This weekend: Tisha b’Av on Shabbat

This year, Tisha b’Av  – the ninth day of the month of Av and the saddest day on the Jewish calendar – falls on Shabbat. Because of the holiness of Shabbat, the Tisha b’Av is postponed to after Shabbat, according to an email we received from Chabad. The fast begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28, and continues through 7:57 p.m. on Sunday.

What does this mean to those who observe Tisha b’Av – the date on which both the Temples were destroyed? Here are some guidelines from the Rohr Chabad Center at Arizona State University website.

On the eve of Tisha b’Av, commemorations include reading the Book of Lamentations. For more details, click here.
Here is a list of local Tisha b’Av commemorations that we received; contact your local synagogue for others.

  • Chabad Center for Jewish Life: Book of Lamentations readings and candlelight discussion. 8:20 p.m. at 3875 W. Ray Road, Suite 6, Chandler. Reservations: 480-855-4333.
  • Congregation Or Chadash and Temple Beth Sholom of the East Valley join together for an evening of learning and community. 7:30 p.m. at Or Chadash, 9096 E. Bahia Drive, Suite 106, Scottsdale. 480-342-8858.
  • Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley: Poetry, meditative readings and the chanting of the Book of Lamentations. 7:30 p.m. at 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.

Update on Bulgaria bombing and how to help

ZAKA volunteers examining the scene of the terror attack on the Israeli tour bus at the Sarafovo Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria on July 18. Photo courtesy of ZAKA.

We were horrified to hear about the barbaric bombing in Bulgaria yesterday that took the lives of innocent people. If you want to help the surviving victims and the families of those killed, the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for the Victims of Terror is accepting donations.

The fund will provide financial assistance to Israelis wounded in the attack in Bulgaria and to the families of those killed.  The assistance, made possible by a contribution from The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), is meant to help those affected by the attack address supplemental needs not covered by Israeli government bodies.  Any family that experienced the loss or injury of a loved one in the attack may request assistance from the fund.

One of the survivors shared his account of the tragedy here.

Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky said that the assistance provided by The Jewish Federations of North America demonstrates the solidarity of Jews around the world with the terrible pain of those Israelis wounded in the attack and with the deep mourning of the families of those killed.

The Jewish Agency’s Fund for the Victims of Terror, established in 2002, provides financial assistance to victims of terror in Israel.  Since its establishment, the fund—which is sustained by contributions from Jewish federations, philanthropic foundations, and donors around the world—has enabled The Jewish Agency to provide thousands of terror victims and their families with assistance at a scope of more than NIS 100 million.

Sinema’s email chain on ‘demilitarized Palestine’

We’ve obtained an email from someone who identifies himself as Ahmed Al-Sidawi that appears to have been sent July 11 to candidates for the District 9 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives:

Dear candidates,

I have been working with one candidate to educate her on the importance of human rights in Palestine. I would like to open that opportunity for dialogue with all other candidates. Would you be interested to learn the real truth about the Middle East Peace process?  If each candidate can send a one paragraph statement on their position on Palestinian issues, I will work to begin this dialogue. Please e-mail a time and date that work for you to meet with leaders of the Muslim community.


Ahmed Al-Sidawi

Below that note is a string of emails between Al-Sidawi and Kyrsten Sinema, the former Arizona state senator who is running in the Democratic Party’s primary in the district. To make a long story short, Al-Sidawi presses Sinema on her position paper that supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What had him up in arms was that her position paper calls for the potential Palestinian state to be demilitarized. He writes: “You talk about how there should be a ‘demilitarized Palestine.’  Please explain – this is no different than saying you cannot have a state for Palestine. This is not acceptable. This is a violation of international law and goes against everything we know is right.”

Multiple emails are exchanged. And in one of her responses to him, Sinema writes: “I have never even used the term demilitarized Palestine, so I have no idea where that came from.”

He presses her for a meeting with the local Palestinian Arab community, saying: “we would like you to remove offensive language from your policy paper. That would include ‘demilitarized’ and it should include a statement that you believe in US ‘neutrality’ as Israel and Palestine negotiate a two-state solution.” Then, he suggests: “We understand if you cannot alter your statement as it is done but we would need private assurance that this is your position – that you disavow the offensive language from your policy paper and that your position, as you said to me, is US neutrality as Israel and Palestine negotiate.”

