Newsletter Issue # 72 - March 21, 2013

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Pope Francis reaches out to Rome’s Jewish community at the very start of his pontificate, pledging to continue to strengthen the increasingly close ties between Catholics and Jews. Just hours after he was elected the first Latin American pope in history, Francis sent a letter to Rome’s chief Rabbi Riccardo di Segni, saying he hoped to contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics.

An ancient Jewish cemetery in Amsterdam has been reopened after almost 70 years of neglect, thanks to help from Moroccan and Jewish youths. A spokesperson for the Association for the Restoration of the Zeeburg Cemetery said that the Zeeburg cemetery will be open to the public on the first Sunday of every month and made possible by a few dozen Jewish and Moroccan youths who volunteered to clean up the area, where approximately 175,000 Jews are buried.

When the Nazis began deporting the Jews of Greece to extermination camps, Etty Leon’s grandparents and great-grandparents fled Thessaloniki for Skopelos, they were given shelter by a local family that had for many years supplied their soap factory in Thessaloniki with olive oil. Walking through Yad Vashem the other day, the 23-year-old stopped dead in her tracks when she caught sight of a photo of her family’s rescuers in the exhibition devoted to Christians who had saved Jews.

Dominican Ambassador Aníbal de Castro will join the Latino and Jewish communal leaders in Washington DC for a special screening of the film Sosúa: Make a Better World as part of an effort by the American Jewish Committee to promote inter-communal dialogue. Latino leaders will arrive from around the United States to join Dina Siegel Vann, and other AJC leaders in watching the film by award-winning filmmakers Peter Miller and Renee Silverman.

Is the Jewish soul immortal? Yes, tradition teaches us that if the proper procedures are followed, the Jewish soul is immortal. The soul of a departed loved one lives on in a vertical immortality in heaven and in a horizontal immortality as part of the collective of the Jewish people. To guarantee the duplex immortality of a soul, a mourner must say the Kaddish prayer for eleven months in the synagogue.

Like any skeptic I like to troll all of the off the derech sites to justify missing z’manim and not full submitting my emunah to Judaism. I also like to focus on the negative parts of frum Judaism to justify doing things that are against frumkeit, like buying lotto tickets instead of getting into million dollar raffles for BT yeshivas and drinking cholov stam. Torah Judaism can get pretty offensive at times, especially if you’re a west coast liberal communist. It’s denigration of women, gays, incestual relationships and bestiality are enough to make anyone from the Bay Area cringe.

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