“The greatest pianist in the world” is now Israeli

225px-Evgeny_Kissin_TA_2011Evgeny Kissin, generally regarded as one of the world’s greatest living pianists, has taken Israeli citizenship.  Kissin, who was born in Russia, said “Israel is the only state on our planet which I want to represent with my art and all my public activities, no matter where I live.”

Mideast Dispatch (Dec 5) –While some other leading artists are calling for a boycott of Israel, I can now reveal that Evgeny Kissin, generally regarded as one of the world’s greatest living pianists, will on Saturday take Israeli citizenship.

Unlike some Israeli musicians, Evgeny Kissin, who was born in Russia and has in recent years resided in London and Paris, is fiercely proud of being Jewish and of the Jewish state.

“I am a Jew, Israel is a Jewish state – and since long ago I have felt that Israel, although I do not live there, is the only state in the world with which I can fully identify myself, whose case, problems, tragedies and very destiny I perceive to be mine.

“If I, as a human being and artist represent anything in the world, it is my Jewish people, and therefore Israel is the only state on our planet which I want to represent with my art and all my public activities, no matter where I live.

“When Israel’s enemies try to disrupt concerts of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Jerusalem Quartet, I want them to come and make troubles at my concerts, too: because Israel’s case is my case, Israel’s enemies are my enemies, and I do not want to be spared of the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter when they represent the Jewish State beyond its borders.

“I have always deeply despised chauvinism and have never regarded my people to be superior to other peoples; I feel truly blessed that my profession is probably the most international one in the world, that I play music created by great composers of different countries, that I travel all over the world and share my beloved music with people of different countries and nationalities – but I want all the people who appreciate my art to know that I am a Jew, that I belong to the People of Israel. That’s why now I feel a natural desire to travel around the world with an Israeli passport.”

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Why the fascinating history of Hanukkah & the Maccabees ‘matters’ to every ‘freedom-loving American’

TheBlaze (Dec 6) — Erick Stakelbeck, author of “The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy,” told the story of Hanukkah on The Glenn Beck Program Friday, saying it has meaning for every “freedom-loving American…who’s concerned that we are losing our country to sinister forces.”

Stakelbeck said it makes “no difference” whether you are Jewish, Christian, agnostic, or anything else — “Hanukkah matters, because Hanukkah is the story of the Maccabees.”

…Stakelbeck proceeded to note the influence the story of the Maccabees had over a number of America’s Founding Fathers, before pointing out that “the first day of Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving this year, and that is extremely rare.”

“Maybe there’s a message in that for us in these dark times — for America, and for our friend and ally, Israel,” he remarked.

Though some of the challenges America and Israel face may seem impossible, Stakelbeck said that “despite all this madness, all is not lost.”

“If, like me, you stand against the dark tide … and you’re feeling overwhelmed, under siege, and outnumbered, remember the story of Hanukkah,” Stakelbeck concluded. “Remember the Maccabees, because we are all Maccabees now.”

Watch Stakelbeck’s complete monologue, which his subsequent guests – one of whom was “America’s rabbi,” Rabbi Shmuley – praised as one of the best narrations they’ve heard of the story of Hanukkah:

Jimmy Kimmel enlists elementary school kids to present ‘the first Hanukkah Thanksgiving’

2013 is a special year. The first full day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are celebrated on the same day. This has not happened since 1888 and it won’t happen again for more than 79,000 years.

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live took advantage of this very rare calendar confluence to speculate on what the first Hanukkah Thanksgiving might have looked like. Using a group of school children from Shepard Hill Elementary, Kimmel’s crew offered the “one and only” performance of “The First Hanukkah Thanksgiving.”

Watch the entire segment here:

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Hanukkah lights banish the darkness

HanukkiyahIsrael HaYom (Nov 27) — The Hanukkah holiday is an ancient expression of Judaism’s victory over Hellenism. The ascendancy of hope over tragedy, light over darkness and faith over doubt. For millennia, humanity has swung like a pendulum between an idolatrous Greek culture whose highest ideals are wisdom, beauty, power and the material world, and the culture of Israel, which sanctifies God, spirituality, faith and a transcendence beyond human understanding.

The Greeks gave the world a sense of the tragic, of man’s insignificance, the pointlessness of our suffering, and the idea that there is nothing new under the sun. What has been is what will be. All rivers lead to a sea of suffering and the sea is never filled. Therefore we need to live in the moment and seize the day. There is no point to hard work or exertion.

The Jews, on the other hand, endowed the world with hope: the belief that time is not cyclical, but a long straight line leading to progress. Humans live in the present, but their spirit is directed toward the future. Every moment of life has significance and is an expression of man’s supreme duty towards God, his family, friends, nation and humanity. Human beings are not opaque self-contained bubbles. Rather, we are wellsprings of abundance and the desire to do good. Jews gave the world the divine desire to give as opposed to man’s bottomless hunger to receive.

