Newsletter Issue # 82 – June 26, 2013

Catherine Afarian calls herself a “love child of the ‘70s.” Her mother discovered that she was pregnant after she had broken off a relationship of less than a year. Afarian has never met her biological father, but her mother always said he came from a big Italian family. In late 2010, though, Afarian learned that a big part of her identity had been based on very shaky ground. a personal genome company based in Mountain View, California, Afarian had submitted a spit sample for a DNA analysis. Based on the variations in her genes, 23andMe estimated her health risks and traced her ancestry.

While the word refugee may conjure up images such as hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from the Syrian Civil War, a poll conducted as part of Refugee Week 2013 aims to show some of the positive results of forced migration, and it is Jewish neurologist Sigmund Freud who tops the survey as the refugee who has made the most significant contribution to British life.

A new Israel-based 24-hour TV news channel broadcasting in English, French and Arabic is to go on air on July 1. The new station, based in Tel Aviv’s seafront Jaffa district, is named i24news. The channel will be launched in three languages, including the website. Looking at global broadcasters Al-Jazeera and France 24, it will broadcast around the clock in English and French and five hours each day in Arabic.

Jewish community heads from around the world on Monday participated in a special ceremony in memory of the Jews who were murdered and buried in Babi Yar in Ukraine. The event took place under the sponsorship of top members of the Jewish Agency, which is chaired by Natan Sharansky. Sharansky laid a wreath on the memorial at Babi Yar, in memory of the Jews murdered there in 1941 by the Nazis.

During a morning commute o Boston the car started making a weird whoomping sound. To my untrained ear it sounded like the car was performing some sort of subtle dance with road, where the slight shimmying of my car was a sure sign that the engine had decided to part ways with the rest of the vehicle.  Luckily my partner actually knows a thing or two about cars, and had a few slightly more plausible explanations.

Thirty years ago, in 1983 we start sending our women Jewish Studies major graduates at the University of Minnesota to train to become rabbis in the Reform movement. We told them to go out and become full head rabbis of synagogues, not assistants or educational directors. Some did. We were proud. This week we read of the non-ordination of three females by an Orthodox institute. We sadly shake our heads and dejectedly shrug our shoulders. This is a milestone of non-progress.

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