As London burns, riots spread to Jewish communities

While some Jews in London marked Tisha b’Av on Tuesday by lamenting the burning of the Holy Temples on that day some two millennia ago, other London Jews watched as their city burned amid widespread rioting.

“Everyone is shocked,” Joel Braunold, a lifelong Londoner, told JTA in a phone interview just after leaving Tisha b’Av services Monday night. “People are angry and scared.”

Violent protests that broke out last Saturday following a deadly police shooting in the North London neighborhood of Tottenham quickly turned into riots, arson attacks and looting in neighborhoods this week all over the city in the worse civil unrest that London has seen in 25 years.

In some cases, the Jews reportedly weren’t just bystanders.

The Guardian reported that some members of Tottenham’s small Chasidic community—all that remains of a once-substantial Jewish community that earned its local soccer team the nickname “the Yids”—gathered to jeer police. A video posted on YouTube shows Orthodox men laughing and then scattering as a crowd of mounted police officers move in.

In another video, young Orthodox men can be seen handing out challah.

“When I saw Jewish people out tonight I was happy,” one protester told the Socialist Worker newspaper. “I thought, it’s not just us. They gave us bread.”

Most Jews, however, appear to be eager for a return to law and order. Local rabbis and the Shomrim Orthodox security service have warned Jewish community members to stay away from the riots, the UK Jewish Chronicle reported.

As the riots spread to Jewish areas of Stamford Hill and Golders Green, several Jewish-owned businesses were ransacked. Joelle Selt told JTA that her father’s general store was robbed at knifepoint by masked men, and a 71-year-old Jewish-owned store in Tottenham was looted Sunday morning, the Chronicle reported.

“They are tearing up their own community,” the store’s owner, Derek Lewis, said of the rioters, as reported in the Chronicle. “It’s tragic.”

At least two stabbings were reported Monday night in Stamford Hill, and clashes between rioters and police were reported in Golders Greer and Camden.

Linda W., a mother of three daughters who lives in London, contrasted the rioters disparagingly with the massive but nonviolent protests in Israel over high housing prices.

“It’s evident who raises the better man,” she wrote in an e-mail to JTA.

Linda said the Riot Act—a 1715 law that made it a felony for groups of 12 or more to refuse to disperse after being ordered to do so—should be returned to the books. The law was repealed in 1973.

“People want to enforce the law by any means necessary,” Braunold said. “They don’t care anymore; they just want the riots off the streets.”

The rioting began following the police shooting Aug. 4 in Tottenahm of a suspected drug dealer named Mark Duggan, and spread to young people in poorer neighborhoods. Many analysts have linked the riots to the weak economy, widespread unemployment and deep budget cuts that have hurt Britain’s poor.

“There are underlying causes,” Braunold said, “but first the rioting and hooliganism needs to stop. This brings out the worst characteristics in people, and they need to face the consequences.”

Old books, religious items burned in Corfu synagogue

Unknown vandals broke into the synagogue on the island of Corfu and burned books two centuries old as well as kipot and tallitot.

The break-in occurred at approximately dawn Tuesday, the second day of Passover.

Firemen arrived within minutes and prevented the fire from spreading after being alerted by a police patrol car that was stationed in the front of the synagogue.

The president of the Corfu Jewish community, Zinos Velelis, praised the quick reaction of the fire department and police.

“We never had such an incident or any incident for that matter before in Corfu,” he said. “We hope it is a isolated incident that the entire Corfu population will condemn.”

In its condemnation of the incident, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece said in a statement, “In contemporary Greece, society cannot allow or tolerate anti-Semitism, given that such attacks undermine our civilization, our dignity, our human nature, our democracy.”

George Petalotis, a spokesman for the Greek government, in a statement condemning the break-in called the destruction of sacred religious books “an immoral and outrageous act.”

About 60 Jews live on Corfu. Some 2,000 Jews lived there prior to World War II; only 187 survived the war. Jews have had a presence on Corfu since the 12th century.

Israel fire update: Uncontrolled, 42 dead, 17,000 evacuated

The fire raging in northern Israel was still out of control as the sun set on Friday, with 42 people reported dead.

