The Hills of Shomron
Gleanings on Global News at the Time of the End
Scandals and Power Battles as the Jews Vote on a New Zionist Governement of Israel
The Fall Jewish Festivals of Year 5766
Jewish Nobel Prize Winners
Jewish Scientific Advancement
The Golden Internationale’s Bid to Control Israel
The Red Internationale and Islamist’s Bid to Control the Middle East
International Provacators in the Land of Israel
The Palestinian’s Bid to Control Israel
The Days of the Beginning of Geula (Redemption)
Before the coming of the Maschiach of Yisra’el (Messiah of Israel)
August 15 to December 15, 2005
Rosh Hashannah – October 4, 2004
The fall of 2005 will be a year that will go down in Jewish prophetic history. According to the Chassidic rabbinic sages, the “Geula” or the days of redemption started on the day that the Jewish people were forcibly expulsed from Gush Katif in Gaza. As Rabbi Arie Shechter, a specialist in the computer analysis of the Torah hidden codes recently stated, the signs of Geula b’ito, the coming of the redemption by God in their own time during days of disasters and catastrophes, began on Rosh Hashannah 5766. The Gaza Disengagement according to the rabbis triggered the opening days of coming redemption, called Geula, of the Maschiach of Yisra’el. Israel has now entered into a new era of redemption. Once the beginning of Geula has been set in motion, the Day of the Lord and the coming of the Messiah will come between one and seven years, maximum.
According to the students of the Jewish prophet Achiya HaShiloni and his most famous disciple, Baal Shem Tov, the expulsion from the “outer villages of Israel” was predicted for over a century ago. Set this in motion with the recent public announcement in September, 2005 by the esteemed centurion Sephardi Elder Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri, a warning was given to the Jews “to return to the Land of Israel due to terrible natural disasters which threaten the world.”
Lest our memories fade on that day, let us remember when the mothers and fathers, children, students in the yeshivas and synagogues were forcibly evicted from their homes and four months later 80% of them were living like refugees in Israel. These four global news series are dedicated to preserve an archive of that moment in time when the first Jewish government drove their people off the land in which the God of Israel gave to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. May Hashem, the God of Israel remember!
2 Chronicles 20:7 - Did You not, O Hashem,
Drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel,
And gave it to the seed of Abraham Your friend for ever?
Sanhedrin Project Unveiled With Humility – November 4, 2005
A conference this week unveiled the Sanhedrin project to the
public, shifting away from euphoric satisfaction with the launch of the Court
one year ago and moving toward broadening participation. Since it was launched in Tiberias last year, the Court
of 71 rabbis has strived to fulfill the halachic (Jewish legal) requirements
for renewing authentic semicha (rabbinic ordination passed down from Moses) and
for reestablishing the Great Court, which was disbanded 1,600 years ago. At
Sunday’s conference, distinguished members of the Court, led by Rabbi Adin
Even-Israel (Steinsaltz), presented a humble, yet exhilarating plan to widen
the scope and acceptance of the Court to truly move toward becoming the
restored Sanhedrin of old.
Along with the increasingly modest references to the current institution of a Court or Sanhedrin project came new high-caliber participants in the project. Rabbi Even-Israel publicly accepted the position of Nassi, President of the Sanhedrin, and Rabbi Re’em HaCohen – head of the Otniel Hesder Yeshiva – delivered the first address of the morning. Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi and Dayan (Rabbinical Court Judge) Dov Lior spoke both at the conference and later at the festive meal.
Also participating in the conference were Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, who heads the Tzomet Institute, and Rabbi Ratzon Arussi, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Ono and a member of the Chief Rabbinate. Both spoke about the relationship of Torah Law with the law of the State of Israel, with Rozen focusing on the grassroots desire for honest and sincere leadership in Israeli society following the crisis of the Disengagement, and Arussi outlining the critical importance of the formation of a unified court of Torah monetary law.
The crowd attending the conference, which took place in a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood, overflowed onto the street and consisted of many stripes of religious Jews, with a sprinkling of secular Jerusalemites interested in the return to biblical concepts. “While it would be easy to write off secular Jewry as not interested in the preservation of Jewish tradition and therefore not meriting consideration by the Sanhedrin,” said Rabbi Re’em HaCohen in his opening address, “the authority and divine inspiration of the ultimate Sanhedrin comes from the Divine Presence, which our rabbis tell us rested upon the Jewish people at Sinai because not one single Jew was left out or excluded. The Sanhedrin project is a vehicle toward unity, and unity is what will be the vehicle that will restore the Divine Glory to the Sanhedrin.”
Rabbi HaCohen also expressed the opinion that the project should refer to itself as a Court more often than a Sanhedrin, in order to allow the recognized Gedolim, Torah Greats, to join the effort. The prevailing opinion of most of the senior members of the Sanhedrin is that the Sanhedrin has not yet achieved full halachic (Jewish legal) status on par with its status before it was disbanded 1,600 years ago, but that its restoration is truly underway.
In his speech accepting the position of Nassi, Rabbi Even-Israel said that the task of building the Sanhedrin will take some time – but that the ark that Noah built took 120 years to build. He expressed his opinion that the project should steer clear of political pronouncements – a point that was challenged by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel of the Temple Institute, who said that publicly opposing the expulsion and supporting those Jews expelled from Gaza and northern Samaria could not be referred to as political. The diverging viewpoints gave those in attendance a glimpse of the manner in which Sanhedrin members disagree with one another, recognizing their responsibility to enable the body to provide a wide spectrum of religious Jewish thought.
The Jewish Sanhedrin
Members of the Court delivered reports outlining
how the nascent Sanhedrin is already working toward fulfilling some of the
primary functions that the ultimate Sanhedrin must fulfill – the role of
societal leadership. In ancient times there was the Nassi, the legal head, and
there was the Av Beit HaDin, Father of the Court, who served more on a societal
level. The Sanhedrin was the ultimate authority of Jewish law one the one hand,
and a body of leadership for Jewish society on the other hand. Among the projects currently being worked on are the Beit
Din Bein HaAm v’HaMedina, the Court Dealing With the Relationship Between the
Nation and the State. This Court, which is subordinate to the Sanhedrin,
recently grabbed headlines in the daily Maariv newspaper. The paper reported on
an arrested disengagement protestor, who was allowed by an Israeli secular
court to obtain a ruling from the Sanhedrin regarding whether or not to agree
to restricted conditions in exchange for release from prison.
Ettie Medad, wife of the director of the Honenu legal assistance organization, accepted the Sanhedrin Court’s ruling to refrain from agreeing to the restrictions, even though it meant indefinite continued incarceration with her small child. She was released three days later after informing the secular court of the ruling. Currently in the courts is the case of a teenage girl who was arrested in the former northern Samaria town of Sa-Nur and is refusing to be tried by secular courts, asking to be tried by the Sanhedrin’s Court instead.
The Beit Din Bein HaAm v’HaMedina is also engaged in high level discussions with the Ministry of Education in an attempt to improve the way in which Bible is taught in Israel’s public school system.
Other topics addressed at the conference included the following:
One of those who took the day off from work to attend the conference was Efrat resident Jeremy Gimpel. “I had read everything written about the renewed Sanhedrin with such excitement, I had to see for myself,” Gimpel said. “What struck me is that ever since Mt. Sinai, there were always 70 elders leading the Jewish people and I believe that G-d, in His infinite wisdom, knew the Jews would be dispersed among the 70 nations. To see all these rabbis and leaders gathered back in the land of Israel, bringing with them different traditions, cultures and approaches to Torah is a humbling experience and an answer to our daily prayer of Hashiva shofteinu k’varishona, Return our judges as of old.”
Update on the Sanhedrin – November 7, 2005
Lekarev - A conference this week unveiled the Sanhedrin project to the public, shifting away from euphoric satisfaction with the launch of the Court one year ago and moving toward broadening participation. Since it was launched in Tiberias last year, the Court of 71 rabbis has strived to fulfill the halakhic (Jewish legal) requirements for renewing authentic semicha (rabbinic ordination) and for re-establishing the Great Court, which was disbanded 1,600 years ago. At Sunday’s conference, distinguished members of the Court, led by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz), presented a humble, yet exhilarating plan to widen the scope and acceptance of the Court to truly move toward becoming the restored Sanhedrin of old.
Along with the increasingly modest references to the current institution of a Court or Sanhedrin project came new high-caliber participants in the project. Rabbi Even-Israel (Steinsaltz) publicly accepted the position of Nassi, President of the Sanhedrin, and Rabbi Re’em HaCohen – head of the Otniel Hesder Yeshiva - delivered the first address of the morning. Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi and Dayan (Rabbinical Court Judge) Dov Lior spoke both at the conference and later at the festive meal.
The crowd attending the conference, which took place in a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood, overflowed onto the street and consisted of many varieties of religious Jews, with a sprinkling of secular Jerusalemites interested in the return to biblical concepts.
One of those who took the day off from work to attend the conference was Efrat resident Jeremy Gimpel. “I had read everything written about the renewed Sanhedrin with such excitement, I had to see for myself,” Gimpel said. “What struck me is that ever since Mt. Sinai, there were always 70 elders leading the Jewish people and I believe that G-d, in His infinite wisdom, knew the Jews would be dispersed among the 70 nations. To see all these rabbis and leaders gathered back in the land of Israel, bringing with them different traditions, cultures and approaches to Torah is a humbling experience and an answer to our daily prayer of Hashiva shofteinu k'varishona, Return our judges as of old.” The re-establishment of the Sanhedrin will take some time but we are watching this development with great excitement and interest for it is directly related to the restoration of the Kingdom of Hashem in the Land of Israel.
Now that there's a Sanhedrin, who needs the Supreme Court? – November 10, 2005
When the "new Sanhedrin"
was established in Tiberias a year ago, hardly anyone took it seriously. The 71
rabbis who came to the northern city 1,660 years after the original Sanhedrin
(the assembly of 71 ordained scholars that was both supreme court and
legislature in Talmudic times) held its last meeting there, were welcomed by
many in the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox sectors with smiles tinged with
The declaration of the Sanhedrin's reestablishment was perceived as both a curiosity on the margins of the right and as a rebellion against halakhic conventions; as a perhaps daring step, but one that was also a warning; far-reaching, but to a large extent provocative. The fact that the leading Torah scholars of this generation, or those who are identified as such, took no part in this pretentious venture posed many questions about the new Sanhedrin's source of power and authority. The founding rabbis, most of them fairly anonymous, did agree in writing to vacate their places in favor of rabbis who are greater Torah scholars, as soon as some are found willing to serve. Nevertheless, the initial impression was that this was another effort by the Jewish Leadership movement within the Likud, an effort that had a Torah-oriented, halakhic-messianic slant and was striving for a revolution in the government.
The man who headed the new venture was Hillel Weiss, a professor of literature and one of the leaders of Jewish Leadership, who nearly twenty years ago reinstated another ancient practice: the traditional hakhel gathering, which took place once every seven years at the end of the Sukkot festival, the year after an agricultural Sabbatical (shmitta) year, and was attended by the king of Israel. The first hakhel gathering organized by Weiss at the Western Wall plaza in 1987 was attended by then-president Chaim Herzog, prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar, chief rabbis Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliahu and many other dignitaries. It has been repeated twice since, once every seven years.
A year after its establishment, it is impossible to see the new Sanhedrin as the domain of the extreme right wing alone: at a large gathering in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood Tuesday, Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz, a well-known Talmud scholar who is much esteemed in Torah circles, both in the ultra-Orthodox world and in the national-religious sector, came forward as the president of the Sanhedrin. Steinsaltz avoided delving into politics and spoke about gradually building up the ancient institution, which would take several generations, he said. The very fact that he is leading the new Sanhedrin can be considered a dramatic event, given the numerous efforts in the last few years to strengthen the Jewish character of the state, integrate into it elements of Hebrew law and to combat the idea of a state for all its citizens. The fact that the new Sanhedrin also includes many rabbis affiliated with the ultra-Orthodox stream, added to the fact that they are not among the best known and leading rabbis in that sector, endows the effort with another unusual dimension that distances it from being another "extreme right-wing" venture.
In its first year, the new Sanhedrin initiated a dialogue with the Ministry of Education over the Bible and Scriptures curriculum; set up a "High Council for the Sons of Noah," whose task it is to establish contact with non-Jewish communities seeking to observe the Noahide laws - the seven commandments given to the sons of Noah, or all mankind, which non-Jews are obligated to uphold according to halakha. The Sanhedrin also discussed at length the physical location of the altar and Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount and dealt with the question of whether in our generation, Jews abroad must continue to observe the second festival day of the Diaspora, an additional day that is added to each of the three pilgrimage festivals - Sukkot, Passover and Shevuot.
The new Sanhedrin sharply attacked the disengagement plan and recently ruled that three minors who asked it for a ruling had acted properly when they refused to be tried in a court not based on Torah law. "We hereby instruct you to continue your refusal, and the One who releases prisoners will release you from your confinement," the rabbis wrote them. In another ruling, the Sanhedrin's "Court for Matters of Nationhood and State" permitted a family from the evacuated community of Sa-Nur to accept compensation from the state for their evacuation, "even though this was an unjust law forced on the expellees."
According to halakha, in order to revive the Sanhedrin, "ordination" is required, i.e., the ordination of members by others who are greater and wiser Torah scholars, to serve on the Supreme Court as necessary. The first ordination, you may recall, was that of Joshua Bin Nun, whom Moses ordained. Other famous ordinations over the course of the generations included the "five elders": Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Shimon, Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Eliezer Ben Shamu'a, who were ordained by Yehuda Ben Baba, between the towns of Usha and Shfaram. Ordination ended in Israel when the yeshivas closed and the Sanhedrin stopped functioning. The last people ordained no longer placed their hands on their students' heads, because of the restrictions imposed by the Roman government.
Maimonides wrote that if all scholars in Israel agree to appoint scholars and ordain them, than these are ordained people and they may discuss matters of fines and punishment and may ordain others. However, even Maimonides did not see this as a fait accompli; he added that the matter needed to be "decided on." In the 16th century, nearly all the Torah scholars in the land of Israel accepted the initiative of Rabbi Jacob Birav to resume ordination and reestablish the Sanhedrin. Rabbi Levy Ben Haviv, the rabbi of Jerusalem who was not informed of the plans, sabotaged the effort, and in the end Birav was forced to flee the country. Upon the reestablishment of the state, the first minister of religion, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Hacohen Maimon, attempted to renew the Sanhedrin, but the opposition of the ultra-Orthodox sabotaged the effort.
It is therefore surprising that the first ordained person in modern times, who ostensibly authorized the convening of the new Sanhedrin, was an ultra-Orthodox figure - Rabbi Dov Levanoni of Jerusalem. The members of the new Sanhedrin present a video in which Rabbi Levanoni relates how he received the first ordination to take place since the time of Rabbi Yaakov Birav, from one of the leaders of the Eidah Haredit's Beit Din Zedek religious court, Rabbi Moshe Halberstam. Levanoni ordained two other rabbis, and they ordained four more. Since each person can only ordain two people, it took almost a year to ordain the 120 men needed for the new Sanhedrin. Most of them were present at Tuesday's gathering in Hai Taib Street synagogue in Har Nof, to mark a year since the renewal of the ancient institution.
The new Sanhedrin is recognized by a very small public, and this is its Achilles heel. Rabbi Re'em Hacohen, the head of the hesder yeshiva in Otniel, who delivered the opening address at the meeting - he is not a member of the new Sanhedrin - sketched clear halakhic parameters that indicate the problems involved. According to him, it is not possible to resume the ordination without the consent of the entire Jewish people. "The Sanhedrin is the foundation for the presence of the Divine spirit ... and until this body has representatives from the entire nation - and at the moment it does not have representatives of the entire nation, not even representatives of the religious, Torah observant segment of the nation, then it is problematic," Hacohen said. Like other speakers at the conference, he too feels that "today there is a total division between the executive and judicial branches, and the nation and the rabbinical court system is also not free of this plague." Nevertheless, he says, "The Sanhedrin cannot replace them until it draws its power from the entire nation."
The establishment of the new Sanhedrin reflects profound unhappiness with the way the Israeli legal system is run, there were harsh remarks to that effect at the conference. Rabbi Israel Rosen, the head of the Tsomet Institute of Halakha and Technology, which provides solutions to halakhic problems using technology, attacked the sections on religion and state, minorities and the status of the Supreme Court in the draft constitution proposed by the Israel Democracy Institute, for whom the "Supreme Court has become their Sanhedrin." "But the Sanhedrin in its existing format," acknowledges Rosen, "is not serious. Even if in principle one accepts the need to revive the Sanhedrin, it should include authoritative halakhic scholars and Torah scholars of the first order. At the moment, it seems as if they have jumped too high."
Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, spiritual advisor to the ultra-Orthodox Nahal brigade and a member of the new Sanhedrin, accepts the criticism and defines the institution as "infrastructure only." Not everyone sees eye to eye with him. Hillel Weiss, who also has become one of the ordained members, says, "The goal of the new Sanhedrin is to become a source of authority for the Jewish people, and this is contrary to the accepted position of the left that the state of Israel is the source of this authority. "I and many of my colleagues want to be part of this state, but not at the cost of our spiritual and physical destruction. This Sanhedrin draws together all the scars and injuries and anguish from the injustice and persecution that Jews endure here from the Supreme Court and whoever follows the Supreme Court and whoever pretends to maintain the rule of law here."
Rabbi Ratzon Arussi, the rabbi of Kiryat Ono and a member of the Supreme Rabbinical Council, also feels persecuted. On Tuesday, Arussi sharply criticized the Knesset and the court. He spoke about the "clash that is gaining momentum between Torah law and state law," and despaired over "barren dialogues with the secular side that ostensibly create understandings, which have no practical value for various connections to our heritage." The court, Arussi feels, "is today obligated only to the state, but not to its Jewish identity." Arussi suggested setting red lines for this identity and announcing that if the Knesset does not incorporate them into legislation, all the religious parties will resign. Rabbi Dov Lior, the head of the Committee of Judea and Samaria Rabbis, said things at the conference that were even more far-reaching: "A collective of evil people is not part of the quorum ... every law against the Torah is invalid. There are forces of evil seeking to harm anything related to the sanctity of Israel, and the legal system is one area where the greatest desecration of God's name is occurring.
It is hard to know how long Steinsaltz will last as president of the new Sanhedrin. At the public session held on the first anniversary of the apparent reestablishment of the ancient institution, he appeared to be fighting internal opposition. He pointed out to those present that worldwide events couldn't happen in one fell swoop.
Jerusalem wasn't built in a day
"Before the flood, Noah built the ark and prepared to enter it for 120 years," he reminded the audience. "In order to move forward and no longer be defined as `an aborted fetus,' to become serious so we can say, `a child was born to us,' we need a lot of time. The mere mention of the name Sanhedrin is not a given. It is no longer a matter of a religious council, or a council for the cats on Emek Refaim Street. It's something that has historical meaning. A basic change, not of one small system, but of fundamental systems. "It's no wonder that these things frighten people. There are people who are concerned about what is emerging here. And where is it headed? After we have made it through this year with no catastrophes occurring, even though there were some foolish comments and chuckling, we will intensify and strengthen our activities. We will do things with an eye toward future generations, not with a stopwatch and an annual calendar. The Jewish calendar is a calendar of thousands of years. A lot of patience and a lot of work are needed. I'd be happy if in another few years these chairs are filled by scholars who are greater than us and we can say: `I kept the chairs warm for you.'"
