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Egypt reportedly spending $22 million to restore historic synagogue in Alexandria

Posted on July 24th, 2017

The Egyptian government reportedly has approved a $22 million plan to restore a 160-year-old synagogue in Alexandria.

The Ministry of Antiquities’ Project Sector on Wednesdsay approved the funds for restoring and developing the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, according to the head of the Islamic and Coptic Monuments Department, al-Saeed Helmy Ezzat, The Egypt Independent reported from a translation of the Arabic-language daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The synagogue was forced to close several months ago after part of its ceiling fell down, The Independent reported.

Ezzat said the government will pay for the restoration even though Egyptian law requires the community to cover such work.

The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue can seat over 700 people and is considered to be one of the largest synagogues in the Middle East. It is the last active synagogue in Alexandria, which once was home to 50,000 Jews. Estimates today put the number of Jews living in all of Egypt at fewer than 50.


Here’s why some of America’s top cheese brands are now going kosher

Posted on July 17th, 2017

This story is sponsored by the Orthodox Union.

By Ben Hartman for JTA

It’s early morning in the Sardinian countryside and a farmer is milking his sheep while an Orthodox Jewish kosher supervisor looks on.

The supervisor, known as a mashgiach, is sleeping in the farmer’s barn, and he’ll be there all week.

Welcome to the world of kosher cheesemaking.

The weeklong kosher cheese run in Sardinia is just one of a number of methods that artisanal kosher cheesemaker Brent Delman, owner and founder of The Cheese Guy, uses to manufacture products for kosher consumers who have developed a taste for fine Italian cheeses.

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‘Orange is the New Black’ inspires Scottish prisoners to demand kosher food

Posted on July 10th, 2017
From JTA

Inmates at a Sottish prison are believed to have started asking for kosher food after watching “Orange is the New Black,” a Netflix television series set in a women’s prison.

In a 2015 episode of the series, a character known as “Black Cindy” converts to Judaism in order to receive “better quality food.”

Inspectors demanded an investigation into why the HM Prison in Edinburgh is serving kosher meals to more than 100 prisoners when hardly any of its inmates are Jewish, according to The Times of London.

It is thought that hundreds of prisoners across the United Kingdom have applied to change their religion to Judaism since the TV episode aired. The Edinburgh prison is believed to be the “worst hit” by such claims, the prison service report said.

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Beyond 120

Posted on July 3rd, 2017
By Ted Mann for Tablet Magazine 

Ideas from the father of modern stem cell biology, Irving Weissman, are starting to blossom into a future where we get old slower—and live longer

Plato tells a story, familiar to most of us, of how tools and abilities were distributed to all the animals, fangs and claws and stingers, yet all of these gifts were gone when mankind reached the head of the line. Prometheus stole fire from Hephaestus and technology from Athena, but that wasn’t enough for mankind to survive. Realizing this, Plato tells us in Gorgias, Prometheus gave us another, a much greater gift. We’ll get to that in a moment.

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Michael Steinhardt thinks American Jews need to stop focusing on religion

Posted on June 26th, 2017
By Ben Sales for JTA

Michael Steinhardt has poured millions of dollars into ventures for American Jews. But he’s no fan of American Judaism.

The hedge-fund billionaire turned mega-philanthropist is best known as the founder of Birthright Israel, the 10-day free trip to Israel for Jewish young adults. More recently, he’s founded a network of publicly funded Hebrew-language charter schools. His latest endeavor is a natural history museum at Tel Aviv University that will host exhibits on the flora and fauna of Israel and the Middle East.

JTA visited Steinhardt at his New York estate, where he spoke about why he thinks American Jewish education needs to change, what to do with the hundreds of thousands of Birthright alumni once they return home, and why he’s not worried about college students who rail against Israel.

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