JUF News Express
Friday, June 13, 2014Forward this message  Forward this message

In this Issue:

• 3 Israeli teens missing, feared abducted

• Chicago JCRC takes united stance on Palestinian unity government

• Mini-grants keep South Suburban programs flourishing

• JUF's Voices helps teens build a foundation

• Shop Amazon.com and support JUF at the same time

• From JUFNews.org and around the web


Check out what's happening in Jewish Chicago on the the JUF Community Calendar. View all kinds of upcoming events including family programs, networking opportunities, social gatherings, educational seminars and things to do and see in Chicago.

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Got married or engaged recently? Had a child? Your child becoming a bar or bat mitzvah? Announce your happy news to the Jewish world in JUF News' Simchas section.


3 Israeli teens missing, feared abducted

Three young Israeli men, ages 17 to 19, went missing last night in the West Bank area of Gush Etzion, and officials say they may have been abducted by Palestinians.

The men, who have not been identified, are believed to have been hitchhiking in the area when they were last seen. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency session of security organizations and the Minister of Defense. YNet News reported that the disappearance is being treated as a kidnapping by terrorists in part because the youths' cell phones stopped transmitting their locations at the spot they were last seen.

There are reports that one of the three men has dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, and media are reporting that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Nearly 24 hours after the disappearance, there had been no claim of reponsibility from any group.

In Chicago, Federation President Steven Nasatir said "We pray for the safe return of the three young men and send our thoughts and best wishes to their families.

"We look to the new Palestinian Unity government to do everything in its power to assist Israel in achieving their safe return," Nasatir said. "Kidnapping Israelis has been a signature Hamas tactic, and thus, how the new Palestinian Authority responds will have far-reaching repercussions. But for now, our focus and our hopes are centered on those three Israeli teenagers."

Chicago JCRC takes united stance on Palestinian unity government

Yesterday, JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council passed a consensus position “urg[ing] Congress to conduct a timely and thorough review of the new Palestinian unity government to ensure its makeup does not violate, in letter or spirit, current U.S. law, and then to proceed in accordance with that law and longstanding U.S. policy.” 

JCRC consists of 48 member organizations representing a broad religious and advocacy spectrum of the Jewish community. Skip Schrayer, chair of JCRC, said, “for the JCRC to reach a consensus on an official position proves yet again that, despite differences on a range of issues, what unites our community is a love for Israel and a staunch commitment to advocating for her safety and security.” 

The JCRC policy statement, along with a list of member organizations and how they voted, can be read here.

Addressing the JCRC delegates by videoconference in advance of the vote were, from Washington D.C., Laura Blumenfeld, the State Department’s Senior Advisor for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, and Ofer Bavly, Director General of JUF’s Israel Office and former senior member of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Mini-grants keep South Suburban programs flourishing

Words, pictures – and puppets – all will be part of the next season of cultural programming getting a boost from the Jewish Federation’s South Suburban Mini-Grant Program.  The fourth round of funding, providing a total of $16,000 to 13 projects, continues the Federation’s three-year-old effort to kick-start cultural, religious and educational opportunities in Southland communities. Proposals from area Jewish organizations were reviewed by a group of local residents – the South Suburban Kehillah – who awarded the grants.

The newest programs range from biblical to contemporary, and include events on the Song of Songs, modern Israeli filmmaking, the opening of a new community school, Jewish law in the 21st century, and Jewish war veterans. View the full list of programs, which begin this summer.

JUF's Voices helps teens build a foundation

Give a group of teens $25,000 and remarkable things can happen. That’s what Voices: The Chicago Jewish Teen Foundation has been doing each year for the past decade. The JUF project puts high school students in control of their own charitable foundation, teaching them philanthropy and opening their eyes to needs they never imagined, all while confronting them with the challenges that build leaders.

The latest Voices cohorts just allocated $53,114 in grants to local and international causes, bringing the total to more than $336,000 and nearly 250 teen funders over the past 10 years.

