Jewish/Israel News: All the News That’s Fit to Tweet

Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

The air is popping, molecules are dancing, you can practically feel the crackle in the air– alive with energy in the world of Jewish philanthropy and innovation. The New Jew is here to bring you the news that can’t be missed.


  • Israel President’s Conference— Today is the first day of the 2nd annual President’s Conference, founded by President Shimon Peres. This year’s theme is “Tomorrow’s Future.” To get live updates on Twitter, click on this link where I have collected all the relevant resources for you

(Flickr photo link via Just.Luc, Creative Commons)

In the Media


  • Free Press Index— Israel’s Free Press Rank plummets on Reporters Without Borders’ index due to tightened government control over the media during Operation Cast Lead (Gaza 2008/2009) and during the elections. Israel dropped 43 places to #93. (The US is #20, up from #40 last year)
  • Human Rights Watch: Anti-Israel— In this New York Times op-ed, Robert L. Bernstein, former chairman of HRW criticizes the group for repeatedly singling out Israel for human rights violations without holding other Middle Eastern countries to equivalent standards
  • Shalom, Al Jazeera— An Egyptian newspaper broke the story that Israeli billionaire Haim Saban was set to acquire the Arab world’s news station. The story is yet unconfirmed
  • Palestinian Jews? It’s not Pre-State Deja Vu— The Wall Street Journal’s James Woolsey asks if we have Israeli Arabs why can’t there by Palestinian Jews?
  • Our Israel? — A raging debate between The Forward’s Jay Michaelson and the Shalem Center’s Daniel Gordis centers on the question of how we perceive Israel as a Jewish state and as our state. Michaelson complains: “My love of Israel has turned into a series of equivocations,” in reference to his stance toward Israeli politics, peace, and Palestinians. Gordis counters, “But you know what I love about this place, Jay?  I love that all the political baggage is mine.” (Don’t forget to read the comments as well)

Jewish Connectivity


  • Assessing Birthright Israel— It’s been 10 years. Where does Taglit-Birthright Israel stand after a decade of hard work? Here are the statistics: Birthright has brought 200,000 young Jews to Israel so far– 10,000 will come this winter. Philanthropic  dollars: $80 million raised: 55% from individuals; 22% from Jewish communities and the Jewish Agency; 23% from the Israeli government

— Interested in Jewish Connectivity, Israeli Technology & the Environment, Israel’s Economy & the Jewish Community Landscape, Innovation & Education? Read on. —

  • Jewish Community Heroes— Still waiting to hear who the first Jewish community hero will be? Well wait no longer. Get off your couch and onto your keyboard. The judges want your help in choosing what traits are most important in our hero, so get to it. The winner will be announced at the UJC’s General Assembly in November and will receive a $25,000 award
  • Religion and State in Israel— Can we talk about religion and state for a moment? Rabbis in Israel are paid by the government, but before you get too excited about that prospect, understand that these are Orthodox (male) rabbis. If you live in the US and are a practicing, non-Orthodox Jew, you can’t imagine how heavy handed this system can feel. Enter Rabbi Mauricio Balter, by all accounts a great rabbi of the people and lovely person, but Israel will not recognize him and pay him as a rabbi because he is not Orthodox, despite the fact he is the acting rabbi of his community. Reading his profile will not only make you feel good as a person and about the future of Judaism (with leaders like these), but will give you greater insight into the confluence of religion and state in Israel
  • Jay Ruderman: A Man of Vision— The Ruderman Family Foundation, lead by Jay Ruderman, is coming to be known in the world of Jewish philanthropy for their focus on strategic philanthropy. The Foundation has renewed its mandate and decided to focus on one area of change: helping improve the lives of those with physical, mental, and sensory disabilities. They will pursue action through a $6 million grant to the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in partnership with the Israeli government. (Ruderman’s profile in the Jerusalem Post is recommended reading)

Israeli Technology & Environment



  • Vroom, Vroom— According to Project Better Place, spearheaded by Shai Agassi, 2011 will see the establishment of Israel’s electric car network.The International Electrotechnical Commission will convene in Tel Aviv this week to figure out how to standardize electric cars among nations
  • Oil Free Zone— At the opening speech of the President’s Conference,  Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged that Israel would be “off oil within 10 years”
  • TechAviv Angels— You know how you hear about Israeli hi-techs and start-ups being the future of global communication, be it via web, mobile, or other technological inventions? When you think about the entrepreneurs behind those projects, TechAviv, Israel’s global foundation for entrepreneurs, should come to mind. Enter the TechAviv Angels, whose mentorship and funding will make those ideas come to life
  • The Coming Water Crisis— What to do in a desert country with little rain and high levels of liquid consumption? The Israel Water Authority is struggling with this challenge right now. Desalination plants and plans to import water are in the works, but one thing is certain: Israelis must curb their consumption. There’s a lot more to be done than praying for rain
Source: Flickr, Caveman_92223 (Creative Commons)

