not. There is one more figure, the one that matters most and that goes the furthest in explaining why Ashkenazi Jews accept carrier screening after monitoring with pre-natal diagnosis, 2,466 unaffected offspring were born to parents who were both Tay-Sachs carriers. In Israel, the Dor Yesharim NGO, screens prospective couples, students and people of dating age so that they know if they are carriers of Tay-Sachs and a list of other genetically transmitted diseases. The information remains completely confidential. In the case of arranged dating, this testing can be used to prevent setting up dates when both the man and woman have the genes or inform couples so they go for prenatal testing. As their website says, Dor Yeshorim was built on the premise that fatal and debilitating recessive genetic disorders, prevalent in Jewish circles, have absolutely no reason to be perpetuated. This article was sponsored by JScreen

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Brandeis course fields competition between Team Latke and Team Hamentashn – Brandeis University

Are you Team Latke or Team Hamentashn? By Julian Cardillo 14 and Caroline CataldoAug. 10, 2017 Deciding which of these two Jewish culinary staples is the most quintessentially Jewish would be much easier if there was a cook-off, tasting and debate pitting one against the other. But look no further: Brandeis hosts such an event every year. Students in the precollege programs class Culinary Art and Anthropology at Brandeis engaged in the third annual latke-hamentash debate on July 27 as part of the course, which seeks to deepen ones understanding and appreciation for Jewish cuisine and the role it plays in Jewish culture. During the latke-hamentash debate, students turned into young chefs and worked with instructors Elizabeth Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, the authors of The Gefilte Manifesto, a cookbook featuring 98 modernized recipes of typical Ashkenazi Jewish dishes. For Alpern and Yoskowitz, who have years of experience in the restaurant industry, teaching students about Jewish cuisine is a passion. We found no one was exploring Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine, which was our culinary heritage, said Alpern. Theres this rich, beautiful tradition of Ashkenazi cuisine that has a really bad reputation in U.S. and has been slipping into irrelevance for our generation. But Jeff and I had enough exposure to this cuisine to say, Wow, this food is colorful, vibrant, multi layered and absolutely deserves to stay relevant for our generation. For me its important to keep these recipes evolving, added Alpern. Food connects us to our place in the world, which gives value and meaning to our lives and contributes to the conversation about the multicultural world we live in.” For the debate, the audience, along with a panel of four judgesAlpern, Yoskowitz, Rabbi Charlie Schwartz and precollege programs director Marci Borensteincritiqued the freshly-made latkes and hamenstashn using strict criteria: presentation of food, taste and creativity. Judges also voted on which of two culinary staples they felt was the most quintessentially Jewish based on how the students explained the foods historic roots. This year, victory went to Team Hamentashn. This has been a great course and its open to everyone, whether you know a lot about Judaism and Jewish culture, or you dont, said Sabrina Axelrod of Minnesota, who was on Team Latke. Theres not just one type of cooking, I learned so many different things that I hadnt known before about Jewish culture. It really makes me appreciate the culture I grew up with.

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Bosnia’s Muslims, Jews, Christians chide politicians – AOL

