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by S A JEWISH REPORT STAFF | Jul 20, 2016

Israel undergoes an accelerator boom


TEL AVIV - The first Israeli accelerator in Israel which helps early-stage companies scale up was launched just five years ago. Since then the number has grown to an extraordinary 261 as of late June, and keeps on rising, according to the IVC Research Centre in Tel Aviv, which tracks trends in Israeli hi-tech, venture capital (VC) and private equity.

Only last October, IVC reported that Israel had 207 accelerators. The first accelerator was Genesis Partners’ The Junction in Tel Aviv, which launched in March 2011.

Accelerators enable “angels” and VCs to invest small amounts of money in many startups at once, and to identify the most promising ventures.

The Seed Accelerators Ranking Project at MIT defines an accelerator as a fixed-term, cohort-based programme that includes educational and mentorship components and culminates in a public pitch event or “demo day”.

By contrast, incubators help entrepreneurs build business plans from raw innovative ideas. Incubators are also plentiful in the startup nation, but their number is perhaps half that of accelerators - although there is some overlap. - Israel 21c


Ivanka’s rabbi withdraws from Republican National Convention

NEW YORK - Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the prominent Modern-Orthodox rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism, has withdrawn from speaking at the Republican National Convention.

In a letter to members of his community, Rabbi Lookstein wrote that he had accepted Trump’s invitation to deliver an invocation at the convention “out of respect for her and our relationship”. But he said he would withdraw because the matter had become political. Trump’s father, Donald Trump, is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

“Unfortunately, when my name appeared on a list of speakers at the convention, without the context of the invocation I had been invited to present, the whole matter turned from rabbinic to political, something which was never intended,” he wrote. “Like my father before me, I have never been involved in politics. Politics divides people.”

Rabbi Lookstein is the former head of the Ramaz School, an elite Jewish prep school and the former rabbi of Kehilath Jeshurun, a Modern-Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that his father Joseph once led.

He appeared on the list of slated speakers for the convention in Cleveland, but his decision to appear at the convention was widely seen as an endorsement of Donald Trump’s Republican candidacy, and sparked backlash.

A petition started by Ramaz alumnus Jacob Savage calling on Rabbi Lookstein to back out of the convention had garnered nearly 750 signatures by last Friday morning. The petition castigates Trump for his rhetoric and admonishes Rabbi Lookstein for “embracing” it.

“Donald Trump openly spouts racist, misogynistic rhetoric; he advocates torture, the expulsion of millions of families, some long settled in America, and insinuates that some citizens of this great country are somehow less than others,” the petition reads.

“To embrace Trump and Trumpism goes against all we’ve been taught. As graduates of Ramaz, and as current or former members of the Modern-Orthodox community, this is a shanda [embarrassment] beyond the pale.”

This was the second time in a week that that Rabbi Lookstein had been at the centre of controversy. Last week Wednesday Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court rejected the conversion of a woman converted by Rabbi Lookstein, reportedly on the reasoning that it can’t verify conversions performed in America.

The court’s decision drew rebuke from a range of American and Israeli leaders, including Israel’s chief rabbis. - Canadian Jewish News


France mourns the terror attack in Nice   


NICE - Clara Bensimon and Raymonde Mamane, sisters both in their 50s, are in hospital on respirators following the Nice terror outrage.

Ten Jews were injured in the attack by an Islamist-inspired terrorist last week Thursday night and four were still missing last week Friday.

Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth Ephraim Mirvis said that the prayers of British Jews were with the people of Nice.

More than 80 people were killed when a lorry ploughed through crowds celebrating the Bastille Day holiday.

Members of a Chabad day camp were close to the area at the time of the attack.

“We are praying for everyone who has been injured in this terrible attack,” said Chabad Rabbi Yossef Yitzchak Pinson.

A representative of Nice's Consistoire, the umbrella body for local Jewish groups, said security was very tight at Jewish buildings around the city, with most under 24-hour military protection.

"More than anything else, we feel solidarity with the families of those killed, and the people of Nice," she said.

Rabbi Mirvis said he was “shocked to hear about yet another incident bringing horrific loss of life to many in France”.

Rabbi Haim Korsia, France's chief rabbi, said he sent his “sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the victims affected by the terrorism in Nice. My prayers and thoughts accompany you.”

British Jews were among those who escaped the carnage.

