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Listen To An Exclusive Maccabeats Single

Check out the first track off the a cappella group’s upcoming album

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(Maccabeats)

The Maccabeats, the poster boys of Jewish a cappella, have a new album coming out on March 31, entitled “One Day More”—and we have the first track. It’s a mash-up of traditional and modern, fusing the Hebrew prayer of Jewish solidarity “Acheinu kol beit Yisrael” with the music and lyrics of Avicii’s hit songs “Hey Brother” and “Wake Me Up.” (more…)

Star Quarterback Josh Rosen Commits to UCLA

Country’s top high school quarterback ends speculation about college choice

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Josh Rosen. (247Sports)

The nation’s top high school quarterback made a verbal college commitment late last week, ending weeks of speculation about the football phenom’s next step. “Glad to be a bruin!!! thanks to everyone who came out to support,” Josh Rosen tweeted after announcing his plans to attend UCLA.

The senior at Los Angeles’ St. John Bosco High School was the 16th overall recruit in the class of 2015. According to ESPN, one of the reasons behind his in-state college pick was that the university was close to home. (more…)

Jewish Heirs Will Get Matisse Stolen by Goering

Norwegian museum returning $20 million painting to art dealer’s family

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The painting "Woman in Blue in Front of a Fireplace," circa 1937 by Henry Matisse. (AP Photo/Oystein Thorvaldsen, Henie-Onstad Art Centre)

Norway’s Henie Onstad Art Center will be returning the centerpiece of its collection, Henry Matisse’s 1937 painting “Woman in Blue in Front of a Fireplace,” after an investigation confirmed it had been stolen from a Jewish art dealer by Nazi leader Hermann Goering. The AP and Times of Israel report that the painting, now believed to be worth $20 million, belonged to Jewish art dealer Paul Rosenberg, and was looted from his home after he fled France for the United States in 1940.

Norwegian shipping magnate Niels Onstad acquired the painting in 1950 from a French art gallery and was reportedly unaware of its origins (Goering had sold it to a Parisian art dealer who was later convicted of dealing Nazi-looted art). When Onstad founded his namesake museum in 1968, the Matisse was its crown jewel. (more…)

Good Cop, Bad Cop: Israel Diplomacy Edition

Imagining this month’s meeting among Netanyahu, Kerry, and Obama

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits with U.S. President Barack Obama during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House March 3, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

“With the deadline nearing for the Israelis and Palestinians to sign on to an American framework accord, Mr. OBAMA and Mr. KERRY have fallen into a good-cop, bad-cop routine with Israel — a strategy that may push through a deal but will bruise feelings along the way.” — The New York Times, March 6, 2014

Oval office. Kerry leads Netanyahu to a chair, waits for him to sit down. Obama paces silently on other side of room.



KERRY: You look a little tired. You wanna bite to eat or something? 



NETANYAHU: (shakes head) I’m fine. Thank you. I’m looking forward to discussing …



KERRY: You sure? Big guy like you must get pretty hungry. (turns to secret service agent by door) Hey, Frankie, do me a favor and run out and grab us a couple a falafels. (agent nods) And don’t be stingy with the hummus.

 (more…)

Can the World’s Jews Observe Shabbat Together?

South Africa’s chief rabbi launches global ‘Shabbos Project’ to find out

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A billboard in South Africa advertising the 2013 Shabbos Project. (YouTube)

Can the world’s Jewish community keep one Shabbat together? South African Jewry and their Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein want to find out. This week, they launched “The Shabbos Project,” which aims to brings Jews of all backgrounds and beliefs together for one day of rest across the globe.

The initiative is based on the wildly successful local version of program, which galvanized the South African Jewish community in 2013, when the majority of the area’s Jews—religious and not—came together to mark the day from the eve of October 11 through the 12th. The campaign was the brainchild of South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and his wife Gina, who placed billboards advertising it and produced educational materials for the uninitiated. It soon took on a life of its own and went viral on social media. (more…)

Norway’s Nurses Campaign For Circumcision Ban

Health Minister says he doesn’t plan to outlaw the practice

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While Norway announced plans to introduce anti-circumcision legislation in early 2014, so far no such bills have been brought forward. While the country’s health ministry says they will issue new guidelines before the summer—which Health Minister Bent Hoie maintains will not include outlawing the practice—a group of Norwegian nurses are pushing for a ban on non-medical circumcision for males under 15 years old.

JTA reports that the Norwegian Nurses Organization met with members of the health ministry to make their case for a country-wide ban on ritual circumcision, with the director of the group likening the practice to female circumcision and arguing that boys should be able to decide, at 15 or 16 years old, whether or not to undergo the rite. (more…)

IDF Discovers Largest Gaza Tunnel Yet

The tunnel, reportedly dug by Hamas, stretches far into Israel territory

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Tunnel reportedly dug by Hamas from the Gaza Strip towards Kibbutz Ein Hashloshah. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Israeli troops have discovered another tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel, JTA reports, and this one is believed to be the largest tunnel discovered to date. A 1.5-mile long tunnel stocked with explosives was discovered and dismantled in October.

Israeli officials announced the discovery of the tunnel on Thursday, saying that it was dug by Hamas in order to get inside Israel and carry out a terrorist attack. (more…)

Madoff Says He Didn’t Betray the Jews

‘I’ve made more money for Jewish people and charities than I’ve lost,’ he says

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Bernard L. Madoff leaves US Federal Court after a hearing regarding his bail on January 14, 2009 in New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Bernard Madoff, the convicted Ponzi schemer currently serving a 150-year sentence at a medium-security prison in Butner, N.C., doesn’t much mind his surroundings. “It’s actually very pretty,” he told Politico reporter MJ Lee in a three-hour interview last week, likening the prison to a college campus.

