The Chronicles

A Record of Times

‘Rick and Morty’ Season 3 Spoilers: Next Week’s ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’ Could Feature an Odd Pairing Having Fun Together

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

Episode 6 of “Rick and Morty’s” third season may feature Rick and Jerry hanging out and perhaps even having fun.

‘Luke Cage’ Season 2 Plot Rumors: Mike Colter Wants to Explore Luke’s Newfound Freedom

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

Mike Colter is back as Luke Cage in “The Defenders,” where he is joined by Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones and Finn Jones’ Iron Fist. Recently, the actor shared what he wanted to explore in the new season of his solo series, “Luke Cage 2,” which is currently in production.

Derek and Hannah Jeter Welcome Baby Daughter, Bella Raine

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

Having just tied the knot last year, Jeter had just finalized a deal to become a co-owner of the Miami Marlins, and now, it has been reported that his wife, Hannah Davis, has finally given birth to a bouncing baby girl.

Who Is Amber Portwood’s New Beau?

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

Amber Portwood has a new man in her life.

‘Monster Hunter: World’ News: On the New Trailer and the New Crafting Interface

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

Developed by Capcom, “Monster Hunter: World” is doing a good job at keeping the hype up with the new trailer featuring one of the areas that players will get to explore called the Wildspire Waste. As a highly anticipated, action, role-playing video game, “Monster Hunter: World” definitely showcases a lot, and with building expectations and anticipations, the trailer has done nothing but prove that the developers intend to deliver.

Mercedes-Maybach Unveils Vision 6 Cabriolet and It’s Gorgeous

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

The automobile market is arguably the most competitive place to be in, especially for companies that aspire to take the coveted crown of being number one. Elon Musk’s beloved and hard-working Tesla has been doing a good job at standing on solid ground, especially after he unveiled the next model. However, recent reports reveal that Mercedes-Maybach will not be backing down so easily as the automobile giant has unveiled the concept for the Vision 6 Cabriolet at this year’s Monterey Car Week held in Monterey, California.

Who Is Serena Williams’ Fiancé Alexis Ohanian?

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

The world knows that tennis pro Serena Williams is expecting her first child with her fiancé Alexis Ohanian, but not everyone knows a lot of details about the first-time father.

‘Scandal’ Season 7 Spoilers News: What to Expect in Abby’s New Job with Quinn?

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

It may still take a while before fans of “Scandal” could get a chance to see the final installment of the critically acclaimed political drama thriller, but more details about the show are starting to come out.

Xbox One X News, Release Date: Project Scorpio Edition Now Available for Pre-Order

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

Pre-order for Microsoft’s newest console, the Xbox One X, is currently live.

‘The Secret Life Of Pets 2’ Release Date News: Illumination Confirms New June 2019 Schedule

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

The sequel to the movie “The Secret Life of Pets” has been pushed back a month from its original release date.

Missionary Pilot Shares The Rest of the Auca Martyrs’ Story

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

Growing up the home of missionary parents in Ecuador, Gene Jordan has always known the story of five men—Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian—who gave their lives in the jungle to reach an isolated Indian tribe.

But for Gene, it wasn’t a far-off story. The five martyrs and their surviving families were close friends of Gene’s parents. One of Gene’s prized possessions is a picture of him, age 2, standing with Saint in front of the famous, yellow Piper Cub airplane later shredded by spears on the riverbank.

As a teen, Gene helped Mission Aviation Fellowship pilots wash their airplanes and clean up the hangar, always hoping for an empty seat on the next flight. As an adult, Gene became one of those pilots and was sent back to Ecuador to follow in the footsteps of “Uncle Nate.”

Listen as he shares reflections on a life serving in missions, and the difference the gospel makes in the hearts of individuals, and even entire villages, as the people find in Jesus a reason to live.

Never miss an episode of VOM Radio! Subscribe to the VOM Radio podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.

      

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New Mexico Public School Paints Over Scripture Mural Following Complaint

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

ICC Note: Following a letter of complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a public school in New Mexico has decided to paint over a mural that includes a Scripture reference. The mural depicts a dove and an anchor and includes a reference to Hebrews 6:19 with the phrase, “Hope anchors the soul.” The group asserted that the mural was inappropriate and in violation of the US Constitution because it served as a government endorsement of religion due to its presence in a public school.

