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28th-Apr-2008 07:16 pm - Judaism and the Rastafari
I just came across this today and thought the community might find it interesting, from Wikipedia (sorry!):

"Awake Zion is a 2005 documentary by Monica Haim that draws a connection between Jews and Rastafarians. Rasta is a religious movement that came out of Jamaica. The followers accept Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia as God incarnate, grow their hair in dreadlocks and smoke cannabis for religious purposes. Jews trace their history back to the Holy Land of Israel and look to the Torah for instruction. Although Jews and Rastas appear different, both claim figures from the Old Testament as their forefathers, both send a message of truth and love to their followers, both speak of Zion and both have integrated their beliefs into their lifestyles. Haim, who relates to and enjoys both cultures, raises the question, “if we're both identifying with the same things, are we not then identifying with one another?”

In Awake Zion Monica Haim travels from Manhattan to Jamaica to Israel, to interview Rastafarians and Rabbis whose explanations of themselves sound strikingly similar.

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The Eye
Some interesting ( and no doubt controversial) new claims by Israeli researcher Benny Shanon.

Disclaimer: I'm not posting this to unleash a holy war / Judeo-Christian bashing - I'm merely  fascinated by the  metamorphosis of early to modern religious thought, nor am I advocating the use, sale, or trafficking of illegal drugs

Moses was high on drugs  (read article)

any discussion of modern "wars on drugs" and "ancient/traditional" spiritual expansion with the use of drugs is welcome.
German Jews who survived in Germany, or in exile, had a deeply ambivalent relationship with their homeland. Apart from guilt—that they had survived, and even stayed in the killers' country—many felt an almost physical revulsion when they came into close contact with Germans. So they retreated to live in yet another form of ghetto.

By the time the Berlin Wall fell, Germany's Jewish community had only 30,000 ageing members and was dwindling rapidly. Today it is the third-largest, and the fastest-growing, Jewish population in western Europe, after France and Britain. Between 1991, when the country was unified and immigration rules relaxed, and 2005, more than 200,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union emigrated to Germany. (At the same time, more than a million emigrated from the former Soviet Union to Israel and about 350,000 to America, leaving only about 800,000 behind.) In some parts of Germany, immigrants — usually referred to as “the Russians” — make up 90% of the local Jewish population.

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10th-Dec-2007 11:32 pm - Anthropology and Judaism
How does one respond to someone who claims that anthropology does not apply to Judaism?

(I'm debating with an Orthodox Jew who claims that Judaism is an "anthropological anomaly" and anthropological concepts cannot be used to understand it, because it is unique).
12th-Apr-2006 11:19 am - Passover Goes High-Tech in Israel
By LAURIE COPANS, Associated Press Writer

High-tech entered the realm of biblical-era Passover holiday observances in a big way this year as dozens of Internet sites offered Jews the option of symbolically selling off-limits foods over the Web.

The weeklong holiday, beginning at sundown Wednesday, commemorates the flight of the ancient Israelites from bondage in Egypt, as described in the Old Testament. Observant Jews eat matzo — unleavened bread — to illustrate how the Israelites had no time to let their bread rise as they fled.

Religious Jews who don't eat any leavened food during the holiday scour their homes and rid their pantries of the forbidden items.

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16th-Feb-2006 07:25 pm - Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted
DNA tests contradict Mormon scripture. The church says the studies are being twisted to attack its beliefs.

By William Lobdell Times Staff Writer

From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago.

"We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people," said Loayza, now a Salt Lake City attorney. "It not only made me feel special, but it gave me a sense of transcendental identity, an identity with God."

A few years ago, Loayza said, his faith was shaken and his identity stripped away by DNA evidence showing that the ancestors of American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East.

"I've gone through stages," he said. "Absolutely denial. Utter amazement and surprise. Anger and bitterness."

For Mormons, the lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans is no minor collision between faith and science. It burrows into the historical foundations of the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old transcription that the church regards as literal and without error.

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By MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer

Some 3.5 million of today's Ashkenazi Jews — about 40 percent of the total Ashkenazi population — are descended from just four women, a genetic study indicates.

Those women apparently lived somewhere in Europe within the last 2,000 years, but not necessarily in the same place or even the same century, said lead author Dr. Doron Behar of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel.

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Press Association, Saturday November 26, 2005, The Guardian

Members of the UK's Jewish community have become the first mainstream religious organisation to create and authorise a gay marriage service.

Liberal Judaism, one of the three major strands of Judaism in Britain, has created a liturgy called Covenant of Love, a service of commitment for same-sex couples.

The service has been produced to tie in with the civil partnership law, which will come into force on December 5. But the Orthodox Jewish movement, which is led by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, said that it would not be following suit.
Still Alive
HOUSTON, Oct. 28 - When she was growing up in a small town in southern Colorado, an area where her ancestors settled centuries ago when it was on the fringes of the northern frontier of New Spain, Bernadette Gonzalez always thought some of the stories about her family were unusual, if not bizarre.

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12th-Nov-2005 09:26 am - Israel halts Indian conversions
Israel has stopped converting people in north-east India who say they are from a biblical "lost tribe" following complaints from the Indian government.

Delhi did "not view positively" conversions to another religion, Israel's foreign ministry said.

The 6,000-strong Bnei Menashe community in India's north-east say they are descendents of one of the 10 tribes exiled in the 8th Century BC.

Israel says it will now convert members when they emigrate.

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15th-Sep-2005 08:01 pm - Unorthodox weddings dividing Israelis
By Suzie Brand Producer/director and editor, World Weddings: Unorthodox Vows

Eli grew up in an Orthodox family wearing the traditional skullcap of the observant Jew.

His father had great ideas for him. He would not work, but devote his whole life to study of the Torah.

Eli had other plans. When he was 15, he stopped wearing the skullcap.

As punishment, his father did not speak to him for eight years. They were living in the same house.

He met his current girlfriend, Irit, three years ago after a motorbike accident.

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