Breaking news: List of the victims from Meron and I had a good view of Adolf Eichmann at his trial by Zevi Ghivelder and In South Africa, Rabbi and Yeshiva students tied up in a robbery and Pfizer CEO on Independence Day: I take immense pride in Israel and Weizmann Institute Uncovers Secret of Hunger Switch in the Brain and Pictures of the new Biblical Museum in Bet Shemesh
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
Weizmann Institute Uncovers Secret of Hunger Switch in the Brain
Being constantly hungry, no matter how much you eat – that's the daily struggle of people with genetic defects in the brain's appetite controls, and it often ends in severe obesity. In a study published in Science on April 15, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, together with colleagues from the Queen Mary University of London and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have revealed the mechanism of action of the master switch for hunger in the brain: the melanocortin receptor 4, or MC4 receptor for short. They have also clarified how this switch is activated by setmelanotide (Imcivree), a drug recently approved for the treatment of severe obesity caused by certain genetic changes. These findings shed new light on the way hunger is regulated and may help develop improved anti-obesity medications.
The MC4 receptor is present in a brain region called the hypothalamus – within a cluster of neurons that compute the body's energy balance by processing a variety of energy-related metabolic signals. When the MC4 is activated, or "on" – as it normally is – it sends out commands that cause us to feel full, which means that from the brain's perspective, our default state is satiety. When our energy levels drop, the hypothalamic cluster produces a "time to eat" hormone that inactivates, or turns off the MC4 receptor, sending out a "become hungry" signal. After we eat, a second, "I'm full" hormone is released. It binds to the same active site on the MC4, replacing the hunger hormone and turning the receptor back on – bringing us back to the satiety default. Mutations that inactivate the MC4 cause people to feel constantly hungry.
MC4 is a prime target for anti-obesity drugs, such as setmelanotide, precisely because it's a master switch: turning it on can control hunger while bypassing all other energy-related signals. But until now it was unknown how exactly this hunger switch works.
The new study began with the predicament of one family, in which at least eight members, plagued by persistent hunger, were severely obese – most of them with a body mass index of over 70, that is, about triple the norm. Their medical history came to the attention of Hadar Israeli, a medical student pursuing Ph.D. studies into the mechanisms of obesity under the guidance of Dr. Danny Ben-Zvi at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Israeli was struck by the fact that the family's plight was due to a single mutation that ran in the family: one affecting the MC4 receptor. She turned to Dr. Moran Shalev-Benami of Weizmann's Chemical and Structural Biology Department, asking whether new advances in electron microscopy could help explain how this particular mutation could produce such a devastating effect.
Shalev-Benami decided to launch a study into the structure of MC4, inviting Israeli to join her lab as a visiting scientist. Together with Dr. Oksana Degtjarik, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab, Israeli isolated large quantities of pure MC4 receptor from cell membranes, let it bind with setmelanotide, and determined its 3D structure using cryogenic electron microscopy. The study was conducted in collaboration with the teams of Dr. Peter J. McCormick from the Queen Mary University of London and of Prof. Masha Y. Niv from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The 3D structure revealed that setmelanotide activates the MC4 receptor by entering its binding pocket – that is, by directly hitting the molecular switch that signals satiety, even more potently than the natural satiety hormone. It also turned out that the drug has a surprising helper: an ion of calcium that enters the pocket, enhancing the drug's binding to the receptor. In biochemical and computational experiments, the scientists found that similarly to the drug, calcium also assists the natural satiety hormone.
Dr. McCormick stated: "Calcium helped the satiety hormone activate the MC4 receptor while interfering with the hunger hormone and reducing its activity."
"This was a truly unexpected finding," said Shalev-Benami. "Apparently, the satiety signal can successfully compete with the hunger signal because it benefits from the assistance of calcium, which helps the brain restore the 'I'm full' sensation after we eat."
