Newsletter Issue # 14 January 25, 2012

A cold January temperatures and snowy weather didn’t even stop the parents and children from the Krivoy Rog Jewish community to come and celebrate the opening of a new facility. The Ukrainian community’s 10-year-old kindergarten moved into a new space, a beautifully designed building where the foundations of Jewish education will be laid for the city’s Jewish kinder. The new kindergarten is yet another development in the establishment of a comprehensive Jewish educational infrastructure for Krivoy Rog’s 12,000 Jews.

In Walter Isaacson’s recent biography of Jobs, Steve Jobs was visited by Bill Gates and talked about the future of education. Both men agreed that computers had made surprisingly little impact on schools. Gates said that computers and mobile devices would have to focus on delivering more personalized lessons and providing motivational feedback. And before Jobs died one of his projects he hoped to develop was to disrupt the textbook industry and save the spines of worn-out students by creating electronic texts and curriculum material for the iPad.

Who would have thought that a Jewish guy from Brooklyn will reach the summit of the Chinese food world. Ed Schoenfeld 62, a serial restaurateur and restless impresario is lauded as an authority on haute Chinese cuisine. Is co-owner of RedFarm, an unassuming New York hotspot that promises Chinese cuisine with greenmarket sensibility. His smattering of Cantonese has what he calls “a Brooklyn accent,” and on this day he is clad in red suspenders, a red-striped shirt and red-rimmed glasses.

2,000 people, from all stripes of Israeli society, prayed at Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef) last Monday night on the eve of the new month of Shevat, which began Tuesday night. Jews who do not define themselves as religious joined national and hareidi religious Jews, along with rabbis and leaders of the Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council,  campaigned to restore Oslo Accord have guaranteed, that Israel would retain control of the holy site in Shechem.

Justin Bieber’s Jewish manager Scott “Scooter” Braun, taught Justin the “Shema Yisrael” prayer and he says it before each concert. In the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot, Scooter Braun said “Justin prays the Shema before each show. First he says a Christian prayer, then he says the Shema.”

One mother asked the question on how to make tefillah more meaningful, since her ten year old daughter finds davening boring. She can’t think of ways to inspire her except to tell her that Hashem is waiting to listen to her tefilot and that she can ask for anything she wants, like new shoes or clothes. Can anyone help her with more ideas?

For someone whose life is writing on the Internet, Patrick Aleph still has a lot of secrets. Aside from running the alterna-Torah site PunkTorah, the “online minyan” OneShul, the collection The G-d Project, and a bunch of other sites, Aleph is an astoundingly prolific blogger and YouTube video-maker. As a convert, his perspective on Judaism and on Jews  is that of both an insider and outsider, and his observations on Jewish life and belief are often reflective of that.

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