SARAJEVO, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Bosnia’s religious leaders say politicians are standing in the way of peaceful coexistence between Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities trying to forgive and forget after the atrocities of a devastating 1990s war. Hundreds of churches, mosques and synagogues bear witness to more than five centuries of Bosnia’s multi-faith past, and the capital Sarajevo is known locally as a “small Jerusalem” with its main ethnic groups – Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaks – all worshipping within meters of each other. But Mufti Husein Kavazovic, head of the Islamic community in Bosnia, says people of faith cannot achieve peace alone. “It is up to political elites to do more. For a start, it would be good that they stop their ideological manipulation of religion for their own political goals. It is up to us, of course, not to allow them to do that,” he said. 26 PHOTOS Religious leaders take on politicians in hopes of peace See Gallery People walk past the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 28, 2017. Supervising architect Josip Vancas modelled the 19th century cathedral after the Notre-Dame in Dijon, France. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Decorations adorn the walls of Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. The mosque dates to 1757. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Decorative paintings adorn the walls and ceiling of Zitomislic Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The monastery dates to 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete. “It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” Hierodeacon Nektarije said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Orthodox Temple Hercegovacka Gracanica stands in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. Serbian poet Jovan Ducic (1871-1943) is buried at the temple. He was originally buried at Saint Sava Orthodox monastery in Libertyville, U.S., but was reinterred at Hercegovacka Gracanica when the temple opened in 2000 in accordance with his wishes. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic A copy of the Koran lies on a carpet at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic A crucifix is fixed to the roof of The Old Church in Vares, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 22, 2017. It is one of the oldest preserved catholic churches in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is dedicated to St. Michael, the patron saint of the parish of Vares. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic A decorative wooden door is seen at Zitomislic Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The monastery dates to 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete. “It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” Hierodeacon Nektarije said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Hierodeacon Nektarije poses for a photograph at Zitomislic Serbian Orthodox monastery in Zitomislici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The monastery dates to 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete. “It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” Nektarije said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Zitomislic Serbian Orthodox Monastery stands amongst trees in Zitomislici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The monastery dates to 1566, and took more than 40 years to complete. “It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” Hierodeacon Nektarije said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic An entrance leads to an underground church and crypt in Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 6, 2017. The site dates to the end of the 14th century. Duke Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic had the site built as a final resting place for himself and his family. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic A detail of a section of a wall is seen at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Decorative paintings adorn the walls and ceiling of Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 28, 2017. The Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue was designed by architect Karel Parik and built in 1902. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Light filters through decorative windows inside Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque in Pocitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque dates to 1562 and is a single-dome mosque. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic The interior of the Old Synagogue is seen in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 2, 2017. The Sephardi Synagogue dates to 1581. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Decorative paintwork adorns the walls and ceiling of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina July 28, 2017. Supervising architect Josip Vancas modelled the 19th century cathedral after the Notre-Dame in Dijon, France. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Rabbi’s assistant Igor Kozemjakin poses for a photograph at Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 2, 2017. Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue dates to 1902. “For Jews as members of a minority ethnic and religious group in Bosnia and Herzegovina, multiculturalism is a positive thing, because it is very important to have this kind of diversity,” Kozemjakin said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic A man prays at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. Sulejmanija Mosque dates to 1757. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Chairs are lined up in Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Cathedral in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. The Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Cathedral dates to 1888. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail poses for a photograph inside Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 20, 2017. “Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik is famous because it has many different colours inside. You can compare that with different religions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is beautiful and colourful precisely because of its multiculturalism. That is the true value of this country, which we should preserve and nurture,” Dzemail said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque stands in Pocitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. Shishman Ibrahim Pasha Mosque dates to 1562 and is a single-dome mosque. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue stands in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 28, 2017. The Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue was designed by architect Karel Parik and built in 1902. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic A statue stands in the interior of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 28, 2017. Supervising architect Josip Vancas modelled the 19th century cathedral after the Notre-Dame in Dijon, France. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic A chandelier hangs from the ceiling at Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 22, 2017. Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery dates to 1385. “Bosnia can only survive as a multi-ethnic state, no matter how much politicians try to convince us that this is not possible,” Friar Zeljko Brkic said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Paintings cover the ceiling of Orthodox Temple Hercegovacka Gracanica in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27, 2017. Serbian poet Jovan Ducic (1871-1943) is buried at the temple. He was originally buried at Saint Sava Orthodox monastery in Libertyville, U.S., but was reinterred at Hercegovacka Gracanica when the temple opened in 2000 in accordance with his wishes. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic Friar Zeljko Brkic poses for a photograph inside Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 22, 2017. Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery dates to 1385. “Bosnia can only survive as a multi-ethnic state, no matter how much politicians try to convince us that this is not possible,” Brkic said. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic HIDE CAPTION SHOW CAPTION Even though nationalists from all three ethnic groups still insist on exclusivity for their own groups, religious leaders are keen to heal rifts after the 1992-1995 war in which about 100,000 civilians were killed and millions displaced. Friar Zeljko Brkic at Kraljeva Sutjeska – among the oldest Franciscan monasteries in Bosnia and dating from 1385 – said: “Bosnia can only survive as a multi-ethnic state, no matter how much politicians try to convince us that this is not possible.” His Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim peers agree. “It is very important that we have here different cultures and religions, and that based on that we can easily build and verify our own identities,” said Nektarije, a deacon at the Orthodox monastery Zitomislici in what is now the Catholic Croat-dominated southern part of the country. Jakob Finci, the president of the Jewish community in Bosnia, gives Sarajevo as an example of close cooperation, citing Muslims there helping Jews to hide during War World Two and Jews providing food for people of all faiths in the three-year siege by Bosnian Serb forces. “Sarajevo is the best proof that living together is possible and that it represents the only way of life for us,” he said. This week, about 120 leaders from 27 countries arrived in Sarajevo to take part in a meeting of the youth-led Muslim Jewish Conference, founded by Ilja Sichrovski in Vienna in 2010. “We feel at home here,” Sichrovski said. More from AOL.com: 21 of the most beautiful places of worship around the world Pope tacks sign on his apartment door: ‘No Whining’

