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D.C. rabbi Barry Freundel arrested, charged with voyeurism

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 15:14

Rabbi Barry Freundel

(JTA) — Rabbi Barry Freundel, the longtime spiritual leader at Kesher Israel in Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with voyeurism after the synagogue board alerted the authorities.

Freundel, 62, was taken away Tuesday in handcuffs after uniformed officers and plainclothes detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department searched his home in the Georgetown section of Washington, Washingtonian magazine reported.

A statement from the board of directors emailed to congregants said it had suspended Freundel without pay.

“Upon receiving information regarding potentially inappropriate activity, the Board of Directors quickly alerted the appropriate officials,” said the statement. “Throughout the investigation, we cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so.”

The D.C. police declined to provide further details beyond the charge. “We had an arrest of a Bernard Freundel, a 62 year old male who was arrested for voyeurism,” a police spokesman said.

Freundel, who is in police custody, is expected to have an initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday.

Freundel has led Kesher Israel, a modern Orthodox synagogue, for more than two decades. The congregation’s members include Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and former Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

The rabbi also serves on the executive council of centrist Orthodoxy’s Rabbinical Council of America.

 

Am Yisrael Buy: Pro-Israel app aims to counter flurry of BDS ones

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 13:37

Two New York University students participate in an Israeli products “buycott” to combat Israel Apartheid Week, March 2010. (Courtesy of The David Project)

The latest Israel technology wasn’t developed at the Technion, nor was it hatched by a startup in Tel Aviv. In fact, it didn’t come from Israel at all.

Am Yisrael Buy, a new app (available on Apple, Android and Windows Phone) designed to help users locate and buy Israeli products, is the brainchild of Rabbi Daniel Cohen, 49,the spiritual leader at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, N.J.

A screenshot of the Am Yisrael Buy app.

After learning this summer about apps being developed to advance the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the rabbi said he “went looking for a pro-Israel app and couldn’t find one that was standing up to BDS.”

So Cohen, who sees BDS as a movement geared toward “isolating and destroying the Jewish state,” took it upon himself to create Am Yisrael Buy, which launched just before Rosh Hashanah. Some 2,500 users have downloaded it so far; it includes a list of Israeli products for purchase, as well as links to Israeli media outlets and Israeli organizations.

For now, the effort pales compared to the technology on the other side. Using the Buycott app, which catalogues products and their affiliations and lets users set up campaigns to either support or avoid certain products, pro-Palestinian activists created a “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel” campaign, which now has over 400,000 users. In contrast, Buycott’s “Support Israel and Boycott Terrorist Organizations” has just under  12,000 users.

While Buycott wasn’t designed specifically for the BDS movement, several other apps have been, including two separate ones that share the title “Boycott Israel.” And in March this year, the BDS movement announced that it was creating an app that offered a comprehensive database of Israeli products, and a barcode scanner to help everyday consumers boycott the Jewish state.

Interestingly, despite their different goals, Am Yisrael Buy and the BDS apps are similar in that they share information about Israeli products. A consumer wishing to buy Israeli goods could easily download a BDS application and repurpose it.

But Cohen insists that building an app with a pro-Israel message is vital.

“I’ve always taken the view that it’s better to put out a positive message,” he said. “Quite frankly, a specific BDS app, by downloading it, you send a message, whether you intend to or not, that you are supporting BDS. The commerce is important, but equally important is the message that the American Jewish community in general is supportive of Israel. So each download of [my] application goes in the column of supporting Israel.”

Cohen said he hopes to clean the app’s interface and attract people with greater technical know-how to work on the app. But he’s not looking to monetize it or start a company.

“For me it’s about the mission, the love for Israel, and the commitment that brought me into the rabbinate and made me an avid Zionist,” he said. “I’m just very fortunate to be in a position where I can make a difference.”

Palestinians Clash With Troops on Temple Mount

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 09:54

Israeli police clashed with Palestinian protesters and shut down access to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on Monday in a deepening dispute over access to the area, the third holiest shrine in Islam which is also revered by Jews.

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Rabbi Gil Steinlauf Wins Wide Support From Conservatives After Coming Out as Gay

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 21:47

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf has been stunned by the supportive response to his announcement that he is gay. The reaction reflects a dramatic in the Conservative movement in recent years.

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Ban Ki-Moon Slams Israel for Jerusalem Holy Site 'Provocations'

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 10:27

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticized Israel for building in the settlements and condemned “provocations” at holy sites in Jerusalem.

