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The mission of the Jewish Federation of Peoria is to serve the Jewish people locally, in Israel, and throughout the world through coordinated fundraising, community-wide programming, social services, and social- cultural-educational activities.

Luach for Peoria, United States

  • January 27, 2015
  • 7 Shevat 5775
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    • Shabbos ends: January 31, 2015 7:00 pm
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    • will come on Wednesday
      February 4, 2015
      15 Shevat 5775

Jewish Arts & Culture

In Israel, Clean Tech is Not a New Thing

By Marc Gunther, Sustainable Business Forum - January 14, 2013

Sounding more like a clean tech venture capitalist than a head of state, David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, once said that Israel requires “the study of desalination, massive utilization of solar energy, preventing waste of useful rainwater and maximization of power from wind turbines.”


David Ben-Gurion, clean tech pioneer

Ben Gurion, who was born in 1886, said this in 1955. This was a man ahead of his time.Since then, an Israeli company called Netafim pioneered the idea of drip irrigation in agriculture to save water, another called Luz built the first solar thermal power plants, still another called IDE Technologies became a global leader in desalination and Chromagen developed solar thermal water heaters that can be found on most rooftops in Israel, and elsewhere.

Today, Israel, which has been dubbed Startup Nation, remains a seedbed of clean tech innovation–last year it ranked second in the world (behind Denmark) in a report called Coming Clean: The Cleantech Global Innovation Index 2012 [PDF, download] by CleanTech Group and WWF. I visited Israel last week, and had a chance to talk with a founder of Israel Cleantech Ventures, the chairman of a company called Miya Water and executives at electric-car company Better Place. I’ll report this week on my findings.

First, some context. As Ben-Gurion saw more than half a century ago, Israel is short on natural resources–water, land, oil–and thus needs to use what it has efficiently. This is the biggest, but not the only, explanation for the growth of Israeli clean tech. Most everyone serves in the military, exposing them to advanced technology. Ariella Grinberg, a young associate with Israel Cleantech Ventures, told me she did her service in the Israeli equivalent of the US’s super-secret NSA (National Security Agency), overseeing a multimillion dollar budget and sophisticated software, when she was just 19. The country also benefits from its world-class colleges and universities, among the Israel Institute of Technology, aka the Technion, the nation’s oldest university. (Here’s a fun example of what their students can do.) A strong entrepreneurial spirit pervades the culture, which may also have its roots in universal military service. “People come out of the army, they’re tired of taking orders, they want to be their own boss,” one executive told me. Finally, targeted government support for basic research has helped underwrite the sector.


Jack Levy


Jack Levy

Jack Levy of Israel Cleantech Ventures (ICV) was born in the US, educated at Harvard and Columbia, and chose to move to Israel in 2003 because he wanted to help build the nation. He worked at an Internet startup called before founding ICV in 2006 with Meir Ukeles, a classmate from his Jewish day school in New York who worked on Wall Street and in venture capital, and Glen Schwaber, a college friend who also came out of the venture world. They have raised money in Israel, Europe and the US, close to $150 million in all.

Based in Kfar Hayarok, about 35 minutes north of Tel Aviv, ICV was the nation’s first green technology fund, but it required no explanation.

“For five decades, the mentality was that we have few resources, that we have to make do with less,” Jack said.

The fund invests in very early stage Israel companies, working closely with the management team and connecting the startups with international partners.

“Israel is a beta site for a lot of our companies,” Jack told me. “But the real market is global.”

