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4,000-Year-Old Jar of Headless Toads Discovered in Jerusalem...

In one of the rock-cut tombs, archaeologists made a rare discovery: a jar full of bones from nine headless toads. The toads had been decapitated before they were buried with the dead, possibly as a way to prepare the animals to be "eaten." Finding a tomb that's been sealed for thousands of years is always a treat for archaeologists —especially when that tomb contains a jar of headless toads. That's what archaeologists discovered inside a 4,000-year-old burial in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced yesterday (Sept. 25). The excavators think the jar might have been a funeral offering to feed the dead in the afterlife. In 2014, archaeologists were excavating at a Bronze Age cemetery of more than 60 rock-cut tombs in Jerusalem's Manaḥat neighborhood. They discovered a sealed tomb, and after they rolled back the stone that was covering its opening, they found one poorly preserved human skeleton. The person had been buried lying on their back among intact ceramic bowls and jars. Based on the style of the pottery, the researchers think the tomb likely dates to the early part of the Middle Bronze Age (about 4,000 years ago). [See Photos of the Burial and Headless Toad Remains] One of the jars held a heap of small bones from nine toads that had all been decapitated. "It is impossible to determine what role the toads played, but they are clearly part of the funerary rituals," Shua Kisilevitz, one of the excavation directors with the IAA, told Live Science. Kisilevitz added that during this period toads were a symbol of regeneration for people in Egypt (the neighbors and sometimes overlords of the ancient Canaanites who lived in the Levant). But it's also possible that the toads had a more practical function: At the time, the dead were often buried with offerings that would serve them in their passage to the afterlife. "Food offerings are a staple of burial customs during this period, and there is a possibility that the toads were indeed placed in the jar as such," Kisilevitz said. The fact that they were decapitated is another clue: One way to prepare toads for eating is to remove the head and edges of the limbs so that the sometimes-toxic skin could be removed, Kisilevitz added. While rare, the jar of toads isn't entirely unprecedented. Kisilevitz said she knows of a Late Bronze Age tomb at Wadi Ara in the north of Israel that also included a vessel with decapitated toads. Dafna Langgut, an archaeology researcher at Tel Aviv University, found that the vessels in the Manahat tomb came into contact with date palms and myrtle bushes, which do not grow naturally in this area. The researchers think it's possible that these trees and bushes were planted in a special orchard where funeral rituals for food offerings to the dead were held. The findings will be presented Oct. 18 at an archaeology conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Read the source article at Live Science
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Center for the Study of Multiculturalism and Diversity

The Center for the Study of Multiculturalism and Diversity at Hebrew University explores issues of multiculturalism and diversity on both academic and practical levels.The Center supports research and academic discussion investigating questions such as the relationship between national, religious and civic identity, between majority and minority and between multiculturalism and shared society.Given that the future leadership of Israel is trained within its campuses, the Hebrew University sees as its responsibility to develop its students’ multicultural sensitivities and tolerance, to make sure students know their society, are critical towards power relations within it and are aware of the variety of points of view. The center promotes courses and clinics on theories of multiculturalism and their critiques and on Israeli society.The Center advocates for the provision of a pluralistic campus environment where members of different social and religious groups can get to know and respect each other while they learn, a campus in which all students, faculty, and staff feel that they belong. The Center offers academic events and programs related to the diversity of cultures represented on our campuses. Such activities provide students a chance for increased interaction with students of different backgrounds, create a more welcoming and inclusive university environment overall, and expose students to the concept of diversity as life-enhancing.Housed within the Center, the Clinic for the Study of Multiculturalism and Diversity is a unique and first of its kind interdisciplinary initiative. It is a clinical course run in cooperation with the Clinical Legal Education Center and has academic and practical aspects.Its students come from various schools of thought: future lawyers, psychologists, journalists, sociologists, and anthropologists. They all come together for to explore the loaded and intriguing intersections between the various cultural groups comprising the Israeli mosaic. The multicultural “experiment” in Israel will be discussed on its successes and failures, while considering different groups among which Haredi people, Arab-Palestinians, Ethiopian Jews, Sephardim, Russian speakers and LGBT community.You can watch the Clinic’s year-end video here and read the latest newsletter.
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Professor Hanoch Gutfreund

Professor Hanoch Gutfreund, alumnus and former President of the Hebrew University, Professor Emeritus of theoretical physics, and the Andre Aisenstadt Chair in theoretical physics received the 2016 Solomon Bublick Prize. As the Academic Director of the Einstein Center and the Albert Einstein Archives, where Einstein’s intellectual property resides, he is the university’s appointee responsible for Einstein’s intellectual property. He held many academic and administrative positions at the university, and currently heads the executive committee of the Israel Science Foundation and is the chairperson of the “Basha’ar – Academic Community for Israeli Society” association.Einstein_planned_giving   During 2015, the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s discovery of General Relativity. In recognition of this important centennial, AFHU spoke with Hebrew University Professor Hanoch Gutfreund. Professor Gutfreund discusses two theories of relativity: the special theory of relativity which Einstein formulated in 1905, his “miraculous year,” and Einstein’s 1915 presentation to the Royal Academy of Science in Berlin on the General Theory of Relativity. Einstein was also a founder of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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Eric Stein

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Alex Sorin

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Helen Epstein

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Max Epstein

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Martin Zuckerman

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Dr. Eyal Ginio

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New Archaeology Exhibition: Ancient Bureaucracy and Clerks...