Steinsaltz used his position as president of the Sanhedrin to protest its involvement in politics. "I'm not afraid of the Supreme Court, the police or the attorney general. A rabbi is also permitted to engage in public issues, but to do so he has to have all the appropriate material before him, whether he is dealing with the kosher status of a chicken or the disengagement. "When there is such a disengagement plan, and I don't have enough information about it, just as there is a commandment to speak out, there is a commandment to remain silent. As a private person, I, just like every one of us, have understanding, but as a rabbi, dealing with political matters such as the disengagement is a mockery of the essence of the concept of a Sanhedrin. "If I don't want to be a laughing-stock, then I won't express an opinion on every issue. These words of truth need to be said, so that this Sanhedrin does not become a branch of the Yesha Council (of Jewish Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza) or of the Council for Peace and Security." By Nadav Shragai
Girl Refuses to Cooperate With Court System – October 24, 2005
Israel National News - One girl, 16, remains in prison for activities
relating to her protest of the expulsion from Gush Katif/Shomron. She
steadfastly refuses to cooperate with a legal system she considers
"un-Jewish." Contrary to the position of
her court-appointed attorney, the judge ordered the girl to undergo psychiatric
testing. "What's next?" asks
Shmuel Medad, head of the Honenu
civil rights organization. "Forced injections for prisoners who don't cooperate? We are
truly turning into a dictatorial regime."
In a closed-door hearing yesterday in a Kfar Saba court, the defendant - known publicly only as T., because of her age - said she wants to be tried only by a "Jewish" court, in a court governed not by "British laws," but rather by Torah edicts. Until then, she said, she would not agree to cooperate with court authorities. In light of T.'s position, her court-appointed lawyer requested to be released from her position. The court refused this request, ordering her to continue to represent her client at least through the stage of psychiatric testing. The judge ordered the next hearing for the second week of November, after the psychiatric testing, but thus far no such test has been held.
T. was originally arrested several weeks ago when she tried to enter the now-destroyed Shomron community of Sa-Nur to resist the expulsion. As she was being dragged by a female soldier, the latter was cut by a knife that fell out of the girl's pocket. The Prosecution originally accused her of willfully stabbing the soldier, but these charges were dropped when the soldier herself said that she was cut accidentally. T. was later freed with no restrictions, but was arrested the next day, Sept. 15, when she again entered Sa-Nur - and has been in prison ever since. Her mother, contacted by Arutz-7, said, "She simply refuses to cooperate with this corrupt and sick system, and so she remains in prison until the end of the proceedings against her - whenever that is. Her spirit is very high, and she takes everything well, even though she is basically alone in prison [aside from the other inmates in the N'vei Tirzah Women's Prison - ed.]... She spends much time reading and learning."
T. can call home once a day, and her family visits her once a week. "The visits are restricted to only two adults and three children," her mother said, "but we have a large family. So this week we asked for a special family visit, and finally after much delay, they granted it to us - but only for a half-hour." Asked her own opinion on her daughter's incarceration, the woman said, "Of course I want her out - even today! But I also strengthen her hand in her uncompromising struggle - and at the end, they'll see that she is strong, and they'll throw her out of there."
It has been noted that T.'s position should be seen in the context of the current debate over the proper religious-Zionist attitude towards the State and its organs. Leading rabbis and thinkers in this sector have repeatedly said that the youth who led the struggle against the Disengagement Plan must prepare themselves for leadership positions in Israel, turning the State into a truly Jewish country, with courts, public education, government offices and the Knesset running according to Torah values and laws. As such, it is said, T.'s struggle - and similar ones waged by other young arrestees in the last several weeks - is simply a first step in this direction. By Hillel Fendel
Anti-Expulsion Protesters Still in Prison – August 26, 2005
Israel National News - Anti-expulsion protesters still in jail complain of harsh treatment and the fact that they feel they have been forgotten. 21-year-old Yisrael Schreiber was supposed to be drafted into the IDF in the next few days, but he remains in the Disengagement wing of Ma'asyahu Prison, where he has been jailed for the past two and a half months after taking part in anti-expulsion activities in the Ashkelon region. Schreiber is not alone at Ma'asyahu. Although 175 detainees, including 46 minors, arrested for taking part in the rooftop resistance on the roof of Kfar Darom's synagogue have been released, there are 20 activists still sitting in Ma'asyahu prison with him, in addition to dozens jailed elsewhere.
Last Monday, as the last community in Gush Katif was uprooted, the jailors at Ma'asyahu had a heated exchange with the detained activists that resulted in harsh punishments for some of the prisoners. Yisrael's mother, Batya, told Arutz-7 that the prison guards taunted the activists as the expulsion progressed. Some of the prisoners responded angrily to the taunts and were punished with solitary confinement, told that they were no longer allowed to speak on the telephone and barred visitation rights. Two prisoners were moved to a different prison. Mrs. Schreiber is worried that her son and the others still in prison are being forgotten. "We must struggle daily to let the public know that these are our prisoners of war, and that is it forbidden to leave them in jail. It is important that they be released, but we must all fight for it - it depends on us. It also depends on lawyers being allowed to visit them and let them know that in our struggle, we have not forgotten them."
Schreiber resents the Prisons Authority treatment of her son. "My son didn't wake up on time one morning and they simply attacked him, kicking him. They bring them to court in handcuffs and treat them like hardened criminals - it is simply not right, but our society has gotten used to it. It is depraved." Prisons Authority spokesperson Orit Statzler told Arutz-7 that there are currently 54 Disengagement prisoners still in jail. Among them are 15 female minors, three male minors and 36 adults. According to Statzler, there were two prisoners punished during the outburst last Monday. "Following blatant disciplinary violations by two of the prisoners, including loud and racist yelling at the guards and banging on their doors, the two were put on a disciplinary trial by the prison's commander, after which they were punished with 'separation' and not 'solitary confinement.' " "Relations with those arrested protesting the Disengagement are like those with all of the prisoners, with much understanding and consideration. They actually have good relations with the management, who is attentive to them at all times. At the same time, instances of disruption will be handled accordingly, with prisoners facing disciplinary trials within the jail." Yisrael Schreiber has lost all motivation to join the army, although the IDF will be the one to decide on the matter. "If it was up to me I would rather sit in jail than participate in the expulsion," his mother quoted him as saying.
Rabbi Nechemia Namisi of the Shoalei Torah Network, a veteran jailed anti-Disengagement activist, is still serving time in Ma'asyahu prison for blocking the Shilat Junction two months ago. He says that one of the things that bothers him most is the fact that the Yesha Council called upon people to get arrested, but did not seem willing to serve time in prison themselves. He said he expected them to lead by example and face arrest and prison time for the cause, but that now they are not even acting on behalf of the youth who are sitting in prison in their stead. Rabbi Namisi sees a positive outcome of the civil disobedience movement and the resulting arrests. "The imprisoned youth displayed great leadership qualities," he said "and although the struggle did not succeed, I expect these same youths to lead the nation of Israel in the future, using their courage and abilities to excel in education, politics, economics and anywhere else they put their minds to."
A Melava Malka
("Escorting of the Sabbath Queen") festivity is set to take place outside
Ma'asyahu Prison Saturday night to support the prisoners. Participating will be
Yitzhar hilltop Rabbi David Dudkevitch and redemption rocker Udi Davidi. By
Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan Calls For Revision of IDF Prayer – August 30, 2005
Israel National News - In light of the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria, rabbinical questions now appear online, regarding a Torah
observant Jew's relationship toward the IDF and state institutions. Recently, the "humiliating and inhuman treatment of
the residents of Gush Katif displayed by IDF soldiers in the context of the
Disengagement" was the topic of a series of questions on the
"Yeshiva" Hebrew-language web site.
Rabbi Ya'akov Ariel, chief rabbi of Ramat Gan, was asked whether communities should continue to recite the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel and whether the blessing for IDF soldiers should continue to be said.
Rabbi Ariel answered that the prayer for the welfare of the state should continue to be recited, "even more fervently," with added emphasis on granting ministers and advisors sound advice "and even add a supplication to grant them more merciful hearts and more humane attitudes."
The rabbi did suggest adjusting the Mi SheBeirach prayer for IDF soldiers, however. "I recommend that the prayer for the well being of IDF soldiers omit the clause, '...and send blessing and success in all the work of their hands.' Not all of the hands of the IDF's soldiers are worthy of blessing and success - only those that fight against our external enemies," Rabbi Ariel said. By Ezra HaLevi
Los Angeles Sabbath-Observant Driver Receives $20,000 Compensation – October 20, 2005
Israel National News - A Jewish driver in Los Angeles has received
$20,000 in compensation after being dismissed for refusing to work on the
Sabbath and Jewish holidays. The outcome of
this case means that from now on, the employers of observant Jewish drivers in
the LA area will have to take their religious needs into account. The driver,
referred to as Henry, was taken on as an apprentice driver for the Los Angeles
Metropolitan District Transportation Authority on June 2nd, 2005. Before long,
he was asked to drive on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. When he asked if he
could either change his shifts or take unpaid leave on those dates, the
authority refused. Henry ended up having to stay away from work without
permission on two days that month, which resulted in his dismissal.
However, Henry did not let the matter rest, and he sued the authority for unfair dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination. The case ended with Henry being awarded a compensation settlement of $20,000. At the same time, the authority and the Justice Ministry agreed that any drivers whose work schedules clashed with their religious holidays would be able to either change their shifts or take unpaid leave on those dates. Up to thirty days per year would be allowed for religious holidays, so that drivers could work shifts compatible with their religious requirements. By Naomi Grossman
The Struggle for Jerusalem – November 3, 2005
Rabbi Lazer Brody - Exactly three months ago, this site reported my interview with the pious kabblist Rabbi CT of Ashdod; he told me that the disengagement from Jewish Gaza is tiny compared to the test of faith that awaits us. I asked what he was referring to. He responded that the world will attempt to take Jerusalem away from us. I didn’t that things would be happening so fast.
In recent weeks, a number of Jewish activists have sending me document that tell of a sinister scam to relinguish parts of Mount Zion, including King David’s tomb and the Diapora Yishiva, to the Vatican.
Earlier today, Tamar Yona from Israel from Israel National Radio wrote me, “I and all my colleagues at Israel National Radio have been covering this story all week. I plan to give ti coverage as well as next week on my show. I have already written a letter to the President of Israel. I expect to receive some type of robotic form letter back saying they received it. But we do what we can. Every day I pary that Hashem should send the Moshiach and let us build Hi third Temple. May it be soon. These days one gets ulcers opening up the newspapers, seeing how the East wants to murder us outright, and the West want us to commit suicide.”
The Almighty give a very stiff warning(Psalms 105:15), “Dare not touch my anointed!” King David, the ancestor of Moshiach, is The Almight’s anointed. I have no doubt that a nasty fate awaits the alien fingers that have the audacrity to touch Jerusalem in general and Mount Zion in particular.
Click here for a complete update about the proposed Israeli transfer of Mount Zion and the Tomb of David to the Roman Catholic Church.
Chief Rabbis Meet With Pope - September 15, 2005
Lekarev - Israel's two chief rabbis met with Pope Benedict XVI today to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a landmark Vatican document on relations with Jews, and sought his support in fighting anti-Semitism and terrorism.Israel's Ashkenazic chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, and the Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, called on the pope at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south of Rome.
The meeting follows the historic visit by Benedict to the central synagogue in Cologne, Germany, last month, only the second time a pope had entered a Jewish house of worship. During the visit, Benedict decried that the world was witnessing the rise of new forms of anti-Semitism. The visit also follows a diplomatic tiff between the Vatican and Israel that erupted over the pope's omission of Israel in a list of countries hit by terrorism. After Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wrote a letter to the pope, Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, Oded Ben-Hur, said the dispute was resolved. In the document, "In Our Time," the Vatican deplored anti-Semitism in every form and utterly repudiated the "deicide" charge that has blamed Jews as a people for Christ's death. The idea of Jewish guilt had fueled anti-Semitism for centuries. The Pope and the Rabbis agreed that the content of this document must be disseminated to priests and people alike around the world so that "Dare the desired effect will be forthcoming.
Vatican: Parts of David’s Tomb to Be Under Papal Control – October 20, 2005
Israel National News - An official Vatican newspaper has reported that
during his upcoming visit to the Vatican, President Moshe Katsav will sign an
agreement giving parts of David’s Tomb over to papal control. If such an agreement is signed, it will put an end to
drawn out negotiations that began in 1998.
Israeli and Vatican representatives began discussing issues of jurisdiction over certain sites around seven years ago. These sites include various buildings and parcels of land that the Catholic church claims it used to control.
The church is now seeking to reclaim its ownership of these sites. Among the places under debate is an area that the church refers to as the site of the “last supper,” which is situated at the burial site of Kings David, Solomon, Rechavam, Assa, Chezekiyahu and Amatzia.
The Vatican newspaper, El Messagero, reports that President Katsav is expected to sign an agreement during his visit that will give the church control over the upper part of David’s Tomb. The church has already shown Israel a trial agreement, according to which the Vatican will receive control over this part of David’s Tomb in exchange for the ancient synagogue in Toledo, Spain, which was converted into a church after the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.
In response to the newspaper’s report, an official from the Foreign Ministry states “Israel is not prepared to relinquish its jurisdiction over this area.” At the same time, they admit that a blueprint of a possible agreement with the Vatican has been received. By Naomi Grossman
Report: Vatican to Gain Control over Parts of David's Tomb – October 23, 2005
Lekarev - An official Vatican newspaper has reported that during his upcoming visit to the Vatican, President Moshe Katsav will sign an agreement giving parts of David’s Tomb over to papal control. If such an agreement is actually signed, it will put an end to drawn out negotiations that began in 1998. The Foreign Ministry told Arutz Sheva correspondent Shimon Cohen about the negotiations a year and a half ago.
Israeli and Vatican representatives began discussing issues of jurisdiction over certain sites around seven years ago. These sites include various buildings and parcels of land that the Catholic church claims that it used to control. The church is now seeking to reclaim its ownership of these sites. Among the places under debate is an area that the church refers to as the site of the “last supper,” which is situated at the burial site of Kings David, Solomon, Rechavam, Assa, Chezekiyahu and Amatzia.
The Vatican newspaper, El Messagero, reports that President Katsav is expected to sign an agreement during his visit that will give the church control over the upper part of David’s Tomb. The church has already shown Israel a trial agreement, according to which the Vatican will receive control over this part of David’s Tomb in exchange for the ancient synagogue in Toledo, Spain, which was converted into a church after the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.
Mt. Zion Handover: President Denies, Reports Persist – November 3, 2005
Israel National News – President Katzav’s office categorically denies
any intention to sign an agreement to give over parts of Mt. Zion to the Catholic Church.Arutz-7 has received a copy of the alleged agreement to do so. The proposed contract reads as follows:
”The State of Israel hands over to the Holy See the use of the Cenacle [the room of the event known as the Last Supper, above King David’s tomb – ed.], of the access path to it, and of the spaces adjacent to it... It is the Holy See’s intention to inform the Bishops – and through them the world’s Priests – that the Catholic Church has been given the use of the Cenacle, inviting them to visit the Holy Place together with their faithful... The Holy See hands over this use of the Cenacle to the Custody of the Holy Land [which acts on behalf of the Holy See]... [which] will keep the Cenacle open from 6 AM to 8 AM for the celebration of the Holy Mass... Official liturgical celebrations of non-Catholic Churches can take place only upon prior written permission by the Custody of the Holy Land.” The proposed agreement stipulates that the Holy See will preserve the historic character of the site and keep it open to pilgrims and tourists, and that Israel will provide for the safety of the site.
A Foreign Ministry official said, “Israel is not prepared to relinquish its jurisdiction over this area” – but he admitted that a blueprint of a possible agreement with the Vatican has been received. At present, since shortly after the Six-Day War in 1967, the Diaspora Yeshiva is located on Mt. Zion, and warns of the catastrophic implications for Israel if the deal goes through. “This is an enormous issue that is being pushed through without any public debate whatsoever,” Yeshiva Director Rabbi Shabtai Herman told Tovia Singer on IsraelNationalRadio. He also spoke on INR’s Stutz and Fleisher show.
He explained that if the Catholic Church receives control of the area, just a few hundred yards from the Temple Mount and adjacent to the Old City walls, it will turn it into “the international center for Catholics all around the world, and if the pope just gives the word, Christians will be flocking over here en masse.” In addition, he noted, “there are many different religions here, and we have respect for all of them, but giving control to the Catholics will cause terrible friction.”
Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein, who founded and still runs the Diaspora Yeshiva, officially known as Yeshiva Toras Yisrael. He elaborated in a follow-up discussion with Arutz-7: ”According to their bible, the land is to return to the Christians, and 144,000 Jews are to return to Mt. Zion. So their plan is for them to take control of the site, and then to announce that they are holding a mass reenactment of the Last Supper, with [all types of religious rituals], and to invite millions of Christians to come to Jerusalem and celebrate.” He said that this means much tourism money for Israel, and that someone in the Israeli government is apparently very interested in making this happen.
The King David’s Tomb complex is a complex of buildings of some 100,000 square feet where David, Solomon and others kings of Judea are said to be buried. “It is certainly one of the holiest spots in the Land of Israel,” Rabbi Herman said. “We’ve already given away the Temple Mount and the Machpelah Cave, except for here and there when we’re allowed in; now they want to give Mt. Zion away as well? For thousands of years, this area was almost always totally closed off to Jews. G-d gave it back to us in 1948, but parts of it were still in range and sight of Jordanian snipers and were not in full use. After 1967, Rabbi Goldstein founded the Diaspora Yeshiva here – and it became an island of holiness, the first yeshiva for baalei teshuvah [newly religious] in Israel; we were there day and night learning Torah. Rabbi Goldstein was almost prophetic in establishing this yeshiva at that time at that spot; destiny from above intertwined him with Mt. Zion.”
President Katzav’s office categorically denies any knowledge of plans to sign away the King David’s complex, or intention to do so during his trip to the Vatican later this month. Despite this, Christian newspapers in Italy and around the world are replete with reports that such a deal is in the works. According to the reports, Israel will receive control of an 800-year-old synagogue in Toledo, Spain, known now as Santa Maria, in exchange for David’s Tomb.
In an open letter to President Katzav, Shlomo Alfassa, Executive-Director of the International Society for Sephardic Progress, ridiculed this idea: “When the Jews of Toledo prayed each morning, they faced east towards Jerusalem. It was not Toledo that they desired, but the Land of Israel, which was still unobtainable. Now, we have Jerusalem, we can go to the holy sites and we can live in the land. If those who built that synagogue knew that this abandoned building in Christian Spain was being traded for a piece of real estate in the Land of Israel, they would roll over in their graves. Today, the Santa Maria Synagogue is nothing but an empty shell, a tourist stop in a city where no Jews remain.”