The interview, which was published today, offers insight into Madoff’s life behind bars, as well as his health and state of mind. He’s being treated for kidney disease (but not cancer, he maintains, as has been reported), and had a stent implanted after a heart attack late last year. (more…)

Anti-Semitic Acts Reported at Boston-area Schools

Community addressing incidents at elementary schools in Bedford, Mass.

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Bedford High School in Bedford, Massachusetts. (Wikimedia)

Instead of tag or hopscotch, children at two elementary schools in the Bedford school district outside Boston have invented a new game: “Jail the Jews.”

This and other anti-Semitic incidents have taken place in the Bedford school district in recent months, the Boston Globe reports. According to police reports, swastikas, and graffiti were also found at Bedford High School and in one of the elementary schools, prompting a response from the community. (more…)

A Reply To ‘Reading Megillah in Tehran’

Asking whether Jews in Iran are really free to celebrate

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The entrance to the Hamadan Shrine of Esther and Mordechai, 1972. (Elias "Yassi" Gabbay; courtesy of Diarna)

Last week, Tablet ran an article by Shai Secunda on how Jews in Iran celebrate Purim. While I have no arguments against his biblical assessments of the Book of Esther, he wrongly portrayed the status of Jews in Iran today in a positive light. As an Iranian Jewish journalist who speaks Farsi fluently and has been regularly reporting on the Iranian Jewry worldwide for nearly 15 years, I have seen, heard and learned firsthand of the very tragic reality that plagues the lives of the Jews who live today under Iran’s totalitarian Islamic regime. (more…)

Beyonce and Jay Z Visit the Anne Frank House

Bey performed in Amsterdam on her Mrs. Carter World Tour last night

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Beyonce at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. (Instagram)

Beyonce and Jay Z visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam today, where according to museum staff they spent more than an hour. Beyonce, fresh off last night’s performance at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome (she heads to Antwerp tonight), posted two photographs on Instagram posing near images of the young diarist. (more…)

Boca Raton Chabad Center Vandalized

Concrete parking slab thrown through the building’s glass door

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Chabad of East Boca. (Facebook)

On Monday night, a concrete parking slab was thrown through a glass door of the Chabad of East Boca in Boca Raton, JTA reports. While some believe the incident to be merely a drunken St. Patrick’s Day escapade, others have connected the vandalism to an article published in a local newspaper the day before, detailing the center’s ambitious expansion plans. (more…)

Lenny Kravitz’s Jewish Uncle Honored

Private First Class Leonard M. Kravitz awarded posthumous Medal of Honor

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Lenny Kravitz sits in the audience during the Medal of Honor ceremony in the White House on March 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There was a famous face in the crowd when President Obama awarded 24 long overdue Medals of Honor—many of them posthumous—to Jewish and Hispanic veterans this week. Rocker Lenny Kravitz attended the ceremony, at which his uncle, Leonard M. Kravitz, after whom he was named, was honored posthumously for his service in the Korean War.

Private First Class Leonard M. Kravitz was one of several Jewish veterans honored at Tuesday’s ceremony, decades after their service, following a more than 10-year congressional review of veterans whose ethnicities likely caused their wartime contributions to be overlooked for the nation’s highest honor. Kravitz, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1931, died in 1951 while serving in the Korean War, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest honor. (more…)

Russia’s Chief Rabbi Cheers Crimea Annexation

Berel Lazar, who has close ties with Putin, seen in audience at Kremlin event

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Berel Lazar sits in audience during Crimea induction ceremony. (Jewish News One)

Yesterday, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, hosted a ceremony at the Kremlin, which formally began the process of incorporating Crimea into Russia and prompted Ukraine’s withdrawal from the region today. In news footage from the event, the tone of which was triumphant, Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, a 49-year-old Chabad Lubavitch emissary, clapped along with the rest of the crowd as Putin spoke.

His presence wasn’t unusual: Lazar is a highly public figure, and is known for having developed close ties with Putin in the years he has spent working in Russia. In the past two decades, Lazar has spearheaded a remarkable revival of Jewish life in a city, and a country, that had almost none left by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, more than two decades ago: Dozens of synagogues and community centers have opened, and there are thousands of children enrolled at Jewish schools and kindergartens. Not all of these facilities are under the umbrella of Chabad, but the vast majority are; under Lazar’s leadership, Chabad now has representatives in neary 50 cities across Russia, and runs dozens of schools that enroll thousands of young Jewish children. (more…)

Jewish Guys Face Off in Battle of the Calendars

‘Nice Jewish Guys’ send cease-and-desist letter to ‘Naughty Jewish Boys’

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Ethan, a Naughty Jewish Boys calendar model. (Facebook)

I have a lot of thoughts about the Nice Jewish Guys calendar, though they can probably be summed up neatly enough by the combination of two sounds: a short, sharp “ugh,” and a longer, more drawn-out “uhhh.” Still, each year I pin it up at my desk at work (it lists the Jewish holidays!), and try to get beyond the cringe-factor to enjoy some retaliatory male objectification. It usually takes about a month to get to that point, and by then I have to start all over.

It looks like I’m not the only one with mixed feelings about the calendar, which was created by TV producer Adam Cohen and is now made in partnership with Jewish online dating behemoth JDate. Duncan Pflaster, a New York-based playwright, took matters into his own hands, posting a Craigslist ad last month looking to cast potential pin-ups for a dueling 2015 “Naughty Jewish Boys” calendar. According to the New York Post, though, the nice guys’ lawyers didn’t take this too kindly, promptly sending a cease-and-desist letter to Pflaster, calling him out for the very naughty act of trademark infringement. (more…)

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