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Verdict in 100-year American shul dispute – Jewish Chronicle

Jewish Chronicle Verdict in 100-year American shul dispute Jewish Chronicle Ironically, it may take the highest secular court in America the Supreme Court to decide who owns its oldest shul in a case that highlights historic tensions between the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities. That scenario became a real possibility … Who owns America's oldest shul? The Jewish Star all 8 news articles »

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The ancient Jewish art of preserving kept fresh – The Times of Israel

Like the sauerkraut carefully placed inside a hot pastrami on rye, or the jam peering invitingly through the triangular windows of hamantaschen, preserves play a central, centuries-old and perhaps-overlooked role in Jewish cuisine. Now, a first-of-its-kind book aims to, ahem, preserve the tradition. In The Joys of Jewish Preserving, Chicago-based food writer and blogger Emily Paster shares 75 recipes that will get readers reaching for their cans and jars as they learn to make jams and pickled foods, including holiday fare. There are so many iconic particularly Ashkenazic foods we so love that include some preserve elements, Paster said, listing kosher dill pickles, sauerkraut on a reuben sandwich, jam in rugelach, jam in hamentashen, applesauce on latkes Feeling hungry yet? Paster hasnt even mentioned her favorite-tasting recipes her plum butter, for instance. Its absolutely delicious, she said. I love to make it. I use it as a fill-in for rugelach. Its definitely a favorite. All of the recipes, she said, are my own original creations. But, she added, many are inspired from a particular tradition, something I found in the course of research. Consider another of her favorites pickled okra. Some might wonder whether okra, which originated in West Africa, is a Jewish food, Paster said. But, she pointed out, it has actually been used in Sephardic cooking for hundreds or thousands of years, after migrating into North Africa and the Mediterranean. From The Joys of Jewish Preserving, by Emily Paster. (Courtesy) A lot of historical contexts and anecdotes are in the book, she said, emphasizing that, I dont want it to be a book on food history, food anthropology. Its a cookbook, reflecting how we cook, eat and shop today. And, equally important, how we preserve. Theres a very robust preserving tradition on the Ashkenazi side, Paster said. I discovered [an] equally robust side among Sephardim. Both traditions evolved from the same fertile crescent. Preserving food is an ancient practice, she said. It was a matter of survival for people for many centuries. Before refrigeration and cargo transport, it was a matter of necessity starting in biblical times. The first preserved food, she said, was probably dates, which she called an ancient, very special food. Scholars believe the Land of Milk and Honey did not have honey from bees, but date syrup [Scholars] believe the Land of Milk and Honey did not have honey from bees, but date syrup, she said. Theres no evidence of people being beekeepers in the Bible. Wine was important, too. Of course, winemaking is a form of preserving dating back thousands of years, she said. As the Diaspora gradually compelled Jews to migrate from the desert to the shtetl, preservation techniques changed as well. When Jews pushed north into the cold places where my ancestors are from, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, of course its an absolutely life-saving technique, Paster said. Youre not going to get through winter unless you preserve fruits in jam root vegetables, cucumbers, carrots, beets to get through the long winter. Preserved cherries from The Joys of Jewish Preserving, by Emily Paster. (Courtesy) Both Ashkenazim and Sephardim found another way to preserve food pickling. In Ashkenazi cuisine, pickling is very important, Paster said. It cuts through the fatness, the richness, of Ashkenazi food. Pickled cucumber is so fabulous. A pastrami sandwich is so rich. The vinegar tang cuts [through]. Sephardic food, she said, is very interesting, with pickled marinated vegetables as a meze before meals. And she praised the fabulous Israeli breakfast, with a lot of pickles as well, traditional Ashkenazi pickles, beets, sauerkraut, and Middle East pickled cauliflower. As both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews immigrated to the US, cooking styles changed still further. Fermented dill pickles from The Joys of Jewish Preserving, by Emily Paster. (Courtesy) Pasters recipe for pickled eggs arose after her rabbi, Max Weiss of the Oak Park Temple, asked if she could look into why Jews were nicknamed egg-eaters in the South not as an insult, she noted. It was because of traveling Jewish peddlers in the 19th-century American South, the land of the pig, Paster explained. Traveling peddlers were not at all sure if what they ate out on the road was kosher. So, she said, they would have jerky and pickled eggs. The Cherokee first dubbed them [egg-eaters]. Its a little phrase and a really fascinating piece of history. Pickling itself features two styles fermented and vinegar. Fermented pickles are the most traditional, Paster said. [Theyve been around for] hundreds and hundreds of years in the old country. Fermented pickles just need salt, salt-water brine, and time to ferment. The two [most famous examples are] sauerkraut and fermented kosher dill pickles. The alternate tradition vinegar pickles, in a vinegar brine is easier for people to do, she said. But, she pleaded, at least give fermenting a try. Paster is a champion of do-it-yourself cooking in general. It all stemmed from helping her young daughter deal with numerous food allergies about a decade ago. [My daughter and] I were starting to make a lot of foods from scratch, she said. I was concerned about the ingredients in prepared foods. I was concerned about the ingredients in prepared foods Preserving offered a solution. It was a project she and I could do together, Paster said. It was hard with all the allergies. We could make jam its fruits and sugar. It helped that the Paster family Emily, her husband and their two children lives in Chicago, home to a thriving farmers-market scene, with the fruit orchards of Michigan nearby. Preserves extended the local season a bit, Paster said. It became one of my areas of specialty as a cook. But it also led to an accumulation of cans and jars in their basement more jams and pickles than one family could ever eat, Paster recalled. Serendipitously, she learned about how fellow DIY-ers, in Philadelphia, were preparing and bartering their homemade creations through a concept known as a food swap. This led her to co-found the Chicago Food Swap, in 2011. An assortment of preserves from The Joys of Jewish Preserving, by Emily Paster. (Courtesy) Its become a very important part of my life, she said, a wonderful community from all different parts of Chicago, different ages, walks of life, races, religions, united by a passion for homegrown foods over five years, a vibrant, exciting way to connect with people around food. It even inspired her first book, Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing and Giving, published last year. While Food Swap was about a familiar subject, The Joys of Jewish Preserving was more like going back to school, a big research project, she said. Paster has experience with research shes a Princeton and University of Michigan Law School graduate, as well as a former lawyer. For this particular project, inspiration came from fellow Jewish food writers, including the late Gil Marks, author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, as well as the work of people like Joan Nathan, I admire her, and Claudia Roden as well, she said. These were starting places where I could find out a particular tradition or ingredient. For Paster, the main ingredient is doing it yourself especially with preserving. If you get too much food at a farmers market and it starts to go bad, you can whip up a bowl of jam and it will not go to waste, she said. Its jam your family can eat.