Rabbi Herman said that the above plan is merely the first step of a larger plan to turn all of Mt. Zion into a Christian site. He explained that the lower level of the complex, containing many chambers, rooms, passageways and the like, has long been under the control of Israeli bodies such as the Lands Authority, and that half of the area was assigned to the Diaspora Yeshiva. Rabbis Goldstein and Herman explained that over the years, the yeshiva has used the area for classrooms, housing, and other needs. However, they said, Jerusalem Chief Engineer Ari Sheetrit has made some “threatening” visits of late, together with other city officials. The rabbis said that Sheetrit has implied very strongly that the yeshiva is “not using the area efficiently,” and that the city plans to take it over. Rabbi Herman said, “Our information, supported by many sources, is that this entire area is going to be given over to a tourism promotional company fronted by a man named David Bertoldi. Bertoldi has come with a supposed tourism project to take ownership of this area, close it off, and make it into a project that will serve Catholic tourists – and then anyone who wants to recite a chapter of Psalms will have to pay a $10 entrance fee, except for two hours in the morning. Bertoldi professes to be Jewish, but to the best of our information, he is a ‘mumar,’ someone who has transferred his faith elsewhere. He claims to be an independently wealthy man, but in fact is really just a straw man for – the Pope! We have lots of information that he is in the pay of the local Francescan brothers, headed by Father Pierre Batista, and as far as we know they’ve already paid him $70,000, and he goes in to the various offices buying his way through the bureaucracy.”
Arutz-7 phoned the Jerusalem monastery that Batista headed until a year ago, and spoke with his replacement, who said that he knew Bertoldi, though “he is not a member of our congregation.” Asked if Bertoldi works for the Francescans, he said, “That is hard to say.” Rabbi Herman bemoaned the secrecy in which the entire affair and attempted buy-out is being shrouded: “Who knows if this isn’t just the tip of the iceberg? Why is this not being brought up for public debate, among the Torah Sages, the Knesset, public opinion? Let it be put on hold until then! How can King David’s Tomb itself, in the heart of Jerusalem, be passed along to the Pope, without even a whisper of discussion?!”
MK Benny Elon (National Union), who served twice as Minister of Tourism, told Arutz-7’s Hebrew newsmagazine, “This issue was raised several years ago. When I was Tourism Minister, I made it clear to a representative of the Pope that we would allow them to use one room with a side entrance that would not bother the yeshiva. But under no circumstances would we allow the transfer of ownership. But they said they want ownership, and that the Pope sees this place as the second-holiest, after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We have to be very strong and not give in to the Vatican on this.” He said that at present, Christian groups come in and pray there, but the “sovereignty is ours.”MK Elon said that the denial by President Katzav’s office is “a major achievement, and was the result of public pressure. What has to be done now is to try to involve the Prime Minister, despite our troubled personal relations with him. He must intervene to ensure that the Vatican not gain control over such a significant site.” Rabbis Goldstein and Herman sent a letter on this issue to Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky. Arutz-7 asked the Jerusalem municipality for its reaction yesterday, but has still not received it.
Blame the Jews, again
– The Leader of the Greek Orthodox revokes sale of land to Jews in Old Jerusalem - November 30, 2005
WorldNetDaily - Question: When is the sale of land in the Middle East not really a sale?
Answer: When the land is sold to Jews. The tragic answer to that tragic question became apparent when WND broke the story of the sleight of hand planned by the new, disputed head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem.
Theofilos III was crowned in a ceremony last week at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre after signing a secret document obliging him to nullify the recent transfer of real estate in the Old City to Jewish groups. His predecessor, Irineos, signed the deal paving the way for the land transfer earlier this year – prompting calls for his head by some of his constituency of about 100,000 Christians in the Middle East. The elevation of Theofilos under this cloud represents a sad reminder that anti-Semitism is alive and well – even among some who call themselves "Christians."
It's time for another Muddle East history refresher course. (And, yes, I purposely spell it "Muddle East," because so few people understand the conflict, its roots and the Final Solution being planned for the Jews of the region.) When the Islamic Ottoman Empire controlled the area now known as "Israel" in the early part of the 20th century, it was illegal for Jews to immigrate to their ancestral homeland. It was illegal for Jews to buy property. Nevertheless, Jews comprised the overwhelming population of Jerusalem. For instance, a travel guide to Palestine and Syria, published in 1906 by Karl Baedeker, illustrates the fact that, even when the Islamic Ottoman Empire ruled the region, the Muslim population in Jerusalem was minimal. The book estimates the total population of the city at 60,000, of whom 7,000 were Muslims, 13,000 were Christians and 40,000 were Jews. "The number of Jews has greatly risen in the last few decades, in spite of the fact that they are forbidden to immigrate or to possess landed property," the book states. Even though the Jews were persecuted, still they came to Jerusalem and represented the overwhelming majority of the population as early as 1906.
Why was the Muslim population so low? After all, we're told that Jerusalem is the third holiest city in Islam. Surely, if this were a widely held belief in 1906, more of the devout would have settled there. But I digress. Ninety years later, Jerusalem was a city of 602,100 people – 421,200 Jews, with non-Jews representing a total population of 180,900. Some, unfamiliar with these statistics, might argue that the effort to deprive Jews of the right to purchase land in their own country might have something to do with an effort to fight for the oppressed majority. But just look at the numbers. Jerusalem is and has been an undisputed Jewish city – even when Jews were forbidden to come, forbidden from buying property. No, what is happening in and around Israel today is part of a long-term, nearly 2,000-year history of anti-Semitism. And it's long past time for Christians of all stripes to recognize it and call it what it is.
We witnessed earlier this year the forced expulsion of thousands of Jews from land in Gaza that was previously uninhabited and undeveloped. Once again, the Jews turned a desert wasteland into a blooming garden, prompting envy and jealousy from their unneighborly neighbors. And, once again, due to a mentality of ethnic cleansing, racism and Jew-hatred, the Jews were uprooted. They were displaced because their unneighborly neighbors (and much of the so-called "international community") decided this now precious real estate would become part of a new nation of Palestine, one that has never existed in the history of the world, and that no Jews were welcome in this budding new bastion of freedom and self-determination. There are more plans to expel more Jews from traditional Jewish homelands in Judea and Samaria to make room for this racist Palestinian state.
And now this – even in the capital of the Jewish state – legal purchases of lands from willing sellers are now being reversed. That so-called "Christians" would participate in this swindle is all the more disturbing. Those associated with so-called "Christian" churches have performed unspeakable evil upon Jews in the past. I have some advice to those involved. They can read it for themselves in their own scriptures. It should come as a warning – a reality check – to all those involved in the continuing persecution of Jews throughout the Middle East.
Genesis 12:3: "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
I wouldn't trade places with any so-called "Christian" who doesn't abide by the promises – and the threats – of the One True Living God of Israel. God will not be mocked – not even by self-described "priests" and "bishops" and "patriarchs" who claim to represent Him here on Earth.
More Muslim Destruction of Temple Mount Feared - November 9, 2005
Lekarev -The Committee to Prevent Temple Mount Artifacts Desecration warns that Muslim Waqf construction works are once again underway - this time at the Temple entrance path taken by Jews 2,000 years ago. The Committee sent a letter on the matter this week to the Prime Minister and to the Director of the Antiquities Authority.
The letter states that new information has been received indicating the Waqf's intention to continue its "refurbishing" works on the Mount.
"We firmly object to granting the Waqf a construction permit for its Temple Mount works," the Comittee's letter states, "and we demand that all work be carried out only under the supervision of the Antiquities Authority."
Presbyterian Leaders Meet Hizbullah Terror Chief – December 8, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Presbyterian Christians from Chicago met recently with Hizbullah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon. The
meeting took place during a trip co-sponsored by the Chicago Presbytery’s
Middle East Task Force, in which Rev. Bob Reynolds of the Presbytery’s
executive board took part.The trip’s leader, Dr. Robert Worley, praised
Hizbullah and expressed understanding for the terror group’s struggle against
the Jewish State. Worley said that Presbyterians “have suffered much pressure
on the part of Jewish organizations.” Worley also told Nasrallah that Jewish
influence in America leads to the perception that Hizbullah is a terrorist
organization. Another Presbyterian leader, Ronald Stone, met with the southern
Lebanese Hizbullah chief Sheikh Nabil Kauq and agreed to the terror chief's
denouncement of US policies. The meeting, which was broadcast on Al-Manar TV,
can be viewed by clicking here.
Hizbullah terrorists have killed scores of Israelis and kidnapped Israeli soldiers and civilians. Local Jewish Federation and Anti-Defamation League officials contacted the Chicago Presbytery leadership, which refused to condemn the statements or meeting, saying instead that the trip was unofficial and not the responsibility of the group. "The goal of my trip was educational," Reynolds told the Associated Press. "I think one way people can learn from one another is to learn the way people talk about themselves and describe their own reality." The Presbyterian Church (USA) embarked on a campaign of divesting from Israeli companies last year. The move was widely condemned, including by other Christian groups. By Ezra HaLevi
U.S. churches back off divestment - No church in U.S. except Presbyterians has voted
for divestment. Some say corporate engagement is more effective strategy to bring about
change than selloff that leaves former shareholders without voice or influence
– October 16, 2005
CHICAGO - Some U.S. Protestant churches are turning their back the idea of dumping investments in companies profiting from Israel's West Bank occupation, people involved in the issue said. Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, along with a debate over whether divestment is the right move in the first place, may have helped cool what looked like a growing trend just a few months ago. "My reading, as a central Jewish player in this, is that there never was a (general) move toward divestment," said David Elcott, director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee. "Here is the reality: No church in the United States except the Presbyterians has voted for divestment," he added, and the only place where divestment looked like it was moving forward may have been in the media. U.S. Episcopal Church leaders recently rejected divestment in favor of corporate engagement and another major denomination, the United Church of Christ, turned down the divestment idea at its convention last summer.
Five singled out
The 2.5 million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the largest body of that denomination in the country, approved in 2004 a "phased, selective divestment" involving its USD 8 billion portfolio beginning no earlier than July 2006. In August, it singled out five companies - Caterpillar Inc., Citigroup Inc., United Technologies Corp., Motorola Inc. and ITT Industries Inc. - for "dialogue, shareholder resolutions and public pressure." Most of the criticism involves military contracting. The church criticized Caterpillar, for instance, for selling heavy equipment used in the demolition of Palestinian homes. That company has said it has no control over how its products are used once they have been sold. How much the Presbyterians have invested in the companies was not revealed, and the church said divestment was only a last resort that may be considered if "progressive engagement fails." Barry Creech, church spokesman on the issue, said the matter is still on course and "we're not in a hurry" to get to the point of divestment before the church's membership meets again next summer.
The Rev. William Harter of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, a force behind Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and Christian Relations, which opposes divestment, said, "As people look at this with clear heads and understand what's really involved, there's a growing awareness that this was a major mistake." "It won't work. There's no way what's being proposed is going to have an impact on decisions that the Israelis or Palestinians make about peace and certainly not the U.S. government," he said. It is also outdated because the Israelis have made "major concessions and a major step toward peace," Harter said. There is a "widespread and growing" movement among church members to reverse the divestment idea at next summer's membership meeting, he said.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the 2.3 million-member U.S. Episcopal Church recently chose a different path: to use the church's USD 3.6 billion portfolio and future investments as a tool "for selected companies to change behavior resulting in a more hopeful climate for peace." Its report said "corporate engagement is a more effective strategy to bring about change" than a selloff that leaves former shareholders without a voice or influence in a company. The action drew praise from the American Jewish Congress. Juda Engelmayer, a group representative, said the trend is away from the divestment idea "when you get past the leadership and get to the (general church) membership. It is shifting."
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said: "I think as the concerns of the Jewish world become known and as people began to see that these moves do not improve the lot of Palestinians, there is a move to go in a slightly different direction ... investment in positive things that will benefit Jews and Palestinians in general." The Geneva-based World Council of Churches has backed divestment in companies profiting from the
occupation of Palestinian territories. Last summer, the United Church of Christ rejected divestment on the same issue at its convention, though it did castigate Israel for building its West Bank wall, as have several other denominations.
Chicago Jews Furious with Presbyterian/Hezbollah Meeting – December 13, 2005
Lekarev - Five Chicago Jewish organizations, all active in interfaith relations, have denounced a recent meeting in Lebanon between Chicago Presbyterians and a Hezbollah leader. The groups also said the Chicago Presbytery's failure to condemn the meeting further erodes the already damaged dialogue between Jews and Presbyterians. Rev. Bob Reynolds, pictured here, executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Chicago, has written a letter expressing his regret at participating in the meeting. Dr. Worley who praised Hezbollah has yet to issue any statement or apology.
When they learned of the meeting, Jewish groups contacted the Chicago Presbytery leadership "hoping to hear a denunciation of the meeting, and a formal rebuke of those who participated in it," said a spokesman. In response,"We received rationalizations, contextualizations and explanations of the minutia of the Presbytery's chain of command."
The fact that Hezbollah runs charity and social- welfare programs for Palestinian "must not cloud the fact that these are licentious murderers," said Susan Ostrov, the American Jewish Congress' Midwest region director. The actions and words of Worley, the trip organizer, were wrong and harmful to American interests, Ostrov said, and "the deafening silence from Presbyterian leaders opposed to Worley's comments and actions is as shocking as the meeting itself."
Myriads in Hevron at the Cave of Machpelah for Sabbath – November 27, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Some 25,000 people
participated in the annual Hevron Sabbath yesterday, praying and touring in the
Machpelah Cave and elsewhere. The Sabbath gathering is held
annually to mark the public reading of the weekly Torah portion "Chaye
Sarah." The portion recounts Abraham's purchase of the Machpelah Cave (Tomb of the Patriarchs) and the area around it as a burial plot for his wife
Sarah; Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah were later buried there as well. Many
prayer services were held throughout the Sabbath in the Machpelah Cave, the nearby Avraham Avinu synagogue, and elsewhere in the Jewish quarter of the ancient
city. Tours, lectures and discussion groups were also held. The IDF was out in
force to protect the many visitors. "It was just an unbelievable Shabbat,"
said Hevron Jewish Community spokesman David Wilder. "Over 350 people came
especially from abroad just for this Sabbath." Close to 400 people took
part in a Sabbath afternoon meal at Gutnick Hall, just opposite the Machpelah Cave. They were mostly members of two American groups: AFSI (Americans for a Safe
Israel) and the Hevron Fund. Speakers talked of the critical need for Aliyah
[immigration to Israel] and for strengthening our ties with the holy sites, the
Land, Torah, and People of Israel.
One of the city's holy sites, the gravesite of the Biblical Ruth and her grandson Yishai (Jesse, the father of King David), has undergone a revamping over the past two years. Located opposite the Tel Romeida (Admot Yishai) neighborhood of Hevron, it was practically unknown to non-residents of the city. Of late, however, its floor has been newly tiled, the original courtyard floor was uncovered, a new Holy Ark, tables, chairs and study-stands (stenders) were placed inside, and signs with Biblical verses were positioned outside the entrance.Several renovations were made especially in honor of this past Sabbath. These include introduction of a framed-and-glass Book of Ruth [pictured above], penned on traditional parchment by a scribe living in Hevron. In addition, a new mezuzah was placed on the entryway doorpost, and the library was supplemented by the addition of 40 English-Hebrew versions of books written by King David and his son King Solomon, such as Psalms and Song of Songs, and more. Visitors to Hevron are invited to frequent the holy site. Another developing story in and around Hevron is the budding outpost neighborhood of Givat Gal, just outside Kiryat Arba. Currently populated by just two families, it is located just above and practically adjacent to the Dribben family farm. By Hillel Fendel
Jewish Activities Planned for Mt. Zion – November 15, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - President Moshe Katzav's
meeting with Pope Benedict VI this Thursday will mark the first visit of an
Israeli leader to the Vatican. Despite presidential denials, Mt. Zion is still in danger. The visit was preceded by strenuous denials by Katzav's
office of Catholic newspaper reports that Katzav was planning to agree to
transfer sovereignty of property on Mt. Zion - the building housing King
David's gravesite - in exchange for an old synagogue in Toledo, Spain. The
rumors have not died down, however. It is known that the Catholic Church has
long requested a form of sovereignty over the Last Supper room and the path
leading to it.
In addition, a man named David Bartholdy has been making plans to build a multi-million dollar Catholic complex on Mt. Zion - displacing a long-time tenant, the Diaspora Yeshiva, in the process. He has lobbied many governmental offices on behalf of the project, which he calls the "Celestial Psalms Track" and which he is confident can earn $5 million a year. "Some 500,000 foreign tourists visited in Jerusalem in the top intifada year (2001)," Bartholdy wrote to the Tourism Ministry this past July. "If each one of them feels the obligation to visit the 'Last Supper Room' and pays a $10 entrance fee, the income will reach a minimum of $5 million..."
In a letter to Yeshiva Dean Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein this past Oct. 28, Bartholdy alternates between complimenting the rabbi, making him generous offers, and threatening him. The letter states, "On the eve of a new beginning between us, I wish to take this opportunity to offer you first an olive branch, hoping sincerely for good neighborly relations when I will soon be in the property. My solution, to commit to building your long-dreamt-of yeshiva... and to cover all your debts to the Administration, should answer your most urgent needs... In the past year or more I have learned to admire your strong resolution and convictions, and as you yourself have witnessed, I too am a man of determination, something I humbly attribute in no small part to your inspiration. "Yet, times have changed since the gay sixties, seventies and eighties, and circumstances too. Jerusalem can no longer tolerate a 'black hole' on Mount Zion. Fighting me, under these new circumstances, may prove one battle too many, to my grave regret. I urge you with all my heart not to choose that path... I am ready to allay your fears and prepared to take different financial sanctions upon myself accordingly. I urge you to let your wise lawyers hit me in my pockets where it most hurts and which is the sensible path to follow now."
Bartholdy's letter to the Tourism Ministry also emphasizes some of the above points: "I am determined, and my pockets are deep." In response, Bartholdy was informed by the Tourism Ministry's Legal Counsel that it would in fact be possible to respond favorably to his request to exempt such a project from a public tender. However, he received bad news from the Parks Authority, one of the governmental bodies overseeing the Mt. Zion area. "I was not convinced that the proposed direction is the correct one," Jerusalem Region Director Evyatar Cohen wrote him. Cohen added that it was incontrovertibly clear to him that such an important site as Mt. Zion should not be handed over to private hands.
