November 19th, 2014

Israeli geek makes good

Yoni Bloch is a well-known Israeli musician, and he’s also making it big in interactive digital technology

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

When Israeli rocker and interactive digital video entrepreneur Yoni Bloch called the Jewish World recently, he was stuck in Tel Aviv traffic.

He’s from Be’er Sheva, and when I expressed the desire to visit the Capital of the Negev, Bloch tersely responded, “Don’t go.”

And he expanded on this bit of advice: “Don’t go to Be’er Sheva, it’s the most boring city in the world.”

Yoni Bloch
Dec. 3 at Sabes JCC

Bloch probably isn’t in line to head the Negev regional tourist bureau.

When I mentioned that you can visit the desert home of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, at Kibbutz Sde Boker, a ways south of Be’er Sheva, the 33-year-old musician quoted Ben-Gurion’s statement in Hebrew, then translated: “We will flourish the desert.”

Israel will make the desert bloom.

Yoni Bloch: Most high tech entrepreneurs are geeky people that would have loved to be a rock star.

Yoni Bloch: Most high tech entrepreneurs are geeky people that would have loved to be a rock star.

“There’s a lot of dreams about Be’er Sheva one day becoming a very important area; but those dreams are only dreams,” Bloch concluded.

The popular Israeli singer-songwriter will appear 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3 at the Sabes JCC in St. Louis Park, as part of Culture Blvd IV, the series sponsored by the Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation.

The American Jewish World is a media sponsor of the event.

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November 19th, 2014

Editorial: Civil liberties and human rights in Israel

Sharon Abraham-Weiss, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), visited the American Jewish World offices last week. She heads the oldest and largest human rights organization in Israel. It’s the only group that deals with the entire spectrum of rights and civil liberties issues in both Israel and the Occupied Territories.

We had plenty to talk about.

As regular AJW readers know, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has worsened over recent months, with Israel going to war with Hamas for the third time in six years. The warfare this summer was triggered by an attack on the home front: three young yeshiva students — Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar — were abducted from a West Bank crossing.

Israel blamed Hamas, and launched a search for the boys across the West Bank, in which 400 Palestinians, including many Hamas leaders, were arrested. Five Palestinians were killed during protests against Israeli soldiers. On June 30, the bodies of the three yeshiva students were found in a field about 15 miles from the spot where they were kidnapped.

The other horrific event that should be mentioned in this abbreviated historical account is the revenge murder of a teenager from East Jerusalem. A group of deranged Israelis grabbed Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, threw him in a van and bludgeoned him. His body was found July 2, in the Jerusalem Forest; an autopsy found that he was still alive when his killers burned him. Riots erupted in East Jerusalem and in Arab towns around Israel.

Generally, there has been an upsurge in violence, including attacks by Jewish Israeli thugs on Arab Israelis. Although the hostilities between Israel and Hamas ended after 50 days, there has been no letup in rioting and violence in Jerusalem, including recent deadly vehicle attacks by Palestinians on civilians at two light rail stops. On Tuesday, five Israelis were killed and at several more wounded during morning prayers at Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov, in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem, by two terrorists. Three of the men killed held dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, according to JTA. Police killed the two attackers, who reportedly were Arab Israelis from Jabel Mukaber in East Jerusalem.

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November 19th, 2014

JFS to honor Marjorie Sigel

Sigel will retire after 23 years with Jewish Family Service of St. Paul; the public is invited to a Dec. 4 celebration

By ERIN ELLIOTT BRYAN / Community News Editor

Marjorie Sigel, a longtime therapist at Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFS), will retire at the end of the year, with a collective 23 years at the agency. She is known for her outreach in the Jewish and general communities, particularly to seniors, and has been instrumental in promoting wellness and a holistic approach to healing for all JFS clients.

JFS will celebrate and honor Sigel on Thursday, Dec. 4 at Sholom East in St. Paul. The public is invited to attend.

“We hope they’ll come to help celebrate Marjorie’s contributions, not only to the agency but to the community at large,” Ted Flaum, JFS executive director, told the AJW. “This is a way for a lot of people who Marjorie has touched to come and, without identifying them as her clients, to thank her for all that she’s done.”

Mitch Wittenberg, JFS’ counseling supervisor, added, “Whether they say anything in public or not, their mere presence is a testament to Marjorie’s impact.”

Marjorie Sigel (Photo: Courtesy of JFS)

Marjorie Sigel (Photo: Courtesy of JFS)

Sigel was first introduced to social work through her stepmother, a “very forward-thinking pediatrician” who embraced social work in her own clinic. Sigel then spent a summer working as a social work case aide and was inspired by a woman who created family assessments.

Sigel, a native of New Hampshire, finished her undergraduate education at Boston University and earned her MSW from the University of California–Berkeley. She first began working at JFS in 1978, staying for about 10 years; she returned to the agency in 2001.

As a psychotherapist, Sigel provided counseling services to people with a variety of needs. She has also been involved in administrative functions, served as supervisor of the counseling program, and worked as a mental health consultant in other JFS areas, and in grant writing and program development.