The company has made a dozen investments, most small. Among the most interesting:

  • Pythagoras Solar makes building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products–basically, windows that generate solar energy, as well as shading and insulation. Founded in 2007, and with operations in Israel, China and the US, Pythagoras says it “will advance distributed power generation” and “help achieve Net Zero Energy Buildings.” Its first solar windows were installed last year at the LaFarge, Wisconsin, headquarters of Organic Valley, the organic farmers’ cooperative. Pythagoras is working closely with Guardian, a major Michigan-based glass maker.
  • Cellera is an early-stage fuel cell company whose technology eliminates the need for platinum in fuel cells, thereby lowering costs. Vodafone Ventures, the global venture capital arm of Vodafone Group, has invested in Cellera because its fuel cells could be economically used to provide backup power for mobile phone towers in the developing world. The company was started by Shimshon Gottesfeld and his son, Ziv; the senior Gottesfeld was for 16 years the fuel cell technology group leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  • Emefcy is developing what it calls a “bio-electro-chemical” process for generating electricity, using wastewater as a fuel. As Jack explained it to be, tiny microbes are introduced into wastewater that remove waste and turn it into tiny bits of electricity that can be captured and fed into the grid. “The vision is that you could create energy-free waste water treatment,” he said. Last year, True North Venture Partners, a VC firm founded by Mike Ahearn, the former CEO of First Solar, and Energy Technology Ventures, a joint venture of GE, ConocoPhillips and NRG Energy, invested in Emefcy.

Not all of ICV’s investments will pay off of course but that, too, is business as usual for Israelis. No one who wants a safe and predictable existence would move to Israel.

“We’re a risk-taking nation,” Jack said. “Failure is part of life. You learn from failure, and keep going.”


Q and A with Matisyahu: ‘Hasidic reggae superstar’ sans the Hasidim

By Dan Merica and Eric Weisbrod, CNN

Washington (CNN)–
It has been a year since Matisyahu, the famed Hasidic reggae star, shaved his beard, separated from his devout following of Orthodox Judaism and said he was ready for a “rebirth.”

Since that time, he has produced new music including a recently released album, “Spark Seeker” and is ready to stop talking about his big change. Of course, we asked him about it anyway.

In his view, it was his decision to get into Hasidism and it was his decision to get out.

The beardless, but still scruffy, artist is touring the country with a show that included lighting a menorah during Hanukkah. We caught up with him in Washington to talk about his album, his new take on Judaism and how his life has changed in the last year.

The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Belief: Thanks for having us. Let’s talk about the new album, “Spark Seeker.” It’s incredibly diverse; it jumps from pop to hip-hop to reggae. How is this album different from your past work?

Matisyahu: Whenever I approach a record I don’t really have a science to it. I approach every record differently. First record was in a home studio. Second record was a live record. Third record was made while I was on tour. Fourth record was made over the course of like two years in David Kahn’s basement. This record was basically I got friendly with this producer, Kojak, and I started recording with him whenever I was in L.A.

Belief: How does Judaism influence this album specifically?

Matisyahu: Judaism is just such a huge part of who I am. I don’t think I could separate that at this point. I spent 10 years sort of really immersed heavily in the practice and in the study of Judaism. This record was made when, I wouldn’t say phase out, but when I started to expand and explore and let go of a lot of that. But it’s still such a part of me that it’s inescapable.

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Belief: Last year, you notably left Hasidism, because you “took it as far as you could take it” and you “started finding other things resonating.” What was it about Hasidism that caused that feeling and what else resonated with you?

Matisyahu: I started out in the Chabad movement, and I started pretty closed up, with the idea of there being that “this is it.” I bought into that fully. I really explored in depth the Chabad ideology. Then I started to open up. … I started to explore other types of Hasidism. … Eventually I began to regain trust into my own intuition and my own sense of right and wrong. I began to realize that there were a lot of things within that lifestyle that were actually holding me back. That were sort of weighting heavy down on me and keeping me from tasting a certain freedom of expression.

Belief: What specifically was weighing on you?

Matisyahu: In Judaism there are a lot of rules everything from which fingernail you cut first to which side you sleep on in bed, to the way you get dressed in the morning, to actual ideas, like ideas about being chosen people or ideas about female/male and how to interact with people from the opposite sex. So all those things that I tried to mold myself into that never really jibed. When I’m talking about all the heaviness, I’m really talking about the rules. So at a certain point … I basically said, “I don’t need to do all these things. It’s my life, I can choose how I want to worship God, what words I want to say. I can say less words.” And once I let go of that, just sort of like a freedom that opened up that I began to taste, this freedom in my life that I had been missing.


