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Israeli winemakers say that, just like the beverage they produce, their industry is growing better with age. In the past few years, Israeli exports of wine and spirits have been consistently growing at around 6 percent annually, according to the Israel Export Institute. “In comparison to how small and young we are, it’s quite amazing to see the accomplishments of Israeli wines,” said Ayala Singer, director of marketing development for the 35-year-old Golan Heights Winery, one of Israel’s veteran wineries.
In his 21-year battle for redress from the U.S. Army, David Tenenbaum has enlisted some powerful new advocates. Missouri’s U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Michigan’s Sen. Gary Peters have sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, urging him to provide closure and relief for the 60-year-old Tenenbaum, a Michigan resident. For the past 33 years, Tenenbaum has worked as a civilian engineer at the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command. During a significant part of that time, Tenenbaum says he was subjected to vile anti-Semitism from co-workers and from the Army itself. He recounts how he has been harassed, intimidated and accused of spying for Israel.
The crowd in Jerusalem’s Zion Square is civil as protesters hold up signs decrying alleged government corruption. Standing on the stage, Dr. Yoaz Hendel, with his trademark tussled hair, addresses the crowd. With the political climate in Israel heating up once again, JNS sat down with Hendel—a former director of public diplomacy for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—to discuss his perspective on politics, the prime minister and the future of Israel. Hendel draws his ideology, which can be defined as “liberal nationalism,” from the legacies of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
They may live thousands of miles apart, but student activists from around the world identify various shared challenges living as Jews in their respective countries and campuses—including the BDS movement, anti-Semitism and apathy. At the recent 44th World Union of Jewish Students congress in Jerusalem, 157 delegates from 36 countries gathered to connect with other passionate student leaders and explore various facets of what it means to be a Jewish student leader today.
For many, the IDF lone soldier experience is a family affair. Stacie Stufflebeam of Pittsburgh—whose four sons are a mix of past, current and future lone soldiers—says, “These kids reach a level of maturity that American kids just don’t.” Rabbi Ari Korenblit of New York, a father of three lone soldiers, says, “There is such a powerful sense of fulfillment, and still the reaction of a parent whose child is potentially in harm’s way. What helps me sleep at night is faith.”
Noam Cohen and Alan Cohl are confident that their new breed of whiskey will echo Israel’s success in making the desert bloom. They are creating Israel’s first distillery for American bourbon-style whiskey, hoping to trailblaze the Israeli market for the spirit and bring an added level of sophistication to an Israeli cocktail culture that is just starting to take off.
Salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly, Zionism and progressivism. Few question the inherent, irrefutable bond between the first two of those pairs, but civil rights attorney and co-founder of the Zioness Movement, Amanda Berman, argues that the latter is just as natural—and she has several thousand left-leaning Jews with strong Zionist identities backing her up on that sentiment. “The manifestation of the Zionist dream is exactly what progressivism is about,” Berman told JNS. “It’s fighting for your own civil rights and own social justice, your own self-determination, your own right to equality, and to exist in safety and security.”
Last week’s inauguration of the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT)—the first Israeli university campus in China—represents a fusion of the Jewish state’s innovation with the Asian giant’s abundant resources and comes amid developing ties between the two nations. “[GTIIT] will serve as a reminder to China of Israel’s unique assets such as excellence in advanced education and the ability to innovate,” said Carice Witte, director of Sino-Israel Global Network and Academic Leadership, an institute working to advance Israel-China relations.
The critically acclaimed documentary “Remember Baghdad,” released this year upon the 100th anniversary of the British-Ottoman battle over that city during World War I, is the untold story of Iraqi Jews—filmed through their eyes. Their story is not always one of simply fleeing to arrive in the Jewish state. About half of Iraqi Jews fled to countries outside of Israel and still yearn for what once was. “I feel that there is unfinished businesses there....Nobody should be required to cut his roots or lose ancestry,” Edwin Shuker, one of the film’s four protagonists, tells JNS.
The bearers of Hanukkah candles in Tübingen, Germany, aren’t Jewish. In fact, many of them are descendants of avowed Nazis. They are members of TOS Ministries, a church that has made it a religious mission to redeem the town, the souls of its residents and the Christian faith by connecting Christianity to its Jewish roots, researching personal family history as it relates to the Holocaust and standing up for Israel.