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November 19th, 2014

Dinkytown’s magic moment

Bill Savran is promoting his photos from Dinkytown and the historic preservation movement

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

The “Dinkytown Reunion,” a fundraiser to help ensure the preservation of the Dinkytown historic commercial district by the U of M East Bank campus, will take place 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23 at the Varsity Theater, 1308 4th St. S.E.

The event will include music by Willie Murphy, Preserve Historic Dinkytown presentations, and a clip from Al Milgrom’s feature film, The Dinkytown Uprising, about the 1970 occupation protesting the Red Barn fast food restaurant.

Helping promote the event is Bill Savran, who actually was there in the late 1950s, when Dinkytown was home to the folk-blues revival. By a stroke of luck, Savran has held on to some negatives of photos he shot at The 10 O’Clock Scholar more than 56 years ago.

In a biography he provided to the Jewish World, Savran recalls: “The folks that gathered at The Scholar were philosophers, alcoholics, grad students, writers, poets, wannabe writers and poets, hangers-on, musicians of all kinds: strummers, singers, tambourine shakers, bongo thumpers, mouth harpists and so on. Spider John Koerner was a standout and of unique natural talent. I met him the late summer of 1958, in San Francisco, just after he had been discharged from the Marines.”

“Spider” John Koerner on stage at The 10 O’Clock Scholar in Dinkytown, around 1958. (Photo: Bill Savran)

“Spider” John Koerner on stage at The 10 O’Clock Scholar in Dinkytown, around 1958. (Photo: Bill Savran)

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November 19th, 2014

Israel’s Technion collaborates in new projects

Technion professor Boaz Golany talks about the institute’s ventures and why it offers the most value in terms of support for Israel

By ERIN ELLIOTT BRYAN / Community News Editor

Professor Boaz Golany, vice president for external affairs at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, was in Minnesota recently as part of a fundraising tour of the United States.

“I’ve been roaming the land, as they say, from coast to coast, from south to north,” Golany said, during a visit to the AJW offices on Nov. 12.

Golany’s trip was coordinated by the American Technion Society, one of 18 friends’ societies around the world. The American society, Golany noted, is the oldest — it was founded in 1941 by Professor Albert Einstein — and most significant, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the Technion’s global fundraising.

“[The American Technion Society] has played an enormous role in making the Technion the leading science and technology university,” Golany said. “Over the years, approaching the 75th anniversary of this society, it has raised more than $2 billion for the Technion.”

Boaz Golany (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)

Boaz Golany (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)

While he was in the Twin Cities, Golany spoke at two events. On Nov. 11, he presented the Technion’s role in Israel’s defense and high-tech start-ups at the Stinson Leonard Street law firm. And on Nov. 12, in an event hosted by the American Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Minnesota at Bell State Bank, Golany discussed promoting greater levels of collaboration between Minnesota companies, researchers and the Technion.

Among the projects in which the Technion is engaged is a joint project with Cornell University, which is known as the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute. The campus will be located on Roosevelt Island, on the East River between Queens and Manhattan.

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November 19th, 2014

Thoughts on today’s rabbinic leaders

Keeping Faith in Rabbis: A Community Conversation on Rabbinical Education, by Rabbi Hayim Herring and Ellie Roscher, Avenida, 249 pages, $17.95

Reviewed by NEAL GENDLER

Despite “wonderful” studies in seminary, says Rabbi Ellen Flax, “The sad truth is that my five years of rabbinical school did little to prepare me for what was to become the day-to-day work of my rabbinate.”

That sentiment appears in various strengths among writers in Keeping Faith in Rabbis, a book of essays on education by rabbis, academics and congregants of various professions, edited by Rabbi Hayim Herring and Ellie Roscher; she previously edited Keeping the Faith in Seminary, about Protestant education.

Herring calls the contributions a form of conversation among rabbis, lay leaders and others. Most make interesting, instructive, sometimes witty reading for those of us who’d like a better understanding of our rabbis and how they, and congregations, better can work together.

Keeping-Faith

Herring, former rabbi of Beth El Synagogue, the large Conservative congregation in St. Louis Park, has a variety of leadership experiences, having also been a senior federation professional and a national foundation director — all in three decades while living in one zip code.

Recent data show that only about 25 percent of American Jews say religion is important in their lives, and the same proportion attend services once or twice a month — less than half the rate of the rest of the population. Herring asks: “How do we make sense of the reality that the people who brought a belief system of ethical monotheism to the ancient world now perceive that the Jewish religion lacks meaning for them in contemporary America?”

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October 30th, 2014

Kids, enter the AJW Hanuka Cover Contest

Lighted-hanukia-email

Want to see YOUR artwork on the cover of the American Jewish World?

It’s time to get out the paper and markers and enter the 23rd annual AJW Hanuka Cover Contest.

We’re looking for colorful drawings by budding artists (in grades 1-8). Drawings should be visual representations of the meaning of Hanuka.

The winning artwork will be published on the cover of the AJW’s Dec. 5 Hanuka special edition.

The artwork should be in a VERTICAL format.

For all the details, click HERE.

2013 AJW Hanuka Cover Contest winning artwork by Mara Fink.

2013 AJW Hanuka Cover Contest winning artwork by Mara Fink.

The deadline for artwork submissions is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Entries should be sent to: AJW Cover Art, 4820 Minnetonka Blvd., Suite 104, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

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