In the News today
1. Orthodox\When Larry Pinczower switches on his cellphone, the seal of a rabbinate council appears. Unable to send text messages, take photographs or connect to the Internet, his phone is a religiously approved adaptation to modernity by the ultra-Orthodox sector of Israeli life.
Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times
Ultra-Orthodox Jews, among the approximately 800,000 in Israel, heading off to pray last week in Jerusalem’s Old City. More than 10,000 numbers for phone sex, dating services and the like are blocked, and rabbinical overseers ensure that the lists are up to date. Calls to other kosher phones are less than 2 cents a minute, compared with 9.5 cents for normal phones. But on the Sabbath any call costs $2.44 a minute, a steep religious penalty.
“You pay less and you’re playing by the rules,” Mr. Pinczower, 39, said. “You’re using technology but in a way that maintains religious integrity.”
A community of at least 800,000 people — out of 5.4 million Jews living in Israel, a country of 7.1 million — the ultra-Orthodox, though comparatively poor, form a distinct, growing and important market, and Israeli companies are paying attention. While there are rabbinical strictures against watching television, using computers for leisure, immodest attire and unsupervised mixing of men and women, the Israeli market economy has adjusted in creative and surprising ways.
Some 60 percent of ultra-Orthodox men do not work regular jobs, preferring religious study. More than 50 percent live below the poverty line and get state allowances, compared with 15 percent of the rest of the population, and most families have six or seven children, said Momi Dahan, an economist at the School of Public Policy at Hebrew University.
The Egged bus company has special routes for the ultra-Orthodox, so that men and women are segregated, sometimes in separate buses. But there have been riots in Ramat Beit Shemesh B over certain bus routes, with graffiti comparing the company and the police to Nazis and calling Israel “the regime of the apostates,” rejecting the government as nonreligious.
On Oct. 21, five ultra-Orthodox Jews assaulted a woman and an Israeli soldier on a bus bound for Beit Shemesh. The men demanded that the woman sit in the back of the bus; when she refused and asked the soldier to sit next to her, they beat them both. When the police came, dozens of ultra-Orthodox men attacked them while the assailants escaped.
To reach these customers, Strauss uses a different advertising agency and public relations strategy, including contributions to community activities for children and the poor.
“These people don’t watch television,” Mr. Bar-Dea said. “They read different newspapers. They live in closed neighborhoods. It’s a unique market, almost from A to Z.”
There are at least 400 or 450 shops in Israel focused on the ultra-Orthodox, he said, and 100 or so more mixed markets in smaller cities.
But the tensions between the two ultra-Orthodox communities are real. Ilan Shmueli, 35, runs “American Pizza” in Beit Shemesh A. He opened in the stricter B in August 2005, based on his work in a Deal, N.J., pizzeria.
After six months, he said, “the problems started — they began to throw things at us: tomatoes from the market, hot oil, gasoline.” Some ultra-Orthodox from B were customers, but “the Hasidim, who were a bit nuts,” started demonstrations, which became violent. His sin was to sit men and women in the same restaurant. “I went to their rabbi and I said, ‘Look, it’s like the war of Gog and Magog,’” Mr. Shmueli said. “And he said, ‘You might end up dead.’”
He closed at a big loss, then reopened in A last December with his father’s help. “Lots of very pleasant ultra-Orthodox people come in,” he said, especially new American immigrants.
American Pizza’s sign shows the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Asked why, Mr. Shmueli said he consulted his rabbi. “The rabbi told me that the Statue of Liberty is a problem, spiritually speaking,” he said. Liberty is “chofesh,” which implies pure freedom. “Haredis don’t have chofesh,” he said. “We are servants of God.”
Rabbi Reflects-This is such a good example of the question of how Jews choose to live in a modern world which lets us choose how to live-one result is extremism where people are assaulted for not going to the back of the bus or not being as kosher as someone thinks they should be. On the other hand, I'm moved by how seriously these people take jewish law and efforts to serve God. There has to be a better balance than we or they have achieved. Answer-middle of the road Judaism, as we are.
2. Chimp who knew sign language dies
Feat spurred debate over primates' ability to learn human words
New York Times News Service
November 1, 2007
She spent her early years playing in the back yard of a small house in Reno learning American Sign Language from the scientists who adopted her, and by age 5 she had mastered enough signs to capture the world's attention and set off a debate over non-human primates' ability to learn human language that continues to this day.
But on Tuesday night, Washoe, a chimpanzee born in West Africa, died after a short illness, said Mary Lee Jensvold, assistant director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, where Washoe had lived for more than two decades. The chimp died in bed at age 42, surrounded by staff members and other primates that had been close to her, Jensvold said.
Scientists had tried without success to teach non-human primates to imitate vocal sounds when R. Allen Gardner and Beatrix Gardner, cognitive researchers, adopted the chimp from military scientists in 1966. The Gardners, skeptical that other primates could adequately speak human words, taught Washoe sign language, encouraging her gestures until she made signs that were reliably understandable.
