Yeshiva World News

Ramat Givat Ze’ev Encourages Aliyah

This extraordinary, new neighborhood, specially designed and built for families from the United States, is surpassing all Aliyah records! The first residents who moved in last  year are overwhelmingly satisfied and happy — and their enthusiasm is sparking tremendous interest among US families who are now considering purchasing homes in Ramat Givat Ze’ev.  There are many unique aspects to Ramat Givat Ze’ev which renders it an outstanding community that is especially attractive to the American family. One of the most exceptional features of the community is the ACHDUS and friendship among the residents.  The local boys school and girls school began classes this past year, under the leadership of Rabbi Avi Horowitz. Two brand-new, state-of-the-art school buildings will be completed by the 2020 school year. The sum of $1,500,000 has been invested in a luxurious Mikveh, which is expected to open in the next few months. Residents of the neighborhood enjoy its spacious parks, tennis court, basketball court and outdoor exercise areas. The commercial area is expected to open over the next several months, starting with a bakery, a supermarket, a pizza store, a deli with take-out and a dry cleaner. This is the time to think fast. Real estate agents anticipate that once the remaining 40 units are sold, and given all the special features of the community, demand and prices for homes will increase by as much as 30%. 

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SSBA Rollout Represents Years Of Agudah Effort

Agudah welcomes the long-awaited rollout of the Smart School Bond Act (SSBA) program, giving nonpublic schools an additional $25 million than previously offered. The yeshiva share of this additional money is $11 million, bringing the yeshiva total allotment to $21 million. The SSBA program, approved by voters on November 4, 2014, authorized $2 billion to improve education in NYS public schools. School districts could earmark some of that money for classroom technology. In that case, the districts must loan devices, equal to the proportionate share of the technology items ordered, to nonpublic schools. Thanks to five years of advocacy by the Agudah and the Committee of New York City Religious and Independent School Officials, the money was distributed equitably to children in nonpublic schools, including yeshivas. The $25 Million Dollar Mistake Agudah’s advocacy began in response to the seemingly low appropriations for nonpublic school students. The New York City Department of Education originally advised that the nonpublic school allocation would be $92.60. After researching the subject, Avrohom Weinstock, Esq., Agudath Israel’s Chief of Staff and Associate Director for Education Affairs, realized that certain school districts, including the NYC DOE, misinterpreted state guidance on the matter. The districts were not calculating funds to offset specific categories of technology items that were, in reality, included in the statute and the state’s interpretation of it. Agudath Israel and its coalition swung into action. Mr. Weinstock penned a brief showing why the NYC DOE should provide a much higher per capita amount to nonpublic school students. Agudah met numerous times with state officials at the highest levels to correct this inequity. As a result, the NYS Legislature allocated an additional $25 million for nonpublic school technology under SSBA. That’s a total of $201.32 per child, which is an extra $108 per child, more than double the previous allotment of $92.60! That translated into an additional $11 million for yeshivas. Special thanks to Mr. David Rubel of the Sephardic Community Federation and the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg for his role in this effort. (You can read more here.) Another Omission Later this past summer, Mrs. Deborah Zachai, Agudah Director of Education Affairs, was looking over the draft list of nonpublic schools that would be receiving an allocation. She noticed that some nonpublic special education yeshivos were not included. Mrs. Zachai reached out to the DOE, pointing out the omission. The DOE responded that since special ed schools are already supported by the state, they got a separate allocation for technology. That was true, but not all special ed schools are state-funded programs. Mrs. Zachai compiled a list of many non-state supported special ed yeshivos and submitted it. Thanks to her diligence, those programs are now receiving funds for technology. No Longer Under Warranty But there was one more issue that needed to be resolved. NYC was requiring nonpublic schools to use part of their SSBA allocation to purchase five-year warranties and security devices for classroom technology they chose to purchase with SSBA funds. The requirement would increase the cost of the technology, in many cases, beyond the value of the technology itself. And, as consumers all know, most technology is obsolete long before the five-year mark. Students would receive less actual technology because schools would be forced to divert their limited SSBA allocations. In […]

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Behind The Scenes, Scientists Prep For COVID-19 Vaccine Test