MC4's structure also revealed that the drug's entry causes structural changes in the receptor; these changes appear to initiate the signals within the neurons that lead to the sensation of fullness. The study has explained how mutations in the MC4 receptor can interfere with this signaling, leading to never-ending hunger and ultimately obesity.
Moreover, the scientists have identified hotspots that crucially distinguish MC4 from similar receptors in the same family. This should make it possible to design drugs that will bind only to MC4, avoiding side effects that may be caused by interactions with other receptors.
"Our findings can help develop improved and safer anti-obesity drugs that will target MC4R with greater precision," Shalev-Benami says.
Study participants included Dr. Fabrizio Fierro of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Vidicha Chunilal, Amandeep Kaur Gill, Nicolas J. Roth, Dr. Joaquin Botta and Dr. Li F. Chan of Queen Mary University of London; Dr. Vadivel Prabahar from Weizmann's Chemical and Structural Biology Department; and Dr. Yoav Peleg of Weizmann's Life Sciences Core Facilities Department.
Dr. Moran Shalev-Benami's research is supported by the Tauro Career Development Chair in Biomedical Research; the Ilse Katz Institute for Material Sciences and Magnetic Resonance Research; the Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program; the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Lab; and the Abisch Frenkel Foundation for the Promotion of Life Sciences.
Biblical Museum 032921
With Shalom Pollock, we go to Beit Shemesh to visit Rabbi Slifkin's new Biblical museum of National History in a building the size of Noah's Ark.
Rabbi Slifkin explains the process of the animals in his own way and as a showcase for his books.
Pfizer CEO on Independence Day: I take immense pride in Israel
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in video message on Israel's Independence Day: Together we are demonstrating that through mass vaccination we can defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla recorded a video on the occasion of Israel's Independence Day that was shown at the torch lighting ceremony held on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening.
"Along with Jews around the world, I take immense pride in Israel. Pride in the fact that Israel is there for just everyone, for us and for our children. Pride in Israel's achievements in science, technology, innovation and so much more," he said.
"This year the partnership between Pfizer and Israel produced yet another groundbreaking achievement. Together, we are demonstrating that through mass vaccination we can defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives," continued Bourla.
"I want to thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and all of Pfizer's Israeli counterparts. We have shown that there is a path back to normalcy, and that definitely is something the entire world can celebrate. Chag Atzmaut Sameach," concluded the Pfizer CEO.
South Africa: Rabbi, students tied up in yeshiva break-in
After the murder, armed robbers break into Johannesburg yeshiva, attack rabbi and two students, cutting up prayer shawl, using it to tie them up
Tags: South Africa Yeshiva
David Rosenberg ,
Burglars broke into a yeshiva in South Africa Thursday morning in a robbery that has shaken the local Jewish community.
The incident occurred at the Kehillas Shomer Emunim in Johannesburg Thursday morning, when two armed burglars broke into the synagogue's study hall, which is used by the local yeshiva.
According to a report by Behadrei Haredim Thursday afternoon, the two suspects approached the yeshiva dean and two students with their guns drawn, robbing them of their personal possessions, including cell phones, one of the student's car, cash, and other items. The robbers also stole computers owned by the study hall.
During the robbery, the suspects tied up the dean and the two students, by cutting up a tallit, or traditional Jewish prayer shawl. The three victims were left bound and gagged on the floor in the desecrated tallit while the robbers fled the scene.
While the facility is secured by private guards, the security teams assigned to the synagogue failed to prevent the break-in or the burglars' escape.
A non-Jewish cook employed by the facility later found the three victims tied up and notified police.
Two days earlier, a member of the local Jewish community was murdered in Johannesburg, not far from the synagogue where the break-in occurred.
I had a good view of Adolf Eichmann at his trial by Zevi Ghivelder
As the youngest reporter covering the trial exactly 60 years ago, I heard testimony that showed Jews were not lacking in heroes during the Holocaust
Sixty years ago I was assigned by a Brazilian weekly news magazine to cover the trial in Israel of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Even after so many decades, that moment, at exactly 9 a.m. on April 11, 1961, when he entered a bulletproof glass booth built inside the Jerusalem courtroom is etched clearly in my mind. It was a clear, cool spring day in the Holy City, and there was a thunderous silence as he stood still for a few seconds, his right hand trembling slightly. Eichmann seemed somehow absent, completely ignoring the hundreds of attendees crowding the hall.