By Heather Clark

08/21/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – Officials with a public school in New Mexico quickly agreed to paint over a mural featuring a Scripture citation after receiving a letter from a prominent atheist-led church-state separation group last week.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letter to the Clovis Municipal School District after receiving a complaint from a parent who noticed the mural at Clovis Freshman Academy, which features a dove and anchor, and the phrase “Hope anchors the soul—Hebrews 6:19.”

The mural had reportedly been created by a former art teacher four years ago and none had complained—until now.

“The district violates the Constitution when it allows schools to display religious symbols or messages,” FFRF’s letter read. “Public schools may not advance, prefer or promote religion.”

“This religious display is particularly inappropriate given that about 35% of those born after 1981 are not religious,” it asserted. “The display alienates those nonreligious students, families, teachers and members of the public whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school.”

The organization therefore asked that the mural be removed so as to adhere to a neutrality toward religion.

The same day after receiving the letter, Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Jody Balch advised via email that the school was working on painting over the display. It was covered within 24 hours.


[Full Story]


Militants Kill Four Men in Eastern Kenya for Their Christian Faith

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

08/21/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on August 17, 2017, al-Shabaab militants perpetrated another attack in Kenya’s Lamu County where four Christian men were killed. The attack came just over one month after an attack in nearby Jima village where seven Christian men were killed.

Late in the night on August 17, al-Shabaab militants entered Maleli village of Witu and killed the four men; three were hacked to death with machetes and one was burned inside his home. The four men who were killed are Stephen Hizano Ponda, Charo Karisa Ngoa, Naphtali Katana Kadenge, and Joseph Gasena Ngoa. The midnight raid also comes barely a week after Kenya entered into general elections, during which al-Shabaab promised to create chaos.

Pastor Henry Divayo of Witu African Inland Church (AIC), where hundreds of Jima families are taking refuge, said, “One of the men killed this morning in Maleli, Naphtali Katana Kadenge, was a son to a family staying in this camp and he was a student at Lamu high school. During the vacation, he decided to go back to Maleli village to fend off wild animals that feed on farm crops. He was advised to be cautious, but when al-Shabaab stormed their house, he was found and killed.”

Father Cyprian Taah of Witu Catholic Church told ICC,“One of our catechists, Stephen Nyati, lost his son in the attack and we are saddened as a church community and we strongly condemn the act. His son had gone back to the fields to check the progress of the farm when the militants pulled him out of the house and slaughtered him.” He continued, “We are asking the global community to remember us in prayer and if possible send us material help because the people in the camps need food, shelter, water, medicine, sanitary pads and soap.”

The President of Kenya asked the families to remain calm in the displacement camps as measures are being taken to rid the area of the terrorists. He ensured the villagers that they will return to their villages and resume their normal lives as soon as possible, but this recent attack means that Lamu is still not safe.

One of the chiefs in Witu, Chief Macharia, stated, “[There] is desperation in the camps that is making a few people return to the villages even after the government ordered all the people to remain in the camps. The Boni Forest operation to kill al-Shabaab is ongoing and several of them have been killed. This operation will go on until all the militants disturbing the peace of Lamu residents are neutralized. We continue to urge the people to stay inside the camps until new orders to return to their homes [are] given by the higher authority.

ICC’s Regional Manager, Nathan Johnson, said, “The Kenyan government must provide safety and stability to all of its people. They must end al-Shabaab’s reign of terror that has been thriving on the border with Somalia. We pray for the families of the deceased and for peace to come to a region that has seen such violence toward Christians. We hope that Kenya’s government can take effective action to rid Kenya of these terrorist attacks.


“We Will Stay:” After 4 Years, New Bishop Gives Christians in Syria Hope

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

ICC Note:

Four years ago, Syriac Orthodox Christians in Syria lost their bishop when he left the country. Finally, a new bishop has been appointed, giving Christians hope that they have a future in Syria. Syria’s civil war and ISIS’ violence has killed many Christians and driven many from their home. Christians that remain, however, see the new bishop as evidence that Christians are still in the country and “that we will stay.”                         

