Sydney Youth Gather for First Intercultural Youth Dialogue Event


Youth members of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined together recently to host the first 2017 Intercultural Youth Dialogue event in Sydney.  This is a continuing series of events aimed at fostering intercultural and interfaith communication among young people through the sharing of thoughts and ideas on topics that are of common interest such as building relationships, communication skills, and healthy lifestyles.

This is a wonderful event that I hope to see more of in the future. 

Full article below:


“8 Celebrities You Probably Didn’t Know Are Jewish”


(The menora with the Star of David)

When you think of Jewish celebrities, there are probably a lot that instantly come to mind, like Adam Sandler, Mel Brooks, Mayim Bialik, and Natalie Portman, to name a few. However, there are plenty of other Jewish celebrities that you may not realize were raised Jewish.

1) Paula Abdul Jewish 1

Paula Abdul, famous pop musician known for her song “Opposites Attract,” was born in California to Jewish parents. Abdul’s father, Harry Abdul, was Syrian Jewish and was raised in Brazil before moving to the United States. Her mother, the concert pianist Lorraine M. Rykiss, grew up in one of the two Jewish families in Minnedosa, Manitoba in Canada, and has Ashkenazi Jewish roots.

2) Alexa Bliss Jewish 2

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Superstar and current Raw Women’s Champion Alxea Bliss is well known for being a fiery champion women’s wrestler but she was raised in a Jewish home and her parents are Ashkenazi Jews. She was actually not allowed to watch Professional Wrestling as a child, but her parents say that they are very proud of her and what she has accomplished.

3) Amanda Bynes Jewish 3

Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes was born in California to a Catholic dad and Jewish mom. In 2007, Bynes described her relationship to religion, stating: “As far as religion, I was raised both. I learned about both Judaism and Catholicism. My parents said it was up to me to decide [which faith to adhere to] when I grew up. I’m sort of a spiritual person anyway. I haven’t decided yet on a religion. I don’t know yet exactly what I believe.”

4) Elvis Presley Jewish 4

 Elvis Presley is known as the King of Rock and Roll, but he also has some Jewish blood in him. According to a third cousin of Presley, one of Elvis’s mother’s great-grandmothers was Jewish.

In addition, Elvis’s maternal grandmother was supposedly Jewish, making him Jewish in the eyes of Jewish law. Elvis also gave money to Jewish charities and had a Jewish star engraved on his mother’s tombstone when she died.

5) Daniel Radcliffe American Theatre Wing's 68th Annual Tony Awards - Red Carpet

Daniel Radcliffe, an English actor who is best known for playing boy wizard Harry Potter, has a Jewish mother who was born in South Africa.

While Radcliffe did not grow up particularly religious, he considers himself a Jew and has said that he is “very proud of being Jewish.”

6) David Beckham Jewish 6

David Beckham is an English former professional soccer player. Beckham’s maternal grandfather was Jewish, and Beckham considers himself “half-Jewish.”

Beckham also wrote in his autobiography, “I’ve probably had more contact with Judaism than with any other religion.

7) Rashida Jones Jewish 7

Most famous for her TV appearance on “Parks and Recreation,” actress and writer Jones was born in California (like many on this list) to actress Peggy Lipton and musician and record producer Quincy Jones. Jones’ mother is Ashkenazi Jewish; she was raised in Reform Judaism by her mother. While she attended Hebrew school at a young child, she left at the age of 10 and did not have a bat mitzvah.

8) Emmy Rossum Jewish 8

Singer-songwriter and actress Emmy Rossum, famous for “Phantom of the Opera,” was born in New York City to her photographer mom Cheryl Rossum, who is a Russian Jew, and her Protestant dad (who she has only met twice as of 2007). In the past, Rossum has stated that her mother instilled a “Jewish code of ethics and morals” in her.

“Jacob “Jack” Farj Rafael Jacob was an Indian military hero and the highest ranking Jewish officer to serve in the Indian Army.”


(J. F. R. Jacob)

Jacob “Jack” Farj Rafael Jacob was an Indian military hero and the highest ranking Jewish officer to serve in the Indian Army.

Jack hailed from a long line of Iraqi Jews who moved from Baghdad to Calcutta in the 18th century. The family remained deeply religious, with a strong Jewish, as well as Indian, identity. Jack later said, “I am proud to be a Jew, but I am Indian through and through.”

