Category: Featured

Woman of power seeks to use position to bring peace to region

Posted on August 29, 2007 | Comments Off

Galia AlbinSitting in her cramped Tel Aviv television studio dressing room, Galia Albin is bright-eyed, alert and enthusiastic while breaking for lunch between tapings of “The Club”, a talk show she hosts for Israel’s fifty-plus demographic. Because of her mission to influence and empower women throughout the world, she really doesn’t seem to have time to slow down.

“Do you want to share my salad?” she offers generously before launching into excited chatter about her projects and work.

At 57, Albin directs ten publicly held Israeli/international companies, advises the prime minister on business and heads up numerous international women and children development organizations. Read more»

Reminiscences from an Israeli baseball game

Posted on August 20, 2007 | Comments Off

Israel Baseball LeagueThe dusty, twisting dirt roads leading to Kibbutz Gezer have me wondering if a baseball diamond and green grass are truly anywhere to be found. The unpaved stretch that serves as a parking lot is just beyond the outfield fence. There are no parking attendants, police officers, or turnstiles at this game of the Israel Baseball League. A man sits at a wooden table selling tickets: this isn’t Yankee Stadium. But just as “the House That Ruth Built” is an oasis in the Bronx, the field at Kibbutz Gezer is likewise an oasis. Read more»

iPod glasses and an online lie detector: some of Israel’s accomplishments this year

Posted on August 15, 2007 | Comments Off

Israeli innovations in the past year(Original on The Hedgehog Blog.) Despite the second Lebanon war, the divestments, and the boycotts, Israel’s economy enjoyed the largest growth in its GNP of any Western country at 8% for the last quarter of 2006. Foreign investment hit a remarkable high of over US $13 billion and the budget deficit was under 1%. Industrial exports, excluding diamonds, rose 11% to $29.3 billion in 2006 with the hi-tech sector leading the surge, according to the Manufacturers Association of Israel. Israel’s hi-tech industry exported $14.1 billion in goods last year, growing 20% from 2005. Read more»

Cafe Tav review: tight-rope walker is airy, flamenco dancer a little too spicy

Posted on August 12, 2007 | 1 Comment

Flamenco dancer at Cafe TavTav Group has created a café experience unlike anything you have ever known: from the makeshift scaffolding walls and open-sky ceiling, to the menu that offers coffee and fairy braids, all your senses will be heightened at Café Tav. The café is currently open at the Jerusalem Art Fair. The performers at Café Tav are from all across Israel, and the café provides an opportunity for many of Israel’s talented artists to perform. Read more»

New exhibit opens at Kabbalistic Museum of Psalms

Posted on August 9, 2007 | Comments Off

Museum of PsalmsA new exhibit of paintings opened this week at the unique Museum of Psalms in Jerusalem. The exhibit, “The Sun Series: Meditations, Light and Healing, ” consists of 42 new original paintings in which 83 year-old Holocaust survivor Moshe Tzvi HaLevi Berger expresses the Kabbalistic notions of healing, light and meditation. The museum’s unique focus is dedicated to a kabbalistic interpretation of each of the Bible’s 150 Tehilim (Psalms), the chants or songs attributed mostly to King David. Read more»

Sudan refugees and Macedonia turn to Israel, despite dismal results in Global Peace Index

Posted on August 5, 2007 | Comments Off

Sudanese refugeesA growing number of Sudanese refugees are fleeing Egypt for Israel, Egypt’s Al-Ahram has reported. In addition, the Macedonian government has appealed to Israel for assistance in its struggle to extinguish the massive forest fires plaguing the country. Israel immediately responded in the affirmative, making it one of the first countries to send emergency assistance to Macedonia. Last night a special team set out to supply Macedonia with protection kits for firefighting and rescue personnel, breathing kits and high-temperature firefighting suits. Read more»

New exhibit “Exogeny #1″ brings Web 2.0 concepts to the world of art

Posted on August 2, 2007 | 1 Comment

Exogeny #1, by Mike MarcusHaving made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) seven years ago to pursue an ill-fated romantic relationship, 34 year old Mike Marcus has nevertheless managed to procreate -virtually, that is.

