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Islamic Center Developer Eyes Garment District Synagogue

The 83-year-old building to become a hotel and shops, plus a new synagogue

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Garment Center Synagogue. (Mid-Century Mundane)

Sharif El-Gamal, the New York City real estate developer behind controversial plans to build an Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site, now has his sights set on the Garment District. Specifically, the Garment Center Synagogue.

Partnering with Murray Hill Properties, El-Gamal is planning to buy, demolish, and rebuild the 83-year old building, located at the northwest corner of Seventh Avenue and 40th Street, according to the New York Times. The synagogue takes up the first floor of a three-story building currently owned by Parsons the New School for Design. In contract to purchase the building for $61.5 million, El-Gamal intends to raze the structure and replace it with a 23-story retail center and hotel—plus a new synagogue. (more…)

This Fashion Week, Dress Modestly While Staying Stylish

Hadar Magazine’s fashion editor talks maxi skirts, Natalie Portman, and more

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Hadar Magazine fashion editor Jessica Gugenheim. (Courtesy of Jessica Gugenheim)

Think you can’t look stylish in a skirt and long sleeves? Hadar Magazine says think again. The fashion magazine, which was founded in 2013, is aimed at Orthodox Jewish women who want to stay fashion-forward while observing Jewish modesty laws.

I spoke with the magazine’s fashion editor, Jessica Gugenheim, about Fashion Week, her pick for best-dressed celeb, and easy ways to dress modestly while not sacrificing style. (more…)

Jewish Passengers on Belgian Train Told to Get off at Auschwitz

Loudspeaker message suggested they shower at the concentration camp

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View of the rail way tracks at the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, on Holocaust Day, January 27, 2014. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Jews on a recent train in Belgium were treated to a twisted announcement on the train’s speaker system: that they should get off at Auschwitz and take a shower. JTA reported the bizarre incident, which is believed to have been the work of adolescents who stole the keys that operate the loudspeaker. (more…)

Israeli Professor Likens the Occupation to Slavery

It’s as factually baseless and morally repugnant as it sounds

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(Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

In politics, as in poetry, analogies matter, and for the same reason: the ability to contrast two things and shed light on their structural similarities is economical, elegant, and evocative. It’s why we take analogies seriously, and why we get so riled up when they’re misused.

It’s time to get riled up again: writing in Haaretz, a prominent Israeli academic has compared the Israeli occupation of the West Bank to slavery.

Or rather, she sort-of did. “I do not claim that slavery and the occupation are equivalent,” Eva Illouz wrote in her lengthy essay. “They differ significantly. But there are some analogies, in that the Jewish world has become splintered around two intractable moral claims about the treatment of Palestinians…. The debate about the occupation is not equivalent to the debate about slavery, but it bears, here and there, some resemblance to it. And it is for this reason that I use it as a strategy for thinking.” (more…)

Watch Abe Foxman and the Maccabeats Sing “For the Longest Time”

Leaked footage offers a fitting send-off for Foxman’s five decades of service

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Yesterday, Abraham Foxman, the national leader of the Anti-Defamation League, announced that he would be stepping down from his position after 27 years at the helm of the ADL, and nearly five decades with the organization. The move will doubtless evoke numerous learned retrospectives on Foxman’s legacy. But we can’t think of a better way to celebrate his remarkable career than with this never-before-seen footage of Foxman performing Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time” with the Maccabeats. Smuggled out of the ADL’s centennial celebration this past October, it is presented here for the first time. (more…)

Jews Control the Internet, Says Pro-Palestinian Website

Dutch group charged with criminal complaint over anti-Semitic article

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(Shutterstock)

Dutch antiracism groups have filed criminal charges against a pro-Palestinian organization called Stop de Bezetting—“Stop the Occupation”—whose website published an article accusing Jews of controlling the Internet. JTA reports that the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel and the Dutch Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet have joined forces, filing a complaint against Stop de Bezetting that labels the text “offensive to Jews.” Stop de Bezetting’s founder, Gretta Duisenberg, denies breaking Dutch laws that forbid disseminating material with intention of inciting hate or discrimination.