Rabbi Goldstein is not sitting on his hands, however, in light of the threat to turn the area into a Catholic complex. He met with city officials this week, who said they are planning to map out the entire area anew. "The immediate threat has passed," he said, "but we can't count Bartholdy out so fast. He's been working on this project for two years... The new mapping will hopefully ensure, even if a new government arises and even if the Catholic Church comes back with more demands, that all the different bodies here - such as the Greek Orthodox and others - know their exact places and their rights." Rabbi Goldstein also said that the Reishit Yerushalayim organization in the Old City has now taken upon itself to increase tourism to the site, "in order to arouse it a little." Reishit was informed that its plan to establish a Visitors Center on Mt. Zion was favorably received at the Tourism Ministry, and that the plan is now under review by the Ministry's professional staff. In addition, Rabbi Goldstein has met with rabbis in the Old City of Jerusalem, and initial plans have been made to hold a monthly Rosh Chodesh gathering, renovate the yeshiva's exterior, and more.
Diaspora Yeshiva Director Rabbi Shabtai Herman recently explained to Arutz-7 that if the Catholic Church receives control of the area, just a few hundred yards from the Temple Mount and adjacent to the Old City walls, it will turn it into "the international center for Catholics all around the world, and if the pope just gives the word, Christians will be flocking over here en masse." To promote Jewish interest in the area, Voices Magazine is planning a "King David" tour of Mt. Zion and environs for this Sunday. Beginning at the Haas Promenade at 9 AM, the tour will include visits to the City of David, Mt. of Olives, the new Maaleh HaZeitim neighborhood, and King David's burial site on Mt. Zion. The cost: 50 shekels. For more information, send email email@example.com. By Hillel Fendel
Kever Rachel Trip Breaks Barriers – November 14, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Huge
concrete slabs, myriads of people, and two thousand years of exile did not stop
a special trip of English speakers from reaching Kever Rachel - the Tomb of the Biblical matriarch
Rachel. The 11th of the Jewish month Cheshvan is the
"Yahrtzeit" (anniversary of the passing) of the Matriarch Rachel.
On this date each year, thousands of Jews converge on Rachel's Tomb to pray and
to give homage to this great Biblical persona, the only woman in the Torah
to be called a shepherdess. Arutz Sheva, Kumah, and
the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund felt this was the perfect opportunity to
bring together English speakers in Israel on a special trip. Billed under the
banner "Have You Visited Your Mother Lately?" and with a subsidized
price of 20 NIS, the trip was quickly booked up. "We
wanted to create a trip where new Olim (immigrants) can come to Kever Rachel
and say to her, 'You can stop crying for us, because we've come home' said trip
organizer Yishai Fleisher "When I asked how many people in the bus are Olim,
most of the hands went up, and in my mind that was the real success - to bring
all these Jews who have decided to come home to visit their mother."
Chaim Silberstein of the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund streamlined the access pass for the bulletproof bus and then took the group to the properties whose purchase his organization facilitated. Chaim told the story of how Rachel's Tomb was saved from the clutches of the Palestinians: "During the Rabin administration, Kever Rachel was slated to fall into 'Area A', that is, under full Arab civil and military control. Upon seeing this, Knesset Member Chanan Porat decided that he must speak with Rabin in the hopes of changing his mind. As Chanan Porat was walking to Rabin's office, Knesset Member Rabbi Menachem Porush asked Porat where he was going. Hearing that Porat was about to fight for Kever Rachel, Porush asked to join in the meeting. At Rabin's office, Chanan Porat was diligently explaining the ins and outs of the security situation at Kever Rachel and making rational arguments that did not seem to move Rabin. "Suddenly Rabin looked at Porush and saw that he was crying. Porush held Rabin's hands and with tears streaming down his face, said: 'Yitzchak, it's Mamma Rachel, Mamma Rachel.' At that moment Rabin's heart opened, and he altered the map so that Kever Rachel would remain in Jewish hands."
Silberstein also revealed that there are plans for growth at Rachel's Tomb - such as a Bat Mitzva center that would draw Jewish families from throughout the world on a pilgrimage to celebrate a Jewish girl's rite of passage to womanhood. "Rachel Imeinu (our Matriarch) is the paradigm of the Jewish people's selfless devotion to our G-d and our nation - people must be allowed to come here." After the tour of the properties, the group went on to some personal prayer time. The halls adjacent to the actual grave were packed, but no one in the group seemed to complain about the cramped conditions. Shlomo Goodman, who made Aliyah from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and now lives in Maaleh Adumim, said: "I was intellectually prepared, and knew what Kever Rachel was all about, but the knowledge did not prepare me for the spiritual and emotional reality of the place. Without thinking, I was overcome, I went in there, and there wasn't a dry eye."
Following the hour-long prayer session, the group reconvened outside the complex and boarded the bus. The Kever Rachel part of the trip was over, but now the group needed some time to let the things they saw and felt settle in. The bus took the group to a park in the Gilo neighborhood that featured a spectacular view of Jerusalem. Lunch was brought out, including six bottles of the wine from the Beit El winery. Yitz Berlin, who had come on Aliyah less than a week before from Baltimore, Maryland, said: "I enjoyed meeting the Arutz Sheva group, especially the faces behind Israel National Radio; it was a great welcome to Eretz Yisrael."
The Torah writes that Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob, died when giving birth and was buried in Bethlehem on the road to Efrat, south of Jerusalem. Later, in the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, Rachel is heard weeping for her exiled children:
Thus says G-d: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. Thus says G-d: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says G-d; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, says G-d; and your children shall come again to their own border. [Veshavu Banim Le'Gvulam] (31:15-17) By Israel National News Staff
Kever Rachel – November 22, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Kever Rachel is distinguished from all other major Jewish Holy places in that it has always been accessible to Jewish worshipers. They were even the guardians of the precious keys to the holy tomb. From early on, Jews from all neighboring Arab countries and of course, the local Jews would come on a "Ziara", a pilgrimage, to the holy places, particularly in the months of Elul and on Yud-Alef Cheshvan, Rachel Imeinu’s Yahrzeit.
Whole families would camp out around the ancient domed tomb, with musical instruments, and a festive spirit. The learned men would recite Psalms or study Zohar.
Dead Sea Scroll to be Exhibited for U.S. Audiences – November 22, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - The longest
scroll of the Dead Sea Scroll collection is slated for exhibition in the United States. It will go on display at a Jewish museum in Cleveland at the start of 2006. The
exhibition will include many ancient artifacts from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and will highlight the 28-foot Temple Scroll, the longest of the Dead Sea
Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls were publicly unveiled in 1949 at the
Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and are permanently housed at the
Shrine of the Book wing [pictured above] of Jerusalem’s Israel Museum. While selected documents from the Dead Sea Scrolls have been previously displayed
outside of Israel, this tour will grant North Americans the opportunity to view
the popular documents. The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood,
Cleveland will be the first stop of a tour that will include two additional
North American museums yet to be announced.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient manuscripts that were
discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves near Khirbet Qumran, located
on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea. Some 800 documents were found,
written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The scrolls are dated from the third
century BCE to the first century CE and contain biblical, apocryphal, and
sectarian texts. Scholars attribute the writing of the scrolls to the Essenes, a
breakaway Jewish sect. Israel Museum staff
describe the historical significance of the scrolls as follows; “The discovery
of the Dead Sea Scrolls represents a turning point in the study of the history
of the Jewish people in ancient times, for never before has a literary treasure
of such magnitude come to light. Thanks to these remarkable finds, our
knowledge of Jewish society in the Land of Israel during the Hellenistic and
Roman periods as well as the origins of rabbinical Judaism and early
Christianity has been greatly enriched.” By Debbie Berman
Tourism to Israel Continues to Soar – November 17, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Tourism to Israel continues to rise, for the third straight year. Over the first ten months of the year, nearly 1.6 million
tourists arrived in Israel - more than in all of 2004. Figures
released by the Ministry of Tourism and the Central Bureau of Statistics show
that the number of tourists over the past ten months is 27% more than during
the same period last year. Large increases were registered at the air, sea and
land crossings. The number of travelers arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport rose by 23%, while the number of those arriving on direct flights to
Eilat increased by 30%. In October alone, 164,400 tourists entered Israel - a 28% increase over October 2004.
The trend of increasing tourism to Israel thus continues for the third straight year. Last year's total was approximately 1.5 million, following totals of 1.06 million in 2003 and 0.86 million in 2002. The peak of over 2.4 million, registered in the pre-Oslo War year of 2000, has still not been reached, but Tourism Minister Avraham Hirschson says he expects to surpass this number in 2007. Last year, 379,000 tourists arrived from the U.S., compared with 272,000 the year before. From France, the numbers were 257,000 and 174,000, respectively. The increase from Great Britain was from 104,000 to 146,000. From Canada, the increase was particularly dramatic - from 31,000 to 44,000. Israel's Tourism Ministry's motto is: "Israel - No One Belongs Here More Than You." By Hillel Fendel
First Time Visits to Israel Way Up This Year – December 14, 2005
Lekarev - There has been a 73% jump in the number of people visiting Israel for their first time this year. According to the Israeli Inbound Tourism Survey, which was published Tuesday, 328,000 people visited Israel for the first time in their lives during the first six months of 2005 - compared to 190,000 in the same period last year. The number of those arriving in the country specifically for touring and sightseeing purposes has also more than doubled since 2004 – up to 156,000 from 75,000. Revenues from foreign tourism rose 23% during the period - to $1.1 billion.
"We are in the midst of an economic revolution; Tourism is one of the main engines of growth," said Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson.
Psalm 37: 1-4 - Fret not because of evil-doers, neither be envious against those who live unrighteously.
For they shall soon wither like the grass, and fade as the green herb.
Trust in Hashem, and do good; dwell in the land, and cherish faithfulness.
So shall you delight yourself in Hashem; and He will give you the petitions of your heart.
The Middle East has been growing date palms for centuries. The average tree is about 18-20 feet tall and yields about 38 pounds of dates a year. Israeli date trees are now yielding 400 pounds/year and are short enough to be harvested from the ground or a short ladder. Israel, the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world's population, can lay claim to the following:
All the above while engaged in regular wars with
an implacable enemy that seeks its destruction, and an economy continuously
under strain by having to spend more per capita on its own protection than any
other county on earth.
AND THE FRENCH AMBASSADOR IN ENGLAND SAYS : "ISRAEL IS NOTHING BUT A SHITTY LITTLE COUNTRY"
Hevron Marks 940 Years Since Rambam´s Visit – November 11, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Worshippers at the Patriarchs' Cave in Hevron Friday morning
marked the 940th anniversary of Maimonides visit to the city, burial place of
the Jewish people's Biblical ancestors. The Rambam, an acronym for Rabbi
Moses ben Maimon, or Maimonides, visited Hevron from Egypt in 1066, on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. The visit was part of a
tour by the venerated scholar to Jewish holy sites throughout Israel, including the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
In writing of his journey to Hevron and to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Rambam described his trip:
We left Acco for Jerusalem under perilous conditions.... On the first day of the week, the ninth day of the month of Cheshvan, I left Jerusalem for Hevron to kiss the graves of my forefathers in the Cave of Machpela [Patriarchs' Cave]. And on that day, I stood in the cave and I prayed, praised G-d for everything. And these two days, the sixth [when he prayed at the Temple Mount] and the ninth of Mar-Cheshvan, I vowed to make as a special holiday in which I will rejoice with prayer, food and drink. May the L-rd help me to keep my vows.
Rambam was the chief physician to the Egyptian sultan and
was consulted by Jews as a doctor and spiritual advisor. He also compiled a
massive codification of Jewish law, known as the Mishneh Torah or Yad
HaChazakah. Noam Arnon, spokesman for the Hevron Jewish community, said
that in the near future, a new Internet site entitled "Patriarchs'
Cave" will note historic visits of leading rabbis to Hevron. By Arutz
Anniversary of Rambam's Temple Mount Ascent Tuesday – November 9, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Holy Temple enthusiasts observe Tuesday, the 6th of Heshvan as a minor holiday – a tradition
observed by the Rambam (Maimonides) - to commemorate his ascent of the Temple Mount.
The Rambam (Moshe, son of Maimon, otherwise known as Maimonides) was the
physician to the Sultan of Egypt in the 12th century. His most well known work
is the 14 volume Mishna Torah, (literally, The Repetition of the Torah), which
was the first attempt to systematically codify the entire body of Jewish law,
(halachah). This work became the basis for later codifications, most notably,
the Shulkhan Arukh, written by Rav Yoseph Karo in the 16th century.
In 1166 C.E. the Rambam made a pilgrimage to Israel from his home in Egypt, writing of his trip: "We left Acco for Jerusalem under perilous conditions. I entered into 'the great and holy house' [the term used to refer to the Holy Temple] and prayed there on the sixth day of the month of Cheshvan. And on the first day of the week, the ninth day of the month of Cheshvan, I left Jerusalem for Hebron to kiss the graves of my forefathers in the Cave of Machpela. And on that very day, I stood in the Cave and I prayed, praised be G-d for everything. And these two days, the sixth [when he prayed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem] and the ninth of Mar-Heshvan I vowed to make as a special holiday and in which I will rejoice with prayer, food and drink. May the Lord help me to keep my vows...."
Tuesday morning, Temple Mount activists and educators stood with a sign marking the occasion at the entrance to the Temple Mount at the southern end of the Western Wall plaza. The banner highlighted the fact that the Rambam actually prayed on the Temple Mount, which was under Muslim rule at the time – whereas Jews are banned from uttering a prayer on Judaism's holiest site today, even though it is under Israeli rule. The prayer ban is enforced by Israel police and the Muslim Wakf, who surround and closely watch any Jewish visitors to the site, removing them and banning them from future visits to the mount if they are caught so much as moving their lips in a way resembling prayer. "We hope that this vigil will be the opening shot in the struggle against the anti-Semitic policy of the Israeli government with regard to the Temple Mount," one participant explained.
Rabbi Chaim Richman, Director of the Temple Institute, ascended the Temple Mount Tuesday morning and described the emotional nature of the visit to Arutz-7. "We felt very strongly that we were part of the trajectory of Jewish tradition – that we were continuing the Rambam's tradition," he said. "Despite the fact that we were surrounded by police and Wakf officials who followed us the whole way, we were able to connect to the emotional visit of the Rambam in his time." Visiting the Temple Mount remains a controversial topic in the religious Jewish world. Years of the site being off-limits to non-Muslims and differing opinions with regard to the location of the Holy Temple cause some to advise against visiting the site at all – even within the areas known to have been added by Herod. "It is very frustrating that there are people that go to the extent of doubting that the Rambam even visited the Mount," Richman said. "He writes that he entered the 'great and holy house,' a term used in all our prayers to refer to the Temple, and is exceedingly emotional in his writing on the experience, something that is very rare for the rationalist rabbi, whose works are known for their exacting language. Do they expect us to believe that he risked his life to visit a shtiebl [makeshift synagogue] nearby? Some people are so stuck in the thinking of 'we don't go there' – that they can't accept that he went there. But anyone that reads the text can clearly see what his stance was."
Hundreds of Jews visit the Temple Mount each month, including entire Yeshivas together with their rabbis as the laws of ascending the Holy Mount according to Jewish law are increasingly taught and studied. There is also a movement trying to obtain permission for non-Muslims to visit the mount using the entrance near the Lion's Gate, an area that is permissible according to all opinions and would allow a broader segment of the observant population to visit in accordance with their rabbi's opinions. By Ezra HaLevi
Rashi studied at the great Torah academies of Mayence
(Mainz) and Worms, in Germany, before his family's economic situation forced
him to return to Troyes in 1065. It was during this
period, while helping his widowed mother to manage the family vineyards, that Rashi
produced his famous commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud. While he
considered his Torah commentary to be appropriate for small children, Rashi's
illuminating and succinct explanations and collations of rabbinical exegesis
quickly became powerful study tools for scholars of all ages. The fact that
Rashi was forced to return to Troyes may well have saved his life and his
life's work, as the First Crusade of 1095 decimated the flowering scholarly
communities of Worms and Mainz. Rashi's commentaries contain some of the
only records of the work of Talmudic and Biblical scholars from the German
centers of Jewish learning of the time.
Within a century of his death, Rashi's commentaries on the Bible and Talmud had spread from Western Europe to North Africa, Asia and throughout the Middle East. Rashi's commentaries on the Torah and the Talmud became such an inextricable part of the study of Jewish sources that printers were forced to adapt a distinctive Hebrew font to differentiate Rashi's words from those of the Torah; it became known, as it is today, as "Rashi script". In addition to the content of Rashi's works, he revitalized the Hebrew language in a way that had not been done prior to his time. Chaim Nachman Bialik, one of modern Israel's most respected poets, said that Rashi "produced a wonderful linguistic achievement." Also thanks to Rashi's commentaries, 3,000 ancient French words have been preserved until today, as Rashi sometimes included translations of Hebrew concepts into the local vernacular while explaining Biblical passages.
Typical of Rashi's work, and relevant for the Jewish predicament today in Israel, is his first comment on the Torah. In it, Rashi quotes Rabbi Yitzchak as asking why the Torah begins with the story of creation, when, as an instructional-spiritual text for the Jews, it would have been logical to begin with the first communal commandment, the Sanctification of the New Moon at the beginning of each month, which appears in Exodus. Rabbi Yitzchak, as quoted by Rashi, answers, "It was to teach the world the principle stated by King David, in Psalms 111:6; namely, 'He has declared to His people the power of His works.' So that if the nations of the world say to Israel, 'You are thieves, for you took possession of the land of seven nations by force,' they will be able to answer, 'All the world belongs to G-d. He created it, and gave it to whomever He wished. It was His will that it first be allocated to those nations, and it was by His will that it be taken from them and given to us.'" By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
900th Anniversary of Bible Commentator Rashi´s Death – August 8, 2005
Israel National News - Friday marks the 900th anniversary of the death of one of the Jewish people's greatest Bible and Talmud commentators, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known as Rashi. Rashi was born in Troyes, France and died in the same town on July 13, 1105, at the age of 65. The date of his passing on the Jewish calendar, the 29th of Tammuz, falls on Friday, August 5, this year. The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, a leading intellectual center in Israel for the study and discussion of issues related to philosophy, society, culture and education, held an international conference last week in honor of the medieval scholar.
Similar memorial gatherings are taking place in
various places around the United States, as well as planned events for later
this year in Germany. Throughout the year, the town of Troyes and the Champagne
area in France have hosted a series of events in honor of Rashi, including a
state ceremony in his memory three weeks ago. Walking tours in Troyes feature an exhibition on the Torah scholar, as well as on the town's Jewish history,
at the Rashi Institute on Rue Brunnevel. The exhibition is on display until
Historian: 19th Century European Rivalry Boosted Zionism – August 8, 2005
Israel National News - Did rivalry between two competing European states in
the early part of the 19th century ultimately pave the way for Zionism to take
root in the land of Israel? David Meir Levy,
a historian interviewed by Israel National Radio’s Tovia Singer, says that
competition between Catholic France and Protestant Britain for influence in the
Middle East, beginning around the time of Napoleon, ultimately gave Zionism a
foothold in Israel that led to the creation of the Jewish State.
Listen to the related interview on Israel National Radio
Levy explains how each state attempted to carve out
spheres of political and cultural influence in the Middle East by attempting to
spread its own brand of Christianity among the Moslem Arab population. France for example, set
up Catholic churches and sent priest throughout the Arab world to spread its
version of Christianity among the Arab population and gain influence. The
French Catholic priests (perhaps due to Vatican influence) were very much
opposed to the emerging Zionist movement in the late 19th century. They worked
to rally the Arabs against Zionism, claiming it was designed to weaken Arab
control of the Middle East.