Matisyahu before and after shaving his beard.

Belief: Was there a single moment when you knew you were going to shave the beard?

Matisyahu: Over the course of years, I was thinking about it, but there was a time when it just came down to this moment where I was like, “All right, I need to move now, it is time to shift.” And I was going back and forth with it, the pros, the cons, what do I believe, this thing or that thing, and I kept going back and forth. Then there was an actual moment where, I remember, I was walking down the street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I just realized, it just clicked. “I can let go. It is my life.” That was it, “It is my life.” And then at that moment it was like a backpack of bricks just came off.

Belief: Your change shocked a lot of people. Why do you think that was their first reaction?

Matisyahu: Because I was a Hasidic reggae superstar. My whole thing was the Hasidic thing. I guess people aren’t used to change so much. I’ve been through lots of different phases, but when I made that commitment and jumped into it, when you take on that ultimate reality, a lot of people don’t usually leave from that. That’s it. It’s ingrained into you. This is the way, and to let go of that takes some chutzpah.

Belief: Did you worry when you shaved it off that you were going to lose that artistic hook as that Hasidic rapper?

Matisyahu: No. Because I believe in my music and I always have. I never felt that I was getting fans because of this. I felt it helped put me on the map and get me attention because I always had that surprise attack element to what I did, because I was a white boy singing reggae music with an authentic reggae patois.

Belief: How did you react to the negative responses from the Hasidic community?

Matisyahu: I tried to stay off the Internet. I had moved out of Crown Heights (neighborhood of Brooklyn). I didn’t want to confront the people over there. I think that most Hasidic people that I know, that I am actually friends with or that are acquaintances, all say that they think I seem like a happier person now than I was then, and they respect my decision. There were times, late at night or whatever, where I would go online and I was interested or I would check it out, but it always came back to bite me in the ass because you read those comments that are just mean and it hurts.

Belief: Did it bother you that people may have initially gravitated to you because of your appearance as an outwardly religious Jew?

Matisyahu: It didn’t bother me, I represented different things to different people. At a certain point early on in my career it became obvious to me that the majority of my fans at my shows, that were buying my music, most of them had no idea what Hasidism was. A lot of them had no clue I was even Jewish. Or they knew that I was Jewish, but that wasn’t the main thing for them. It was my music, it was the lyrics, it was the music that was inspiring and empowering people. And then there were people that it was more about, “OK, here’s this Jewish guy who is making Judaism cool, representing Judaism to the rest of the world,” and for them, a lot of that was very much tied into my look. So I didn’t really care, I was proud to do that. I was proud to represent for the Jewish people. I figured, who else should do it if not me?

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Belief: You have three children. How do you approach Judaism with them?

Matisyahu: In terms of the religious aspect, I tell them nobody knows the way. Yeah, there are teachers and people will tell you there is a way, this is like the Torah from God and these rules are from God, but I tell them that you have to decide in your life what’s real for you. I take the things I feel are enriching and meaningful and those are the things that I focus on. But I’m not like running around the house telling them to throw on your yarmulke and telling them to say this blessing or that blessing, or to study this thing. I feel like it will come to them as they get older.

Belief: Do you consider yourself the Jewish pop star and the answer to the Christmas albums that we see dropping this time of year?

Matisyahu: I just wanted to make Hanukkah songs. Hanukkah is the (Jewish) holiday that is the most mainstream in America. I felt, I am the Jew who is the most mainstream, who is giving people a glimpse into Judaism via my music. I felt a real strong connection and still do with Hanukkah. So it started out by doing concerts on Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights tour, and then, yeah, let’s make some Hanukkah songs. Let me make a Hanukkah song that kids can listen to, party to and get the spirituality of it, because it is not just about dreidels and having fun. There is a depth to the holiday. So I tried to combine those things into a song.

The Belief Blog’s Hanukkah kitsch gift list

Belief: Why are there so few notable Hanukkah songs?

Matisyahu: The Jews were too busy writing Christmas songs. All of those songs are written by Jews Irving Berlin, “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells” all those songs are written by Jews. … The Jewish people are smart, they know where they can make a buck or two.