A collection of seals, some of which bear ancient Hebrew inscriptions as well as additional new findings, go on public display this week at the annual City of David archaeology conference, bringing with them a mystery.
Who was Achiav ben Menachem? A collection of dozens of sealings, mentioning the names of officials dated to the days of the Judean kingdom prior to the Babylonian destruction, was unearthed during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David National Park in the area of the walls of Jerusalem, funded by the ELAD (El Ir David) organization.
The post and seal bearing the name Achiav ben Menachem, Sept. 4 2017
The post and seal bearing the name Achiav ben Menachem, Sept. 4 2017
The sealings (bullae, from which the Hebrew word for stamp, “bul”, is derived) are small pieces of clay which in ancient times served as seals for letters. A letter which arrived with its seal broken was a sign that the letter had been opened before reaching its destination. Although letters did not survive the horrible fire which consumed Jerusalem at its destruction, the seals, which were made of the above-mentioned material that is similar to pottery, were actually well preserved thanks to the fire, and attest to the existence of the letters and their senders.Seals Jerusalem ArchaeologyAccording to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, directors of the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, “In the numerous excavations at the City of David, dozens of seals were unearthed, bearing witness to the developed administration of the city in the First Temple period. The earliest seals bear mostly a series of pictures; it appears that instead of writing the names of the clerks, symbols were used to show who the signatory was, or what he was sealing.
Dr. Joe Uziel, Israel Antiquities Authority excavation director, with seals discovered in City of David, Sept. 4, 2017
Dr. Joe Uziel, Israel Antiquities Authority excavation director, with seals discovered in City of David, Sept. 4, 2017
“In later stages of the period – from the time of King Hezekiah (around 700 BCE) and up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE – the seals bear the names of clerks in early Hebrew script. Through these findings, we learn not only about the developed administrative systems in the city, but also about the residents and those who served in the civil service.”
Seal bearing the name “Pinchas”
Seal bearing the name “Pinchas”
Some of the seals bear Biblical names, several of which are still used today, such as Pinchas. One particularly interesting seal mentions a man by the name of “Achiav ben Menachem.”Seals Jerusalem ArchaeologyThese two names are known in the context of the Kingdom of Israel; Menachem was a king of Israel. While Achiav does not appear in the Bible, his name resembles that of Achav (Ahab) – the infamous king of Israel from the tales of the prophet Elijah. Though the spelling of the name differs somewhat, it appears to be the same name. The version of the name which appears on the seal discovered – Achav – appears as well in the Book of Jeremiah in the Septuagint, as well as in Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 15: 7-8).Chalaf and Uziel add that the appearance of the name Achiav is interesting for two main reasons. First – because it serves as further testimony to the names which are familiar to us from the kingdom of Israel in the Bible, and which appear in Judah during the period following the destruction of the kingdom of Israel.“These names are part of the evidence that after the exile of the Tribes of Israel, refugees arrived in Jerusalem from the northern kingdom, and found their way into senior positions in Jerusalem’s administration.”Furthermore, the sealings is the fact that the two names which appear on the seal – Achiav and Menachem – were names of kings of Israel. Though Achav (Ahab) is portrayed as a negative figure in the Bible, the name continues to be in use – though in a differently spelled version – both in Judea in the latter days of the First Temple, as reflected in Jeremiah and on the seal, and also after the destruction – in the Babylonian exile and up until the Second Temple period, as seen in the writings of Flavius Josephus.The various stamps, along with other archaeological findings discovered in the recent excavations, will be exhibited to the public for the first time at the 18th City of David research conference, the annual archaeological conference held by the Megalim Institute, will be held on September 7th at the City of David National Park.
Read the source article at The Jewish Press
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Professor Benjamin Pollock

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Dr. Shoham Choshen-Hillel

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Expressing Anger Can Make You Happier, According to Study |