08/21/2017 Syria (Christian Post) – Syriac Orthodox Christians in the northeastern city of Hasakeh celebrated on Saturday the inauguration of Archbishop Maurice Amseeh, giving the community a bishop for the first time in four years, since the last one left the country.

Christians have been the subject of a genocidal campaign by the Islamic State terrorist group, which has killed, raped and kidnapped Yazidis and other minorities as well.

Over 330,000 people have also been killed in Syria’s six-year long civil war, which has further decimated the population, forcing millions to flee as refugees.

As AFP reported on Sunday, Amseeh’s appointment has given fresh hope to the struggling Christians that rebuilding their community is possible.

“It’s true that many have left, but we’re still here, and what happened today is the proof that we’re still here in this country and that we will stay,” said 23-year-old student Jenny Hakop.

 

 

[Full Story]

 


Boko Haram Kills 2, Injures 3 in Ambush

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

ICC Note

Boko haram killed two more people and injured three others during an ambush along the Damaturu- Biu road Sunday afternoon, August, 20, 2017. In the past two months, Boko Haram has seen a resurgence in attacks and have killed more than 150 people. All of this has been going on while the president of Nigeria has been calling for the Army to catch and kill Abubakar Shekau, the Leader of Boko Haram. 

2017-08-21 Nigeria (DailyPost) Two persons have been confirmed dead with three others seriously injured following an ambush by suspected Boko Haram terrorists along Damaturu, Biu road Sunday afternoon.

A military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the insurgents had buried IEDs along the highway.

It was gathered that the travelers, who took off from Damaturu on their way to Biu, were ambushed some 60 kilometres to their destination.

According to the source, the militants opened fire indiscriminately on the travelers and that in an attempt to escape, the IEDs went off killing two persons on the spot.

Another report said three people injured from the attack were rushed to the Damaturu specialists’ hospital by security forces on patrol along the road.

According to a hospital source at the Accident and Emergency ward of the Damaturu Hospital, three people have been treated and referred to the Federal Medical Centre Gombe on their relative request.

 

 

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Clashes Between Egyptian Christians and Muslims Over Church

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

ICC Note:

Christians in Minya province, Egypt tried to worship on Sunday but were intercepted by radical Muslims and fights broke out. Officers said that the church is not licensed and Christians cannot worship there, despite Christians’ efforts to obtain a license. Radical Muslims often protest an unlicensed gathering of Christians. Christians have expressed how difficult it is to gain licensing for a church while it is very easy for a mosque to be licensed.   

08/21/2017 Egypt (Egypt Independent) – Calm returned to Ezbat al-Forn, of Abyouha village in Abu Qurqas city of Minya governorate on Monday, following skirmishes Sunday between Christians and Muslims.

According to head of Abu Qurqas city council, Brigadier Mohamed Salah, fights broke out on Sunday after some Coptic citizens in the village of Ezbat al-Forn tried to pray at the house of a citizen under the guidance of a priest, prompting some Muslims to intercept for not possessing a license.

 

Abu Qurqas prosecutors ordered the seizure of the house, until administrative authorities decide on whether or not to transfer a license and turn it into a church.

They also ordered the arrest of suspects in the fight.

Major General Essam al-Bedaiwy, governor of Minya, confessed to tensions between Muslims and Copts in some “very limited” areas of Minya .

“The state has a comprehensive plan to break into the strongholds of social tensions in the governorate, which lead to the emergence of the so-called sectarian strife, although it is not sectarian,” the governor said.

Similar clashes recur in some Minya areas like Samalut and Abu Qurqas when Christians buy a house and hold prayers inside regularly without obtaining a license. Muslim residents will interfere to prevent clashes, he added.

 

[Full Story]


US Commission Finds Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws Among Harshest in the World

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

ICC Note:

A recent report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were among the harshest and most abused in the world. The report generally took on the issue of blasphemy laws in the religious freedom context and found that instead of protecting religious freedom, blasphemy laws harm religious freedom. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are widely abused, leading to many false accusations motivated by personal score settling or religious hatred. Will blasphemy laws, especially in Pakistan, ever be recognized as the hindrance they are to religious freedom? 

