This weekend: Pool fun, patriotic ‘party with purpose’

Sunday/July 1

Fun Day Sunday: It’ll be another hot weekend so why not spend some time in the pool? The Valley of the Sun JCC is having its Fun Day Sunday, where aquatic staff host activities at the pool for families.  11 a.m.- 2 p.m.

Get patriotic: JLive, a group for Jewish young professionals, is hosting “Party with a Purpose” that will benefit koshertroops.com, a nonprofit organization committed to supporting Jewish American soldiers. The event, to be held at 7:30 p.m. a private home in Scottsdale, will include barbecue, beer, music and preparing gifts for Jewish American soldiers. Participants are encouraged to show their support for the troops by bringing a personalized letter to a Jewish solider, wishing them a Happy Independence Day or a Shabbat Shalom. Cost is $10. To register, call 480-390-6173 or email.

Candlelighting is at 7:24 p.m.

Shabbat Shalom and have a fun and safe Fourth of July!

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Jewish News mourns death of former staff writer

Jewish News was saddened to hear about the death of its former staff writer Randi Weinstein (formerly Randi Barocas), 40,  who wrote for the newspaper in 1997 and 1998 and most recently was the managing editor of the Phoenix Business Journal.

“Randi began her professional career as a staff writer at Jewish News,” said Jewish News Publisher Florence Eckstein. “She was talented, bright and wonderful to work with. Her death is an unfathomable loss to her family, friends and colleagues.”

Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, June 28, at Sunland Memorial, 15826 Del Webb Blvd., Sun City.


Jewish voices on SB 1070 ruling

National Jewish organizations that filed amicus briefs in Arizona v. United States — the lawsuit over Arziona’s SB 1070 immigration law — have issued statements on today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

• HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society):  “Though we view the positive part of this ruling as another step in the advancement of immigrant rights – forwarded recently by President Obama’s executive order halting deportations of Dream-Act eligible individuals – we remain extremely concerned about the potential for racial profiling as a result of today’s decision,” said Mark Hetfield, HIAS’ president and CEO (interim). “HIAS once again calls upon Congress to move forward with just and humane immigration reform.” Read the whole statement here.

• ADL (Anti-Defamation League):  “The good news is the Court invalidated a number of key provisions of the Arizona law, sending a message to other states that they should exercise caution in attempting to legislate new restrictions on how undocumented immigrants are treated,”  said a joint statement issued by Robert G. Sugarman, ADL’s national chair, and Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director.  “The bad news is one provision of the law, Section 2(B), was allowed to remain in place.  … We are deeply troubled that Section 2(B) was not struck down.  One of our primary concerns has been that Arizona’s law would exacerbate fear in immigrant communities and, in particular, make victims and witnesses of hate crimes reluctant to speak with police.” Read more here.

• NCJW (National Council of Jewish Women): “The court struck down the most egregious portions of Arizona’s law on the grounds that federal law preempts state law regarding immigration enforcement,” said Nancy K. Kaufman, NCJW’s CEO. “As a result, police will not be able make arrests based solely on the suspicion that a targeted person lacks immigration papers. The state may not make it a crime to apply for a job without papers or to fail to have such papers on one’s person. Unfortunately, the court let stand a provision that requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone whom they arrest — troubling in view of the racial profiling that often results — but implied that further challenges to that part of the state’s law could be heard in the future.” Read the statement here.

• AJC (American Jewish Committee): “There is no doubt that our nation’s immigration laws must be reformed, but those reforms must come from Congress, not from states enacting piecemeal immigration enforcement legislation,” said Richard Foltin, AJC’s director of national and legislative affairs. Read more here.


Back from life on the road

John and Diane Eckstein, and their dog Kipp, just returned from five months on the road to promote Citizenship Counts, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Phoenix dedicated to inspiring young people to appreciate the value and responsibility of citizenship. To learn more about the journey, see  “Hitting the Road” and “Life on the Road.”

We’ll feature the highlights of their trip next week.


This Weekend: Israel Scouts

The Israel Scouts Friendship Caravan will perform throughout Arizona June 24-28.

The can’t-miss event this weekend is the Israel Scouts (and there are several opportunities to see them throughout the week, too).

The community should thank Irwin Harris, who since the 1970s has been instrumental in bringing the Israel Scouts Friendship Caravan – Israeli teens who serve as goodwill ambassadors for Israel, singing and dancing their way around the state – to Arizona. All performances are free. See a sample of the performance here.

A group of volunteers, now coordinated by Steve Rosenbaum, works throughout the year to bring the Scouts to Phoenix.

