Category Archives: Jewish community

Redevelopment agency OKs Libeskind-designed Jewish Museum

Rebecca Rosen Lum                                                                            Jewish Bulletin of Northern California

Architectural plans for the new Jewish Museum San Francisco sailed through the city’s Redevelopment Agency this week.

The unanimous blessing provided a sharp contrast to the melee that occurred three years ago when the museum unveiled its previous plans.

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$50 million facility to replace JCC in San Francisco

Rebecca Rosen Lum                                                                            Jewish Bulletin of Northern California

Officers of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco announced plans this week to raze a Moorish style, 66-year-old building at 3200 California St. and replace it with a modern, 130,000-square-foot glass and steel  facility.

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Richmond, Calif., faces second suit over bayfront site’s development

 
Rebecca Rosen Lum
Knight Ridder Tribune Business News [Washington]

Dec. 19–For the second time in a week, Richmond has been sued over its decision to sell undeveloped, bayfront Point Molate to a casino developer.

Lawyers for the East Bay Regional Parks District say the city flouted state law in selling Point Molate to Upstream Point Molate LLC without first conducting an environmental review. The suit also names Upstream’s partner, Harrah’s Operating Company, Inc.

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Filed under Environment, Jewish community, Land use/property

New rabbi walking in big family footsteps

Thursday, February 7, 2013 | by rebecca rosen lum

Rabbi Barnett Brickner is more than just a third-generation rabbi.

He carries with him an illustrious family history with influence spanning two world wars, several social movements and a sea change in the Reform movement.

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Marin agency spearheads land mine removal project in West Bank

Roots of Peace, a Marin-based nonprofit on a mission to remove land mines around the world, has brokered a historic agreement to remove toxic land mines in and around Bethlehem.

The announcement came last month, some 21⁄2 years after a land mine in the Golan Heights blew the leg off an 11-year-old Israeli boy who was hiking. Following that incident, Israel got to work on a land mine removal bill and formed the National Authority for Landmine Clearance.

Roots of Peace helped promote the bill, which passed in March 2011.

Now Heidi Kuhn, founder and CEO of Roots of Peace, is in the Holy Land to help kick off the detonation and removal of more than 1 million land mines in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and elsewhere that were laid in the 1950s and 1960s. Crews have started work in the upper Arava Valley, and the Bethlehem project will follow.

“All it takes is a kid chasing a soccer ball for tragedy to occur,” said Kuhn, who arrived in Israel on Jan. 14.

The West Bank land mine removal project is supported by both Israeli and Palestinian governments, Kuhn said.

In December, Bethlehem Gov. Abdul Fattah Hamayel and a Palestinian Authority official from the Ministry of Interior met with Kuhn in Ramallah and signed off on the deal. In addition, according to a Roots of Peace spokesperson, a company based in Israel is doing the demining — a rare example of cooperation between the P.A. and an Israeli company, one Israeli official noted.

“There are an estimated 1.5 million landmines and unexploded ordnance planted in the Holy Land — preventing shepherds from tending to their sheep and children from walking the sacred lands,” Hamayel stated, according to a Roots of Peace press release. “Roots of Peace will lead the way with the historic demining and replanting consortium in the fields of Bethlehem.”

Kuhn spent months negotiating with the Israeli government, the P.A., the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Mine Action Service.

“Two years ago, these conversations were fraught with anger,” said Kuhn, a San Rafael resident who is not Jewish.

“We don’t point fingers,” she added, referring to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. “We just want to get them [the land mines] out. This makes more land available than the land they are fighting over.”

Fifteen years ago, Kuhn took on the mission of clearing an estimated 70 million landmines that endanger children and render fertile ground unusable in 70 countries.

In the West Bank and the Jordan River Valley, land mines contaminate some 50,000 acres, Kuhn said. Compounding the danger, heavy rains and mudslides can spread the explosives into areas populated by unsuspecting residents.

Human rights activists long had despaired that the Jewish state was not taking steps to rid the land of the mines. Although land mines had claimed lives and limbs, primarily of children, the government had declined to sign the 1997 U.N. Mine Ban Treaty.

“Their attitude was, ‘We cannot clear landmines because we are at war,’ ” said Noah Griffin, director of communications for Roots of Peace. Some feared a public education campaign might scare off tourists, he said.

But “things changed drastically,” he added, after young Daniel Yuval, playing with his sister on a rare snowy day in the Golan Heights, stepped on a landmine in February 2010.

“No one could turn his back on Daniel,” Griffin said.

Children are at particular risk, according to UNICEF. Youngsters step on the explosives while herding animals or searching for firewood. Any warning signs would be of no use to children too young to read.

Preliminary explorations revealed the land mines in the West Bank and Golan Heights were not part of an active military campaign but remnants of various conflicts dating back more than 60 years. For example, some were left by the Jordanian army before Israel captured the West Bank in 1967, according to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.

The “Demine-Replant-Rebuild” project will free up agricultural and grazing lands as well as paths to sites such as Qasr el-Yahud, a sacred place for Christians, Muslims and Jews in the West Bank.

Kuhn’s role in the project, as well as her fundraising for the effort, has made a fan of Andy David, Israel’s S.F.-based consul general for the Pacific Northwest.

Kuhn “has inspired many in Israel to take action,” David writes in a letter to the activist. “I am pleased that you are now expanding your work in Israel and the Palestinian Authority … Now, the first land mine will be removed by Roots of Peace in the fields of Bethlehem.”

The success of the demining project in the West Bank “could be the beginning of peace talks,” Kuhn said.

“Peace comes from the ground up, not from the top down,” she added.  “We want to bring the world to its senses.”

 

Thursday, January 17, 2013 | by rebecca rosen lum

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Filed under Children and youth, Environment, Jewish community, Social issues, War

Congregation turns an eye to Oakland’s sex slavery crisis

Thursday, March 8, 2012

by rebecca rosen lum, j. correspondent

At an age when some Oakland girls are preparing for their bat mitzvahs, others are being forced by child traffickers to have sex with strangers.

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Transgender tribe meets in Berkeley

by rebecca rosen lum, j. correspondent

In film, books, blogs and newspaper articles, transgender Jews have focused mainly on identity and inclusion — or barriers to it.

But at the upcoming Jewish Transgender Gathering in Berkeley, the focus is on spirituality.

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Director of Zen temple in harmony with her Jewish roots

by rebecca rosen lum, j. correspondent

As someone who has maintained a vital connection to her Jewish faith even as her Buddhist practice has deepened, Tova Green says the two traditions share some basic tenets.

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Transgender Yeshiva prof passing ‘Through the Door’

by rebecca rosen lum, j. correspondent

Joy Ladin says she did not fully understand the Psalms until she became a woman.

In rereading the Psalms, she found a wealth of metaphor for change that gave meaning and spiritual strength to her own transformation from a man to what she describes as her authentic self.

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