As digital currencies like bitcoin make historic gains and as the “start-up nation” of Israel emerges as a key player in the blockchain field, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become one of the first world leaders to weigh in on the cryptocurrency phenomenon, placing the country at the center of the global financial technology revolution.
When film director Roger Sherman called Israel one of the “hottest food scenes in the world,” his colleagues laughed. It was at that moment that Sherman knew he had discovered a subject for a successful film. Sherman’s “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” featuring renowned chef Michael Solomonov, shows a side of Israel that very few knew existed—including Israelis themselves.
The Israel trips organized by the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) are nicknamed “Birthright for moms.” But a Nov. 27-Dec. 4 trip carried some extra gravitas, convening visitors described by JWRP as “Media Magnets.” Participants connected to Israel’s media professionals and showcased their experiences for combined audiences of more than 10 million followers on their social media pages and blogs. The trip underscored Israel’s diversity, revealing a picture that goes far beyond what mainstream media often depict the Jewish state to be—ridden with conflict, religion extremism and camels.
With 4,700 emissaries in 100 countries—most recently setting up shop in Uganda—the Chabad-Lubavitch movement has grown exponentially thanks to the dissemination of its late leader’s teachings, the emissaries’ dedication, and the transference of the passion to spread Jewish life to the next generation. At the same time, the movement’s ascent “defies logic,” says Brandeis University’s Prof. Mark Rosen, who recently completed a study of Chabad’s campus programs.
When the online retail giant Amazon recently entered Israel’s high-tech ecosystem, it was far from business as usual in the “start-up nation.”As the conglomerate began attracting top Israeli programmers with aggressive hiring tactics and unusually high salary offerings, industry experts initiated calls for the Jewish state to expand its pool of highly skilled technology talent—which is becoming an increasingly scarce resource despite the country’s well-known penchant for innovation.
What can unite Jerusalem, which is often the site of high-profile religious and political conflicts? Food might be a good start. Israel’s “culinary DNA” is a mix of contrasting voices and forces that create a balanced, multicultural food scene, said Michael Weiss, co-founder of Bitemojo, a provider of smartphone-guided food tours that offered a journey dubbed “Between East and West” during the Nov. 14-18 Open Restaurants culinary festival in Jerusalem.
Tal Hagin, 18, is one of the first Zionist and Israeli speakers to present his message on university campuses in Ireland. With mentorship and funding from the watchdog group CAMERA, Hagin used Israel as a case study on overcoming media bias during a recent speaking tour. “I went with the hope of changing opinions, helping the students to question the media in what they see of coverage of Israel, and I was able to do that,” Hagin said. But how did it all come together? JNS.org tells the story of Israel education efforts on campuses in Ireland, a country where many believe there is a hostile environment for Israel supporters.
Elie Wiesel, who before his death in 2016 was arguably the world’s most well-known Holocaust survivor, reached millions of people through his writing and human rights activism. Wiesel’s audience ran the gamut from the everyman to the luminary, and one of his highest-profile relationships took center stage last week. “You knew you were in the presence of someone who had endured the unimaginable worst of times and could still give and teach the best that love has to offer,” said famed talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey upon receiving The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity’s first-ever Legacy Award.
In Ethiopia, Yityish “Titi” Aynaw and her fellow villagers always dreamed of living in Israel. Now, the woman who was crowned Miss Israel in 2013 is advocating for the Jewish state. She spoke with JNS.org in the midst of her third speaking tour on U.S. college campuses. “I have a really great opportunity with this [Israel advocacy tour]…It gives me the chance to give back to the country that gave me another life, and I’m proud to do that,” Aynaw said.
Among the 200-plus diseases that JScreen tests for, the most common among Jews is Gaucher disease. During Gaucher Disease Awareness Month in October, JScreen ramped up efforts to raise awareness about the disease, which is fairly rare in the general population (one in 40,000) but far more common for Ashkenazi Jews (one in 450). “Knowledge is power,” says JScreen Executive Director Karen Grinzaid. “Whether you’re single, engaged, newlyweds or already parents, having the knowledge [about genetic diseases] allows everyone to take steps and make informed decisions to have healthy children and live healthy lives.”