…The Jews, descendants of the Maccabees, are still here, living and breathing. Against all odds, they renewed their independence in their ancient homeland. Israel’s Torah is still relevant and connected to reality. Many Jews know its contents and have been in continuous dialogue with it for thousands of years.

We’ve remained small in number. It has always been so — because carrying the torch of values, morality, and concern for others is a mission that is not for everyone. That torch unites the light of thousands of small Hanukkah candles. Together these candles ignite a huge flame that dispels the fear and darkness trying to wrest control of our complex human reality.

My mother told me that during the most difficult days of the Holocaust, in the concentration camp, she and her friends commemorated Hanukkah. There were no candles and certainly no Hanukkah menorahs, but there was a fire burning in their hearts — allowing them to hope that some Jews would remain in the world after the Holocaust, because no power in the world could snuff out the flame of Hanukkah.

The children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of these survivors plucked from the fire now live in an independent state, who symbol is a menorah. That same ancient menorah that embodied our nation’s faith, determination and strength of soul to stand up against the strongest cultures and empires in history. Our role has not ended. The victory over Greek culture is not complete. The Western world, including many of us, have been captivated by this culture. The Hanukkah holiday reminds us that there are good days in store when values will defeat nihilism and light will banish the darkness.

First night of Hanukkah: Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah song”

This is my favorite Hanukkah song. Happy Hanukkah to all our readers worldwide!

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“Hannukah Begins Tonight; Celebrations Commence Worldwide,” IsraelNationalNews, November 27:

Hannukah has begun in Israel, as most of the Jewish people across the globe prepare to light the first candle Wednesday night.

Also known as the Festival of Light, the holiday commemorates the defeat of the Greek army by the Maccabees, a small group of Jews who were dedicated to preserving Jewish religion and autonomy in the Land of Israel, and the rededication of the Temple after it had been defiled by the Greeks.

According to the Talmud, one small flask of pure oil was enough to provide light for eight days, the time it took Temple priests to purify more oil for use in the Menorah in the war’s aftermath.

Every night, Jews add one more candle to the hannukiah, a lamp that symbolizes the Temple’s Menorah. The ritual serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining Jewish sovreignty, spirit, and tradition, among other things.

Special prayers are also added to the daily services. Traditional foods during the holiday include latkes, potato pancakes, and sufganiyot, jelly doughnuts – oily food in honor of the oil of the Temple. Milk products are also sometimes served, in commemoration of the story of Judith, who assassinated the Greek commander after inducing him to sleep by serving him wine and milk – helping the Maccabees to a Jewish victory.

Children also play the game of sevivon, or dreidel in Yiddish, which involves a spinning top labelled with Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, heh, and shin, standing for the words Nes Gadol Hayah Po (lit. “a great miracle happened there”). In Israel, the shin is exchanged for a peh – and the letters stand for the words Nes Gadol Hayah Po (lit. “a great miracle happened here”).

According to one tradition, the dreidel served as a distraction when hostile authorities inspected Jewish homes to uphold decrees preventing Torah study. Once the officials left, these authorities say, the Jews were free to continue their learning.

Click here for full article and many Hanukkah-related pictures.

Rabbi finds $98,000 in Craigslist desk

Rabbi Noach Muroff at the desk in which he found $98,000 in cash. (photo credit: Esther Muroff)

Rabbi Noach Muroff at the desk in which he found $98,000 in cash. (photo credit: Esther Muroff)

The Blaze (Nov 12) — Legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” It’s a lesson that Rabbi Noah Muroff, who teaches Judaic studies at Yeshiva of New Haven in Connecticut, took to heart after he purchased a desk for $150 and was shocked to discover $98,000 bundled up inside if it.

Muroff had a choice to make: Quietly keep the money or return the bag of cash to the desk’s owner. It was a moral dilemma that started with the faith leader’s simple quest for a new piece of furniture.

“We had been looking on Craigslist for a few weeks, and eventually found a listing for a desk that seemed like what we wanted,” Muroff told The Times of Israel.

He went to a private home to purchase the used desk on Sep. 2. When Muroff arrived home with it, he and a friend had a difficult time maneuvering the unit into the home due to its size, so they started to take it apart.

And that’s when the big bag of money was discovered inside of it, The Hartford Courant reported.

“I thought I saw a bill, and I guessed there was maybe something like $100 in it,” Muroff told the Times.

Of course it ended up being much more than $100.

The stunning find left Muroff and his wife, Esther, with a big decision to make, but the two knew what had to be done.

Late that same night, Muroff called the woman who sold him the desk and delivered the news about the cash; she was stunned.