A team of scientists jostled for a view of the lab dish, staring impatiently for the first clue that an experimental vaccine against the new coronavirus just might work. After weeks of round-the-clock research at the National Institutes of Health, it was time for a key test. If the vaccine revs up the immune system, the samples in that dish — blood drawn from immunized mice — would change color. Minutes ticked by, and finally they started glowing blue. “Especially at moments like this, everyone crowds around,” said Kizzmekia Corbett, an NIH research fellow leading the vaccine development. When her team sent word of the positive results, “it was absolutely amazing.” Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine as COVID-19 cases continue to grow. Importantly, they’re pursuing different types of vaccines — shots developed from new technologies that not only are faster to make than traditional inoculations but might prove more potent. Some researchers even aim for temporary vaccines, such as shots that might guard people’s health a month or two at a time while longer-lasting protection is developed. “Until we test them in humans we have absolutely no idea what the immune response will be,” cautioned vaccine expert Dr. Judith O’Donnell, infectious disease chief at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. “Having a lot of different vaccines — with a lot of different theories behind the science of generating immunity — all on a parallel track really ultimately gives us the best chance of getting something successful.” First-step testing in small numbers of young, healthy volunteers is set to start soon. There’s no chance participants could get infected from the shots, because they don’t contain the virus itself. The goal is purely to check that the vaccines show no worrisome side effects, setting the stage for larger tests of whether they protect. First in line is the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. It is preparing to test 45 volunteers with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. Next, Inovio Pharmaceuticals aims to begin safety tests of its vaccine candidate next month in a few dozen volunteers at the University of Pennsylvania and a testing center in Kansas City, Missouri, followed by a similar study in China and South Korea. Even if initial safety tests go well, “you’re talking about a year to a year and a half” before any vaccine could be ready for widespread use, stressed Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. That still would be a record-setting pace. But manufacturers know the wait — required because it takes additional studies of thousands of people to tell if a vaccine truly protects and does no harm — is hard for a frightened public. “I can really genuinely understand everybody’s frustration and maybe even confusion,” said Kate Broderick, Inovio’s research and development chief. “You can do everything as fast as possible, but you can’t circumvent some of these vital processes.” ___ BEHIND-THE-SCENES IN NIH’S LAB The new coronavirus is studded with a protein aptly named “spike” that lets the virus burrow into human cells. Block that protein, and people won’t get infected. That makes “spike” the target of most vaccine research. Not so long ago, scientists would have had to grow the […]

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Harris Endorses Biden; Jesse Jackson Backs Sanders

Kamala Harris endorsed Joe Biden on Sunday and said she would “do everything in my power″ to help elect him, becoming the latest dropout from the Democratic race for president to line up behind the former vice president in his battle with Bernie Sanders for the nomination. The decision by the California senator who was one of three black candidates seeking to challenge President Donald Trump further solidifies the Democratic establishment’s move to close circles around Biden after his Super Tuesday success. Her endorsements comes before the next round of primaries, with six states voting Tuesday, including Michigan. Sanders, a Vermont senator, countered with his own major endorsement on Sunday, announcing that civil rights icon Jesse Jackson was formally backing him. Jackson was appearing with Sanders during a campaign stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and planned to say that Biden had not reached out to him for endorsement and Sanders had. He says he chose Sanders after the senator’s campaign offered responses on 13 issues Jackson raised, including protecting voting rights, increasing funding for historically black colleges and universities and committing to putting African Americans on the Supreme Court, according to prepared remarks released by the campaign. In a statement on Biden, meanwhile, Harris said, “There is no one better prepared than Joe to steer our nation through these turbulent times, and restore truth, honor, and decency to the Oval Office.” “He is kind and endlessly caring, and he truly listens to the American people,” her statement added. Harris said the United States “is at an inflection point. And the decision voters make this November will shape the country and the world our children and grandchildren will grow up in. I believe in Joe Biden.” Among Biden’s former rivals, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Mike Bloomberg, Tim Ryan, Deval Patrick and John Delaney have endorsed him. Sanders has gotten the endorsement of Marianne Williamson and Bill de Blasio. Harris withdrew from the race in December, ending a candidacy with the historic potential of becoming the first black woman elected president. The former California attorney general was seen as a candidate poised to attract the multiracial coalition of voters that sent Barack Obama to the White House. But she ultimately could not craft a message that resonated with voters or secure the money to continue her run. Biden and Sanders, two white men in their 70s, are now the front-runners for the nomination in what was once a field of candidates that includes several woman and much younger politicians. Harris said in her statement that “like many women, I watched with sadness as women exited the race one by one.” Four years after Hillary Clinton was the party’s nominee, “we find ourselves without any woman on a path to be the Democratic nominee for president.” “This is something we must reckon with and it is something I will have more to say about in the future,” she said. “But we must rise to unite the party and country behind a candidate who reflects the decency and dignity of the American people and who can ultimately defeat Donald Trump.″ Biden on Friday won the endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who was one of the black candidates for the nomination. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker hasn’t made a public endorsement […]

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Travel Chaos Erupts As Italy Quarantines North To Halt Virus