On the other hand, a number of British Protestants, including some in the British government, began adopting a sympathetic approach to Zionism, in reaction to French of antagonism. Some even began to work on behalf of the Zionist cause. As history would have it, Britain, not France eventually got the upper hand in the Middle East. Britain took Palestine from the Moslem Turks in World War I. British government sympathy for the Zionist movement created by Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl at the end of the 19th century led to the 1917 Balfour Declaration calling for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in the land of Israel. Thirty-one years later, of course, only after waging a bitter war against British rule, did Israel become an independent state. The entire interview with David Meir Levy can be heard by by clicking here . By Scott Shiloh
Evening of Study to Honor Anniversary of Nechama Leibowitz – November 23, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Israel's Open University
will be hosting a study evening to mark the 100th birthday of the late Biblical
scholar Nechama Leibowitz, and 900 years since the death of medieval
commentator Rashi. The evening is scheduled for November 27th, at the Open
University's campus in Raanana. Nechama Leibowitz was born in Riga, Latvia in 1905, and passed away in Jerusalem in 1997, at the age of 92. Nechama, as she was widely
known, is recognized as one of the leading Torah teachers of the twentieth
century. She studied in the Universities of Berlin and Marboug, and immigrated
to Israel in 1931 after completing her doctoral studies. Leibowitz taught at
the Mizrachi Women Teachers Seminary, Tel Aviv University and many other
schools and Yeshivot throughout Israel. Professor Leibowitz was awarded the
Israel Prize for Education in 1956.
Rashi (an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak) was born in Troyes, France in 1040. He was educated in Germany and died in the year 1105. Rashi is known as the greatest commentator on the Jewish Written and Oral Law. Experts and beginners alike study Rashi's prolific exegetical writings on the Five Books of Moses and the Talmud. Avraham Nussbaum, Educational Coordinator of the course entitled "The Commentary of Rashi on the Torah," and Dr. Avriel Bar Levav, the Open University’s History, Philosophy, and Jewish Studies Department Head, will head the program. The evening is open to the public and entrance is free of charge. By Debbie Berman
Remembering ´Reb Shlomo´ and Healing the Nation – November 22, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Thousands of people packed Jerusalem’s National Convention Center Saturday night to remember Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach,
giving over his melodies together with his Torah lessons. The
yearly concert has always been a gathering point for the students of the late
rabbi, who come from all walks of life and know their beloved teacher as simply
“Shlomo.” The first such concert was held for Reb Shlomo’s shloshim -
the memorial thirty days after his passing – at Jerusalem’s Heichal Shlomo
hall. From then on, it was held on Shlomo’s birthday for a few years. Emphasis
began to shift to the yahrtzeit (anniversary of his passing) as
spontaneous musical prayer-filled pilgrimages to the rabbi’s Har HaMenuchot
grave became a yearly occurrence and the concert took place first at the
Yeshurun Synagogue – and then outgrew the venue in favor of Binyanei HaUmah
- the largest hall in Jerusalem.
Memorial events are also held in New York, where Reb Shlomo’s synagogue – which he inherited from his father, Rabbi Naftali Carlebach - is located, but the Jerusalem concert is where the part of the rabbi’s legacy that led him to move to Israel and found Moshav Meor Modi’in is most apparent. The concert showcases the living nature of the rabbi’s teachings, which continue to move forward, develop, and affect the Jewish people and bring them home to Israel – “to the Land of their soul,” as one English mainstay melody played at the annual concert terms it. “So many people are living in Israel because of Shlomo,” said Yehuda Katz, the musical director of the concert and redemption rock-band Reva L’Sheva front-man. “I know that I am one of them.” Katz said that he recently heard “an awesome Torah (teaching)” from a student of the Vilna Gaon. “When one returns to the Land of Israel they must sing. Song is what is going to bring achdut (unity) to the Land of Israel.”
A video clip of Shlomo performing for an audience soon after the Six Day War on Israeli television was shown between performers at the concert. The tone and instructive nature of the video set the stage for an emotional evening – one many audience members described as being a very healing experience following the trauma of the summer’s Gaza and northern Shomron expulsion. “Believing in the coming of the Messiah is a belief of every Jew, the Rambam says,” Shlomo said, “but what does that really mean? I’ll tell you. According to our holy rabbis, it means that one must believe with complete faith that the nation of Israel has the ability to bring the messiah and the redemption.”
This year’s concert, in particular, embodied the sort of radical unity that Shlomo’s melodies continue to bring about. Hundreds of young people, many still wearing orange ribbons tied to their wrists and bags - battle-worn from opposing the eviction of Jews from parts of the Land of Israel, sang their hearts out for shalom - peace – a concept and word that the Israeli political lexicon has assigned to a left-wing political viewpoint, but which remains a desire across political lines. Hareidi-religious performers and audience members, some of whom were openly hostile to Reb Shlomo during his lifetime for his stance on women’s issues and outreach, paid homage to the late rabbi in a way that left some former students of Shlomo’s with mixed feelings, while others saw it as a continuation of the humble rabbi’s way.
Rabbi Yoel Rackovsky of the Old City’s Netiv Aryeh yeshiva recalls walking to a wedding on Mt. Zion with Reb Shlomo and
witnessing a teacher of his approach Shlomo and scream at him, saying that he
was despicable and that everything he did was wrong. “Reb Shlomo just stood
there patiently listening, and when the rabbi stormed off, he went back to
talking with us like nothing happened.” Rackovsky added that he later
approached Reb Shlomo, asking him what he was thinking about while he was being
verbally accosted. “He told me, ‘I was just thanking the Holy One Blessed be He
that I was not in his shoes - that I was not that angry at another Jew.’”
Rackovsky relates. Another hallmark of the concert is the performance of rare
songs from among Shlomo Carlebach’s thousands of compositions – launching them
once again into the public consciousness. From there, such melodies – some that
exist on only one audio tape or that were sung only once on someone’s wedding
video - enter the roster of tunes used to sing the Psalms at the Friday evening
Shlomo-minyans, attended by young and old alike in nearly every town in Israel.
One such song at this year’s concert was Utzu Eitza V’Tufar (“They will plot and nothing will come of it…because G-d is with us”). “It is a song some people know, but which I think has been lost and it was an honor to bring it out,” said Katz, whose band, Reva L’Sheva performed the song and recorded it on their recent album. “I know it was a theme song for a lot of people during the Disengagement. We just happened to record it before that. I think that if we want everyone to come together it has to be under the banner of G-d.” Another song, a tune, called “Niggun Neshama,” (Soul Melody) was already being sung by the audience when its performer took the stage. The tune was rediscovered by Shlomo Katz, a student of Reb Shlomo who never knew him. Katz found the song while listening to an old audio tape from a class Shlomo gave in 1985.
After playing several other tunes, before launching into “the niggun,” Katz said: “Physically the higher you fly, the further you are from every person – but spiritually, the higher you fly, the closer you are to every person. It’s such a gift from G-d that such a soul was given to us after the Holocaust - to open our hearts again and to wipe away all our anger and tears.” He then offered a prayer that the tune act as a prayer for G-d to once again send such goodness and inspiration to the world, “because we can’t continue like this.”
He then launched into the melody, which is unique in that the energetic high-part is perfectly in harmony with the introductory low-part – allowing for harmony among those singing different tunes. It will be available on Katz’s upcoming album, to be released on Chanukah. Other performers included Ahron and Yonatan Rahzel, the Witt Family, Chaim Dovid Saracek, Naftali Abramson and Josh Laufer – who, together with his students from the Neve Michael youth village, performed a hip-hop version of a Shlomo classic.
Organizers of the annual event are calling upon the Jerusalem Municipality, which sponsors many cultural events throughout the year, to pitch in to recognize the connection between Reb Shlomo and the holy city. “Shlomo was the great suspension bridge between various communities within our country and indeed the world,” said Shlomo Carlebach Foundation founder Joe Schonwald. “Shlomo criss-crossed the globe bringing the message of Jerusalem to everybody. He did more for Jerusalem and Aliyah than a lot of other organizations that have that in their mission statement and receive funding from the State of Israel and the Jerusalem Municipality. The city has three cultural departments: religious, secular and hareidi. It is a shame that the three never meet and it is high time to recognize Shlomo’s legacy of contribution to Jerusalem’s culture through unity and diversity.”
Schonwald attributes the emotionally-charged nature of this year’s concert to the political events of the past year. “We are so hungry for a spiritually-charged event beyond all politics and beyond slogans - something that transcends the usual denominational lines,” he said. “This was it - people from various walks of life where all there and it could be felt.” Schonwald also added that each year more and more of Shlomo’s contributions to Jewish life are recognized. “We are talking about someone who probably hugged more people than King David. I have seen Carlebach concerts by Sephardi performers, secular performers, hareidi-religious performers - at the reception for the Pope when he visited New York they played Shlomo’s Lema’an Achai V’Reyai (“Because of my Brothers and Friends”). “We owe the renewal of Jewish prayer and worship to the liturgy that Shlomo wrote. He was the singing rabbi, but he was also the father of Jewish music. Before that we had songs that came out of our European or geographic experiences, but that wasn’t Jewish music per se. Shlomo invented Jewish music for our generation.” By Ezra HaLevi
Endangered Baby Elephant Born in Biblical Zoo – December 13, 2005
Lekarev - In the first event of its kind in Israel's history, an endangered Asian Elephant in Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo has given birth to a baby elephant after fertility treatment and an arduous labor.
The mother, named Tamar, was in labor for four hours – at which point a live internet broadcast of the birth was halted and veterinary staff decided to hasten the birth. Two hour later the calf was born – healthy and weighing 198 pounds. Oy Vey!!
The baby elephant is the first to be born in Israel and just the 11th Asian Elephant on earth to be born through the complex fertility method. Zookeepers were concerned that the fact that Tamar was raised in captivity would preclude the 21-year-old elephant from bonding with her child. The mother and child quickly bonded however, and they can be seen on the zoo's web site.
The Biblical Zoo, which displays animals mentioned in the Bible alongside specific passages referring to them, was also recently blessed with the birth of a new giraffe, named Shelly.
To see the new baby, click below and then click on the words 'the baby elephant' in the third paragraph.
Issue of Conversions Back in Court – November 29, 2005
Lekarev - For years Supreme Court justices have tried to avoid one of Israel's most loaded issues, but no longer. The court must rule today on seven appeals by Reform and Conservative converts to Judaism for recognition as Jews under the Law of Return. On one level, the matter is procedural: Back in March, the court approved so-called "jump conversions," in which candidates complete non- Orthodox conversion courses in Israel but travel overseas for their actual conversion ceremonies. Now, converts are trying to do away once-and-for- all with the Orthodox monopoly on conversion inside Israel by demanding full recognition of their right to convert according to non-Orthodox denominations with no reservations.
The appeals, filed by attorney Nicole Maor of the Center for Jewish Pluralism, represent seven clients, five of whom are foreign residents in Israel and are married to Israeli citizens. The other two are officially tourists – one is a lecturer in Yiddish at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the other is an American- born computer specialist who has lived in Israel for a decade.
The 'hot' issue is: Does non-Orthodox Judaism have the right to conduct conversions in Israel or not? Attorney Maor's argument is that "A person who studies here, who undergoes almost the entire process here – has the right to convert here. We do not want to send people overseas. Israel is the natural and correct place for them to complete the process." The Court already set a precedent in an earlier case, as outlined below in the article linked. It will be very difficult for them to reverse that position now and the ramifications are enormous for increasngly large numbers of converts to Judaism.
Atlit - The Museum of Illegal Immigration – December 6, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - During most of their mandate in Israel, the British restricted Jewish immigration. Right after the Holocaust, during which more cart one-third of the Jewish population was destroyed, As the numbers of ma'apilim increased, the British opened detention camps for those who sere caught.
The largest of the detention camps was Atlit; less than twenty kilometers south of Haifa. The site was chosen because it on the Mediterranean and close to the main British naval base at Haifa, since the sea was was major route of the ha'apala. Over the past few years, the Atlit detention camp has been rebuilt and is being developed as a museum of the ha'apala.
letters delivered to Western Wall – December 15, 2005
Israel Today - The Israeli postal service, which sorts more than 2 million pieces of mail a day, comes across several addressed to God, the Holy Land or Jesus. Rather than relegate the letters to bins of undeliverable mail, they are brought to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, a few times a year. Postal authorities consider the letters private conversations with God and do not open them. Letters come from all corners of the globe, including a few from predominantly Muslim nations like Indonesia. "This place is the holiest place for the Jews, and it is the first gate for prayers. That's why a prayer in this place is important and these notes are important," said Shmuel Rabinovitch, chief rabbi at the site. The Western Wall is considered a remnant of the second Temple, and many people come to the wall to pray and slip notes with requests between the ancient sto nes.
Jewish Life in Germany Restored and Expanding - November 28, 2005
Lekarev -Hardly a month passes in Germany without news of a newly built, reconstructed or renovated synagogue making the news – or of a new congregation being formed or, for the very least, getting recognition by the central Jewish community authorities. Increasing numbers of Jews have been rediscovering their heritage and are no longer afraid of saying so in public. Fraternal lodges, social and cultural clubs and new religious congregations are sprouting up throughout the country.
Many of the new organizations are accommodating people who until now had not found the stream of Judaism that meets their specific spiritual needs within the existing structures. The new demand has created a need to build new synagogues, resurrect destroyed ones and renovated those that are crumbling at their seems.
It has also opened up the way for new congregations. Dozens of buildings have been either reconstructed or rebuilt. Projects are underway for dozens more – from Berlin to Munich and Leipzig to Wuppertal.
United After 61 Years – November 28, 2005
Lekarev - 61 years ago, Joanna Zalucka hid a young Jewish girl in her bedroom for eight months, saving the child from the Nazi killing spree in their native Poland. The girl survived, was reunited with her parents, and moved to Brooklyn in 1953. On Friday, Ruth Gruener - now 72 with two grown sons - was reunited with her old friend from Poland, finally returning a lifesaving favor by hosting her World War II benefactor for two weeks.
Here in Israel, the political scene gets more intriguing by the day. Should Shimon Peres resign from Labor, it will be the second 'political earthquake' in less than a week. Stay tuned - it can only get more interesting!
In response to questions from some of you, I have provided a link below for a summary explanation of Isreal's political parties and the recent history of Israeli politics. The only addition to it is the formation of Sharon's new party, Kadima.
Ethiopian Immigration to be Renewed – November 10, 2005
Lekarev - Israel and Ethiopia have agreed to the renewal of the immigration of the Falash Mura, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Wednesday evening. Shalom issued a statement saying that the immigration of the community that had stopped completely a few months ago because of domestic problems in Ethiopia, would now be renewed at the rate of 600 people a month. This is the number that was agreed upon by the government this year.
The ministry's deputy director-general for Africa, Miriam Ziv, headed a team that held talks with the Ethiopian government this week. One ministry official said that last week's political violence in Addis Ababa seems to be over and would not have an impact on the agreement. "We have worked, and will continue to work at all levels to end the suffering of those in the camps living in difficult conditions," Shalom said, referring to Falash Mura waiting in compounds for permission to come to Israel. "I hope that by the end of 2007, we can complete the immigration of the entire Falash Mura community."
More 'Lost' Jews Returning Home – December 21, 2005
Lekarev - Majorca’s Jews are gearing up for a seminar aimed at strengthening the Jewish community on the small island off the coast of Spain, and reaching out to the area's large crypto-Jewish population. The event is being organized by Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based group that assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people. It will include traditional festive Sabbath services and meals, lectures and study groups on Jewish historical and religious subjects, and a walking tour of Palma de Majorca’s ancient Jewish quarter.
"Majorca’s Jews suffered terrible persecution over the centuries. As far back as the 1300s, the island was the scene of horrific massacres and forced conversions,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund, noting that the Inquisition was formally abolished in Majorca only after the French conquered it in 1808.Nonetheless, Freund said, many of those forced to convert continued to practice Judaism in secret, at great peril to their lives and well-being.
Though outwardly Catholic, Majorca’s crypto-Jews were never fully accepted by their Christian neighbors, who referred to them by the derogatory Catalan term “Chueta”, or “pig”, and refused to marry them. Historians believe there may be as many as 10- 15,000 identifiable “Chuetas” now living on the island. In recent years, a growing number of Majorca’s crypto-Jews have begun seeking to reclaim their Jewish roots. Several have moved to Israel, where they have formally returned to Judaism or are in the process of doing so.
Pace of Immigration From Ethiopia to Double – November 11, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Even as India successfully pressed for a halt to conversions to Judaism in Manipur and Mizoram, Ethiopia agreed to double the number of Jews emigrating to Israel each month. Israel and Ethiopia have reached an agreement that would set the number of people immigrating from Ethiopia to Israel each month at 600. Ethiopian-Israeli activists had warned that at the previous
300-per-month pace, many would die before the 20,000-strong Jewish community in
the African state would make it home to Israel.
In October, family members of those Jews still in displaced persons camps in Ethiopia held a demonstration in Jerusalem calling on the government to speed up the pace of immigration. In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to expedite the aliyah (immigration) of Ethiopian Jews, in an effort to save many lives. However, government sources claimed, the Ethiopian government was, until now, not forthcoming. Meanwhile, the Indian government has pressured Israel into ordering a halt to conversions in the areas of Manipur and Mizoram. Such conversions were facilitating the aliyah of members of the Bnei Menashe community, who are considered a "lost tribe" dating back more than 2,500 years.
Israel recently authorized rabbis to
travel and convert Bnei Menashe members in their own communities, as a result
of changes in Interior Ministry directives prohibiting immigration for the
purpose of conversion. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar had authorized the conversions,
saying that he recognized the Bnei Menashe as Israelites who followed Jewish
laws and traditions.Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "The
Indian authorities, through official channels, told us they do not view
positively initiated efforts at conversions to other religions." He said a
Knesset committee has asked the government to reconsider the location of the
conversions. Nearly 1,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community have
moved to Israel, and a large number live in Judea and Samaria. Several families
also lived in the dismantled communities in Gush Katif. About 6,000 families of
the community remain in India. By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz & Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Outreach Center for Brazilian Anousim Opens – December 4, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - For the first time, a Jewish educational center has opened in Brazil aimed at reaching out to the large numbers of Bnai Anousim living in the area. Bnai Anousim are descendants of Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Inquisition which began in the 15th century. “Beit Aryeh - the Shavei Israel Center for Bnai Anousim” is located in the northern Brazilian city of Recife. It was launched at the initiative of the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization, which reaches out and
assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people.
