Among the most exciting moments in this process of Redemption is watching the pieces come together. Anyone can do this. (You don't have to be a prophet!) Just by being an observer of the human scene,...current events, talk radio, internet news and daily experiences,--all this can be eye-opening about how the Rebbe's prophecy is being fulfilled.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Panera Corp. Tackles Hunger With Pay-What-You-Can Cafes

Panera Cares Cafe

With many Americans out of work, private citizens and corporations have taken things into their own hands to alleviate hunger. Ingenious eateries have sprung up that offer meals in return for volunteer work,--or people pay what they can. These attractive venues envelop their patrons with a sense of caring and, of course, real sustenance. Yes, someone cares. And this can make a huge difference in people's lives. Humanity, i.e. goodness and kindness--these are some of the hallmarks of the era of Redemption.

With thanks to Hamodia's Binyan Youth Magazine.
ABC World News - BY  (@DavidMuir)
Nov. 25, 2011

Panera Cares, Other Eateries Tackle Hunger With 'Pay-What-You-Can' Plan

For years, Robert Dimmitt was a product designer for Ford. Three years ago, the 57-year-old Michigan man was laid off. He's still looking for work.
This Thanksgiving, he volunteered at a Panera Cares cafe in exchange for a meal. He's been donating his time there since March and he says he's met many others just like him.
"Some of them even come to the management in tears and they are so hungry and the management helps them," he said.
There are three Panera Cares Community cafes -- one in Missouri, one in Michigan and another in Portland, Ore. They are the brainchild of Ron Shaich, the co-founder and executive chairman of Panera Bread and the president of the Panera Bread Foundation.
Each site serves 3,500 people every week. On a case-by-case basis, the cafe suggests to each patron how much they can afford.
"It's just amazing to us. Many people questioned whether this would work," Shaich told ABC News today. "We said that this was the right thing to do. It's a pay-it-forward kind of thing."

Jenny Bradley, who lives near Dearborn, Mich., said she found out about Panera Cares from a niece. Sometimes she can pay and other times she can't.
"I come three to four times a week," she said. "When I have a lot of money, I put extra money in, and when I can't I'll ask to see if it's O.K. if I can pay later."
Shaich said it was a "test of humanity."
"Twenty percent of customers pay more than the suggested donation," he said. "Sixty percent leave the suggested donation and 20 percent leave less, typically significantly less."
He said it was Panera Bread's way of giving back directly. "We have the skills to operate these cafes," Shaich said today. "We operate 1,600 cafes around the United States. We have the capabilities to do this."
At the Portland cafe, Jennifer Karsonengum paid full price for her meal and a little extra for the next person.
"Everybody can walk in the door and be served a meal and eat," she said. "That's becoming a luxury in this country."
According to Feeding America, nearly 49 million men, women and children nationwide are considered "food insecure" -- as many as 17 million of them are children.
Panera Bread's mission is similar to that of One World Everybody Eats Foundation. Denise Cerreta says she opened the first pay-as-you-can restaurant eight years ago in Salt Lake City. Cerreta says her restaurant has served more than 215,000 meals.
And there are others: Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, N.J.; Cafe 180 in Englewood, Calif., which served 150 people in two hours on Thanksgiving; and Table Grace in Omaha, Neb., which serves 40 people every day.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"And the eyes of blind people will see...."* Israel Develops Bionic Eye.

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame man will skip like a gazelle and the tongue of the mute will sing glad song. (Isaiah 35: 5 – 6)

In the era of the Redemption, when the mystical dimensions of the Torah are spread throughout the world, scientific advancement will accelerate at an amazing rate. Perhaps the miracle of “the blind will see” will come through human ingenuity. Here is an invention requiring no surgery, employing a tiny camera worn outside the body and a contact lens coded with a multiplicity of information that stimulates the brain of a blind person to see!


Israeli scientists develop bionic eye for people born blind

The bionice lens developed at Bar-Ilan University. Photo by Moti Milrod

A tiny camera receives visual information from the environment and transmits signals to a bionic contact lens.