Italy announced a sweeping quarantine Sunday for its northern regions, igniting travel chaos as it restricted the movements of 16 million people — more than one quarter of its population — in a bid to halt the relentless march of the new coronavirus across Europe. Confusion reigned from Milan to Venice as residents and tourists tried to figure out exactly when and how the new rules were coming into effect. Travelers rushed to train stations and crammed aboard standing-room only trains, tucking their faces into scarves and sharing sanitizing gel. After Italy saw its biggest one-day jump in infections, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte signed a quarantine decree overnight for the country’s prosperous north. Areas under lockdown include Milan, Italy’s financial hub and the main city in Lombardy, and Venice, the main city in the neighboring Veneto region. The extraordinary measures will be in place until April 3. “There will be a ban for everybody to move in and out of these territories and also within the same territory,” Conte said. “Exceptions will be allowed only for proven professional needs, exceptional cases and health issues.” The fate of foreign visitors stuck in Italy’s new quarantine zones was not immediately clear. While the Vatican wasn’t directly affected by the lockdown, the pope, who has been ill, held his Sunday blessing by video instead of in person, describing the strangeness of feeling like he was “in a cage.” Italy’s move echoed China’s lockdown of some 60 million people in central Hubei province in late January, which is now in its sixth week. The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Sunday tweeted his support for “the government and people of Italy,” saying they were “taking bold, courageous steps aimed at slowing the speed of the coronavirus.” China has suffered about three-fourths of the world’s 106,000 coronavirus infections and most of its nearly 3,600 deaths. New infections in China have leveled off dramatically, however, and most of those infected, in China and globally, have already recovered. But infections mounted higher Sunday in other epicenters — South Korea, Iran and especially Italy. And with a nose-dive in tourist traffic and major disruptions to supply chains worldwide, stocks got off to another rocky start Sunday as Mideast indexes opened down 6% to 8%. Around the globe, more events and festivals were called off, including the women’s hockey championships in Canada. Bahrain said its Formula One race this month will take place without spectators over virus fears while Japan’s time-honored grand sumo tournament opened Sunday in Osaka with no fans and wrestlers in face masks. Chaos erupted in the hours before Conte signed the decree, as word leaked about the planned quarantine. Students at the University of Padua in northern Italy who had been out at bars on a Saturday night saw the reports on their phones and rushed back to grab their belongings and head to the train station. Hundreds of passengers, some wearing face masks and rubber gloves, crammed onto the last local train leaving Padua at 11:30 p.m, sitting on their suitcases in the aisles. No conductor came by to check tickets. “I read two hours ago that they may be putting out an urgent decree putting Padua in the red zone … so I decided to go earlier,” said student […]

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Saudis’ Arrest Of 2 Princes Called A Warning To Royal Family

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was shown in state media Sunday in apparent good health and working, just days after the arrest of two senior princes triggered speculation about a possible coup attempt or a sudden deterioration in the king’s health. Two people close to the royal family said Saturday that the two princes were under arrest for not supporting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has consolidated control of all major levers of power inside the kingdom with the support of his father, King Salman. The arrests of the king’s younger and beloved brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz, and the king’s nephew and former counterterrorism czar, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, came after what one person in Saudi Arabia with knowledge of the arrests described as an accumulation of behavior that was provocative to leadership. The source added that the arrests sent a message to anyone in the royal family feeling disenfranchised: Stop grumbling and toe the line, because if Prince Ahmed can be arrested, any prince can and will be. Prince Ahmed was seen as a person who royals could look to when feeling vexed with the crown prince’s grip on power, the person said. The reports of a crackdown emerged early Friday. In the king’s first appearance since then, state media showed the 84-year-old king on Sunday standing and greeting two Saudi diplomats being sworn in as ambassadors. He was previously seen Thursday meeting with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Riyadh. The arrests came as a surprise, given that Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 60, was widely known to be under close surveillance since he was shunted out of the line of succession by the king’s son in mid-2017, a person close to the royal court said. The arrest of Prince Ahmed, 78, was also unexpected since he is the king’s full younger brother and also a senior member of the ruling Al Saud family. Prince Ahmed, however, has long held unfavorable views of the crown prince and was one of just a few senior princes to abstain from pledging allegiance to him when the young royal sidelined more senior princes to become first in line to the throne. Both princes had served previously in the post of interior minister, overseeing security and surveillance inside the kingdom. The Wall Street Journal first reported the arrests, quoting unidentified sources allied with the royal court as saying the princes were plotting a palace coup that would halt the rise of the crown prince. The Journal has since reported that the sweep broadened to include dozens of Interior Ministry officials, senior army officers and others suspected of supporting a coup attempt. The two people who talked to The Associated Press declined to characterize actions by the two princes as a coup attempt. They agreed to discuss the highly sensitive matter related to security only if granted anonymity. There has been no official comment from Saudi authorities on the arrests. The crown prince has succeeded in a few short years at sweeping aside any competition from royals older and more experienced than him. He has also overhauled the most powerful security bodies to report to him. Prince Mohammed bin Nayef is well-known and liked by U.S. intelligence officials for his counterterrorism cooperation in past years against al-Qaida. As head of the interior ministry, […]

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ALERT FROM ROCKLAND HEALTH DEPT: Atrium Wedding Hall Among Locations Exposed To Coronavirus

