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by SUZANNE BELLING | Nov 10, 2016

Tania’s working for a cause pays dividends

MELBOURNE - When Tania Burstin introduced the concept of online crowdfunding to the market back in 2007, it was met with hesitation. But today, it’s an institution in Australian fundraising, and has significant applications in the Jewish community too.

Burstin volunteered for a charity 10 years ago. The team was trying to raise money for a fun run. She recalls it wasn’t easy, co-ordinating cash and cheques from all directions.

“I thought there must be a better way. I did some research, and decided to start an online fundraising platform where the charity would be the beneficiary and people could request donations on their own online page from their friends and family,” she explains.

Indeed, it was the first donation platform of its kind in Australia. Little did Burstin expect that “mycause” would grow to be Australia’s biggest personal-cause crowdfunding site.

“Online fundraising is now quite acceptable and people understand what it is. But of course in 2007, it was all new,” she says. Mycause has helped raise more than $50 million across thousands of different campaigns.

 “Obviously you could always give, but now you can give in a more efficient way. In a way that you’re immediately receipted; in a way that your message gets sent to the beneficiary. There are all those beautiful tools that we have made the giving experience much more enjoyable and authentic, and efficient.”

Among those “mycause” has helped are Jewish people and charities. – Australian Jewish News

 International stamp exhibition in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM - A major international stamp exhibition will open at the Jerusalem International Convention Centre on November 13 for five days. Although e-mail and WhatsApp have largely wiped out personal letters to which stamps are affixed, there are still tens of thousands of philatelic enthusiasts around the country. The hobby has apparently been promoted by the exchange of information online and on social media.

To mark the event, a postal stamp will be issued by the Philatelic Service of the Israel Postal Company in memory of the fifth president of Israel, Yitzhak Navon, who died a year ago. There will also be a personalised “My Stamp” sheet illustrated by actor Chaim Topol, President Reuven Rivlin, singer and actor Yehoram Gaon and former MK Geula Cohen.

Many rare stamps and collections will be shown.

The organisers want not only veteran collectors to attend, but also children and teens who are not familiar with stamp collecting.

Yaron Ratzon, head of the Philatelic Service (helping to organise the exhibition), said he was eager “to expose the younger generation to philately.”

Medallions will be awarded to collectors will the best collections - either individual stamps or subjects. - Jerusalem Post

Orthodox yeshiva teacher jailed for smuggling cocaine into UK

LONDON - Jacob Amar, 58, of Jerusalem, was arrested at Heathrow on September 29 carrying 123 grams of the class A drug, cocaine.

He had arrived on a flight from Colombia, where he had been assisting with Orthodox conversions.

Amar admitted possessing the cocaine, saying it was for his own personal use.

Defence lawyer Jeffrey Israel told the court his client was “highly regarded and respected within his community”.

Able to speak six languages, Amar travelled extensively to help with Orthodox conversions around the world.

Israel said Amar had developed a cocaine habit, and had bought the drugs in Colombia on impulse at a price far cheaper than he would expect to pay in Israel.

When he arrived in London he was en route to Uman in Ukraine to attend the Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to Rabbi Nachman’s tomb that is attended by approximately 50 000 Chasidic Jews.

Passing sentence at Isleworth Crown Court today, Mr Justice Robin Johnson said he accepted Amar did not intend to sell the drugs.

The judge said: “I am presented with a contradiction as you are clearly a man of considerable talent and integrity, yet you knowingly secreted a significant quantity of cocaine and attempted to enter into the UK.

“The court is prepared very unusually to accept your mitigation that the cocaine was intended for your own personal use rather than you acting as a courier for drugs that would end up on the streets.

“In the circumstances, I am prepared to impose an unusually short sentence from a starting point of four-and-a-half years, given your personal circumstances and a discount for your early guilty plea, I sentence you to 18 months’ imprisonment of which you will serve half.” – Jewish Chronicle, London

 The small Israeli village where everyone’s a doctor

 ARRABA, Lower Galilee - The village of Arraba, to the north of Nazareth, may look like just another quiet community in the Lower Galilee. But take a closer look at the 24 000 residents and you’ll notice a lot of them preface their names with the title “Dr”.