Motivated by reports of the Holocaust of European Jews, Jack joined the British Indian Army in 1942. He graduated from Officer’s Training School later that year, and joined the Tunisia campaign to help the British Army fight German Field Marshal Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

After the war, Jack attended artillery schools in England and the United States. He developed a specialty in advanced artillery and missiles. Jack continued to serve in the Indian Army after India won independence from Britain in 1947. In 1963 Jack was promoted to Brigadier, and he commanded an infantry division during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. During this period, Jack composed a now-classic Indian Army manual on desert warfare.

Jack is best known for commanding India’s Eastern Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War. The war began in 1971, when the Pakistani military junta carried out a brutal genocide against the people of Bengal, in East Pakistan. Large numbers of Bengali students, intellectuals, religious minorities and nationalists were systematically annihilated by the junta.

The Indian state, led by Indira Ghandi, provided economic, military and political support to the Bengali nationist movement. In December 1971, India officially entered the war and Jack was the highest ranking Indian military commander. Within two weeks, his forces were victorious.

Jack negotiated the historic surrender of Pakistani troops in December 1971, leading to the creation of the sovereign nation of Bangladesh. Jack was known as “the mid-wife at the birth of Bangladesh.”

Jack retired from the military in 1978. In the following decades, he served as Governor of the Indian states of Goa and Punjab. In 2011, Jack’s bestselling memoir was published, entitled “An Odyssey in War and Peace.”

Jack died in New Delhi in 2016 at age 92. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that “India will always remain grateful to him for his impeccable service to the nation at the most crucial moments.”

The American Jewish Committee issued a statement mourning Jack’s death. “Jack Jacob’s contributions to peace and security in South Asia, as well as to the burgeoning and mutually beneficial relationship between India and Israel, are incalculable and enduring. A warrior, a man of peace, a patriot, a man of letters, and a committed Jew, he was a giant – and he will be missed.”

Israeli ministers concerned over ‘troubling’ US arms deal with ‘hostile’ Saudi Arabia


(Modern day Jerusalem, Israel)

I’m also extremely concerned about this arms deal. 

“Several Israeli ministers expressed concern over the arms deal signed by the US and Saudi Arabia during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh, saying Israel should maintain military superiority and demand an explanation from Washington.”

Read the full article below:

“The seven-branched lamp stand, the menorah, has become a symbol of the Jewish faith.”


(This coin from Jerusalem is around two and a half thousand years old)

The first menorah was the seven-lamp (six branches) ancient Hebrew lamp stand that was made of pure gold and was used in the portable sanctuary set up by Moses in the wilderness and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Fresh olive oil of the purest quality was burned daily to light its lamps. 

The seven-branched lamp stand, the menorah, has become a symbol of the Jewish faith. It was first stamped on coins by King Antigonus II, the man that the Parthians set up as priest-king in Jerusalem about 40 BC.

Antigonus II was the King and High Priest (Although he had no Priesthood authority) of Judea before being overthrown by Herod I.

“What are the Old Testament Books of Kings all about?”


Kings is the ninth book of the Hebrew Bible, the fourth book in the Prophets (Nevi’im), the second section of the Hebrew Bible. In most English Bibles, it is divided into First Kings and Second Kings, but this division is late. The division appears first in the Septuagint (an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) and only entered Jewish (bibles) with the printing of the Venice rabbinic Bible in 1517. In Jewish tradition, Kings is treated as one book.

Kings tells the story of the Kingdoms of Israel and of Judah from the beginning of King Solomon’s reign (roughly 960 B.C.E.) until the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. The first eleven chapters of Kings deal with Solomon. After Solomon’s death, the united monarchy of Israel split in two: ten of the tribes of Israel left the rule of Solomon, and established a rival kingdom in the North (the southern kingdom’s capital remained in Jerusalem).

The capital of the Northern kingdom, usually known as Israel, moved from Shechem (known in Arabic by the Roman name Nablus) to Tirzah to Samaria. Kings from different dynasties ruled over the Kingdom of Israel, with the longest lasting being the House of Omri (882 BCE-842BCE) and the House of Jehu (842-747 BCE). In the south, the tribe of Judah remained loyal to Solomon’s descendants, who continued to rule over what becomes the Kingdom of Judah until 586. The capital of Judah remained in Jerusalem.

The period that the book of Kings covers is rich in historical data from non-biblical sources. Much of this data correlates with the data in the book of Kings and helps us to construct a cogent and well-sourced history of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. From 858 BCE on, the neo-Assyrian empire had contact with the kings of Israel and later, with those of Judah as well. Several of the kings of Israel (Ahab, Jehu, Joash, Menahem, Pekah, Hosea) and of Judah (Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh) are mentioned in the royal inscriptions of the neo-Assyrian kings.