New City, NY, – Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert advises residents that two Rockland County residents who have been confirmed to have Coronavirus (COVID-19) potentially exposed others to the disease from February 28 to March 2. Anyone who visited the following locations in Rockland County may have been exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19): 150 Remsen Avenue, Monsey, NY Friday, February 28, 2020, between 11:00 am and 11:45 pm Saturday, February 29, 2020, between 11:30 am and 4:00 pm The Atrium Ballroom, 401 NY-59, Monsey, NY Monday, March 2, 2020, between 2:30 pm and 11:45 pm STAY UPDATED WITH BREAKING UPDATES FROM YWN VIA WHATSAPP – SIGN UP NOW Just click on this link, and you will be placed into a group. “It was previously believed that these infected individuals had not worked as caterers during these events and it was only through the detective work of one of our investigators that this discovery was made,” said Dr. Ruppert. “Any person who believes they may have been exposed should contact their health care provider by phone right away. I also ask that anyone who becomes ill with this disease be completely forthcoming with our investigators, it is only with your help that we can prevent the spread of this disease.” [TEHILLIM – Young Man From Flatbush In Serious Condition After Returning From Italy] The Health Department is asking all health care providers to immediately report all possible cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the Rockland County Department of Health Communicable Disease Program staff by calling 845-364-2997 during normal business hours, or 845-364-8600 after hours/weekends. Health Care Providers can call this number for additional information. The Rockland County Department of Health is currently monitoring 22 people under quarantine and is following CDC and New York State Department of Health protocols. [DOCTOR ALERTS ABOUT PURIM PARTIES: Coronavirus and Purim: Changing Human Behavior] It is recommended that Rockland residents take the following precautions to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19): Stay home if sick and contact your medical provider before visiting their office. Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash. Avoid shaking hands. Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. The New York State Department of Health has established a Novel Coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065 to speak with a NYSDOH expert who will answer questions, Monday – Sunday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. After hours, you may leave a voicemail that will be returned. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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Native Americans Scramble Over Shutdown Of Fargo Sweat Lodge

In the decade since Fargo agreed to host a sweat lodge for the many Native Americans who live in the area, the simple structure and its users have suffered a series of indignities: The land set aside for the lodge is in a gritty industrial area, a shirtless user was mistaken for a vagrant and arrested, and police mistook the lodge for a homeless encampment and had it bulldozed. Now, the city has shuttered the lodge because of concerns over its safety and supervision, and the Native Americans who use it are worried about how they will be able to carry out their sacred healing ritual, even if many of them agree that changes were needed. “It would be equivalent to the Catholic Church shutting down its location here in the Fargo-Moorhead area because they realized they had issues they needed to fix,” Chalsey Snyder, a member of the city’s Native American Commission, said recently, referring to Moorhead, Minnesota, which is across the Red River from Fargo. “Our traditions and our ceremonies are extremely revered.” Sweat lodges are typically built low to the ground, with frames made of saplings that are covered with animal hides, blankets or even tarps to keep in the steam. They are common on reservations, but less so in urban areas such as Fargo, which is the biggest city in North Dakota, with slightly more than 100,000 residents. Snyder, who belongs to the Three Affiliated Tribes, said the shuttering of the Fargo sweat lodge in December has caused an emergency for its diverse users, including some who come from as far away as South Dakota and Canada. The ceremonies, which are often referred to as “sweats,” are important rituals that are meant to purify mind and body and that serve various other functions, depending on the tribe. The ceremonies are typically broken into rounds, with singing, praying, talking and drumming. Whitney Fear, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe who serves with Snyder on Fargo’s Native American Commission, said time in a sweat lodge — referred to in the Lakota culture as Inipi — “takes us to a place that is reminiscent of the womb.” She credits it with helping her mother stave off Stage 4 breast cancer two decades ago when an oncologist told her that her chemotherapy and radiation treatments weren’t working. “The medical professional in me probably could not explain that with science, but the Lakota woman in me can explain that it was the strength of what happens in Inipi that helped save her life,” said Fear, a mental health nurse practitioner at a Fargo community health clinic. When the city decided to close the sweat lodge, Mayor Tim Mahoney, a longtime supporter of the lodge who founded the Native American Commission, cited reports that there had been uncontrolled heat during ceremonies that could have injured participants. A city memo in January also said some ceremonies lacked a helper and water pourer, as required by the Native American Commission’s rules. “A variety of people take part in the sweat and we just haven’t had a consistent group or committee to manage it,” Mahoney said. The city’s fears are not unfounded. In 2009, three people died from heat exposure during a sweat lodge ceremony in Arizona run by a non-Native American self-help author […]

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MH17 Relatives Protest Russian Actions With 298 Empty Chairs