08/21/2017 Pakistan (Christians in Pakistan) – USCIRF chairman stated that blasphemy laws “invite abuse and can lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks”. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has released a report that shows how blasphemy laws around the world fall short of international human rights benchmarks.

“Respecting Rights? Measuring the World’s Blasphemy Laws” catalogs the offending laws found in a wide range of countries in some countries, blasphemy laws are enforced weakly, if at all, yet such laws, “in both theory and practice, harm individuals and societies.” The report explains laws spanning the globe from nations, for example, Canada and Switzerland to Iran and Indonesia with punishments going from fines to death.

Shockingly, more than “Religious freedom includes the right to express a full range of thoughts and beliefs, including those that others might find blasphemous,” noted USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “Advocates for blasphemy laws may argue that they are needed in order to protect religious freedom, but these laws do no such thing. Blasphemy laws are wrong in principle, and they often invite abuse and lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks. Wherever they exist, they should be repealed.”

The report analyzed the text of blasphemy laws against such indicators as freedom of expression, flexibility of religion or conviction, dubiousness of the law, seriousness of punishment, discrimination against groups, and state religion protections. Most laws in the investigation failed to ensure freedom of expression, were vaguely worded, and carried unduly harsh penalties for violators.

[Full Story]


Christian Teen Beaten and Arrested After Being Accused of Blasphemy in Pakistan

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

ICC Note:

Another Christian in Pakistan, 18-year-old Pervez Iqbal, was accused of blasphemy, beaten by a mob, and then arrested in Jhamkay town. According to reports, Iqbal is accused of burning a Quran, a crime punished by life imprisonment in Pakistan. False accusations of blasphemy are common in Pakistan as the country’s blasphemy laws are widely abused. Mostly motivated by personal score settling or religious intolerance, a disproportionate number of false accusations of blasphemy are leveled against Pakistan’s already vulnerable religious minority communities. Is Iqbal just another unfortunate Christian to be falsely accused of blasphemy in Pakistan? 

08/21/2017 Pakistan (The Express Tribune) – A Christian teenager was brutally beaten up by a mob in Jhamkay town of Wazirabad tehsil, Gujranwala on Sunday over accusations of committing blasphemy.

AS (name withheld for security reasons), 16, was rescued by police and then shifted to the Ali Pur Chattha police station where he was booked under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code – punishable with life imprisonment – on the complaint of a pesh imam, Qari Rana Arshad Ali.

Ali Pur Chattha SHO Malik Irfan said the cleric had told the police that AS took away a copy of the Holy Quran from the shrine of Sundhay Shah in Jhamkay and set it on fire.

The complainant further claimed that AS, in the presence of a witness named Muhammad Nawaz, had confessed to his crime.

Sub-Inspector Pervez Iqbal, the investigation officer of the case, said two witnesses and the complainant had testified that the teenager had committed blasphemy.

He added that AS too had admitted that he had set the Holy Quran on fire, however he was unaware as to why he had committed the act.

The officer said as the suspect himself had confessed to his crime, there was no need for recording the statements of other witnesses.

“The police saved him from the enraged mob,” the sub-inspector said.

“His family should be grateful to the police. The mob surrounded the police station but we pacified the protesters with the help of the notables of the area,” he added.

However, SM (name withheld for security reasons), the father of the teenager, maintained that his son was falsely accused of committing blasphemy.

“He [AS] collects papers and used bottles from garbage and sells them to support our family. He also collects empty bottles from the shrine, which is around two kilometers away from our home,” he said.

“Muhammad Nawaz alias Maju, the witness in the case, also collects papers and bottles from the shrine. He has a grudge against my son as he doesn’t want him to collect scrap at the shrine because it hurts his business,” he added.

[Full Story]


Australian broadcaster explains why it left Israel off the map

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

SYDNEY (JTA) — Australia’s national news service defended its decision to broadcast a graphic showing a map of the Middle East that included Palestine but not Israel.

Shown during an Aug. 17 segment on ABC News Australia, the map illustrated a story about how laws in 11 Muslim-majority countries and the Palestinian territories treat rape victims.