Are your children getting on your last nerve? Did a coworker’s comment rub you the wrong way? There’s no need to plug the steam coming out of your ears. In fact, science now gives you full permission to let those emotions rip; you might actually be happier for it. If that seems counterintuitive, hear us out. A new study suggests that people tend to be happier if they can feel and express emotions as they want. That goes for unpleasant emotions like anger and hatred, too. An international team of researchers recruited 2,300 university students from the United States, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Poland, and Singapore. They then asked the participants to tell them which emotions they desired and which ones they actually felt, and then compared those responses to how the participants rated their overall happiness or life satisfaction. The results showed an interesting trend. While participants across the board wanted to experience more pleasant emotions, they reported higher life satisfaction if the emotions they experienced matched those they desired. More surprising still, 11 percent of people wanted to feel less of positive emotions, such as love and empathy, and 10 percent of people wanted to feel more negative emotions, such as hatred and anger. At first glance, these results might seem confusing. But there’s a simple explanation, according to the study’s authors. Happiness is “more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain,” they write. It is also learning to release negative emotions when you feel them, instead of ignoring them or bottling them up. (And truth be told, money CAN buy happiness if you spend it like this.) “If you feel emotions you want to feel, even if they’re unpleasant, then you’re better off,” lead researcher Dr Maya Tamir from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem told the BBC News website. “Someone who feels no anger when reading about child abuse might think they should be angrier about the plight of abused children, so want to feel more anger than they actually do in that moment.” Sounds simple enough. But in case your anger gets too out of hand, try these tips to get calm fast.Read the source article at Reader’s Digest
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Ancient inscription unearthed in Jerusalem, thrilling...

An ancient Greek inscription was found on a 1,500-year-old mosaic floor near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Byzantine emperor Justinian, who ruled in the 6th century A.D., is mentioned in the inscription, which was deciphered by Dr. Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It reads: “In the time of our most pious emperor Flavius Justinian, also this entire building Constantine the most God-loving priest and abbot, established and raised, in the 14th indiction.” EXPERTS UNCOVER EVIDENCE OF ANCIENT JERUSALEM'S DESTRUCTION BY THE BABYLONIANS In a statement released by the Israel Antiquities Authority, Dr. Di Segni explained that the inscription commemorates the building’s founding by a priest called Constantine. “Indiction,” she noted, is an ancient method of counting years that was used for taxation purposes. The mosaic has been dated to 550 or 551 A.D - experts believe that the room was used as a hostel for pilgrims. The floor was discovered this summer during preparations for laying communications cables near the Damascus Gate. “The fact that the inscription survived is an archaeological miracle,” said David Gellman, who directed the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Gellman noted that ancient remains at the site had been badly damaged by groundwork in recent decades. “We were about to close the excavation, when all of a sudden, a corner of the mosaic inscription peeked out between the pipes and cables. Amazingly, it had not been damaged.” An important historical figure, Flavius Justinian was emperor when the later Roman empire completed its conversion to Christianity. He also established a large church in Jerusalem dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus, known as The Nea Church, also known as The New Church. The church’s abbot was Constantine, whose name also appears on the mosaic floor near the Damascus Gate. Di Segni notes that the mosaic floor inscription is similar to an inscription found in the vaults of The Nea Church. "This new inscription helps us understand Justinian's building projects in Jerusalem, especially the Nea Church,” she wrote. “The rare combination of archaeological finds and historical sources, woven together, is incredible to witness, and they throw important light on Jerusalem's past." LOST ROMAN CITY THAT WAS HOME TO JESUS' APOSTLES FOUND, SAY ARCHAEOLOGISTS The ancient mosaic inscription has been removed from the site and is being treated at the Israel Antiquities Authority’s mosaic workshop in Jerusalem. The discovery is just the latest fascinating archaeological find in Jerusalem. Archaeologists excavating the City of David in Israel’s Jerusalem Walls National Park recently uncovered charred wood, grape seeds, pottery, fish scales and bones and numerous rare artifacts that date back to the city’s demise at the hands of the Babylonians more than 2,600 years ago.Read the source article at Fox News
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Hebrew U. conference explores history of Jewish names...

The conference was founded in 1991 by Bar-Ilan University Prof. Aaron Demsky, an expert in the field of Jewish names. Bar-Ilan University Prof. Aaron Demsky.. (photo credit:Courtesy) The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is hosting an international conference on the history and origin of Jewish names. The 13th biannual International Conference on Jewish Names, which takes place today at the Mount Scopus campus, features 20 lecturers and academics from Israel, Poland, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Canada, Italy and the United States – all of whom study Jewish onomastics, or name studies, in their country of origin. The conference was founded in 1991 by Bar-Ilan University Prof. Aaron Demsky, an expert in the field of Jewish names. Demsky organized the event together with the 17th World Jewish Congress and the faculty of Jewish Studies and the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University. According to Demsky: “This conference is a reflection of the interdisciplinary nature and relevance of Jewish names from multiple disciplines as well as the wide-ranging history of Jewish names from biblical times to modern Israel. “The conference will also place emphasis on Jewish communities in the Diaspora facing questions of identity... one’s name speaks volumes and an immigrant’s relationship to his birth name – especially when it is ‘different’ or ‘strange’ – reflects his relationship to his old and new cultures, old and new identities.” The conference’s content is presented in historical chronological order and is divided into six sections, starting with names in the Bible and Rabbinical literature, then early Diaspora Jewish communities in Italy and Spain, followed by early Ashkenazi communities in Germany and Poland, plus lectures highlighting the meanings of names in communities in Morocco and Baghdad. The latter half of the program focuses on the 18th and 19th centuries, and introduces the works of “gentile scholars who are interested in the study of Jewish names,” said Demsky. “For many of these speakers, this is the first time they are coming to Israel,” he explained. “This conference is not only about academics, but about building connections and making ties with gentile academics with an interest in this field of research.” Section five looks at contemporary Jewish names in the 20th century and how the establishment of Israel and revival of the Hebrew language allowed for the introduction and reintroduction of a whole new set of names for the Jewish and Israeli experience. The event will conclude with a lecture by Israeli author Haim Be’er, who will discuss how he chooses the names of his characters. Bringing the conference full circle, Be’er compares his process of naming characters to one of the first stories in the Bible. “Exactly like Adam, whose first act after his creation was to give names to all animals, birds and living creatures around him, so I, too, must face repeatedly the same dilemma: What name should I give to the characters of the novel that is taking shape in my mind? Name giving is an act that is more mysterious and obscure than revealed and obvious,” said Be’er.Read the source article at Jpost
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The Secret To Happiness Is Giving Yourself Permission To...