“Through our grants, we helped hundreds of people in need, and helped promote causes that will have a huge impact in Chicago and around the world,” said Quincy Hirt, a freshman at the city’s Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. “Voices helped me see how much of a difference a 15-year-old kid can really make.”

For the full list of this year’s grantees, click here.

Shop Amazon.com and support JUF at the same time

Looking for an excuse to shop? How’s this: Amazon.com will now donate 0.5 percent of all qualified online purchases to support JUF’s important work in Chicago and around the world. Just select JUF as your charity of choice at smile.amazon.com, and then shop away! As an added perk, Amazon will give an extra $5 for every purchase made between now and June 15. Happy shopping!

From JUFNews.org and around the web

Reuven Rivlin was elected the 10th president of Israel on Tuesday. Rivlin is a member of the Likud party and a former Knesset speaker. On July 24, he will succeed Shimon Peres, who, at 90 years old, has no plans to retire from public life. 

Jewish House majority leader Rep. Eric Cantor lost his Virginia district primary to Tea Party challenger David Brat on Tuesday in what is by and large considered a major upset. Several members of the media weighed in on whether Cantor’s Judaism may have factored into the outcome.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, commonly referred to as ISIS, is a dangerous militant group that has grown in the midst of the Syrian civil war and the absence of U.S. troops in Iraq. CNN reports on the threat that ISIS poses.

Palestinian academic and Al-Quds University Prof. Mohammed Dajani, who took a group of 30 Palestinian students to Auschwitz-Birkenau in March on what was believed to be the first trip of its kind, has resigned following reports of pressure and threats from faculty members and others, and the university’s decision not to support him publicly.

World-famous recording artist Lady Gaga will return to Israel Sep. 13 as part of her “artRAVE: The ARTPOP ball” world tour. She last performed in Tel Aviv in August 2009 despite calls from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to cancel.

A Nike ad released right before the the World Cup, which began this week, has drawn accusations of anti-Semitism for using a six-pointed symbol resembling the Star of David as the insignia of a corporation that creates evil soccer player clones. Nike stated the logo is a soccer ball and any resemblance to other symbols is “coincidental and unintentional.”

A month after being named the world’s oldest man, Holocaust survivor Alexander Imich passed away this week at the age of 111. A psychic researcher, Imich willed his body to Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York for study.

A 13-year-old Jewish boy from Odessa, Ukraine, actually is none of those things, and that's why "he" has the digital world all atwitter. "Eugene Goostman" is the first chatbot to pass the Turing Test, which measures a computer’s ability to think intelligently. To pass the decades-old test, one-third of the human test subjects who chatted with Eugene online had to identify him as human.

Cardinal John O’Connor, the late archbishop of New York known as a defender and friend of the Jewish people, was Jewish and did not know it. The cardinal’s sister, Mary O’Connor Ward-Donegan, wrote an article in a recent issue of Catholic New York about searching for her family history, and a genealogist discovered, as reported by The Jewish Week, that her mother had been Jewish before converting to Catholicism, and her grandfather was a rabbi. 

Five hundred Chicago-area women of various observance practices came together Wednesday night – to make challah. The “Chicago Mega Challah Bake” was hosted by Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois and took place at the Holiday Inn in Skokie.

The 75th Annual Meeting of JUF’s Young Leadership Division will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, at the Jewish United Fund, 30 S. Wells St. Join YLD in recognizing its outgoing board members and inducting the new ones. The event costs $25 and includes dinner. Advanced registration here is required.

Join the Jewish Women’s Foundation and the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest on Tuesday, June 24, at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., for a screening of the documentary “Brave Miss World,” about the true story former Miss Israel, Linor Abargil, who was brutally raped weeks before competing for the title of Miss World. The film will be shown at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

And the latest JUF News blog posts:  

Ever wonder why blue is an important color in Judaism? Brian Zimmerman at Spertus shares the fascinating story behind the blue dye, called the Techelet, used to dye tzitzit (fringes) blue.

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