The Shmooze

Video: Hebrew Prayer in Papua New Guinea

By Renee Ghert-Zand

At this point, the Shmooze is used to seeing videos posted on social networking sites of cute little Hebrew school or Jewish day school children reciting the Sh’ma. But this Sh’ma video spotted and published by Israel National News the other day is quite unusual. You will not see little ones dressed in blue and white or their Shabbat best, but rather people of Papua New Guinea in their native dress reciting — in Hebrew — the central creed of Judaism.

It turns out these are Christians who have been taught, presumably by missionaries, to recite the Sh’ma to demonstrate their love and respect for Christianity’s Jewish roots. The video appears to have been shot by Yakov Damkani, a Messianic Jew.

Watch Papua New Guineans Recite the Sh’ma:


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Texas Lawmaker: 'Don't Try To Jew Them Down'

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Rep. Larry Taylor, who is running for the Texas Senate in 2012, used a Jewish slur as he spoke in a Texas state legislative committee hearing on Thursday, and then issued an apology.

Having realized that telling Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, “Don’t nitpick, don’t try to Jew them down,” was not appropriate, he quickly said, “probably a bad term” and went on speaking.

The formal apology came later through a spokesman: “I inadvertently used a phrase that many people find offensive. I corrected myself immediately when I realized what I had said. I regret my poor choice of words and sincerely apologize for any harm they may have caused.”

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Report: Smugglers Stealing Migrants' Organs

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Egyptian Bedouin smugglers are reportedly killing African migrants who are attempting to infiltrate into Israel for their organs. More precisely, the Bedouins are drugging migrants who cannot pay their high smuggling fees, opening them up, harvesting their organs, and then leaving them to die in the Sinai.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the Al-Arish-based New Generation Foundation for Human Rights and the EveryOne Group from Italy have found corpses missing organs dumped in wells in the Sinai. They have also photographed bodies in the El-Arish morgue with scars consistent with organ removal.

The Jerusalem Post refers to a CNN report quoting a source that said that mobile clinics with advanced equipment come from a private hospital in Cairo and conduct examinations on the migrants to determine which would be the best sources for healthy organs. Then the surgery is performed on the spot in the middle of the desert. The doctors pay $20,000 and up per organ to the Sawarka tribe.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Organs, Organ Smugglers, Organ Harvesting, African Migrants, Sawarka

Clerics' Sermons Spread Messages of... Safe Driving

By Nathan Jeffay

It’s one of the most politically charged subjects in Israel and the West Bank: what imams choose to preach about. The Israeli authorities have long been concerned about what they call “incitement” in sermons. But it seems that some imams aren’t only steering clear of radical politics, but are actually taking a path that rabbis could do with following.

Israelis have a reputation for being bad drivers, and last year this assumption became enshrined in official information for visitors put out by the American State Department. “Aggressive driving is a serious problem and many drivers fail to maintain safe following distances or signal before changing lanes or making turns,” says the State Department guide. “Drivers are also prone to stop suddenly on roads without warning, especially in the right lane.” Imams serving some Muslim congregations in Israel have started preaching for a change.

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Jerusalem's Top Johns: Which Toilets Make Cut?

By Michael Kaminer

iStock Photo

Call it Porcelain Tourism.

Online news service Israel21c has released its pick of Jerusalem’s best public toilets.

Israel21c culled its list of recommended WCs from a Hebrew-only list of 40 public restrooms on the city of Jerusalem’s municipal website.

“The Old City alone has 13 public johns spread across the Jewish and Muslim quarters,” Israel21C reports, “though only eight appear on the confusing Hebrew map given out at the Tourist Information Center.”

The random servicios sampling “revealed that public bathrooms inside buildings generally are nicer than freestanding units, which often lack toilet paper, soap and — ahem — ambience. But hey, if you gotta go, you gotta go.”

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Canada Hockey Night Comes to Israel

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Nimrod Glickman

Toronto native Danny Spodek grew up with “hockey night” in Canada. Now, thanks to his efforts, there is such a thing as hockey night in Israel, too. That night is on Thursday, when Israeli immigrants from North America meet on the ice rink at Canada Centre in Metula — way up at the northern tip of Israel — to play the sport.