Most science-backed shortcuts to happiness – like working out, smiling more and practicing gratitude ― focus on the positive, and they’re helpful indeed. But a new study concludes that for some people, embracing negative feelings may be one of the most powerful ways to feel happier overall. In a study published in this month’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, researchers surveyed more than 2,300 college-age students in eight countries including the U.S., Brazil and China. Students were asked which emotions they wanted to feel more and less of in daily life ― like love, anger and excitement ― and which ones they actually felt. They also answered questions that measured for depressive symptoms and overall well-being. Many students said they wanted to feel more pleasant emotions, like love and empathy, than they felt on a regular basis. However, 11 percent wanted to feel fewer pleasant emotions, and 10 percent wanted to feel more unpleasant emotions, like anger and hatred. Overall, study participants who actually felt the emotions they desired reported greater life satisfaction and fewer depressive symptoms. In other words, when their emotions felt right to them, they felt happier, even if the emotions they felt weren’t happy ones. It likely all comes down to which emotions you value as a person, according to main author Maya Tamir, a psychology professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “For example, someone who feels no anger when reading about child abuse might think she should be angrier about the plight of abused children, so she wants to feel more anger than she actually does in that moment,” the American Psychological Association explained in a summary. “A woman who wants to leave an abusive partner but isn’t willing to do so may be happier if she loved him less.” If we are able to accept and even welcome the emotions that we have, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, we are likely to be happier and more satisfied. Of course, the same emotions aren’t “right” for everyone, and the reason they feel right depends on a person’s social, cultural and personal values. Take anger, for example. ″...For a minority group member who seeks justice because people in the majority mistreat him, feeling anger may just be the right emotion,” the study authors wrote. “Whether an emotion is right, therefore, depends on the goals and needs of each individual... Whereas anger may feel right to some, it may feel wrong to others.” “Wanting to be happy or joyful all the time is not very realistic,” Tamir told HuffPost. “Never wanting to feel sadness or anger or fear is not realistic. If we are able to accept and even welcome the emotions that we have, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, we are likely to be happier and more satisfied.” The study only analyzed one class of negative emotions, called negative self-enhancing emotions, which include hatred, hostility, anger and contempt. The authors suggested future research should be conducted on other negative feelings like fear, guilt and sadness. Next time you want a happiness boost, try listening to a sad song or having a good cry. Science knows it may be just what you need.Read the source article at HuffPost
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Hebrew University Launches World’s Largest Jewish Art...