The first synagogue in the Americas - Cong. Zur Israel, 1640 - was recently restored on this site in Brazil
Heading the center is Rabbi Avraham Amitai, who was
dispatched last year as Shavei Israel’s official emissary in Recife, where he
also serves as rabbi of the local Jewish community. A graduate of Israeli
rabbinical seminaries, Rabbi Amitai is fluent in Hebrew, English and
Portuguese. “The center will serve as a focal point of our outreach work
to Bnai Anousim here in northern Brazil,” Rabbi Amitai said, noting that “there
are large numbers of people in this part of the country whose families are of
Jewish descent and who wish to return to their roots.” “We
have already begun holding classes,” he said, “for those interested in learning
more about their Jewish heritage and reconnecting with the Jewish people.”
Subjects taught at the Center include Hebrew language, Jewish history and
tradition, as well as Jewish practice and thought. “Historians
believe that northeastern Brazil is home to one of the largest concentrations of Bnai Anousim in the world,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund. “Portuguese crypto-Jews arrived in Recife back in the 16th century,
and there were said to be as many as 10 secret synagogues operating in the
By the 1590s, the Inquisition began to operate in Recife, and many “secret Jews” were sent back to Lisbon, Portugal where they were burned at the stake for
their beliefs, Freund
said. “Nonetheless, countless others succeeded in preserving their Jewish
identity, covertly passing it down through the generations until today, and it
is our obligation to reach out to these people and to help them to return.” The
Center, he added, is named “Beit Aryeh” after Freund’s great-great-grandfather,
Reb Aryeh Chaim Kottler of blessed memory, “who was forced to leave his home in
Russia together with his family to flee anti-Semitic persecution, just as the
ancestors of the Bnai Anousim had to leave Spain and Portugal in order to
escape their tormentors.”
here to listen to the interview with Freund on Israel National Radio
In addition to Brazil, Shavei Israel currently has emissaries in Spain and Portugal working to facilitate the return of the Bnai Anousim to the Jewish people. It also operates Machon Miriam, a Spanish-language conversion institute in Jerusalem under the auspices of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, where many Bnai Anousim complete their formal process of return to Judaism.
Thousands Flock to Jerusalem for Traditional Festival of Sigd – December 6, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Last week several thousand Ethiopian Jews gathered in Jerusalem for a celebration of the traditional holiday of Sigd. The holiday of Sigd was a fundamental element of the Jewish experience in Ethiopia. The holiday that falls on the 29th day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, exactly 50 days after Yom Kippur (similar to the 50-day cycle of the days of the Omer preceding the giving of the Torah), is dedicated to fasting and prayer, evoking the connection to Jerusalem and the covenant between G-d and the Jewish people. According to Avraham Negousi, Director of the Ethiopian immigrant organization, South Wing to Zion, the Sigd celebration helped the Jewish community in the faraway exile of Ethiopia maintain their yearning to return to Zion.
Festival in Jerusalem with the Ethiopian Jews
Click here to listen to the interview with Avraham Negousi
The source of the holiday is in the book of Nehemiah when the exiled Jews prayed“ toward Jerusalem. The Ethiopian Jews prayed together 'Next year in Jerusalem'. The holiday was about connecting to the receiving of the Torah and the promise that one day we will reach Jerusalem," recalled Negousi. In Ethiopia, Jews, while stil l fasting, set out during the morning hours of the day on a march to the peak of a nearby mountaintop, led by their spiritual leaders, Kessim, and carrying the traditional torah scrolls. Continued prayer and worship accompanied the ascent to the mountaintop where selected readings from the Torah were read in the language of Gaaz and then translated into the vernacular Amharit. In the afternoon the participants would descend to local villages where the fast was broken with joyous meals amidst festive dancing celebrations.
Festival in Jerusalem with the Ethiopian Jews
Last week's Sigd festivities were held in Jerusalem, where thousands of Israeli Ethiopian Jews gathered from across the country at the Armon Hanatziv promenade overlooking the Temple Mount. In attendance at the event were government representatives, Ethiopian community leaders and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who commended the Ethiopian Jews' dedication to upholding their traditions. "It is amazing that after the long journey you made from Ethiopia to Jerusalem, you did not leave behind this glorious tradition," said Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni. Although the nature of the celebrations has changed since their arrival in Israel, Ethiopian leaders continue to maintain the importance of the Sigd holiday. "Once we came here we decided to continue this holiday on top of East Talpiot, toward the western wall, praying and thanking G-d for fulfilling his promise, for realizing our dream and giving us the opportunity to be in Jerusalem and also to pray for those left behind in Ethiopia to come and join us," Negousi stated. Our dream is to be in the state of Israel and Jerusalem. Today more than 100,000 “Ethiopian Jews are proud citizens of Israel, however the Aliyah of Ethiopian Jewry is not completed. There are still 20,000 Jews in Ethiopia waiting to come to Israel to rejoin their brothers, parents and families," Negousi said, adding, "The government has decided to bring them to Israel by the end of 2007, but there is a government quota of only 300 a month. An agreement has been made to double the number to 600, but sadly this has not yet been implemented."
Negousi denied claims that many of those awaiting
immigration to Israel are not halachically Jewish. "Rav Shlomo Amar
visited in Ethiopia and declared that they are Jews without a doubt and they
must be brought to Israel. Every Jewish community has passed through a
different historical process. The Ethiopian Jewish community also went through
difficulties including persecution and drought," Negousi explained. Ethiopian
leaders, including Negousi, remain optimistic about the future of their people
among their Israeli peers. "Most of my community comes from remote areas
so it is not easy for them to integrate into modern society and urbanization,
but our community is doing well, we are going in the right direction,"
stated Negousi. For Negousi the contemporary Sigd festivities resonate with
deep spiritual meaning and offer an opportunity to express his appreciation
that the dream of his people of returning to Zion has been realized. "Our
fathers and grandfathers told us that we will go to Jerusalem. As a child I
remember being told that the Prophets say that all the Jews will be returned to
the Land of Israel. We love Israel and we love Jerusalem. Once a year thousands
come to Jerusalem to say thank you," said Negousi. By Debbie Berman
The Holocaust and the Nuremberg Trials Remembered
Landmark Nazi trial is remembered – November 20, 2005
NUREMBERG, Germany -- American prosecutor Whitney R. Harris gazed at the top Nazis in front of him - men like Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Julius Streicher - as their war crimes trial opened 60 years ago and immediately knew his mission.Later he would reflect on the significance of the landmark trial at Nuremberg: the establishment of charges like "war crimes" in a new international law and the principle that individuals could be held responsible for their aggression.
On Nov. 20, 1945, the 33-year-old Harris sought justice for the 21 Nazis on trial."These were evil men, and what they did was our task to expose, and we did get the evidence and we were able to do so," Harris said. Harris, now 93, returned Sunday with three witnesses to Courtroom 600 in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, where the trials were held, to mark the anniversary.
Arno Hamburger, 82, recalled seeing many of the defendants at the Nazis' annual rallies in Nuremberg before he fled the country because he was Jewish. "It was a very depressing feeling that the people in the dock considered themselves innocent and upright citizens who had only been in secondary positions," said Hamburger, who sat in on some of the trial before joining the court as a simultaneous interpreter for follow-up trials of more than 100 Nazis over the next three years. When it ended, however, Hamburger said his "feeling was that finally, in spite of all the atrocities, justice won over."
Over 218 trial days, the high-ranking Nazis faced a panel of judges that represented the victorious Allies - the United States, Soviet Union, Britain and France. The trial established the offenses of crimes against peace, waging a war of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Its legacy can be seen in the cases under way or being prepared against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the leaders of the genocide in Rwanda. It was also a precursor to today's international system of justice, said Johann-Georg Schaetzler, one of Hess' defense attorneys. "It set the precedent for the establishment of the international criminal court, which was needed," Schaetzler, 84, told The Associated Press.
Prosecutors were able to rely on the Nazis' own meticulous records for much of their case, as well as hundreds of statements - with witnesses often recounting the greatest horrors with the utmost banality, Harris recalled. He remembered interrogating Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess for three days, taking a statement that would later be used to prosecute him for war crimes and send him to the gallows. "Hoess was a very unimpressive individual, he looked like a clerk at a grocery store, he didn't look like a big Nazi or murderer or anything like that, but he was responsive to my questions," Harris said. "I asked Hoess how many men, women and children did you murder in this camp, and he told me just like this gentleman sitting next to me, 2.5 million ... I said to him, but the conditions were terrible, how many people died of starvation or disease or reasons other than the gas chambers, and he said another half million."
Simon Wiesenthal Dies at 96 – September 20, 2005
Lekarev - Famed Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, died in Vienna at the age of 96, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has announced. “Simon Wiesenthal was the conscience of the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the International Human Rights NGO named in Mr. Wiesenthal’s honor, adding “When the Holocaust ended in 1945 and the whole world went home to forget, he alone remained behind to remember.” “He did not forget. He became the permanent representative of the victims, determined to bring the perpetrators of the history’s greatest crime to justice,” Hier said. “There was no press conference and no president or Prime Minister or world leader announced his appointment. He just took the job. It was a job no one else wanted.”
Wiesenthal was born on December 31, 1908 in Ukraine. During World War II he was assigned to a forced labor camp, but eventually managed to escape. Following the war, he began gathering evidence on Nazi atrocities on behalf of the War Crimes Section of the American military.
In 1953 Wiesenthal received information that former senior Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was living in Argentina. He relayed the information to the Israeli government, but for some unknown reason, Israel received erroneous information that Eichmann was living in Syria. It was only in 1959 that Eichmann's presence in Argentina could be verified.
In 1962, Eichmann was abducted by Mossad agents in Buenos Aires, brought to Israel, and tried for crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Eichmann was found guilty and executed on May 31, 1962. As a result of Wiesenthal’s efforts, over 1,100 Nazi war criminals were brought to justice. The many honors bestowed upon Wiesenthal include decorations from the Austrian and French resistance movements, the Dutch Freedom Medal, the Luxembourg Freedom Medal, the United Nations League for the Help of Refugees Award, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal presented to him by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, and the French Legion of Honor which he received in 1986.
Israel Honors a Great Man – September 23, 2005
Lekarev - The burial ceremony of beloved Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal in a Herzliya cemetery began at noon today, after he passed away Tuesday in Vienna at the age of 96. An estimated 2,000 mourners and representatives of the various branches of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) and of the world media attended the funeral. Among those present were fellow Nazi-hunter Tuvia Friedman, MK Natan Sharansky, and a representative of the Austrian Ministry of Justice.
Deputy Minister of Diaspora and Social Affairs, Rabbi Michael Melchior, who was a personal acquaintance of Wiesenthal, also came to the funeral representing the government, as requested by the bereaved family, according to Dr. Efraim Zuroff head of the SWC Israel office. Zuroff has worked for 25 years, with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and with the US's Office of Special Investigations, toward the capture of hundreds of people who committed crimes against Jews.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the SWC, commented to The Jerusalem Post, "This is Simon Wiesenthal's day. He loved Israel; he worked for Israel," Hier said. "[Wiesenthal] worked for the Mossad, he worked with them. There was a lot of co- operation between Wiesenthal and Israel, especially in the beginning," Hier recalled.
Holocaust Hero Dies at 100 – December 8, 2005
Lekarev - The former head of the Dutch electronics giant Philips, who helped save the lives of hundreds of Jewish workers during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, has died at the age of 100. Frits Philips, the last of the family dynasty to lead the electronics group, died late Monday, the Amsterdam-based company said.
During World War II, Frits Philips stayed in the German-occupied Netherlands while other family members fled to North America. During the war years, when Philips supplied electronics to Germany, he secured positions at his factory in the Vught prison camp for as many Jews as possible, delaying their deportation to the Auschwitz death camp. At one point he was imprisoned by the Nazis.
He was awarded the Yad Vashem medal by Israel in 1995 for his efforts to save Jewish workers - almost 380 prisoners survived out of 496 who started work. He said he was no hero and that many others had helped to save lives. "Frits Philips, in risking his life to save Jews during the Holocaust, showed extraordinary courage in the face of terrible circumstances," Yad Vashem said yesterday.
May his name and his memory be blessed among the righteous Gentiles.
Yad Vashem Honors 'Righteous Gentiles' – December 7, 2005
Lekarev - Israel's Yad Vashem institute paid tribute yesterday to 85 Austrians who risked their lives to save their Jewish friends and neighbors during the Holocaust. Among those recognized for their courage in defying the Nazis were Hermine Riss, who hid a Jewish woman in her Vienna home between 1942 and 1945, and Danuta and Ewald Kleisinger, who saved the lives of several Jews by giving them sanctuary in their Warsaw home.
Riss was honored posthumously with the title "Righteous Among The Nations," joining the Kleisingers and 82 other Austrians already recognized. The Kleisingers were additionally given honorary memorial Israeli citizenship, an honor Danuta Kleisinger accepted from Israeli Ambassador Dan Ashbel on behalf of herself and her late husband.
Visitors to Israel who have previously visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem must add it to their next itinerary as the new Yad Vashem is fantastic. The slide show with this article, from the new Yad Vashem website, gives a small glimpse into the new museum.
Lekarev - I couldn't believe my eyes! On last night's TV news here in Israel, a Dutch video clip was aired, an "invitation" to a party at Auschwitz in which participants will be "treated" to showers in the gas chambers and were called upon to "dress like skinny Jews". The video was appalling! The news anchorman was nearly speechless himself after it was shown.
The outrage was immediate with several groups, including some in Holland, condemning the video and the whole idea of such a "party". Several websites who had put the video on their site removed it. One spokesman said "it was a joke". It's no joke! Particularly with the rampant anti-Semitism which has again reared its head throughout Europe.
Does anybody still wonder whether or not we are in the period of history the Torah calls the 'end of days'?
UN Approves Holocaust Day – November 2, 2005
Lekarev - The United Nation's General Assembly unanimously approved Israel's resolution and set January 27th as the international Holocaust commemoration day. The approval was expected and no country wanted to object. However, following the approval Muslim countries' representatives expressed their reservations.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom lauded the United Nation’s decision. “We are talking about a historic decision, the first of its kind since the establishment of the country (Israel,) he said. “The U.N. General Assembly adopted an Israeli proposal - that marks a precedent.”
Gillerman recalled that the United Nations was founded on the ashes of the Holocaust and the commitment to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." The resolution described an "indelible link" between the world body and the "unique tragedy" of the war. "While the Holocaust was a unique tragedy for the Jewish people, its lessons are universal," he said. "The Holocaust was carried out at the height of the rational age and it represents a watershed in human history. It brought us face to face with the full extent of man’s capacity for inhumanity to his fellow man."
Ten years after Rabin’s assassination, the case for conspiracy is reopened – November 6, 2005
Debkafiles - As the 10th anniversary memorial ceremonies for the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin go into high gear, more people are asking how a lone killer, the ultranationalist Yigael Amir, was able to get close enough to the heavily-guarded prime minister to shoot him in the back as he left a Tel Aviv peace rally. And if there was a conspiracy, what was the motive behind it?
Unlike the Kennedy assassination in 1963, where the murderer and his murderer died before they could speak, so generating an industry of myth and speculation, Rabin’s killer survived to face justice. Yet unresolved doubts keep on surfacing. Addressing the private memorial ceremony at his graveside Thursday, Nov. 3, Rabin’s daughter Dahlia Rabin-Pelosof said: “He was ahead of his time.” But she has made no secret of the fact that the Rabin family has more than one unanswered question about the circumstances of the tragedy. In the intervening 10 years, others have joined her in refusing to be satisfied with simplistically blaming “right wing extremists” and an alleged ambience conducive to violence.
This campaign has been refueled by the anniversary events. Two weeks before the 10th anniversary of Rabin’s death, several media reported that Amir, who is serving a life sentence without parole, is thinking of applying for a new trial because fresh evidence has come to light. Amir, who never went back on his confession to the murder, has not confirmed this. The spreading skepticism about the obvious answers persuaded Dror Yitzhaki, the former head of the Shin Beit internal security services’ bodyguard detail on duty at the time, to break the long silence he maintained from the time of his resignation. In a television interview Friday, Nov. 4, he called for a new inquiry into the unexplained intelligence and security failures leading up to the murder. He did not question Amir’s culpability, but said he was baffled by some of the circumstances.
1. His men had been drilled to be sure that in all circumstances, they would fire “the first and second bullets” - and no one else. Yet the assassin was able to shoot twice and the bodyguards held their fire. Someone was heard shouting three times “They’re blanks!” That someone was never found.
2. Amir was not the only trespasser to encroach on the “sterile” zone around the prime minister; just overhead, a cameraman had taken up position on a balcony well within marksman’s range. No one interfered when he filmed the crime from start to finish.
3. If there was indeed a third hole or tear in Rabin’s shirt, as has been claimed recently, Yitzhaki asserted it could not have been caused by the killer who fired twice, but only by a member of the security detail.
4. Before the Rabin assassination, Yitzhaki questioned the use of Shin Beit agents as plants to bring right-wing circles into public odium. In particular, he asked about the role played by Avishai Raviv, code-named Champagne, who established a close relationship with Yigael Amir. He was told in the Shin Beit not to worry, “He is one of ours.”
5. But then, a phony secret sect called Eyal was set up by Raviv so that its members could be shown on television at a fascist-style swearing-in ceremony. Wearing masks, they vowed in chorus to go to go all the way, including laying down their lives, for the cause. Yitzhaki asked what that was about and was told “They are all ours.”
Yitzhaki told the television interviewer he was horrified to discover the masked men were Shin Beit agents. This was before the assassination and he could not understand what was going on.
6. He also disclosed that Agent Raviv was present at the peace rally, the scene of Rabin’s death. This was not generally known before. It meant that a Shin Beit operative who was well acquainted with Amir was on the spot and could have identified him in time to prevent the killing.
7. After the murder, an inquiry commission headed by the former supreme court president was set up to get to the bottom of the crime. Yitzhaki was told by a “senior judicial source” that the commission was cautioned not to bare all the facts but rather to hold them back.
8. The former bodyguard said he had repeatedly told the former Shin Beit chief and other senior officers that a thorough internal debate was needed to once and for all establish to the satisfaction of the organization how the tragedy could have happened and clear away the mysteries. He never received a reply. Now he is proposing another state inquiry - this time to get to the bottom of the truth.
Mysteries Surround Rabin's Death 10 Years Later - November 4, 2005, marks ten years since the assassination of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin. Now, just before the ten year anniversary of Rabin's murder, controversial footage of the event has reappeared. Over the years, despite continuous and intense media coverage and analysis of the assassination and its ramifications, the video of the assassination, known as the Kempler video, had virtually disappeared from public view. In addition, the purported maker of the video, amateur photographer Ron Kempler, appeared on television only once when the clip was screened. Since then, he appears to have vanished without a trace.
Not unlike the Kennedy assassination in 1963, Rabin’s assassination is riddled with factual inconsistencies that have given birth to conspiracy theories. Interestingly, both assassinations were filmed by amateur photographers. In both cases, examination and analysis of the filmed footage raise serious questions which conspiracy researchers use to support their contentions. But while the Zapruder film is readily available for viewing and scrutiny by the general public, the Kempler video has only recently come out of hiding. For anyone interested, you can click below to view the film for yourself and come to your own conclusions, as well as read a bit more about this intriguing and tragic event in modern Jewish history.
