Jerusalem U Blog

Parshat Masai - Health & Safety Really Does Matter ! 

In the final chapter of The Book of Numbers - Parshat Masai, (read in synagogues worldwide this Shabbat), the Torah talks about the death of a person caused through negligence of another. Generally when a person "sins" through negligence (e.g they accidentally eat non Kosher food) he or she isn't punished. However, if that error leads to a death, the transgressor has to flee to a designated "City of Refuge" which were scattered around Israel, and would remain there, essentially under house arrest, for what could be many years. 

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Top Ten Jewish Brands Owning Today's Global Marketplace

Just a bit of fun, and in no way a comprehensive list, but here's a list of a few chosen companies run by Members of the Tribe, and yes there quite a few food and beverage brands on the list...what can I say, we Jews like our food ! 

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Pinchas - A Righteous Zealot Who Taught Us That Zealotry Isn't the Jewish Way

This week in synagogues outside of Israel, the Jewish people read the story of Pinchas the Jewish Zealot. Zimri, of the tribe of Shimon, took a Midianite woman as a lover, and had the audacity to have sex with her right in front of Moses & the gathered Jewish people.  Pinchas, who was Aaron's grandson and Moses's great-nephew, was so enraged by the actions of Zimri that he thrust a spear through Zimri, and into his lover, killing them both while they were "in the act"! 

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Gun Control: Jewish Thoughts on a Loaded Subject

The terrible events in Orlando over the weekend, and the horrific shooting attack in Tel Aviv a few days before that, have once again shocked America and the western world. Such incidents of terrorism on our own democratic soil invite profound soul-searching as to how we can prevent such evil from happening again. They have also brought the issue of gun control back into the headlines and presidential campaigns - there are those who would ban all guns, making it harder for terrorists, criminals  and homicidal nut jobs to get their hands on weapons, and there are those that believe ordinary citizens should have the right to bear arms, in order to defend themselves from the gun toting terrorists.

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Shavuot - Five Ideas For Making It a Meaningful Experience.

I've always felt a little sorry for Shavuot -  Succot and Pesach (Shavuot's partner festivals) are each a week long and full of cool stuff that Jews are commanded to either do (like eating Matzah, shaking a Lulav & Etrog, building and eating in a Succah and holding a Seder).

Poor old Shavuot is just one day (two outside Israel), and the Torah doesn't give it any particular commandments for us to do - in fact it is the only Jewish festival that doesn't even have a date, we are simply told that it is held 50 days after Pesach. Maybe that's the reason that for large parts of the Jewish world, Shavuot gets forgotten.

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Light My Fire - Lag BaOmer

Lag BaOmer (May 26, 2016) marks the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai - mystic and author of the Zohar, the seminal kabbalistic work that illuminates the divine light within every soul. The Omer itself is a 50-day period between the second day of Passover and the festival of Shavuot, when we celebrate the day the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

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This Year's Top Israeli Contributions


We aren't called the StartUp Nation for nothing! One of Israel’s greatest sources of pride is the enormous number of inventions that come out of the country. Some of the most famous are the cell phone, drip irrigation, the cherry tomato,  electric car grids,  Disk-on-Key and many more.

Here are some other cool Israeli initiatives:

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Liel Our Son

It was a Friday afternoon; we were still living in Katamonim, a small neighborhood in Jerusalem. I was about to leave my apartment to pick up some groceries for Shabbat when suddenly I heard screaming. This was not any kind of screaming. This was piercing, terrifying, horrible screaming like something terrible was happening. I opened the door, as all the neighbors had, to find out what was happening. I saw that the door to my next door neighbor, the Gidonis, was open and that  the screaming was coming from there. The Gidonis were a nice traditional family of 4 boys ranging from ages 19 to about 30 that for the most part kept to themselves. I was quite friendly with the father and couldn't imagine what had gone wrong. 

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5 Ideas to Help You Have a Meaningful Yom Hazikaron Experience.

From nightfall tonight in Israel, the country will be commemorating Yom Hazikaron - the annual Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. For those of us in Israel, Yom Hazikaron is an intensely powerful, often emotional day. There are few Israeli families who have not in some way been touched by a soldier or victim of terror. Sadly, it is part of the national experience of being Israeli. For many of us living outside of Israel, it is more difficult to emotionally connect to this - there are no siren's or flags at half mast; People aren't sharing their  memories, and TV and radio isn't dedicated to Yom Hazikaron programming.

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The Top 10 Most Impactful Holocaust Films

April 24th 2017 is Yom HaShoah, when Israel together with Jews around the world, remembers the Holocaust - the coldest and most systematic genocide in human history. There will be lots of ceremonies across Israel,as well as the powerful memorial siren on Monday morning, during which the entire country comes to a halt, but for most of us it will be a regular day - we'll have school, work, papers due and reports to write. So what can people outside of Israel do to take something meaningful from this day?

Because here at Jerusalem U we are a team of educators and filmmakers, we think that watching a Holocaust themed movie can be a powerful way to appreciate the horrors that the Jews of Europe went through. 

There are a lot of films and documentaries about what happened, so we asked the Jerusalem U staff which movies inspired and moved them and that they'd recommend people watch on Yom Hashoah.

Here is what they came up with:

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