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This baseball-loving Jewish couple celebrated their wedding at Yankees Stadium

(New York Jewish Week) — A newlywed couple took the concept of extra innings to a whole new level on Sunday when they held their sheva brachot — a festive get-together held in the week after a Jewish wedding — at Yankee Stadium. 

Maya Rosen and Erez Bleicher, who were married at a synagogue last Thursday in White Plains, New York, attended the Yankees vs. Red Sox game on Sunday before flying back to their home in Jerusalem on Monday. Some 40 friends and relatives joined them on the “Grandstand Level” (aka “nosebleed seats”) to sing blessings that began in the middle of the sixth inning.

“I grew up in a home where, I think, the two pillars were Judaism and the New York Yankees,” Rosen, 29, told the New York Jewish Week. “When we thought about where to do sheva brachot, there was just no other place.”

As members of a traditional egalitarian community, Rosen and Bleicher embraced the custom of having loved ones and community members say the traditional seven blessings, or brachot, over a newly betrothed couple. These blessings are first recited underneath the chuppah and again at the meal or reception following the wedding. In the week following the wedding, they are recited at various get-togethers with different parts of the couple’s community. 

Rosen and Bleicher were married on August 17 in White Plains, New York. (Courtesy)

Dozens of Jewish baseball fans who didn’t know the couple also joined in the celebration after the couples’ families put an announcement on the stadium’s jumbo screen that read: “Mazal Tov Maya and Erez! Join us for sheva brachot, middle of the 6th, section 423.”

“It was just so moving and touching to see people streaming [into our section] during the middle of the sixth inning, seemingly from every corner of the stadium, and to see people sort of bashfully peeking around the corner from the steps to join us and wish us mazel tov,” Bleicher, 33, said. “People were yelling out and sending good wishes.”

“Logically we knew that we had invited people, but still, on the top of the sixth when all these Jews started streaming in, I was so surprised and it was really moving,” Rosen said of the experience. “My dad said he got the chills.”

Rosen said another family member jokingly likened the event to “an ingathering of the exiles.”

Even the non-Jewish fans in the section, which was at the very top of the stadium behind the third base line, helped the couple celebrate. “One of our friends leaned over and explained that it was a wedding custom and people got really into it and yelled congratulations,” Rosen said. “It was definitely an interesting middle of the sixth for them.”

As the short, song-filled service came to an end, the couple and their celebrants were gifted with a special wedding present from the Yankees themselves: Shortstop Gleyber Torres hit a solo home run, tying the game at 2-2. 

“We were singing ‘asher bara sasson v’simcha,’ which translates to ‘oh God who created joy and happiness,’” Rosen said. “It’s sort of the last, heightened bracha, and as we were saying it, Gleyber Torres hit this homerun deep into the outfield. The crowd went wild. It was really amazing.” 

Nonetheless, the Yankees ended up losing the game 6-5.

Though neither Rosen nor Bleicher grew up in New York, baseball has always been a huge part of their lives. “My dad is from New York,” said Rosen, who hails from Pittsburgh. “A big part of our Jewish education growing up was understanding what it means to be a diasporic people and being a minority where we live. It was a lesson both in Judaism and being a Yankees fan from afar.”

The couple met in 2018 when they were both living in Nachlaot, a central Jerusalem neighborhood that’s home to the Machane Yehuda market.

Much to Rosen’s luck, her new husband is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan — even though he grew up north of Boston. Bleicher joked that their relationship probably would not have lasted had he been a Red Sox fan. “I wouldn’t even be surprised to find that stipulated in an Aramaic clause of the ketubah [Jewish wedding contract] that I hadn’t known has been added,” he said.

Rosen attested to as much. “My parents have always made their position on intermarriage very clear,” she said. “No Red Sox fans.”

Bleicher repped his teams at Sunday’s game, wearing a Cubs jersey and Jerusalem Lions baseball hat. Loved ones and strangers posted about the sheva brachot on social media, much to the couple’s delight. Footage shows that at least one Red Sox fan was in the crowd.  

Bleicher presented his new wife with a baseball bat engraved with the date of their wedding and a verse of “Lecha Dodi,” the Friday night hymn. (Courtesy)

In addition to the sheva brachot at the Yankees game, baseball played a special part of the wedding itself: During the ceremony, Bleicher gave Rosen a custom baseball bat inscribed with the couple’s names, wedding date and the seventh verse from the Shabbat song “Lecha Dodi” which states, “Let’s go, my beloved.”  

“It was so fun to have that Jewish content at the ballpark and to have people with us to make it joyful and beautiful in the days after our wedding,” Bleicher said.

The post This baseball-loving Jewish couple celebrated their wedding at Yankees Stadium appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Harvard University Wants Antisemitism Lawsuit Dismissed, Denies Injury to Students

Students accusing Israel of genocide at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Lawyers representing Harvard University in Massachusetts have requested the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by six Jewish students who accused the school of ignoring antisemitic discrimination.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the university said in a court filing that a lawsuit, as well as a period of discovery during which its conduct would be thoroughly examined, was not necessary due to the “tangible steps” it has taken to combat antisemitism in just the past few months. Additionally, the school argued that the civil suit, led by graduate student Shabbos Kestenbaum and Students Against Antisemitism, lacked standing.

“Without minimizing at all the importance of the need to address energetically antisemitism at the university, plaintiff’s dissatisfaction with the strategy and speed of Harvard’s essential work does not state a legally cognizable claim,” said the motion to dismiss, as quoted by The Crimson. “Consequently, the amended complaint should be dismissed.”

