Refusenik book scores Prime Minister Award

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SYDNEY - A book chronicling the landmark campaign by Australia, and notably the Jewish community, to help free Jews from the Soviet Union so they could emigrate to Israel and other destinations, has won a major literary prize.
by SUZANNE BELLING | Nov 16, 2016

Co-authored by Sam Lipski and Professor Suzanne Rutland, Let My People Go: The Untold Story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89, launched last year, has been jointly awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award in Australian History.

The book shares the Prime Minister’s award in the Australian History category with historian Geoffrey Blainey’s The Story of Australia’s People.

Judges stated Lipski and Rutland “have produced a path-breaking book about the struggles of the Soviet ‘refuseniks’. Replete with new information, [it] draws on a vast array of primary and secondary sources.

“These include ASIO files, Rutland’s painstaking research on Australia and Soviet Jewry, as well as unfettered access to the massive archive about the campaign for Soviet Jewry of Lipski’s friend Isi Leibler, who is a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and activist for Soviet Jews.”

Lipski, chief executive of the Pratt Foundation and a former editor-in-chief of The Australian Jewish News, described news of the award as “an overwhelming moment - to hear that I and co-author Suzanne Rutland had shared the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Australian History with Geoffrey Blainey, the doyen of Australian historians”.

At the awards presentation, Lipski reflected the book was an appropriate recipient of a PM’s Award “because every Australian prime minister for 30 years, notably Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke, had had to deal with the Soviet Jewry issue”.

Rutland, an associate professor and chairman of the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney, learnt she had won, while attending a meeting of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in Romania. - Australian Jewish News


Lord Sacks warns of dangers of ‘politics of anger’

LONDON - Lord Sacks, the Emeritus Chief Rabbi, has warned of the dangers of the “politics of anger” following the election of Donald Trump as United States President and the Brexit vote.

In an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph, he instead urged a new politics of hope built on “capitalism with a human face”.

Rabbi Sacks said this year’s events were "not politics as usual. The American Presidential election, the Brexit vote and the rise of extremism in the politics of the West are warnings of something larger, and the sooner we realise it, the better.

"What we are witnessing is the birth of a new politics of anger. It is potentially very dangerous indeed.”

He warned that anger was “a mood, not a strategy, and it can make things worse not better. Anger never solves problems, it merely inflames them. The danger down the road, as it has been throughout history, is the demand for authoritarian leadership, which is the beginning of the end of the free society.”

He said the first step was to recognise “how bad” things were, with many people failing to benefit from economic growth.

A politics of hope was, he said, “within our reach. But to create it we will have to find ways of strengthening families and communities, building a culture of collective responsibility and insisting on an economics of the common good. This is no longer a matter of party politics. It is about the very viability of the freedom for which the West fought for so long and hard.” - Jewish Chronicle, London


On the road to solving biggest healthcare problem


JERUSALEM - It’s one of healthcare’s biggest ironies: going to a hospital for life-saving treatment can actually cost you your life. More than one million people in America each year get sick from infections they contract in hospitals, resulting in about 100 000 deaths. Fighting these infections costs the healthcare system about $30 billion every year.

The main reason, says Efrat Raichman, is poor hand hygiene of the hospital staff.

In response, Raichman has developed Hyginex, a new hi-tech system to keep hospital workers’ hands clean. If everyone from nurses and doctors to orderlies and candy-stripers - even food handlers in the cafeteria - are required to use it, hospital administrators can help ensure the highest sanitary standards.

At its core, Hyginex is an online software solution that communicates with a bracelet resembling a sports watch. Worn by every shift worker, the bracelet is equipped with gyroscopes and other movement sensors and emits a gentle red LED light to remind personnel to wash their hands between patients - or however frequently the system is programmed to provide alerts.

Hyginex aims to improve hand-washing compliance and quality without requiring any special training.

“Today the hand hygiene in hospitals is so poor, that when I talk to [the managers] they report that the staff is just doing it about 20 per cent of the time it is required,” says Raichman, the founder and CEO of the company. “They say even a 50 per cent compliance would be great. The system can be programmed to meet any requirement.”

Raichman tells ISRAEL21c that other products with the same goal are on the market. “But we have a patent and they can’t match us. Ours is the only system that can test the compliance of the staff and also test the quality of the hand washing. Simply opening the tap doesn’t mean you’ve washed your hands, or if you stand near the hand sanitiser, that they are sanitised,” she claims.