Belief: Do you look up to other artists who have made Hanukkah songs?

Matisyahu: It is not “other,” it is just one Adam Sandler. He wrote one Hanukkah song, it is the only Hanukkah song in my book that has ever been written. It made us all feel great and, whatever it was, 10, 15 years ago, Jews felt good when that song came out.

Belief: Does it bother you that his song is “the only Hanukkah song that has ever been written”?

Matisyahu: I feel like, let the Christians have their time. It is Christmas, there are a lot more Christians in this country than Jews. For us, for Jews, it is not the biggest holiday in the world. It is not the most meaningful one. It is good, but who cares. We don’t have to be always equal with them. We are a smaller people. Our impact on the world is tremendous. We don’t need people recognizing all the time.

Belief: Two years ago this interview would have been very different. In a year, if we were to talk again, where would you see yourself, what do you hope to be doing?

Matisyahu: In a year from now I hope to have another record out. I don’t see myself as making any more drastic changes. I think I just hopefully keep growing, keep evolving.


Matisyahu Releases New Song for Hanukkah, Proceeds to Benefit Sandy Relief Efforts (VIDEO)

November 29, 2012  By Zach Pontz of the Algemeiner.

Matisyahu, the acclaimed Jewish rapper who made waves late last year when he shaved his beard, recently released a new song for Hanukkah. All proceeds of the song, appropriately titled, “Happy Hanukkah,” are being donated to Hurricane Sandy relief through the end of the holiday.“I am from New York and wanted to give back to my incredible community in the wake of Hurricane Sandy,” said Matisyahu.  Donations from the song will continue to benefit The Jewish Federations of North America and The Robin Hood Foundation until the end of Hanukkah on December 16.

On December 8, Matisyahu will kick off his sixth annual “Festival of Light” tour.





Music Voyager – Tel Aviv’s Music Scene

Music Voyager is a travel series that gives viewers a backstage pass  to the world’s most exciting music.  Discover Israeli music from Tel Aviv!


 Museum of the History of Polish Jews In Warsaw To Celebrate Jewish Life In Poland

By VANESSA GERA  10/28/12

Jewish Museum Poland

WARSAW, Poland — The box-like glass building rises from soil marked by tragedy in the heart of Warsaw’s former Jewish district. At certain angles, its luminous facade reflects the outlines of a dark memorial to those who fought and died in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazis.


Yet despite reminders of Jewish suffering all around, the modern building will soon open as a key remembrance site of a mostly upbeat Jewish story, becoming home to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, a major new museum dedicated to the 1,000 years of Jewish existence in Polish lands.

“It is a museum of life,” said Sigmund Rolat, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor and American benefactor who has helped bring the museum to life. “We are showing 1,000 years of a magnificent history.”

Construction of the building is nearly finished and the museum is scheduled to open in 2013 after nearly 20 years of planning. It will be a celebratory moment for those who have struggled to build a home for this story, among them Polish-born Holocaust survivors with a deep affection for their land of birth: Men like Rolat, 82, and Tad Taube, 81, a Krakow-born entrepreneur who leads two California-based philanthropies that have given $16 million to the project.

The museum fulfills a dream of Jews from around the world to preserve the rich legacy of their ancestors by creating what will be the first-ever museum of Polish Jewish history. Meanwhile, the Polish government, a major partner, also seeks to celebrate both the country’s Jewish past and its own past eras of cultural tolerance and diversity. In doing so, the young democracy hopes to burnish its Western credentials and shed a reputation for anti-Semitism that has hung over it in recent decades.

Jewish history was largely ignored in the communist era, and the fact that the museum has risen with the help of the Polish government makes it a monument to a new consciousness and wealth.

“No doubt it is thanks to democracy in Poland that this museum could be created,” said Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.

The project has faced a number of delays, some caused by the global financial crisis that for a time discouraged donations needed to complete the more than $100 million project. A public-private initiative that relies heavily on private funding, the museum has also struggled at times to persuade Jews abroad to help a project “in a country which they feel has not been particularly friendly to Jews,” Taube said.