Joel Fenster, a former Noam Masorti youth mazkir and former Cambridge Union president, was in the area when the lorry ploughed through the crowds.

He later spoke to the BBC to give his eyewitness account, and wrote on Facebook: “Thanks all for messages. Just got home. Safe now. Was metres from attack but spent last two hours hiding in alley then running home.” - Jewish Chronicle, London



Jewish stars nominated for Emmy awards


LOS ANGELES - Among the rollcall of the actors and TV shows you have been watching all year, a number of Jewish stars got the nod ahead of the ceremony on September 18.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus was nominated for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in “Veep” and comedienne Amy Schumer has the same nomination for her show “Inside Amy Schumer”.

Liev Schreiber was nominated as Lead Actor in a Drama Series for “Ray Donovan”, while Jeffrey Tambor was nominated for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as a transgender woman in Amazon Prime’s “Transparent”.

Louis-Dreyfus’ “Seinfeld” colleague Jerry Seinfeld also received a nomination for his show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” in the Variety Talk Series category. – Jewish Chronicle, London


Britain’s Jews welcome new Prime Minister Theresa May


LONDON - British-Jewish and pro-Israel groups congratulated former Home Secretary Theresa May for winning the leadership of the Conservative Party and replacing David Cameron as prime minister. Cameron resigned following the UK’s decision - by way of the Brexit referendum - to leave the European Union.

May takes over the role after all other candidates for the Conservative leadership exited the race earlier last week and after Cameron expedited his resignation to last week Wednesday, July 13. He had initially given himself a three-month deadline for leaving office.

May now has become the UK’s second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher. Her ascension to the post has been viewed positively by the Jewish and pro-Israel communities due to her record of support for those sectors.

May has repeatedly shown herself as “a committed and conscientious friend to both Israel and Jewish communities in the UK”, Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation of the United Kingdom, told

“We have no doubt that should the safety of either [community] come under threat, she will stand firm in our defence. Under David Cameron, the relationship between Israel and the UK remained warm and open, and we look forward to that positive relationship continuing under May,” he said.

May’s appointment comes at a challenging time for British Jews. The Conservative Party’s rival Labour Party was recently mired in a controversy over anti-Semitism. There were as many as 50 reported suspensions of Labour MPs for anti-Semitic remarks, including Labour MP Naz Shah and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone. Shah was later reinstated.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn also came under fire for a recent apparent comparison of Israel to the Islamic State terror group, which added to his existing history of controversial remarks on the Jewish state.

A report reviewing the year 2015 by the Community Security Trust (CST), a group that works to protects British Jews from anti-Semitism, recorded 924 anti-Semitic incidents in 2015, the third-highest annual total ever recorded by CST.

The number of such incidents in 2014 was even higher, largely due to the Gaza conflict between Israel and the Hamas terror group that summer.

In her capacity as home secretary, a position responsible for the internal affairs of England and Wales, May had promised to defend the country’s Jewish community and wipe out anti-Semitism.

“No one wants the school where they send their child to need security guards, or have their place of worship be fitted with security alarms and blast-resistant glass. But until that changes, the government is clear - we will stand by the Jewish community,” May said at a CST-organised event, the London Jewish Chronicle reported. - Jerusalem Post/


Chabad student centre at USC in Los Angeles burgled


LOS ANGELES - A burglar broke into the Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Centre at USC, stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of valuables, including computers, tefillin and more.

Rabbi Dov Wagner, who runs the USC Chabad Centre with his wife, Runya, said he is grateful for the outpouring of community support in the wake of the incident, which was captured on security cameras installed outside Chabad House.

“The events are very unfortunate and sad, but really our students have been incredible, our alumni, parents are coming out with support and taking it personally, as if their own place… their own home… were invaded,” Wagner said.   

The USC Chabad Centre served approximately 1 500 students during the 2015-2016 academic year, Wagner said.

The male burglar, who can be seen on the video, appears to have acted alone. He made off with goods worth between $8 000 and $10 000, according to Wagner.

The Los Angeles Police Department could not be reached immediately for comment.

The Chabad centre, currently undergoing construction, was empty at the time of the robbery, though it normally functions as a residence for about seven USC students, Wagner said.

Chabad has released information to the public about the incident in the hope that someone will come forward with information about the robbery that could lead to the burglar’s arrest. - Los Angeles Jewish Journal


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