At least 17,000 Israelis were evacuated from the area of the blaze, which spread closer to Haifa on Friday. The University of Haifa, which was evacuated on Thursday, has become a staging ground for emergency personnel. Most of those killed by the fire were prison guard cadets aboard a bus that was trapped Thursday by burning trees felled by the flames. The guards were enroute to a nearby prison to carry out an inmate evacuation.

Although aid has poured in from countries as close as Turkey, Cyprus and Greece and as far as the United States and Russia, firefighters had yet to bring the blaze under control as of late Friday. Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen told reporters that incidents of arson had occurred at several locations on Friday.

Officials have yet to confirm the origin of the blaze, which began Thursday, but there are suspicions that it began at an illegal dumping ground in the Carmel area.

Since the blaze began, Israelis have been gripped by images of flames consuming forested areas in the mountains east of Haifa, residents watching their homes burn and footage of the scorched shell of the bus in which the prison guards were killed.

There’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on over Power Plate

Remember those machines from the 1950s that used to jiggle a person’s fat in an attempt to rid the body of cellulite?

These days, a more sophisticated generation of those machines, which vibrate the entire body, is claiming it can do a lot more than eliminate cellulite.

Proponents say whole body vibration can increase muscle strength and flexibility, fight osteoporosis, improve balance and posture, increase circulation and reduce pain.

But skeptics say the claims are highly exaggerated, and that the machines might actually be dangerous. They want consumers to exercise caution if they’re going to use them.

Unlike those old-fashioned machines, the new technology relies on more aggressive vibration to stimulate muscles. One of the most popular, the Power Plate, features a vibrating platform that oscillates 30 to 50 times per second. Each time, it stimulates the nervous system and creates a reflex in the body that causes the muscles to contract.

Recent news reports say celebrities like Madonna and Heidi Klum are using it in their workouts, and the Power Plate Web site lists dozens of college and professional sports teams as using vibration training in their regimens, too.

“You’re getting a lot more muscular activity,” said Dennis Sall, a chiropractor in Mount Sinai, N.Y., who began using the Power Plate to train his patients about a year ago. “This is a great way to jump start the metabolism.”

Ultimately, he said, that causes the body to burn more calories.

Dr. Geoffrey Westrich, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, said that’s true.

“There’s no doubt that the muscles are contracting, and you’re burning calories and strengthening muscles at the same time,” he said.

However, he thinks it needs a lot more research to back up the claims that the machine can do a lot more than just build muscle.

A quick glance at the “applications” portion of the Power Plate Web site indicates that the device can play a significant role in anti-aging, sports performance and rehabilitation. One section seems to imply that it can be used to treat everything from emphysema to multiple sclerosis to whiplash.

According to Scott Hopson, director of research, education and training for Power Plate USA, dozens of studies using Power Plate have been published in peer review journals, including the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the American Journal of Geriatrics Society and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

“It’s very effective for improving balance, strength and preventing the muscle and bone loss that comes with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia and cerebral palsy,” he said. “One of the biggest secondary impairments of degenerative diseases is loss of muscle fibers and the ability to use them.

Vibration is a great for fighting against that.”

Hopson added that studies have shown that vibration can increase blood flow to muscle, tendon and ligament tissues and stimulate the release of hormones that are needed for healing damaged tissues.

But Westrich said it’s not the quantity but the quality of the research that concerns him.

“If you go to their Web site and look at all their studies, there is not very good science behind it,” he said. “I found only a few randomized prospective studies. There is some basic science studies about vibration … but a lot of it has nothing to do with their particular device.”

For example, many of the studies on osteoporosis, which are cited in Power Plate’s information packet, were conducted by Clinton T. Rubin, a professor in the department of biomedical engineering at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Rubin, furious that his studies are being used by the company, said, “I’ve never studied the Power Plate at all, and the vibration magnitude we used was 50 times lower than what they are using.”

Rubin works with a different company that also makes a vibration machine but one that uses much less intensity. He said his research shows that minimal vibration can stimulate bone growth, but he said, “Power Plate misuses that.”