On August 2nd, Marcus’ first exhibition, Exogeny #1, is set to open at the Nun Bet Gallery in Tel Aviv. Marcus explains that “the name ‘Exogeny’ refers to the cultural practice of intentionally breeding outside of one’s cultural or ethnic community.” Read more»

Ofir Dor and Marik Lechner exhibition in Tel Aviv’s Helena Rubenstein Pavilion

Posted on July 28, 2007 | Comments Off

“Lovebirds” by Marik LechnerThe sun may be brightly shining outside in Tel Aviv, but upon stepping into the two person painting exhibition at the Helena Rubenstein Pavilion at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, there is an immediate reminder that psychic life can be dark and sometimes even frightening. The pairing of these two artists in one exhibition is remarkable: on first glance there seems to be little connection, but on further exploration the similarities emerge. Read more»

Guerilla artist’s exhibit documents the despoliation of Jerusalem

Posted on July 22, 2007 | 2 Comments

Yoram Amir Guerilla artist and photographer Yoram Amir has made a career documenting the changing face of Jerusalem. And as his current “Jeru$alem” photograph series exhibit shows, it’s not a change which he views for the better.

“Jeru$alem”, which was on display at The Jerusalem Cinematheque during the recent Jerusalem Film Festival, utilizes antique horseshoe-shaped wooden window frames to display his documentation of the destruction of the traditional city. Amir salvaged the windows from the Palace Hotel on Agron Street, the facade and lobby of which are being preserved in yet another real estate mega-project appealing to overseas Jews. Together the photos and frames make a disturbing anti-consumer message about Jerusalem being reduced to a caricature of herself.

Interviewed at his Shodedei Yam Gallery in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market – the name is a Hebrew pun meaning both sea pirates and brigands of Jerusalem – the 44-year-old artist decried that rapacious real estate developers are destroying the Holy City’s unique character through cheap, overly tall buildings that rip away at the city’s urban fabric.

He warned of “the conspiracy of stealing the landscape. No one is guarding the city for the next century,” he warned. “Nobody is building structures that will last 400 years. Jerusalem of Gold is becoming Jerusalem of concrete.” “For a time I was Chairman of the Market Committee. Did you know that in the whole Machane Yehuda market there aren’t normal and clean public bathrooms? That for me is the base that you have to fight for.”

The aesthetics of the artist’s beloved Jerusalem are being relentlessly destroyed by “monster buildings” being erected in a “culture of copying” that is part of an “architectural disdain” for the city’s heritage, he said. Amir criticized the process whereby Jerusalem has been turned into a commodity “that advances the interests of foreign real estate developers. The capitalist corporate system is pollution to [Jerusalem's] streets.”

Cinematheque founder Lia Van Leer chose Amir’s exhibit because of its connection to Jerusalem’s budding environmental movement, he explained. Amir was one of the first activists in the city to oppose the so-called Safdie Plan to build suburban housing on the Judean Hills west of the city.

Yoram AmirCanadian-Israeli lawyer Mike Dacks elaborated on Amir’s work: “For a Western admirer of underground Israeli art, Yoram has some of the coolest and most unique installations I’ve come across. His photographs highlight the paradoxical nature of contemporary Jerusalem – the relations between the secular and religious in the city, the contrast between the old and the new, or the constant interaction and power dynamic between the Arab and Jewish sectors of the city, and the rich and the poor on all sides. He has a great knack for uncovering – often ironically – deeper truths about Israeli society that are only rarely accessible to Westerners.

“He is far from crazy – rather the opposite. He is the completely natural result of Israeli society. The guy was an officer in the paratroopers in the early 1980s and within the span of a year fought both in Beirut against the PLO and also in removing Jewish settlers from the Sinai. Born into a Moroccan family and not given all the opportunities that other sectors of Israeli society were afforded, he’s watched these skyscrapers go up in his hometown while the most beautiful historic buildings fall, lie abandoned or are demolished.

“This is all done with the complete complicity of the municipality officials who as we always hear in the press are engaged in hugely corrupt business and administrative practices. At the same time, Jerusalem – eternal capital of the Jewish people has become the single poorest city in Israel – in spite of all the donations from the Diaspora. How can that be?! Weren’t we here to build something beautiful – Earthly Jerusalem to match the beauty of its Heavenly counterpart? This is the perspective from which Yoram approaches his art, and indeed his life.”

The Shodedei Yam Gallery is located at Rehov ha-Horev 12 in Machane Yehuda. For more information call 052 240 0287.