As it turns out, she had inherited the money from her recently-deceased parents. It had apparently fallen behind one of the desk drawers and when couldn’t find it, she assumed it was somewhere else in her home.

The next day, Muroff and his wife brought their two children with them to return the money in an effort to teach them a valuable life lesson.

“They should learn from this — about the attribute of honesty, and doing what is right,” Muroff told The Hartford Current.

In a letter, the woman, who wishes not to be identified publicly, thanked the rabbi for returning her money.

Muroff also noted that Jewish law requires that objects be returned to their rightful owners. In this case, he is sharing his story in an effort to also help others in the community learn from it as well.

The author of David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, appeared on “The Glenn Beck Program” Monday

The Blaze (Nov 4) — Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer at the New Yorker the author of David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, appeared on “The Glenn Beck Program” Monday to discuss the biblical story after which his book was named, and the profound impact it has on us today.

The author began with a discussion of how “disadvantages are often advantageous.”

Like the underdog David, Gladwell said an abnormally high percentage of wildly successful people struggled with ADD or dyslexia early in life, and many credit that disadvantage with spurring them to think and learn differently.

“But by the end of the book what I realized that what I really wanted to talk about was faith,” Gladwell told Beck, “the weapons of the spirit.”

Gladwell said that in writing the book, he has a “renewed appreciation for the power that faith gives people.”

“Sometimes people of faith don’t always understand how powerful their faith makes them,” he remarked.  “…There were lots of committed Christians in France who didn’t have the courage to go up against the Nazis because they thought they were at a hopeless disadvantageous … It’s just this little group in the mountain who thought, ‘Woah, armed with the spirit of the Lord, we can more than hold our own against a bunch of guys with tanks.’”

Gladwell also proceeded to highlight how David’s slingshot was far superior for the task at hand than conventional weapons, like a sword and shield.

“David understands that with superior technology and the spirit of the lord, ‘I am not the underdog,’” Gladwell remarked. “With those two things on his side, he’s the favorite isn’t he?”

Click here for full article.

Restoring Israel’s Rights: The Levy Report

Frontpage Mag (Oct 28) — The Jewish people’s considerable rights to the land of Israel are founded upon several bases:

Jews have been on the land for close to 4,000 years, most notably within eastern Jerusalem (where the Old City and the Temple Mount are located), and Judea and Samaria – all places where ancient Israelite heritage is marked.  Jews, in fact, are the indigenous people of Israel, present not only historically, but with continuity over the centuries.

In modern times there are legal precedents for establishing the Jewish claim to Israel: This is with reference to the San Remo Conference, the Mandate for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, confirmed in international law, and more.

These Jewish rights have certainly not diminished over the years.  Yet there is a prevailing perception that this is the case – that there has been a rethinking of what properly accrues to the Jewish State of Israel.  A revisionist perception, we might say.

This perception has been fueled by Palestinian Arab leader Mahmoud Abbas and his cohorts, who – in insisting ad nauseum that Israel’s proper place is behind the “1967 border” – reveal themselves to be major advocates of the dictum that, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Of course this business of a “1967 border” is a lie: there was no border established to Israel’s east after the War of Independence ended in 1949, only a temporary armistice line.  The armistice agreement was not even with a “Palestinian people,” but with Jordan.  Nor did Security Council Resolution 242 require Israel to pull back fully from Judea and Samaria, which was secured defensively during the Six-Day War in 1967.

…In January, 2012, Netanyahu appointed a committee – popularly referred to as the Levy Committee – to examine the status of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria. Edmund Levy, former Justice of the High Court, headed the committee; its other members were Alan Baker, international lawyer and former adviser for the Foreign Ministry, and Tehiya Shapira, retired Tel Aviv District Court Judge.

The Committee’s Report, which was released on July 8, 2012, is 90 pages long in the original Hebrew.  (Only summaries exist in English.)  It consists of both conclusions and recommendations and provides legal arguments and research.

The accusations currently being leveled by the international community against Israel as a violator of “international law” because of building in Judea and Samaria are countered by the Levy Report conclusions.  That is, because of both historical and legal factors, the decades-long presence of Israel in Judea and Samaria is not “belligerent occupation.” Israel’s situation is unique (sui generis) and Israel has the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria.

The Report then offers a number of important recommendations, consistent with the conclu­sions, regarding adjustments in Israeli policies and practices in Judea and Samaria. These recommendations would clarify the rights of Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria, who currently find themselves at a serious disadvantage: The Israeli legal system default there favors Arabs.

At present, law-abiding, tax-paying Jewish Israeli citizens who bought their homes in Judea or Samaria in good faith and with the assistance of multiple government agencies can be forced to abandon those homes, if ownership of the land on which their homes are located is challenged by local Arabs, before the issue of who actually owns the land has been properly adjudicated.