By  May.31, 2013 | 3:36 AM 

Israeli scientists have developed a technology that may enable people who are blind from birth to see, with the help of a bionic contact lens.
The new technology, developed by a team at Bar-Ilan University, has yet to receive approval for clinical trials, but its feasibility is currently being tested on seeing individuals, with the aid of a model simulating the bionic lens.
The technology consists of a tiny camera that receives visual information from the environment and transmits signals to a bionic contact lens. The lens passes the signals via electrodes to the cornea and from there to sensory brain areas, generating a stimulus that simulates visual information.
“This technology is good news for humanity, especially in bringing sight to people blind from birth without requiring surgery or damaging other vital senses or organs,” says Prof. Zeev Zalevsky, head of Electrical Engineering and Nanophotonics at Bar-Ilan University, who headed the research team.
In recent years, several companies around the world have developed a bionic eye, but all of them rely on a technology which is of little help to those who are congenitally blind. This system, which bypasses the retina, is intended for those who suffer from retinal degeneration. It consists of a tiny camera implanted in the eye that transmits electric signals directly to the sight nerves attached to the retina, bypassing the retina and generating visual stimulation.
In addition, that system is invasive and requires surgery. It also depends on the stimulation of brain areas that process sight, which are developed in childhood. This makes it unsuitable for those who are blind from birth, since those areas of the brain are not developed in congenitally blind people. The U.S. company Second Sight, the German company Retina Implant AG, the Australian company Bionic Vision and the Israeli company Nano Retina all use this technology.
The visual resolution in existing bionic eyes is about 16 pixels, compared to a million (1 mega) pixels in a normal eye. This enables people with bionic eye implants to distinguish between light and darkness and shadows, but not to make out entire objects or letters, or to be independently mobile.
In contrast, the new Israeli technology is non-invasive and is intended to provide sight to the congenitally blind.
“The new technology attempts to deal with the problems of existing bionic eye technologies to enable even people who are blind from birth, in whom the brain region that processes visual information is not developed, to see,” explains Zalevsky.
The bionic lens stimulates the corneal nerves in the eye’s external part, which are connected in the brain to areas that process sensory information.
The technology consists of a tiny camera with an image compressor and an electric signal amplifier located outside the patient’s body and can be attached to his eye glasses or to a cellular device. Super resolution techniques are used “to encode an image of numerous pixels and compress it into few pixels,” explains Zalevsky.
“The encoding enables compressing static visual sights, reducing the pixels yet allowing transmission of visual information similar to a healthy person’s vision,” he says.
The compressed information is transmitted, after being electrically amplified, from the minute camera by wireless technology to a bionic contact lens in the eye. The proposed lens will have some 10,000 tiny electrodes enabling cornea stimulation. “The cornea is the richest eye part in sensory nerves and has tens of thousands of sensory points to which the tiny electrodes on the lens can connect with,” says Zalevsky.
It’s already possible today to place tiny electrodes, even opaque ones from metallic material, on contact lenses that look transparent. The electrodes stimulate the cornea’s sensory points by transmitting tension, without direct contact with the cornea, due to the compressed signal amplification in the external apparatus.
The stimuli are passed from the cornea via the nervous system to various brain regions that process visual information.
“In this way even a person who is blind from birth can see. In blind people, the sensory areas that receive the information from the cornea are developed, like regions enabling them to read Braille with the sense of touch,” says Zalevsky.
He says the new technology is like “a Braille lens that enables blind people to see in a way similar to Braille reading.”
The Bar-Ilan technology has yet to be approved for clinical testing. But in the last few months the system’s feasibility has been tested on 10 seeing subjects with a model simulating the bionic lens, which transmits stimuli to the finger rather than the cornea.
The scientists have taught the testees to decode simple images and then to transmit, with finger signals, images received by an external camera.
At this state the visual stimulus among the subjects enables spatial vision in black, white and gray, in low 100-pixel resolution.
“But the actual lens will consist of 10,000 electrodes that will enable receiving visual images of much higher resolution and perhaps color in the future,” says Zalevsky.
An article about the technology has recently been published in Optical Engineering and the development will be exhibited in the Israel BioMed conference in June.

