Original Article Published on The BabagaNewz

Is Israel behind the worm that is wreaking havoc on Iran’s nuclear program?

It is 2:00am and the room is dark, lit only by the screen of his laptop. While the rest of the city sleeps, he is wide awake, programming. It’s a test of skill, a quest for power. He wants to see if he can do it, if he has what it takes to penetrate a secure network and spread a computer virus throughout the world.

Or maybe he is a she. The sun shines brightly in the afternoon sky as she works to create a worm that will wreak havoc in Iran’s nuclear power plants. For her, it’s all in a days work. She was trained by an Israeli intelligence unit for just such a mission. Many lives millions of Israeli lives depend on her unit’s success.

Or maybe the hacker is someone else entirely.

SPREADING STUXNET

Worms and viruses are forms of malware, or malicious software. They are designed to access a computer system without permission in order to harm the data or performance of the computer whether it belongs to an individual, a company, or a country. Worms use computer networks to send copies to other computers on the network. They are the ones who raid your e-mail address book and send messages to all your friends.

The creator of a worm known as Stuxnet whether similar to one of these fictional sketches or not is responsible for much destruction. The worm, first detected in 2009, has spread through computers in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Russia, and Iran. Sixty percent of the computers world-wide infected by Stuxnet were in Iran, including a command module at an Iranian nuclear facility. The fact that so many Iranian computers were infected suggests that Iran is the real target of the malicious virus. It’s pretty clear based on the infection behavior that installations in Iran are being targeted, explained Kevin Hogan, Senior Director of Security Response at Symantec.

But who is doing the targeting? Where did the worm come from and why does it target Iran? Only the real programmer knows for sure who produced this nearly untraceable, imperceptible worm. But, at the moment, many fingers are pointed at Israel.

WHY SUSPECT ISRAEL?

The Stuxnet worm is slowing down Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons by sabotaging its computers. The United States and Israel are top Stuxnet suspects because both countries openly admit that they want to undermine Iran’s uranium enrichment plant. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, has repeatedly said that the Jewish state will die, and many perceive his speeches as calls to destroy Israel. Israel wants to prevent Iran from having the weapons to do just that.

In addition, Israel has emerged as a top suspect because of a possible link to the Purim story. One of the files in the Stuxnet code is called Myrtus, which some security experts believe is an allusion to Esther, the well-known queen of King Achashverosh. In Megillat Esther we learn that Esther had two meaningful names: And [Mordechai] had reared Hadassah, she is Esther¦ (Esther 2:7). The name Esther means hidden. The name Hadassah, on the other hand, comes from the Hebrew word hadas, or myrtleone of the plants also used in the four species of Sukkot since her complexion was olive green like myrtle leaves. In addition, the Purim story took place in Iran.

Although Myrtus, as used in the Stuxnet worm, might simply refer to the myrtle, a plant important to many cultures in the region, some are fairly convinced of the Esther/Hadassah/Myrtle/Myrtus connection and its implication of an Israeli link. Yossi Melman, a reporter for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, told the New York Times that he suspects Israel was involved. Others, including Shai Blitzblau, an Israeli information security expert, doubt that Israel had a hand in spreading the worm. Blitzblau computer warfare company studied the worm extensively and he is convinced that Israel had nothing to do with Stuxnet. For now, at least, this case remains unsolved.

THE JEWISH VIEW

In the Purim story, Haman plotted to annihilate the Jews. Instead of accepting their fate, however, the Jews staged a successful pre-emptive strike against Haman, his ten sons, and the people in Achashverosh kingdom who were out to kill. This was clearly an act of self-defense against a rodef (an attacker who presents a clear and direct threat to human life).

Judaism permits people to defend themselves against an unjust pursuer of human life a rodef and even kill the rodef to save a human life when no other way to save innocent people is presented (Shemot 22:1 and Sanhedrin 72a). Although Jewish law does not allow the destruction of someone else’s property for no reason (including someone else’s computer system), such destruction would be permitted to save the life of a human being.