The online Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art preserves the rich artistic heritage of the Jewish people throughout time and across the globeAugust 9, 2017 — The Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem launched the world’s largest online database of Jewish art today at the World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.The Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art is a collection of digitized images and information about Jewish artifacts from all over the world. The online collection includes more than 260,000 images of objects and artifacts from 700 museums, synagogues and private collections in 41 different countries, as well as architectural drawings of 1,500 synagogues and Jewish ritual buildings from antiquity to the modern day.The public can access the Bezalel Index of Jewish Art and start exploring the world of Jewish art at http://cja.huji.ac.il/browser.php. Amateur or professional researchers easily access more than a quarter of a million images, with accompanying details and descriptions, either by simple keyword search or according to such categories as Iconographical Subject, Origin, Artist, Object, Community, Collection, or Location.The Center for Jewish Art is the world’s foremost institution dedicated to the preservation of the Jewish artistic heritage. The Center’s activities include documentation, research, education, and publishing. Under the direction of Dr. Vladimir Levin, the Center has in recent years worked steadily toward completing the Index by photographing, measuring and painstakingly describing and categorizing each piece to be made available online to the public.“Jewish culture is largely perceived as a culture of texts and ideas, not of images. As the largest virtual Jewish museum in the world, the Index of Jewish Art is a sophisticated tool for studying visual aspects of Jewish heritage. We hope that making this Index available will lead to further in-depth study of primary sources, and serve as an enduring launching pad for the study of the historical and cultural significance of Jewish art for many years to come,” said Dr. Levin.The extensive collection contains over 100,000 entries in the Jewish Ritual Architecture category alone. “We cannot physically preserve all Jewish buildings everywhere, but we can preserve them visually through documentation and drawings,” said Dr. Levin.The Israeli government recognized The Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art as a non-tangible national heritage in 2012, and it is today considered the most comprehensive database of Jewish art in the world, existing as a virtual museum available to all.The digitization of the Center for Jewish Art archives became possible in the framework of a joint project with the National Library of Israel and Judaica Division of Harvard University Library. It was generously funded by the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe, “Landmarks” Program of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Judaica Book Fund endowments established by David B. Keidan (Harvard), as well as by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, The Morris and Beverly Baker Foundation, Mrs. Josephine Urban, and Mr. William Gross.Professor Bezalel Narkiss was an Israel Prize laureate who established the Hebrew University’s Department of Art History in 1966 with his colleague Professor Moshe Barasch. In 1979 Narkiss established the Center for Jewish Art with the goal of creating a research center that focuses on investigating and preserving Jewish visual art. Since then, the Center has employed a small but dedicated group of professionals and graduate students who routinely go on documentation expeditions all over the world.On these trips abroad, researchers document six categories of Jewish art: Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts, Sacred and Ritual Objects, Jewish Cemeteries, Ancient Jewish Art, Modern Jewish Art, and Jewish Ritual Architecture. Some of the pieces documented are no longer in existence but have a permanent place in the vast index that has taken more than 30 years to collect and six years to digitize. In some cases, the researchers were able to document an object just in time, such as right before a crumbling East European synagogue collapsed to its foundation, or a ritual object disappeared into obscurity at an auction.One such expedition that researchers from the Center went on occurred in Siberia in 2015. While researchers give extra attention to areas of Europe where Jewish communities were ravaged during World War Two and have inherited the worst crisis of heritage preservation in the aftermath of the destruction brought on by the Holocaust, the former Soviet Union’s Jewish communities in the far north have also fared poorly.Researchers on the expedition found that many synagogues, long since abandoned, were on the verge of collapse. Many Jewish cemeteries had been destroyed over the years or were in such a state of dilapidation and neglect that they were in danger of disappearing. While the expedition team worked tirelessly at documenting the objects that they could find, they also attempted to raise awareness among the locals of the importance of preserving Jewish heritage sites, not just for Jewish communities, but also as a significant part of their own history and culture.The Center has more exciting projects lined up in the coming months. The monograph Synagogues of Ukraine: Volhynia, by Dr. Sergey Kravtsov and Dr. Vladimir Levin, is due to be published this summer. “Historic Synagogues of Europe,” a joint project with the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, will be opened to the public in November 2017. It will offer, for the first time, an inventory of all of the historic synagogues of Europe, rating them according to their significance and condition, therefore providing a comprehensive and strategic perspective for the preservation of European Jewish heritage. 
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An exciting conversation with Rabbi Steinsaltz –...

President Reuven Rivlin called Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz Sunday to congratulate the rabbi and wish him good health on his 80th birthday. Rabbi Steinsaltz is considered one of the great rabbinical commentators and scholars of this generation, and has written numerous world-renowned commentaries on the Bible, the Talmud, and many other religious Jewish texts. Rabbi Steinsaltz suffered a stroke six months ago. The rabbi recently returned to work, to the joy and relief of his students and colleagues. An event was held earlier this month in celebration of the release of Rabbi Steinsaltz's new commentary of the works of the Rambam (Maimonides). President Rivlin called Rabbi Steinsaltz by the title for Torah sages, "our teacher and rabbi." The president noted that he had learned Talmud in his youth, but not as much as he would have liked. "Had there been a Steinsaltz edition of the Talmud when I was young, we would have learnt much more Talmud at the Hebrew Gymnasium school in Jerusalem." The president concluded the conversation with a blessing: "Congratulations, and you should have many more productive and good years, first of all with good health, as well as wisdom and the continued ability to learn, to teach, and to glorify the Torah in Israel. Those in the room during the conversation said that the rabbi was very moved by the president's words and warm wishes. Rabbi Adin Even Yisrael-Steinsaltz was born in Jerusalem in 1937 to a secular family. He studied chemistry and physics at the Hebrew University, worked as a school principal, became observant and chose to focus on the writing of Jewish books on various subjects, the most famous of which was the 'Steinzaltz Talmud,' a commentary on all 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud. Rabbi Steinsaltz received the Israel Prize for Jewish studies in 1988 and the President's Prize for his scholarship in Talmud from former President Shimon Peres in 2012.Read the source article at Israel News
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China, India, and Israel’s Strategic Calculus

