Jewish Ideas Daily

Posted February 25, 2010 by Hadassah
Categories: Opinions

Let me tell you about my new project.

It’s a website called Jewish Ideas Daily which aims to be the premier aggregator and originator of Jewish ideas on the web. Our range of interest is very wide, and so is our range of sources: from daily opinion pages to weekly and monthly magazines, academic journals, books, blogs, think-tanks, universities, and online learning sites. Many items featured on the site are up-to-the-minute; others are classic and provocative writings from the far or recent past. Still others are of our own devising: original content in the form of columns, interviews, and commissioned debates on big questions. In brief, we hope to offer a one-stop source of the best that has been and is being thought and said by or about Jews.

If you are interested in current events, Israel and Zionism, Jewish Thought or biblical archaeology, this is the website for you. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg — many other topics are dealt with in an engaging and informative manner.

There are a few great ways you can subscribe to the feed and get the latest content every day. You can sign up for the Jewish Ideas Daily newsletter to be emailed directly to your inbox. You can join the Facebook group and you can follow us on Twitter @JewishIdeas.

Feel free to send feedback regarding the website through Facebook or Twitter or as a comment on this blog. I look forward to seeing you join our community of readers.


Orthodox Women and Social Media

Posted February 22, 2010 by Hadassah
Categories: News

Seventy religious women gathered at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem on Wed. Feb. 17 for a conference on social media. The organizers of the Kishor Social Media Conference, who belong to a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women’s professional network, were extra-careful to avoid any halachic prohibitions. The conference was sanctioned by Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, who addressed the conference. He and Rebbetzin Holly Pavlov stressed the dangers of internet use, from pornography to malicious gossip.

In The Jerusalem Post’s report on this conference, one gets the impression that the entire purpose of the conference was to warn women off from internet use. However, this was far from the case. The aim of the conference was to empower women to use social media effectively as a business tool. One of the morning sessions, led by Debra Askanase and Talia Klein, demonstrated how social media is the fastest growing use of the internet. The afternoon sessions were devoted to practical training in the use of social media. A beginner’s track taught the basics of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging. The professional’s track discussed time management, social media strategies and tools and tricks. An especially interesting presentation by Paula Stern showed case studies of successful social media campaigns, such as the one which publicized the IDF’s activities in Haiti in the two weeks after the earthquake.

Haredi society is often portrayed in a stereotypical fashion. The idea that haredim are closed off from the technology of the internet is widely held. This view has been strengthened by recent news items reporting that rabbis have banned the use of internet, including haredi websites. The Jerusalem Post’s take on this conference is obviously part of that trend. But the women at this conference were clearly a world away from that sector. Many of them belonged to the haredi world, and they were either involved in social media or interested in becoming involved. Every one of them owned a computer with an internet connection, and they all understood the importance of social media for business success. This was a social media conference geared towards religious women, not a religious conference about social media. And it was a success.

Read more:

Is Facebook Kosher?

The Jerusalem Post report on the Kishor Social Media Conference focuses on the halachic discussions at the conference.

Kishor – Professional Jewish Women

“The Kishor Social Media Conference will be a first-of-its kind event, with world-class speakers and focused educational value, teaching religious women about cutting-edge technologies at a conference sanctioned by leading rabbanim, and created by and for frum women.”

Are Haredi leaders losing their followers to the Web?

The Haredi rabbis’ ban on the internet doesn’t seem to be having much effect.

Overview of Social Media: Trends, Stats, and What It’s All About

Debra Askanase and Talia Klein have posted the slideshow from their presentation online.

Jerusalem Street Signs

Posted February 2, 2010 by Hadassah
Categories: News

Arutz Sheva reports (smugly) that three new streets will soon bear the names of religious Zionist leaders:

Jerusalem streets will be named after three late outstanding personalities in the Religious Zionist movement – Rabbi Yosef Kapach, head of Yemenite Jewry and a modern expert on Maimonides’ writings, Zevulun Hammer, former leader of the NRP and Education Minister, and Emanuel Medav, one of the architects of scouting for religious youth and a fighter who died in the War of Independence.

David Hadari, Deputy Jerusalem Mayor and head of the NRP-National Union faction in the city council, said, “This is a great day for religious Zionism, with three of its sons, who have all have achieved great accomplishments, being remembered in Jerusalem.”

