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Taylor Swift Songs Inspire New Hanukkah Track From Jewish Acappella Group Six13

Taylor Swift attends a premiere for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour in Los Angeles, California, US, Oct. 11, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Six13, an acappella group that makes Jewish-themed parodies of popular songs, released a Taylor Swift-inspired Hanukkah medley this year ahead of the Jewish holiday beginning Thursday night.

The song is titled Era-lution of Taylor Swift (Chanukah’s version), which is a nod to Swift’s Eras Tour — her ongoing concert tour that takes fans through the different musical eras of her almost two decade-long career. The tour is the second highest-grossing musical tour of all time.

Six13’s new song pulls music from 14 of Swift’s hit songs, including Love Story, I Knew You Were Trouble, Bad Blood, Shake It Off, Blank Space, and Anti-Hero. In their original lyrics, the six-man group sings about the story of Hanukkah, eating latkes, spinning a dreidel, and Jewish pride.

“We’ll never back down/We’re Jewish and proud/And I’m just like…/We’ll never be stopped/So like it or not, we’re sticking around,” Six13 sings to the tune of Swift’s song You Need to Calm Down. Later on, to the tune of Look What You Made Me Do, they sing: “I’m proud to be a Jew/Our pride is strong and true/I’m so proud to be a Jew.”

Swift dominated the pop culture arena in 2023. She was the most streamed artist in the world on Spotify with more than 26.1 billion streams, and the 33-year-old in July became the first female artist to have four albums on Billboard’s top 10 list at the same time.

Her Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), a re-recording of her third album Speak Now, became her 12th album to top the Billboard 200 chart, and 1989 (Taylor’s Version), a re-recording of her fifth album 1989, became her sixth album to sell over 1 million copies in its first week. She was also named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2023 and a movie version of her Eras Tour racked up $250 million in ticket sales. Forbes magazine this week also named Swift the world’s fifth most powerful woman.

Past songs released by Six13 include Bohemian Chanukah, a parody of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Star Wars Chanukah, as well as tributes to Billy Joel songs, West Side Story, and the Disney film Frozen.

Watch the music video for Era-lution of Taylor Swift (Chanukah’s version) below.



The post Taylor Swift Songs Inspire New Hanukkah Track From Jewish Acappella Group Six13 first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Treasure Trove: How loans and taxes helped Israel build in the lean financial years after 1948  

In the first few years after Israel’s independence, it incurred significant expenses to defend itself in the 1948 war, absorb 800,000 immigrants and build the state. Although significant financial support came from outside of Israel (including through the sale of Israel Bonds starting in 1951), a large portion of the costs were borne directly by […]

The post Treasure Trove: How loans and taxes helped Israel build in the lean financial years after 1948   appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Texas University Plans to Close Qatar Campus Amid Scrutiny of Hamas Ties

A Qatar 2022 logo is seen in front of the skyline of the West Bay in Doha. Photo: REUTERS/John Sibley/File Photo

On Thursday, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents voted 7-1 to end its contract with the Qatar Foundation, which will result in the college’s Qatar campus shutting down over the next four years.

Texas A&M said it decided to reassess its relationship with Qatar after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, in which the terrorist group murdered 1,200 Israelis and took more than 240 more hostage. It cites regional instability as one of the reasons for its decision. The Qatari government also has extensive ties with Hamas’ political and military leadership.

The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is funded by the Qatari government and is the institution that funds Texas A&M’s Qatar campus.

The Chair of the university’s Board of Regents said it “has decided that the core mission of Texas A&M should be advanced primarily within Texas and the United States.” He continued, explaining that “By the middle of the 21st century, the university will not necessarily need a campus infrastructure 8,000 miles away to support education and research collaborations.”

The decision also comes amid heightened scrutiny of Qatar’s role in American higher education — as it spent almost $5 billion on American universities between 2001 and 2021 — as well as its role in funding terrorist groups such as Hamas. 