If Iran is in fact developing nuclear weapons in order to wipe out Israel, then the State of Israel has the right to protect its citizens from nuclear annihilation, if need be, by killing the people who are constructing these weapons of mass destruction, and certainly by inflicting damage to property of those who are seeking to kill its citizens. Indeed, Jewish law maintains as do most legal systems that while one cannot kill innocent people to save the life of other innocent people, one may damage the property of innocent people to save human lives. Even if innocent computers were destroyed by the Stuxnet virus, that would be permitted to save the lives of innocent people.

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SECAUCUS, N.J. – In his keynote presentation entitled, “State of the Kosher Industry: The Transition of Kosher Foods to a New Level,” Menachem Lubinsky, President and CEO of LUBICOM Marketing Consulting, pointed out just how far the kosher food industry has come. “In the early years, there were nine booths with potato kugel. Then there were 10 or 12 booths displaying sponge cake. Now, there are gourmet and health products–change has come to the kosher food industry in a dramatic way !”

Lubinsky was referring to the rows and rows of booths at Kosherfest, the trade show for the kosher food industry, which took place Oct. 26 and 27 at the Meadlowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J. Kosherfest is the yearly gathering of everyone who’s anyone in the kosher food industry-manufacturers, distributors, certifying agencies, cookbook authors, magazines, camps, restaurants, caterers and more.

Lubinsky further notes that today’s kosher consumer is much younger, more health conscious, and has learned to navigate the retail map, shopping in a variety of stores –from supermarkets, to smaller independent kosher markets, to stories like Costco.

A walk through the aisles at the two-day show gave a glimpse of the 125,000 kosher products now available in U.S. supermarkets, produced in the plants of 10,650 kosher producing companies–all contributing to a market with a dollar value of $12,500,000,000.

Old favorites displaying products include Manischewitz, Streit, Tulkoff, Barton’s Chocolates, Gold’s and Osem. But even these companies came with new products and new packaging.

There were corporate “tie ins,” too. Cookbook author, Susie Fishbein, was promoting her new book, “Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-Somethings,” in front of the Kolatin kosher gelatin booth, and Jamie Geller, author of “Quick and Kosher Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing” and the new “Quick and Kosher: Meals in Minutes,” was distributing recipe cards at the Kosher.com booth. There are many new, tasty products to look for on super market and specialty store shelves. Chocolate raspberry macaroons by Lily Bloom’s Kitchen, were voted both best new dessert/candy and Best In Show-First Runner Up.

Elite Natural 100% Organic Juices, with a plant in Ankara, Turkey, offers an assortment of juices, including pear, quince, honeydew melon and pomegranate. President, Ali Suman and Vice President Mark Rollino were happy to answer all of my questions, including number of watermelons it takes for one bottle of their watermelon juice (it takes 8). The juice was voted Kosherfest’s Best New Beverage; and, in case you wanted to know, it takes 20 or 23 pomegranates to fill a bottle of the company’s pomegranate juice and in development is a juice made of persimmons.

Kind Healthy Snacks offered samples of its six new all natural gluten free flavors (my favorites: apple cinnamon and pecan, and pomegranate blueberry pistachio + antioxidants). Big Apple Pretzels passed out soft pretzels. Freund’s Fish Market had sushi for the taking. Steve Katz, owner of Katz’s Bakery in Southfield, Mich. was handing out very tasty seven layer cake samples.

A record number of countries were represented — from Poland to Ecuador, Argentina, Canada, Lithuania, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Spain, Australia, China and of course, Israel. Osem chefs prepared Israeli whole wheat and tri-color cous cous. Vegetali vegetarian hot dogs in a blanket was voted Best New Fine Food from Israel (and they had many other wonderful vegetarian products–including Moroccan cigars). Neviot is hoping to soon bring their bottled water and flavored water to the American market; the Etz Hazait Collection of oils of Haifa, marketed as “The recipe for good health,” is also “not here yet but looking to be here,” according to Shirley Rocheli, company spokesperson.