*"...the eyes of blind people will see." [Isaiah 29:18]

Sunday, June 16, 2013

U.S. Holocaust Museum To Bulgaria: "Face Up to Holocaust Crimes."

This photo provided by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, shows Aleksander Belev, center, facing camera, the Bulgarian Commissioner for Jewish Questions, overseeing the deportation of Macedonian Jews from Bulgarian occupied Skopje, Yugoslavia, in March 1943. (photo credit: AP Photo/U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum via Central Zionist Archive)

A characteristic of the era of the Redemption is that the nations of the world will repent for crimes committed against the Jewish people.

In seeking to name a street in Washington D.C. after a Bulgarian hero who saved Jews in World War II, the Bulgarian Embassy made one mistake. They wrote in their letter of request that Bulgaria was a Nazi-occupied country and that they did not deport any Jews to the death camps. In fact, Bulgaria was an ally of Hitler and they deported 11,343 Jews from Bulgarian territories in Macedonia and northern Greece.

A reply to the Embassy from Radu Ioanid, director of the U.S. Holocaust Museum's international archival programs, said:

"The callous and devious attempts to distort the history of Bulgarian Jewry is insulting to the victims of the Holocaust and damaging to the image of Bulgaria which, until recently, was perceived as a country which approached correctly the dark shadows of its past."

Times of Israel
Bulgarian Honor Bid in D.C. Stirs Holocaust Debate
Street-naming controversy underscores difficulty reconciling heroic individual deeds
with the record of a nation as a whole.
 May 7, 2013, 1:29 pm
This image provided by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Bulgarian policemen overseeing the deportation of Macedonian Jews to the German death camps in March 1943 in Bulgarian occupied Skopje. (photo credit: AP Photo/U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of Jewish Historical Museum, Belgrade)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A request by the Bulgarian Embassy to name a Washington intersection after a favorite native son — a man credited with helping save the country’s Jewish population from deportation — has gotten tangled up in a broader debate about whether the nation is accurately accounting for the actions of its leaders during the Holocaust.
A tense exchange between the embassy and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum has played out behind the scenes as the DC Council prepares to consider honoring Dimitar Peshev this month. The debate underscores not only the complexities of Holocaust history but also the difficulty countries can face reconciling the heroic deeds of an individual during World War II with the record of a nation as a whole. It also comes as historians and Jewish organizations continue encouraging nations to take unvarnished stock of their actions in Nazi-era Europe.

“You have to tell both sides and people have to understand, try to understand, what the complexity is. That’s why it’s critical,” said Frederick Chary, a retired professor of Bulgarian history at Indiana University-Northwest.
The issue arose in December when the embassy asked the DC Council to name an intersection for Peshev in a letter that put a favorable spin on Bulgarian treatment of Jews during World War II. The Holocaust museum, invited by the Council to review the letter’s accuracy, said the wording of the embassy’s request — along with a recent declaration by Bulgaria’s Parliament — glossed over a more checkered history.
The Holocaust museum...said the wording of the embassy's request - along with a recent declaration by Bulgaria's Parliament - glossed over a more checkered history.
As vice president of the Parliament, Peshev publicized a secret deportation order that would have sent tens of thousands of Jews of Bulgarian origin to German death camps in Poland. He circulated a protest petition among fellow legislators in 1943 as clergymen, students and others united in support of the Jewish population. The deportations were suspended and King Boris III sent Jews to labor camps in the country but refused to turn them over to the Nazis, saying he needed them as construction workers.

