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This Jewish non-profit in Brooklyn helps refugees furnish their new homes

(New York Jewish Week) – When S., a Pakistani refugee, finally moved to a stable living situation in New York City, there was still one thing missing: furniture.

S. had left Pakistan for New York hoping to provide a better, healthier life for her younger brother R., who has Down syndrome. After a year of moving around the city, applying for asylum and trying to get on her feet, S. — who asked that her name not be used while the rest of her family waits for their asylum cases to be approved — found a room in a semi-basement apartment in Jamaica, Queens in March 2022.

But even though they had a roof over their heads, S., 44, and R. hardly had any household items to their names. Instead of beds, for example, they slept on a shared rug on the floor.

Enter Ruth’s Refuge. The Brooklyn-based Jewish non-profit aims to provide New York’s refugee community with items needed to help jumpstart their new lives and fill their homes. The organization helped S. and R. secure many household essentials both large and small, from mugs to furniture.

“It’s one thing if you’re going to drop something on a doorstep; it’s another to bring every single thing into my house and help me set it up,” S. told the New York Jewish Week about the assistance she got from Ruth’s Refuge. “We cannot do much because it’s only me and R. But they did everything — every single thing. To be very honest, I’m really blessed.”

Ruth’s Refuge emerged from a task force at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope that started in 2016 as a response to an influx of refugees fleeing Syria. Since then, they’ve expanded to a team of 120 volunteers and three full-time staff dedicated to meeting the needs of the thousands of refugees arriving in New York — first from Syria, then from Afghanistan, South and Central America and Ukraine. Last year, Ruth’s Refuge furnished over 100 households, providing more than $150,000 worth of furnishings and home goods, mostly accumulated from individual donations.

“I grew up embedded in the Jewish community and very much raised with the concept of ‘never again,’” said Leah Cover, the organization’s founder and executive director. “I always viewed that in a very universal way, that ‘never again’ meant for anybody, not just the Jewish people.”

“The idea that you would have this kind of thing repeating itself when we built the refugee system in response to the Holocaust, primarily, and then to have it just completely break down when it was most needed again was just really horrifying to watch,” she added.

Ruth’s Refuge joins a cadre of other Jewish-aligned organizations that endeavor to create softer landings for refugees in New York. Among them are Masbia, which has been meeting arriving migrants at Port Authority Bus Terminal with shoes, clothing and food, and New Neighbors Partnership, which matches incoming refugee families with small children with a New York-based family to receive clothing, toys and advice. HIAS, one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies in the country, was founded in New York City in 1902 to aid incoming Jewish refugees fleeing persecution and pogroms in Eastern Europe.

Cover said watching the worldwide response to the Syrian refugee crisis animated her to start the refugee task force at the Reform synagogue and eventually found Ruth’s Refuge — named for the biblical figure Ruth, who was welcomed as a stranger and integrated into the community. “One of the very heartening things in starting the refugee task force was just seeing how much the Jewish community wanted to be involved in a response to this and making sure that we lived our values,” she said.

At first, Cover and other volunteers fielded a lot of “ad hoc requests,” she said. Over time, resettlement agencies began to rely upon her team more and more, especially to help with apartment setups — including managing donations of homegoods, renting U-Hauls to transport them and assisting with building furniture.

Ruth’s Refuge became its own independent 501(c)(3) organization in the spring of 2019. These days, they work with a number of resettlement agencies, primarily HIAS, Catholic Charities, International Rescue Committee and Queer Detainee Empowerment Project.

Once asylum seekers have secured permanent housing, Ruth’s Refuge will assign each family a volunteer who acts as a personal shopper. Generally there is no limit to the amount of furniture a family can pick out — as long as it fits in their home, although for certain items like dish sets and TVs, Ruth’s Refuge can usually only provide one per family, Cover said.

The items, housed in storage units in Gowanus, are then packed up and delivered all over the city by teams of volunteers.

Kathy Fenelly, a retired professor of public policy and immigration policy, is one such volunteer. “I’ve worked on advising immigrants on immigration policy for a number of years,” she said. “But this is the first [organization] I’ve ever seen that has such a focused and specific mission to work with immigrants and refugees in order to be sure that they have the basics that they need in their apartments.”

Fenelly has been a part of the organization since it was founded at CBE, and said its mission strongly reflects the Jewish value of welcoming the stranger. “Everyday, I get to say, ‘Welcome to New York. I’m really happy that you’re here,’” she said.