My press credential indicated seat number 18, row H. It was a good seat on the left side of the hall entrance because the booth was in the same left location some 15 meters away from me. Eichmann held a pile of papers that he laid down on a small table in front of him. Close to the first row were the large tables occupied by the defense and the prosecution whose approaches differed significantly. The lead Israeli prosecutor, Gideon Hausner, 45, employed a theatrical and emotional style, while the German defense attorney, Robert Servatius, 65, was strictly technical.
Gideon Hausner, prosecutor at the trial of Adolf Eichmann. (courtesy)
I can still hear the court clerk calling out, "Beit Hamishpat!" ordering everybody to rise as the three judges walked to their bench. Moshe Landau, the presiding judge, ordered the attendees to sit down. Eichmann followed and started to adjust his earphones. He wore a dark, blue suit, white shirt and dark tie. The suit and shirt were visibly a bit oversized. He behaved normally and calmly during the whole trial, looking like an impeccably mannered clerk in some city hall department. He did display nervousness on few occasions. When witnesses described Nazi atrocities, his nose twitched. In one session, when the prosecutor exposed the working methods of the gas chambers, he pulled a handkerchief and wiped his mouth.
Hausner submitted to the court an indictment on 15 counts including crimes against the Jewish people and crimes against humanity. There were chills in the courtroom when he pointed to the booth and said he was not standing alone as prosecutor:
With me are six million accusers. But they cannot rise to their feet and point an accusing finger towards he who sits in the dock and cry: "I accuse." For their ashes are piled up on the hills of Auschwitz and the fields of Treblinka, and are strewn in the forests of Poland. Their graves are scattered throughout the length and breadth of Europe. Their blood cries out, but their voice is not heard. Therefore I will be their spokesman and, in their name, I will recite the terrible indictment.
The first Holocaust survivor to testify was the father of Herschel Grynszpan, the young Jewish man who, in 1938, killed a German diplomat inside the German embassy in Paris. The murder was used by Nazis as a pretext for the infamous Kristallnacht. Other accounts by witnesses summoned to the stand emerged as the most crucial moments of the trial. Particularly significant were the statements by Zivia Lubetkin and poet Abba Kovner, both survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto revolt. Their testimonies helped rescue Jewish pride by demonstrating to the world that some fought back and that the People of Israel was not lacking in heroes.
Zindel Grynszpan testifies at the trial of Adolf Eichmann. (Screenshot)
The cafeteria downstairs from the main hall was the trial's melting pot. As was typical in similar occasions, during the first two or three days the behavior among journalists was rather formal. But as the days went by, the cafeteria came to resemble a private men's club (at the time, there weren't as many women members of the press as there are nowadays).
English was the journalists' common language. I remember a Japanese correspondent who didn't speak English, French or German; heaven knows how he could follow the trial's procedures. There was a bit of disagreement regarding the jurisdictional validity of the trial but the tearful and heartbreaking testimonies of Holocaust survivors diminished all other possible disagreements and left everybody devastated. In such circumstances, one doesn't make friends, only acquaintances. But I developed a warm relationship with the American journalist Robert St. John. He was 59 years old and I was 27. (According to a note published in Maariv newspaper, I was the youngest of all the foreign correspondents). St. John would ask me about the main thrust of what I was writing and give me valuable advice. He was a deeply learned man and the author of an excellent biography of David Ben Gurion.
To this day, people ask me if I met Hannah Arendt while covering the trial. No, I didn't. At the time, I was not even familiar with her books. It's remarkable that her name became attached to Eichmann's, given her characterization of his murderous journey as "the banality of evil."
