First Read For March 21
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First Read For March 21

Study: Israelis among the happiest people in the world; Anti-Semitism across borders; Arab Hebrew teacher goes viral; Is prosecution for anti-Semitic acts in England impossible?

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) speaks at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol January 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Getty Images
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) speaks at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol January 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Getty Images

Anti-Semitism Across Borders

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the House panel on global human rights, will today convene a hearing entitled “Anti-Semitism Across Borders.” Smith, who authored the provisions of the 2004 law that created the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and the Special Envoy to lead it, said he acted in response to the growing number of anti-Semitic acts in the United States and other countries in 2017.

“Anti-Semitism is an ancient and persistent hatred that must be fought until it is defeated. We must be clear-eyed about the problem and relentless with the perpetrators,” Smith said. “The witnesses at this hearing will discuss the most urgent threats to Jewish communities, underlying ideological motivations and make recommendations for what needs to be done.”

Witnesses will be Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network; Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of International Jewish Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, and Mark Weitzman,

Lawyer sisters, both Orthodox, twins in pink

They’re the talk of the Big Apple’s legal circles. This week they made the pages of the Daily News.

The paper writes about law partners Sara Shulevitz, 40, and Mindy Meyer, 26, sisters who are Orthodox Jews. But that’s not what makes them stand out.

“We comply with Orthodox Jewish rules of modesty, but we like to wear pink,” Shulevitz said. They appear, according to the Daily News, “in city courthouses and elsewhere in identical bright pink outfits, including their beloved Chanel patent leather pink ballet flats.”

The sisters like to call themselves “Double Trouble.” “We love fashion and makeup,” Shulevitz said. “I think we represent the new feminism, that pink is powerful and that we don’t have to look and act like men.”

Study: Israelis among the happiest people in the world

If you live in Israel, you’re among the happiest people in the world – but not as happy as people who live in northern Europe, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.

That’s according to the annual World Happiness Report published yesterday by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which for several years has ranked Israel as the 11th happiest country in the world.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the study, prepared by the network and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, ranked the world’s happiest countries this year as Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Holland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. The United States came in 14th.

The Report includes such variables as GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, social support, generosity, and freedom to make life choices and perceived absence of corruption. Several Arab countries, including Yemen and Syria, were near the bottom of the list.

Israelis enjoying the warm weather on the beach in Tel Aviv, Oct. 3, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

How do you say ‘gone viral’ in Hebrew?

An elementary school teacher from a small Arab town in central Israel has “become something of a social media sensation” since a video of her innovative Hebrew language lessons was posted on Youtube, according to the Washington Post.

“Jehan Jaber is an unlikely star,” the Post reports. She uses a darbuka (Arab drum) and a simple chant to teach her students Hebrew. Her tune ‘Geshem Geshem Mitaftef’ (‘rain, rain, dripping’), which repeats itself allowing the children to sing along, is now the third most popular clip in Israel on the video sharing site. It has nearly a million views.”

Prosecution for anti-Semitic acts ‘practically impossible’ in England

In England today, “it is practically impossible for a Jewish layperson to achieve a prosecution for an anti-Semitic hate crime,” the chairman of the country’s Campaign Against Anti-Semitism writes in The Telegraph.

Gideon Falter writes that “Britain is one of the best places in the world to be Jewish, but it is also one of the safest in which to be an anti-Semite. Anti-Semites are becoming bolder, and Jews are increasingly fearful for their future.”

Falter cites a 2016 – “the worst year on record for antisemitic hate crime” – statistic: “Of the 15,442 hate crime prosecutions that year, only 12 were for anti-Semitic crime.”

LA rabbi running for his health, and a worthy cause

Rabbi Moshe Cohen of Pico-Robertson area synagogue Community Shul recently picked up running for his health. Last weekend, the 62-year-old Irishman ran for a cause, in the Los Angeles Marathon, to raise funds for his congregation’s bar and bat mitzvah program.

The rabbi, founder of the Aish Los Angeles Community shul, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes early last year, the city’s Jewish Journal reports. After his doctor recommended more exercise, he started modestly, with a short run around Circle Park in Beverlywood.

Then he worked up to the marathon’s 26.2-miles distance, completing late night runs of 11 miles from his Pico-Robertson home to West Hollywood and back.

“No music for me. I get this runner’s high that I don’t get in shul when I’m out there,” he said. “It’s peaceful and it gives me time to think.”

According to the event’s website, Rabbi Cohen finished in 5:58:30 – no mention of how much money he raised.

 

 

 

 

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