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This 400-year-old Jewish library survived Hitler and the Inquisition

A researcher working at the Ets Haim Jewish library in Amsterdam, May 17, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Livraria Ets Haim is the world’s oldest functioning Jewish library. As such, it is no stranger to the prospect of imminent destruction.

Founded in 1616 by Jews who fled Catholic persecution in Spain and Portugal, the three-room library is adjacent to Amsterdam’s majestic Portuguese Synagogue in the Dutch capital’s center.

The 30,000-volume collection mostly contains manuscripts written by people who fled the Inquisition on the Iberian Peninsula or their descendants. The oldest document is a copy of the Mishneh Torah, the code of Jewish religious law authored by Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, or Maimonides, that dates to 1282. Ets Haim’s volume is pristine but for the scars left behind by an Inquisition censor, a Jew who had converted to Christianity and singed away entire passages of the book.

Ets Haim as a whole faced a similar fate — or worse — in 1940, when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and had 75 percent of its Jews murdered. Yet the Nazis left the Portuguese Synagogue intact, and instead of burning the library’s collection, they shipped the books to Germany. The collection was discovered there, with light damage, after the war.


Serena Williams's Love Match

This is is a love story.

It wasn’t seamless, starry eyes at first light. There was a discovery, unexpected and shocking. There were moments of really getting pissed and the standard irritation that comes when one half of the whole kept leaving the suitcase in the hallway. But there were also moments of unplanned intimacy that is the only true kind of intimacy in a love story, soft touches and laughter and absurdity, because you need absurdity in a love story, since love is slightly absurd anyway, a feeling that, like eternity, is indefinable.

Which leads us, on the surface at least, to the seemingly mismatched pairing of 35-year-old Serena Williams and her fiancé, 34-year-old Alexis Ohanian. She is the beyond remarkable tennis player, although all superlatives are pointless. He is in the high cotton of high tech as the co-founder of the Web site Reddit, which has 234 million unique monthly users. They became engaged last December, after first meeting roughly a year and a half earlier, then found out in January that Serena was pregnant. They will be married in the fall after the birth of the baby.

With 23 grand-slam wins on the women’s pro tennis tour spanning nearly three decades—from her first, at 17 years old, in September of 1999, to her latest, at 35, in January of 2017, and the most in the open era—Serena is in the heart of every conversation concerning the best athlete of her time. “If I were a man, then it wouldn’t be any sort of question,” she told me. She may well be right, a society still conditioned to believe that men are better than women in everything except the superfluous.

Alexis, on the other hand, had never seen a tennis match until he met Serena, in May of 2015 in Rome. He knew so little about the game that the photo he excitedly posted on Instagram of her playing her first match in the Italian Open showed her foot faulting.

Serena plays a sport that requires the mental focus of instantaneously letting go of losing points and moving on because there are a lot of excruciating ones no matter how great you are, continual regrouping and re-inventing: dwell on them, you lose confidence; lose confidence and you lose. She is also superbly conditioned, given that a female tennis player may run about three miles in a match without the luxury of coming out of the game because you feel winded or lost too much money gambling with teammates the night before on the charter and would rather mope on the bench.

Alexis’s athletic history amounted to the level of a very gangly defensive tackle for Howard High School in Ellicott City, Maryland, far more interested in science fairs and programming and building Web sites. His skill at tennis is not one of potential; when Serena offered to give him a lesson, he turned it down so he could tell his friends that he once turned down a lesson with Serena Williams.



Changing the mandate of UN forces in southern Syria

Beirut- The UN Security Council is expected to discuss a pro­posal put forth by Jordan and signed off on by the United States and Russia that calls for amending the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria, giving its troops the right to carry arms and use them in defending territory in southern Syria.

Since its deployment on the Syr­ian-Israeli border after the Octo­ber War of 1973, UNDOF’s job was to monitor the region and record violations between Syria and Israel. That is no longer enough, however, as several non-state players such as Hezbollah; Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qae­da’s branch in Syria; and the Khaled Ibn Al Walid Army, an affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS), are thriving on the border area.

The United Nations is becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of security in the border area, topped off by the kidnapping of its troops in autumn 2014. Most UND­OF troops have withdrawn to Israel and only returned to the Syrian side of the border last December.

The idea is to transform UNDOF’s mission — without saying it bluntly — from monitoring the Syrian-Israeli border into policing it militarily with firepower. Ultimately UNDOF would be tasked with keeping al-Nusra, ISIS and Hezbollah away from the safe zone that the Americans want to carve out on the Syrian borders.

This zone, recently signed off on by Amman, Washington and Mos­cow, would be similar to the one created by the Turks on the north­ern border last summer. The hope is that it would protect the Jorda­nian side from non-state players and be used to relocate more than 1.4 million Syrian refugees living in Jordan since 2011.


Marchers carrying Jewish Pride flags asked to leave Chicago Dyke March

A parade in Chicago celebrating the lesbian community banned three Jewish women carrying Jewish Pride flags.

Organizers of the 21st annual Chicago Dyke March told the women that the rainbow flags with a white Star of David in the center would be a trigger to people they found offensive.

A Dyke March collective member told the Windy City Times that the women were told to leave because the flags “made people feel unsafe,” and that the march was “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian.”

More than 1,500 LGBTQ individuals and their supporters participated in Saturday’s march. The march was protested at one point by Christian extremists, according to the Windy City Times.



In other words, seeing a magen david triggers their Antisemitism.

10 Photos To Remind You That Jews Dont Fit Into A Stereotype


It's also worth reminding people that Jews are PoC.


phillip morris wanted to make cig smoke smoother

So in the mid 60s they developed a cig with about 1/3 less tobacco in it, in order to deliver the same nicotine "punch" they figured out a way to freebase the nicotine using ammonia.

I don't know if they knew or didn't care, but the vaporous (freebased) nicotine was way more addictive because it was "spikey", it rose very quickly in the blood stream and then dropped off just as fast. After they started using this technique Malboros went from 16 or so to number one in sales. All the other tobacco companies followed them in short order.

The other main additives are things like sugar, licorice and vanilla, the sugar in particular makes the smoke smoother so the user can take larger puffs, more nicotine, quicker smoke.

They also put stuff in the tobacco and sprayed on the paper that keeps the cig burning but nonetheless it's the tobacco smoke that's loaded with carcinogens etc.

So it's true that cigs before '65 were a lot different, they were much harsher because of the lack of additives and even though they contained more tobacco, did not deliver as much of the highly addictive freebase nicotine.

Having company come over


The new Lady Liberty silver proof is out

It's only 60 bucks.


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