These and a host of similar situations are violations of basic rights for Jews that should not be permitted to continue. Levy Report recommendations speak to these concerns.

I have it from an impeccable source that when Prime Minister Netanyahu first saw the Report, he declared, “Ah, this is just what we need.”

Click here for full article.

Read the powerful op-ed from Israel debunking an ugly claim about Glenn Beck

TheBlaze.com, which receives 19 million unique visitors per month wrote an article about my recently published op-ed, “Beck a Nazi Sympathizer, Seriously?” It is a huge honor since Glenn Beck is the founder of TheBlaze, and he is a true hero to me.

“Read the powerful op-ed from Israel debunking an ugly claim about Glenn Beck: ‘We are with you, you are not alone,’ TheBlaze, Oct 10, 2013:

In an op-ed published this week, Gabriel Rosenberg, an author and the founder of WorldMediaMonitoring.com, debunked a troubling allegation that one of Glenn Beck’s harshest critics waged this summer — that the popular host is essentially a Nazi sympathizer.

After The Salt Lake Tribune published an op-ed accusing Beck of being a “sympathizer” as a result of some of the items in his “Independence Through History” exhibit over the summer, the outlet subsequently declined to retract the piece. As a result, Rosenberg felt compelled to speak out (the original Tribune article was entitled, “Glenn Beck’s Nazi Exhibit”).

Boldly dismantling this claim, Rosenberg presented a compelling case and urged readers to educate themselves and to “stand with” Beck.

“The scandal does not lie with the author of the op-ed, but with the newspaper’s opinion editor Vern Anderson,” Rosenberg wrote. “That article should never have been published, and since it doesn’t seem that the Tribune will retract or correct the lies, after this much time has elapsed, I would like to present you with the real Glenn Beck.”

One of the many examples provided by the writer was Beck’s “special message for Israel” that was delivered in Nov. 2012. In it, the radio and television host made it more than clear that he supports the Jewish state.

Watch that address, below:

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Rosenberg provided many other examples — speeches, statements and personal acts that make it clear that Beck is certainly no Nazi sympathizer. In fact, the commentary called the host one of the most influential, powerful and brave supporters of both Israel and the Jewish state.

“Beck has made it abundantly clear that he stands with Israel and the Jewish people. Now I am urging you to stand with Glenn Beck,” he concluded.

Click here for full article.

Op-Ed: Glenn Beck a Nazi Sympathizer, Seriously?

My latest op-ed was published today on Arutz Sheva (Israel’s 3rd largest news site). Here is an excerpt:

For those of you who haven’t heard of Glenn Beck, he currently runs his own television and internet news network called The Blaze. Previously he hosted his own show on the Fox News Channel, and he has authored many New York Times bestsellers.

During the conflict with Hamas in November of 2012, Glenn Beck recorded this ‘special message for Israel’ which he concluded with:

“We are with you, you are not alone… you have many many friends here in America. This is a message also for Israel’s leaders: do not be afraid, do not forget all the things that G-d has done for you. We will not forget you, we will not forsake you, we are brothers. The nation of Israel and its capital of Jerusalem lives forever.”

Does that sound like a Nazi sympathizer to you? Well, it did not stop a major US newspaper from printing an op-ed accusing Mr. Beck of just that.

…The pinnacle of Beck’s commitment to Israel and the Jewish people occurred on August 24th of 2011 at the Temple Mount, Jerusalem. He was the first Christian allowed to hold an event on the Temple Mount since the Roman Empire. It was the final day of his “Restoring Courage” event that included three major events in Israel.

These were the faith-based “Courage to Love,” the night of history “Courage to Remember,” and finally “Courage to Stand” where Beck called for a global movement of people uniting behind the ideas of responsibility and freedom.

The execution of those events was no small feat. It required a staff of over 50, months of planning, and a great deal of courage. Because of the complexity and security concerns involved, Beck described the idea as “crazy,” but that it was something he felt he had to do.

It’s impossible for me to adequately summarize the importance of those events, but the goal was clear: stand with Israel. Thousands attended the events, including celebrities, politicians, and numerous heroes who were rightfully honored. The events were seen around the world.

I highly recommend watching Beck’s entire speech on the Temple Mount here, which he concluded with the following words:

“But I can promise you this. One day, your children and grandchildren will ask you: “What did you do when the world was on the edge again? What did you say when the West or Israel or the Jew was blamed again?”

“I promise you this: You will be able to look them in the eye and say: I had courage. On the 24th of Av, I committed to stand with courage… to walk… to march… arm in arm… behind G-d’s pillar of fire.

“G-d is with me, I fear not.”