The article in question was written in 2009 by the California-based Freedom Research Foundation and mentions the names of Jews involved with Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, MySpace, and eBay. Titled “The Jewish Hand Behind the Internet,” the article is split into subsections that include “The Jewish Entourage at Google,” “Zuckerberg’s Jewish Entourage at Facebook,” “Google’s Cooperating with Jewish Censors,” and “More Tricks to Control Information on Wikipedia.” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is called the “darling of the Jewish crowd at Harvard” and Sheryl Sandberg, who worked at Google before becoming the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, is mocked for being involved with philanthropy, a “favorite Jewish pastime.” The article also chronicles in great length the trips Internet moguls have taken to Israel. (more…)

ADL Chief Abe Foxman to Step Down

The Holocaust survivor has led the advocacy organization for 27 years

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ADL National Director Abraham Foxman attends the Anti-Defamation League's Centennial Entertainment Industry Award Dinner at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 8, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Abraham Foxman, the indefatigable national director of the Anti-Defamation League for the last 27 years, has announced that he will be stepping down in July 2015. The 73-year-old Holocaust survivor first joined the ADL in 1965, and became its head in 1987. Under his leadership, the organization substantially raised its media profile, and became near-ubiquitous in its advocacy on behalf of Jews, Israel and victims of bigotry. In the words of Tablet’s David Samuels, Foxman became “the unofficial spokesperson of American Jewry,” a position that brought him much praise and criticism. (more…)

Next Up For Wonder Woman Gal Gadot? A Kate Winslet Film

The Israeli actress will appear in the upcoming police thriller, ‘Triple Nine’

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Actress Gal Gadot arrives at the premiere Universal's 'Fast & Furious' held at Universal CityWalk Theaters on March 12, 2009 in Universal City, California.(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Just two months after being cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Warner Bros. sequel to Man of Steel, Israel actress Gal Gadot has landed another film role. Gadot, who has had roles in the past three Fast and Furious movies as well as a guest spot on Entourage, will share the screen with Kate Winslet in an upcoming police corruption thriller called Triple Nine, Haaretz reports. (more…)

Mark Zuckerberg, Wife Named Most Charitable

Topped the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of 50 most generous Americans

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Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg introduces Graph Search features during a presentation January 15, 2013 in Menlo Park. (Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

Just one week after Facebook’s tenth anniversary, the social networking giant’s co-founder, chairman, and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is back in the news. Zuckerberg, whose personal wealth is estimated at $27.9 billion, was identified as 2013′s most generous U.S. philanthropist, the Associated Press reports. Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan recently donated 18 million shares of Facebook stock to a Silicon Valley nonprofit, a sum valued at more than $970 million. Today, the Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked the couple at the top of their annual list of 50 most generous Americans. (more…)

Remembering Moshe Gil, Historian of Medieval Jewry

A friend and former classmate pays tribute to the late scholar and author

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Moshe Gil working in the early 1980s. (Cambridge University Library)

Moshe Gil, who died in January at 92, was born in Bialystok, Poland in 1921 and raised in Romania. He moved to Palestine in 1945 and was a kibbutznik, later becoming a professor at Tel Aviv University and a prolific historian of medieval Jewry in the Islamic world. What follows is a personal recollection by Gil’s former classmate, friend, and colleague, Noam Stillman.

