Six Israeli Freedom Songs for Passover

Passover is a great time to listen to songs on the subjects of slavery and freedom. With all due respect to George Michael’s “Freedom” and Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go,” Israeli music is filled with beautiful songs on these subjects and should not be ignored.

If you do not understand Hebrew, fear not: This article includes six of the best Israeli freedom songs, translated into English as accurately as the differences between the two languages allow.

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Maccabiah: US Futsal Team Seeking Financial Help

U.S. Maccabiah futsal team.

Among the athletes participating in the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel in July, the U.S. delegation will include a futsal team. Futsal is similar to soccer, but played on a field the size of a basketball court with five players on each side.

Last year, at the Pan American Maccabi Games in Chile, the team came fourth, losing the bronze medal in penalty kicks to the host after a 3-3 draw.

At the 2013 Games, the team included four players from Greater Philadelphia, in addition to Coach Michael Monheit. Practicing in King of Prussia, the current team only has one local: goalkeeper Ethan Clearfield, who played in Chile as well.

The team is trying to raise $10,000 to ease the burden on the players. Monheit said that “for a number of players the competition and experience will not be possible” without this help:

For many of them, it will be their first trip to Israel and it will be a visit that will change their lives. I assure you, this will be the most significant connection in each of their lives so far to their Jewish heritage.

Currently, the team has raised about $2,000. Monheit said that “every dollar counts towards making it possible for these players to be able to join the team.”

5 Video Games to Play This Summer

Summer is at its peak, and it is a great time to turn on the air conditioner, sit on the couch or chair, and play games on your favorite platform until the evening.

The PlayStation 4 Console and Xbox One have been with us for a year and a half, and have a great selection of games by now. They both can be found for less than $400. Graphically, the PlayStation 4 is the superior console, but some prefer the Xbox One as they want to play specific exclusives.

If you have a decent PC from recent years, a video card that costs about $200 can make it a gaming machine superior to both consoles, if you know someone who knows how to install the card.

This article will cover some of the best games available for all three platforms right now. [Read more…]

Netanyahu Forms Right-Wing Coalition, Considers Adding Labor

Less than two hours before the official deadline, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, informed President Reuven Rivlin that his party, Likud, had reached coalition agreements with four of the five other right-wing parties in the Knesset.

netanyahu bennett

Netanyahu (right) with Habayit Hayehudi’s leader, Naftali Bennett, after reaching a coalition agreement.

 

The new coalition will only include 61 of the 120 Knesset members: Likud’s 30, Kulanu’s 10, Habayit Hayehudi’s eight, Shas’s seven and United Torah’s Judaism’s six. The leader of the remaining right-wing party, Yisrael Beytenu (six seats), Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, had decided to quit the government and not join the coalition.

Netanyahu will remain both prime minister and foreign minister, allegedly because he considers offering Yitzhak Herzog, leader of the Labor Party (24 seats in a list shared with Hatnuah), to become foreign minister. Herzog recently vetoed his party’s proposed decision of never joining the new government.

Netanyahu Celebrates Decisive Victory in Israeli Election

Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to stay Israel’s prime minister for the third consecutive time and fourth time overall, as his party, Likud (“unity”), will have 30 seats in the 20th Knesset — more than the entire left-wing bloc.

march-17-2015-5-tips-for-not-understanding-israeli-elections1

Cartoon courtesy of The Cartoon Kronicles @ http://cartoonkronicles.com/

 

The left-wing Zionist Camp alliance of the Labor Party and HaTnuah (“the movement”), will have 24 seats. The exit polls of the three major Israeli TV channels predicted 27 seats each to the Zionist Camp and Likud, but the only other Zionist left-wing party, Meretz, (“vigour”) will only have five seats, while one needs to be supported by 60 Knesset members to become prime minister.

Right-wing party Habayit HaYehudi (“the Jewish home”), which promised to support Netanyahu, will have eights seats.

New and moderate right-wing party, Kulanu (“all of us”), led by Moshe Kahlon, who quit Likud in 2012 after decades of activity due to differences with Netanyahu on social issues, will have 10 seats. Kahlon is expected to support Netanyahu if the latter appoints him minister of finance.

Haredi parties Shas (“Sephardi guards”) and Yahaduth HaTorah (“Torah’s Judaism”) will have seven and six seats respectively, and are expected to support Netanyahu. The third Haredi party, Yachad (“together”), will be eliminated.

Another right-wing party, Yisrael Beytenu (“Israel our home”), will have six seats.

Center party Yesh Atid (“there is a future”) will have 11 seats.

The non-Zionist Joint List of three Arab parties will have 13 seats.

The participation ratio in the election was 72.3%.

Netanyahu Mocks Political Rivals in ‘Bibi-Sitter’ Video

Courtesy of The Cartoon Kronicles @ cartoonkronicles.com.

Courtesy of The Cartoon Kronicles @ cartoonkronicles.com.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, mocks his rivals in the coming Israeli election in a video ad that shows him as a responsible babysitter, or “Bibi-sitter,” unlike his rivals.

