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Posted on February 27th, 2017
By Stephanie Butnick for Tablet Magazine  

Researchers identify 350-person founding population of Ashkenazi Jewry

According to a new study, all Ashkenazi Jews are basically cousins. More specifically, Ashkenazi Jews are at least 30th cousins. LiveScience reports on the international team’s new study, which found that “the central and eastern European Jewish population, known as Ashkenazi Jews, from whom most American Jews are descended, started from a founding population of about 350 people between 600 and 800 years ago.”

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How American Jews Have Detached Themselves from Jewish Memory

Posted on February 20th, 2017
Daniel Gordis for Mosaic

In recent years they’ve let go of both ancient communal memory and recent political memory. No wonder they’re now letting go of Israel.

Elliott Abrams is clearly correct in asserting both that American Jews are moving away from support of Israel and that this tectonic shift is traceable much less to Israel’s policies than to the manner in which American Jews now constitute their worldview and their Jewish identities.

As it happens, I am somewhat more critical than Abrams of the policies (or lack of policies) pursued by the Netanyahu government. Admittedly, there are few if any good moves that Israel can make on the international chessboard these days; but the optics have been significantly worse than they could have been. Still, nothing one might say on this point diminishes the rightness, or the importance, of Abrams’ thesis: the root cause of the growing gulf between the world’s two largest Jewish communities lies in the way that most American Jews now conceive of themselves and their Jewishness.

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Largest Collection of Hebrew Books Sold to Israel Library

Posted on February 13th, 2017

The National Library of Israel has just acquired the largest private collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world — including rare treasures such as a 1491 chumash from Lisbon, Portugal, and one of only two surviving copies of a 1556 Passover Haggadah from Prague.

The complex deal for the famed Valmadonna Trust Library, was brokered by Sotheby’s New York, which called it “the finest private library of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world.” The deal involved an agreement between the National Library of Israel and the private collectors Dr. David and Yemima Yazelson, according to the National Library of Israel’s website.

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Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month

Posted on February 6th, 2017
From Jewish Learning Venture

Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM) is a unified national initiative during the month of February to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide.

The Jewish Special Needs/Disability Inclusion Consortium of Greater Philadelphia invites your synagogue or organization to join with other synagogues across the area to dedicate a Shabbat service during the month of February (JDAIM) to focus on disability inclusion issues.

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Sicily Gets Its First New Synagogue in 500 Years

Posted on January 30th, 2017
BY ILANA SICHEL for Jewniverse

An unlikely thing is happening in Sicily. Over five centuries after the expulsion of the Italian island’s Jewish population, the ancient synagogue in its capital city is re-opening its doors. As of Thursday night, January 12, Palermo’s tiny Jewish community will have a new (but actually very old) place to worship and gather.

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