Finding Faith and Beauty in the Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women

Originally posted on TIME:

“For some people, if you’re religious, you’re ugly,” says Federica Valabrega, an Italian photographer who for the past four years has been documenting Jewish women across the world. Her fascination with these “Daughters of the King,” as she calls them, comes from her own religious background. “My mother isn’t Jewish, but my dad is and so is his mother and all of his family. When I was born in Rome, the chief rabbi back in 1983 accepted to convert [to Judaism] kids from mixed [religious] marriages, so my sisters and I did it.”

While Valabrega was raised in a liberal, non-religious Jewish home, her fascination with her adopted religion grew over time. “I was attending a workshop with Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey in Brooklyn in 2010 when I started my ‘Daughters of the King’ project,” she says. “The workshop lasted one week, which meant that we had to shoot…

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How Gratitude Can Change Your Life This Thanksgiving

Originally posted on TIME:

My family emigrated from Russia to the United States when I was 13 years old. Refugee camps, city housing projects, food stamps, wearing donated clothes, being made fun of endlessly for everything from not speaking English to eating weird things for lunch (hot dogs apparently need to only be consumed inside hot dog buns, not sliced and slipped between pieces of dark brown bread): that’s the patchwork of memories my early life here is made of.

While we were almost entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers during that time, the stress and trauma we felt obliterated any notion of gratitude: when you’re just trying to survive, thankfulness seems like a luxury, not a coping strategy. For me, surviving the pain of that experience was all about coping, and my coping strategy was laser-focused on one goal: becoming happy. Really happy. It was an immigrant’s dream: The American Dream. Achieve…

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UN: Islamic State Group Got up to $45M in Ransoms

Originally posted on TIME:

(UNITED NATIONS) — The Islamic State group which controls a large swath of Syria and Iraq has received between $35 million and $45 million in ransom payments in the past year, a U.N. expert monitoring sanctions against al-Qaida said Monday.

Yotsna Lalji told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee that an estimated $120 million in ransom was paid to terrorist groups between 2004 and 2012.

Kidnapping for ransom “continues to grow,” she said, as demonstrated by the money the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State has collected, up to $45 million in just the past year.

She said in recent years that al-Qaida and its affiliates have made kidnapping “the core al-Qaida tactic for generating revenue.” She pointed to an October 2012 recording in which al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri incites militants worldwide to kidnap Westerners.

Lalji said al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which operates from Yemen…

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The Many Iranian Obstacles in the Way of a Strong Nuclear Deal

Originally posted on :

The Many Iranian Obstacles in the Way of a Strong Nuclear Deal, The AtlanticJeffrey Goldberg, November 23, 2014

(Assuming an eventual bad nuke deal, will the U.S. Congress be able to kill it? In a reasonably bipartisan fashion?– DM)

I just want this much‘I just want this much enriched uranium’ (Reuters)

It will be near-impossible, especially after the immigration debate, to sell the Republican-controlled Congress on whatever Iran deal Obama negotiates. But the Democrats won’t be an easy sell, either.

***********

The other day I fell into conversation with a very smart congressman named Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida, about his minimum requirements for an Iran nuclear deal. Deutch, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is—like a large number of Democrats—fairly-to-very dubious about the possibility of a true breakthrough with Iran, and fairly-to-very worried about the consequences of a bad deal. (It seems likely, at this moment at least…

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Applause: TD Bank Group gives $50,000 to Jewish Public Library in honour of its centenary

Originally posted on Montreal Gazette:

A gift of $50,000 from TD Bank Group in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Public Library has meant the library could improve and expand its young adult collection and to make renovations to accommodate the expanded collection.

The newly improved collection was officially launched with a presentation on Nov. 16 at the library’s 10th annual Girls’ Night Out, which brings together mothers and daughters to meet writers for the young-adult crowd. This year’s event featured Gayle Forman, Emily Lockhart and Sarah Mlynowski.

The gift also provides for an endowment to permit the library to continue to expand the collection, the library said in a statement announcing the launch of the TD Young Adult Collection at the Côte St. Catherine Rd. library.

