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Jews celebrate Chanukah in Budapest, Hungary.

Menorahs Vandalized in States, Abroad

Half-way through the Chanukah holiday, and already several chanukiot have been vandalized, according to JTA Wire Service. First, a 6-foot menorah in front of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah was vandalized.

Jews celebrate Chanukah in Budapest, Hungary.

Jews celebrate Chanukah in Budapest, Hungary.

Three branches of the menorah were ripped off its left side and dropped in front of the Chabad House in Salt Lake City early Sunday morning, according to reports.

The center has been at its current location since 2005 and erected a menorah every year. It is the first time the menorah has been vandalized.

Rabbi Benny Zippel, executive director of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, said he believes the desecration was vandalism and not connected to anti-Semitism. He said he would press charges if the vandals were caught, however.

Meanwhile, a 9-foot menorah stolen Saturday night from the front of the Chabad of Northwest Indiana in Munster, Ind., was recovered the following day. It had been dumped in a backyard about a half-mile away.

Abroad, in Hungary, three vandals of public menorahs in the Hungarian capital of Budapest reportedly turned themselves into police.

Police were searching for a fourth vandal in the attacks they said took place over the weekend on four menorahs throughout the city, Hungary’s Club Radio reported. The vandalism was captured on public surveillance cameras.

The Hungarian daily newspaper Nepszabadsag reported Monday that the attacks — by vandals who were described as young people — appeared to have been “preplanned and premeditated.”

Chabad erected the four menorahs, which were placed at busy intersections throughout the city. The largest, at about 20 feet high, was erected downtown, according to Chabad, and the others are about 10 feet high.

Chabad has erected public menorahs in Budapest every Chanukah since the fall of communism in 1989. It was the first time that a public menorah has been damaged.

 

 

Wine - 12.02.2013

Israeli Wine Reaches Vietnam

Israel’s Golan Heights Winery launches its award winning range of wines in Vietnam reflecting its rapid growth in an ever increasing Asian wine culture.

Wine - 12.02.2013

Members of the Israeli and Vietnamese delegations at a party celebrating the signing of the agricultural cooperation agreement.

The Golan Heights Winery, which produces, markets and exports premium wines worldwide, has been selected to be the first Israeli winery to be marketed to Vietnam. As part of a new commercial initiative from Israel’s Ministry of Economy, the winery has begun to introduce Vietnam to Israel’s flourishing wine industry.

In recent years, Asia has seen an expansion of its wine culture. Within South East Asia, Vietnam has one of the highest wine consumptions per capita. While the country has witnessed an impressive development of wine culture over the last century, there is very little internal wine production given unfavorable climatic conditions for vine growing. Vietnam has now become a prominent wine importer and wines from as far afield as Chile, France, Italy, Australia and New Zealand are all readily available.

Wine 2 - 12.02.2013Einat HaLevi-Levine, Director of New Export Industries from Israel’s Ministry of Economy in Vietnam has spearheaded the campaign to expose Vietnam to Israeli wine. Beginning with a wine tasting in Hanoi in 2012, this year a series of wine marketing events were held around Vietnam. Reciprocal visits from Vietnamese wine import professionals were also received in Israel when they attended the Golan Heights Winery’s 30th year celebrations. Following the visit, the winery signed a distribution agreement with a Vietnamese distributor heralding the beginning of the next stage in this exciting endevour.

As November drew to a close, an agricultural cooperation agreement was signed in Vietnam by Israeli Minister of Agriculture, Yair Shamir, and Vietnamese Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Cao Duc Phat. The agreement was signed at a dinner party hosted by the Israeli Ministry culminating with a L’chaim over a glass of the newly imported Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon.

“The Asian market is one of the most interesting and challenging markets for the wine industry,” explained Anat Levi, CEO of the Golan Heights Winery. “The growth in consumption of quality wines here is among the highest in the world and Vietnam now joins the other Asian countries that we export to including Japan and China.”

“We are very proud to lead the process and see the entrance of the Golan Heights Winery to Vietnam,” added HaLevi-Levine. “This achievement signifies an Israeli breakthrough to Vietnam, an accomplishment that should not be taken for granted in this country of nearly 100 million people.” HaLevi-Levine sees the entry of the Israeli wine industry to Vietnam as a significant strengthening of bilateral trade and also of Israel’s positive “brand” in Vietnam.

Pictures: Members of the Israeli and Vietnamese delegations at a party celebrating the signing of the agricultural cooperation agreement.

Iran, Major Powers Achieve Interim Deal On Nuclear Program

Iran and the major powers achieved an interim deal to freeze some nuclear activity in exchange for some sanctions relief.

“We have reached an agreement,” Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister leading talks in Geneva, said on his Twitter feed early Sunday morning.

According to a White House statement sent to reporters later in the evening, Iran will stop enriching uranium at 20 percent, but will keep enriching at 5 percent or lower.

Iran will neutralize its existing stockpiles of 20 percent enriched uranium and will not install or build any new centrifuges, except to replace damaged machines.

Experts say 5 percent enriched uranium is well below weaponization, but Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that Iran’s program is advanced enough that even enriching at low levels brings it closer to the weapons breakout point.

Sanctions relief would amount to about $7 billion out of the $100-120 billion that annually impacts Iran’s economy. the White House statement said.

Although some sanctions relief would affect Iran’s energy sector, the statement said the principal sanctions targeting Iran’s banking and energy sectors would remain in place.

The negotiators now have six months to work out a final status deal.