The DC museum says it doesn’t quarrel with recognizing Peshev or question his historical significance, but says any honor must be placed in larger context. It has objected in particular to the letter’s characterization of Bulgaria as a “Nazi-occupied country” and to the assertion that no Bulgarian Jews were deported to death camps. The museum and other historians say the letter obscures the reality that Bulgaria was an ally of Nazi Germany and that 11,343 Jews were deported from Macedonia and northern Greece — territories then under Bulgarian control.
Radu Ioanid, Director, International Archives,
U.S. Holocaust Museum
“The callous and devious attempts to distort the history of Bulgarian Jewry is insulting to the victims of the Holocaust and is damaging to the image of Bulgaria, which, until recently, was perceived as a country which approached correctly the dark shadows of its past,” Radu Ioanid, director of the museum’s international archival programs division, wrote in April to the chairwoman of Bulgaria’s National Assembly and to Bulgaria’s US ambassador, Elena Poptodorova.
The museum sent separate correspondence to the DC Council stressing the complexities of Bulgaria’s history.
"Insulted."Bulgarian Ambassador to the US Elena Poptodorova,
during an interview with The Associated Press, Washington D.C.,
Thursday,April 11, 2013. (photo credit: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Poptodorova says she was insulted by the museum’s “very rude” response to the embassy’s letter, which she says she signed but did not herself write. She said she’s always acknowledged the painful side of Bulgaria’s history and is tremendously moved by the Holocaust. During an interview at the embassy, she wiped away tears as she spoke of Jewish children being herded onto boxcars to face certain death.

“I feel Jewish,” she explained, “every time I talk on this subject.”
She said that although her country had a Holocaust-era record of which it could be proud, her goal was to honor the deeds of one man — not the entire government.
“It all has to do with Dimitar Peshev — full stop,” she said. “No apologies made, no attempts to resolve bigger matters.”
The tone of the museum’s letter to the embassy was triggered by a March ceremony in which the Bulgarian Parliament, commemorating the 70th anniversary of protests that halted the deportations, expressed regret but not responsibility while acknowledging for the first time that more than 11,000 Jews from areas under Bulgarian control were deported to Nazi death camps. The Parliament also said the government was powerless to stop those deportations, a statement that fell short of the full acceptance the museum and other organizations had hoped for.
Museum officials said they were concerned because the embassy’s letter included some of the same incomplete or misleading assertions.
“If part of the effort being made was to factually tell the truth about what happened in Bulgaria, the museum would absolutely endorse that,” said Paul Shapiro, director of the museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. He said the concern arose from the possibility that naming a street for a deserving man might be used to distort history.

The Bulgarians were “heroic rescuers, cruel persecutors and brutal killers” all at once, said Michael Berenbaum, professor of Jewish studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.

Neil Glick, a Washington real estate agent who approached the embassy about honoring Peshev after traveling to the country in the 1990s and researching his story, said he had a major role in drafting the request and accepted responsibility for any misstatements in it. But he said the museum was wrong to let the letter’s content overshadow Peshev’s actions.
“Don’t blame Peshev for the bad deeds of others,” he said. “Let’s honor Peshev for the great deeds that he accomplished — and that’s all I want to do because he was the catalyst.”
There’s no question Bulgaria’s history is complicated.
Peshev’s own party enacted discriminatory legislation that imposed a special tax on Jews, who were also required to wear yellow stars on their clothing. The Claims Conference, which seeks restitution for Jewish Holocaust victims, issued a 2004 report saying many Bulgarian Jews were sent to labor camps, where they performed railroad and construction work under grueling physical conditions. The Bulgarians were “heroic rescuers, cruel persecutors and brutal killers” all at once, said Michael Berenbaum, professor of Jewish studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.
Besides Bulgaria, other countries have grappled in the last decade with their Holocaust histories.
The DC Council plans to consider the request for “Dimitar Peshev Plaza,” which would be located outside the embassy, at a May 28 hearing.After years of denial, for instance, Romania’s government in 2004 acknowledged that its pro-Nazi authorities were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Gypsies in World War II. Norway’s prime minister made a similar apology last year. In Hungary, though, Holocaust museum officials have raised concerns that the country is reviving interest in fascism.
“To me, the focus here is whether Dimitar Peshev should be honored with a ceremonial street naming, not about the rhetoric that the Bulgarian Embassy may have used or the rhetoric of the Holocaust museum,” said DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.
Poptodorova, the ambassador, said she was surprised at the emotional response to what she had considered a simple request.
“Maybe when we move a little bit forward, we will be less personal, less passionate — like something that happened not 70 years ago but 170 years.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press