“The story was about the repealing of a law in Lebanon that allowed rapists to escape punishment if they married their victims,” a senior executive for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. told JTA. “The map showed other countries where this law had already been repealed (in the blue) and countries where campaigners are actively trying to have it repealed (in the yellow).”

Israel, the executive explained, never had the law to begin with, so it was not included. Had it been included, the spokesman suggested, the criticism might have been even more intense.

“In context, I wonder if including Israel in the map might have attracted more warranted criticism … The story had nothing at all to do with it,” the spokesman said. “We have commented on the story to the Daily Mail and they’ve amended the story.”

The graphic made news after a pro-Israel, anti-Islamist activist, Avi Yemini, posted it on his Facebook page.

“Last night ABC News wiped Israel off their map,” Yemini wrote. “They’re literally doing the Islamists’ dirty work for them. We must DEFUND these traitors immediately.”

Yemini was not satisfied with the public broadcaster’s explanation.

“They’ve hit back with an excuse that could almost work,” he wrote on Facebook. “Except for one ‘minor’ detail: PALESTINE IS NOT A COUNTRY!”

The Lebanese parliament voted last week to abolish a law allowing rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims.

The clause remains on the books in the Palestinian territories, according to ABC News Australia.

Polish Jewish feud intensifies as one leader calls others ‘court Jews’

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

(JTA) — In an escalation of a feud among Polish Jews over a perceived increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric and the government’s role in stopping it, a communal leader called Jews who met with a ruling party politician his “court Jews.”

Last week, Artur Hofman, president of the TSKZ cultural group of Polish Jews, and three other Jews met with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a founder of the ruling Law and Justice Party. Hofman dismissed claims about  rising anti-Semitism as part of “a political war” against Law and Justice.

On Monday Sergiusz Kowalski, who had alerted the government about anti-Semitism as the president of the Polish branch of the B’nai B’rith Jewish group, blasted the group who met with Kaczynski.

The meeting sent a “message that went into the world: ‘We very much have our Jews who love Law and Justice and we have anti-Semitism problem,’” Kowalski told the NaTemat news site. “Such court Jews were long used” by the authorities.

Kowalski was one of the authors of  an open letter to Kaczynski pleading with officials to curb what they said was rising anti-Semitism.

But Hofman, whose group of 1,200 members is Poland’s largest Jewish organization, dismissed claims that the government is tolerating rising anti-Semitic rhetoric., telling JTA that they were exaggerated and politically motivated. Hofman met Kaczynski along with two Chabad rabbis and Jonny Daniels, the founder of the From the Depths Holocaust commemoration group.

The communal feud firmly places Chabad, the Hasidic outreach movement with a strong presence in many former Soviet bloc countries, on the side of those who think complaints of anti-Semitism are exaggerated and that the Law and Justice Party has been receptive to the Jews’ concerns.

After the meeting with Kaczynski, 14 Polish groups and individuals  — including Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland — co-signed a statement Sunday stating that the Chabad rabbis, Shalom Dov Ber Stambler and Eliezer Gurary, along with Daniels and Hofman, do not represent the Jewish community of Poland but at most “themselves or their own organizations.”

Kowalski also said that followers of the Chabad-Lubavitch, the Hasidic movement, were “generally very intolerant of other Jews, especially the nonreligious.”

Chabad-Lubavitch of Poland has denied the criticism.

 

Cue the camels! Israelis are throwing themselves one-of-a-kind outdoor weddings

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

Shani and Ran Maaman enjoy the company of camels at their wedding in the Judean Desert, May 11, 2017. (Dana Bar-On)

TEL AVIV (JTA) – In this tiny country, there are only so many places to have a wedding. Or so you would think.

But a growing number of Israelis are creating one-of-a-kind outdoor weddings from the ground up. In some cases, they even start with the ground.

“We brought in bulldozers for one couple,” said Ori Fuks, an Israeli wedding producer. “They wanted to get married on an avocado farm, so we built them a parking lot.”

“Nature weddings,” as they are sometimes called, are an increasingly popular option for young Israeli couples seeking unique nuptials. In recent years, an industry has emerged around the bespoke outdoor events, offering an alternative to the traditional wedding hall blowout.