The families of people killed when a missile shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 set out 298 white chairs outside the Russian Embassy on Sunday in a silent protest against Moscow’s lack of cooperation in the investigation into the downing of the passenger jet. The chairs — laid out in rows like seats in an airplane — represented the victims who died when a Buk missile fired from territory held by pro-Russia separatist rebels shot down the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight on July 17, 2014, killing everybody on board. The families stood in silence for two minutes after arranging the chairs and signs including one that read: “Impunity = unacceptable! Someone knows what happened … Justice for MH17.” The protest came on the eve of a Dutch trial for three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with murders for their alleged roles in the missile strike. Russia denies involvement and has dismissed the international investigation that led to the four suspects being charged, saying it is prejudiced against Moscow. Relatives accuse Russian authorities of seeking to hide the facts about exactly what happened. Piet Ploeg, who lost his brother, Alex, his sister-in-law and his nephew, said families weren’t accusing Russia of downing the Boeing 777. “But we are having a protest against the lack of cooperation of the Russian state in the investigation of the downing of MH17. And we want them to cooperate and stop obstructing the investigations.” In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused investigators of presuming Russia’s guilt before the court hearing opens Monday and launching a “media campaign” to support the case and whitewash alleged gaps in the evidence. Families are convinced Russia knows — and is blocking — the truth. “What we’re doing here today, this is truly us making a silent statement to somebody who may have the answers,” said Lucas Schansman, whose nephew Quinn — a joint Dutch-American citizen — was among the dead. Neither Russia nor Ukraine extradites its citizens. Russia and pro-Russia separatists continued to deny involvement, even after prosecutors alleged that the Buk missile system which destroyed the passenger plane was transported into Ukraine from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade’s base in Kursk and the launching system was then returned to Russia. The Joint Investigation Team last year named four suspects: Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. None of them is expected to attend the start of the trial Monday in a courtroom near Schiphol, the Amsterdam airport from which the doomed flight took off. The team examined the wreckage and body parts, questioned witnesses and experts, studied radar and satellite images and analyzed data and intercepted communications before indicting the four suspects. Investigators said last year there was “almost daily telephone contact” between the self-proclaimed leaders of the pro-Russia rebel Donetsk People’s Republic “and their contacts in the Russian Federation” using secure phones provided by the Russian security service.” The five nations that make up the international team — Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands — signed a deal Sunday extending their cooperation. “The prolongation ensures the investigation into the downing of MH17 continues unabated and in parallel with the trial of the four suspects,” Dutch prosecutors said in a statement. Families are hoping the […]

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Egypt Says Cruise Ship Quarantined Over New Virus Cluster

A cruise ship on Egypt’s Nile River with over 150 tourists and local crew was in quarantine Saturday in the southern city of Luxor, as 45 people on board tested positive for the new coronavirus, authorities said. A Taiwanese-American tourist who had previously been on the same ship tested positive when she returned to Taiwan, the World Health Organization informed Egyptian authorities, who then tested everyone on the ship. Health authorities first found that a dozen of the ship’s Egyptian crew members had contracted the fast-spreading virus, and said they did not show symptoms, according to a joint statement from Egypt’s Health Ministry and the WHO on Friday. At a news conference in Cairo later Saturday, Health Minister Hala Zayed said 33 others tested positive for the virus. Of the total 45 infected passengers and crew, 19 were foreigners, officials said. Zayed did not elaborate on the nationalities of the non-Egyptians. Officials said the 45 would be transferred to isolation in a hospital on Egypt’s north coast. The passengers — who include Americans, French and other nationalities — and the remaining crew remained quarantined on the ship awaiting further test results. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo said in a tweet it was working to provide consular services and assistance to the U.S. citizens affected. The new cases brought to 48 the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Egypt, including 21 foreign nationals and 27 Egyptians. Amonios Salah, who works as a chef on the ship, told The Associated Press that the crew received an inquiry from the Health Ministry about crew members showing flu-like symptoms. “Some of us were sick. Some with fever,” he said. The 12 infected crew were isolated on the 3rd floor of the vessel away from the tourists, including two children, the 30-year-old chef said. The tourists then waited for test results. The cruise started in Luxor, about 655 kilometers (405 miles) south of Cairo, on Sunday. The vessel, which includes 60 rooms, made three stops before reaching its destination at Aswan. On the return trip there were three more stops, Salah said, potentially expanding the number of people exposed to the virus. “It’s still unclear how many people came in contact with the group in the infected ship,” said a senior police officer in Luxor. Cruise ships on the Nile often dock side by side, with passengers getting on and off by walking through several other vessels. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to reporters. Egyptian authorities have been tight-lipped about the virus outbreak, previously reporting only three confirmed cases even as the wider Mideast now has over 6,000 confirmed cases. In hard-hit Iran, meanwhile, the Health Ministry said Saturday that 21 more people had died from the virus, bringing the death toll to 145. More than 1,000 new infections were also confirmed overnight, bringing the total to 5,823 cases nationwide. Among the dead was Fatemeh Rahabar, a 55-year-old newly elected lawmaker who passed away in Tehran, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Saturday. She’d been elected to the next parliament that begins work in May. Earlier this week, Iranian lawmaker Abdolreza Mesri told state television that 23 members in the current parliament had the coronavirus, and urged all lawmakers to avoid the public. Tehran’s mosques authority banned […]

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DRAMATIC DEVELOPMENT: Liberman Lists Anti-Religious Demands To Join Gov’t, Gantz Hastily Agrees, MK Elkin Calls For Psychiatrist

