‘Jewels of Elul’ offers candidates’ wisdom

What is the dream of the future president of the United States?

For the answer, check out your e-mail or a pocket-sized, 36-page booklet called “Jewels of Elul IV,” which is subtitled “29 Dreamers and Their Dreams.”

Others include Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Muslim artist Salman Ahmad, Mars Phoenix project leader Barry Goldstein and philanthropist Lynn Schusterman.

Craig Taubman, spiritual folk rocker, composer and producer, who has written and played the songs of his people for 30 years, conceived the project four years ago.

It started when Taubman was commissioned to write a song for Elul, the 29-day-long month of the Hebrew calendar, during which Jews are to meditate and look within themselves in preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Among the first to respond to Taubman’s requests for submissions this year were Obama and McCain.

The month of Elul runs this year from Sept. 1-29 and Craig ‘n Co., the publisher of “Jewels,” would release only excerpts from the various responses.

Obama’s reads, “We must reclaim that basic American Dream for all Americans—the idea that if you work hard, you can support a family; that if you get sick, there will be health care you can afford; that you can retire with the dignity and security you have earned; and that every American can get a world-class education.”

The McCain excerpt reads, “As we look to the future, it is helpful to remind ourselves that there is no problem or challenge we cannot overcome together.”

In a lighter vein is the Dershowitz excerpt, “I almost never dream. On that rare occasion when I do, it’s the typical dream that Freud would be proud of. I fly through the air.”

An unexpectedly somber thought came from Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks: “Dreams aren’t all fluff and pastels. Dreams can hurt. Dreams can make incredible demands on us. And, unlike in animated movies, dreams don’t always come true.”

Taubman, 50, sent out requests to five to 10 potential contributors at a time and then waited to see how many responded and impressed the judges before sending out the next batch.

The only limitation is that the submission be 250 words or less, and Taubman tries to roughly balance the final picks by gender and age.

Costs of the project are underwritten by different foundations. Last year’s edition featured the theme of “Inspirations of Hope and Healing.” It was sponsored by the American Committee for Shaare Zedek and included such contributors as Elie Wiesel, the Dalai Lama, Kirk Douglas, Deepak Chopra and Rabbi Harold Kushner.

The upcoming edition is sponsored by the Stefan Adelipour for Life Foundation, in memory of Adelipour, a 22-year old Boston University senior who lost his life in a fire.

Keeping up with the Internet times, Taubman will send out one message a day by request via e-mail, starting Sept. 1 and continuing for the next 28 days, without charge.

Taubman said he gets no payment for the considerable time he puts in on the project, though it doesn’t hurt him in spreading his name and drawing attention to his numerous record albums and countrywide concerts.

“I love doing this,” he said. “It’s my favorite mitzvah.”

Israel & e-Urban Legends

Is Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. doctoring maps of Israel in its promotional material in order to woo Arab customers?

That’s what the latest *urgent* message being passed around on the Internet alleges.

But like many Web campaigns, this hysterical report is false — and Jewish organizations are coming to the aid of Fuji and Sony, another company erroneously accused of the same crime.

This is not the first false information being disseminated on the Web, especially when it comes to Israel and the Jews. Previous e-mail "urban legends" have claimed that Wal-Mart stores were selling globes with Israel labeled "Palestine" and that the Sprint long-distance service was billing Israel calls as "Palestine."

The Wal-Mart claim was wrong, while Sprint said international standards obligated it to designate calls to the 970 country code as being to the Palestinian Authority, which it had inadvertently abbreviated to "Palestine."

This latest anonymous e-mail reads: "Fuji Co. removed Israel from its complimentary world map which is distributed to their customers with a purchase…. Yes, in Fuji stores abroad you receive the world map without Israel!!!"

Later in the e-mail it tells people "Subaru is Fuji." In fact, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. is the parent company of Subaru of America, Inc. Though it shares the same common Japanese name, the company is unrelated to the film manufacturer.

Fujifilm has received more than 500 e-mail complaints on the issue in the last few days. Its representatives say a third-party wholesaler in the Ivory Coast produced and distributed — without permission — a calendar bearing the Fuji logo that excluded Israel.

"Apparently this third-party wholesaler created a calendar with a map, and put our logo on the map," Fuji spokesman Tom Shay said. "They did not have permission to use our logo."

Officials at several Jewish organizations have been besieged with complaints from people upset over the Fujifilm rumors.

The Anti-Defamation League listed Fuji’s response on its Web site. Because of the call volume, even the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, which normally deals with media issues, was forced to circulate an e-mail with the Fuji and Subaru responses to the incident.

Shay said Fujifilm has not decided whether it should be more proactive in fighting the rumor.

"We are really watching it very closely," he said. "We certainly don’t want to add to the issue if it is going to resolve itself over the next few days." — Matthew E. Berger, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Global Confusion

In what may be another case of an e-mail rumor run amok, the Anti-Defamation League is laying to rest allegations that Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club are selling globes nationwide that denote “Palestine” but not Israel.

E-mails spreading the rumor are circulating throughout the Jewish community, prompting numerous calls to ADL offices across the country, said ADL spokeswoman Myrna Shinbaum.

In fact, the Chinese-made “Semi-Precious Stone Mosaic Globe” — a decorative gift that sells in some stores for $249.99 — does indeed identify the state of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital.

But in a curious twist of the half-century threat against Israel, it is something called “Palestine” — and not the Jews living in Israel — that seems to have been pushed into the sea. Above “Israel” and below “Lebanon” to the north, the word “Palestine” inexplicably appears on the globe, “kind of floating in the Mediterranean, without dots or demarcation,” Shinbaum said.

“Should it say Palestine? Clearly there is not an entity today that is called Palestine. There is a Palestinian Authority. But more importantly, Israel and its capital are so indicated.”

That brought relief to Tom Williams, spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores, of which Sam’s Club is a division.
“We’re gratified to see that Israel is correctly on there,” Williams said in a telephone interview from Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

The glitzy globes are landing stateside through different importers. Only some of them say “Palestine,” Williams said, though none replace Israel with Palestine.

As for why the word Palestine is even on there, Williams said, “We don’t know. We’re looking into it, seeing what’s what. It’s a decorative piece more than a globe you would actually use.”
He said several calls from the media notified him of the situation and was unaware of if or how many customers complained.

The fact that so many in the Jewish community were worked up over it illuminates one pitfall of the Internet, Shinbaum said.

“Now you can instantaneously put out information, misinformation, rumor and innuendo, and it kind of becomes fact, because it’s out there,” she said. “And the person who initiates this usually calls for some kind of action.”

In August, CNN came under fire and eventually returned Jerusalem to its place beneath the “Israel” heading on its Web site’s weather map.

However, protests against McDonald’s earlier this month petered out when it was discovered that Israel’s outlets were excluded from the chain’s Web site due to a decision made by the Israeli franchise owners, not McDonald’s.

While the ADL relies on eagle-eyed activists to notify the organization of genuine slights, inaccuracies or injustices, Shinbaum said, “People who get e-mails should be careful before they act on the e-mail, to make sure that what they’re being asked to do is the right thing to do.” — Michael J. Jordan, Jewish Telegraphic Agency