Her response on June 23, concluded: “Thank you SO much for contacting me. Running a campaign for Congress is busy and difficult, and one relies on staff immensely. I also rely on friends in the community to help ensure that all our materials accurately reflect my opinion. Thank you for being that friend.”

This is where the email stream ends in Al-Sidawi’s missive to the other candidates, which according to the time stamp was sent July 11.

As soon as we obtained this email, we contacted Sinema’s campaign chief, Rodd McLeod, who responded by forwarding an email stream that included all of the above (except for Al-Sidawi’s note to all the candidates) and more communication between Al-Sidawi and Sinema that took place from June 26 through July 11.

McLeod highlighted Sinema’s final note to Al-Sidawi, which is time-stamped 7:21 p.m. July 11, about four hours after Al-Sidawi sent his note to other candidates: “I am eager to hear more from you and the Palestinian and Muslim communities about your perspective.  After researching the issue, I do stand by the terminology used in the position paper and I’m eager to talk about why — and hear your concerns — with the Muslim community.”

So she ultimately said she would not change the position paper, which supported a demilitarized Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution, after Al-Sidawi sent his note to everyone else in the race.

A column she sent to Jewish News regarding Israel and peace efforts was consistent with this stance.

These are the facts — at least as much as can be determined by looking at email chains. But here’s a question to ponder, how did someone like Al-Sidawi, who is clearly seeking a backroom deal with Sinema (that effort to get private assurance regardless of what she put out as a public position paper), become so naive that he sends the whole conversation to her political rivals to help make mincemeat of her?

Camp Charles Pearlstein to be renamed this weekend

This is the last week that Arizona’s longest-lived Jewish residential camp will be called Camp Charles Pearlstein. Next weekend, it will be rededicated as Camp Stein.

Alumni of the camp, which opened in 1975, are invited to an alumni Shabbat this Friday night and a renaming ceremony will be held the next evening. However, the name change won’t go into effect until this summer’s camp sessions are over, according to Jodi Woodnick, who has served as the camp’s director for 10 years (and was one of my campers when I was a junior counselor there).

With the camp’s renaming — a result of a donation by Jill and Jay Stein family in honor of Jay’s parents, Daisy and Harry Stein — come other changes, as well. Congregation Beth Israel, which owns the camp, recently purchased the 23 acres of land used by the camp, as well as an additional 32 acres. Now that Beth Israel owns the property, there are plans for a capital campaign, Rabbi Stephen Kahn told Jewish News in March, after the Beth Israel board approved the bid to purchase the land.

As one of the thousands of campers through the years who spent summers at the Prescott camp, I just wanted to personally thank the Pearlstein family for their foresight and generosity in establishing the camp so many years ago. It will always be CCP to me, but I hope Camp Stein will provide wonderful Jewish camp experiences for many generations to come.

This weekend: LuWow pool parties, 40-something movie night

Sunday/July 15

The Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center’s pool was recently converted from chlorine to saltwater. Photo courtesy of VOSJCC

LuWow pool parties: The Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus has gone green and the Jewish Community Association and the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center are celebrating by hosting two pool parties this weekend: One for families on Sunday afternoon and an adults-only party Sunday night. Find out the details here.

Movie night: Arizona Jewish Top 40 (JTF), a group for Jewish 40-somethings, is hosting a movie night on Sunday. The evening includes a private screening of the award-winning film “The Yankles,” a comedy about a major-league baseball player who is brought in to coach a yeshiva baseball team.

Cost is $20 at the door, cash-only, and tickets include a kosher catered meal and movie snacks. All attendees will be entered for a chance to win one of three FilmBar gift certificates for two free movie passes to an upcoming film. Winners must be present to win.

Watch a trailer from the film here. Follow JTF on Facebook.

Candlelighting time is at 7:21 p.m.

Shabbat Shalom!