“This was not a slam dunk,” Taube said. “But it got easier as the project rose from the ground. Doubts began to be erased.”

Museum officials say it will open in stages, with educational and cultural programs starting in April to mark the 70th anniversary of the doomed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Then in December the heart of the museum is scheduled to open: a core exhibition of eight interactive multimedia galleries organized chronologically. Using diaries, memoirs, film footage and other original sources, the story will unfold in the voices of those living in the historical moment.

With its opening, the museum is expected to join the ranks of world-class Jewish history museums like Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

What will set it apart will be its focus not on tragedy, but on creation, achievement and life. In keeping with that theme, the Warsaw museum will devote just one of the eight galleries to the Holocaust. Visitors, in fact, will not be able to access the Holocaust gallery without passing first through at least one other gallery, a reminder of the life that came long before and which still exists today in Poland’s small but growing Jewish community.

The museum will show that the Holocaust – carried out by Adolf Hitler’s Germany – was never the inevitable result of relations between Poland’s Jews and Christians, despite periods of conflict. Still, museum creators say they will not shy away from showing ugly episodes of Polish anti-Semitism that led to economic boycotts, persecution and even massacres in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The complex message can be expected to challenge stereotypes held by some Poles and some Jews.

Poles, many of whom view their nation exclusively as a land of heroism that resisted the Nazi occupation, have reacted with defensive outrage in past years when acts of anti-Semitic violence during and after the war came to light. It’s easy to imagine new controversies erupting when the museum opens and the Polish public is again confronted with oppression of Jews.

Meanwhile, many Jews across the world carry an image of Poland that ignores some nuances. Some view Poland exclusively as a land of suffering for their people, and remembrance trips to Poland tend to consist mostly of visits to Auschwitz, Treblinka, the Warsaw Ghetto memorial and other memorials to tragedy. In many cases their forefathers left Poland in the worst possible moments, with memories of suffering lingering in families. They will be asked to see that Poland, over 1,000 years of history, was for long eras a land that welcomed Jews and where they thrived.

“You don’t live in a place for a thousand years and create a great civilization if it’s one unmitigated disaster, which of course is one of the perceptions of the history of Polish Jews,” said Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, the program director of the core exhibition. “It’s a perception that was largely created by the cataclysmic events of the Holocaust. But we don’t start with the Holocaust, and we don’t end with the Holocaust.”

There is much to commemorate. The uninterrupted existence of Jews in Poland over a millennium brought great achievements to Hebrew and Yiddish culture, to science and the arts. Polish Jews also contributed in significant ways to the larger Polish culture, with poets like Julian Tuwim still loved today, studied in schools and remembered in streets names across Poland.

On the eve of World War II, the country was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community, with 3.3 million people, or 10 percent of the entire Polish population. Most were killed in the Holocaust.

“This museum honors those who died by remembering how they lived – and how they lived for a thousand years,” Kirshenblatt-Gimblett said.

The flourishing of Jewish culture and learning had an influence that reached far beyond Poland, and the museum will celebrate this legacy too. Israel’s early leaders included Polish-born Jews like David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin. Poland was also the homeland of many who contributed to American and global culture: Albert Sabin, who developed a vaccine for polio; Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Nobel-winning writer whose books powerfully evoke the lost Yiddish world of his youth; Hollywood pioneers Harry Warner and Samuel Goldwyn; pianist Arthur Rubinstein and entrepreneurs like Max Factor and Helena Rubinstein.

The museum’s central story of long life interrupted by tragedy is also carried in the striking architecture of the building, designed by Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamaki. On the outside, it is a square box of glass panels and perforated copper that emits a sea-green hue across a vast park-like square. Its lines are simple, sharp. On the inside, visitors enter a soaring hall with undulating sand-colored walls rising in curves. The chasm shape stands as a metaphor for both the parting of the Red Sea – a reference to the Jewish Biblical past – and the rupture in history created by the Holocaust.