Glenn Beck is one of the most powerful, influential, and courageous supporters of Israel and the Jewish people. We need to cherish that friendship and reciprocate by showing our support of him. You can do that by joining The Blaze TV, listen to his radio show, or simply follow and interact with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Beck has made it abundantly clear that he stands with Israel and the Jewish people. Now I am urging you to stand with Glenn Beck.

Click here for full article.

Tiny Israel a Nobel heavyweight, especially in chemistry

Latest Israeli laureates, Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt, are the fifth and sixth winners of the chemistry prize in under a decade.

large-nobel-chemistry-medalTimes of Israel (Oct 9) — Israel has long punched far above its demographic weight when it comes to the Nobel Prize.

The latest Nobel laureates, Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt, announced Wednesday, mark Israel’s fifth and sixth winners of the chemistry prize in under a decade.

Israelis Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover won the prize in chemistry in 2004, together with American colleague Irwin Rose, for their research into ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, a process within cells responsible for diseases including cancer, cystic fibrosis and others.

Ada Yonath won the 2009 chemistry prize, together with colleagues Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz, for her study of the protein-producing part of the cell known as the ribosome – groundbreaking work that led to treatments for leukemia, glaucoma and HIV, as well as antidepressant drugs.

Yonath was the first woman among Israel’s Nobel laureates, the first woman from the Middle East to win a science Nobel and the first woman in 45 years to win the prize for chemistry.

Tel-Aviv born Daniel Shechtman’s 2011 chemistry Nobel for the discovery of quasicrystals was perhaps the most dramatic of the awards. Shechtman’s discovery of quasicrystals, made in 1982, “fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter,” according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Israelis have also won Nobels in other subjects in recent years.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel in economics in 2002 for his study of risk in economic behavior.

Three years later, Hebrew University professor Yisrael Aumann also won the economics prize.

Aumann won for his groundbreaking study of game theory, the study of decision-making among multiple interacting parties in a group or system, such as governments, markets or organizations.

Related: “3 Jewish professors — two of them Israeli — share 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry,” from the Times of Israel, October 9, 2013.

Click here for full article.

Holocaust survivor and Tel Aviv University affiliated prof. wins Nobel for physics

Francois Englert of Belgium shares prize for his role in the discovery of the “God particle” with Peter Higgs.

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert

The Jerusalem Post (Oct 8) — Tel Aviv University Prof. Francois Englert and his research partner Peter Higgs won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson – the particle that explains how elementary matter attained the mass to form stars and planets.

The 80-year-old Englert – a Belgian Jew and Holocaust survivor who is married to an Israeli woman – is a professor emeritus at the Free University of Brussels and has had strong research ties with TAU for the past 30 years.

In 1984, he was appointed as a fellow of the Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies, which aims to promote academic excellence at TAU by inviting and hosting experts in different academic fields from outside the university. He holds the status of senior professor at TAU’s School of Physics.

As a Sackler fellow, Englert was invited to the university for two weeks last April and delivered a number of lectures. In one of them, he presented students with the work that won him Tuesday’s Nobel Prize, a discovery that has been hailed as one of the most important in physics.

The Higgs boson is the last piece of the Standard Model of physics that describes the fundamental makeup of the universe. Some commentators – though not scientists – have called it the “God particle,” for its role in turning the Big Bang into an ordered cosmos.

Click here for full article.

Report: Indonesia’s last synagogue destroyed

The synagogue has seen a number of anti-Israel protests staged in front of it and was sealed by Islamic hardliners in 2009.

The Surabaya synagogue, on the island of Java, Indonesia

The Surabaya synagogue, on the island of Java, Indonesia

The Jerusalem Post (Oct 5) — Indonesia’s last synagogue has been destroyed, a Dutch news site reported last week.

Unidentified persons demolished the Beith Shalom synagogue in Surabaya on the island of Java to its foundations sometime earlier this year, according to a report on Indoweb.nl.

The synagogue has seen a number of anti-Israel protests staged in front of it and was sealed by Islamic hardliners in 2009, according to the Jakarta Globe.

Reports of the synagogue’s destruction have appeared in the Indonesian media since May and were confirmed last week by Indoweb.nl, which quoted the director of the Surabaya Heritage Society as saying that he intended to protest the demolition in talks with government officials.

“It is not clear by whom and when exactly the building was demolished,” Freddy Instanto told Indoweb.nl.

The interior of the Beith Shalom synagogue in Surabaya, Indonesia, in 2002

The interior of the Beith Shalom synagogue in Surabaya, Indonesia, in 2002

The City Council of Surabaya was in the process of registering the building as a heritage site. Istanto said that for that reason, the building “should have been protected.”

The Dutch news site also quoted Sachiroel Alim, the head of the Surabaya regional legislative council, as saying that it was unknown whether Muslim extremists had anything to do with the demolition.