This label appears in her book "Eichmann in Jerusalem," published two years after the trial. The famous American publisher and intellectual Norman Podhoretz reviewed the book with this title: "Hannah Arendt on Eichmann: A Study in the Perversity of Brilliance."
Arendt makes the unfounded claim that the "Final Solution" planned by the upper Nazi echelons, including Eichmann, needed Jewish cooperation through administrative work. It is obvious that in such a sophisticated and meticulous genocide plan there was no room at all for banality.
ABOUT THE AUTHORZevi Ghivelder is a Brazilian journalist, writer and lecturer. He is the author of "Six Points of the Star" (novel) !Missions in Israel (by-lines) and "Attentive Sonnets" (poetry).
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List of the Mount Meron Deaths below. May their souls be blessed
Mount Meron tragedy: These are the victims of the stampede
President Reuven Rivlin lit 45 candles on Friday afternoon to commemorate the 45 victims reported at the time from Mount Meron.
By CELIA JEAN, SARAH BEN-NUN MAY 2, 2021 03:08Email Twitter Facebook fb-messenger
Some 45 people were killed on Thursday night after a stampede broke out as massive crowds gathered for the Mount Meron religious bonfire-lighting ceremony to mark the holiday of Lag Ba'omer.
Below is a list of the victims, published by haredi (ultra-Orthodox) news sites Bhadrei Haredim, Kikar Hashabat, The Yeshiva World, and Maariv, The Jerusalem Post's sister paper.
All 45 of the victims have been identified.
At least six of the deceased are US citizens, the Foreign Ministry said. Two are Canadian citizens.
US President Joe Biden said that the US embassy and State Department were providing all necessary support to their families.
Israel's Population Authority opened a direct line of contact for first-degree family members of those injured during the Mount Meron disaster to ease the bureaucratic process of visiting Israel if the family members live abroad.
The authority stated that as part of the initiative, the requests must be sent through the Border Control Administration at the e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is an alphabetical list of the 45 victims of the tragedy:
Ariel Ahdut, 21, student of the Yesodot HaTorah yeshiva in Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Yisrael Alnakvah, 24, from Beit Shemesh, was the father of two.
Avrohom Daniel Ambon, 21, was from Argentina and a student of Heichal Yitzchak Yeshiva.
Rabbi Moshe Bergman, 24, from the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Yonoson Chevroni was a student at Givat Shmuel and the father of three.
Yedidyia Chiyuis, 13, from Bnei Brak.
His father, Rabbi Avigdor Chiyuis called for unity. "Yedidyia," he said, "was righteous and holy, and if he wanted me to say anything, it would be this: 'We all have something in common, we are Jews. Let's unite. This is the time and the place.'"
Eliahu Cohen, 16, was a Breslov hassid from Betar Illit and a student of the Heichal Avraham Yeshiva.
Simcha Bunim Diskind, 23, was a well-known Gur hassid living in Beit Shemesh.
Chen Doron, 41, from Holon.
Moshe Mordechai Elchad-Sharf, 12, and his brother Yosef Dovid, 18, from Jerusalem.
Two sons of Rabbi Yitzchak Mendel Englard, a Bobov hassid from Jerusalem: Yehoshua Englander, 9, and Moshe Natan Englander, 14.
Tzadik Mordcha Yoel ben Avrum Yakovm Mordechai Fekete, 23.
Yedida Asher Fogel, 22, a student of the Hesder Yeshiva in Ramat Gan, was originally from Kiryat Moshe in Jerusalem and was living in Givat Shmuel.
Elazar Gefner, 52, was one of the most important hassidim of Dzikov Vizhnitz, from Jerusalem.
Rabbi Shragi Gestetner, a Skverer hassidic rabbi and musician, arrived in Israel from his hometown of Montreal to participate in the Lag Ba'omer celebrations. He was the father of six.
Since his family is not in Israel, the general public was asked to show up at 3 p.m. for his funeral. He was buried in the Har Hamenuhot Cemetery.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch called on the public to attend the funeral: "With a heavy and hurting heart Gestetner's death was publicized. We will not leave him alone in his last moments."
