Israel

Original Article On The Jerusalem Post

Currently ranked 708 in the world for singles and 848 for doubles, Valeria Patiuk is the youngest player on Israel’s Fed Cup team.

NEW YORK It is hard to resist the comparisons between Valeria Patiuk and her idol, Shahar Peer.

Both are hard-hitting tennis players who grew up on the courts of the Israel Tennis Centers, and both reached their first professional final at the age of 15 Peer in 2002, and Patiuk earlier this year in Ra’anana, at an Israel Tennis Federation tournament.

Shahar is my role model. She is a fighter, she plays with her heart and soul, and she does a good job representing Israel, noted Patiuk, at a pre-US Open match interview, in front of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York.

The 15-year-old Patiuk, known as Lera, earned a spot in the juniors tournament after winning two matches in this week’s qualifying tournament.

The number 16 seed defeated Katrine Steffensen of the United States 6-3, 4- 6, 7-5, and Natalia Maynettoof the United States 6-2, 6-4.

After earning her spot in the main draw, Patiuk scored a 6-4, 6-3 win over Ukraine’s Ganna Poznikhirenko on Monday before facing Grace Min of the US late Tuesday night.

Patiuk, born in the Ukraine, moved to Israel at age one, and has been playing tennis since age six. She trains daily in Ramat Hasharon as part of the Elite Program of the Israel Tennis Centers.

Currently ranked 708 in the world for singles and 848 for doubles, she’s the youngest player on Israel’s Fed Cup team, where she plays with Pe’er.

Lera is a unique young lady, said Asaf Yamin, Patiuk’s coach for the past year. She is dedicated, likes to practice, and she is open.

I hope she can keep her character on the court. She is serious, and intense, and enjoys what she does.

Everybody compares Lera to Shahar on a daily basis, he added. Shahar is a good role model, but Lera has to focus on Lera and keep progressing. I hope she’ll have a career similar to Shahar’s.

Yamin is delighted that three Israelis have qualified for the main juniors draw: Patiuk, Or Ram-Harel and Bar Botzer.

It has been more than ten years since three Israelis have made it into the main juniors draw, noted Yamin.

All three will also play in the junior doubles tournament.

A fourth Israeli, Daniel Skripnik lost to Brazilian Karue Sell 7-6, 6-1 in his first-round qualifying match.

Danny Gelley, CEO of Israel Tennis Centers, is similarly pleased.

We are very proud and happy with the progress of our top juniors this year, Gelley said. The long and winding road to the top is paved by thousands of grueling hours in the sun, on the court and in the gym. I take my hat off to the players and their dedicated coaches for this milestone success and look forward to many more good things which I am sure are going to happen.

All three Israelis played their first round singles matches Monday, on court 15.

In the first match of the day, Ram-Harel, a 16-year-old right-handed player from Haifa, defeated Dennis Novak of Austria 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.

The trainer was called to attend to Ram-Harel in both the first and second sets.

My body was hurting, Ram-Harel said. I had cramps in my legs, and my head felt like it was spinning.

The three hour, ten minute match took place under very hot, humid midday conditions, and Ram- Harel playing in his first Grand Slam event appreciated the support and chants of the pro-Israeli crowd.

He played Joao Pedro Sorgi of Brazil (the 14th seed) in the second round on Tuesday.

Coach Yamin describes Ram-Harel as a big fighter with good court presence. He plays every point with his heart.

Yamin is impressed that he is already in the main draw at age 16, still with two years of junior eligibility left.

Yamin, who is traveling with and supervising all four players while in New York, coached the 17-year-old Bar Botzer when he was 13.

Botzer is very unique and very mature, Yamin said. He is always improving and has great potential.

Botzer squandered a firstset win in his first round match against Kaichi Uchida of Japan, and Uchida went on to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Today I lost because my biggest weapon, my serve, didn’t work, Botzer said.

At the conclusion of the Botzer match, Lera Patiuk took the court against Poznikhirenko.

Patiuk experienced abdominal pain while up 5- 4 in the first set, but went on to win 6-4, 6-3.

I served very well today. My serve was the key for the match, reported Patiuk. I have had pain in my stomach muscles for the past two weeks. It is getting better day by day, but I felt stomach pain while serving.

The hard-hitting, grunting Patiuk gave herself encouragement through shouts of Come on! and Kadima! This is my first time playing in the US Open and my first Grand Slam, she says.

I think my two qualifying matches gave me confidence and I am beginning to believe in myself again.



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Last Motzei Shabbat, at the C Hacienda Forestview Hotel in Maalot, Israel, 40 plus Ramah Galil bikeriders celebrated Lag B’Omer with a bonfire and performance by the Shuk, featuring former Amitzim rosh edah and voc ed advisor, Ami Yares. This allowed me to spend ever more time with my mentors, Herb and Barbara Greenberg, founders and directors for 29 years of the TIkvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England. I was privileged to work with and learn from the for 6 years prior to their making aliyah. Since taking over as director 11 years ago, I continue to be in regular contact.

Last Shabbat, the Greenbergs and I had an opportunity to lead two session for the riders on the history of Tikvah. The 40 riders and various guests were amazed to hear about the early years–trying to get camps to agree to “take” Tikvah, trying to recruit campers and staff, etc. And they were treated to stories illustrating how far we have come–Tikvah Israel trips, an inclusion program, extensive vocational training opportunities, and special needs programs in many Ramah camps in the US and Canada.

The riders, who raised more than $205,000, which will be distributed to the various Ramah camps and National Ramah to support special needs camping, left with a strong connection to the cause they are riding for!

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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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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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