“The agreement reached today between the world powers and Iran is a positive step forward in the diplomatic effort to roll back Iran’s nuclear program,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, in a statement.

He noted, however, that he has “little trust in the Iranian regime, and we will need to scrutinize Iranian behavior to ensure they do not cheat. … At the same time, if Iran’s new President can make good on his stated intention, the next six months could mark a turning point in our relations with Iran of historic significance.”

Similarly, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he has “serious concerns” that this agreement does not meet the standards necessary to protect the United States and its allies.

“Instead of rolling back Iran’s program, Tehran would be able to keep the key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capability. Yet we are the ones doing the dismantling – relieving Iran of the sanctions pressure built up over years,” Royce said in a statement. “This sanctions relief is more lifeline than ‘modest.’ Secretary Kerry should soon come before the Foreign Affairs Committee to address the many concerns with this agreement.”

However, President Obama, in a statement delivered on TV late Saturday night in the United States, said that he would dedicate the time to solving an issue “that has threatened our security and the security of our allies for decades.”

He appealed to Congress not to pass intensified sanctions, saying that to do so would endanger any deal and unravel the alliance that has kept pressure on Iran through sanctions until now.

Obama also said that the “resolve of the United States will remain firm” and so would “the commitment to our allies” which had reason to be skeptical of Iran, naming Israel among them.

JCPA President and CEO Rabbi Steve Gutow released the following statement: “Though Iran has done little to deserve our trust, diplomacy is preferable to military action. At the same time, we support President Obama when he says that no option should be taken off the table. Thus, we believe the interim agreement reached in Geneva today has the potential to serve as a valuable stepping stone to a final agreement that can serve the long term security interests of the United States, Israel, the Middle East and the entire international community. Such a final agreement, which should be negotiated in a tight time frame, must not leave Iran in a position to continue its drive for nuclear weapons capability, or to be able to restart it with ease anytime in the future. The menace of a nuclear armed Iran needs to be eliminated once and for all.”

Said Ori Nir on behalf of Americans for Peace Now: “We congratulate the Obama Administration and its international partners for this important achievement and welcome this demonstration of a new Iranian readiness to seriously negotiate the future of its nuclear program. We believe that anyone who cares about U.S. national security, the security of Israel and stability in the Middle East should likewise welcome this agreement.”

 

 

Police 11.23.2013

BCoPD Investigating Armed Robbery at Towson Town Center

The Baltimore County Police Department is investigating an armed robbery that occurred at 4:04 p.m. Friday the Towson Town Center.

Police 11.23.2013Preliminary investigation shows that the victim was in the men’s bathroom, near the food court, when two male suspects displayed a knife and demanded his money and cell phone. The victim complied, and then chased the suspects through the food court and into third floor of the mall.

The victim caught up with one of the suspects and pinned him against the wall outside the Call It Spring store. A plainclothes security guard responded to assist the victim, and the second suspect returned to assist the first suspect. A physical struggle followed, and one of the suspects displayed a handgun. Both suspects fled, using an exit near the Littman jewelry store.

The victim was not injured.

The suspects are black males, 18 to 20 years old, with medium builds. One was wearing a black baseball cap, backwards; and a black polo jacket with polo horse insignia. The other was wearing a black leather jacket, dark jeans and dark hoodie. Anyone with information should call Police at 410-307-2020.

Parents who send their children to private schools attended a meeting Tuesday night to discuss funding options. (Photo by Heather Norris)

Officials, Community Members Talk Nonpublic School Money

State officials from across the Baltimore area didn’t hold back when they met with constituents Wednesday night at Talmudical Academy to discuss funding for parochial schools.

Parents who send their children to private schools attended a meeting Tuesday night to discuss funding options. (Photo by Heather Norris)

Parents who send their children to private schools attended a meeting Tuesday night to discuss funding options. (Photo by Heather Norris)

“This is probably not happening this year,” said State Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-11), noting, along with Del. Adrienne Jones (D-10), that the combination of budget constrictions and a big election year doesn’t lend itself to controversial legislation like the Maryland Education Credit, the topic at the forefront of the discussion.

The credit, which is being promoted by a number of different private school organizations and parents of those who attend the schools, would provide businesses with a 60 percent tax credit for donations made to organizations that provide financial assistance to nonpublic schools. At this point, it is not a bill and is only being discussed in “open house” meetings hosted by nonpublic schools in regions throughout the state.

Zirkin also told meeting attendees that they should factor in the possibility that this money they want from the state — $15 million to fund the credit — would more than likely come with strings attached.

“With money comes restrictions, too,” he said. “You can’t separate the one from the other.”

State Sen. Delores Kelley said she understands the parents’ perspective, having sent her children to Pilgrim Christian Day School.

“I’m sure that many of you struggle to support the choices that you make,” she said.

However, she added, those parents who send their children to nonpublic schools have a choice.

“My concern is that we are just so far from where we should be as far as public education is concerned,” Kelley said, noting that the state’s official and legal obligation is to provide for public schools first, a concept Zirkin seconded.

Of the seven state officials who attended (Zirkin, Kelley, Jones, Del. Dan Morhaim (D- 11), Del. Jon Cardin (D-11), Del. Dana Stein (D-11), Del. Sandy Rosenberg (D-41)), only two — Cardin and Rosenberg — expressed support for the idea, though others said they looked forward to hearing more details.

When it comes to helping students in the nonpublic school system, Rosenberg said, “We can do better.”