Rabbi Eliezar Mordechai Goldberg, 37, was a Szydlowiec hassid from Betar Illit, and a Talmud Torah teacher and the father of four.
Rabbi Yosef Greenbaum, 22, from Haifa.
Rabbi Eliezer Tzvi Joseph, 26, was a Satmar hassid from the US and the father of four.
Nachman Kirshbaum, 15, from Beit Shemesh.
Rabbi Shmuel Zvi Klagsbald, 34, from Beitar Illit, was a Torah scholar at Maor Einayim.
Menachem Knoblowitz, was also a US citizen from New York, who had been engaged only two weeks ago to the daughter of Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Rosemarin, also from New York.
Yossi Kohn, 21, from Cleveland, Ohio, was a student of Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Eliezer Yitzchok Koltai, 13, formerly from Passaic, New Jersey, lived in Jerusalem.
Rabbi David Krause, 33, father of nine, resident of Beit Shemesh.
Shlomo Zalman Leibowitz, 19, student at Knesset Yehezkel Yeshiva in Elad and lived in Safed. He was the grandson of the late Rabbi Ozer Drori, owner of Mira Ozer in Bnei Brak.
Yosef Yehuda Levi, 17, from Rekhasim.
Moshe Levy, 14, from Bnei Brak, was a Talmud Torah student.
Yosef Mastorov, 26, was a student of Yeshiva Rinah Shel Torah, from Carmiel.
Rabbi Shimon Matlon, 37, was a Talmud Torah teacher in Beitar.
Yishai Me'ulam, 17, from Rechasim. He had come together with his friend from Rechasim, Yosef Yehuda Levi, listed above.
Daniel (Donny) Morris, 19, from New Jersey. Morris was a student at Shaalvim and was described as a charming student who was hardworking and loved by his friends.
Chaim Rock was a yeshiva student from Beit Shemesh who was studying in the Mir Yeshiva in Modi'in Illit.
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Rubin, 27, from Beit Shemesh, was the father of three.
Rabbi Chaim Ozer Seller, 24, was the father of one and a resident of the Neve Ya'akov neighborhood of Jerusalem. He was a graduate of the Ponevezh Yeshiva.
Moshe Ben Shalom, 21, was a student at the Ponovitz Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.
Elkana Shila, 29, of Jerusalem.
Rabbi Chanoch Solod, 52, was also a Gur hassid, from Ashdod, where his funeral took place before Shabbat.
Dov Steinmetz, from Montreal, Canada, was a student of Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Yaakov Elchanan Strakovsky, 20, was a student of Be'er Yisrael Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.
Yosef Amram Tauber was a resident of Monsey, New York, who came to the Brisk Yeshiva in Jerusalem to study.
Rabbi Ariel Tzadik, 56, from Jerusalem.
Rabbi Moshe Tzarfati, 65, student of the Gaon Rabbi Shalom Arush.
Rabbi Menachem Asher Zeckbach, 24, was a yeshiva student living in Modi'in Illit. His funeral took place Friday and began at his parents' home in Bnei Brak. Zeckbach left behind his pregnant wife.
In Jerusalem, some of the victims were to be buried in the Mount of Olives cemetery and the rest in the Har Hamenuhot cemetery, the Jerusalem Municipality announced. Others were buried in different places around the country.
The bodies of the deceased were moved from Mount Meron to the L. Greenberg Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir on Friday for identification by families who had not yet managed to find their relatives.
The government declared a national day of mourning on Sunday, May 2. Flags will flown at half mast.
President Reuven Rivlin launched a campaign at the President's Residence on Friday to help families find their loved ones.
"This is the time to hug the families and to help them find their loved ones – to cry together," he said. "This is a hard and painful day. This tragedy is heartbreaking."
The President's Residence campaign will continue into Shabbat: +972-2-6707211
Some 150 were also injured in the tragedy. The Health Ministry released a report on Friday afternoon of the hospitalized patients.