Spodek, a 40-year-old dentist who lives in Zichron Yaakov, heads up the Israel Recreational Hockey Association. Right now, he is focusing on organizing and promoting the association’s sixth annual tournament, to take place after the new year on February 6-10 in Metula. “At our first tournament, we had 40 players,” Spodek recalled in a conversation with The Shmooze. “This year we are expecting 150.”

Only two or three of the eight teams that will play in the tournament will be from Israel. The event draws hockey enthusiasts (mostly aged 35 and older) from North America and Finland, including some non-Jews. “This year we are expecting players from Vancouver, Seattle, Toronto, Winnipeg and Boston,” Spodek said. “And we also have a Baptist church from Kenora, Ontario, bringing eight people.”

“Hockey [takes up] a ton of my time,” said Spodek, who has volunteered for the past eight years developing and building the association’s program. “We’ve got things figured out for the adults, so now we are focusing on roller hockey and ice hockey for kids,” he said.

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It's Too Early To Criticize Gilad Shalit

By Nathan Jeffay

That didn’t take long. Gilad Shalit is now fair game for criticism, so it seems. Shas Minister Meshulam Nahari publicly condemned Shalit for going to the beach on his first Sabbath out of captivity, instead of going to synagogue. So reports Ynet.

Well I don’t know about you, but I’d say it’s fair that after five years in captivity, Shalit do what he likes on his first free Sabbath.

I’m troubled by this jumping-to-conclusions on the part of the Shas man. He says that Shalit should have gone to say the prayer for people who have been in dangerous situations. Well excuse me, Mr. Minister. He walked free on a Tuesday, meaning that if he wanted to recite the prayer on a day when there is a Torah reading in synagogue, he may well have done so on the preceding Thursday (the Torah being read on Mondays, Thursdays and on the Sabbath). Or he may have gone to synagogue before heading to the beach.

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New App Detects Military Police Presence

By Nathan Jeffay

iStockphoto

It’s the iPhone app that helps you to be a shloch. For Israeli teenagers who grow up attending schools with — how shall I put this delicately as the husband of a teacher? — loose discipline by international standards, the military police they encounter on their conscription to the army come as a shock.

All of a sudden they can be apprehended anywhere in the country if they’re not wearing their uniform according to regulation, or for a variety of other misdemeanors. Coming from schoolrooms where threats of punishments are rarely acted upon, they’re now in an army where the police officers mean business, and punishments are harsh.

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Herman Cain Angers Palestinians With Gaffe

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has once again demonstrated that he could use a crash course in American foreign policy. His latest blunder in this subject area comes as a quote from him in Israel Hayom, the Israeli right-wing mass circulation tabloid backed by American multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Sounding more extreme than even the most hardened Israeli nationalist, Cain referred to the Palestinians dismissively as “the so-called Palestinian people.” He was speaking of the Palestinian’s seeking U.N. membership and the full quote was “I think that the so-called Palestinian people have this urge for unilateral recognition because they see this president [Obama] as weak.”

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My Doctor Is Marrying Joe Biden's Daughter

By Laura Goldman

Dr. Howard Krein and Ashley Biden

What is it about the daughters of Democratic politicians and Jewish men? Former Vice President Al Gore’s daughter Karenna married Andrew Schiff, who is descended from a long line of German Jews. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s only daughter, Chelsea, married Philadelphian Jew Marc Mezvinsky in a ceremony presided over by a rabbi. Now, Vice President Joe Biden let it slip that his daughter Ashley has become engaged to Dr. Howard Krein, a Jewish otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia — and my doctor. At an event in Delaware on Friday, he kept gushing about “his future son-in-law.

Courtney O’Donnell, a spokeswoman for the vice president’s wife, Jill, would only confirm that the couple is engaged, but would not offer any details. She wrote in an e-mail, “The Biden family is thrilled.”

I have been a big fan of Joe Biden since I volunteered for and donated money to his doomed 1980 presidential campaign. You can imagine my happiness when I discovered that his daughter, who is a social worker, was marrying my doctor.