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Women Can Dance With Scroll on Simchat Torah

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:42

Women are permitted to dance with a Torah scroll on the Simchat Torah holiday, a national-religious rabbinical organization has ruled.

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Israel Police push Arab rioters into mosque to clear Temple Mount for visitors

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 04:35

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel Police pushed Arab rioters on the Temple Mount into the Al-Aksa Mosque and locked them inside.

The rioters had collected rocks, firebombs and broken pieces of furniture in preparation for attacking police and Jewish visitors, according to reports. They also used barbed wire to barricade parts of the site.

Police raided the compound early Monday morning following morning prayers at the mosque, when they were attacked by the rioters.

The Israeli forces used stun grenades, tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to contain the rioters, according to the Palestinian Maan news agency.

Jews were allowed to visit the Temple Mount on Monday for the first time since the start of the Sukkot holiday.

Among the visitors Monday morning was right-wing Likud lawmaker Moshe Feiglin, who requested permission to bring a group to visit the Temple Mount following holiday prayers at the Western Wall.

“A pilgrimage to the courtyard of our Holy Temple should accompanied by poetry, drums and song – not the background sounds of explosions and gunshots as riot police officers prevent the rioters from leaving their mosque,” Feiglin wrote in a Facebook post following the visit.

Police began clamping down on security in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, adding extra patrols and closing the major streets around the area to traffic. Tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers from Israel and abroad gathered at the Western Wall Sunday for the traditional Birkat Kohanim, or priestly blessing prayer.

On Friday, Israel Police restricted the entry of Muslim men to the Temple Mount to those over the age of 50 in response to riots at the holy site two days earlier. Four policemen were injured during the violence and at least five protesters were arrested, according to Israel Police.

Sim Shalom will Hold Jazz High Holiday Services at Zeb's;...

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 03:15

The Sim Shalom Online Synagogue will hold its Jazz High Holiday Services at Zeb’s Sound and Light in Chelsea – and that celebration will include a very special guest.

(PRWeb September 08, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12085561.htm

Buffalo's Oldest Synagogue Razed Despite Protest

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 13:19

The oldest synagogue in Buffalo was demolished despite the efforts of two demonstrators, who chained themselves to a pillar in the building.

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Historic Buffalo synagogue demolished despite demonstrators

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 11:45

(JTA) — The oldest synagogue in Buffalo, N.Y., was demolished despite the efforts of two demonstrators who chained themselves to a pillar in the building.

The Jefferson Avenue building was demolished on Saturday after the demonstrators, identified as David Torke and Rabbi Drorah Setel, were peacefully removed and detained by police, the Buffalo News reported.

Police said the building posed a safety hazard and thus was condemned. Preservationists said it should have been listed as a historical landmark.

The building, which was designed in 1903 by A.E. Mink, once was the home of Congregation Ahavath Sholem, also known as the Jefferson Avenue Shul. It was sold in 1960 to Saints Home Church of God and later to Greater New Hope Church of God in Christ, which owned it for about 30 years. The building has been empty since 2005.

At first the demolition crew did not realize there were people in the building. Eight other demonstrators remained outside the structure.

80,000 Visit Western Wall for Sukkot Prayers

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 08:59

The Temple Mount was closed to non-Muslim visitors as about 80,000 Jewish worshippers visited the Western Wall for Sukkot holiday prayers.

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Temple Mount closed as 80,000 Jewish worshippers gather at Western Wall

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 07:35

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Temple Mount was closed to non-Muslim visitors as about 80,000 Jewish worshippers visited the Western Wall for Sukkot holiday prayers.

Police clamped down on security in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, adding extra patrols and closing the major streets around the area to traffic.

Israel Police on Friday restricted entry of Muslim men to the Temple Mount to those over the age of 50 in response to riots at the holy site two days earlier. Masked Palestinian rioters on Oct. 8 threw rocks, concrete blocks and firebombs at police at the Mughrabi Gate entrance. Four policemen were injured during the violence and at least five protesters were arrested, according to Israel Police.

The tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers from Israel and abroad gathered at the Western Wall for the traditional Birkat Kohanim, or priestly blessing prayer. Some 300 Kohanim raised their hands in the special blessing, according to the office of the rabbi of the Western Wall. Special prayers for the safety and welfare of Israeli soldiers and security forces also were recited.