Harvard University recently received an “F” grade for its handling of antisemitism in a first-ever Campus Antisemitism Report Card issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, students have stormed the campus calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, terrorizing students and preventing some from attending class.

In November, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

In February, a faculty group posted on social an antisemitic cartoon which showed a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David dangling two men of color from a noose.

These incidents, and more, are currently being investigated by the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is probing Harvard’s handling of skyrocketing instances of antisemitic intimidation and harassment on campus.

Proclaiming that Harvard “failed Jews repeatedly,” Kestenbaum told The Crimson that he would not stand down.

“Harvard’s meritless motion to dismiss our lawsuit only proves our point: It has never taken the concerns of us Jewish students seriously, and has no plans to start now,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure in both the court of law and the court of public opinion … We hope that donors and prospective students follow closely.”

No Ivy League school earned better than a “C” in the ADL’s landmark report, a grade awarded to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Four others — Columbia University, Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania — received “D’s” while Harvard and Princeton University both received “F’s.”

“Every campus should get an A — that’s not grade inflation, that’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects,” ADL chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement announcing the report. “They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate. But that hasn’t been the experience with antisemitism running rampant on campus since even before Oct. 7.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Israel Sets New Standards for Saving Wounded Troops in War

Israeli soldiers scan an area while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, near Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Israeli army’s chief medical officer told a recent gathering of NATO and allied officials about the striking success of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in saving injured soldiers during the war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to IDF Medical Corps chief Elon Glassberg, the army has brought the time between the moment of injury and seeing a senior medical practitioner to under four minutes, and in many cases under one minute. One reason for the speed is that the IDF has changed its strategy for treating wounded soldiers from the typical field hospitals to which soldiers are evacuated and treated — and in serious cases transferred via helicopter to a hospital — to a system that brings doctors to the battlefield with soldiers.

The new system has, according to Glassberg, more than 670 doctors and paramedics embedded within combat groups in Gaza. As a result, wounded soldiers are given immediate care.

Additionally, the new policy calls for airlifting every wounded soldier to a hospital via helicopter, which are on standby at all times and outfitted to be like flying emergency rooms, staffed with surgeons and intensive care doctors.

The IDF has conducted over 950 such operations in the helicopters, according to Glassberg, bringing approximately 4,200 soldiers to hospitals. In the field, 80 soldiers were saved due to quick doses of plasma and 550 had bleeding stopped before the flights.

Of course, helicopter times to hospitals vary and are not predictable on the minute. The current time from moment of injury to arriving at the hospital stands at one hour and six minutes. This is in comparison to an average time of two hours and ten minutes during the 2014 Gaza War, also known as Operation Protective Edge.

The new processes by the IDF are saving lives. According to Glassberg, the current rate of death among wounded soldiers is 15 percent. In Gaza today, however, 6.3 percent of soldiers who are injured end up succumbing to their wounds, showing how quick action is key in ensuring the injured soldiers can return home after the war — or, in many cases, back to the battlefield.

Glassberg also pointed out how the IDF is continuing to learn how to best protect soldiers in the future. For example, he noted, a majority of deaths occurred due to injuries to parts of the body that are not protected by bulletproof vests. Therefore, Israel is already discussing new vests to give to soldiers to lower the casualty count.

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Hamas Remains Obstacle to Gaza Ceasefire, Israel Has Moved in a ‘Significant Way,’ US Says

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas, in this handout picture released on Jan. 2, 2024. Photo: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Hamas is the barrier to a ceasefire being implemented in Gaza, according to US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Israel moved in a “significant way” to submit a reasonable and “incredibly significant” proposal in the ongoing talks to reach a ceasefire and release the Israeli hostages still in Gaza, Miller told reporters during a press briefing on Monday.

“There was a deal on the table that would achieve much of what Hamas claims it wants to achieve, and they have not taken that deal,” Miller added. “The bottom line is that they have rejected it, and if they did accept it, it would allow for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza of at least six weeks, which would benefit the Palestinian people whom they claim to represent. It would also allow us to continue improvements in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

Miller said the US is still pursuing a deal that would implement a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks, allow more aid into Gaza, and secure the release of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas during the Palestinian terrorist group’s Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel. The Hamas atrocities, including the massacre of 1,200 people, launched the current war in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which borders Israel.

The US, Egypt, and Qatar have been mediating ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas. Over the past few months, Hamas has rejected all ceasefire offers, while Israel agreed to a deal that would end fighting for six weeks and release 700 Palestinian terrorists from jail, in exchange for 40 hostages seized during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

More recently, Hamas rejected the latest Israeli proposal that had been discussed over the past week.

Israel has said any truce must include the release of all remaining hostages and be temporary, warning that a long-term truce would allow Hamas to regroup and strengthen its position to continue attacking the Jewish state. Hamas leaders have pledged to carry out massacres against Israel like the one on Oct. 7 “again and again.”

Meanwhile, Hamas has demanded that any truce must include a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. Hamas has reportedly presented its own hostage release proposal to mediators in which it demands a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, implemented over three six-week phases. The proposal suggests that Israel would need to observe a six-week ceasefire before receiving any of the roughly 130 hostages still held by the terrorist group since Oct. 7 — a likely non-starter for Jerusalem.

According to Miller, the onus is on Hamas to explain why it didn’t accept the latest Israeli proposal.

“The bottom line is Hamas needs to take that deal, and they need to explain to the world and to the Palestinian people why they aren’t taking it because it is Hamas right now that is the barrier and the obstacle to a ceasefire in Gaza,” he said.

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