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Full breast cancer screening may benefit Ashkenazi Jewish women – medwireNews

medwireNews: Ashkenazi Jewish women with breast cancer may benefit from comprehensive genetic screening for all breast cancer genes, not just founder mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2, US researchers report. They found that around one in 25 women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry with breast cancer not linked to founder mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 carried either a different pathogenic BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation or a pathogenic mutation in another breast cancer gene. Of 1007 Ashkenazi Jewish women participating in the New York Breast Cancer Study who did not carry any of the three BRCA1 and BRCA2 founder alleles, seven (0.8%) carried another pathogenic mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2, detected using a targeted multiplexed gene panel that included 23 known and candidate breast cancer genes. A further 31 (3.4%) women carried a pathogenic mutation in another breast cancer gene: 29 in CHEK2, and one each in BRIP1 and NBN. Among the women with CHEK2 mutations, 24 carried CHEK2 p.S428F, which the researchers say has previously been identified as an Ashkenazi Jewish founder allele that can triple breast cancer risk. Four mutations were CHEK2 c.1100delC, and one was CHEK2 c.444 (+1)G> A, both of which are common in Europe. Mary-Claire King and colleagues from the University of Seattle in Washington, also report that 73.8% of the 142 women with an inherited predisposition to breast cancer carried a BRCA1 or BRCA2 founder mutation, 4.9% had another BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, and 21.8% had a mutation in another gene. However, the researchers point out in JAMA Oncology that the likelihood of an Ashkenazi Jewish patient with breast cancer without a founder mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 carrying a different mutation in the genes is only around 1%, increasing to 3% if she was diagnosed before 40years of age, a frequency which may be below the threshold of consideration for additional testing for most patients. But such testing is strongly suggested, they believe, when multiple cases of breast cancer in a family remain unresolved by the mutation of the proband. King et al also note that current US national screening guidelines recommend genetic testing for all Ashkenazi Jewish patients with breast cancer. This recommendation is fine, but testing women only after they develop cancer severely limits the power of precision medicine, they remark. To discover a mutation only after cancer is diagnosed is a missed opportunity to have prevented that cancer. Many of these cancers could be prevented by offering genetic testing as described here to all women before they develop breast cancer, as part of routine medical care, the researchers conclude. By Laura Cowen medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. 2017 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature group