Shani Maaman, a 31-year-old high-tech worker from Jerusalem, and her husband-to-be, Ran, were determined to do their wedding themselves. With the help of Israeli wedding blogs and Facebook groups, they spent months planning and preparing a wedding they felt reflected who they are.

Shani and Ran Maaman embracing under the huppah at their wedding, May 11, 2017. (Dana Bar-On)

Unlike some couples, Maaman and her fiance did not start from zero. Instead they converted a biblical tourism center, called Genesis World, into a bohemian desert getaway with Bedouin-style tents and cushions, billowing macramé decorations and a caravan of camels on hand. A DJ played world music-inspired beats late into the night.

“Nature weddings have become common, but I know that our wedding was very, very special,” Maaman said. “The nice thing about the place was that because it’s not for weddings, it doesn’t feel commercialized. They don’t charge you for every little extra. If you want another area to chill out, they give it to you no problem.”

Fuks said many young Israelis have become dissatisfied with the “copy and paste” approach of wedding halls, which they see as inauthentic. Having grown up working in two such venues owned by his family, in 2009 he started his own company called Bloom, which specializes in nature weddings at sites with little to no infrastructure.

“Young Israelis want their wedding to be their own,” he said. “They want to feel like they’re hosting you in their own home. That’s why we come and say, anything you want, we can create it.”

Fuks lets couples customize nearly every aspect of their wedding, starting with the location. In addition to the avocado farm, he uses forests, deserts, vineyards and fields. Last year he threw a wedding in a pallet factory. He works with suppliers to bring in the desired amenities, like generators for electricity, a kitchen and bar, a sound system, lighting, restrooms, tents and flowers.

An Israeli couple poses at their wedding in the northern Israeli forest, May 29, 2017. (Yoav Alon)

Immediately after the event, everything is dismantled. No infrastructure can stay in place, Fuks said, because he rents the properties from private owners and may or may not have the required permits. Fortunately, he said, he has never had a wedding shut down.

Fuks said business has grown steadily over the years to about 30 weddings a year, mostly in the relatively sunny months between March and October. At the same time, he said he has seen his competitors in the nature wedding industry proliferate, from just a couple eight years ago to as many as 10 experienced competitors and countless upstarts today.

A saleswoman at one of Israel’s poshest wedding halls said the growing popularity of nature weddings has not cut into her clientele. But speaking on condition of anonymity to protect her job, she said she expects that to change in the near future. Among her Tel Aviv friends, she said, wedding halls are already out of style.

“People want their wedding to make them feel special,” she said. “But this industry is all about money. You spend money you don’t have, and we make money. In a couple years, everyone will be planning their own weddings.”

However, nature weddings are not necessarily less expensive. Fuks said his average wedding costs about $40,000, which is at the high end of the national average, according to a 2015 survey. Maaman’s $25,000 wedding is at the low end.

An avocado grove turned wedding venue waiting for guests in central Israel, May 19, 2017. (Courtesy of Bloom)

Lira Wieman, the owner of LW Events, said nature weddings are nothing new for her clients, who include Israel’s rich and famous. Nearly three-quarters of the weddings she does are in nature, she said. In May, she produced a high-profile desert wedding for model Shlomit Malka and actor Yehuda Levy.

“They wanted a Burning Man-style event,” Wieman said, referring to the American countercultural festival. “It was crazy — three days on an isolated ranch with a 24-hour DJ party.”

To some extent, Maaman’s wedding — which was also Burning Man inspired — was countercultural, too. Like a growing number of Israelis, she and her husband eschewed the Chief Rabbinate, the Orthodox authority that controls Jewish marriage in Israel. They opted for a secular humanist rabbi, and because only an Orthodox rabbi can perform a wedding in Israel, they have yet to be officially married.

Maaman said they plan to eventually marry abroad and have the union recognized by Israel’s secular bureaucracy, or to enter a common law marriage – two increasingly popular options.

She said their motivation for not going through the Chief Rabbinate was more personal than principled. They wanted to do the wedding on a date that is forbidden by Jewish law and, more important, to have an egalitarian ceremony. Under the macrame huppah, Maaman joined her husband in the traditional concluding ritual of breaking a glass in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem.

“We’re not like ‘anti’ people,” she said. “What guided us was making it our wedding, fit to us. We did what we needed to do.”