Although there were a number of older (today politely called “non-traditional”) students in our graduate program in Oriental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, Moshe Gil certainly was—or seemed to be—the oldest. He was old enough to be my father. But with his easygoing manner and wry sense of humor, he quickly became a friend. He had come to Penn to work with the doyen of Geniza studies, Shelomo Dov Goitein, and already had his research topic mapped out. (more…)

The Hebrew Calendar Guides the Menu at This Israeli Restaurant

This month, Tel Aviv’s Meshek Barzilay offers seasonal options for Adar

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Sea and Land Salad from Meshek Barzilay's Adar menu(Daniel Lailah)

“Mishenichnas Adar marbim be-simcha,” goes the popular Purim song: When the month of Adar comes we increase in joy. That joy is certainly felt while downing a chaser of Arak moments before indulging in a mushroom and chestnut risotto made from brown rice cooked in hazelnut milk. And it should be—it’s part of the Adar menu at Meshek Barzilay.

Meshek Barzilay is an organic vegetarian restaurant (most of the dishes on the menu are actually vegan) in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighborhood. Merav Barzilay, the granddaughter of the farm’s founders, first opened the restaurant on the Barzilay family farm in 2002. Since then it has become one of Israel’s leading organic vegetarian restaurants—incorporating more and more vegan dishes over time—and in March 2013 Barzilay moved the restaurant to Tel Aviv. (more…)

Five Books to Read on Adam Kirsch’s Birthday

How better to celebrate Tablet’s literary critic?

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(Shutterstock)

Today is Tablet contributing editor and literary critic Adam Kirsch’s birthday. To celebrate, you can try to find out where he and his family are having dinner, and see if you can join them for dessert. You can also catch up on eight months of Talmud with his weekly Daf Yomi column. Or you can take a page from Kirsch, and just read a book.

Here are five books Kirsch has reviewed recently for Tablet. (more…)

Fight Over Mediterranean Gas Fields Heats Up

Turkish navy intercepts Norwegian exploration vessel near Cyprus

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The Tamar drilling natural gas production platform is seen some 25 kilometers West of the Ashkelon shore on March 28, 2013 in Israel.(Albatross via Getty Images)

Earlier this week, the Turkish navy intercepted a Norwegian exploration vessel looking for gas off the coast of southern Cyprus. Turkey claims the ship encroached upon the maritime zone of its vassal-state in northern Cypress, a state recognized by no country except Turkey. The vessel was acting on behalf of France’s Total, which has contracted with the government of Cyprus to exploit the country’s substantial underwater energy resources. The move to intercept and expel the vessel is the latest example of energy-starved Turkey’s increasingly muscular policy in the Eastern Mediterranean, one that has put the burgeoning Israeli-Greek-Cypriot energy axis in its crosshairs. In short, Turkey wants a share of this newfound source of revenue, and as is increasingly evident, will risk much—perhaps even war—to stake its claim.

A Julian Kasdin and I wrote in these pages last month, the recent discovered of gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean has prompted the surrounding countries to stake their claim, and assert their power, on a new front: the sea. (Just this week, Israel unveiled its newest unmanned ship, which boasts a high-tech electronic warfare system.) (more…)

Watch Josh Groban Play Tevye in His High School Production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’

He did it as a senior, and it was awesome.

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When I was in high school, one of the more traditional rabbis told me that he no longer watched movies, and that the last one he’d ever seen was “Fiddler on the Roof.” I concluded from this that the film version of “Fiddler on the Roof” must’ve been pretty lousy, if it turned him off to the entire industry. Clearly, my teacher did not see this live production starring Josh Groban as Tevye, when he was just 18 years old. As it turns out, the entire performance is on YouTube, and it’s just as amazing as you’d expect it to be.

Watch Groban’s fantastic rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man” below: (more…)

Rouhani Gives Money To Tehran Jewish Hospital

$400,000 unexpectedly delivered to the Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani(BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

In a surprising development out of Iran, President Hassan Rouhani has reportedly given $400,000 to Tehran’s only Jewish hospital, the New York Times reports. The donation was dropped off at the Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center by Rouhani’s brother, Hossein Fereydoon, who came with a message: “Our government intends to unite all ethnic groups and religions, so we decided to assist you.”

The hospital was overjoyed, with a nurse telling the Times, “This is a good sign.”

It’s definitely something. (more…)

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