For the politically minded

This is the election cycle in which new State Legislative and Congressional districts go into effect. There was controversy over whether Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission did the job of reapportionment in a nonpartisan manner or whether it was as partisan in drawing new boundaries as state legislatures have proven to be. Regardless of the kvetching over that issue, the districts are what they are for the present and foreseeable future, so if you’re wondering where the new Congressional District 9 (he subject of our previous staff blog) is or where any of Arizona’s other Congressional or Legislative Districts are, here are some valuable tools.

If you want to know which district you’re in? Go to the district locator. Type in your home address and ZIP and it will tell you.

If you want to see full maps of the various districts, go to the district maps page. The Congressional maps are at the top of the page, and you can download them in jpg or pdf formats or can be accessed via a link to Google! maps. The Legislative maps are lower on the page and available in the same file formats and through Google.

(Can you tell we’re readying our Primary Election Voter’s Guide, which we’ll publish July 27?)

A look at CD 9

While researching the race for the seat in Arizona’s new Congressional District 9 — which features two Jewish candidates, David Schapira and Andrei Cherny — we found this video of a candidates’ forum that lets you hear the views of most of the candidates running.

They don’t discuss foreign policy, such as U.S. policy toward Israel, although there’s some discussion of war and its cost to the economy and how defense cuts might affect our security.

Running on the Democrats’ side are Cherny, Schapira and Kyrsten Sinema. On the Republican side are Lisa Borowsky, Leah Campos Schandlbauer, Travis Grantham, Vernon Parker, Wendy Rogers, Martin Sepulveda and Jeff Thompson. Of these, Borowsky and Campos Schandlbauer did not participate in this forum, hosted by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce.

The format is a round robin where each candidate has two minutes to answer a specific question. It’s not a debate, so there’s no rebuttal or crossfire. However, because the forum focused on domestic issues, the candidates do  come back to themes that overlap the specific questions they’re being asked and so respond to one another’s arguments in that way.

While the policy views may be polarized, the candidates seem extremely civil in the forum. Issues that are touched upon are resolving the budget deficit and tax policy, the Affordable Care Act, energy, jobs, and specific programs the candidates would cut and specific taxes they would raise to help balance the budget and retire the debt.

It took place June 4, but it’s still relevant as residents of District 9 consider their options in the primary race. Here’s the video. Warning, it’s roughly two hours and six minutes long (there’s about two minutes of a public service announcement at the end of the video), so make sure you have an unhurried chunk of time to view it.

We’ll provide links to more of these videos as we find them during the campaign season.

‘Aly’ and Edon in pop kulcha spotlight

Gone viral is a video of gymnast Alexandra “Aly” Raisman doing her floor routine to “Hava Nagila.” The 17-year-old Jewish gymnast is reportedly ready for an appearance at the London Olympics and planning to do the same routine there. Check out her routine here.

Meanwhile, in the continuing sage of pianist/singer Edon: Howie Mandel and Howard Stern voted for him in Judge’s Choice elimination round Tuesday night, so the 14-year-old is moving on to the next round of “America’s Got Talent.” We’ll have further details on where and when you can vote for Edon, when his turn comes up.

Meeting a hero

Members of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale recently returned from the synagogue’s first congregation trip to Israel, led by Rabbi Pinchas Allouche.

Upon returning from the trip, Rabbi Allouche shared his reflections about his trip, including an inspirational meeting with Lieutenant Aharon Karov, who was a commander of a combat company in the IDF’s Paratrooper Brigade when he was called up for service in the 2006 Gaza War on the morning after his wedding, according to Rabbi Allouche. “Three days later, he was critically wounded in a booby-trapped house, in which he was hit by more than 300 shards of shrapnel. The doctor’s initial predictions were that Aharon would not live. He underwent six operations on his head and chest in the course of 12 hours, as well as five face-reconstruction surgeries. He made a dramatic and miraculous recovery, regaining consciousness within days, and leaving the Intensive Care Unit shortly thereafter. Today, Aharon and his wife, Tziviah, are the proud parents of a baby girl, whom they call ‘the miracle of miracles.’ ”

Read more about this encounter here.



More Edon

Mazel tov to Edon, who impressed the celebrity judges on “America’s Got Talent” last night. If you missed him, check out what he did here. The fate of this week’s contestants will be announced on tonight’s show, which airs locally 8-9 p.m. on KPNX-TV, Channel 12. Image