Jewish-American economist wins Nobel Prize
(JNS.org) Jewish-American economist Alvin Roth and his American colleague Lloyd Shapley have been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for their work on market design and matching theory. Their groundbreaking work, which primarily focuses on markets that do not have prices, enables people and companies to find and select one another in everything from marriage to school choice to jobs to organ donations. Roth, 60, is a professor at Harvard University and currently a visiting professor at Stanford, Shapley, 89, is a professor emeritus at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Both laureates have strong academic ties to Israel. Roth was a visiting professor at Technion Institute in Haifa and Hebrew University, while Shapley received an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University and has worked closely with Israeli Nobel Prize Laureate Robert Auman. David Warsh, who follows academic economists on his Economic Principals blog, told Haaretz that Roth’s work has revolutionized the way organs are matched to patients. Before Roth, he said, “there were no economists in that business at all. He’s really changed it, and saved a lot of lives.” The award will be given out in December.
Kafka manuscripts to go to Israel National Library
(JNS.org) A collection of never-before-seen private manuscripts of the famous 20th century author Franz Kafka and his close associate Max Brod, are to be transferred over to the Israel National Library following a ruling by a Tel Aviv District Family Court last week after a long legal battle, Haaretz reported.
Kafka, born to a German-speaking Jewish family in Prague in 1883, is considered one of the 20th century’s most famous writers. His famous works include “Die Verwandlung” (The Metamorphosis), “Der Process” (The Trial), and “Das Schloss” (The Castle). After his death in 1924, his friend Max Brod collected, edited and published his works — despite Kafka’s wishes that they be destroyed. The surreal situations of Kafka’s novels heavily influenced the existentialist movement and came to symbolize the travails and absurdities of modern life. Brod, who fled to Palestine in 1940 after the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia, transferred Kafka’s collection to his secretary Esther Hoffe in 1968 following his death. Despite Brod’s explicit instructions in his will that Hoffe give the manuscripts to public archives, she retained the works, auctioning some off in Germany, while keeping the rest in safety deposit boxes in Tel Aviv and Zurich. When Hoffe died in 2007, her daughters attempted to inherit the collection and sell it in Germany. The manuscripts will be published online according to the Israeli National Library. It includes Brod’s personal diary on Kafka’s life, notebooks filled with Kafka’s writings and correspondence with other notable writers. Remarking on the case, presiding Judge Pardo Kupelman said, “I hope that the inheritance of the late Brod will finally find its place according to the wishes of the deceased.”
Livni offers ‘no comment’ on candidacy
(By Sean Savage/JNS.org) Headlining a panel discussion at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Oct. 11, former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the opposition leader, was asked by an Israeli student if she is considering challenging Netanyahu in the upcoming election, set for Jan. 22, 2013. Livni responded with a “no comment,” to the loud dismay of the crowd. There has been rampant speculation surrounding Livni’s potential candidacy for prime minister. Much of this has been tied to the possible comeback of her former boss, Ehud Olmert, who was recently cleared of the corruption charges that led him to resign as prime minister in 2008. A recent poll featured in the Jerusalem Post revealed that a center-left party headlined by Olmert, Livni, current Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz and popular former news anchor Yair Lapid would beat Netanyahu’s Likud party by a margin of four Knesset seats, 31-27, thereby winning the election.
American Jews seek spirituality outside synagogue
(JNS.org) A study by the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring shows that one in six American Jews now seek spirituality outside of the synagogue. Conducting the study between April 19 and May 3 of this year, researchers accounted for factors such as age, gender, geography and marital status. Although three in five respondents said they fast on Yom Kippur and 46 percent partake in a Friday night Shabbat meal “at least sometimes,” many described themselves as “cultural” and “spiritual,” but turning away from congregational life.
Though many said they believed in God, they also showed commitments to issues such as Israel, economic justice and social equality. Fifty-six percent said they were “very attached to Israel.”
Jewish groups sue NYC over “bris” rule
(JNS.org) Jewish groups have sued New York City’s Board of Health to prevent it from enforcing a rule that would require written parental consent for oral suction in ritual circumcision. New York wants to pass the new law out of concern over metzitzah b’peh, a practice among ultra-orthodox Jews in which the person performing the circumcision (mohel) removes blood from the wound with his mouth. Metzitzah b’peh has been linked to 11 cases of oral herpes and two deaths between 2000 and 2011, the city said. The lawsuit filed by several rabbis and Jewish organizations, such as Agudath Israel of America and the International Bris Association, states that Jewish families have safely conducted the practice of circumcision and metzitzah b’peh for generations, and that the new law would be unconstitutional.
