Blogs

Is This The World's Dumbest Question?

Jose Diaz-Balart this morning on his daily MSNBC show came up with one of the dumbest questions ever asked on cable television. 

Interviewing one of his network's reporters in Gaza about the breakdown of the Israel-Hamas ceasefire, the capture of an IDF soldier and the ongoing artillery and rocket exchanges playing out in the background, Diaz-Balart wanted to know, "How do you describe the ambiance there?"

Hamas Shows Off Its Rocketeers

Hamas has put out a video showing its ability to fire rockets from hidden underground launch pads to shooting on the run from the back of battered pick-up trucks or hidden among trees.  What they’re not boasting about in this video is firing from inside homes, hospitals, schools and other seemingly benign civilian buildings.

Picturing Anne Frank

The Anne Frank Center in New York is a tiny space, smaller than the secret apartment in Amsterdam where the Frank family spent much of the war in hiding.

© Anne Frank Fonds, Basel

Summer Camp, Life Skills and Confidence

Editor's Note: Thanks to our friends at the Foundation for Jewish Camp for coordinating this series of blogs from camp. More voices to come!

We have all heard that Jewish summer camp is one of the most valuable experiences a parent can give their child to ensure a strong Jewish foundation. If you think of it as a construction project, the footings beneath the foundation is the community and together, this community builds the foundation they share.  As each child grows into an adult, the shared experience of community-building in a Jewish context continues to strengthen his or her Jewish foundation.

But the Jewish child with disabilities who cannot have a summer camp experience is left with an unstable foundation or worse, no Jewish foundation.  As the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I live with the fear shared by all parents of children with disabilities: Who will be my child’s community when I am no longer here to provide it? 

The author's son arrives at camp. Courtesy Marcia Cohodes

Ruderman Prize Profile: Mentoring Young Adults in Sydney

Editor's Note: This month, the Ruderman Family Foundation awarded five prizes to agencies across the world that are making the Jewish community into a more inclusive one. The New Normal will profile each of these amazing agencies over the next month.

JewishCare’s Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) Program mentors Jewish children and young adults who may be facing challenges and adversity in their lives. Based in Sydney, the program helps these youth, about a third of whom have a disabilitiy, through the ongoing support and friendship of a big brother/sister mentor. JewishCare has developed strong links with local schools, synagogues and community groups to raise awareness about issues facing young people with a disability, and about the importance of their inclusion into mainstream services.

JewishCare staff members speak at local Jewish high schools about the BBBS program, and about how having a positive mentor can make a big difference for all kids, including those with a disability. 

JewishCare little sister and big sister enjoy being together. Courtesy of JewishCare

Oh To Be A Center Fielder

Although they rank high among Nobel Prize winners, Jews are not generally known for their athletics.  But as “Chasing Dreams” at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History demonstrates, baseball has fielded its way through the American Jewish psyche, from its very beginnings. 

Omer Counter made of Louisville Slugger baseball bats. Keneseth Israel Congregation, Louisville, Kentucky.

How Hamas Measures Success

Hamas reminds me of that old commercial for Timex watches when the announce would intone, "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

Dispatch From An Inclusion Coordinator: What Brings Me To Camp

Last week, I found myself wearing an oversized camp T-shirt, sitting on the back of a bus headed up to the mountains for a field trip with a bunch of squirmy but excited campers. It was a bit of an "How did I get here?" moment. After all, I am a full time occupational therapist working in early intervention, not an educator looking to bring in a summer salary. I paid my dues working as a junior counselor, then a counselor at numerous camps … but that was 18 years ago. I have two children of my own now, both campers themselves. 

It is my commitment to inclusion for Jewish children with disabilities and differences of all stripes in all aspects of religious life that led me to pack my own water bottle and sunscreen and venture onto "the field," so to speak. 

Jaime Bassman

NBC=Not Bothering Checking

Towards the end of a report on the Nightly News Monday evening NBC Anchor Brian Williams read a statement from Hamas accusing Israel of "murdering" hundreds of civilians and denying that his group had ever targeted Israeli civilians.

Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan did not appear on camera, as he has on other networks, but Williams read his statement:

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