Situated in in eastern Java, the small synagogue was built in the 19th century by Dutch Jews when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony. It had white-painted bricks and a Star of David painted on the front door.

The first Jews arrived in Indonesia in the 17th century with the Dutch East India Company. During the 1930s and 1940s, the community grew due to new arrivals fleeing persecution in Europe.

Currently, about 20 Jews are estimated to be living in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation, according to Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu at the UN: Iran’s Rouhani is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community”

“Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel have come home never to be uprooted again.” Here is Netanyahu’s masterful UN speech yesterday:

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Thank you, Mr. President.

I feel deeply honored and privileged to stand here before you today representing the citizens of the state of Israel. We are an ancient people. We date back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have journeyed through time. We’ve overcome the greatest of adversities.

And we re-established our sovereign state in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel.

Now, the Jewish people’s odyssey through time has taught us two things: Never give up hope, always remain vigilant. Hope charts the future. Vigilance protects it…

Read the entire speech here.

World’s oldest Jewish prayer book is discovered in Hobby Lobby owners’ collection – and the implications could be significant

The Blaze (Sep 27) — Hobby Lobby President Steve Green isn’t just the head of a popular craft chain. He and his family also own, oversee and operate “The Green Collection,” one of the world’s largest collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts (there are over 40,000 ancient relics and texts). A recent discovery within this fascinating compilation is making headlines this week, as it is believed to be the oldest Jewish prayer book ever found.

The small text, which had a Carbon-14 test that placed its origins to 840 A.D., is likely to provide fascinating insight into early Jewish culture. And, as a press release announcing the find highlights, it “may well be the earliest connection today’s practicing Jews have to the roots of their modern-day rabbinic liturgy.”

Plainly stated: It’s a big deal.

The Jewish prayer book

The Jewish prayer book

The document is in its complete parchment and original binding, factoids that are quite stunning considering its age. Written in Hebrew, the script is described as “archaic” — so old in fact that it uses Babylonian vowel pointing (a system that is no longer in use).

This follows another big discovery earlier this year. Back in May, TheBlaze reported that the world’s oldest known complete Torah scroll was found. While that was certainly noteworthy, this new prayer book is actually 300 to 400 years older than that version of the Torah, providing an even deeper knowledge into the lives and religious practices of Jewish believers.

“This find is historical evidence supporting the very fulcrum of Jewish religious life,” said Dr. Jerry Pattengale, who directs the Green Collection’s research arm, the Green Scholars Initiative, in the release. “This Hebrew prayer book helps fill the gap between the Dead Sea Scrolls and other discoveries of Jewish texts from the ninth and 10th centuries.”

Click here for full article.

Top 10 Hollywood: Jews you may not have guessed

Did you know that Daniel Day-Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly are Jewish? Find out which other A-listers are also members of the tribe.

US actor Joaquin Phoenix poses during a photocall for The Master

Jerusalem Post (Sep 25) — Eva Green poses at the premiere of Dark Shadows at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood last year. She is most famous for her films, Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For (2013) 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) and White Bird in a Blizzard (2013)

Born in France, she is known for her roles as the bad girl in films like Casino Royale and Dark Shadows. Her mother is an Algerian Jew, but she was brought up without affiliation.

Lisa Bonet (right) is photographed at the premiere of Conan the Barbarian in Los Angeles in 2011.

She is best known for playing Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show. Born in San Francisco to an African-American father, Allen Bonet, and a Jewish mother, Arlene Litman, she is pictured here with her daughter Zoe Kravitz (whose father is Lenny Kravitz, also a Jew) and cast member Jason Momoa.

Actress Kat Graham, famous for her role in Vampire Diaries, arrives at the 2013 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party in West Hollywood in February. She was born in Switzerland, of a Jewish mother and an American- Liberian father.

Justin Bartha poses at the premiere of The Hangover Part IIat Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood in May 2011.

Also known for the National Treasure film series and the The New Normal, he was raised in a Reform Jewish household in Michigan.

Sophie Okonedo arrives for the premiere of After Earth in New York in May.

The Hotel Rwanda star was born to a Jewish mother and a Nigerian father and raised Jewish.

Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis poses with his Oscar for best actor for his role as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood this year. He has also won Academy Awards for There Will Be Blood and Gangs of New York.

He grew up in the UK and was bullied for being both Irish and Jewish.

Eric Dane poses at the premiere of Burlesque at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood three years ago.

Best known as Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. Mark Sloan, he grew up Jewish in Northern California.

Actor and director Jon Favreau arrives at the 2nd Annual Reel Stories, Real Lives event benefiting the Motion Picture & Television Fund in Los Angeles in October last year.

He is known for his roles in Identity Thief, Iron Man 3 and The Wolf of Wall Street. He also directed an episode of The Office. He was born to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father and raised Jewish.