Source: Flickr, Caveman_92223

  • West Bank Eco-Power— The West Bank village of Susya has received a gift from their Israeli neighbors: solar panels and wind turbines to light their small community. The project was facilitated by Comet-ME, whose mission is to provide environmental and socially sustainable energy to the poorest Palestinian communities. (Psst, learning about this project should be mandatory)
  • Ahmed Amrani, Bedouin Eco-Activist— If you are interested in the environment in Israel, you should take a look at the new efforts in Bedouin communities to become greener. The Green Prophet features an interview with this municipal leader who is the founder of the Green Rahat Assocation (Rahat is one of the largest Bedouin villages in the Negev)

(Flickr photo link via Caveman_9223, Creative Commons)

Israel’s Economy & the Jewish Community Landscape

  • The Economy? Ouch— Are you still reading about the pain the economy is inducing in daily life and in the Jewish community? New research from Hebrew University’s Center for the Study of Philanthropy in Israel notes that “Israeli millionaires and billionaires have seen their wealth decrease by 19.5% in 2008, and the number of Israeli millionaires fell by some 2,300 last year” and that “roughly 80% of social services in Israel are contracted out by the government to nonprofit or private organizations”
  • Billionaires, Come Home— A tax law intended to lure Israel’s mega rich back home seems to be working. At least one Israeli billionaire, movie mogul Arnon Milchan (“Kings of Comedy,” “Marley and Me”), is coming home

Innovation and Education

  • Israel Innovation— So we’ve got a large concentration of the world’s geniuses residing in our tiny state. What do we do with them to advance Israeli innovation? This excellent article by George Gilder explores the history of Israeli creativity and innovation, as well as its struggles to actualize its genius’ minds. Fascinating read. (Hat tip to William Daroff)
  • TNJ_Slingshot_20Oct09Slingshot Innovation— The Slingshot Fund has announced its top 50 organizational innovators, who it calls “the most creative and effective organizations and leaders across the country [US].” Mazal tov! Learn more about Slingshot here and here (via previous posts on The New Jew)
  • Avi Chai Educational Technology Grants— Avi Chai has just announced its recipients for teachers doing important work in educational technology. Kol hakavod lachem, but just as importantly, how can we learn from their work? Check out the EdTech blog to learn from their successes
  • Heeb 100Heeb Magazine names 100 young Jews as top innovators in the fields of art, music, fashion, film/TV, media, books, activism, comedy, food, and entrepreneurship
  • Facebook, Auschwitz— I’m not sure how I feel about the recent addition of the Auschwitz Memorial Museum to Facebook. And Tablet Magazine’s title, “Auschwitz Has Added You as a Friend” is making me feel vaguely ill. What’s your take?
  • Israeli Arabs and Haredim, Oh My— By the numbers, Arab Israelis and religious Jewish children account for half of all  first graders– but by the time it comes to getting a job, they are underrepresented in the workforce. “If this trend continues,” Ha’aretz remarks, ” the Israelis who work, pay taxes and support society’s dependent groups will have to bear an increasingly heavier burden”
  • Just For FunJewcy assesses handwriting samples of three well known Jewish innovators to ascertain their personalities and inclinations. Problem is that they’re known entities, so that information was already public knowledge. Not much divination there



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8 Responses to Jewish/Israel News: All the News That’s Fit to Tweet

  1. […] Jewish/Israel News: All the News That’s Fit to Tweet By sofarhu 2009-10-21 05:21 JMTSource: Flickr, Just.Luc The air is popping, molecules are dancing, you can practically feel the crackle in the air– alive with energy in the world of Jewish philanthropy and innovation. The New…Read more […]

  2. Joel Katz says:

    Great to see you back blogging. Love this
    “All the News That’s Fit to Tweet”! Will it be a regular column?

    I noticed you mentioned an article about Masorti (Conservative) Rabbi Mauricio Balter.

    If your readers are interested in reading more about the Supreme Court petition for State funding of non-Orthodox rabbis and all issues of religion and state, may I suggest checking out Religion and State in Israel and @religion_state on Twitter.

    Looking forward to reading your upcoming posts,

    • Maya Norton says:

      Dear Joel,

      Thanks for your comment and the links.

      I’m getting great feedback on “All the News That’s Fit to Tweet,” which makes me think it should be a regular feature. Additionally, when I speak with people in the field about what would benefit them most from a Jewish philanthropy blog, they mention that they would like a news aggregator– much like the work you do at Religion and State in Israel. That’s not how I usually envision The New Jew, but I recognize the value of such a thing.

      Since posting and receiving the feedback, I’m thinking on how best to go about this. I tried some different formats– as the format of the post would depend on what stories were garnering the most attention that week– and I haven’t been satisfied with them. What are your thoughts on this?

      Also, hope all of your friends and loved ones are healthy. My family has been quite sick recently (hence the blogging void) and I know many others have been affected as well.

      Stay healthy and take care.
      Shabbat Shalom,

      ~ Maya

  3. lol 10 years of taglit… one year after taglit i did aliyah to israel… and most people say that its nice to travel in israel but its hard to live here. i can say that i love to live here and i am very appreciative to this programm that brought me here…

    • Maya Norton says:

      Glad to hear that.

      I also moved to Israel one year after doing Taglit, although I waited the maximum amount of time that I could live here without a decrease in benefits before making aliyah (another 18 months).

      Wishing you continued good luck and success,

      ~ Maya

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