The Hyginex system incorporates sensors on the bracelet, in the dispensers and in the tap to measure the duration of vigorous hand washing, and then transfers that information to a computer.

In the future, the bracelet will be equipped with an optional watch that can be programmed for other functions including security - so that staff might be able to open or close doors using the bracelet as a remote control device. - ISRAEL21C

Paul Castro, head of Jewish Family Service retires

LOS ANGELES - Paul Castro, the president and CEO of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS) who has worked at the social service agency for more than 35 years, has announced his retirement, effective December 2017.

The 64-year-old LA native’s story is not that of the typical leader of a Jewish nonprofit - starting with the fact that he is not Jewish. Of Mexican descent and raised Catholic, Castro’s first home was in Watts. He lived there through the violence of the 1965 Watts riots.

The riots were enough to convince his mother and father, a painter on a maintenance crew who earned his high school equivalency certificate when Castro was in college at Cal State Fullerton, to move the family to Whittier. Castro graduated with a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School, though the self-described social activist never took the bar exam.

 “Time passes and you don’t do it,” Castro said during an interview in his Koreatown office.

He began working at JFS in 1980 after he responded to an advertisement. The organisation had been a Jewish counselling agency, before public funding expanded its scope of work, and Castro’s first position with JFS focused on state funding for keeping seniors home instead of in nursing homes, which was right up his alley.

 “In my culture, we don’t send grandparents to nursing homes,” Castro said. – Los Angeles Jewish Journal


JVS job fair empowers Jewish, non-Jewish job seekers

TORONTO - The perception that people in the Jewish community don’t struggle with unemployment is simply untrue.

“We see it every day. We have been working on employment in the Jewish community since 1947. Poverty and unemployment in the Jewish community is still going on,” said Irene Vaksman, programme manager at the non-profit employment organisation Jewish Vocational Service of Metropolitan Toronto (JVS Toronto).

Events such as the Bathurst-Finch Community Job Fair, which JVS hosted in partnership with KCWA Family and Social Services, an organisation that largely serves the city’s Korean community, are, therefore, so important to those looking for work.

The fair was held in the new Bathurst-Finch Community Hub, a building that houses a number of community service agencies, including one of JVS Toronto’s offices. It drew more than 100 job seekers, Jewish and non-Jewish.

Fifteen different employers were present, representing companies from a range of fields, including customer service, general labour, IT, office administration and personal support work.

Vaksman said JVS advertised the event both through Jewish and non-Jewish networks, and attendees came from “all walks of life”.

“Many in the Bathurst and Finch community are experiencing a need for employment, including those in the Jewish community,” she said, noting that unemployment can be especially prevalent among young people and newcomers.

“We’re trying to engage employers in the community to ensure that people can build their dignity, make a decent living and support their families… and we’re trying to help people build skills and confidence or reinvent their careers… for example, mothers who’ve been raising family for years and suddenly need to find a job,” Vaksman said.

The fair targeted people in the neighbourhood, but was open to everyone. The purpose was to connect job seekers with potential employers, but also to help build the confidence of those looking for work. – Canadian Jewish News


Institutions response to sexual abuse under review

SYDNEY-The Yeshivah Centre, Melbourne, and Yeshiva College in Sydney have been recalled to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse only one week before the nominations close for the new Yeshivah–Beth Rivkah (YBR) board.

The Royal Commission has announced it will hold a public hearing into the current policies and procedures in relation to child protection and child-safe standards, including how Yeshivah and Yeshiva respond to allegations of child sexual abuse, in February.

“This hearing is expected to include consideration of factors that may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse in religious institutions and factors that may have affected the institutional response of religious institutions to child sexual abuse,” the commission said in a statement last week.

“This hearing may also examine the responses of named institutions to relevant case study report(s).”

The Royal Commission has invited individuals and organisations to submit information concerning current policies, procedures and responses by Yeshivah to the abuse cases involving convicted child sexual abusers David Cyprys, David Kramer and Daniel ‘Gug’ Hayman.

“The Yeshivah Centre welcomes the opportunity to present its current policies and procedures in relation to child protection and child-safe standards and the steps it has taken following the Royal Commission hearing,” Yeshivah’s interim committee of management said in a letter to the community.- Australian Jewish News


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