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. Yitzhak Shichor – Professor Emeritus and The Michael William Lipson Chair in Chinese Studies at The Hebrew University in Israel – is the 101st in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”Assess key outcomes of Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s recent visit to Israel.To appreciate the full significance of Modi’s visit, one has to know the history of Israel-India relations. Reluctantly, India recognized Israel on September 18, 1950, the fifth Asian country [to do so], but, because no full diplomatic relations were approved for over 40 years, Israel was unofficially represented by an honorary consul in Calcutta. Yet, the two countries maintained backdoor relations, which included Israeli military shipments following the 1962 Sino-Indian confrontation. Because of its rivalry with Pakistan, substantial Muslim population, and dependence on Arab oil, India preferred to hide these relations.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.In fact, India, and Asia in general, had not been that important for Israel before the early 1990s. By that time, India could no longer fall behind China, which set up relations with Israel and thereby facilitated its breakthrough to Asia. Since then India’s relations with Israel have prospered, with India becoming Israel’s leading arms market and a substantial economic partner. Yet, no Indian leader had dared set foot in Israel until Modi’s arrival. Needless to say, scores of framework agreements were signed but because military and economic relations have been going on anyway, and because India has hardly changed its political orientation and association with the Arabs and the Palestinians, the main outcome of the visit, and still the most significant, was symbolic.What is the potential impact of closer Israeli-Indian strategic cooperation on China?Little impact, if any, is expected in politics since both China and India still side with the Arabs and the Palestinians and have hardly supported Israel in international organizations. It may affect military relations. Under U.S. pressure, Israel was forced to stop arms sales to China, following which India has become its main client. Fully aware of these military transactions, Beijing has usually and publicly kept quiet about it and failed to criticize Israel. Actually, Israel’s arms sales to India have legitimized China’s arms sales to Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. However, there are indications that Beijing is beginning to take the Indian threat more seriously than before, which means that the Chinese may become more sensitive to the Indo-Israeli military nexus and, therefore, apply pressure on Israel to stop or restrict arms shipments to India. Beyond this, India becomes a significant player in the trilateral economic competition.What factors precipitated the shift toward stronger relations between India and Israel?Initially, it was Beijing’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, as well as the Soviet collapse, which had driven India to establish official relations with Israel. They have been given a boost over the last few years by India’s realization that politics could be separated from economics; governments could continue supporting the Arabs and the Palestinians and still enjoy good technological and economic relations with Israel. Also, the virtual disintegration of the Arab Middle East; the never-ending conflicts and confrontations; and the emergence of Islamic radicalism and terrorism (that have also affected India), underline Israel as a democratic island of stability and as a source of mutually beneficial cooperation. For Israel, India represents a huge economic and military market that, together with China, offers Israel access to nearly half of the world population, which had been beyond its reach before.As Beijing enhances China’s leadership role in the Middle East, and Israel strengthens ties to India, what is Israel’s strategic calculus?Unlike most observers, I don’t think that “Beijing enhances China’s leadership role in the Middle East,” definitely not in political terms. Beijing is still careful to avoid becoming involved, least of all mediate, in regional conflicts. Its participation in UN peacekeeping forces, special envoy to the Middle East, evacuation of Chinese nationals from conflict zones (Libya, Sudan, Yemen), and cooperation in anti-piracy operations, do not reflect greater involvement, let alone leadership, and still indicate a low profile and limited commitment. In fact, these triangular relations (Israel, China, India) are predicated on the assumption of little external intervention in the conflict. In this respect, Jerusalem’s strategic calculus – implicitly shared by India and China – is to pay lip service to politics (including the absorption of anti-Israel votes in international organizations, which are mostly meaningless anyway) and gain trilateral benefits from economic and military relations.Explain the U.S.-Israel dynamic in the Israel-China-India nexus.Willingly or not, Israel is heavily dependent on the United States, for better or worse. Israel’s military transfers to China began in the late 1970s, with Washington’s knowledge, approval, and perhaps encouragement. Israel served as a convenient proxy to make Beijing stronger against Moscow, which warned the U.S. not to arm China. Yet, following the Soviet collapse China, no longer an unofficial ally, has become a “threat.” Israel was now forced to stop providing China with arms and military technology and this prohibition has affected much of Israel’s civilian (or dual-use) hi-tech exports to China. Today, the U.S. is the main obstacle to expanding Israel’s relations with China. No such U.S. limitations apply to India. Put differently, the future of Israel-China relations depends to a great extent on the future of U.S.-China relations. Beijing is fully aware of Israel’s predicament and of the inconceivable cost Israel would have to pay for resuming military relations with China.Read the source article at The Diplomat Magazine
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UAlbany professors’ database tracks terrorist groups

