U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Retailer, Supports Woman Wearing Hijab

stranger 209 nada, photo by peter grifoni

stranger 209 nada, photo by peter grifoni

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ruled in favor of Samantha Elauf in a suit against an Abercombie & Fitch store in Oklahoma over the discrimination she experienced in 2008. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought the suit on behalf of Elauf who had sought employment with the popular retail chain as a sales person. According to reports she interviewed well, but wasn’t hired because managers viewed her head scarf “hijab” as contrary to the company’s image.

In its defense, the company said it had a standard “look policy” for its sales staff that did not include wearing a head scarf. It also said Elauf had never informed it of her religion nor of her need for accommodation based on her faith. This specious argument was as dubious as those practiced by employers pre-Civil Rights America during which African-American candidates were denied jobs by stating that they “didn’t fit in” or that “the customers may feel unsafe.”

In fact, Scalia described the case of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs. Abercrombie as “easy” because the store managers knew or “at least suspected” Elauf wore the head scarf for religious reasons. Her hijab was as obvious as the color of an African-American’s skin. In an age with ubiquitous and easy access to information through the internet, one would have to live under a rock to claim no knowledge of the religious significance of this type of head covering for Muslim women.

Justice Scalia stated that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 puts the legal burden on employers not to discriminate. It gives “favored treatment” to religion, and “religious practice is one of the protected characteristics … that must be accommodated.” The majority ruled that it did not matter whether Elauf informed the company of her need for religious accommodation as long as the desire to avoid making such an accommodation was part of the company’s action. (Source: L.A. Times)

This favorable ruling is a win for not only observant Muslim women, but also Orthodox Jewish women who are also required to cover their heads while in public. This ruling is also significant in that it can provision additional freedoms for observant religious people like Muslims and Jews who abstain from work on holy days of the year, many of which conflict with employer work schedules.

“This case dramatically changes the standards that apply to employers because it removes the requirement that an employee or applicant request a religious accommodation, if the employer’s motive is later deemed a violation of Title VII” of the Civil Rights Act, said Michael Droke, a Seattle lawyer.

This ruling sets the U.S. apart from the European Union. Many countries in the E.U. have enacted increasingly discriminatory laws aimed at Muslims, and because of increased secularism it has also given rise to new levels of anti-Semitism. Notably, France, which has sought to keep religion out of public spaces and schools, in 2010 law banned the wearing of full-faced veils in public, and last year a French appeals court upheld the dismissal of a Muslim day-care employee for refusing to remove her head scarf at work.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ruled that employers may not “refuse to hire” or otherwise discriminate against someone because of their “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” And the law says religion “includes all aspects of religious observance or practice as well as belief.”

A federal judge ruled Elauf was a victim of illegal discrimination, and a jury awarded her $20,000 in compensation.

Editor-in-Chief: @AyannaNahmias
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Israel Admits to Sterilizing Ethiopian Jews

Some people who read this post may believe that it is impossible for this to happen in 2010; however, I can attest to the veracity of one aspect of this story. Recently my mother attended a school sponsored event in Potomac, Maryland. Upon her arrival the hostess glanced at her and imperiously informed her that the kitchen was in the back. My mother with aplomb, informed the lady that she was attending the event on behalf of her grandson who was a student attending the school. Upon hearing this, the woman grudgingly accepted my mother's proffered hand before stepping aside to let her pass. As my mother entered, the woman wiped her hand on her dress.

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Man Eaten by Pigs in Midst of Pork Shortage

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 15:11 PM EDT, 2 October 2012

Mackey Photography, Hog, Photo by Tanya JoCOQUILLE, Oregon – Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, Jews, and Muslims do not eat pork because it is forbidden by religious statute.

So, the recent discussions and angst expressed by some in the American media about the pork shortage, has left many people of the aforementioned faiths nonplussed.

For some, the thought of eating pork evokes a visceral aversion based upon the evidence that pigs and hogs will eat anything, including their own feces.

Some may ask, what is the difference between a pig, a hog, and a swine?

Not much, since both are swine, but pigs weigh less than 120 lbs (50 kg), while hogs weigh in excess of this amount, and are generally older and possess ferocious appetites. Neither are as aggressive as wild hogs, also known as boars, but given the right circumstances they can and have bitten humans.

Thus, the sad tale of Terry Vance Garner, 69, begins and ends with pigs. First, our condolences go out to the family of this hardworking farmer who seemed to earn a living doing honest if unpleasant work so that other people could enjoy non-agro farmed pork.

This post is less about the death of the farmer than it is about the wisdom of consuming an animal with such an indiscriminate palate.

Apparently, last Wednesday, 26 September 2012, Mr. Garner went out to feed his hogs but never returned according to his family. Because of his age, some believed that he may have suffered a medical emergency and was unable to get back to the house.

When family members went out to look for him in and around the area he was last headed, after several hours of searching, they discovered to their horror, Garner's dentures and pieces of his body in the hog enclosure. The remaining parts of his body were not located which led to the conclusion that it had been completely eaten by the hogs.

On Monday, Paul Frasier, District Attorney of Coos County, in which the town of Coquille is situated, released a preliminary statement indicating that Mr. Garner had been eaten by his hogs, some of them weighing in excess of 700 lbs (318 kg). Although, it appears to be an accidental death, an investigation has been launched to rule out foul play because the manner of Garner's death was so unusual.