When you go to the page below, scroll down to view the complete video. It will be helpful to read the article first, as it notes several places in the video which merit particular attention.
Israeli PM shot dead
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has been assassinated. Mr Rabin was shot three times at close range in the stomach and chest by an assailant as he left a peace rally in Tel Aviv earlier on Saturday. He was taken to hospital in Tel Aviv where he later died. The gunman, named as Yigal Amir, was rapidly overpowered and arrested. He is believed to be one of the founders of an illegal Jewish settlement on the West Bank and a member of an extreme right-wing organisation.
The rally at which Mr Rabin was shot was attended by about 100,000 Israelis who back the Rabin government's peace initiatives with the Palestinians.
Mr Rabin's peace deal with the Palestinians caused hostility at home
Security was tight but police allowed right-wing groups, who oppose any peace deal, to protest nearby. Israel TV said Yigal Amir, 27, had confessed to shooting the prime minister and had told investigators that he did not regret his actions. Leaders from around the world are expected to attend Mr Rabin's funeral which takes place on Monday. US President Bill Clinton said Yitzhak Rabin had given his life in the pursuit of peace. The chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat, expressed condolences on behalf of the Palestinians. "I hope that all of us - the Israelis and the Palestinians - will have the ability to overcome the tragedy and continue the peace process in all of the Middle East," Mr Arafat said. Israel's foreign minister, Shimon Peres, has been appointed as acting prime minister after an emergency cabinet meeting.
I hope that all of us will have the ability to overcome the tragedy and continue the peace process in all of the Middle East - Yasser Arafat, PLO chairman
Yigal Amir received a life prison sentence for the assassination. Amir's brother, Hagai, and Dror Adnani were sentenced to 12 years and seven years respectively for conspiracy. In 1998 Margalit Har-Shefi, to whom Amir had told his plans, received a nine-month prison term for failing to prevent Mr Rabin's murder. Shimon Peres pushed on with Yitzhak Rabin's efforts to make peace with the Palestinians. But in an election in 1996 he lost to Binyamin Netanyahu who campaigned against the Rabin-Peres peace programme.
Rabin Assassination Video Resurfaces After 10 Year Absence – November 3, 2005
Israel National News - November 4, 2005, marks ten years since the
assassination of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin. Now, just before the ten year
anniversary of Rabin's murder, controversial footage of the event has
reappeared. Over the years, despite continuous
and intense media coverage and analysis of the assassination and its
ramifications, the video of the assassination, known as the Kempler video, had
virtually disappeared from public view. Since
its showing on Channel 2 Israel television two months after the assassination,
the Kempler video, one of history’s most dramatic and important video clips,
has been hidden, perhaps deliberately, from the eyes of the public. It was
never screened again on Israel's state-regulated television, nor was it
available on the internet.
Likewise, the purported maker of the video, amateur photographer Ron Kempler, appeared on television only once when the clip was screened. Since then, he appears to have vanished without a trace. The circumstances under which the assassination occurred provided the left with fertile ground for a decade of denouncing and delegitimizing Israel's nationalist camp and its political agenda, particularly against the national-religious camp. Yigal Amir, a law student, activist, and vehement opponent of the Oslo accords, who was identified politically with the national-religious camp, was arrested and convicted of carrying out the assassination.
For the 25 years prior to the assassination, that group, more than any other, had been identified with the drive to settle Israel’s ancient Biblical heartland, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, liberated during the 1967 Six-Day War. On the other hand, Rabin’s main accomplishment as prime minister was the signing of the Oslo accords. Those accords were designed to relinquish Israeli control of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and install in its place, a Palestinian state, run by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an international terrorist organization led by Yassir Arafat.
As Israel prepared to relinquish control of cities liberated in the Six-Day War to PLO control, tension in Israel between Rabin’s supporters and detractors reached a feverish pitch. The stage was set for November 4, 1995, the assassination of a prime minister, and a ten-year vendetta against the opponents of Rabin’s policies.
But did Yigal Amir really kill Yitzhak Rabin?
Not unlike the Kennedy assassination in 1963, Rabin’s assassination is riddled with factual inconsistencies that have given birth to conspiracy theories. Interestingly, both assassinations were filmed by amateur photographers. In both cases, examination and analysis of the filmed footage raise serious questions which conspiracy researchers use to support their contentions. But while the Zapruder film is readily available for viewing and scrutiny by the general public, the Kempler video has only recently come out of hiding. By Scott Shiloh
Click here to view the full Kempler Video if it does not appear below.
Private website operator David Rutstein explores on his Hebrew site glaring inconsistencies in the official assassination documents and has made available for the first time the full-length Kempler video for ongoing public scrutiny. As a result, anyone interested in the Rabin assassination, conspiracy buffs included, can now watch the video and decide for himself whether it supports or contradicts the Israeli government’s claim that Yigal Amir acted alone in assassinating the prime minister. The conspiracy theorists contend that the upper echelons of Israel's secret service orchestrated either an assassination attempt which backfired or an actual assassination. A number of conspiracy theorists, the most prominent among them, Barry Chamish, do not deny that Amir was involved in the assassination. Concurrently, they are not interested in exonerating Amir or granting him clemency.
Barry Chamish claims that Amir’s weapon fired only blanks at the prime minister. The real assassin was positioned in the back seat of Rabin’s car. This unknown assassin shot and killed Rabin only after his body guard, Yoram Rubin, pushed him into the car, following Amir’s gunshots. Persons who espouse this theory claim that if Rabin indeed had been hit by Amir’s bullet (according to medical reports, the first bullet shattered Rabin’s spine) he would not have been able to remain standing, turn aside, and cast his face, startled, in Amir’s direction. Yet Rabin does exactly this, as the video clearly indicates at the 7:10 minute mark and again in slow motion at 8:20 minutes. Rabin’s facial expression does not depict any pain, not something one would expect after sustaining a serious wound of any kind, particularly a spinal injury.
This point is reiterated by one of the three bodyguards closest to Rabin, agent S.N. (possibly S.G.) who delivered his testimony on November 16, 1995 to police Internal Security Unit officer Yoav Gazit: "During the salvo I jumped towards the Prime Minister and his personal bodyguard (Yoram Rubin). I didn't hear any cry of pain from the Prime Minister or from his bodyguard and I didn't notice any traces (signs) of blood. I and the personal bodyguard put the Prime Minister into his car and Rubin jumped with him inside and the car quickly exited the area. At this stage it wasn't clear to me whether the PM or the bodyguard were hit or not."
One of the most astonishing and mysterious events in the film occurs after Amir fires his shots. Kempler’s video clearly and unmistakably shows (7:17 minutes into video and repeated at 8:40) the back rear door of Rabin’s vehicle close before Rabin’s body guard, Yoram Rubin, whisks the prime minister into the drivers’ side of the car. Chamish suggests that Rabin’s actual assailant may have been pre-positioned in the back seat of the car as part of a conspiracy to eliminate the prime minister. No one has yet to come up with another plausible explanation as to why the rear door of Rabin’s Cadillac suddenly slammed shut. The prime minister’s car was not equipped with automatic doors. One explanation claims that the Cadillac’s doors were built to close automatically if the car is suddenly shaken. But the rear door shut before the others entered the vehicle. That theory also does not explain why the front door opposite the driver remained open.
Another event depicted in the video that warrants examination is the conduct of Shimon Peres, one of the main architects of the Oslo accords, who served as Rabin’s foreign minister. At the conclusion of that night's mass demonstration in support of the Rabin government, held at a Tel Aviv park adjacent to city hall, Shimon Peres is filmed mingling with the crowd just meters away from Yigal Amir, who was inexplicably waiting for his target in a supposedly “sterile” area, reserved only for authorized security personnel. After finishing with the crowd, Peres approaches Rabin’s car (6:20 minutes), which was parked behind his own in the sterile area. Peres stops by the car, and appears to look inside, or inspect the vehicle for something. Peres then starts talking with a body guard who points to the car. (As this occurs before the shots are fired, both the front and rear doors opposite the driver’s side are still open). What was it about the prime minister’s car that so interested Shimon Peres? Then, suddenly, Peres is seen talking to Rabin’s driver, Menachem Damti (6:34 minutes). Prior to this, something apparently was cut out of video. Kempler claims he stopped filming for a few seconds.
Peres finally gets into his own car, just as Rabin walks down the stairs into the sterile area. Seconds later, he is shot at by Yigal Amir. There are numerous other inconsistencies in the Kempler video and in the circumstances surrounding the assassination that provide powerful impetus to conspiracy theories. Citing even a small fraction of them here would be beyond the scope of this brief article. Readers are encouraged to investigate further and make their own judgments.
Aside from one television appearance on Channel 2 ten years ago, Kempler has been unavailable to answer questions regarding his video clip. His testimony as an eye witness at Amir’s trial failed to address many of these issues, some of which were raised by Amir’s defense attorneys. “I’m not a video or camera expert,” was a typical remark. As history would have it, Kempler fortuitously stood on the roof of the Gan Ha-ir shopping mall overlooking the “sterile” area near the prime minister’s car where Yigal Amir was waiting to attack Yitzhak Rabin. Minutes before the assassination, Kempler, who claimed to be an amateur photographer, focused his camera on Amir for no apparent reason and followed his actions until he fired his pistol.
Conspiracy theorists explain this peculiar oddity of fate, contending that Kempler himself was a part of the conspiracy. They suggest that Israel’s secret service arranged the video and then tampered with it in various ways in order to convince a skeptical public that Yigal Amir was the lone assassin, and diffuse any attempts to prove otherwise. While the video served as key evidence in obtaining Amir’s conviction and to underpin the Shamgar Commission’s lone assassin conclusion, it has ironically become home base for supporting conspiracy theories, like those put forward by Barry Chamish. The fact that the video has been concealed from the public for the past ten years, along with Kempler’s cryptic absence from Israel’s all-penetrating media, only serves to heighten speculation regarding a potential cover-up in relation to the circumstances of the Rabin assassination. With or without the Kempler video, the naked truth behind the administration that brought about the Oslo accords and the subsequent Oslo War will ultimately be exposed to public scrutiny and judgment.
Attendees of Rabin Conference Will Be Met by Protestors – November 14, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - The International Conference marking the 10th
anniversary of Yitzchak Rabin's death convenes this week in Netanya. A protest
against the official version of the assassination will also be held. Dignitaries
from around the world will attend the conference at the Netanya Academic College [pictured above]. They include James Wolfenson, Quartet Special Envoy
for Disengagement and Former President of The World Bank; Javier Solana,
Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union; Foreign Ministers from
Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, and Sweden; and representatives from the United
States, Great Britain, Jordan, India, Austria, Egypt, France, and Greece.Conference
organizer MK Gen. (res.) Danny Yatom invited Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu
Mazen and PA Prime Minister Abu Ala to deliver speeches. Representing Abu Mazen
will be the PLO's Saeb Erekat.Conference participants will be met by protestors
who challenge the official government version of the events surrounding the
Rabin assassination. Former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, who led the
investigative commission into the assassination, told Israel Radio Monday
morning that his probe was "very encompassing and very thorough."
But the protest organizers feel otherwise. Led by Barry Chamish, who authored the book "Who Killed Yitzchak Rabin," they are demanding the investigation into the assassination be re-opened. Though once widely ridiculed for his theories regarding the Rabin murder, Chamish is no longer alone. A Dahaf Institute poll commissioned by Israel's largest circulation paper, Yediot Acharonot, earlier this month revealed that no less than 25% of Israelis believe there was a conspiracy to murder Prime Minister Rabin. In an interview with IDF Radio on Sunday, Yitzchak Rabin's daughter, Dalia Rabin-Pilosoph, said that the Shamgar Commission left many questions unanswered and that she was not satisfied with its results. She first voiced her doubts four years after the assassination, in November, 1999, in that month's edition of the Hebrew-language Woman's World (Olam Ha-Isha) magazine. In an interview with Sarit Yishai-Levi, Rabin-Pilosoph speaks about questions she raised in conversations with her mother, Leah Rabin, immediately after the assassination: "Who shouted, 'These are blanks!'? Why didn't the Shamgar Commission determine who shouted that the shots fired were blank cartridges?" She questions why her mother was driven away in a different car when Yitzchak Rabin was driven to the hospital. "Why," Rabin-Pilosoph asks, "did they tell her that it was an exercise?... Why didn't they kill the assassin?"
Rabin-Pilosoph speaks of Channel Two investigative reporter Matti Cohen, who shared with her significant findings regarding the assassination but whose report was never allowed to be shown to the public. In the 1999 interview, Rabin-Pilosoph said that security agents complained to her that they were forbidden to testify about various matters connected to the events during the assassination and immediately afterwards. In an interview later that day on Israel Radio, Rabin's son, Yuval, demanded that a re-investigation into the murder be opened. "I also have the same questions," he said, "[and more]... I don't think that we can and should give answers to the questions. My role is to raise the questions and to bring them back to the public agenda, this is my job..."
The protestors who accuse the Israeli government of lying about the Rabin assassination will be distributing a list of their own findings and unanswered questions including the following:
Protestors will meet at 9 am at Merkaz David at the corner of Deganya and Klauzner Streets in Netanya on both days of the conference. The demonstration will be ongoing from 9am to 8pm in the vicinity of the Netanya Academic College.
Rabin’s legacy belongs to all – November 14, 2005
YNet News - PM says Israelis must remember Rabin’s unequivocal views on united Jerusalem; Rabin’s daughter Dalia: This is one of the happiest moments of my life, we are celebrating victory of hope
Slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin should be remembered as he truly was, including his unequivocal views on the need to keep Jerusalem united, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday in the inauguration of the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv. Even though a “small section of the public” attempted to take over Rabin’s legacy, it belongs to all Israelis, Sharon said.
Rabin Center inauguration (Photo: Israel Hadari)
“Rabin’s history did not begin in Oslo. We must talk about the cruel battles during the War of Independence and his role as the commander of the IDF,” the PM said. “Above all, we must not forget Yitzhak Rabin’s unequivocal views on the question of Jerusalem’s unity,” Sharon stressed.
He then proceeded to read excerpts from a Rabin speech delivered at the Knesset in May 1995. “The whole and united Jerusalem was, and forever will be, the people of Israel’s capital under Israel’s sovereignty, and the focus of the longing and dreams of every Jew,” Rabin said in that speech.
Ariel Sharon and U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
attending a memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin
in Jerusalem on Monday. (AP)
‘Victory of hope’
Those in attendance enjoyed an elegant cocktail party before dinner and were later invited into a giant, luxurious tent with about 70 tables arranged inside. Memorial candles were placed on each table, with every guest lighting one. Giant screens were placed behind the podium and displayed Rabin photographs throughout the night.The evening was characterized by several touching moments, including the speeches and warm words of both Hillary and Bill Clinton.
Sharon and Clinton (Photo: Israel Hadari)
In his speech, former President Clinton expressed his gratitude to Shimon Peres, who he said was “Rabin’s partner.” Clinton said his wife Hillary and him were present at several touching events in recent days and had a chance to talk about the future of the Middle East, Israel, and the peace process. Clinton said the new Rabin Center’s significance lies in allowing many the possibly of changing the future of the entire region and of the State of Israel. Clinton added he saw people standing in complete silence to honor Rabin during the main rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday, adding “I’m trying to find some words that can express how I felt.”Senator Hillary Clinton reiterated her husband’s message, saying the weekend reminded both of them how much they love Israel and believe in her future.
Meanwhile, Rabin’s daughter Dalia Rabin said the Center’s inauguration marked one of the happiest moments of her life. “Today we are celebrating the victory of the good and of hope over all the rest,” she said. Attila Somfalvi
Peres: Sharon only leader who can lead Israel to peace – November 30, 2005
Former prime minister and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres ended weeks of speculation about his political future when he announced on Wednesday that he had decided to retire from the Knesset, endorse Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and join his attempt to bring about Middle East peace. If Sharon is re-elected as prime minister, Peres is to serve as a senior minister in charge of peace talks with the Palestinians and developing the Galilee and Negev regions. He does not intend to seek a Knesset seat with Sharon's new Kadima party, ending a record 46 years in the Knesset.
Following his return from Spain on Wednesday, Peres called Sharon to inform him of his decision and they agreed to hold a joint press conference on Sunday. Peres read his page-long, prepared statement to a room full of reporters in his Tel Aviv office. "In the current political structure, advancing the peace process is possible only through a coalition for peace and development and in my view the man best suited to lead such a coalition, based on proven results, is Prime Minister Ariel Sharon," Peres said. "I spoke with Mr. Sharon and I am convinced that he is determined, as I am, to continue with the peace process and restart it immediately after the elections. He is open to creative ideas for achieving peace and security. I decided therefore to support his election and cooperate with him to realize these goals."
Peres, 82, said that it was difficult for him to leave the Labor Party 61 years after joining it as a youth leader. He told his associates that, following his loss to Amir Peretz in the November 9 Labor leadership race, he was disgusted by party politics and he could no longer remain in Labor. "I found myself faced with a contradiction between the party of which I am a member and the realities of the political situation," Peres said. "Without ignoring the deep connection that I have to the party's historical path and its members, I must prefer the more urgent and greater consideration." Crediting his mentor, David Ben-Gurion, for teaching him to put his country before his party, Peres said, "My party activity has come to an end." He vowed to dedicate the remaining years of his life to peacemaking and developing the Negev and the Galilee. The departure of its elder statesman was a blow to Labor. Peretz made a last-ditch effort to convince Peres not to leave the party, sending him an offer via former MK Nissim Zvili of a senior portfolio in a Labor-led government - an offer Peres's associates said was "too little, too late." "I made every effort for Peres to be part of the revolution," Peretz said. "Labor is Peres's home. Labor is the place where the social-democratic outlook and peace can be achieved."
Sharon's associates said that Kadima would use Peres to attract Labor voters who, like Peres, feel that they no longer saw Labor as their political home. They said that Kadima's campaign would highlight Sharon and Peres's decades of experience and compare it to the inexperience of Peretz. Responding to charges that Peres would scare right-of-center away voters from Kadima, a Sharon associate said, "Peres has joined us, not the other way around, and he has to accept our platform."
Politicians from across the political spectrum attacked Peres for his decision. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said, "I have no doubt that Likud voters will prefer the nationalist, security path of Likud over a list that includes Peres and former ministers Haim Ramon and Dalia Itzik, who were among the leaders of the Oslo process and the path back to 1967 borders."
Likud leadership candidate Uzi Landau said that Peres joining Sharon's government would bring together all the disengagement and Oslo supporters to give the land of Israel away together. Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines said that Peres's claims of leaving Labor for ideological reasons were "shameful and delusional and no one will buy them." "Labor is the peace party, and Peres saying he left Labor for peace is pathetic," Paz-Pines said. "It's unfortunate that, after Peres did so much for the state, he will be remembered for abandoning his political home for a party of careerists and people with personal interests." Meretz leader Yossi Beilin said that "Peres was right to leave the ideological supermarket of Labor, but he made a grave mistake when he joined the new supermarket of Sharon, who is selling only goods whose expiration date has passed."