Jeru$alem, by Yoram Amir

he building at the Holyland is the Temple
Calatrava Bridge is the Gate of Victory
A digital clock and synthetic grass
This is the main spine
Mountains disappearing forests shrinking
Historic buildings destroyed
Long live the tractor, long live the crane
There is none other but the dollar
Jerusalem is buying blue and white sponsored by Coca-Cola
Businesses are collapsing the shopping malls are enjoying
The architecture faculty in the Clal Building
The architect of the University up on Mount Scopus
He wins the Israel Prize
Tens of teachers of visual communications from Tel Aviv
Tens of scrapers of the heavens in West Jerusalem
Have to plan, to design, to advertise, to market
New York is here, Bezalel is there.
Collection of seconds.

Understanding of Jewish priests’ geneology and roles continues to deepen at first ever conference

Posted on July 18, 2007 | Comments Off

Cohen-Levi ConferenceSome 200 Kohens and Levites attended the opening session Monday of The Gathering of the Tribe here, the first-ever conference devoted to issues concerning Judaism’s priestly caste.

Symbolically, the symposium began on the Hebrew date of Rosh Hodesh Av, the first day of Av. This is the date of the death of Aharon, the first Jewish High Priest and brother of Moses, whose date of death is the only yahrzeit (date of death) mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.

The four-day conference hosted a mix of rabbis, geneticists and genealogists concerned with the history, duties and obligations of Kohens and Levis. Among them was Prof. Karl Skorecki of the Ramban/Technion Medical Center in Haifa who is renowned for his discovery in 1997 of the Kohen genetic signature.

Prof. Skorecki, a Canadian doctor who today is the director of Nephrology and Molecular Medicine at the Technion Faculty of Medicine, delivered the opening presentation about his research proving that the majority of kohanim alive today are descended from a single common male ancestor.

Skorecki began his lecture by providing a general overview to the subject of human genetics and DNA, noting that “out of the 3 billion DNA letter code, on average any two humans are 99.9 per cent identical. We are one large human family, regardless of geography.”

Prof. Karl SkoreckiFocusing on the tiny differences in DNA sequencing, Skorecki explained the two types of mutations which cause human diversity – SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) which occur approximately once every 10,000 years, and STRs (Single Tandem Repeats), which occur once in a millennium. Fidelity through the male blood line can be traced through the last of the 23 pair of chromosomes in the nucleus of a human cell, he explained. Similarly the female ancestor can be determined through the mitochondrial DNA, he noted.

Using these SNP and STR genetic markers, Skorecki demonstrated what he called the “Cohen Modal Haplotype” (CMH), a polymorphism on the Y chromosome found in a higher frequency in the Kohen caste than the general Jewish population, suggesting that most if not all Kohens are direct descendants of Aharon through a patrilineal line extending back 3,300 years or more than 100 generations.

Complicating the issue, Skorecki reported that he and his research team have discovered not one but two Cohen Modal Haplotypes, which he called J1 and J2. Pinchas the zealot mentioned in the Bible may be the origin of J2, he suggested.

Why don’t all Kohens share the same genetic markers?

“Halacha provides the answer, not DNA,” Skorecki noted. After the rebirth of the dead in the messianic era, scientists will be able to take a DNA sample of Aharon, settling the issue, he joked.

Adding yet another layer to the Kohen DNA story, Skorecki spoke about the disproportionate presence of the CMH among the males of the Lemba tribe in Mozambique and South Africa, suggesting an ancestral link to the Jewish peple. One sub-clan within the Lemba, the Buba clan, is considered by the Lemba to be their priestly clan. Among a small sample of the Buba, fifty-two percent of males were found to carry the Cohen Modal Haplotype. The Lemba also have a large percentage of genes often found in non-Arab Semites.

More recently Skorecki and his team discovered that some 3.5 million, or 40 per cent, of Ashkenazi Jews are descended from four “founding mothers” who lived in Europe 1,000 years ago.

About Prof. Skorecki

The only child of Holocaust survivors, Skorecki was born and raised in Toronto. He received his medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1977 and conducted his post-graduate clinical and research training at the Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals. In 1984, he established a research program in the areas of kidney disease, molecular biology and human genetics at the University of Toronto Division of Nephrology. He was subsequently appointed professor and director of the Division of Nephrology in the Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Toronto, and research scientist and director of the Nephrology Division at the Hospital for Sick Children, also in Toronto.

After a sabbatical at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot in 1991, Prof. Skorecki and his family decided to make aliyah to Israel and he joined the Technion faculty in 1995. In addition to conducting research in molecular biology and human genetics at the Technion, Prof. Skorecki has served as a clinical nephrologist at Rambam Medical Center, and as director of the Nephrology Department and of the Rappaport Research Institute in Haifa.

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