Newsletter Issue # 13 January 18, 2012

Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and army chaplain, Rabbi Aaron Gurevitch has been visiting prisons across Russia for the past few years, bringing Jewish books and counseling Jewish inmates. Gurevitch received a gold medal from the Russian Prison Services Administration for his work rehabilitating prisoners and improving their spiritual quality of life.

A loose collection of memorable moments for Hollywood Jews and their tribal sensibilities at the Golden Globe Awards Howard Gordon takes home an award for best television series – drama, for “Homeland,” based on the Israeli format “Hatufim (Prisoners of War)” Madonna wins Best Original Song for writing and performing “Masterpiece,” the theme song from her directorial debut feature “W.E.,” which she also wrote, and thanks her distributor Harvey Weinstein.

Armed with only quill pens and a specially mixed ink, scribes have been busy re-creating the more than 300,000 handwritten letters that make up the Torah scroll for Chabad of Brandon, Florida. Now, with the completion of the work featuring the five books of Moses on 54 pieces of parchment. Chabad of Brandon is now preparing to celebrate and welcome the Torah to its new home at the Chabad of Brandon Jewish Center.

Chabad magnate Levi Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments has sold one of New York City’s most recognizable buildings for $165 million. Following the sale, the company announced its $86.3 million take from the transaction would come after payment of over $68 million worth of debt on the building, and fees associated with the deal. Africa Israel Investments bought the building for $202 million, in 2007. Following global market crashes at the end of the same year, the company became tied up in significant debt.

We may all have been taught to presume as necessarily true from 3rd grade and onward, the fact that the Torah says very little and the biblical commentators say very much is of great import — in other words, there is a difference between the two and just because Rashi says something doesn’t mean we should accept it as reflecting reality. With his extensive depth of knowledge, he certainly provides a great sense of direction in halachic and grammatical matters when it comes to helping us to better understand the Torah.

Goldman Sachs’ controversial $2 billion Islamic bond programme faced a fresh challenge on Wednesday as it emerged that at least two scholars named as potential approvers had not even seen the prospectus. There are reports that some Islamic oriented bonds issued by Goldman Sachs may be overstating their “rabbinic” certifications. Goldman Sachs in new flap over Islamic bond suspected to be not 100% halal. Whoops.

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