As for S., Ruth’s Refuge helped her and R. secure a hair dryer, soap, towels and a table. Their modest room wasn’t big enough for two beds, so a bunk bed was ordered on Amazon and volunteers helped build the furniture when it arrived.

A group of volunteers from Ruth’s Refuge smile in front of a U-Haul van hired to bring furniture and household goods to a refugee family. (Courtesy Ruth’s Refuge)

S. had left Pakistan in February 2021 with R. with the intent to visit Chicago, where her father had relatives, and then New York, which she had visited before. She had planned to stay a few weeks; traveling with her brother, she assumed it would be a harrowing journey —  in Pakistan, she said, her brother’s Down syndrome was often met with contempt, anger and confusion.

Here in the United States, however, S. was surprised by the degree of acceptance, warmth and respect shown to her brother. That’s why she came to believe immigration was necessary: As S. told the New York Jewish Week, she felt her and her brother’s lives were at stake, so she applied for asylum in April 2021.

S. learned their asylum applications were approved at the end of October 2022. Catholic Charities then helped S. and R. get IDs, Social Security numbers and health care, and also provided a few hundred dollars a month to help them get on her feet.

These days, S. works as a home health aide. “It’s becoming home,” she said. “It’s surprising because I was raised in Pakistan, but I never felt like this in my country.”

Left behind in Pakistan are her husband, two other brothers and her 21-year-old son. But her son’s asylum application was approved last month, she said, and she thinks her husband’s will be soon as well, so she’s optimistic they’ll be able to join her in New York later this year.

“I buy things [now] because I can save the money for it,” S. said. “But the first step was Catholic Charities and the second step was Ruth’s Refuge.”

“I’m very, very satisfied in the United States,” she added. “I’m very blessed.”


The post This Jewish non-profit in Brooklyn helps refugees furnish their new homes appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Comparing European, American, and French Roulette at Canadian online casinos

Roulette is the most popular table game at online and land-based casinos alike. You can easily find a seat at the table, place your bets, and hope that the wheel turns in your favour. But you have surely noticed that the roulette section is quite rich, featuring at least a dozen different tables. Most of them come with a different design and different rules. The most popular roulette variants are American Roulette, European, and French Roulette. In this article, we will try to explain the main differences between each one.

French VS European Roulette

We’ll first compare the French versus the European version of roulette since they are the most similar. The layout of the bets and the wheel is basically the same. Even the table layout is pretty much the same at most online casinos. Depending on the provider some differences can be found, like the layout of the table or the order of the numbers of the wheel. But as far as the odds and gameplay are concerned, European and French Roulette are basically the same. 

Both roulette variants have a single 0 on the board and the same number of slots on the wheel and numbers on the table. There are 36 additional numbers you can bet on, along with the standard Red or Black and Odd or Even bets. This means both games come with a house edge of 2.7%. So, the only difference comes from the introduction of two basic rules in French Roulette. 

  • La Partage
  • En Prison

La Partage

This rule applies to even money bets, and in case the ball lands on the 0 slot. The term comes from the French word which means to divide. All even money bets are divided into half, and the player gets one half, while the other half goes to the house. This rule works greatly in your favour, especially if you’re playing on higher bets. 

En Prison

The En Prison bet is also applied to even money bets and only when the ball lands on 0. Instead of counting as a loss, the bets are held on the table for the following spin, and if you win, you get your bet back. Even though you don’t actually win anything extra, the En Prison rule gives you a chance to get your money back without a loss. 

The introduction of these rules lowers the house edge on French Roulette down to 1.35%. This is why many players prefer the French version, as the odds are better for the player. 

French VS American Roulette

The main and pretty much only crucial difference between American and French roulette is the 00 and the layout of the slots on the wheel. The added 00 on the American version means that the house edge is higher. It climbs up to 5.26%, which is almost double the house edge on European Roulette and a massive difference from the 1.35% on the French version. 

Since there is an added 00 number, the layout of the slots on the wheel is different. On the table, the 00 is next to the 0, so it doesn’t make a big difference to the layout of the table. But the rules in American roulette are quite simple. If your number doesn’t come up, you lose the bet. There are no extra rules like in the French version. 