To reach the core exhibition, visitors descend a staircase and enter an installation of sounds, light and graphics that evoke a poetic forest, a reference to the primeval forests of Poland that the first traveling Jewish merchants would have encountered 1,000 years ago. They will hear the word “Po-lin,” which is the Hebrew word for “Poland” and also means “rest here,” a reminder of how Poland became a land where Jews did indeed find rest after persecutions and expulsions from Spain and the German lands.

Visitors then leave the space of legend to enter a history that began in the 11th century, passing through periods that held both good and bad.


Seeing Israel Through Film

A majority of American Jews has never stepped foot in Israel, according to the 2012 survey of American Jewish Opinion conducted by the American Jewish Committee. So outside of news items about the latest political machinations and security threats, how does this group form impressions of Israel?

October 23 - November 4, 2012

Over the past two decades, Jewish and Israeli film festivals showcasing Israel’s growing output of both feature and documentary films seem to be filling the bill.

Seventy-nine North American cities will host Jewish or Israeli Film festivals in 2012, with estimated audiences in the tens of thousands.

Directors of a number of those festivals gathered at the recently concluded Jerusalem Film Festival to determine what North American audiences will be seeing from Israel on their big screens next year.

Isaac Zablocki, Executive director of The Other Israel Film Festival and program director of the Israel Film Center of the JCC of Manhattan, watched six films a day over the 10-day stretch of the prestigious Jerusalem Film Festival that takes place every July at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

Together with Other Israel Film Festival founder Carol Zabar, Zablocki is looking for films at the Jerusalem Festival that convey the complexity of Israeli society and help close the gaps of “cultural misunderstandings” between American Jews and Israelis. The Other Film Festival, now in its fifth year, was set up to focus on Israel’s Arab minority, but over the past two years, Zablocki explains, films dealing with “anything non-mainstream Israel” are gaining in popularity.

Israel’s diverse religious community has become the focus of a number of recent documentaries and features, but they don’t always translate well for American audiences, according to Zablocki.

Take God’s Neighbors, winner of the Anat Pirchi Feature Award at the Jerusalem Festival, for example. The film portrays the uglier side of three newly-religious Breslov Hasidim who terrorize their neighborhood in Bat Yam. “I don’t think a U.S. audience will connect,” Zablocki predicts.

Zablocki explains that the Manhattan audience for Israeli films has changed over the years. “It used to be just Zionists who came to the old Israeli films,” Zablocki says. “Now, due to the quality of Israeli film, we get a younger crowd. It used to be falafel, now it’s hummus,” he quipped. It’s the unaffiliated young Jews that every Jewish outreach organization is trying to reach that turn up to see Israeli films, Zablocki adds.

The audience for the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema is very different from the progressive young crowd in Manhattan. “Chicago is conservative. Jews here love to see Israel in a good light, so I have to be careful what we bring,” explains Beverly Braverman, a founding member of the Chicago Festival.

The Chicago Festival generally screens 15 or 16 films, including six features and nine documentaries plus one popular Israeli TV show. Most of the shows are sell-outs, according to Braverman.

However, when Braverman included the popular TV series, Arab Labor, (Avoda Aravit–Israeli slang for shoddy work) that pokes fun at Israeli Arabs trying to fit into Israeli society, “there was an empty auditorium.”

“The majority of our audience is people in their 50’s. Many in the older crowd have trouble with the sub-titles.” Braverman states bluntly. The Festival does organize special screenings for groups of Jewish teens. “That’s what I care about the most,” Braverman admits.

She is perplexed by the absence of members of the large observant community in the Chicago area and disappointed by the low interest of the non-Jewish community.

Nevertheless, according to Braverman, moving the Festival to a suburban theater has meant there are more sold out films every year. “For $11 you can support Israel,” notes Braverman.

Braverman has been coming to the Jerusalem Film Festival since 2005 to select films for her audience. Like Zablocki, Braverman packs many films per day into her Jerusalem schedule. “It’s the only place to see so many great Israeli films,” she explains.