Albany When Australian experts wanted to know which terrorist groups pay pirates to capture ships, steal cargo and ransom the crews to provide new revenue for terrorists, they teamed up with two University of Albany professors to find the answers. Karl Rethemeyer, interim dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, and political science associate professor Victor Asal are creators of a database named BAAD — Big, Allied and Dangerous. BAAD is packed with in-depth information on hundreds of terrorist groups, their alliances and whether those ties are based on religion, ideology, affection or cold cash. BAAD can also monitor which groups abandon politics to become nothing more than criminal gangs. It can track which terrorists abandon violence to become elected officials. It also assesses which terrorists are likeliest to develop weapons of mass destruction—and hit the button. Rethemeyer and Asal offer BAAD as a tool for journalists and researchers striving to separate political spin and fake news from reality and facts. BAAD's data is harvested from declassified documents, news articles, academic papers and even selected social media threads. Rethemeyer and Asal met in 2003 as the United States prepared to invade Iraq based on what later proved to be erroneous intelligence reports. "We were both looking for a project that would help us get tenure so we went to Sovrana's to brainstorm over pizza," Rethemeyer said. By the time they got to Death in a Cup, the Albany pizzeria and deli's signature chocolate-drizzled custard dessert, they had envisioned a unique project. Rethemeyer has long been fascinated by how networks function. He earned his master's from the London School of Economics before getting his Ph.D. from Harvard. Asal has master's degrees from both Tufts University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "We decided to focus on non-state actors who kill civilians intentionally for the purpose of changing a political regime," Asal explained. "The database also includes insurgents who did not kill civilians but have caused at least 25 battle deaths of soldiers or policemen." The pair immediately drafted teams of students to review all English-language reporting they can find on a region or terrorist group. Linguistic software complements their work by translating documents from Arabic, Mandarin, Russian and other key languages. But "robot linguists" have limits; they don't grasp sarcasm and often stumble over idioms. While BAAD calculates a set of 30 to 40 terrorist groups want to strike on the U.S., its data also has contradicted several common beliefs held among U.S. officials about terrorism. Former president George W. Bush's "global war on terrorism", for example, seemed a misnomer since most terrorist groups have no interest in attacking America. And FARC guerrillas devastated Colombia for decades but had no plans to attack America or its embassy. Then in 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation described "environmental terrorism" America's "number one threat." Environmental Liberation Front members occupied four of 11 spots on the FBI's Most Wanted domestic terrorists list. BAAD disagreed. "To this day, American environmentalist and animal rights groups have never killed anyone, not one human," Rethemeyer said. Academics, U.S. and foreign government agencies are interested in BAAD's intelligence. Rethemeyer recently spoke to South Korea's National Assembly and Korean intelligence agencies about how North Korea might use terrorists. ("It's a mistake for anyone to dismiss Kim Jong Un as a buffoon or a fool; he is sane and insecure and knows he can trust no one in his government," Rethemeyer said.) The professors have applied for grants to expand BAAD's scope to include American groups who threaten violence against perceived enemies ranging from gun background check advocates to government workers alleged to be part of the "Deep State," a term conspiracy theorists apply to a stealth insurgency they believe plots against the president. The men are interested in how even inaccurate rhetoric about terrorism by elected officials and journalists can be used to justify political goals or government spending. And they believe it is crucial for Americans to know that terrorism is not the prosaic danger here that it is in the Middle East or even in Europe. Statistics indicate Americans should feel more secure. "I tell Americans that statistics show they have a bigger danger of being killed by their toddlers than of being murdered by a terrorist," Rethemeyer said.Read the source article at timesunion.com
Leadership
NEWS

Prof. Asher Cohen Elected Next President of the Hebrew...

July 3, 2017 — The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is pleased to announce that its Board of Governors, headed by its Chairman Mr. Michael Federmann, has elected Professor Asher Cohen as the next President of the Hebrew University.Professor Cohen will succeed Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson, who led the University for the last eight years. He will begin serving as President on September 1, 2017.Professor Cohen was elected President after serving for five years as Rector of the University. As Rector, Professor Cohen led many important initiatives. Among these are recruiting top researchers from Israel and abroad, opening new and innovative academic programs, refreshing the university’s curricula, and developing in-depth processes for continually improving the education of University students, in cooperation with the Student Union.After graduating from the Hebrew University with a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Psychology, Professor Cohen completed his doctoral and post-doctoral studies at the University of Oregon in the United States. He served as a senior lecturer at Indiana University before returning in the early 1990s to the Hebrew University’s Department of Psychology, in the Faculty of Social Sciences. From 2008 to 2012, he served as the head of the Department of Psychology, after which he was appointed Rector, a position he currently holds.Professor Cohen’s research in the cognitive sciences focuses on the relationship between the human perception system and human response mechanisms in situations that require very fast motor responses. In the framework of his research, Professor Cohen developed a theoretical model that successfully predicts the situations in which performing two tasks simultaneously will lead to a decline in abilities.At the request of incoming President Professor Asher Cohen and Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr. Michael Federmann, the Board of Governors appointed outgoing President Professor Ben-Sasson as Chancellor of the Hebrew University. As Chancellor, he will undertake a variety of tasks which will be assigned to him from time to time by the President, particularly in the area of relations with donors, key supporters, and government officials in Israel and around the world, to advance the University’s development plans.Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr. Michael Federmann congratulated the Board of Governors, wished Prof. Asher Cohen success, and thanked Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson for his service. Said Federmann: “In the coming years, Professor Asher Cohen will lead the university to even greater academic heights. At the end of his two terms in office, I thank Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson for his great contributions to establishing the Hebrew University’s leading position in Israel and around the world, to which he will continue to contribute as Chancellor.”Read the source article at afhu.org
Humanities
NEWS

Youth Summit for Peace Takes Place in Jerusalem

July 2, 2017 — 75 Christian, Jewish and Muslim youth from around the world gathered at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a unique summit, in answer to Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter for peace. Students ages 15 and 16 from Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, and other countries joined their Palestinian and Israeli counterparts for four days of learning through arts, sports, technology, and living together.