“I’m furious that what Power Plate is doing is dangerous to people,” Rubin said. “It’s dangerous because there is a huge scientific body of evidence that high vibration magnitudes can cause lower back pain, circulation disorders, hearing loss, balance problems and vision problems.”

Dr. Jeffrey Fine recently ordered two Power Plates for two hospitals that he works at.

“Physical medicine rehab is a specialty where we apply different types of physical energy for physiologic benefit,” he said. “We considered this a newly identified modality to treat a variety of different medical conditions.”

Currently, Fine is looking into how the Power Plate will help patients with impaired sensation from diabetic neuropathy. He pointed to studies conducted at Harvard University that demonstrated how other devices that incorporate vibration technology have proven useful in stimulating multiple joints and ultimately improving balance and gait problems.

Westrich still isn’t convinced vibration technology is for everybody. For one thing, he’s not sure how useful it would be to treat osteoporosis in his elderly patients.

“I’m not sure they can tolerate being vibrated like a piece of Jell-O,” he said.

Debbe Geiger is a freelance writer specializing in health and science.

Lifecycles – Makeup Artist Gives Dignity to Scarred

Until burn survivor Wendy (not her real name) met makeup artist Maurice Stein a decade ago, she dreaded leaving her house. Before a gas stove explosion almost burned her alive in 1987, she had been a 23-year-old cocktail waitress with long, blonde hair and blue eyes, and generated plenty of attention from the opposite sex.

However, the fire from the explosion incinerated her hands, nose, ears and eyelids and left her face an unrecognizable mask of colors and scars. When the hospital nurses allowed her to look in the mirror, “I screamed and cried,” she said. “I looked like a monster.”

When she finally left the hospital nine months later, people stared at her when she ventured out, and cosmetics didn’t help. Her old Clinique foundation slipped off the scars and thicker makeup looked waxy.

“I was desperate to find someone to help me,” Wendy said.

Enter Stein of Cinema Secrets, now 71, who has made it his mission to help burn survivors and cancer patients since retiring from studio work in 1985. When Wendy visited him 10 years ago, he whisked her to the dressing table in his personal office, shut the door and mixed shades of his unique Cinema Secrets foundation to create a naturalistic look. He showed her how to apply the light, but highly pigmented, makeup in a stippling motion, to pencil in eyebrows and a cupid’s bow over her asymmetrical lips.

Because she was on disability, he gave her the makeup gratis. And Stein’s lesson — which usually costs $75 an hour — was also free, as it is to all people with facial disfigurements.

“I looked so much better, I finally had the confidence to go out and face the world,” Wendy said. “I didn’t need to hide anymore.”

Sitting in the same windowless office on a recent afternoon, regal, silver-haired Stein called such work “the most rewarding part of my entire career.” Strong words for an artist whose work has included creating oozing wounds for the film, “M*A*S*H”; fashioning Barbra Streisand’s look in “Funny Girl”; turning Roddy McDowall into a chimpanzee in “Planet of the Apes,” and earning his own star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. Celebrities such as Charlize Theron pull up in limousines to sit at the very table where Wendy’s life dramatically changed .

Although Stein officially retired 20 years ago, he said he founded Cinema Secrets “as a little hole in the wall,” where he could troubleshoot for actors and makeup artists. Instead, the Burbank storefront grew into a full-service beauty salon, a makeup school, beauty supply store, costume shop and special effects and prosthetics studio run by Stein; his wife, Barbara, and their three children. Its makeup line retails in 1,800 stores and is used by actors on approximately 30 TV shows and in upcoming films, such as “The Poseidon Adventure.”

Stein’s dedication to charity work emerged during an interview in his rambling, cheerful store. Alongside lipstick in more colors than Crayolas, cases displayed wigs that impoverished chemotherapy patients receive for free. Not far from a Halloween mask of Ronald Reagan — whom Stein powdered, along with Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford — were Cinema Secrets foundations in 55 shades, the skin tone range from Caucasian to African.