However, authorities are also pursuing a line of inquiry that suggests that he suffered a debilitating health emergency and died in the enclosure, at which point the hogs consumed him.

Food for thought……

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Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Muslims & Jews Unite Against German Circumcision Ban

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:58 PM EDT, 13 July 2012

Circumcision Day For Muslim Boy, Istanbul, Turkey, Photo by Patrino IoCOLOGNE, Germany - On 29 June 2012 a doctor in Cologne circumcised a 4-year old Muslim boy at the behest of his parents. His family is part of a community of 120,000 Muslims who inhabit the region and practice Khitan, the Islamic rite of circumcision.

A few days later the boy was taken to the hospital because he was still bleeding which resulted in the doctor who performed the procedure being charged with causing the boy grievous bodily harm.

Male circumcision is a 3,800-year old practice that is the bedrock of Judaism and Islam, and within these two faiths it is a physical demonstration of an individual's covenant with God.

Jewish boys must be circumcised on the eighth day following their births, and many Muslims boys must also be circumcised though the age at which the procedure occurs varies according to family, country and branch of Islam.

The Cologne Regional Court’s ruling prohibiting non-medical circumcision has subsequently raised a furor among German Jews, Muslims, and some Christians. Leaders of all three faiths are outraged by the government’s interference in religious practices, and it is seen by many as the first step in the erosion of the separation between church and state.

Many believe that these challenges to religious and cultural practices are being instigated by anti-immigrant sympathizers. In April 2011 France banned the Muslim practice of full-face covering headscarves, and on 6 July 2012 the French MP urged the government to ban Muslim headscarves for female soccer players despite the fact that the International Football Association Board (IFAB) ruled that hijabs could be worn.

While many may disagree with the practice, if circumcision is outlawed, it will not eradicate the practice and most likely will increase the number of injuries suffered by young boys because the procedures would then be performed in secret by unskilled practitioners in unsanitary conditions.

The Cologne court’s ruling is reminiscent of the criminalization of abortion in the United States. Prior to 1973 many women died because it was illegal in most states for them to receive an abortion in clean and sterile environments by trained medical personnel. This didn’t change until 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion is legal because it falls under the right to privacy.

According to Reuters, a spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that “Everyone in the government is absolutely clear that we want to have Jewish and Muslim religious life in Germany. If circumcision is carried out in a responsible manner it must be allowed in this country without punishment."

In an era where there is increasing hostility between Muslims and Jews, this ruling has resulted in European rabbis and Muslim clerics banding together to vociferously denounce this decision. Europe is increasingly secular and these continued assaults on religious freedoms have become the catalysts for unlikely alliances as former adversaries adopt the stance of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7btIrMVWPk]

Ethiopian Christmas 2012 | Melkam Gena!

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 01:22 AM EDT, 6 January 2012

ETHIOPIA - At the end of 2011, Jews, Muslims and Christians celebrated major holidays commemorating the end of their religious calendars. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians in the Diaspora celebrate Christmas on the traditional 25th of December. However, all Ethiopians celebrate the holiday on the 7thof January which is the 29th of December on the Ethiopian calendar.

Also known as Liddet, Gena and Qiddus Bale Wold, the holiday actually begins at sundown of the 6th of January with a night long church service. Like Muslims and Jews, the traditional Ethiopian Orthodox Liturgical day always begins at sunrise and ends at sunset of the evening before the calendar date. Lidet is significant from a religious perspective, but does not have the commercial overtones that the festival has in Western countries.

Christmas also signals the end of 40 days of fasting which began on Advent (Sibket, in Amharic) and ends on Christmas Eve with the Feast of Gena. Like Muslims who fast for one month without eating or drinking from sunrise to sundown, Ethiopians also fast, but are allowed to consume vegetarian meals such as lentils, ground split peas, grains, fruit, varieties of vegetable stew accompanied by injera and/or bread. Meat and diary products are only eaten on feasting days i.e. Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and at all other times. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, Jews and Muslims do not eat pork as it forbidden by their religious beliefs.

The morning of Christmas begins with a spectacular procession. After the mass service, people go home to break the fast by eating chicken, lamb or beef accompanied by Injera and served in beautifully decorated baskets. It is a very festive occasion filled with joy, family, great food and song.  Watch the video below and enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu83TJAjfoI]

Rosh Hashana 5772 | L'Shana Tova

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This year Rosh Hashana commenced on the evening of 28 September 2011 which is actually the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar in the year 5772. Rosh Hashana (Hebrew: ראש השנה‎, literally means "head of the year," and is commonly referred to as the "Jewish New Year.

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holidays or Yamim Noraim ("Days of Awe"), or Asseret Yemei Teshuva (Ten Days of Repentance) which are days specifically set aside to focus on repentance that conclude with the holiday of Yom Kippur.Source: Wikipedia

As Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe begin, Jews around the world will celebrate a joyous New Year before entering a penitential state of fasting and reflection. שנה טובה ומבורכת , שנת בטחון וללא פיגועים !!! to all my Jewish friends, family and readers.

Ethiopian Aliyah Remembered | Return to Israel

Ethiopian Aliyah Remembered | Return to Israel

"The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs; Protestants and Catholics; Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists.” ~ Bill Clinton

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