Conclusion 

If you go by the odds alone, it turns out that the best roulette variant to play at Canadian online casinos is French roulette. But this doesn’t mean you will lose more when you play American or European Roulette. Many players prefer to play the American wheel as it’s faster and more exciting. With the right strategy and some luck on your side, you can easily make a profit on any type of roulette game. 

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Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism

niversity of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram

University of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram

JNS.org – “Never would I have imagined that I’d need to fight for my right to exist on campus,” laments Shabbos Kestenbaum, a student at Harvard University who is suing the school because “antisemitism is out of control.”

Jewish students have suffered an unrelenting explosion of hate on American higher education campuses—so far with little relief. They have endured antisemitic rhetoric, intimidation, cancellation and violence. But those charged with keeping campuses safe—whether administrators who govern student and faculty behavior or federal agencies responsible for ensuring that schools adhere to civil rights protections—are failing in their jobs.

Many Jewish students have complained to their colleges’ administrators about the injustices. But instead of responding with measures to ensure Jewish students’ safety—like stopping pro-Hamas protestors from hijacking campuses or expelling militants who incite Jew-hatred— administrators have largely shown indifference. In some cases, college authorities have made things worse for Jewish students by appeasing the riotous, pro-Hamas mobs who have been primary perpetrators of Jew-hatred on campus.

Snubbed by college administrators, Jewish students and their supporters have appealed for federal protection, filing Title VI complaints with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the body tasked with enforcing protections under the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, the OCR, which has the power to levy severe financial punishments against colleges that neglect students’ Title VI rights, has so far rewarded negligent universities with little more than slaps on the wrist.

Until college and university boards of trustees begin hiring administrators committed to Jewish students’ safety—and until the OCR begins seriously punishing antisemitic perpetrators—we can expect no respite. Safe to say, colleges and universities run by arrogant, apathetic administrators will not change until their jobs and schools’ survival are threatened.

College/university administrators don’t take antisemitism seriously. Their reactions to Jewish students raising concerns about Jew-hatred range from indifference to outright hostility. For example, when Mohammed Al-Kurd, who the Anti-Defamation League says has a record of “unvarnished, vicious antisemitism,” came to speak at Harvard, Shabbos Kestenbaum and other Jewish students complained to administrators.

Rather than cancel Al-Kurd’s appearance, which would have been the appropriate action, the administrators ignored the students’ complaints. “Harvard’s silence was deafening,” Kestenbaum wrote in Newsweek. Kestenbaum said he “repeatedly” expressed concerns to administrators about the antisemitism he experienced, but as his lawsuit alleges, “evidence of uncontrolled discrimination and harassment fell on deaf ears.”

Administrators at Columbia University reacted to Jewish students’ complaints about antisemitism even more cynically. In fact, during an alumni event, several administrators exchanged text messages mocking Jewish students, calling them “privileged” and “difficult to listen to.”

When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania if calling for genocide against Jews violated their schools’ codes of conduct, none could say “yes.” The presidents of Harvard and UPenn have since resigned. Good riddance.

Some college/university administrators have outrageously granted concessions to pro-Hamas students. For instance, Northwestern University agreed to contact potential employers of students who caused campus disruptions to insist they be hired, create a segregated dormitory hall exclusively for Middle Eastern, North African and Muslim students, and form a new investment committee in which anti-Zionists could wield undue influence. Brown University agreed to hold a referendum on divestment from Israel in October.

Similar appeasements were announced at other colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, the University of Minnesota and the University of California Riverside.

So far, OCR has failed to take concrete action against antisemitism on campus. This is evident in recent decisions involving the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Michigan. CUNY was ordered to conduct more investigations into Title VI complaints and report further developments to Washington, provide more employee and campus security officer training, and issue “climate surveys” to students.

The University of Michigan also committed to a “climate survey,” as well as to reviewing its case files for each report of discrimination covered by Title VI during the 2023-2024 school year and reporting to the OCR on its responses to reports of discrimination for the next two school years.

Neither institution was penalized financially, even though the Department of Education has the power to withhold federal funds, which most colleges and universities depend on. There are now 149 pending investigations into campus antisemitism at OCR. If these investigations yield toothless results similar to those of CUNY and Michigan, it is highly unlikely that colleges and universities will improve how they deal with antisemitism.

Putting an end to skyrocketing antisemitism on campus involves three things.