Arraba (also transliterated as Arrabeh) boasts one of the highest numbers of doctors per capita in the world. The Israeli Arab community has more than six doctors per thousand inhabitants, according to a 2015 report by community activist Makbula Nassar, a journalist and presenter of current affairs programmes.

By comparison, Israel as a whole has 3,4 physicians per 1 000 residents and the OECD average is 3,3 doctors per 1 000 people.

Israel has about five medical graduates per 100 000 people, according to a 2013 OECD report.

“Arraba produces between 25 and 30 new doctors each and every year,” Nassar says. “This village is filling the gap of Israel’s lack of doctors.”

How did a village once known for farming turn into a medical mecca?

Dr Hatim Kanaaneh, the first Western-trained doctor in Arraba, is credited with this reform.

Just as restaurateur Jawdat Ibrahim gave new life to the Arab-Israeli village of Abu Ghosh after he won the Illinois lottery and returned home to help a new generation of university students better their careers, Kanaaneh returned to his village in the late 1960s after receiving a medical degree from Harvard University.

Kanaaneh instigated a call for proper healthcare in the Galilee and raised awareness of the medical profession among his fellow Arabs.

The former public-health employee of the Israeli Ministry of Health then co-founded the non-governmental public health organization The Galilee Society, to better serve Arab villages and towns. – ISRAEL21c

 Toronto and Montreal mayors head 120-member mission to Israel

 TORONTO - The mayors of the two biggest cities in Canada and a delegation of about 120 are flying to Tel Aviv for a week-long economic mission that includes several Israeli cities and the West Bank.

Toronto’s John Tory and Montreal’s Denis Coderre have slightly different focuses and itineraries for the trip, but both hope it will result in lucrative partnerships.

Tory is stressing business and technology and the nearly 50 members of his team come from those sectors, along with three city councillors.

Coderre is leading a group of almost 70, largely from hi-tech and knowledge-based industries, as well as institutional, academic and community leaders.

While business is the first priority, he looks forward to forging stronger connections in the cultural sphere, in research and development and urban affairs. He speaks of cultivating “people-to-people” relationships, in addition to encouraging trade and investment.

Coderre is taking part in an international mayors’ conference while there, and hopes to sign a new co-operation agreement with Tel Aviv and establish ties with the other cities.

He is the current president of Metropolis, an international association of large cities, and is an enthusiastic proponent of “urban diplomacy”.

He believes cities will play an ever more significant role in such issues as climate change, migration and security.

“Israel has emerged as a leading global hub for technology due in part to its successful incubator ecosystem,” Tory said on November 3 in formally announcing the trip.

“Our mission is to learn how government interventions have facilitated the rapid growth of their technology sector, learn from their innovations and connect Toronto businesses with opportunities in their market.” - Canadian Jewish News

 Fallout from sexual assault story ripples worldwide

LOS ANGELES - For prominent Israeli journalist and author Ari Shavit, admitting that he was the subject of a Jewish Journal cover story about sexual assault, could mean more than the end of his work at a newspaper and television station.

Having already resigned his posts at Haaretz and Channel 10 in Israel, Shavit also has had speaking engagements cancelled. And it remains unclear at this point if the episode could impact HBO’s work on a documentary based on his acclaimed book, “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel”.

In an October 21 article titled “My Sexual Assault, and Yours: Every Woman’s Story”, Journal senior writer Danielle Berrin revealed that several years ago, she met a prominent Israeli journalist for an interview about his book that was having an important impact on the Jewish conversation.

Berrin said the journalist “lurched at me like a barnyard animal, grabbing the back of my head, pulling me toward him”. He also suggested that they go up to his room, she wrote. 

On October 27 Shavit issued a statement acknowledging that he was the subject of the story and offering an explanation. 

The incident in question occurred in February 2014, when Shavit was in Los Angeles to promote “My Promised Land”. Berrin, a senior reporter who joined the Journal in 2007, has won numerous journalism awards for her profiles and cultural coverage.

Berrin responded to Shavit on the Jewish Journal website (, indicating that his statement was inadequate. 

After Shavit admitted to being the unnamed journalist in Berrin’s piece, the organised Jewish world condemned Shavit. – Jewish Journal, Los Angeles


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