For Braverman, a lively and outgoing former trader who has made many friends over the years among Jerusalem Festival regulars, the Jerusalem festival is where she connects with distributors to negotiate deals for her low-budget independent festival and to share notes with fellow Israel film directors from around the world. “I call it film camp,” she laughs.

Tony Jassen scouts films at the Jerusalem Festival for Seattle’s Jewish Film Festival, sponsored by the local chapter of the American Jewish Committee. Jassen, a former Seattle resident now living in Jerusalem who has an MFA in scriptwriting from Tel Aviv University and a degree in film and TV production from Jerusalem’s Hadassah College, says he tries to look for films that are not “on the circuit” and that will appeal to the diverse Seattle audience. Last year, more than a third of the Seattle festival’s offerings had a Sephardic theme, reflecting the fact that Seattle is home to the third largest Sephardic community in the U.S.

“There’s no doubt the Jerusalem Film Festival is the big showcase for films and directors,” Jassen says. “Films give voice to the wide range of the Israeli experience, and that’s what it’s all about.”


Gene Simmons Sends Hebrew Message to Israeli Students

By Jspace Staff on 9/24/2012

Gene Simmons wants kids to stay in school, and he’s using Hebrew to deliver that message to youngsters.

The Haifa-born musicman recently released a video for the World ORT Shifman School in Tirat HaCarmel, the town Simmons hails from. He explains in the clip that he left Israel at the age of 8, and worked hard in America to earn success with rock group Kiss.

He urged students to “work hard, use the tools World ORT has given you to make your own luck.”

World ORT is an education group based out of the Jewish state. ORT spokesman Stefan Bialoguski said Simmons, 62, was compelled to create the video himself.

“This is just something he did from the heart,” said Bialoguski. “It’s topical given the impact we’re making at the school and at others in the periphery.”

J-Connection: Gene Simmons is Jewish. He was born Chaim Weitz.



David Broza Concert Ends Jewish Culture Week in Frankfurt, Germany: Israeli Singer’s Hebrew Music

The grand finale of the Jewish Cultural Week in Frankfurt is a live concert with David Broza, an Israeli singer who travels the world singing in English, Hebrew and Spanish. With his flamenco-tinged, folk-rock melodies, his keen talent for breathing musical life into sensual snippets of poetry, David Broza has many loyal fans in Germany and around the world who like to see him in the middle of the stage with his passion for music and a longing for peace.
Nearly 35 years after ‘Yihye Tov’ – ‘Things will be Better’ – launched his singing career, David Broza has not slowed down his pursuit of peace, poetry and music. An activist who is committed to several humanitarian causes, David Broza was appointed a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. His song “Together” – co-written with Ramsey McLean – was the theme song for the UNICEF 50th anniversary celebration in more than 148 countries.
Wilson Ruiz, Jewish News One, Germany.


Tel Aviv gears up for Lollapalooza music festival in 2013

The American Lollapalooza music festival is coming to Israel next summer. Lollapalooza Israel will be held on August 20-22, 2013, in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park.

By Uri Zer Aviv on

I’m working on something really big,” Ilan Elkayam, the CEO of Plug Productions Generator, told Haaretz at the end of July. Attempts to get more out of him simply produced an even more mysterious answer: “We’re not talking about a performance by Bruce Springsteen in Israel, but something much bigger than a Springsteen, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Madonna concert. In another week the entire world will know.”

A week passed and the official announcement hit the world press: The American Lollapalooza music festival is coming to Israel next summer. Lollapalooza Israel will be held on August 20-22, 2013, in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park. It will be the first international music festival held in Israel, and dozens of foreign artists and musicians, some very famous, others not, will take part. The list of acts will be released toward the end of the year.

Lollapalooza was founded in 1991 in Chicago by singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band Jane’s Addiction (which later got back together and appeared in Israel last year ). Farrell said he was excited about how the event had expanded around the world. The festival ran every year from 1991 to 1997, took a break for five years and restarted in 2003. Israel will now join Chile and Brazil as the event’s third location outside the U.S. festival’s site – Chicago’s Grant Park.