Other items of interest include Sue Fishkoff’s new book “Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority;” a new bi-monthly kosher food magazine, entitled “Kosher Inspired;” “New York Kosher News,” a free publication of Kashrus Magazine focusing on New York and New Jersey area kashrut news.

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Aaron Rudolph’s drive to work from his home in West Hartford to the Walgreen’s Distribution Center in Windsor is usually uneventful. Having special needs and landing a meaningful job often poses more of a challenge.

Rudolph is one of the lucky ones. A story in the Hartford Courant five years ago about a yet-to-be-built Walgreens facility, a meeting with a job counselor at the Bureau of Rehab Services in Hartford, and a drop of good fortune were all part of the young man’s journey toward meaningful employment.

After graduating from high school, Rudolph began a one-year food service training program at Manchester Community College. He was then connected to a job counselor, which led to some work in food services. A job counselor was impressed with his work and suggested that Rudolph might be a good candidate for the Walgreen’s program. Following an interview to assess his job and social skills, and a nine-week, eight-hour a day unpaid training program in different areas of potential employment, followed by nine-week training stints, Rudolph was ultimately hired by Walgreens.

The 24-year old West Hartford resident, who loves the Beatles, Beach Boys and You Tube, has been to Israel four times, and regularly attends The Emanuel Synagogue, recently celebrated his nine-month anniversary as a Walgreens’ employee. While initially hired to work in the AKL division (where he essentially moved quickly up and down the aisles filling orders), he was soon switched to “detrash,” where he rapidly opens boxes and transfers items to plastic bins and places them on a conveyer belt.

Rudolph works 40 hours per week, and has full benefits – like sick time, medical, dental, a 401K and stock options, and soon he will be eligible for two weeks paid vacation.

“When you think of people with cognitive disabilities, they are usually involved in menial jobs or they work in workshops-they often bag groceries or work a few hours a week. And you always worry about how secure the job is-especially during an economic downturn. At Walgreen’s, Aaron has the potential to be there a long time,” reports the young man’s mother, Alison Rudolph, who explains that her son has mild to high functioning autism.

Her son, she says, couldn’t be more proud of his work noting that he “always speaks up and enunciates” when asked about his work” and “never complains when he is asked to do mandatory overtime.”

Rudoph is, perhaps, a bit more candid in describing his work. “It is nice, but it has its tough moments!” he says. “Sometimes the boxes I open are pretty hard. When I open the plastic wrapping, sometimes it goes all over the floor-especially with the huge fan going!”

But he does enjoy the camaraderie of his fellow workers. “I get along with them, I have lunch with them, and we sometimes talk about our weekends,” he says. “I feel great working full time and I feel good about the job!”

“Aaron is a great employee,” Joe Wendover, Walgreens’ outreach manager at the Windsor Distribution Center, told the Ledger. “Hiring Aaron helps to show other employers that it is a good thing and the right thing to do.”

Walgreens invites other companies to tour their distribution center to see that it is truly possible to train and hire people with disabilities. “It is unfortunate that some employers can’t see past a disability,” says Wendover, who will participate in a panel on vocational training and employment at Advance: The Ruderman Jewish Special Needs Funders Conference to be held in New York City on Oct. 20 to discuss funding for special needs programs in the Jewish community (see story).

Alison Rudoph and her husband, Jeff, are impressed with Walgreens’ commitment to hiring people with disabilities.

“In the warehouse, there are people with many kinds of disabilities. I have seen people in wheelchairs, people who are hearing impaired, and many others. As long as you can do the job, you will be employed there. They feel very fortunate that Aaron is part of the Walgreens family. “

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Original Article Published On The Jerusalem Post

Israelis Gony Goldstein, Raz Moyal and Dana Kamyshev recently enjoyed a week-long United States tennis adventure. The three young tennis players, representing Israel Children’s Centers, were invited to the United States to play in tennis exhibitions in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in various towns in Long Island, New York. On their last day, they sat in the first row at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, cheering for their favorite home grown hero, Israeli tennis champion, Shahar Peer!