On Saturday night, the Jerusalem Light Rail came under attack at the stop near the Arab village of Shuafat in eastern Jerusalem. In at least five separate rock attacks the windows of the train cars were damaged, and could put them out of service, which would slow the Light Rail during the Sukkot holiday, one of its most busy times of year.

Since July, the Light Rail has been attacked more than 100 times, causing railroad cars to be taken out of service, the Jerusalem Post reported citing data collected by the Light Rail.

What's an Angel of Rain Doing in a Jewish Sukkot Prayer?

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 06:00

At the heart of the Shemini Atzeret rain prayer, there is a reference to ‘the angel of rain.’ Philologos investigates how it wound up in the Sukkot celebration.

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Create the LGBT-Inclusive Jewish Community I Didn’t Have Growing Up

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 17:00

“I wouldn’t want my child’s rabbi to be gay—it might turn him gay.” This was just one of the many homophobic remarks I heard in my Jewish day school as a closeted gay teen. In my high school, homophobic statements often went unchallenged and the phrase “that’s so gay” was thrown around often. My day school wasn’t exactly a model of inclusion: there was no Gay Straight Alliance during my time there and although one student who had transferred to the school in the middle of high school was out, no one had actually come out during my entire four years there.

The homophobia in my school not only kept me in the closet throughout high school, but also made me question whether there was a place for me in Judaism as a queer man. Fortunately, things changed when I entered college. At Tufts University, I found a welcoming and accepting community at our Hillel, where sexual diversity wasn’t just welcomed but celebrated.

After four years of being a part of a welcoming and inclusive Jewish community at Tufts, I feel lucky to have joined another LGBT-inclusive Jewish community. In fact, the Reform Movement and the RAC not only welcome LGBT Jews, but they have also been actively advocating for and fighting for the rights of LGBT individuals for decades.

Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day and in honor of this important day, I urge you to have a hand in building the inclusive Jewish institutions that I did not have growing up. The Union for Reform Judaism offers a variety of resources on LGBT Inclusion, and  if you are interested in transforming your Jewish community from one that welcomes LGBT Jews to one that actively fights for the rights of LGBT Jews, I encourage you to check out the RAC’s LGBT Equality Resources for Reform Congregations and LGBT Rights issue page. In addition, Keshet, a national grassroots organization working for the full inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish life, offers a variety of resources for Jewish institutions, including a list of resources for National Coming Out Day, and trainings for Jewish professionals.

This year’s National Coming Out Day is arriving on the heels of a Supreme Court action which may lead to marriage equality in a majority of states. As our secular laws become more LGBT-inclusive with each coming year, let us resolve to make our Jewish communities even more inclusive and welcoming.

Reform Rabbis Seek To Aid Immigrants Facing Deportation

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:34

Reform rabbis are contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in an attempt to delay the deportation of undocumented workers.

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Joshua Bell

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:02

A world-famous violinist, Joshua Bell is the son of a mother who is Jewish and a father who was an Episcopal priest. But Bell says the emphasis on great classical music in their household was “the common denominator” and “the spiritual force.”

The post Joshua Bell appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Sukkot

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:01

Rabbi James Michaels of the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington explains the significance of building sukkahs or temporary shelters for eating and worshipping during Sukkot, a harvest festival when Jews recall their ancestors’ forty years of wandering in the desert after their escape from slavery in Egypt.

/wnet/religionandethics/files/2012/09/thumb01-sukkot.jpg Rabbi James Michaels of the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, DC says Sukkot reminds Jews of the experience of wandering in the desert, open to the elements, and of simply “being alive.”

The post Sukkot appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Israel Police restrict Muslim worshippers on Temple Mount following riots

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 07:00

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel Police restricted entry of Muslim men to the Temple Mount to those over the age of 50 in response to riots at the holy site two days ago.

The police also dispatched extra police units throughout the old city of Jerusalem on Friday morning.

Hamas reportedly called on Muslims to assemble Friday at the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount to “defend it.”

“We will fight till the last drop of blood,” Hamas reportedly said.

Masked Palesitnian rioters on Wedsnesday threw rocks, concrete blocks and firebombs at police at the Mughrabi Gate entrance. Four policemen were injured during the violence and at least five protesters were arrested, according to Israel Police.

What Does This Photo of Tashlikh Say About the Evolution of Jewish Life?

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 06:00

A single 1909 photo of tashlikh on the Williamsburg Bridge speaks volume about the evolution of the ancient Jewish ritual —  and its evolution in the modernity of the New World.

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