The 2oth Knesset elections are scheduled for March 17. The main rival of Netanyahu’s party, Likud (“unity”), is the Zionist Camp alliance of Isaac “Buji” Hertzog’s Labor Party, and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah (“the movement”).

In the video, Netanyahu mocks Hertzog as an irresponsible negotiator: Hertzog granted Livni a rotation agreement, meaning each of them will serve as prime minister for two years if the Zionist Camp wins the election, even though Hatnuah was a risk of not getting the four seats required to enter the Knesset before creating the alliance with the Labor Party.

The parents who ordered a babysitter comment that if Hertzog was babysitting their kids, he would have given away their house by the time they returned.

Netanyahu also mocks the fact that the Zionist Camp is Livni’s fourth party in nine years, after Likud, Kadima (“forward”) and Hatnuah. In the video, the parents doubt Livni’s ability to stay in the same place for two hours. Netanyahu says that by the time they return, “she’ll have moved to the neighbors.”

The video concludes with the parents returning home and saying “Shalom” (“peace”). Netanyahu responds, “Not unconditionally!”

Civil Rights Arrive in Pennsylvania: State Rep. Brian Sims Interview

Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims (D., Philadelphia), the first openly gay candidate to win an election to the state General Assembly, made headlines last week with the passage of a resolution for recognizing the Human Rights Day.

In an exclusive interview with the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, he shared his plans for the next few years, a surprising Jewish connection, and a few thoughts on the House speaker, Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler County).

Q: Where did the idea for the resolution on the Human Rights Day come from?

I had known of the Day for 15 years, since I heard of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Last month, after the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, invited me to speak on advocating for civil rights at local events in honor of the Day, I decided to propose a resolution for recognizing this day in Pennsylvania.

Q: Was it realizing that you were gay that brought you to the civil rights area?

I have first learned of civil rights through feminism. Both of my parents were lieutenant colonels in the Army, so I grew up with a very strong woman and two very equal parents.

Being part of the gay community was one of the reasons that I ran for the House. Pennsylvania has no LGBT rights laws at all, so a lot needs to be done. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and the State Senate support such legislations.

Q: Has your being gay hurt you in ways that legislation could have prevented?

Not very often. To my fortune, I live in a city with many laws that protect my rights. In other areas of Pennsylvania, you can get fired from your job or kicked out of your house, and even get bullied just for being gay.

Q: Were you surprised last June, when the speaker of the House, Daryl Metcalfe, did not let you speak on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, saying that it would be “an open rebellion against God’s law”?

Yes. I knew that he did not like me personally, and did not have respect for the House and its members, but I was surprised by the reason for which he did not let me speak.

Anyone can believe in anything they want, and have any motivation for their activism, but “God’s law” has no place in the Government and its voting.

Q: How has being elected changed your lifestyle?

I have always been very busy: Before being elected, I was the president of Equality Pennsylvania, and active in five more civil rights organizations. Now I am just as busy, but have a whole team that helps me.

In the little spare time that I have, I carry lectures, to teach the public on subjects such as saving money and public safety.

Q: What are your plans for the elections to the General Assembly next June?

I will run for the same office again. I need several more years to take care of all of the issues in my district (the 182nd House District, Center City).

Q: Do you have any connection with the local Jewish community?

When I worked as a lawyer, each and every one of my bosses was Jewish. They all understood what it meant to stand up and be an advocate for your community, so working as a lawyer had been connecting me with the Jewish community as well as with the lawyer community.

Last October, politicians from Pennsylvania held a diplomatic trip to Israel, but I could not go. A similar trip is planned for next March, and I would like to join it.

“Israeli Rock Godfather” Arik Einstein Dies at 74


“You Can’t (Leave Me)” by Arik Einstein’s band, the “High Windows.”

— by Amir Shoam

The iconic Israeli folk singer and comedian Arik Einstein passed away suddenly at the age of 74.

Einstein introduced entire genres, including rock, to Israeli music. Imagining Israeli music without him is like imagining the NBA without Michael Jordan. He will be missed.

More praise for this Israel entertainment legend and videos of his music and comedy follow the jump.

Parody of Israeli immigration

Shawn Evenhaim, Chairman of the Israeli-American Council commented,

We are sad to hear about Arik Einstein’s death and send our condolences to his family, friends, fans, and to all Israelis. Einstein is an Israeli cultural legend and probably the greatest Israeli singer of all time, and we’re sure that every Israeli who lives in the U.S. today shares in the sadness of his passing. A major icon of Israeli culture has left us, but his memory and songs will stay with us forever.

International Bible Quiz parody

Song on Soviet invasion of Prague

Soccer: Maccabi Close to Europa Round of 32 After 4-2 Over Frankfurt


Barak Yitzhaki against Frankfurt.

— by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv made a big step toward the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 today, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 4-2 in Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv.