Lollapalooza Israel is being produced and promoted by Plug Productions Generator and NMC United, an Israeli home entertainment and music distributor and publisher. The Israeli producers say they expect the festival to be more than a one-off; they plan on it becoming an annual tradition.

The Brazilian and Chilean versions are limited compared with the Chicago original; still, appearing in Chile in 2011 were acts like Kanye West, Jane’s Addiction, 30 Seconds to Mars, the National, the Drums, the Killers, Los Bunkers, Deftones, Cypress Hill and the Flaming Lips. This year Bjork, Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys appeared in Chile.

Lollapalooza tries to offer a wide mix of genres including alternative rock, heavy metal, punk and hip hop, as well as dance, comedy and crafts. It also provides a platform for nonprofit and political groups.

When the announcement that the world’s third largest music festival was coming to Yarkon Park hit the media, it sailed a bit under the radar. The news came as the newspapers were filled with speculation about an attack on Iran – a media frenzy that reached its peak last month and added to the feeling that the Lollapalooza news was too good to be true.

2012 will probably be remembered as one of the best years for Israeli music fans. A number of artists canceled shows for political reasons, but compared with previous years these were few and far between. The offering of foreign artists was impressive: Big names such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Morrissey and Chris Cornell; and smaller indie and non-mainstream performers such as Of Montreal, the Walkmen, Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Afghan Whigs. And don’t forget Madonna.

But all these names don’t add up to a real music festival, which Israelis have had to fly to Europe or America to experience. If Lollapalooza does come off next summer, it will set a precedent for the Israeli music scene, notes Marc Geiger, a vice president of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and one of the festival’s founders.

But some here have their doubts about whether NMC and Plug can pull off the enormous enterprise. The two companies have little experience in concerts and festivals with tens of thousands of fans. And Lollapalooza has its own special culture: Most performers are considered alternative rockers.

Industry sources say the announcement was made this summer because it would let the promoters start looking for sponsors. This would give the producers time to gauge the reaction of the public and investors – and see whether a profit could be made from Lollapalooza Israel. An industry executive said such an event would need huge sponsorships, and in the end would not prove profitable. He said the organizers needed around $4-5 million in sponsorships, and a ticket would cost about NIS 500. “I don’t think these amounts will draw a big crowd,” he said. “For the festival to make a profit, they need about 30,000 people to come every night to Yarkon Park. I can’t see that happening.”


September brings the 15th annual Jerusalem International Chamber Festival!


International Festival of Puppet Theater

The 21st International Festival of Puppet Theater, initiated by the Train Theater in 1983 and held annually since 2001, was in August at the Train Theater and other venues around Jerusalem.

The Festival selected performances based on variety, quality and relevance, and has hosted many artists known for their contribution to the field of puppetry and Visual Theater. Throughout the years, the Festival has become the prime source of creation and inspiration in the field of Puppet Theater in Israel.
This year the Festival will hosted shows from countries all over the world: Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, Hungary, The Netherlands, and many more.

An International Exposure Program for festival directors from all around the world took place as part of the festival. Directors from the Czech Republic, Germany Scotland, England, Slovenia, Latvia, India and Denmark attended the festival.

Held in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem, this project exposes the audience to a unique, fresh and surprising creation that still is in the production process. This year, the project is dedicated to graduates of The Greenhouse, who will represent their final work in the Nachlaot neighborhood in the city center of Jerusalem.


Chalk it up to art at a street painting festival in Ramat Hasharon

Originally posted By Moshe Cohen On August 13, 2012 @

“The Festival of Street Painting is actually allowing the audience to see the artists in action,” says 3D sidewalk artist Anat Ronen in this video showing the creation of 3D chalk drawings commissioned in celebration of the 90th anniversary of Tel Aviv suburb Ramat Hasharon. “We see it in between art and performance art.”

Chalk artists, painters, environmental sculptors and musicians from Israel and Holland, Italy, the United States and Russia contributed their diverse talents to the inaugural festival, which took place in July.

Municipal spokesman Guy Kelner says he expects this to become an annual event.