In an article for The Free Press in October, Eli Lake outlined what he saw as the significant influence Qatar is having on American higher education. He lists the universities that have gotten significant donations from Qatar, such as Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, and Northwestern. He also notes that Qatar’s influence goes beyond money, affecting policies and programs within specific academic departments as well. For example, the Qatar campus of Northwestern, which is home to the U.S.’s best journalism program, had an agreement with the terrorist-sympathetic Al-Jazeera that it would help train its students.

The significant attention paid to these relationships is likely driven by the steep increase in anti-Israel and pro-terrorist sentiment in the U.S., particularly on college campuses. 

A 2023 report from the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy also concluded that concealed donations from foreign governments to U.S. educational institutions are associated with an increase in antisemitic incidents on campus and the erosion of liberal norms. 

However, the Qatar Foundation believes the decision was made for political reasons. In a statement, it wrote: “It is deeply disappointing that a globally respected academic institution like Texas A&M University has fallen victim to such a campaign and allowed politics to infiltrate its decision-making processes. At no point did the Board attempt to seek out the truth from Qatar Foundation before making this misguided decision.”

There have been no indications thus far that other universities that receive a significant amount of Qatari funding, or operate campuses in Qatar, are reconsidering their relationship.

The post Texas University Plans to Close Qatar Campus Amid Scrutiny of Hamas Ties first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Antisemitic Vandals Strike Hillel Building at University of Leeds in UK

Antisemitic message graffitied on Hillel House of University of Leeds. Photo: Union of Jewish Students/X

The Hillel House of University of Leeds was vandalized on Thursday night, raising further concerns about a hateful campus climate and rising antisemitism across the United Kingdom, particularly since Hamas’ October 7 attacks.

The vandals, according to pictures shared online, graffitied “FREE PALESTINE” on the building and additional scribble on two window panes.

“We are heartbroken and angry that after an uplifting and inspiring Challah Bake, our JSoc Hillel House was defaced with antisemitic graffiti,” Leeds JSoc, which uses the building for club meetings, said in a statement also signed by the Union of Jewish Students, an advocacy group. “It is shocking and outrageous that those who hate us would stoop to this level.”

The groups noted that a University of Leeds professor may be responsible for leading anti-Zionist to the building, alleging that he shared its address “for the sole purpose of intimidating Jewish students on campus.”

“We are working with CST and the police to ensure that those who committed this crime get the consequences they deserve,” the group added.

Anti-Zionists extremists struck elsewhere on Thursday, storming University of Birmingham with socialists and other far-left groups while holding signs that said, “Zionists off our campus” and “75 years of illegal occupation!” Many concealed their faces, covering them with keffiyeh.

“Jewish students are feeling less and less safe at university because of these vile antisemitic acts,” National Jewish Assembly (NJA), a Jewish civil rights nonprofit, said in a statement about the incidents. “It’s time we say enough. Jewish students deserve and must feel safe on campus.”

Thursday’s incidents followed a set-back for the academic Jewish community. Earlier this week, it was announced that a UK government agency which arbitrates disputes over employment law ruled that University of Bristol lacked standing to fire sociologist David Miller, an extreme anti-Zionist who was accused of harassing Jewish students and promoting antisemitic tropes, and said his “anti-Zionist beliefs qualified as a philosophical belief and as a protected characteristic.”

Pervasive antisemitism and anti-Zionism at UK universities is forcing members of the Jewish academic community to conceal their identities on campus, according to a June 2023 report issued by the Parliamentary Task Force on Antisemitism in Higher Education, a committee of lawmakers and established by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022 in response to complaints of anti-Jewish racism and discrimination.

“We were told it was commonplace for Jewish students to choose not to wear certain clothing or jewelry around campus because it would make them visibly identifiable as Jewish,” the Task Force wrote in the report, titled Understanding Jewish Experience in Higher Education, noting that academic staff “also raised important comparable concerns about negativity surrounding their Jewish identity.”

The Task Force recommended that all universities adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which, it said, has not, contrary to the claims of its many opponents, diminished free speech and academic freedom.

Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Antisemitic Vandals Strike Hillel Building at University of Leeds in UK first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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