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman listed five conditions on Sunday for his party to join a coalition, of which four out of five relate to matters of religion and state. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz quickly agreed to all the conditions. Liberman’s conditions are: 1. Stipends and income support for the elderly would be at least 70% of the minimum wage. 2. Public transportation and business activity on Shabbos will be controlled by local authorities rather than government ministries. 3. Legislation for increasing Chareidi enlistment in the IDF which was approved in the 20th Knesset will be passed. 4. Legislation for civil marriage in Israel will be passed. 5. Local rabbanim will be allowed to establish their own courts for giyur to ease the conversion process. A short while later, Gantz, who is planning on attempting to form a minority government with Labor-Gesher-Meretz with the outside support of Yisrael Beiteinu and the Arab Joint List, accepted all of Liberman’s demands, tweeting: “Agreed. We must move forward.” מוסכם. חייבים להתקדם.@AvigdorLiberman pic.twitter.com/YRV7plooHX — בני גנץ – Benny Gantz (@gantzbe) March 8, 2020 Meanwhile, Balad, the most extreme party on the Arab Joint List, published a list of its conditions to support Gantz, including a peace process, a change in status for Israel’s Arab population, annulment of discriminatory laws, economic improvements for Israeli Arabs and the annulment of the Nation-State Law and Kaminitz Law [a law passed to enforce violations of building and planning laws, a routine issue in the Arab population.] The Arab nationalist Balad party was founded by Azmi Bishara, who fled to Qatar after spying for Hezbollah against Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War. Another ex-Balad member is Hanin Zoabi who has called for the dissolution of the state of Israel, was on the Mavi Marmara ship when passengers attacked IDF commandos and expressed support for Hamas during Operation Protective Edge. Basel Ghattas, another ex-Balad MK, was sentenced to prison last year for smuggling contraband to terrorists in Israeli prisons. The report of Blue and White’s intention to ally with the Arab Joint List in order to oust Netanyahu was condemned by politicians on the right on Sunday, with Netanyahu saying: “This Purim the masks fell even before the chag.” “Whoever decided to violate all red lines and promises and establish a government dependent on Ahmad Tibi, I wish them luck,” Jerusalem Affair Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said. “This is an astounding decision of Avigdor Liberman, who over many years convinced us that the MKs from the Joint List are a threat to us. Whoever wants to establish a government with the dual outside support of Tibi and Liberman in the current situation that the state is in – I’ll send him to a psychiatrist.” שרשור פורים מישיבת הממשלה.אלקין שולח את מי שרוצה להקים ממשלה בתמיכה של טיבי וליברמן לפסיכיאטר pic.twitter.com/tohw3ebsU1 — Atara German (@ataragerman1) March 8, 2020 “Benny Gantz lacks political and public experience,” Degel HaTorah chairman Moshe Gafni said. “He prides himself on striving for unity, and at the same time announces that he is accepting the most difficult divisions in Israeli society and the delusional conditions of Liberman. We are sticking with our position that we won’t join them in any coalition and remain united in the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu.” (YWN Israel Desk – […]

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Remember 19 Blatt in 19 Days! – Join the Zichru Daf Yomi Challenge.

Join the thousands worldwide who have already experienced breakthroughs in their memory and remember what’s on every blatt in Masechta Berachos. “I am a kollel youngeman from Lakewood who just started doing Daf Yomi for the first time. Zichru has made this learning experience like no other! I can’t even imagine what it would be to do the Daf without Zichru. The clarity that I have gotten of the first perek so for is unreal! I haven’t known the pieces of an entire perek so well before, that in seconds can say over what topics of every single blatt! I highly recommend anyone doing the Daf to join Zichru ASAP!” Reuven M. Lakewood “I have an average memory and have always struggled with chazara methods or the lack thereof. But now I walk away from each daf of gemara with tangible, retrievable facts etched in my memory. My U’vlechtecha Badrech learning has never been greater!” “My ability to walk through daf after daf, without a sefer, knowing many things per page, has most pleasantly surprised me. This program is very out of the box and unconventional, and you will be asked to do things you never did before, but boy does it work!” Boruch Leff, Baltimore “I have always been conscious of the importance of chazoro and have therefore tried out many different programs on chazoro over the years, but I have to say that never have I experienced anything as effective and practical as this program especially due to the fact that as a Magid Shiur I have a very busy schedule and haven’t got that much time for chazoro. This program is time effective, practical and fun and above all it actually works!  “I am now able to review many dafim whilst driving, whilst sitting by a simcha, whilst waiting in the line, whilst trying to fall asleep by night.” Mordechai Weiss, London www.zichru.com “I tried Zichru’s twelve day challenge at the beginning of Brachos, and the results have been absolutely spectacular, bringing my Daf Yomi learning to a whole new level.  I absolutely recommend trying this revolutionary method.” Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann Director Beth Din of America “In my wildest dreams I would never have believed that this program can work (at least for me) but it definitely became my wildest “reality” dream.” S.H. Tom’s River “Zichru has revolutionized my learning. I’ve spent almost ten years in Yeshiva and Kollel, and have never remembered anything this well.” M.R. Yerushalayim “Zichru is the single biggest thing to make me excited about learning in 15 years. I love it and look forward to it every day. I use about 10 minutes to run through 40 blatt. It’s really amazing. Can’t believe it.” Mordy Goldenberg, Boca Raton “Zichru has increased my confidence in my ability to retain exponentially, and may I add, my wife is very impressed as well. (I play the quizzes out loud on purpose so that she sees that I really am remembering it all.” J.S. New York www.zichru.com “Incredible!  I am such a huge fan of Zichru. It is my favorite part of Daf Yomi.” S.G. “This program is fun and it leaves you feeling amazing. A miracle it is when I actually have down 150 different topics in my head that I can recall. I walk twenty minutes to shul daily and get […]