Here is this year’s schedule:

Sunday/June 24 11 a.m.  Temple Beth Shalom
Sunday/June 24:   4:30 p.m. Temple Chai 
Monday/June 25: 7 p.m. Har Zion Congregation
Tuesday/June 26: 1 p.m., Grand Canyon University
Tuesday/June 26   7 p.m. Congregation Or Chadash
Wednesday/June 27   7 p.m. Temple Solel
Thursday/June 28  7 p.m. Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley

Candlelighting time is 7:23 p.m.

Shabbat Shalom!


Butwin Burial Fund

The family of Yafit Butwin has set up a burial fund to bring Yafit and her three children to Israel, her homeland, for burial.

The mother and her children — Malissa, 16; Daniel, 14; and Matthew, 7, were found shot to death in a burnt SUV in the Vekol Valley on June 2, along with Yafit’s husband, James Butwin, in what the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has called a murder-suicide. The family were members of Temple Emanuel of Tempe.

(To learn more, read “Emanuel community mourns” and “Show of support: 575 at Service of Grief“)

 Yafit is survived by her mother and nine siblings, who all still live in Israel, according to a website about the burial fund, and Yafit had expressed wishes to her family to be buried in Israel.

According to the website, “Yafit’s family has very limited means and cannot pay for all the transportation and burial costs. The total transportation, processing, and burial costs to have Yafit and her children buried in Israel are approximately $40,000. Yafit’s family is willing to mortgage their homes to pay the expenses but friends of Yafit and the children wish to donate to help Yafit’s family. We are requesting donations to help alleviate the financial burden to her family at this time of tragedy. If you would like to donate here are ways you can help Yafit’s family.”


Jewish News wins first place for commentary

Congratulations to Contributing Writer Vicki Cabot for receiving a  first-place award tonight from the American Jewish Press Association (AJPA) for her commentaries “Renewal of Spirit,” “Mother (Earth) to Mother” and “Passover Past, Passover Future.”

The Simon Rockower Award – the Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary – was presented at the AJPA 2012 annual conference’s gala tonight at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

Congratulations, Vicki!


AZ Justice Hurwitz confirmed to U.S. court

By a voice vote, the U.S. Senate today confirmed Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Hurwitz to serve on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who serves on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, released a statement saying, “As a member of the Arizona Supreme Court for nearly a decade, Justice Hurwitz has proved an able jurist. While I understand the concern expressed by some of my colleagues, I believe it is misplaced. To my knowledge, he has never allowed his personal views to improperly influence judicial decisions. His record gives me confidence that he will continue to judge cases strictly on their merits.”

The Associated Press reported that the Senate confirmed Hurwitz, “despite opposition from Republican opponents on Monday to bringing the nomination to a vote.” The report noted, “Hurwitz once clerked for U.S. District Judge Jon Newman of Connecticut, who in 1972 wrote two opinions that were the forerunners of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion four decades ago.”

Both Kyl and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) supported Hurwitz’s nomination.

For some background on the judge, click here.


A sad shalom

I have been in the news business since 1975, and this is the most painful story I’ve ever had to cover. It’s been a week to the day since the Butwin family was celebrating the 47th birthday of James Butwin.

Today, we got the piece of the news that none of us who knew the family really wanted to hear.

Dr. Gregory Hess, the chief medical examiner of Pima County, confirmed that all five members of the Tempe family were in the burning SUV found last Saturday morning in a desert area of Pinal County.

Hess also said that the pathologist, Dr. Veena Singh, had determined they had died of gunshot wounds and that James Butwin’s wound was self-inflicted.

There’s nothing more to say. May their memories be a blessing and may they rest in peace as we enter Shabbat. — Salvatore Caputo


This weekend: ‘Shabbat Shabeer’ and Birthright Shabbat

Although the first day of summer isn’t officially until June 20 this year, the Valley appears to have already switched to summer mode. The calendar is a little light this weekend, but here are two Shabbat programs to enjoy.

Friday/June 8

Pop Shabbat Shira and ‘Shabbat Shabeer’: Join Todd Herzog and his band for a musical 6 p.m. Shabbat service then visit the 7:15 p.m. Shabbat lounge, for couples and singles ages 21-45. Register here.

Saturday/June 9

Birthright Shabbat: Congregation Beth Tefillah hosts a Birthright Shabbat during Shabbat services, 9:30 a.m.-noon, which will feature a reunion for Birthright participants, a presentation about the program and about the program’s achievements over the past 13 years. Guest speakers are Art Paikowsky, senior vice president for development of the Birthright Israel Foundation, and leaders of student groups on Birthright missions.

Candlelighting time is 7:19 p.m.

Shabbat Shalom!