The three young Israel tennis players cheered on Peer in her match against Jelena Kostanic Tosic of Croatia. Yaalah, Kadima, Shahar Shahar Peer! they shouted from the stands. When Peer was down 3-2 in the second set, a very confident Raz said, Shahar will beat her; you will see. Raz was right. Despite some early serving difficulties and missed volleys, Peer rallied to beat the slicing Kostantic Tosic 6-4, 7-5. Shahar is my favorite, said 13 year old Dana, who plays in a competitive tennis program at the Tennis Center in Haifa. “I like her strong character – she doesn’t give up! I remember once she was down 5-0 and came back to win. Dana, who was born in Russia and speaks Hebrew, Russian and English, shyly told Dash that she is one of Israel’s top ten players in the 14 and under age group.

Gony, age 9, lives in Tel Aviv and plays regularly at the Israel Tennis Center in South Tel Aviv. The trip was her first time in America. It is so much fun to be here. Everything here is so big! While Gony diplomatically stated that she loves Peer and male Israeli player, Dudi Sela, she was quick to add, I also love (Andy) Roddick, (Maria) Sharapova, (Nikolay) Davydenko and Venus Williams! Gony was initially spotted by the same coach who recognized Peer’s potential. She has even had a hit on the court with Peer. Her coach said that, Gony is a very special young girl who really enjoys training. Most importantly, she tries her best in every lesson. Gony is very clever on the court and she is already proving to be a great athlete. Gony, a fairly typical nine year old who also loves to sing, dance and play with animals, started playing tennis at age six and plays five times a week.

For Raz Moyal, an 11 year old boy from Ofakim in the south of Israel, this visit was his third trip to the United States. He has three brothers, aged 15, three and six months old, and came once to celebrate his brother’s bar mitzvah. Los Angeles is my favorite place! We stayed in a great big house and it was lots of fun! passionately follows his favorite team, Beitar Jerusalem. Above and beyond all of that, however, it’s clear that tennis is by far his favorite pastime. I started playing when I was seven and a half, he said. Raz’s father knew it was time to introduce Raz to tennis. My brother was playing and I was sad that I didn’t get to play. One day, my dad asked, Do you want to go? I did and I loved it! Raz thinks of the tennis center as a second home. The Tennis Center is like a kibbutz, where everyone knows everyone.

It is like a family where we can all hang out together, on and off the court, and enjoy our friendships. When asked who his favorite player was, the smiley youngster said he loves Peer but added, I also love (Rafael) Nadal. He is short and a lefty like me, and I look like him! People call me Nadal! Raz enjoys tennis so much that he and his dad came up with a special plan when the Ofakim courts were closed during the Gaza War. When we couldn’t go to the center and play, it was like someone came along and ripped our hearts out, Raz said. His father saw how sad and upset Raz was, so they jumped the fence and played! Don’t tell anyone. I don’t want my Dad and me to get in trouble. I love my Tennis Center.

There are 14 Israel Tennis Centers across Israel, from Kiryat Shmona to Beersheva. The Israel Children’s Centers are more than just places for 9,000 young Israelis to learn the game. It is actually the largest social service organization in Israel and the largest tennis school in the world! According to Israeli Development Associate, Yoni Yair, who was also one of the groups chaperones, The Centers are very special and provide a warm family environment for thousands of kids all over Israel. They are safe places for meeting new friends, getting an education and keeping the kids off the streets. Our tennis centers are safe places that help kids to grow up right. While Yair and the rest of the staff are all delighted by the success of some of the centers tennis players, he noted that, “Tennis is simply the vehicle that brings the kids to the tennis centers. While in America, the young tennis players were also accompanied by Coach Ron Becker and Israel Children’s Center Executive Director, Jeff Dannick. They returned home to Israel shortly after the Peer match.

Will Gony, Raz and Dana be the next Dudi Sela or Shahar Peer? That is hard to know, but one can be certain that they will grow up to be lovers of tennis and wonderful human beings.


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