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Who owns America’s oldest synagogue? It’s a 350-year-old argument. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Touro Synagogue, nestled in historic Newport, R.I., is the oldest extant synagogue in the United States, Sept. 2, 2004. (John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images) NEW YORK (JTA) The story of Americas oldest synagogue, as told by retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter, is the story of American Jewish history. Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, Souter wrote, was built in the 1700s by Sephardic merchants whose community then declined. In the late 1800s, Eastern European Jews arrived in the area, occupied the building and have used it to this day. Since then, heirs of the older Sephardic community have tried to maintain a foothold in the historic synagogue that they consider theirs. On Wednesday, Souter awarded a victory to the Sephardim. Writing an appeals court ruling on a lawsuit over who owns Touro Synagogue, Souter who has regularly sat on the court following his 2009 retirement wrote that the building and its centuries-old ritual objects all belong to Congregation Shearith Israel, a historic Sephardic congregation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The decision reversed an earlier district court decision that gave ownership of the building and the multimillion-dollar artifacts to the group that worships there: the Ashkenazi Congregation Jeshuat Israel. Its an odd and oddly enduring dispute being played out in an American courtroom. Souters ruling is a primer on nearly 400 years of American Jewish history, and a dispute that touches on historical tensions between Sephardic Jews with roots in Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East, and Ashkenazi Jews with roots in Eastern Europe. Touro, built in 1763, has loomed large in American Jewish history. Along with its claim to being the first Jewish building in the country, it also received George Washingtons 1790 letter guaranteeing that the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. Shearith Israel, hundreds of miles away, has held title to Touro since the early 1800s, when the shrinking Newport community asked the New York City shul to steward the building and its ritual objects. Its a fitting relationship: Shearith Israel also known as the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue has a sense of its history as well. Founded in 1654, it bills itself as Americas First Jewish Congregation. (Its current building is its fifth home.) Old-time members still wear top hats, and it still worships in the distinctive Sephardic style passed down from its founders, complete with a cantor in robes and choir. Some Shearith Israel members are descended from the original families that started the congregation four centuries ago. Jeshuat Israel, founded in 1881 as Ashkenazi immigrants began flooding America from Eastern Europe, has worshipped at Touro for more than a century. For a time, according to Souters ruling, its members occupied the synagogue illegally, praying there even as Shearith Israel sought to keep it closed. Only in 1903, following a court battle, did the two groups sign a contract establishing Shearith Israel as the owner and giving Jeshuat Israel a lease on the building. According to the terms of the contract, Jeshuat Israel must pray in the Sephardic style its own identity be damned. Seeking to form an endowment, Jeshuat Israel arranged in 2011 to sell a pair of handcrafted, 18th-century silver bulbs, which are used to adorn Torah scrolls, to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where they were on loan. But Shearith Israel objected to the $7 million sale, both because Shearith Israel said it owned the ornaments and claimed the sale violated Jewish law. Jeshuat Israel then sued Shearith Israel, and Shearith Israel countersued both of them seeking legal ownership of the bulbs. Because the bulbs are meant to rest upon a Torah scroll, Shearith Israel asserted, selling them to a secular institution constitutes an unacceptable decline in holiness. The district court had ruled in Jeshuat Israels favor on the grounds that it occupies the building and that Shearith Israel had failed in its trustee obligations. But Souter reversed the ruling, partially based on the 1903 contract, writing that Shearith Israel is fee owner of the Touro Synagogue building, appurtenances, fixtures, and associated land. Now, says Gary Naftalis, Jeshuat Israels lawyer, the congregation is reviewing our legal options going forward. Jeshuat Israel could ask the appeals courts full panel of judges to review the ruling, and may petition to have the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Shearith Israel President Louis Solomon said in a statement that the congregation is gratified by the courts decision and, as a result, has been restored to the position it has held for centuries. The statement added that the congregation hopes to move forward from the court ruling, which enables two great Jewish congregations to regain the harmony that existed between them before this unfortunate episode began five years ago. But even as Shearith Israel has retained ownership of Americas oldest synagogue, it no longer reflects the community that American Jews have become. The families who founded Americas first Jewish congregations exiles from Spain and Portugal via Amsterdam, London, Brazil and the Caribbean likely would not identify with the largely Ashkenazi, largely non-Orthodox American Jewish community of 350 years later. Even Shearith Israel has gone with the flow, hiring a rabbi from a renowned Ashkenazi rabbinical dynasty, Meir Soloveichik, in 2013. Still, part of the New York congregations appeal is its anachronism led by a cantor and choir in an era of lay leadership, formal in an era of casual dress, Sephardic in an Ashkenazi-led community. And now, even if it no longer owns the American Jewish present, it can say that it still holds title to the American Jewish past.