Krein grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., before attending Rutgers University, followed by Thomas Jefferson Medical College. He is part of a multi-physician practice that is attached to Jefferson Hospital. For those unfamiliar with Jefferson, their otolaryngology department is ranked nationally as the best by US News & World Report. Double board certified in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, Krein is co-director of the Herbert Kean Center for Facial Aesthetics. He is also an assistant professor at the medical school there.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Son-in-Law, Married, Otolaryngologist, Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Jewish, Jefferson Hospital, Howard Krein, Engaged, Ashley Biden

‘Glamberts’ Will Pay $20 for Magazine Cover

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Remember Adam Lambert? You know, the eyeliner-wearing singer who didn’t win American Idol?

For many of us, Lambert’s 15 minutes of fame have passed, but not for the “Glamberts,” his die-hard fans. According to Gawker, some of them have been willing to shell out as much as $20 for the current issue of The Advocate. The gay magazine has Lambert on its November 2011 cover.

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Rabbi Gordis Kvetches About Kids on Airplanes

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

Those of us who are used to reading the latest entries from Rabbi Daniel Gordis on his “Dispatches From an Anxious State” blog were surprised over the weekend to see him posting on Facebook about a different type of anxiety. Instead of commenting on Zionism, Israel and politics, as he usually does, Gordis shared with “friends” his unease about flying in business class with other people’s children.

“Serious question. Does anyone know which airlines that fly between TLV and the NYC area do not allow children in business class? EL AL Israel Airlines USA does, and enough is enough. I’m told that other airlines might even transfer over my Platinum status, so if anyone know who doesn’t allow kids in business, please let me know,” the rabbi wrote.

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Montel in Israel on Medical Marijuana Quest

By Nathan Burstein

iStockphoto

“Fact-finding missions” to Israel don’t usually involve cannabis, but medical marijuana is the reason former talk-show host Montel Williams is currently in the Holy Land.

“Some of the leading science on where and how those chemicals [in marijuana] work is being done right here in this country,” the Emmy Award winner said during the trip.

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New Documentary Tracks New Zealand’s Nazi Criminals

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Wikimedia Commons

A new documentary film is telling the story of the unfruitful efforts to bring Nazi war criminals in New Zealand to justice. According to Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “New Zealand was the only Anglo-Saxon democracy that faced this problem and chose to ignore it. There was absolutely no political will to take legal action against the Nazi war criminals who emigrated to New Zealand in the late 1940s and early 1950s, posing as refugees fleeing communism.”

According to a report in Stuff, a New Zealand news website, a two-year police and government task force investigation in the early 1990s yielded not a single prosecution, despite a comprehensive file prepared and handed over by the Wiesenthal Center on more than 40 Nazis believed to have been hiding in the country.

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Jewish Florist Recalls Pen Pal Ghadafy

By Forward Staff

getty images
Muammar Ghadafy

A retired Jewish florist from Brooklyn was Muammar Ghadafy’s unlikely pen pal, but never got to write a good-bye letter to the slain dictator.

Louis Schlamowitz, 81, had been writing to Ghadafy for 50 years and obtained a trove of letters and autographed photos of the eccentric leader, The New York Post reported.

“He was a good pen pal,” said Schlamowitz. “I felt it was very nice of him to take the time to write back to me, because I’m nobody special.”

The florist first contacted Ghadafy shortly after he seized power in 1969. A month later, Schlamowitz received an autographed picture and a note thanking him for his “kind message.’’

After that, a wacky pen pal relationship was born.

“We kept corresponding with each other. I’d send Christmas cards and letters to him about my different viewpoints about the United States and Israel. I said the state of Israel would never be split because it’s the homeland of the Jewish people,” Schlamowitz told the Post.

Ghadafy wrote back attacking both countries in a two-page screed.

Schlamowitz, who made a hobby out of writing to famous people, took the remarks in stride. “I don’t go along with what everybody sends me,” he said.

The retiree wrote again to Ghadafy around the time the uprisings started in Libya, but the letter was returned undelivered.