Michael Crelinsten, the library’s executive director, said the gift “will play a large part in inspiring a lifelong love of reading for the JPL’s young patrons … TD’s work in promoting…

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Lies and incitement in Jerusalem

Originally posted on Anne's Opinions:

Anyone keeping up with the news, or anyone just reading this blog, will know that this subject is unfortunately a recurring one. It is a vicious circle, where the Palestinians, specifically the Palestinian leadership including Palestinian “President-for-life” Mahmoud Abbas, deliberately impute not only the worst possible motives to Israeli actions, but invent the worst possible motives, for the sole purpose of inflaming passions and inciting yet more violence.

This habit has by now become ingrained, so that even a simple accident or a suicide is immediately interpreted as murder, a lynching, and more often than not blamed on everyone’s favourite bogeyman, “the settlers”.

We saw this last week when a mosque caught fire in the West Bank. Despite the fact that it was probably an electrical fire, and no other source for the fire has yet been found, settlers were blamed for arson.

Yesterday, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem…

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Auschwitz ‘bookkeeper’ may be last Nazi tried in Germany for war crimes

Originally posted on National Post | News:

Thomas Walther is talking about Auschwitz, and numbers, and how the statistics of the Holocaust exceed imagination. What does it mean, for example, to deport 437,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz in the span of 57 days in the spring and early summer of 1944? What does it mean to murder them at a rate of 3.5 Jews per minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so that by the end of the 57th day 300,000 of them are dead? What does it mean to have your parents, spouse, children and relatives systematically killed in a German Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland, only to have them counted by history as a lump sum?

“I can speak about 300,000 dead people who are murdered, but nobody can imagine what that means — such figures of death — while the Holocaust, this word, it is a part of families,” Mr. Walther says.

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To Give Is to Receive: Lessons on Jewish Hospitality From the Book of Genesis

Originally posted on :

Eliezer-Rebekahsquare

Two of my favorite characters in the Book of Genesis are Avraham and his daughter-in-law Rivka. Avraham is one of my heroes, and I want to marry someone like Rivka.

Both Avraham and Rivka are famous for their hachnasat orchim, which means welcoming guests. Avraham is the first Jew, he thinks for himself, questions authority, and even argues with God. He is willing to be himself and do what he believes even if the whole world thinks he is crazy, which is why he is known as an Ivri, which means “he who stands on the other side.” According to the Kabbalah, Avraham represents the character trait of chesed, which translates as “loving kindness.” According to the midrash, Avraham had an entrance on every side of his tent so he could welcome guests from the four directions.

There is a story that after the third day of…

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Palestinian Abbas’ Holy War of Lies

Originally posted on American Infidels:

Well this much is for sure. The play-acting is no more and Mahmoud Abbas isn’t even pretending to be a “peace partner.” He’s gone rogue.

These days this Fatah warlord openly calls for the murder of any and all Israelis and the Jewish blood that’s been spilled from Jerusalem onward — men, women, 3-month-old babies – places him at the heart and center of the reign of terror now being inflicted upon the Jewish State.

His PA (Palestinian Authority) gangs heed him word for word when he demands Jewish blood “by any means.”

Murder by automobile is the latest Islamic trick, and if that doesn’t work, Palestinian Arabs are urged to slash their victims to death.

This the Arabs have been doing repeatedly and gladly.

(Where, by the way, is the Left that was so outraged against the Price Taggers? Hello? We can’t hear you!)

Fattened by standing ovations at…

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Fundamental Perspectives

Originally posted on Bucking the Trend ...:

An Israeli military outpost as seen from South Lebanon, where a Hezbollah flag flutters

An Israeli military outpost as seen from South Lebanon, where a Hezbollah flag flutters

Perceived dangers to our lives and ways of life can be a function of trends – just like everything else in our existence. The latest headline-grabbing focus of fear is Islamic State expansionism. This isn’t a bugbear of negligible proportions.  IS bloodlust and fanatic belligerence are nothing to scoff at.

That said, however, IS isn’t the only threat to the world’s democracies – Israel among them. Neither is it the greatest threat – certainly not to Israel.

Regardless of the repugnance aroused by IS’s sensationalist and lurid beheadings, worse villains abound in our region. Iran with its nuclear ambitions is foremost one, even though the White House is poised to appease Tehran’s ayatollahs without disarming them.

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