US actor Joaquin Phoenix poses during a photocall for The Master at the 69th Venice Film Festival in September 2012.

Nominated for an Academy Award for the film, he was born to a Jewish mother from the Bronx and a Catholic father from California.

Jennifer Connelly arrives on the red carpet for the screening of the animated film Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted at the 65th Cannes Film Festival last year.

Her upcoming releases feature her as Nana Kunning in 2014’s Cry/Fly; and as Naama in Noah; as well as Virginia Gamely in 2013’s Winter’s Tale and as Erica in Stuck in Love.

Her mother was brought up as an Orthodox Jew.

Eligible Jewish Hollywood A-listers

The Jerusalem Post (September 19) — Who are some of young Hollywood’s Jewish bachelors and bachelorettes? Take a look.

Emmanuelle Chriqui 

chriquiEmmanuelle Chriqui was born in Montreal, Canada, to Jewish parents from Morocco.

Her first Hollywood role was in Detroit rock City (1999). But her breakout performance was in the 2000 film Snow Day, in which she played the foxy Claire Bonner. In 2006 she appeared in the music video titled Lips of an Angel by rock band Hinder.

Chriqui starred in several films and in 2000 was nominated for a DVD Exclusive Award as Best Actress for her performance in 100 Girls.

In 2005 she starred in the film Adam and Eve.

She increased her visibility by playing Sloan on the TV hit series Entourage and by starring opposite Adam Sandler in the film You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008).

Rashida Jones 

A familiar face to TV fans, Rashida Jones played the role of Ann Perkins in the Rashida Jones (Reuters)TV sitcom Parks and Recreation, Louisa Fenn in the drama Boston Public, and Karen Filippelli in the sitcom The Office.

Jones was born in 1976 in Los Angeles, the daughter of media mogul, producer and musician Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton (The Mod Squad). Her father is of African- American and Welsh ancestry, and her mother is Ashkenazi of Russian origin. Jones was raised Reform and attended Hebrew school. As an adult, she practices Judaism and says she goes to synagogue on the High Holy Days.

Mila Kunis 

Actress Mila Kunis has a gift for comedy and drama, spanning the range

Mila Kunis (Reuters)between playing the perky Jackie Burkhart on the TV sitcom That ’70s Show and the malevolent Lily in the movie thriller Black Swan, for which she was nominated for several awards.

Milena Markovna Kunis was born in 1983 to a Jewish family in Chernivtsi, Ukraine. To escape the anti-Semitism there, her family moved to California when Kunis was seven.

Her mother, Elvira, is a physics teacher, and her father, Mark, is a mechanical engineer.


Michelle Trachtenberg 

Michelle Trachtenberg was born in 1985 in New York City. Her mother is Russian Jewish, and her maternal grandparents live in Israel. She and her Michelle Trachtenberg (Reuters)mother moved to Los Angeles, while her father remained in NYC.

Trachtenberg grew up in Brooklyn and started her acting career young. She began appearing in commercials at age three. She continued to act and dance through her school years, making regular television appearances from the age of 10. She landed a recurring role in the children’s TV show The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1993) and starred in Harriet the Spy (1996).

But it was her role as Buffy’s sister Dawn in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1997 that brought her to worldwide attention, all before she was 18.

On TV, she had a role in All My Children and Gossip Girl. Her roles in film include EuroTrip, 17 Again and Ice Princess.

In 2011, Trachtenberg ranked No. 27 on the 2011 Maxim list of Hot 100 women.

Dianna Agron

Dianna Agron (Reuters)

Actress Dianna Agron may be most familiar to television audiences as cheerleader Quinn Fabray in the hit TV series Glee.

Dianna Agron was born in 1986 in Savannah, Georgia, to parents Ronald and Mary Agron.

Her father’s family is from Russia. Their original surname, Agronsky, was changed when they immigrated to the US and arrived at Ellis Island in the early 1900s.

James Franco 

James Franco (Reuters)James Franco was born in 1978 in Palo Alto, California. His mother, Betsy, is of Jewish Russian descent, and his father, Doug, who died in 2011, was of Portuguese and Swedish descent.To overcome his shyness, Franco ventured into acting. He made his debut in the TV series Freaks and Geeks. In 2001 he played the title role in the TV movie James Dean, which catapulted him to the silver screen. He has appeared in such films as Spider-Man, City by the Sea, Pineapple Express, Nights in Rodanthe, Flyboys and Milk.

Franco has a bachelor of fine arts degree in English from UCLA; two MFA degrees in creative writing from Columbia and Brooklyn College; and an MFA in film from New York University.