Students from Burundi and Congo perform a song in Swahili at the opening ceremony of the Interreligious Citizenship Encounter. The female singer from Burundi’s name is “Shalom.” (Credit: Scholas Occurentes)

At the opening ceremony, young people expressed their hopes for peace through a variety of artistic presentations. Students from Burundi and Congo performed a song in Swahili; Palestinian students from Beit Hanina performed “Imagine” by John Lennon, and Israeli students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance sang of peace in Hebrew.Three senior religious leaders, representing the three Abrahamic faiths, gave opening benedictions as part of an interreligious prayer for peace: Kadi Iyad Zahalka, The Kadi of Jerusalem and the Head of the Sharia Courts of Israel; His Eminence Mons. Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel; and Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Dov Rosen, the Rabbi of Yakar Congregation in Jerusalem.

Palestinian students perform at the opening ceremony (Credit: Scholas Occurentes)

The summit, from July 2-5, 2017, is co-organized by the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes (“Scholas”) and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace (“Truman Institute”) at the Hebrew University. Within the framework of this gathering, two major events are taking place: “
Scholas Chairs International Congress 2017: Between University and School – Peacebuilding through Culture of Encounter” and “Interreligious Citizenship Encounter.”The closing ceremony on Wednesday, July 5 is expected to include greetings from Pope Francis, together with the planting of a traditional olive tree for peace in his name, as students describe their experiences and present their works of art and their social projects.Among the dignitaries present representing Scholas Occurentes were José María del Corral, President of the Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes; and for the Holy See, His Eminence Mons. Angelo Zani, General Secretary of the Congregation For Catholic Education and His Eminence Mons. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Vice President of Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes and Great Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Religious leaders pose with organizers of the Interreligious Citizenship Encounter (Credit: Scholas Occurentes)

Attending from the Hebrew University were Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson, President; Professor Asher Cohen, Rector and President-elect; Amb. Yossi Gal, Vice President for Advancement and External Relations; and Ms. Naama Shpeter, Executive Director of the Truman Institute and Conference Chair.Speaking at a meeting with leaders of Scholas and the Hebrew University at his residence on February 7, Pope Francis said: “Religion can bring us together and teach us to create the bonds of friendship. With the intuition of Scholas and the intelligence and history of the Hebrew University, I am sure that this will produce great changes in the world.”Scholas (http://web.scholasoccurrentes.org/en) is an international educational organization created by Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, which was adopted as a global youth project of the Vatican, to educate young people in the commitment for the common good.The Truman Institute (http://truman.huji.ac.il) is the first and largest research institute in the Middle East to examine conflict resolution and propose peaceful solutions for the region, and fostering discussion and understanding on the challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians and the citizens of the developing world. 
Humanities
NEWS

Hebrew University Archaeologists Find 12th Dead Sea Scrolls...

February 8, 2017 – Excavations in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, prove that Dead Sea scrolls from the Second Temple period were hidden in the cave, and were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century. With the discovery of this cave, scholars now suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12.
Ziad Abu Ganem and student filter material from cave
The surprising discovery, representing a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research, was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology, with the help of Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia.The excavators are the first in over 60 years to discover a new scroll cave and to properly excavate it.The excavation was supported by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and is a part of the new “Operation Scroll” launched at the IAA by its Director-General, Mr. Israel Hasson, to undertake systematic surveys and to excavate the caves in the Judean Desert.
 

Excavation of the cave revealed that at one time it contained Dead Sea scrolls. Numerous storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period were found hidden in niches along the walls of the cave and deep inside a long tunnel at its rear. The jars were all broken and their contents removed, and the discovery towards the end of the excavation of a pair of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proves the cave was looted.
Cloth that was used for wrapping the scrolls
Until now, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained scrolls. With the discovery of this cave, scholars have now suggested that it would be numbered as Cave 12. Like Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 (the Q=Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no scrolls were found).“This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation. “Finding this additional scroll cave means we can no longer be certain that the original locations (Caves 1 through 11) attributed to the Dead Sea scrolls that reached the market via the Bedouins are accurate.”Dr. Gutfeld added: “Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we ‘only’ found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen. The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons, and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more.”The finds from the excavation include not only the storage jars, which held the scrolls, but also fragments of scroll wrappings, a string that tied the scrolls, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll. The finding of pottery and of numerous flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, also revealed that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.This first excavation to take place in the northern part of the Judean Desert as part of “Operation Scroll” will open the door to further understanding the function of the caves with respect to the scrolls, with the potential of finding new scroll material. The material, when published, will provide important new evidence for scholars of the archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea caves.

“The important discovery of another scroll cave attests to the fact that a lot of work remains to be done in the Judean Desert and finds of huge importance are still waiting to be discovered,” said Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “We are in a race against time as antiquities thieves steal heritage assets worldwide for financial gain. The State of Israel needs to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to launch a historic operation, together with the public, to carry out a systematic excavation of all the caves of the Judean Desert.”Photo credits: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld