Jewish Insider Kickoff


Israel Elects New Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef – by Yair Rosenberg for Tablet Magazine: “Rabbi David Lau is the son of former chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, and is currently the rabbi of the diverse city of Modi’in. Though himself ultra-Orthodox, Lau, like his celebrated father, is well-liked among Israel’s secular population, a fact he went to great lengths to emphasize during his campaign, given the popularity of his primary challenger, the religious Zionist reformer Rabbi David Stav. For the past seven years, Lau has done the “Ask the Rabbi” TV program for Israel’s Channel 1, as well as filled a regular slot on Radio Kol Chai since 1999. He also runs a web site where individuals can submit questions on Jewish law. While Lau’s chief opponent, Rabbi David Stav, was backed by 4 of 5 parties in the government coalition, Lau garnered the tacit support of Likud and Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose family is close to Lau and his father. Lau’s election marks a bitter defeat for Stav and his many supporters across Israel, who hoped to revamp the chief rabbinate. Nonetheless, Stav’s insurgent candidacy–which few credited as serious early on–helped push the ultra-Orthodox establishment to back a centrist. Whether that will be enough for those clamoring for rabbinate reform–or whether legislation to strip the institution of some of its authority will soon follow–remains to be seen.

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef is the son of former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and a noted scholar of Jewish law. Once he obtained his father’s endorsement–after his brother, Rabbi Avraham Yosef, dropped out of the running due to ethical concerns–his victory was not much in doubt. Indeed, out of deference to Yosef, three Sephardi candidates dropped out of the race over the last few days. Thus, while the other Ashkenazi and Sephardi candidates were lobbying electors at the Leonardo Hotel until the polls closed, Yosef reportedly abstained and told the press he’d see them at his victory party. Yosef’s election reasserts the dominance of his father within the Sephardi religious and political establishment. But it will also doubtless come as a relief to many Israelis and diaspora Jews, who were gravely concerned by the candidacy of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu. Eliyahu is on record prohibiting Jews from renting to Arabs, and advocating other troubling views. Israel’s attorney general had stated that he would not defend Eliyahu in the event his election was challenged in the courts. With Yosef’s election, these worries can be put to rest.” [Tablet Mag]

A Socialist Woman Could Dethrone Netanyahu – Four Ways Shelly Yacimovich Could Become Israel’s Next Prime Minister by Ben Birnbaum in the New Republic: “Israel’s next election campaign began unofficially last week, as Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich announced that she would move up primaries for the party leadership to November. Yacimovich’s decision was logical: She is vulnerable to a challenge, with Labor having underperformed the polls in January’s vote, but remains strong with the activists who vote in the party’s primaries. By scheduling the vote just four months from now—two less than a new Labor party member needs to vote in primaries—she prevents her likely opponents (fellow Knesset members Isaac Herzog, Eitan Cabel, and Erel Margalit) from bringing new supporters into the party. Yacimovich’s decision also preempts a deus-ex-machina challenge from Gabi Ashkenazi, the popular and ambitious former army chief who is still mired in a police investigation relating to a tiff with former Defense Minister Ehud Barak.The stakes are higher than they were when the former television reporter and avowed socialist took over the party’s reins in 2011, a time—following then-leader Barak’s defection—when the party had an all-time low of eight seats in the 120-member Knesset: Indeed, the next election could well be the first since 1999 in which Labor will have a realistic shot of winning.

One could say that Labor is finishing the third phase in its long history. In its first phase, from the founding of the state (and the years prior) until 1977, the party dominated Israeli politics, winning every election by a healthy margin. In the second phase, which lasted until 2000, the mantle of national leadership floated between it and the Likud (with a number of unity governments in between). And in the third phase, following the eruption of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, Labor shrunk to a mid-sized party which at best became a junior partner in someone else’s coalition. During this hectic phase, the party went through eight leaders (Likud, by contrast, has had only four in its four-decade existence: Begin, Shamir, Sharon, and Netanyahu). But with most polls showing Labor in a strong second, the party may very well be entering a fourth phase—call it the Yacimovich phase. Anything can happen between now and November, to be sure—Labor primaries operate under a notoriously unpredictable runoff system—but for now, Yacimovich seems likely to become only the fourth Labor leader to win two leadership elections (the other three are Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak). If Yacimovich wants to follow Rabin, Peres, and Barak into the prime minister’s office, however, she needs four things to happen.” [New Republic]

Want Peace? Get Rid of Hamas – by Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View: “Engineer the ouster of Hamas from the Gaza Strip. Both the Palestinian Authority and Israel see Hamas as a bitter enemy; both sides understand that Hamas is an impediment to peace talks. The end of Hamas’s rule — the Gaza Strip constituting about half of what would be a future Palestinian state — could set the stage for actual, fruitful negotiations. Removing Hamas from power would be difficult, but not as difficult as it might have been a month ago, before the demise of Hamas’s main benefactor, the Muslim Brotherhood, when Mohamed Mursi was ousted as president of Egypt. Of course, the collapse of Hamas wouldn’t mean instantaneous Palestinian Authority rule. But nothing at all will happen with Hamas in power. There are more important matters in the Middle East right now than the resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians: The Syrian civil war, the turmoil in Egypt and Iran’s continued march toward the nuclear threshold are three. But if Kerry insists on pushing negotiations, he might as well attempt to create conditions in which those negotiations could work. Breaking Hamas would be one way to try to achieve his goal.” [Bloomberg View]

STATE VISIT – (prominent folks visiting Israel): Dan Marino, who tweeted “What an amazing day in Israel with the family!” 

Oren – Leaving DC without Pollard would hurt: “Israel’s outgoing ambassador in Washington Michael Oren said Wednesday that if Israel did not succeed in bringing about the release of its agent Jonathan Pollard before his term is complete, it would pain him personally. Speaking to Army Radio, Oren recounted his July 2011 visit to the North Carolina federal prison where Pollard is in the 28th year of a life sentence. Oren, who is a historian, said they spoke a lot about history in addition to the efforts to bring about his release. Oren declined to confirm reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had asked the US to free Pollard ahead of the forthcoming negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.”[Jerusalem Post]

Happening Today: Agudath Israel of America will hold its 2013 National Leadership Mission to Washington with delegates coming from communities across the US. The mission is being organized by Agudath Israel’s Washington Office, which is headed by  Rabbi Abba Cohen, and will feature visits to the US Department of Treasury, US Senate and the White House. At these sessions, the delegates will hear from and engage with senior policy makers and elected officials in regard to issues of importance to the Orthodox Jewish community. These issues include: Israel and the Middle East, Homeland Security and Domestic Terrorism, Global Anti-Semitism, Religious Freedom, Education, the social safety net and tax policy. Yesterday, the National Board of Agudah met with Speaker John Boehner and Majority LeaderEric Cantor.

NYTIMES – ‘Following the Powerful to Their Vacation Spot’: “To mayoral candidates on the prowl for New York City voters, Westhampton Beach, N.Y., is pretty far out of the way. But almost all of them have pledged to make the trek east, all in search of support from the wealthy and influential worshipers at a single Jewish congregation, the Hampton Synagogue. Like the large African-American churches that dot the city’s boroughs, the synagogue has become a mandatory pilgrimage site on the campaign trail. Two candidates for mayor have already visited. Five more are booked, including two Democrats and one Republican who — they may or may not know — are splitting next weekend. “Truth be told, we have a pageantry of all the candidates here,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, who founded the modern Orthodox synagogue in 1990, after a career that included a four-year stint in real estate.

His congregation is not large – the synagogue’s membership roll lists only 500 families. But with a steady stream of drop-ins including Ronald O. Perelman, Ronald S. Lauder, Russell Simmons and Steven Spielberg; a speaker series that features a variety of notables as varied as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Glenn Beck; cantorial music on a par with Carnegie Hall; and other summer fare like this weekend’s kosher gospel concert, the pews are generally packed. “When you’re speaking at a gathering of 200 people on a Saturday evening, it’s not just your — what’s the word I’m looking for — and it’s not your average Jewish family,” Rabbi Schneier said. “I’ve often said, this is all chiefs and no braves. This is Scarsdale, the Upper West Side, Teaneck. It’s a community of communities.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE TOWN – New Jersey Synagogue Raising Money To Keep 92 Year Old Skydiver on the Ground: “The sky’s no longer the limit for this New Jersey nonagenarian. In his heart of hearts, 92-year-old Aaron Rosloff would love to jump out of a plane again—never mind the fact that his last skydiving trip ended with a painful accident. But his family and friends at Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick, N.J., are ready to do just about anything to thwart his pie-in-the-sky plans. Rosloff, a former World War II Army Air Corps plane mechanic, dove 8,000 feet to the ground celebrate his 90th birthday. He donated the $3,500 he raised through the jump to the South Brunswick Food Pantry. He upped the ante for his 91st birthday by diving 13,500 feet and raising $3,700—but broke his ankle while landing. By the time Rosloff announced that he was planning a repeat performance for his 92nd birthday, his rabbi had heard enough. “He told me, ‘I’ll give you $100 if you jump, but I’ll give you $200 if you don’t jump,’” Rosloff told The Daily News. “And that just took on a life of its own.”

To date, the “Stop Aaron” campaign has raised over $6,700—and the checks keep pouring in. “At first, I thought it was crazy,” the South Brunswick, N.J., man said. “I mean, who’s going to pay money for me not to jump? I guess it’s like that old saying, if you want to know who loves you, break a leg.” After the unexpected response, Rosloff said he’s decided to honor his supporters by putting off skydiving “in the immediate future.” But that doesn’t mean he won’t do it again. “I don’t feel like the risk is that great,” Rosloff said. “I’m more afraid of falling off my six-foot ladder.” As a young mechanic in the Air Corps, Rosloff said he would often ride in planes but never got the chance to jump out. And after he got out of the Army, his wife Milie Rosloff kept his feet firmly planted on the ground. When Milie’s health began to deteriorate, Aaron started getting up at 7 a.m. to exercise. “I thought to myself, if I’m going to be taking care of her, I have to start taking care of myself,” Aaron said.

Milie died eight years ago, but Aaron hasn’t stopped keeping his body active. He works out at least half an hour every day, doing 15 to 20 deep toe bends, 15 jumping jacks, and 40 to 50 military pushups. “I think it’s been an important factor in keeping me well and strong,” he said. Rosloff has kept his mind active by staying involved at Congregation B’nai Tikvah. He’s also on the board of the South Brunswick Community Development Corporation, an organization that helps provide low income senior housing to residents of South Brunswick. So when the opportunity came to jump, Rosloff was ready to take it up immediately. Now, he’s hooked on seeing the world from above. The experience of plummeting through the sky is one that Rosloff says is “unbelievable.” “When you’re on a commercial plane and you look out the window, it’s like riding a local bus,” Rosloff said. “But when you’re skydiving, there’s no coverage around you. You can see the horizon in every direction and you see that the earth is really a ball.” “There’s nothing holding you back except the wind in your ears.” [New York Daily News] [Video]

NEW FILM – The Knight Who Saved 700 Jews: “Nicky’s Family, a new film by Slovak director Matej Mináč, tells the story of a 20th-century hero you probably don’t know, but should: A British stockbroker named Nicholas Winton who rescued nearly 700 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Sudetenland. Through means ranging from straightforward to ingenious (including romancing a suspected Nazi agent), Winton, who was stirred by an encounter with Czech refugees in 1938, found foster homes for Czech Jewish children in England, the only country willing to accept them.

But Winton’s story was unknown even to his own family until 1988, when his wife found a scrapbook full of names and photos of the children he’d saved. She helped arrange a moving reunion on the popular BBC television show “That’s Life,” in which an unsuspecting Winton was introduced to some of the grateful (now adult) children. Nicky’s Family uses interviews, reenactments, and documentary footage to tell Winton’s story, and is narrated by Canadian TV journalist (and rescued child) Joe Schlesinger. Descendants of the rescued children number an estimated 5,700. One of his fans calls Sir Nicholas, who was knighted in 2002, the “head of the biggest family in the world.” [Jewniverse]

BUSINESS BRIEFS

New York-Based CityMaps to Launch Today: “A new Big Apple-based social network wants its users to follow each other. Literally. Citymaps, which counts Ashton Kutcher among its angel investors, launches today in Apple’s App Store and hopes to woo users from Google and Apple maps by allowing them to share with friends map itineraries for ideas on where to visit. Co-founded by New Yorkers Elliot Cohen and Aaron Rudenstine, Citymaps built a mobile map from scratch. The duo hopes to catch fire as maps become more social and grow in value. “We think it’s as high performing as any map on the market,” Cohen told The Post ahead of today’s release. “We tried to rethink what maps could be and where maps are going: social, personalized and dynamic.” [NYPost]

Why Tech Guys Think They Can Sell Health Insurance: “When New York State announced the participants in its Obamacare exchange last week, there was an unfamiliar company on the list: Oscar Health Insurance. Started by tech venture capitalist Josh Kushner, and backed with $40 million from Silicon Valley investors such as Vinod Khosla and Peter Thiel, the company is seeking to solve a challenge few tech entrepreneurs have tackled: health insurance. Some 32 million Americans are expected to join the health-care system in coming years, and many of them will buy health insurance on exchanges. Insurers competing for new customers, meanwhile, will have incentive to do a better job serving individuals. Is it possible to create an insurance plan with greater consumer appeal?

“We understand technology, data, and design,” says Kushner, who has invested in Instagram, MakerBot, and Warby Parker, during an interview at Oscar’s New York City offices. For medical expertise, the company recruited Charlie Baker, former chief executive officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, which sold individual plans on the Massachusetts exchange, as an investor and board member. The company also hired senior medical executives from EmblemHealth, which claims the mantle of the largest insurer in New York State. Kushner says the initial inspiration for Oscar wasn’t health reform, but his experience of opening his insurance bill and realizing he couldn’t make any sense of it. He shared the idea with Mario Schlosser—previously at hedge fund Bridgewater Associates—and Kevin Nazemi, a former Microsoft exec, and the trio set to work building a health-care company they would want to use. That was 18 months ago. The New York-based company has since hired health-care executives, built a network of doctors, and won approval to operate as an insurer from New York State.” [Businessweek]

Longtime Chicago Nursing Home Operators Must Face Kickback Charges, Judge Rules: “Two longtime nursing home operators must stand trial to face a whistle-blower’s allegations that the father and son took kickbacks related to the 2004 sale of a pharmacy company, a federal judge has ruled. The ruling by District Judge John Tharp Jr. comes two weeks after the pharmaceutical giant Omnicare Inc. agreed to pay $17.2 million to the government to settle its part of the ongoing lawsuit, according to attorneys involved in the case. The 6-year-old suit alleges that Omnicare paid Chicago nursing home operators Philip Esformes and his father, Morris Esformes, a kickback by significantly inflating the price Omnicare paid in 2004 for Total Pharmacy, which was partially owned by Philip Esformes.

The plaintiff, former Total Pharmacy employee Maureen Nehls, states in the suit that Omnicare’s $32 million purchase of Total included a multimillion-dollar kickback to secure long-term pharmacy contracts with more than two dozen nursing homes the Esformeses operated or influenced. In a 38-page order handed down Tuesday, Tharp rejected the Esformes family’s motion for summary judgment. According to Nehls, Philip Esformes paid $4,000 for a 40 percent stake in Total Pharmacy in 2002, then reaped $7 million less than two years later in the Omnicare deal. Total Pharmacy became so valuable because Morris Esformes had directed all of the nursing homes he owned to abandon their current pharmacy providers and replace them with Total, Nehls alleged. It would not be unreasonable for a jury to infer that Philip Esformes “largely paid for his substantial stake in Total Pharmacy by delivering the Esformes Homes as customers,” Tharp wrote in his order Tuesday.

After Omnicare acquired Total Pharmacy, Morris Esformes also solicited and received from two part owners of Total about $800,000 in donations to a religious school he built, according to Nehls. Morris Esformes vigorously disputed that the donations were part of a kickback scheme. There is no allegation that Esformes personally received any money from the sale to Omnicare, and he has “absolutely done nothing wrong,” his attorney Harvey Tettlebaum said. “Philip Esformes continues to insist this lawsuit is baseless and wrong-minded,” attorney Michael Pasano said Wednesday. “His participation in Total Pharmacy was appropriate, and the sale to Omnicare was arm’s-length and proper. Philip Esformes has done nothing wrong and looks forward to his opportunity in court to clear his name.” Omnicare, which supplies medicine to millions of nursing home residents in facilities across the U.S., did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday but previously told the Tribune the allegations are without merit.

Nehls’ attorneys, David Joel Chizewer and Matthew Organ of the Goldberg Kohn firm, declined to comment. Her case was brought under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue companies and individuals that are defrauding the government and to recover money on the government’s behalf. Nehls alleges that the Total Pharmacy deal violated Medicaid rules that require nursing home operators to choose their pharmacy based on the best interest of patients. The trial has been set for Aug. 12 in the federal courthouse in Chicago. [Chicago Tribune]

Idan Ofer Resigns Israel Corp. Directorship: Israel Corporation controlling shareholder Idan Ofer has begun his move to London. He has resigned as a director of the company and will no longer have a role in it. Ofer was a director of Israel Corp. from January 26, 1999 until yesterday. He still owns 46.94% of the company through Millennium Investments Elad Ltd., 2.46% through Ofer Investments Ltd., and 1.24% through Ofer Holdings Group. One of Idan Ofer’s associates told “Globes”, “The move is for personal reasons. Idan wants to devote more time to his global businesses, to develop and initiate new businesses. The move to London will, among other things, make this possible. He also believes that being a director in a company like Israel Corp. requires intensive and constant involvement, which he cannot provide at this time.” [Globes]

Glencore completes Mutanda, Kansuki merger: “GLENCORE Xstrata said it had completed the merger of Mutanda Mining and Kansuki, copper and cobalt assets in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which it said had the potential to produce 200,000 tonnes of copper cathodes a year, and 23,000 tonnes of cobalt hydroxide. The deal gives Glencore a direct 54.5% stake in the combined unit with Dan Gertler‘s Fleurette Properties, through a subsidiary called Rowny Assets Ltd owning 31%. Gertler and Glencore Xstrata CEO, Ivan Glasenberg, have equal rights to acquire the assets from one another in tranches in 2016 and 2018 while Glencore has the right to buy High Grade Minerals’ 14.5% stake for $430m in cash.” [MiningMX]

UBS Managing Director Leaves for Millennium: “Millennium Management, the $18.5 billion U.S. hedge fund manager run by Izzy Englander, has hired a head of European business development as the firm continues to capitalize on a strong environment for hiring portfolio managers. Stephen Keller, a managing director and senior relationship manager for hedge funds at UBS, has left the Swiss bank, according to two people familiar with the situation. He is set to join Millennium in London as head of European business development, a role that will involve sourcing potential portfolio managers for the firm to hire, one of the people said.” [Wall Street Journal]

Hudson Yards wooing Sotheby’s: “Stephen Ross of Related Cos. is bidding on Sotheby’s 500,000 square-foot building at 1334 York Ave., with a proposal that includes snagging them as a tenant for his Hudson Yards project. The proposed 1031 tax-free exchange would have Sotheby’s buy — and perhaps partially lease — several hundred thousand square feet in the 750,000 square-foot retail podium that connects the first two office towers at Hudson Yards. [NYPost]

Another bidder moves to upset Empire State Building REIT: “Yet another bidder is trying to upend the $5 billion real estate investment trust that has the Empire State Building as its crown jewel. Malkin Holdings, the company that controls the 102-story landmark tower and 18 other buildings and wants to go public by the end of the year, disclosed late last week in a financial filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had received a $710 million offer for 60 E. 42nd St. The building, located across from Grand Central Terminal, is 1.3 million square feet and 55 stories tall, making it the second largest building after the Empire State Building in the planned investment trust. Malkin Holdings did not disclose the identity of the bidder. The offer follows several bids worth more than $2 billion that have been made on the Empire State Building by a collection of New York City landlords, including Joseph Sitt and Ruby Schron.” [Crain’s New York]

The Hollywood Reporter Magazine Philanthropy Issue – Bonnie Hammer Reveals First Blush With Prejudice – ‘They Thought Jews Had Horns’: “Growing up in a Jewish family in New York, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer never had issues with prejudice — until she took a college trip to Kansas. “They had never seen a Jew before … and literally someone said they thought Jews had horns,” she recalls. That rude awakening combined with her half-Malaysian stepdaughter’s own experiences ultimately inspired Hammer to create Characters Unite, USA Network’s campaign dedicated to combating prejudice, discrimination and intolerance while promoting understanding and acceptance.” [The Hollywood Reporter]

STARTUP NATION

Article Accompanying Forbes Magazine’s Cover Story – Bringing Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Into StartUp Nation: “Palestinians and Israeli Arabs aren’t the only ones playing catch-up in Startup Nation. Israel’s ultra-Orthodox (haredi, in Hebrew), who for decades have cut themselves off from larger society, are jumping in. Like those first two groups, the haredim have long been exempt from Israel’s compulsory military service, which has served as an entrepreneurial springboard for the region’s secular Jews. And similarly, these communities, which have long stressed large families and Torah study over conventional work, remain desperately poor. For Intel, which has 8,500 employees in Israel and generates 10% of the country’s industrial exports each year, the haredim are yet another untapped resource. Over the past five years the company has been slowly assimilating them into its workforce–of the 1,000 workers in the Jerusalem office more than 100 are ultra-Orthodox.

Intel takes great pains to work with the sect’s rabbis to ensure traditions are respected, notably segregating haredi women, who are forbidden to touch men who aren’t their husbands. “It’s getting to know one another,” says Yishai Fraenkel, a general manager at Intel’s Jerusalem operations. “It’s really creating within the workplace a microcosm of full Israeli society.” Unexpected problems have arisen. Fraenkel says it’s a battle to give the haredim raises, since they are brought up to express modesty at all times. Employee reviews are even more complicated. “They didn’t want to do it,” says an ultra-Orthodox woman named Sari, who has risen to manager level. “There is something in Hebrew called lashon hara–that you cannot talk bad things about another person.”

Still, Fraenkel says, it’s worth the effort: “We do it because they’re good people, they’re bright people, they’re driven people. They are already driving innovations.” And if you tour the facility, it’s clear that the women, who hail from a culture that encourages families of ten or more, enjoy the independence. In Sari’s case her mother looks after her four children, while her husband studies Torah at a yeshiva all day. Who cooks for him? “I don’t know,” she says with a giggle. “He finds some food somewhere.” When asked whether haredi women might someday start their own companies, Sari lights up. “I’m sure it will happen,” she beams, and then adds: “Of course, the wives don’t talk inside the home about it.” Tellingly, haredi men are increasingly seeking positions. One of them, a senior design engineer named Ariel Malamud, tells FORBES he had a dilemma. He was torn between finishing his Torah studies and accepting a job offer from Intel. So he did what all good haredim do: He consulted his rabbi. “I remember we walked around,” says Malamud, and the rabbi asked, “Who is Intel? Is it a serious company?” Ariel told him yes. “Go to Intel,” advised the rabbi. “Seriousness is a good trait.” [Forbes]

Global Startups Vie to Learn in Tel Aviv: “High-tech companies from 14 countries are taking part in the Start Tel Aviv international competition whose top prize includes learning the secrets of Israel’s startup ecosystem. Start Tel Aviv is sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tel Aviv Global & Tourism and Campus Tel Aviv, powered by Google. One company from each of the participating countries – United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Latvia, India, China, Korea, Mexico,Sweden and Colombia – will win a five-day paid trip to Israel. Here, they will be joined by local Israeli entrepreneurs and will participate in lectures, workshops and meetings with leading Israeli investors and professionals.” [Israel21c]

MAZAL TOV GLIDE: “Video chatting app Glide is on a roll of sorts. In recent weeks this mobile messenger for iPhone and Android devices has been climbing the app store charts on both platforms, having gotten as high as #6 overall in the Apple App Store, and #1 in the App Store’s social networking section. Today, the iPhone app is ranked #16 in the U.S., Glide’s top market – just one spot below Instagram, according to AppData’s leaderboards. But on the iPhone App Store on the phone, it has actually bumped Instagram from spot #15 in the U.S.