The Barcelona Jewish community is not doomed

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

The skyline of Barcelona (Wikipedia Commons/Frank Muller)

BARCELONA, Spain (JTA) — In the wake of the horrendous recent terrorist attack in my city, our chief rabbi declared that the Jewish community here is “doomed” and encouraged us to buy property in Israel. With all due respect to the rabbi, he is wrong.

I am 34 years old and have lived in Barcelona since I was 4. I attended the Jewish day school, the public high school and Barcelona University. During the past three years, I have been privileged to serve as director of the Jewish community of Barcelona.

I know this historic community and its people quite well. Next year we will celebrate the centenary of our community’s re-establishment following the expulsion of 1492. In these past hundred years, Jews from all over the world have been attracted to play an active role in the life of our community: Turkish and Greek Jews who arrived in the First World War; activists who participated in the Spanish Civil War; Jews fleeing European anti-Semitism; Moroccan Jews who arrived after the independence of their native country; Latin American Jews; and large numbers of Israelis who have fallen in love with our city.

Barcelona is a dynamic Jewish melting pot. We are religiously pluralistic, blessed with four synagogues each embracing a different approach to Judaism. As Jews everywhere, we relish arguing among ourselves. Yet one of the things that unites us is our relationship with and love of the city.

And not without reason. Barcelona is synonymous with solidarity, welcome, peace and cultural diversity. A trendy city for tourists, a place of opportunity for businesspeople, it is a mecca for those interested in history, art, architecture, soccer and postcard landscapes. We proudly show our city to friends from abroad. We love listening to Hebrew in the city center. We revel in and are active participants in its rich culture. Barcelona is truly an international city; it is no coincidence that those killed and injured in the terrorist attack came from 34 different countries.

Victor Sorennsen (Martin Raffel)

Since 1977, with the arrival of democracy in our country, the Jewish community has played an active role in the social, cultural and religious life of the wider society, and we have developed close relations with government institutions at all levels — Barcelonan, Catalonian and Spanish. Public activities have been organized in the Barcelona synagogue. We have celebrated Hanukkah in the streets. We annually commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Catalan Parliament. Every year, hundreds of schools bring their students to the synagogue, where we educate them about Judaism and the important history of our community. We are longstanding participants in interreligious dialogue. In fact, this year our Talmud Torah teacher is president of the official interreligious group of Catalonia.

We are experiencing a revival of Jewish culture. For example, local Jewish authors have published academic books and novels. Last year we organized the first Jewish Literature Festival. This year marks the 19th anniversary of the Jewish Film Festival of Barcelona.The Jewish Museum and Study Center of Girona, not far from Barcelona, is a place to discover Catalan’s Jewish medieval history, which includes the great Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman, the Ramban. Many municipalities participate in the European Day of Jewish Culture.

Catalonia hosts brilliant Hebraists, disciples of the Hebrew Department of the University of Barcelona — the oldest chair at the university — as well as renowned writers and historians who have great expertise on Judaism and the history of Catalan Jews. This trend is also reflected in the growing interest of the general Catalan population in Jewish matters, interest that we see translating into spiritual, historical and intellectual curiosity. In short, there is a vibrancy to Jewish life in Barcelona.

The scourge of terrorism has brought great shock and sadness to Barcelona, as it has done in other European cities. These are difficult days for us, no doubt, and we cry and pray for the victims. We are fully coordinating our security with the authorities, who have always been responsive, and our non-Jewish neighbors consistently demonstrate solidarity with us.

The goal of the terrorists is to make us afraid. Barcelona is not afraid. The Jewish community here is not afraid. This cowardly act of violence will only make us stronger in our resolve to stay and grow the Jewish community of this amazing city. We Jews of Barcelona have been proudly living in our revived community for 100 years. We aren’t leaving.

(Victor Sorenssen is the director of Comunidad Israelita de Barcelona, the Barcelona Jewish Community.)

Stephen Bannon reportedly ‘going to war’ against Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

Stephen Bannon, left, and Jared Kushner in the Cabinet Room of the White House, June 12, 2017. (Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon reportedly is “going to war” against several White House targets, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, according to reports.