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Israel Airports Authority Says Most Temporary Workers To Be Laid Off

The Israel Airports Authority has announced massive cutbacks in response to the coronavirus’ devastating effects on air travel. The authority said Sunday it is putting 70% of its temporary workforce on unpaid leave and overtime has been canceled for all employees. To protect those with families, it was decided that single employees would be put on leave first. Senior management has announced it is forfeiting 50% of its bonuses as well. Israel has confirmed 25 cases of the virus, including a 38-year-old man who was in serious condition on Sunday. Some 20,000 people have been ordered into 14-day home quarantine protectively. The local travel sector has taken a beating, as scores of flights in and out of the country have been canceled. (AP)

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Join This Special Tefillah for Girls in Shidduchuim By Harav Chaim Kanievsky!

This Taanis Esther, Rav Chaim Kanievsky will once again be hosting a unique gathering at his home for the girls  of Ohel Sarala.  Why Ohel Sarala?  Because Ohel Sarala is an organization that was held in great esteem by Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, and this fact alone makes those girls associated with Ohel Sarala a priority to Rav Chaim.   On Taanis Esther, Rav Chaim will be reciting special tefillos for the singles of Ohel Sarala, davening that they find their zivugim bekarov and with ease.  Purim represents a time when the tefillos of Klal Yisroel were answered and they experienced a miraculous yeshuah.  Taanis Esther is a time to tap into the spirit of this period, praying to Hashem to bless those in need of a yeshuah with the salvation they seek.  CLICK HERE TO JOIN OHEL SARALA AND HAVE YOURS OR YOUR FRIENDS NAME GIVEN TO RAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY CLICK HERE TO JOIN

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Revolutionary Daf academy partners with The Shabbos Project – 66% discount on tuition!

This Sunday, tens-of-thousands of Jews around the world will begin learning Daf Yomi Maseches Shabbos. The Shabbos Project has partnered with The Daf Academy to provide unprecedented access to this learning opportunity. For the next week, participants who sign up at TheDafAcademy.com will receive a 66% discount on tuition when they sign up to learn Gemara Shabbos and enter the coupon code ShabbosProject. Claim your discount today The Daf Academy is an online multimedia platform that provides the highest level of Torah tuition. The Academy’s videos offer a clear and lucid explanation of every word on the page of Gemara, together with guided visuals of both the text as well as diagrams and charts to make the Gemara accessible.  The Shabbos Project is a global grassroots effort that began in 2013, the project is headed by Rabbi Warren Goldstein, South Africa’s chief rabbi. Within a year of its founding, The Shabbat Project had expanded to 460 cities in 64 countries, and by this year to 1,509 cities in 105 countries. Get to know Shabbos today  

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6 Killed In Alpine Avalanches In Austria

Six people were killed in two separate avalanches in the Austrian Alps on Sunday, Austrian authorities said. Five snowshoers who were hiking in central Austria were hit by one avalanche at about 9:30 a.m., Austria’s APA news agency reported. Several people witnessed the avalanche and immediately informed emergency services, but the hikers, believed to be from the Czech Republic, were already dead by the time rescuers got to them. There had been high winds and heavy snowfall in the area over the past few days, leading to the avalanche. And in southwestern Austria, a police officer who was undergoing Alpine training was killed when he was hit by a separate avalanche. He was hit by a large piece of frozen snow and died at the scene from his injuries, state authorities told APA. (AP)

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The Breathtaking Hidden Story of Esther as our Guide in the Footsteps of Mashiach

The Scroll of Esther: A Secret Teaching Tale for the Evolving Feminine With Rebbitzen Tamar Taback Powerful insights, tools and inspiration into cultivating an incredible marriage or marriage-to-be Learn:  Why Purim is the cosmic switch-point into our Era and holds within it the secrets of Redemption Why the salvation (then and now!) had to come about through a woman And Why Rising into your femininity is the order of the day! Study:  The three phases of all relationships How to detangle from enmeshment so that you can choose to love  And when and how to appropriately exert your feminine influence  Touch on:  The inner meaning of the Oral Law as a woman, the joys of motherhood as balanced with your own development, cultivating your Emuna and why it is important to keep on learning All through the Megilla itself, with classical, Chassidic and mystical sources.  Source sheets, diagrams and community forum included. All in a single 1 hour and 50 minute session integrated with emotional and psychological tools At the Nexus School of Transformational Torah for Women, where the light of Torah meets your life.  “I encourage Jewish women to deepen their connection to Torah well past their years in Seminary…” R’ Moshe Hillel Hirsh, Rosh Yeshiva of Slabotka “I hope that women will have the wisdom to take advantage of this opportunity…” Rebbitzen Tzipora Heller *Special for Purim!! It’s Free!! (Offer expires on Purim) Enter coupon code itsmybirthday when you sign up  https://www.school.thenexus.org/courses/the-breathtaking-hidden-story-of-esther-as-our-guide For spiritual and aspiring Jewish women  p.s. Did you know that Carona means Crown??  Understand the difference between Vashti’s and Esther’s crowns and why this is key, now …