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Last East London Jewish Hospital Demolished

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Despite opposition, the last remaining Jewish hospital building in London’s East End will be torn down to make way for a five-story housing development. The Tower Hamlets council agreed for the Jewish Maternity Hospital on Underwood Road, Whitechapel, to be demolished because it does not have landmark status. It is neither listed by English Heritage, nor does it fall within a Conservation Area, according to a report in the East London Advertiser.

Those opposed to the demolition, including cultural and political leaders, are especially upset that the cottages next door to the hospital are also set to be taken down. They say that they are large single-family homes in good shape. “The Director of Jewish Heritage UK, Sharman Kadish, also wrote to Peabody [the real estate developer], saying the social and historic significance of the cottages next to the main hospital building have been overlooked while urging the trust to convert the cottages into residential use,” the article in the Advertiser said.

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‘Good Girls’ Rewarded With Sticker of Boys

By Nathan Jeffay

It’s just the prize that every seven-year-old girl wants. Not a teen-pop record or a Barbie doll, but a sticker with the faces of her male contemporaries.

Take kids to the physician here in Israel and they are often rewarded for their cooperation with a sticker. If you belong to the Clalit health maintenance organization, the stickers have pictures illustrating the message, such as a recuperating child with the message “get well soon.” But the stickers bearing the message “good girl” distributed in some parts of Israel are illustrated with a picture of four boys.

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Sabbath Dilemma: Should Jews Watch Game 7?

By E.B. Solomont

The St. Louis Cardinals’ miraculous, epic 10-9 win over the Texas Rangers last night is already being called one of the greatest baseball games ever played. But within minutes of the win, it provoked one of those soul-searching conflicts for St. Louis’ Orthodox Jews: to watch or not to watch the game on Friday night.

Getty Images

Baseball is a religion for fans in St. Louis, and Facebook and Twitter were abuzz within minutes of the win. “Friday night oneg at Momo’s anyone?” wrote one member of Cardinal Nation, referring to a tavern situated in the heart of University City’s religious Jewish enclave and across the street from a synagogue. “Need a heter to watch game 7 tomorrow,” said another. “I’m taping it — and nobody in shul better tell me what happened,” wrote a fan who lives out of town.

During the playoffs, which coincided with the holiday of Sukkot, local fans responded by surreptitiously leaving radios on or putting television sets on timers. Other fans roamed the neighborhood to see if they might catch a glimpse of the score through someone’s open window.

The conflict crept up on Sabbath observers this week, when rain forced Game 6 to be postponed until Thursday. (Coincidentally, the same happened in 2006, the last time the Cardinals won the World Series.) This time, there almost wasn’t a Game 7, until the Cards clinched it in 11th inning.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Texas Rangers, St. Louis, St. Louis Cardinals, Shabbat, Game 7, Baseball, Cardinal Nation, World Series

Bar Refaeli To Launch Lingerie Company

By Michael Kaminer

Israeli model Bar Refaeli is going into the underwear business.

Jewish celeb-gossip site 6DegreesNoBacon reports that Refaeli will launch online lingerie retailer Undeez.com with fellow Israeli mannequin Dudi Balsar.

Undeez has raised $1 million from Israeli angel investors, according to Israeli financial newspaper Globes. “Undeez will apply a sophisticated e-commerce model, which was developed over many months. Balsar, an attorney and former model, came up with the idea for the venture, and Refaeli will be responsible for marketing and business development,” Globes said.

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Social Justice Protestors Taking To Israeli Streets Again

By Nathan Jeffay

Israel’s social protests are due to return to the streets tomorrow with a march, the first in just under two months. “On October 29, we young people need to take to the streets and demand a new national budget, and the social justice we deserve,” protestor May Turgeman said at a press conference in which details of the renewal of the struggle were released.

The protests, which began on July 14, clearly had a large impact on the national agenda, forcing the government to grapple with the cost of living and convene the Trajtenberg Committee. This panel has recommended reductions in tariffs on food, extra benefits for working mothers, a home-building plan and expanded childcare, and has had its recommendations endorsed by the cabinet.

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