A report Sunday evening in Vanity Fair titled “Steve Bannon Readies His Revenge: The war on Jared Kushner is about to go nuclear,” said that Bannon’s targets in the West Wing are the “globalists,” identified as Ivanka Trump, Kushner and former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser to Trump and director of the National Economic Council, as well as the “hawks,” identified as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and his deputy, Dina Powell.

The magazine cited Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow as saying that Bannonwants to beat their ideas into submission. Steve has a lot of things up his sleeve.”  

Bannon has returned to head the right-wing website Breitbart News after being removed from his White House post on Friday, nearly a week after he welcomed President Donald Trump’s divisive comments on a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He had left Breitbart to join the Trump campaign last year.

An unnamed Bannon ally told Vanity Fair that the former White House strategist called Kushner, an adviser to the president as well as his son-in-law, “a dope,” and that the two clashed fiercely on personnel decisions and policy debates, both domestic and international, many of which Bannon lost.

Unnamed Bannon allies told the magazine that Bannon had lobbied the president “aggressively” to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a move that they say was blocked by Kushner. The report also noted that Bannon stayed away during a May visit by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, texting to a friend that “I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist.”

On Sunday, the Breitbart website’s lead story was headlined “Report: Ivanka Trump Helped Push Steve Bannon Out Of The White House,” based on a Daily Mail report that said “Trump’s daughter Ivanka pushed out Bannon because of his ‘far-right views’ clashing with her Jewish faith.”

Breitbart updated the article to say “A senior White House aide informed Breitbart News that the Daily Mail report was ‘totally false’ and called into question the sources in the article of having any real knowledge of the Trump family.”

Bannon had been under fire since he began working for the Trump campaign. He has been criticized for calling Breitbart News a platform for the “alt-right,” a far-right and white nationalist movement that includes anti-Semitic figures and followers. Bannon has denied he is anti-Semitic, and supporters point out that Breitbart is pro-Israel.

Vandals scrawl anti-Israel graffiti on Bulgarian Jewish monument

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

(JTA) — A monument put up by Jews in Bulgaria to thank the town of Vidin for preventing the deportation of its Jews during the Holocaust was vandalized.

The Thanksgiving Monument, erected in 2003, was spray-painted with the words “Allah,” “Palestine,” “Hamas,” and the Islamic star and crescent moon symbol, the Shalom Organization of Jewish in Bulgaria said in a Facebook post Monday.

The organization posted photos of the vandalism, which occurred Saturday, on its Facebook page.

На 19 август вечерта беше поруган Паметника на благодарността до Стамбол капия в близост до сградата на Община Видин. Пр…

Posted by Организация на евреите в България “Шалом” on Monday, August 21, 2017

Following attack, French Jewish leader calls for ‘immediate eradication’ of terrorism

Posted on | August 22, 2017 | No Comments

(JTA) – Following the death of a pedestrian in what appeared to be a vehicular terrorist attack in Marseille, a leader of the local Jewish community called for the “immediate eradication” of terrorism.

Bruno Benjamin, the president of the local branch of the CRIF umbrella of Jewish communities, wrote the message Monday on Twitter shortly after police arrested a man they suspect is connected to the slaying of one woman and the serious injury of another in a car-ramming attack that morning.

Police cannot confirm that the incident was a terrorist attack, a police source told the Le Soir daily.

“#Marseille, terrorism knows no borders, terrorists have no limits and no humanity. Today, a total eradication is necessary,” Benjamin wrote in the unusually harshly worded message. “We cannot comprehend these levels of hatred and capacity” for terrorism, he added.

A prosecutor in Marseille said the incident appeared to be the work of a mentally ill person, the La Chaîne Info news channel reported.

The incident comes on the heels of deadly terrorist attacks in and around Barcelona on Thursday and Friday, where 14 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when a van plowed through a crowd. The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack and for the actions of five suspected terrorists who were killed Friday during a police raid in a resort city south of Barcelona. The driver of the van in the attack is the subject of an ongoing manhunt.

On Friday, an 18-year-old man of Moroccan descent killed two women and wounded eight others in a stabbing attack in the city of Turku, Finland. Police arrested the suspect, whom they are calling a terrorist.

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