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Netanyahu Calls Emergency Rally Amid Reports That Blue & White Is Forming Minority Gov’t With Support Of Arab List

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called an emergency gathering on Motzei Shabbos during which he accused Blue and White and Yisrael Beiteinu of trying to “steal the elections through lies and anti-democratic legislation.” The meeting followed reports on Motzei Shabbos that Blue and White are in the process of forming a minority government together with Yisrael Beiteinu and Labor-Gesher-Meretz with the outside support of the Arab Joint List as well as the confirmation of Blue and White last week that it is seeking to advance a law banning a prime minister with indictments from serving in an attempt to prevent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from forming a government. Netanyahu spoke at a Likud branch in Petach Tikva and his speech was broadcast live to 15 Likud branches throughout Israel in lieu of a mass rally due to the Health Ministry’s ban of large gatherings to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Netanyahu said that the Likud won “an amazing victory. We received 1,300,000 votes – more than the Likud party received in the history of the state,” he said. “Blue and White under the leadership of Benny Gantz remained in the same place…They didn’t go up by even one seat.” The prime minister shared that Likud could have won an additional seat if he would have agreed to Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir’s stipulation for dropping out of the race – allowing Jews to daven on Har Habayis. Netanyahu said he refused to consider it because it would “have set the Middle East on fire. There’s a limit to what I’ll do to win an election but our adversaries apparently don’t have any limits.” “Benny Gantz, [Moshe] Bogie Yaalon, Gabi Askenazi… promised before the elections that they ‘wouldn’t rely on the Arab Joint List because they’re supporters of terror,'” Netanyahu said, adding that now that’s exactly what they’re doing. “The Joint List denies Israel as a Jewish state and supports the ‘right of return” to millions of Palestinians to Israel,” Netanyahu said. Netanyahu slammed Blue and White for “throwing 2.5 million votes into the garbage” by supporting an anti-democratic retroactive law against me. Even Iran doesn’t do this,” the PM said. “In Iran, they ban candidates before the elections, not after.” “The public will take revenge against those who break their campaign promises and advance anti-democratic laws,” the prime minister said. “I want to promise you something. I’m not going anywhere,” Netanyahu asserted. “I’ll remain the leader of Likud.” (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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As Virus Outbreaks Multiply, UN Declines To Declare Pandemic

As cases of the coronavirus surge in Italy, Iran, South Korea, the U.S. and elsewhere, many scientists say it’s plain that the world is in the grips of a pandemic — a serious global outbreak. The World Health Organization has so far resisted describing the crisis as such, saying the word “pandemic” might spook the world further and lead some countries to lose hope of containing the virus. “Unless we’re convinced it’s uncontrollable, why (would) we call it a pandemic?” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week. The U.N. health agency has previously described a pandemic as a situation in which a new virus is causing “sustained community-level outbreaks” in at least two world regions. Many experts say that threshold has long been met: The virus that was first identified in China is now spreading freely in four regions, it has reached every continent but Antarctica, and its advance seems unavoidable. The disease has managed to gain a foothold and multiply quickly even in countries with relatively strong public health systems. On Friday, the virus hit a new milestone, infecting more than 100,000 people worldwide, far more than those sickened by SARS, MERS or Ebola in recent years. “I think it’s pretty clear we’re in a pandemic and I don’t know why WHO is resisting that,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Experts acknowledge that declaring a pandemic is politically fraught because it can rattle markets, lead to more drastic travel and trade restrictions and stigmatize people coming from affected regions. WHO was previously criticized for labeling the 2009 swine flu outbreak a pandemic. But experts said calling this crisis a pandemic could also spur countries to prepare for the virus’s eventual arrival. WHO already declared the virus a “global health emergency’ in late January, putting countries and humanitarian organizations on notice and issuing a broad set of recommendations to curb its spread. Even in countries that moved quickly to shut down their links to China, COVID-19 has managed to sneak in. Within a matter of weeks, officials in Italy, Iran and South Korea went from reporting single new cases to hundreds. “We were the first country to stop flights to China and we were completely surprised by this disease,” said Massimo Galli, an infectious-diseases professor at the University of Milan. “It’s dangerous for the entire world that the virus is able to spread underground like this.” With more than 3,800 cases, Italy is the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak and has shut down schools, closed sports stadiums to fans and urged the elderly not to go outside unless absolutely necessary. But it has still exported cases of the virus to at least 10 countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Spain, South Africa and Nigeria. Devi Sridhar, a professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh who co-chaired a review of WHO’s response to the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, said a pandemic declaration is long overdue. “This outbreak meets all the definitions for a pandemic that we had pre-coronavirus,” she said. At a news conference last month, Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, said a pandemic is “a unique situation in which we believe that all citizens on the planet” will likely be exposed […]

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