The artist took time out to work on 47-year-old Gigi DeLeon, whose face was discolored by rosacea. “It’s like the redness totally disappeared,” she marveled, as Stein brushed excess sealing powder off her face.

While Barbara Stein handles the cancer makeup, making sallow skin appear dewy, Stein attends to burn survivors.

“For some, he’s been a lifesaver,” said Amy Acton of the Phoenix Society, a national burn survivors organization that will host its annual World Burn Congress in Baltimore Aug. 23-28.

“Because our society is so looks-oriented, the psychological challenges are often greater than the physical ones for burn survivors,” said James Floros, chairman of the board of the National Federation of Burn Foundations. “People feel because they’re disfigured, they’re lesser human beings, which is why makeup artists like Maurice are so important.”

Renown image consultant Barbara Kammerer Quayle, who has worked closely with Stein, knows about such feelings firsthand. After her face was seriously burned in a car accident 26 years ago, “the man I was involved with left the relationship, and I thought, nobody’s going to love me, or want to hug and kiss me, let alone make love to me,” she said.

After much counseling and self-work, Quayle — who is now married — founded a “sort of finishing school for burn survivors,” which teaches how to apply Stein’s makeup. When she sets up her makeshift salon at the upcoming World Burn Congress, the four dressing tables will be piled with multiple shades of Cinema Secrets.

Quayle said she likes the product because it’s sheer, natural looking, waterproof, heatproof and covers the entire face all day. “And Maurice never turns anyone away for lack of [funds],” she added. “It’s part of his giving back to the world, helping people who have no place else to go.”

The work is meaningful to Stein, in part, because of the anti-Semitism he faced as one of three Jews at Rosemead High in the 1940s. The son of a police officer, Stein excelled at sports and used his fists to fend off slurs and physical assaults.

At 16, he attended an interfaith camp, where he learned that “individuals are always taken at face value. You look at them and make an instant decision about whether you want to associate with them or not. Since then, I’ve always felt empathy for people who aren’t perceived as ‘perfect.'”

After a short stint as a boxer and two years in the Army during the Korean War, Stein followed a girlfriend into beauty school and eventually opened his own hair salon in San Marino in the 1950s. In 1962, a Hollywood client convinced him to work on a war movie at Columbia Pictures, where he was promptly steered to the makeup room.

“In those days, women did hair, and men did makeup,” he said. “So they put me between two guys, and I kept looking back and forth, mimicking what they did.”

Stein went on to work on more than 200 films and television shows, including “Bewitched,” the original “Star Trek” and “The Flying Nun.” Yet it was after he retired that he faced one of his biggest challenges: troubleshooting on the 1980s series, “The Golden Girls.”

Making actress Estelle Getty look 25 years older took three-and-a-half hours, and the makeup was so painful to remove that “Estelle was learning how to cuss,” Stein recalled. He figured out how to quickly and painlessly fabricate her wrinkles by using layers of Cinema Secrets, which he was in the midst of developing. Getty became his onscreen guinea pig.

Stein had originally intended the foundation to be a user-friendly product for actors, but found a more philanthropic use, when he discovered it also covered scars, tattoos, birthmarks and facial deformities. Soon calls began coming from physicians.

“I’d take over where the medical community left off,” he said. “I couldn’t get rid of scars, but I could eliminate the discoloration associated with them.”

Stein began training doctors and staff to apply his makeup at major burn and cancer centers, such as Johns Hopkins and the City of Hope. He traveled the world, visiting patients like a scarred 9-year-old Norwegian boy who needed makeup to return to school.

If clients were too ill to leave home, Stein requested photos; spoke with them by phone, then mailed out several shades with which they could experiment.

If he does not have the capability to help someone in need, he finds someone who does. He prevailed upon the Veterans Administration Hospital in Westwood, for example, to fashion Wendy a silicon nose (the usual price: $8,000). When he bought her a belly button tattoo for her 40th birthday (the fire had burned hers off), she requested butterfly wings on either side.

“It was like a metaphor for what she had been through,” Stein said. “Doing this kind of work is my major enjoyment in life.”

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