Andrew Garfield 

Andrew Garfield was born in 1983 in Los Angeles to a British mother, Lynn, and an American father, Richard. His family’s surname was originally Garfinkel.Andrew Garfield (Reuters)

When he was three, the family moved to Surrey, England. Garfield began acting in youth theater productions when he was at school. At 19, he attended the Central School of Speech and Drama.

His first professional roles were on the stage. In 2005 he made his TV debut in the UK in the teen series Sugar Rush, followed in 2005 by some episodes of Dr. Who.

On Broadway, Garfield played Biff in Death of a Salesman.

In 2010, Garfield played Eduardo in The Social Network and Tommy in Never Let Me Go, two films that brought him to full international attention. He was nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor in The Social Network.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was born in 1981 in Los Angeles to parents Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt. After working for several years as a child actor, he became well known for his role on the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996).

Prior tJoseph Gordon-Levitt (Reuters)o that, he had already worked steadily in feature films, debuting in A River Runs Through It.

Following his work on 3rd Rock, he took time off from acting to attend Columbia University.

In the early 2000s, he began taking on a string of intense dramatic roles in indie films such as Mysterious Skin, Brick, The Lookout and Stop-Loss.

By 2009, he was considered one of the leading men of indie cinema with his Golden Globe-nominated role in the comedy-drama (55) Days of Summer. In 2010 he established himself as a mainstream star in Inception.

Other formidable films include 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, Looper and Lincoln.

Jake Gyllenhaal 

Jake Gyllenhaal was born in 1980 in Los Angeles. His mother and father are producer/ screenwriter Naomi Foner and director Stephen Gyllenhaal. His Jake Gyllenhaal (Reuters)mother is from a Jewish family, and his father’s ancestry includes Swedish and British.

He made his movie debut at 11 in the film City Slickers, playing Billy Crystal’s son. He made an impact in the late 1990s and early 2000s in films such as October Sky (1999) and as the title role in the cult phenomenon psychological thriller Donnie Darko (2001).

He followed this with roles encompassing many different genres, including the romantic comedy Bubble Boy, The Good Girl, and the science-fiction blockbuster The Day after Tomorrow.

He won critical acclaim for his performance in the 2005 drama Brokeback Mountain, for which he was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. He has since appeared in such films as Zodiac, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Love & Other Drugs.

Daniel Radcliffe 

Known to movie audiences since 2001 as Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe was Daniel Radcliffe (Reuters)born in 1989 in London, England, to father Alan Radcliffe, a literary agent, and mother Marcia Gresham, who is a casting director. His father is from a Northern Irish Protestant background, and his mother was born in South Africa to a Jewish family.

Radcliffe began performing in small school productions. In 1999 he played young David on TV’s David Copperfield. Soon after, he was cast in the title role in the film in Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone. He went on to star in the sequels Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002); Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004); Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005); and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007).

After signing a contract to make the fifth Harry Potter movie, he was named Britain’s richest teenager, with a £23 million fortune.

What percentage of Americans believes the Syrian crisis is part of the ‘end times’?

As the situation in Syria continues to dominate headlines (for now, it seems a deal has been brokered that will stave off U.S. military action), chatter about the crisis’ potential relationship to Armageddon and End Times theology abounds.

TheBlaze, among other outlets, have repeatedly covered these themes in recent weeks — but media outlets aren’t the only ones examining biblical prophecy at the moment.

Polling firms, too, have commissioned studies to explore public perception on Syria and End Times — and they’re coming to some stunning finds.

We already told you that the Barna Group, an organization that measures issues related to faith and religion, found that four in 10 Americans believe we’re living in the End Times, as prophesied in the Bible. But a new study from LifeWay Research gets even more specific.


The result? Nearly one-in-three (32 percent) Americans believes the Syrian crisis is part of the biblical text about what’s to come at the end of the world.

Additionally, one-in-four (26 percent) believes a U.S. military strike could mean that Armageddon won’t be too far behind (one-in-five — 18 percent — believes the world will come to an end during his or her lifetime).

LifeWay explains why many Christians in particular may see End Times as impending and provides some quick background on some of the key issues associated with the theology:

Most premillennial dispensationalists believe Christians will instantly disappear from the earth during an event called the rapture, followed by seven years of war and catastrophe. After the battle of Armageddon, Jesus will return and set up his kingdom on earth.

[Lifeway President Ed] Stetzer said he could see why linking Bible prophecy to Syria is appealing to many Christians.

It’s not that Christians want the world to end or want to see airstrikes, which will lead to suffering, Stetzer said. But they do want Jesus to return to set things right.

Interestingly, women were more likely than men to see a connection between biblical prophecy and what’s going on in Syria. While 36 percent of females saw a connection, only 28 percent of males viewed the issue through the same lens.


The survey questions were asked via telephone from Sept. 6-10 to a pool of 1,001 Americans. You can read the results here.