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

October 21, 2009
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. —

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Bronfman Big Idea Series: “Renewing the Jewish Pioneering Spirit by Volunteer Work in the Negev”

January 14, 2008
Western Negev After Rain
Photo by Yaniv Ben-Arie, Western Negev a Week After the Rain

How can we re-awaken the Jewish pioneering spirit with strengthening Israel and helping to make the Jewish future more secure? Dr. Jason Goodfriend’s proposal for the Bronfman Big Idea contest presents the possibilities.

This is the 6th entry in the Bronfman Big Idea Series.

About the Author

DrJasonGoodfriendJason H. Goodfriend is a senior forecast analyst for a major corporation. He holds a PhD in Systems Engineering (decision sciences) from the University of Virginia. He has held a variety of posts in industry, government, and academia, and he is the author of the textbook A Gateway to Higher Mathematics .

Dr. Goodfriend has volunteered within the Jewish community on numerous occasions. He has always been deeply concerned for the Jewish people and for Israel ever since his parents played Yiddish and Israeli folk songs to him when he was a young child.

The Executive Summary

The goals of the proposal for “Renewing the Jewish Pioneering Spirit by Volunteer Work in the Negev” are the following:

  • Establishing a large-scale volunteering program for Jewish young adults and teens to help the Jewish National Fund, the Daroma Association, and other organizations working to develop the Negev region of Israel
  • Creating programming for and trips to biblical sites in the Negev and other parts of Israel as part of the volunteer experience
  • Designing a marketing and outreach program to the Diaspora to promote the Negev volunteer experience and to make the Jewish community worldwide aware of the efforts being made to develop the Negev
  • Creating programming that focuses on the central importance of the desert and the pioneering spirit in Judaism

The Proposal by Jason Goodfriend


The Desert as a Place of Spiritual Rebirth for the Jewish People–
The desert has played a central role in the history of the Jewish people. The patriarchs and matriarchs sojourned in the Negev. The Israelites received the Torah in the desert, and then wandered there for 40 years as they fused into a people. Moses and Elijah, as well as countless others, fled to the desert to “find” themselves.

The narrative history of the Jewish people is infused with stories of the desert as a place for finding ourselves and developing our connection with G-D. There is something about the desert that fosters a spiritual reawakening.

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Israeli Innovation: Bedouin Town Develops Unique Form of Sign Language

August 27, 2007

Al-Sayyid Storyteller

The Bedouins of Al-Sayyid have something to say. And it doesn’t involve talking.

Al-Sayyid is one of the only towns in the world to have developed its own language, independent of neighboring tongues. With a rate of deafness 50 times the norm, community members have a recessive gene for profound deafness traceable to one of the town’s founding couples.

Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language

Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL) is a new form of communication that has developed in the last 70 years. Created by members of the Al-Sayyid community– 3,500 people based in the southern Negev– to cope with its inherent deafness, ABSL is noted for its complex grammatical structure and sophisticated linguistic patterns.

Margalit Fox, author of Talking Hands, notes the necessary conditions for the creation of a “signing village:” an inherited gene for deafness that can be passed through a large population quickly (via polygamy and the marriage of cousins or other close relatives). These conditions are present in force in Al-Sayyid.

Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language has been highlighted by linguists for the following reasons:

  • It is one of the few languages to arise without an outside influence. ABSL is not based on the Arab or Hebrew patterns of the surrounding languages, but has a unique grammatical and linguistic structure (Science Daily)
  • Linguists look to ABSL to give them clues about how languages originated. Prof. Carol Padden of UC-San Diego remarks: “Because ABSL developed independently, it may reflect fundamental properties of language in general and provide insight into basic questions about the way in which human language develops from the very beginning.” (ibid)
  • In its third generation, ABSL presents a strong model for linguistic study in helping to understand how languages are formed and developed

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