Recently, the Jerusalem-based Glide made a move which could offer some competition to another group of video sharing apps, like Vine or Instagram, the latter of which, though known for photos, now does video, too. Responding to user demand, Glide quietly rolled out a new feature a few days ago which allows users to share their own video messages more publicly, if they choose. Links to the Glide message can be posted on Facebook or Twitter, or sent to others via SMS or email. The company plans to offer an embed code option in the future, as well. [TechCrunch]

Drilldown: Is Blue and White Oil on the Way? by Daniel Fink in The Tower: “While Israel enjoys its recent finds of offshore natural gas, we keep hearing rumors of vast reserves of oil waiting to be tapped. Is that just wishful thinking? Or might the Land of Milk and Honey become the world’s next oil power?”[The Tower]

IRISH-JEWISH MUSIC: Michael Oren enjoys nothing more after a long day discussing the complexities of Middle Eastern politics and diplomacy and on the blower to Benjamin Netanyahu and others back in Israel than pounding on one of his three bodhráns. The American-born Israeli ambassador to the United States became interested in the bodhrán after seeing someone playing it in a pub in Dingle, Co Kerry. He was taught to play by Abe Doron, a Mexican Jewish guy and the only bodhrán player in Israel – well, the only professional one at any rate. The overlap between the Irish and Jewish musical tribes goes back more than a century on the American music scene. During the Tin Pan Alley era of music publishing between 1880 and 1920, Irish-Jewish musical collaborations were common. During this time it was common for Irish songwriters to assume Jewish names for commercial reasons when they saw New York’s rapidly changing song-making business becoming distinctly Jewish.” [Irish Times]

KOSHER

Vote deals lethal blow to Poland’s Kosher meat industry: “With beef consumption falling in Europe and many other markets closed to new players or dominated by Brazil and other South American producers, Polish abattoirs saw Israel and Arab countries in the Middle East as the best opportunity for growth. Poland exports 90 percent of its beef, a third of which was kosher or halal worth some 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion). But this booming industry has ground to a halt because, after a campaign by animal rights activists who say the method of slaughter is cruel, Poland’s constitutional court banned the practice and this month its parliament rejected an amendment that would have allowed the slaughter to resume. Parliament’s unexpected decision caused an outcry among Jewish groups around the world, who said banning kosher slaughter was an infringement of religious freedom. They said anti-Jewish prejudice played a part – a stinging accusation against a country where Nazi Germany killed millions of Jews during World War Two.” [Reuters]

Poland’s Jews Petition Court to Strike Down Ban on Kosher Slaughter: “Poland’s Jewish community plans to petition the country’s constitutional court in an effort to strike down the legislature’s decision to forbid kosher slaughter, Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich said Wednesday, after meeting with Polish Religious Affairs Minister Michal Boni.” [Haaretz]

SPORTS BLINK: Age just a number a Maccabiahs – “The Maccabiah, like most athletic events, trends young. The nearly 1,200-member American delegation to what is sometimes called the “Jewish Olympics” includes only about 270 competing in the masters division, which is for those over age 35. West Los Angeles resident Peter Lowy, 54, is in Israel competing in the Maccabiah, too – just not for the United States. He’s playing basketball for his native Australia. Lowy, co-chief executive officer of Westfield Group and chairman of TRIBE Media Corp., parent company of the Jewish Journal, previously competed for Australia in the 1997 Games, for the masters soccer team. His first game this year, on July 22, was -appropriately enough – against the United States. Australia lost, but, Lowy said, the game was “fun and really competitive,” made better by his facing a hometown player, Richard Farber, 52, of Pacific Palisades. Another local connection is the coach Lowy recruited for the Australian team – ex-Lakers guard Norm Nixon, with whom he’d played plenty of pickup ball in preparation for the Maccabiah. “They come here to compete and have fun,” Nixon said of his players, although he could have been speaking of Maccabiah athletes – young and not-so-young – in general. “Guys who might not have made the Olympics have an opportunity to compete against guys from all over the world.” [Jewish Journal]

Thats all folks, have a great Thursday! 

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