Blogs

How Did They Find Out? ISIS Is Zionist Plot

I'll bet you didn't know that ISIS was a Zionist conspiracy created to discredit Islam.  In fact, I'll bet even ISIS didn't know it.

But Yasmina Halfi, who worked in the Dutch government's Cyper Security Center, says that's just what happened.  On Wednesday she posted on Twitter, "ISIS has nothing to do with Islam.  It's part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam's name."

Ruderman Prize Profile: Bar-Ilan University's "Empowerment Program"

Editor's Note: In July, 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. Click here to read previous profiles.

Bar-Ilan University's Empowerment ("Otzmot") Program is among five international winners (and the only Israeli winner) of the third annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion, honoring organizations worldwide that operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community.

Prof. Hefziba Lifshitz and Students. Courtesy of David Garb

New Turkish Leadership Still Anti-Israel, Pro-Terrorist

They're shuffling the deck chairs on the Turkish ship of state but don't expect any changes in the government's virulent anti-Israel/anti-Semitic behavior or its support for Islamist terrorists. 

That's because President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan has picked his protégé and foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu to succeed him as prime minister.

Eikev: To Be Like God, Love The Stranger

I recently had the opportunity to deliver a shiur on the topic of inclusion of people with disabilities. As a model for a Torah approach to this issue, I looked at the mitzvot relating to the ger. One of those mitzvot occurs in Parshat Eikev, the mitzvah to love the "ger," or stranger:

Love you therefore the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Devarim, 10:19).

Rabbi Dov Linzer

Another Kind Of Holy Land

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared on Ellen Seidman's blog: Love That Max: Special Needs Blog

Last Wednesday, I headed to family camp with Max for five days. I figured we'd have fun; I had no idea how meaningful our time there would be. It was full of firsts for Max—and the discovery of a whole other kind of holy land.

As a a teen, I was a counselor at two Camp Ramahs in New York and loved it. After I found out that the Ramah in the Poconos had a five-day Tikvah Family Camp for kids with developmental disorders and social learning disorders, I signed us up. (The Ramah Tikvah Network offers family, day and overnight camps at nine locations.)

Fireman Max with his new friend June. Courtesy of Ellen Seidman

Who's Your Aaron? Finding A Community of Support

Editor's Note: This blog post originally appeared on the URJ Sci-Tech Blog.

Last week I had the good fortune of serving as a part of the pioneer faculty for the URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. I’m not quite sure where to begin in describing all of the significant moments that I observed and experienced there, so if you have not been following their inaugural season on the blog, I urge you to catch up!

At Sci-Tech they have seamlessly blended science and technology with living Jewishly. Here, campers are deeply exploring, creating, and discovering while experiencing the true magic of Jewish camp. It is a specialty camp like no other, and I have no doubt that many of these children would not have otherwise had a Jewish summer experience. Point in case, on Shabbat morning I taught two of the youngest campers how we honor the Torah during hakafah (Torah procession) as they had never participated in a Torah service before.

And, as is my nature, I enter into experiential learning spaces with an eye toward inclusion.

Campers at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. Courtesy of URJ

Time To Reexamine US-Turkey Relations

Turkey took another step away from democracy and closer to becoming an extremist Islamist state and patron of terrorists this week when Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the country's first elected president.

He has said he wants to build a "new Turkey" that will respect the diverse views of his nation, but he is the one most responsible for the deep divisions that plague it and damaging its international standing. 

Soldiers With Autism Bring Special Skills To The IDF

For the past few weeks, most of us have been glued to the news and social media to keep ourselves updated on the war in Israel. Some of us have friends and family in Israel, while others are torn by watching young soldiers go off to war. 

As I explored the web looking for information about the war, I came across a press release by the IDF that discusses Special Intelligence Unit 9900. This small unit includes soldiers with autism “who have remarkable visual and analytic capabilities. They can detect even the smallest details, undetectable to most people”.

Dr. Frances Victory

Loving Thy Neighbor, In Word And Deed

Since we moved into our house 14 years ago, our next door neighbors have been the Hellers. They were an older, semi-retired couple; we were a younger, just-starting-out couple. Nonetheless, they were there to greet us with hanging plants and gardening advice when we first moved in, to admire our kids as they arrived, one and one and two at a time, and then to introduce their grandchildren as playmates to our brood.

As our eldest son’s autism became more pronounced, the Hellers were models of tolerance and love.

The author's son Avi at camp. Courtesy of Michael Steinhart

Hamas Declares Victory

Hamas said it won the war and forced Israel to retreat because it couldn't wipe out Hamas. 

It agree to a three-day ceasefire that was supposed to end this installment of the on-going Israel-Gaza wars but when Israel refused to surrender to its demands, the terrorist group let the pause expire and resumed firing rockets and mortars into Israel.  Naturally, the renewed violence was all Israel's fault, a Hamas spokesman said, because the Zionists wouldn't meet Hamas's conditions.  

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