1. Abraham's servant Eliezer using the criteria of kindness to animals to determine the appropriate wife for Isaac. Tsar baalai chayim -not hurting creatures is a basic Jewish value. Every finding in science that animals, besides us, are also intelligent, helps remind us.
Combining stories 1 and 2-it bewilders me why fanatics can't fathom humans descent from primates.
3. Hiroshima bomber dies
Paul Tibbets, the pilot and commander of the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, died on Nov. 1. He was 92. His historic mission in the plane Enola Gay, named for his mother, marked the beginning of the end of World War II. It was the first use of a nuclear weapon in wartime. (AP)
By JULIE CARR SMYTH | Associated Press Writer
5:46 PM CDT, November 1, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Paul Tibbets, who etched his mother's name -- Enola Gay -- into history on the nose of the B-29 bomber he flew to drop the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, died Thursday after six decades of steadfastly defending the mission. He was 92.
Throughout his life, Tibbets seemed more troubled by other people's objections to the bomb than by him having led the crew that killed tens of thousands of Japanese in a single stroke. The attack marked the beginning of the end of World War II.
And he insisted he slept just fine, believing with certainty that using the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved more lives than they erased because they eliminated the need for a drawn-out invasion of Japan.
""I'm not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did," he said in a 1975 interview.
"You've got to take stock and assess the situation at that time. We were at war. ... You use anything at your disposal."
He added: "I sleep clearly every night."
Tibbets, a 30-year-old colonel at the time, and his crew of 13 dropped the five-ton "Little Boy" bomb over Hiroshima the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. The blast killed or injured at least 140,000.
Three days later, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing at least 60,000 people. Tibbets did not fly in that mission. The Japanese surrendered a few days later.
"It did in fact end the war," said Morris Jeppson, the officer who armed the bomb during the Hiroshima flight. "Ending the war saved a lot of U.S. armed forces and Japanese civilians and military. History has shown there was no need to criticize him."
Former U.S. Sen. John Glenn, a former Marine fighter pilot, said people who criticized Tibbets for piloting the plane that dropped the bomb failed to recognize that an allied invasion of Japan, which the bomb helped avert, would have resulted in the deaths of several million people.
"It wasn't his decision. It was a presidential decision, and he was an officer that carried out his duty," Glenn said. "It's a horrible weapon, but war is pretty horrible, too."
see next article
US Pushes for Tougher Sanctions on IranBy DAVID STRINGER | Associated Press Writer
7:04 AM CDT, November 2, 2007
LONDON - A top American diplomat pressed for harsher U.N. sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program on Friday, while Iran's former president said talks with the U.N. atomic watchdog were progressing and warned against threatening his country.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns was meeting diplomats from the four other permanent Security Council members and Germany to rally support for a tougher track with Iran, which has a deadline next month to fully disclose details of its nuclear program.
The U.S. and allies accuse Iran of using a civilian power program as cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge and insists it needs the technology to generate power.
Rafsanjani also spoke about the prospects of a U.S. attack against Iran, saying it would create a quagmire for Washington with unimaginable consequences.
Copyright © 2007, The Associated Pres
Rabbi Reflects-horrible dilemma-kill 100,000 to save possible a million US soldiers? You have to be an idiot not to know Iran wants to build nucs to bomb Israel and the USA. Sanctions will never stop them. Someone will to bomb hard to destroy their nuclear program, killing innocents. I don't see a choice. Milchemet Chova-Obligatory war in Jewish law icludes one of self-preservation. Every effort must be made for peace first and warning, which the UN keeps trying. This article comes on the anniversary of the Balfour declaration, 90 years ao, where the British empire went on board with a Jewish presence in Palestine.
4. Poland's Jews Plan to Build Skyscraper
By VANESSA GERA | Associated Press Writer
5:46 PM CDT, November 1, 2007
WARSAW, Poland - Poland's Jewish leaders have unveiled plans for a glass skyscraper in a neighborhood that was the heart of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.
The building -- projected to rise 680 feet high -- would tower over the elegant Nozyk synagogue, Warsaw's only remaining synagogue, dramatically altering the look of the historic neighborhood.
The skyscraper would include a new house of prayer, a kosher restaurant and vast commercial space, giving Warsaw's growing Jewish community a place to expand its activities and providing a source of profit for the future.
The project is another step in the revival of Jewish life in Poland, which was home to Europe's largest Jewish community until World War II.
Today, after being nearly wiped out in the Holocaust, the community is gaining both people and financial support. Some Poles are discovering they have Jewish roots and trying to reconnect to that culture, while a 1997 law that compensates the Jewish community for lost property has left it with new wealth.
However, the community still has not received approval from city officials for the building.
Community leader Piotr Kadlcik said he and other Jewish leaders are working to meet city requirements, and expressed hope that city approval would come soon. He also said the community is looking for investors to help fund the ambitious project.
Rabbi Reflects-coupled with the news last month on the reopening of Berlin's biggest synagogue, is a beautiful aspect of the prayer we say 3x a day-tichiyat hamatim-blessed are you God who revives the dead.
Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
www.jonathanginsburg.net & www.ehnt.org
cybershull + 300 videos www.esynagogue.org