First Read For June 16


What’s flying? Israel’s first female haredi pilot

Nechama Spiegel Novak, El Al’s first female haredi Orthodox pilot, flew Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a summit in Greece this week.

A mother of four, she attended flight school in the United States, where she worked to log enough flight hours. Unlike most Israeli pilots, she did not serve in the Israeli Air Force, where most pilots log their flight hours and get their licenses.

“Being a pilot has always been a dream of mine. My husband is very supportive, and he is helping realize this dream,” she said in 2015 when she started her flight training. Novak lives in a haredi neighborhood of Jerusalem and is reluctant to grant interviews.

El Al comes in last in Heathrow ranking

El Al ranked last among 50 carriers ranked on a wide range of criteria by London’s Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, Israel’s Globes business publication reports. The Fly Quiet and Clean League Table, which includes such categories as noise and pollution, emissions, and efficiency of landing approach, put British Airways as the top of the “quietest and cleanest” criterion, followed by Aer Lingus and Etihad Airways.

El Al Israel received a red (lowest) status for five of the seven measures analyzed.

Abdul-Jabbar breaks Ramadan fast with Jewish guests

Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar celebrated Ramadan yesterday with Israeli Consul General Sam Grundwerg at Gundwerg’s official residence in Los Angeles, the Jerusalem Post reports.  The Iftar meal is eaten at sundown during the Ramadan period of fasting observed by Muslims.

The event was co-hosted with the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding; guests included leaders from the Muslim and Jewish communities

Those who pit us against each other do so, not out of spiritual beliefs, but rather for their own political and financial enrichment,” said Abdul-Jabbar. The core values of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths are the same: compassion, tolerance and helping those in need.”

Canadians mark Canada’s anniversary – in Yiddish

A group of 150 Canadians gathered earlier this month to wish their country a freylekhn geburtstog (happy birthday) by singing the country’s national anthem in Yiddish, the Times of Israel reports. Canada marks the sesquicentennial, 150th anniversary of its independence from British colonial rule, this year.

In the Yiddish version, the thrice-repeated phrase “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee” is rendred as “O Canada we stand by your side” (“O Kaneda mir shteyen bay dayn zayt”).

As far as is known, the multi-cultural singers who participated in the Yiddish anthem are the first Canadians to ever sing “O Canada” in the mamaloshen. Yiddish. Toronto writer Hindy Nosek-Abelson translated the anthem for the occasion.

According to the 2011 census, only 15,205 Canadians speak Yiddish as their mother tongue.

Study: Fundraising in Israel far ‘more difficult’ than in diaspora

The first ever survey on global Jewish service and international development demonstrate wide gaps between Israeli aid organizations and Jewish organizations in the Diaspora in numerous ways that hamper the ability of those involved in global service in the Jewish State, according to OLAM, the Israeli based organization that announced the results at its annual conference here last week.

The survey, conducted among OLAM’s 48 coalition partners, found that while that in the United Staes and United Kingdom more than 97 percent of philanthropic funds are raised locally, in Israel only three percent of the total donations raised by Israeli humanitarian aid and international development organizations came from within the country.

“With constraints on their ability to raise money at home and abroad, Israeli aid organizations face a more difficult than usual fundraising challenge,” said Dyonna Ginsburg, Executive Director of OLAM. “In many cases, this stymies their impact in the world.”

Pope, rabbi star in new ecumenical video

Pope Francis and his friend from Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, appear in a new video montage, and together in their own video, as part of a “Make Friends” initiative coordinated by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, according to Crux, a Catholic publication.

The video series, posted on YouTube, also includes Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran leaders, other rabbis, Sunni and Shiite Muslim clerics, Buddhist monks and nuns, and Hindu and Sikh leaders.

In their video, Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka talk about how their own religious convictions led them into conversations with each other, and how those conversations increased their understanding of God and formed the basis of a television series and a book.