It’s nice that these leaders are being memorialized but to view this as a great victory for religious Zionism seems a bit of an overstatement. Streets in Jerusalem are named for all sorts of figures, from ultra-Orthodox rabbis to secular Zionists and non-Jews. A few people sitting on a committee choosing street names are not really representative of Israeli society. So my only question is, where are these streets located? I would like to walk down Kapach Street.

Anti-Zionism in a Swedish City

Posted January 31, 2010 by Hadassah
Categories: News

The mayor of Malmo, in Sweden, has come under attack by the city’s Jewish community for declaring Zionism as unacceptable as anti-Semitism.

“Malmö does not accept anti-Semitism and does not accept Zionism. They are extremists who put themselves above other groups, seeing others as something lesser,” Ilmar Reepalu said on Thursday in an interview with Skanska Dagbladet newspaper.

The response of the Jewish community was to hold a pro-Israel demonstration and to blame the mayor for the choice of some young Jews to leave the city.

Malmo has a 15% Muslim population and tension between Muslims and Jews in the city seems to be the reason for Reepalu’s statement.

(Interestingly, this story has been reported by an Arab news service called

Will Israel Have a Smoke-Free Town?

Posted January 26, 2010 by Hadassah
Categories: News

It will if Rabbi Riskin of Efrat has anything to say about it. According to The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Riskin is spending his free time trying to convince store owners and restaurants in Efrat to stop selling cigarettes on the grounds that it is against halakhah.

Sale of cigarettes is of course legal and definitely out of rabbinical jurisdiction. But Rabbi Riskin is convinced that he can affect change through persuasion. He claims to have already talked 5 store owners into removing cigarettes from their shelves.

The issue of smoking has been debated among rabbis for a good few years. But Rabbi Riskin’s campaign is different in two ways: First, he is not just issuing a rabbinic opinion but actually trying to enforce it. And secondly, he has declared that it is not only forbidden to smoke, it is also forbidden to “aid and abet” smokers by selling cigarettes.

Since Israel has the highest percentage of male smokers in the entire western world, it should be interesting to see whether Rabbi Riskin can rid one small town of cigarettes.

Israel in Haiti

Posted January 25, 2010 by Hadassah
Categories: News

The media has been full of praise for Israel’s rescue efforts in Haiti. The Israelis set up a field hospital in Haiti which has treated numerous patients around the clock. The Israeli team consists of doctors, paramedics, a rabbi and psychologists. The only internet connection in all of Haiti was set up by the Israelis and is used by all the journalists for sending in their reports.

NBC has a great report on Israeli efforts in Haiti. It’s nice to see some positive coverage of Israel in the international media.

UPDATE: The Muqata has posted a letter from an Israeli soldier in Haiti to his parents.  Here’s the best part:

In the IDF Medical Corps Delegation which came from Israel in the Middle East to Haiti, there are American volunteer doctors. They have no other useful installation in which to work in. A doctor and nurse from Germany came. They heard this is best hospital in Haiti. An emergency room team from Colombia arrived with all their equipment and asked if they could set up next to us to be part of our hospital. England is the enlightened country in Europe, the one which has an academic boycott of Israel; twenty British doctors and nurses asked to work with us.

All these people, without exception, stand together at the morning formation at 7 AM in the flag square. The flag of Israel. The flag of a country which was established after the USA was already superpower. After the British left a land under their control. After Colombia was already an established country. After the Holocaust against the Jewish people.

Ritual Bath Discovered Near the Western Wall

Posted September 23, 2009 by Hadassah
Categories: Research

A ritual bath, or mikveh, has been uncovered only 20 meters from the Western Wall. This mikveh must have served the many pilgrims who came to Jerusalem and purified themselves before ascending to the Temple Mount.

According to the IAA:

In his book The War of the Jews, Josephus Flavius writes there was a government administrative center that was situated at the foot of the Temple. Among the buildings he points out in this region were the council house and the “Xistus”- the ashlar bureau. According to the Talmud it was in this bureau that the Sanhedrin – the Jewish high court at the time of the Second Temple – would convene. It may be that the superb structure the Israel Antiquities Authority is presently uncovering belonged to one of these two buildings.

This discovery is only the beginning of the excavation of this structure and chances are there are more surprises to come.