First, donors and governments at every level should withhold funds from colleges that fail to hire administrators who will take antisemitism as seriously as they take pronoun offenses or racism directed at people of color.

Second, the OCR must mete out serious consequences to Title VI violators in the form of funding cuts. This may require legislation that specifically mandates withdrawing funding from offending parties. A bill recently introduced by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.)—the University Accountability Act—may be ideal, as it is designed to financially penalize institutions that don’t crack down on antisemitism.

Third, if OCR won’t act, Jewish students and their supporters should turn to the courts. Lori Lowenthal Marcus, the legal director of the Deborah Project, a public-interest Jewish law firm, argues that the CUNY settlement demonstrates the futility of going to OCR and that going to court is more likely to produce “a clearly delineated and productive result,” such as punitive and compensatory fines. As of late May, at least 14 colleges and universities are facing lawsuits over their handling of antisemitism on campus since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

As long as college administrators are allowed to ignore antisemitism on campus and as long as OCR and other government institutions fall short in punishing Jew-hatred, antisemitism will continue to plague Jewish students.

The post Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Candace Owens Claims US ‘Being Held Hostage by Israel,’ Suggests Zionists Killed JFK

Candace Owens speaks at CPAC on March 2, 2023. Photo: Lev Radin via Reuters Connect

Political commentator Candace Owens claimed on Friday that the US is being held “hostage” by Israel and suggested that AIPAC, the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the US, was behind the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy.
“It seems like our country is being held hostage by Israel,” Owens, a right-wing provocateur, said during the opening segment of her YouTube show, where she interviewed far-left commentator Briahna Joy Gray.
“I’m going to get in so much trouble for that. I don’t care,” Owens lamented.
Gray, who was the guest for this episode, was recently fired from The Hill‘s TV show, Rising, after aggressively cutting off and rolling her eyes at the sister of an Israeli hostage who said that Hamas sexually assaulted women during the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and that people should believe those women. Gray, who claimed her firing was politically motivated, had repeatedly cast doubt on the sexual violence perpetrated against Israeli women during the Hamas-led onslaught.
However, Owens said that part of the reasons she was addressing the subject was that people were being fired because they were “not happy … when an innocent Palestinian kid dies” or for “critiquing a foreign nation.”
Also on Friday’s show, Owens claimed US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was “wading into some dangerous waters” when, during an interview with host Tucker Carlson, he spoke about how effective the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is at lobbying members of Congress and suggested the group should have to register as a foreign agent that is acting on behalf of Israel.
The reason it was dangerous, Owens said, was because “we know there was once a president that wanted to make AIPAC register, and he ended up shot … so Thomas Massie better be careful.”
Owens was referencing the fact that Kennedy wanted the American Zionist Council, a lobby group, to register as a foreign agent. However, there is no evidence the group had anything to do with Kennedy’s assassination.
Owens and The Daily Wire, which was co-founded by conservative and Jewish political commentator Ben Shapiro, parted ways after Owens flirted with antisemitic conspiracy theories for a number of months, especially following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
“In all communities there are gangs. In the black community we’ve got the Bloods, we’ve got the Crips. Well, imagine if the Bloods and the Crips were doing horrific things, murdering people, controlling people with blackmail, and then every time a person spoke out about it, the Bloods and the Crips would call those people racist,” Owens said while still at The Daily Wire. “What if that is what is happening right now in Hollywood if there is just a very small ring of specific people who are using the fact that they are Jewish to shield themselves from any criticism. It’s food for thought, right? … this appears to be something that is quite sinister.”
Additionally, after getting into a spat with an outspoken and controversial rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, she said, “Are you going to kill me? Are you going to kill me, because I refuse to kowtow to you, and I think it’s weird that you and your daughter are promoting and selling sex toys, that’s why I deem you an ‘unholy rabbi?’”
“You gross me out. You disgust me. I am a better person than you, and I do not fear you,” Owens continued.
The list of controversial incidents involving Owens continued to grow longer with time. In one case, she “liked” an X/Twitter post that promoted the antisemitic “blood libel.” The post read, in response to Boteach, “Rabbi, are you drunk on Christian blood again?”
The “blood libel” is a medieval anti-Jewish slur which falsely claims that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children in their religious rituals.

The post Candace Owens Claims US ‘Being Held Hostage by Israel,’ Suggests Zionists Killed JFK first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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