With this win, Maccabi is second to Frankfurt in Group F, having previously lost to Frankfurt 0-2, beaten French team Bordeaux 2-1, and drawn 0-0 with Cyprus champion APOEL. After playing twice against each of its group rivals, the top two teams in each group will advance to the next round.

More after the jump.
Europa League, formerly the UEFA Cup, is the second-most important European club competition, consisting of champions of average leagues, and average teams of big leagues, such as Frankfurt, that finished sixth in the German Bundesliga last season.

Israeli midfielder Eran Zahavi scored first in the 14th minute. Two goals by striker Barak Yitzhaki in five minutes enlarged Maccabi’s lead to 3-0 by the 35th minute.

Croatian striker Srdan Lakic scored for Frankfurt in the 63th minute, and German midfielder Alexander Meier brought his team back to 3-2 with a penalty kick four minutes later. In the fourth and last minute of overtime, Zahavi scored a penalty kick of his own to set the final score.

Shalom Center Grasps at Straws to Find Substitute for War


“What happened to those people — to those children — is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security.”

— by Amir Shoam

Last week, before the Russian suggestion to disarm Bashar al-Assad’s forces of chemical weapons, The Shalom Center’s Rabbi Arthur Waskow wrote an article titled Drop Gas Masks, Not Bombs, opposing military action in Syria.

Waskow suggested that we “use the power of the U.S. in nonviolent, non-military, nonlethal ways” to stop the chemical war.

These surrogates for military action are each deeply flawed. Indeed, if Rabbi Waskow felt he had a good response, he would have probably given that response alone instead of a menu of responses each as ineffective as the next.

Waskow’s proposals and my comments follow the jump.


Waskow recommends distributing gas masks, but this is what you actually need to wear in order to fully protect yourself against sarin.

Waskow’s title suggestion “Drop Gas Masks, Not Bombs” (although the word “drop” was a metaphor) would not work, since gas masks do not offer complete protection against sarin.

Look what equipment the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends to use in a Level A sarin exposure:

  • A NIOSH-certified CBRN full-face-piece SCBA operated in a pressure-demand mode or a pressure-demand supplied air hose respirator with an auxiliary escape bottle.
  • A Totally-Encapsulating Chemical Protective (TECP) suit that provides protection against CBRN agents.
  • Chemical-resistant gloves (outer).
  • Chemical-resistant gloves (inner).
  • Chemical-resistant boots with a steel toe and shank.

Waskow recognizes that the suggestion in his title might not actually work, so he gives this alternative:

If gas masks would not meet the need, drop antidotes to the nerve gas sarin.

According to the CDC, sarin “is generally odorless and tasteless. Exposure to sarin can cause death in minutes. A fraction of an ounce (1 to 10 mL) of sarin on the skin can be fatal.”

Antidotes to sarin are only approved by the FDA for use by trained members of the U.S. Military, and would be useless or even dangerous in the hands of untrained Syrian citizens.

Waskow then makes this suggestion:

Test out what would happen if the U.S. invited physicians to be parachuted into Syria.

This is what would happen: The U.S. would ignore the first thing taught in a first aid course — do not risk lives in order to save lives.

  • If someone is injured on a busy road after a car accident, you should not go there.
  • If someone might be trapped inside a burning building, you should not go there.
  • If they offer you to be parachuted unarmed into a chemical war zone, you should not go there!

Waskow makes another suggestion, that also does not sound practical:

Drop leaflets and broadcast radio and social-media messages denouncing the use of chemical weaponry and offering amnesty and monetary rewards to anyone in the military who comes forward with information on their use.

If people in Assad’s army resisted his ways, would they still serve in his army, and not in one of the other armies in the country?

The following suggestion explains itself:

Bollix the Syrian military’s computer system just as the U.S. bollixed the Iranian nuclear-research system.

The U.S. is aware of that possibility — it just would not help.

Sarin is a binary compound, created naturally by the mixture of two gases stored separately in the shell. It does not need sophisticated electronics, and would be deployed in the field in the place of regular munitions, and not networked with a computer system, which made the Iranian centrifuges vulnerable to this kind of attack.

But the most flawed is Waskow’s final suggestion:

In Iran there is fierce opposition to chem-war because Saddam used it in Iraq’s war against Iran, killing tens of thousands…. Ask the government of Iran to intervene with its ally Syria to demand a total end to any use of chem-war, and offer Iran relaxation of U.S. sanctions against it if it does so.

Again, do not risk lives in order to save lives. Even assuming that Iran will accept this offer, a nuclear weapon in Iran’s hands is a threat to each and every person in the world.

Ambassador Samantha Power explained the situation last week:

It is only after the United States pursued these non-military options without achieving the desired result of deterring chemical weapons use, that the President concluded that a limited military strike is the only way to prevent Assad from employing chemical weapons as if they are a conventional weapon of war.

Indeed, after two years of diplomacy and sanctions, it is only the threat of military action which is finally getting the attention of Syria, and maybe will lead to a peaceful solution.