Shalit reveals how he survived captivity
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) One year after his release, Israeli Channel 10 News aired parts of an interview with former Hamas captive Gilad Shalit on Oct. 11, during which Shalit revealed details of how he survived his ordeal and spent his days in captivity. “During the day, I played all kinds of games with them, like chess and dominoes. I also played all kinds of odd games with myself, mainly games related to sports. I would form a ball out of socks or shirts and try to aim for the garbage bin. I would invent all kinds of activities and also write things at times. For example, I would play the geographical game known as ‘country-city,’” Shalit said. Shalit said he didn’t maintain a consistent diary. “I wrote all kinds of random notes and followed sports events. I would draw a map of Israel, Mitzpe Hila [where he and his family reside] and all the homes there, just to remember the place and imagine it. I did that in the early days of captivity, so that I wouldn’t forget. Some [captors] didn’t like the fact that I was writing things down. They thought I was gathering information.”
Israel to host International Space Conference
(JNS.org) Israel’s Science and Technology Ministry has announced that Jerusalem will host the 2015 International Space Conference. The conference held by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) is the world’s largest gathering on space and is expected to include over 3,000 scientists from over 70 countries
to discuss the latest innovations and space policies. Israeli leaders see the conference as an opportunity to showcase Israel’s thriving technology industry. “Participants will become Israel’s ‘ambassadors’ to the world in the field of space by seeing our advances in the field,” said Israeli Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz.
Antisemitic acts in France rose in 2012
(JNS.org) Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive (CPCJ), the organization that works to protect French Jewish communities, has reported three violent antisemitic incidents in France since Oct. 5. Overall, the country has seen a 45 percent increase in antisemitic attacks in the first half of this year, according to CPCJ. The group counted 386 incidents from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 100 of which were violent. It released the report on the same day that French authorities discovered bomb-making materials and chemicals in a Paris garage while investigating an anti-Jewish Islamist network. This network may have been responsible for a September attack on a Jewish grocery in a Paris suburb, reported the Jerusalem Post.
Jewish votes in swing states will be crucial
(JNS.org) CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider and Nate Silver, author of the New York Times “FiveThirtyEight” election forecasting blog, say Jews may be a decisive voting group in the upcoming presidential election, particularly in swing states such as Florida. While the analysts agree that most American Jews will likely vote for President Obama, they said in interviews with the Boston Globe that Mitt Romney still has the chance of making a dent in Obama’s Jewish advantage in swing states. Regarding the role of Israel in the election, they noted that American Jews are not necessarily single-issue voters and could instead vote based on the economy as their core issue. Schneider believes that Jewish support for Obama in Florida could go down to around 60 percent before the election. According to Silver, Romney’s strong statements in support of Israel are not geared “to win the Jewish vote.” “It’s actually more about winning over Christian conservatives,” he said.
Hamas chief: ‘We have largely failed’
(JNS.org) Hamas’s outgoing political chief Khaled Mashaal admitted that Hamas has made many mistakes governing Gaza and that it should not serve as a model for other countries. Speaking at a conference in Qatar on Islamism and democracy Mashaal told the audience that Hamas tried “to combine resistance [against Israel] and governance” but its experience has largely failed, the Times of Israel reported, citing Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. Mashaal is referring to Hamas’s rule over Gaza, which it violently seized from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. The Hamas chief announced recently that he is stepping down from the terrorist organization’s leadership over differences with its Gaza leadership. Mashaal had been Hamas’s leader “in exile” in Syria until the group abandoned its
office in Syria for Qatar amid the violent civil war. Recently, an Iranian newspaper with ties to the government called Mashaal a “Zionist agent” and a “traitor” for abandoning Syria.
U.S.-Israel defense simulation set for Oct.
(JNS.org) The United States and Israel are scheduled to hold its largest-ever joint defense exercise in Israel on Oct. 21. Dubbed the Austere Challenge 12 (AC12), the exercise was originally scheduled for last spring but was postponed over regional tensions with Iran. While the Iran threat continues, an IDF spokesman told the Jerusalem Post that the drill was “unrelated to any pinpoint developments in the region.” The three-week air defense exercise will test cooperation between the militaries by simulating various missile defense scenarios, and is expected to end with a live-fire interception of a decoy incoming Patriot missile.