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Revered Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat awaits lifesaving lung transplant – Los Angeles Times

Saeb Erekat, the legendary Palestinian leader and chief negotiator with Israel for the last two decades, is renowned for his persistence against all odds and for a steel-trap legal mind. But the challenge he faces today may be his most daunting. At 62, Erekar is suffering from advanced pulmonary fibrosis, a debilitating condition that can be cured only by a lung transplant. He requested to be added to the waiting list in both Israel and the United States, but the odds are long. In Israel, Erekat, like other foreigners, will qualify for a donated lung only if it does not match the needs of any Israeli patient. In recent months, friends and colleagues report seeing a steep deterioration in his health. Erekat has lost a significant amount of weight and appears in public tethered to an oxygen tank. He has admonished his associates to refrain from speaking about his condition. Few people have been more crucial to the Palestinian cause than Erekat. Uri Savir, Israels former chief negotiator for the Oslo peace accords, has known Erekat since 1994. Saeb is a brilliant man. A brave man. A man of peace, very moderate, with all the normal critique of the occupation, he said. I dont think hes really a political animal, but he ended up in a top leadership role because his particular talents were essential for the team. Those talents, said Savir, who is the co-founder of the Peres Center for Peace, include an unusual gift for negotiation, an uncanny ability to formulate the precise lines necessary for a legal document in this he is second to none and an extremely rare ability to represent his leader, who was Yasser Arafat, and represent matters to him. Eighty-nine Israelis are on the waiting list for a lung transplant, said Dr. Tamar Ashkenazi, director of the transplant center at Israels Ministry of Health. Last year, 50 patients received donated lungs. Ashkenazi said that in the event an available organ has no match in Israel, she will reach out to the deceaseds family and request special permission, above and beyond the legal necessity, to offer the organ to foreigners. Under similar circumstances, she once sent a childs liver to Germany. Erekat, who is of average height, suffers yet another disadvantage. I have no idea why, but we have many tall donors here, Ashkenazi said, noting that height is a crucial factor for matching lungs. A tall patient might wait two weeks, and a shorter person can wait two years. The order of transplant precedence is determined solely according to medical criteria. Khaled Abu Toameh, an expert on Palestinian affairs who has known Erekat for 25 years, said his illness has been an open secret. You could tell by looking at him. Erekats physical deterioration comes laced with irony. As his body has succumbed to illness, his political stature has only grown. For one, Abu Toameh said, It is important to underscore that his name has never been associated with corruption. Ever. In recent years his position has gotten a lot stronger, Abu Toameh said. Hes become the leading candidate to replace Abu Mazen, another name for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, 82. Among Palestinians he is considered the most prominent symbol of the Oslo process, and hes taken a lot of flak for being the flag bearer of ongoing negotiations and contacts with Israel. In part, Erekats popularity can be attributed to renewed Palestinian enthusiasm for the peace process he spearheaded. On Thursday, a poll released by Tel Aviv Universitys Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that 52% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip supported the two-state solution, an increase of 8 percentage points since December. Fifty-three percent of Israelis, a decline of 2 points, agreed. A peace process waiting for redemption may be awaiting only the renewed vigor of one of its most devoted proponents.

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