Rivlin: Don't Force a Rabin Package Deal Upon Us – November 14, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Knesset Speaker Rivlin, in his Knesset speech on the 10th anniversary of the death of Yitzchak Rabin, says the memory of the murder must not become the private legacy of any one political camp.
Excerpts from the speech:
"The murder of Gedaliah ben Achikam in the year 582 BCE was undoubtedly a traumatic event for the people of that period... But it was not because of the personal trauma they experienced that caused this event to be engraved on the Jewish national heart and calendar. The Fast of Gedaliah was instituted as a moral warning, to warn us against the murder of a Jewish leader by a Jewish murderer! ... When a Jew fasts on this day, he does not remember Gedaliah himself, his works, or his legacy - but rather the stain that his murder left on the pages of our history... In the eyes of the Israeli student of the year 2015, what should be the main thing he remembers on the anniversary of Rabin's murder - the memory of Yitzchak Rabin the man, or the murder itself?
...We [already] now often hear, "What would Rabin have said?" and "What would Rabin have done?" and "Rabin would not have done this, or that," etc. ... After ten years of attempts to force upon us a package deal of memory and ideology, of myth and political conclusions, I imagine that we are permitted to wonder aloud: "Is Rabin's memory acquiring a grasp on our hearts as an 'enlisted myth'"? Yes, Rabin was murdered because of his political path, because of Oslo... But in the same breath we must add that this does not grant extra ethical weight to his political stances, with which many great people differed and continue to differ even today... I believe that no political murder can sanctify a political stance. I believe that even the abominable political murder of Yitzchak Rabin cannot turn people like myself, who continue to believe in that which they believed before the murder, into lepers, or into partners in any measure of guilt...Ten years later, it tragically appears that the moral lesson has not yet been internalized... The murder of Rabin must be engraved as a symbol for all of Israel - and woe unto all of us, right and left, if it becomes the private legacy of a particular political stream. This is our obligation towards the State. This is our obligation towards Yitzchak Rabin." By Hillel Fendel
Rabin Supported Gush Katif – November 14, 2005
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) - Though the media have been replete this week with citations of Yitzchak Rabin's political legacy, they have not always been accurate - especially with regard to Gush Katif. HaTzofeh newspaper brings the following quotes:
The Month of Elul – September 4, 2005
Lekarev - Elul -- the month preceding Rosh Hashana -- begins at sundown tonight and constitutes a period of intensive introspection, of clarifying life's goals, and of coming closer to G-d. Judaism sets aside this time - an entire month every year - as a time for realizing purpose in life -- rather than perfunctorily going through the motions of living with its daily 'grind'. It is a time when we step back and look at ourselves critically and honestly, as Jews have from time immemorial, with the intention of repenting and changing, drawing closer to Hashem.
The four Hebrew letters of the word Elul (aleph-lamed-vav-lamed) are the first letters of the four words Ani l'dodi v'dodi lee -- "I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me" (Song of Songs 6:3). These words sum up the relationship between Hashem and His chosen people. In other words, the month preceding Rosh Hashana is a time when Hashem reaches out to us in a special way, and we reach out to Him.
It's always a very special time and includes individuals reaching out to others, asking forgiveness for any failure during the past year that has offended or hurt the other person. The shofar is blown throughout the month to call us to repentance and holiness. I am blessed to live within two blocks of a Yeshiva (Seminary) where the sound of the Shofar will wake me up every morning for the next month.
Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova – September 30, 2005
Lekarev - To all of our Lekarev family and friends, we send the warmest wishes and prayers for a very blessed holiday season of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot. Rosh Hashana, also called Yom Teruah (the day of the blowing of the Shofars), will begin at sundown on Monday. It is also the civil Jewish New Year.
Rosh Hashana is the anniversary of the creation of the world. The commandment to observe Rosh Hashanah is found in the second and third books of the Torah: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation - and you shall bring an offering made by fire unto the Lord. Leviticus 23:24-5 and In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a holy day; you shall not work at your occupations. You shall observe it as a day when the shofar is trumpeted. Numbers 29:1
Rosh Hashanah is unique because it is both serious and festive. It is a time of spiritual renewal through prayer and deep personal reflection. It is also a time for families and friends to get together, make amends, ask each other's forgiveness and strive to make the next year better. Most important, it is the recognition of G-d as king and judge over all living things. It is also the realization that our behavior toward G-d and each other, is literally weighed and judged and ultimately sealed for life or death at the close of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Yom Kippur Services for All – October 12, 2005
Israel National News - More than 250 special Yom Kippur services, in
which religious and secular worshipers will pray together, will be held
throughout the country. Sponsoring the services is the
("Window") rabbis' organization, which is dedicated to reaching out to the secular public and
helping to fashion the country's Jewish identity via dialogue and "the
search for common elements of identity." The guiding principle is that
many Israelis who are not familiar with Judaism and who generally do not take
part in High Holiday services will feel more comfortable participating in
"prayer and study gatherings" of this nature.
Yom Kippur, literally the Day of Atonement, is a day of fasting, prayer and introspection. The country is essentially closed down; there is no public transportation or public electronic broadcasts, and stores and services are brought to a near-total standstill. Though bicycling has become a popular pastime on the holy day, to the dismay of many rabbis, even more prevalent on this day are prayer services - yet many non-religious Jews still refrain from attending, for various reasons.
The special prayer gatherings are designed to fill the void. They will be held in local community centers and schools in cities and towns of all sizes throughout the country. A full list (in Hebrew) can be found at this website. It includes twelve gatherings in Jerusalem, nine in Tel Aviv, two in Mevaseret Zion, and others in Eilat, Mitzpeh Ramon, northern Israel, Judea/Samaria, and just about everywhere else.
The custom began in 2002, with a well-attended special service in the secular Kibbutz Mitzpeh Shalem on the Dead Sea shore. That same year, then-Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior also organized over 100 similar "secular minyanim" [prayer quorums], featuring a chazan [prayer leader], an instructor, and a director, as well as some observant Jews to give "life" to the service.
Tzohar's other activities in seeking to present Orthodox Judaism in a tolerant and welcoming fashion include conducting weddings for secular couples, pre-wedding counseling for brides and grooms, educational activities, counseling for community rabbis with the goal of elevating their status and involving them in all areas of public life, and more.
The organization hopes that the 250 services it is organizing this year will provide an opportunity for the religious and non-religious sectors to experience the Yom Kippur atmosphere together, and to "pray in a traditional style in an open and friendly manner, while dealing with matters touching on Jewish and Israeli culture." By Hillel Fendel
MK: Gov´t Has Better Things to Do than Promote Yom Kippur – October 9, 2005
Israel National News - Knesset Member Avraham Poraz of Shinui demands
that the government stop sponsoring a campaign promoting participation at Yom
Kippur prayer services. In a letter to the
Prime Minister's Bureau he released this morning, MK Poraz wrote, "It is
not the job of the Prime Minister's Office in particular, nor of the State in
general, to use public funds to publicize ads whose purpose is only to
encourage Jewish repentance and participation in Yom Kippur prayers. The State
has more important needs on which to spend money than this unnecessary
campaign." Poraz later explained
that the State has no business sponsoring a campaign geared to encourage Jews
to become religious, "or at the very least, to awaken religious
feeling." A spokesman for the
campaign explained that an increasing number of requests have been received
from people who would like to understand and take part in religious services,
and that it is the purpose of the campaign to assist those who so desire.
MK Zevulun Orlev, leader of the National Religious Party, had sharp words for his left-wing Knesset colleague. "Poraz once again has revealed the anti-Jewish face of the Shinui Party," Orlev said this morning, "which would like to remove Yom Kippur from the Jewish calendar. Congregational prayer on Yom Kippur symbolizes the attraction and bonds of the Jewish masses to the Jewish tradition, and is a paradigm of Jewish unity." In light of Prime Minister Sharon's recent political overtures to the Shinui Party, Orlev called on Sharon "not to sell the State of Israel's Jewish soul to the Shinui movement." Shas Party leader MK Eli Yishai (pictured) said, "Poraz wants to erase everything that has even a smidgeon of Judaism and tradition. His war against tradition shows that he apparently wants to be the anti-Jewish censor. I'm sorry that [he did this] on the eve of Yom Kippur. He still has a few days left to repent." By Hillel Fendel
Getting Ready for "Operation Lulav" – September 30, 2005
Israel National News - On Thursday of the upcoming Sukkot holiday, at 3
PM, hundreds of yeshiva students will take to the streets - replacing
"fear of the street" with "influencing and connecting." Organized by students of the Ramat Gan Hesder Yeshiva,
known for its outreach activities, the project involves the holiday's Four
Species, musical instruments, good will and a desire to connect with the
people. The students will set up stands in many dozens of central spots
throughout the country, and begin "working."
As modest as the promotional literature is - black print on a half-size piece of pink paper distributed in synagogues and yeshivot - that is how grandiose is the ambition of the organizers. "On Sukkot, we start to influence," the paper reads, "connecting the nation to holiness, connecting to the nation with holiness. Coming with the Four Species [citron (etrog) and palm (lulav), myrtle and willow branches] and musical instruments, bringing the joy of Sukkot to the street. Talking with Jews who gather around, singing together... Offering them the chance to fulfill the holiday commandments of lifting the lulav and etrog and of eating in the sukkah, talking relaxedly about Sukkot, about sanctity, about goodness, about the Nation of Israel, about G-d... Peeling away the rinds and the blocs, touching inside, and connecting." "We no longer have to look at the street and be afraid," the organizers say. "We no longer think that we are small and weak. We're making a switch. We're onto the right source - the links with G-d. Let's go connect all of Am Yisrael with G-d! With courage, with love, with happiness, with ease, and with G-d's help! And this is just the beginning!"
Yedidya, a Ramat Gan student who is coordinating the project, says, "These are our brothers, and it's our responsibility to watch out for them." He and his friends are contacting students in other yeshivot and members of Torah core groups around the country - "everyone, actually" - to take part in their respective towns as well. "The goal is to have as many little groups as possible with musical instruments and Four Species. We already have 35 signed up, and we expect to have double that, at least.""This is the opening salvo of a great revolution in our sector," Yedidya feels, referring to the religious-Zionist sector. "Until now, we haven't gone out [very much] to influence - but we just have to switch diskettes and know that we have what to offer. We start by giving them a chance to do mitzvot; that's the most basic level of showing our concern. For some people, it will be their first time ever holding a lulav and etrog."
Yedidya's view on current events is that "everything that happened here recently is of a spiritual nature. When Ariel Sharon built the Land of Israel, he did it because his heart told him to - and then one day, he asked himself, Why should we stay in Gaza? The disengagement had no security value, but he dragged everyone else along with that question. Ask a taxi driver on the street why he supports Sharon, and he won't know - but now everyone is asking what happened, what's the story, and we have to give the answer." Other groups involved in the project or similar ones are Ma'yanaei HaYeshuah, Shaalei Torah, the OU Israel Center, Machon Meir, Rosh Yehudi, Makom BaLev, Nehora, and more. By Hillel Fendel
Preparing for Yom Kippur – October 10, 2005
Lekarev - The Torah prohibits verbally oppressing a widow or an orphan. (Exodus 22:24) Rashi comments that the prohibition extends to hurting anyone with words; the Torah specifies widows and orphans only because they are the most commonly recognized sufferers. In fact, the commentators explain, all persons suffer, therefore we must be careful in how we speak to everyone, wrote Sara Rigler in a marvelous article for Yom Kippur some years ago.
This insight, that we must refrain from speaking harshly to all because we do not know their inner anguish, is even more relevant today, in our anonymous urban lives, than to the inhabitants of close-knit Biblical villages.
The clerk who acted impatiently with us may be going through a divorce. The upstairs neighbor who turned on his CD player at midnight may have just returned from visiting his terminally ill mother in the hospital. The employee who made a stupid mistake may have just received bad news about a close relative. The friend who's acting inconsiderate may be preoccupied with financial problems of which we have no inkling.
This is not to exonerate anyone for his or her misbehavior. All human beings are accountable for their actions-even under duress. But knowing that our upstairs neighbor just came from his mother's deathbed should affect the tone we use when we ask him to turn the music down or put on headphones. Sometimes our habits of speech become so 'routine' that when we think of repenting before Yom Kippur, we don't even recognize that our speech needs to be a major area of thoughtful introspection. Are my words kind or harsh? Am I patient and gentle with others or routinely short-tempered?
Most importantly, whom have I wounded with my words, including the tone of voice by which I delivered those words, in the past year? I dare say there is no one exempt from repenting in this area. May we all recognize our need to repent for the way we speak to others, humble ourselves before Hashem and before those whom we have wounded with our words, and ask honestly for forgiveness. May we have the maturity to resist any excuses or rationalizations for our unkind or hurtful words towards others and be as quick to repent as we were to speak.
On A7 Radio: Last Yom Kippur Before Moshiach? – October 14, 2005
Lulav Shortage – October 10, 2005
Israel National News - The lulav crisis in Israel is still not going
away, despite the entry of 70,000 lulavim from Gaza today. The U.S. has additional lulav problems of its own. The Israeli
market demands some 500,000 kosher lulavim a year for the Sukkot holiday, and
the vast majority of this number are imported from Egypt. This year,
however, one importer - Avi Balali of Segulah, north of Kiryat Gat - has
managed to convince Egypt to drastically reduce the amount of lulavim it
exports, and to allow him exclusive rights on that limited amount.
A lulav - a branch growing out of the center of the palm tree - is one of the Four Species that Jews are bidden to take and hold for at least a few moments each day of the Sukkot holiday. The other three species are the etrog (citron fruit), three hadasim (foot-long myrtle branches), and two aravot (foot-long willow branches).
A report in the Hebrew weekly Yated Ne'eman alleges that Balali, a non-observant Jew, bribed Egyptian officials to this end. Balali himself has managed to bring in 300,000 lulavim from Egypt, but it is estimated that 40% of them - even less than the customary 50% - are kosher (acceptable for use in accordance to Jewish legal requirements).
Some lulavim are entering Israel via channels other than Egypt, but at present it does not appear that the goal of 500,000 kosher palm branches will be reached. Another importer has apparently managed to buy 100,000 lulavim from Egypt - half of which are expected to be kosher - and hopes to bring them to Israel via the Haifa port today. An unknown number of high-quality palm branches are available from the Jordan Valley, but not as many as had been hoped - because the farmers changed their minds about increasing their supply. Agriculture Ministry officials said they could not explain why.
A third source is Gaza, from where some 70,000 lulavim were brought in this morning via the Karni Crossing. This, due to the intervention of Deputy Welfare Minister Avraham Ravits (United Torah Judaism), who spoke with Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz and requested that the crossing be opened for the purpose. Many lulav-consumers are not anxious to support Gaza farmers, however. "I have no intention of buying a lulav from Gaza," one young buyer at one of the lulav markets said this morning. "How do I know if the payment won't reach the hands of one of those who burnt a synagogue a few weeks ago?" His friend agreed, adding, "It seems obvious that the concept of 'beautifying the commandments' that is so prevalent on the Sukkot holiday applies to this as well, and that we should add a few shekels in order to buy Jewish produce - not Gazan or Egyptian."
Just yesterday (Sunday), an importer received permission from both Israel and Jordan to import a quantity of lulavim - but as he was in the midst of the actual harvest, he was suddenly informed by the Jordanian authorities that he must cease and desist. It is suspected, according to Yated Ne'eman, that Balali was behind this decision as well. A small number of lulavim might arrive from Spain, while even Iraqi palm branches were briefly considered for a short while. The remaining options are to convince Egypt to reconsider its restrictions, and/or to convince Jordan to do the same.
Balali, who is facing charges on similar schemes in the past, is suspected of bringing down a large part of the American lulav market as well. Yated Ne'eman reports that a man from the Lakewood, New Jersey yeshiva community made an advance payment to Balali of $40,000 for 200,000 lulavim - which never arrived. The man said that Balali explained that the ship was "lost at sea." It is suspected, however, that Balali actually sold the same shipment to a second U.S. importer. A rabbinical court in the United States has issued the equivalent of a restraining order against using the lulavim in the shipment, based on the Rabbinic injunction against using stolen lulavim. Balali is thus holding both the Israeli and American lulav markets "by the koisheklach," the Yated Ne'eman reporter told Arutz-7 today. Koisheklach are holders made out of palm leaves in which the willow and myrtle branches are placed and held close to the lulav.
Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, ruled this week that in light of the lulav shortage, lulavim taken from canary palm trees are acceptable. Such trees are prevalent throughout Israel, including in private yards. Rabbi Ariel wrote that though regular palm tree lulavim are preferable, "canary lulavim are barely distinguishable from regular ones, and in times of shortage, they can be used." By Hillel Fendel
in Jerusalem, Holy Temple Style – October 14, 2005
Israel National News - The Sukkot holiday used to mean not only moving into temporary quarters, but housing those quarters themselves in temporary quarters - Jerusalem. Some families aim to renew that custom this year. Five families have already signed up to join the initiative, and plan to build their sukkot - holiday huts - on a hillside overlooking the Temple Mount. Jerusalem archaeologist Tzachi Zweig says that this is how it used to be done: "We know that there is a Biblical commandment to visit Jerusalem on the three Festivals, but on the Sukkot holiday, it is more than just a visit. Shavuot (Pentecost) is only one day, and the commandment on Passover is also only for one day - but the commandment on Sukkot is to 'rejoice before G-d for seven days'. We are commanded on Sukkot to live in temporary huts, or booths, and it's clear that with the masses of people who came, not all of their hundreds of thousands of booths could fit inside the city. Many huts were built outside the city, overlooking the Holy Temple, and there are many sources indicating this... It's logical that Mt. Scopus and the Mt. of Olives would be chosen for this purpose."
The site chosen for the renewal of this practice is the Emek Tzurim National Park, on the slopes of Mt. Scopus, beneath Yeshivat Beit Orot and Hebrew University. "This is the location where we have been running an ongoing archaeological analysis of dirt and rubble from the Temple Mount," Zweig said. Volunteers have been sifting through truckloads of dirt carted away from the Mount after the Islamic Waqf perpetrated an illegal construction project there. "We already have running water and security there," Zweig said, "and even electricity if necessary, so it will be relatively easy to build even several dozen sukkot there. Some people said that it's too hard for them to come, or the wife is pregnant, or whatever - but I reminded them that in the times of the Temple, there were no such excuses; everyone came. We want to accustom people to the traditional - and future - way of keeping the holiday."
The National Parks Authority has given its OK, and the plans include a daily visit to the Temple Mount itself. But one problem has not yet been overcome: an abrupt nixing of the plan by Jerusalem police. But Zweig is not deterred: "If we have to, we'll go to the Supreme Court. If the National Parks Authority has agreed, and if we are fewer than 50 people - which, I fear, we could very well be - then what right do the police have to stop us? I've been here at night before... At worst, we won't sleep at the site, but no matter what, we'll be there for the holiday." By Hillel Fendel
A Very Special Time of Year – October 11, 2005
Lekarev - Here and there in the countryside, the frames for "succas", the temporary dwellings in which we live for the seven day festival of Succot, are beginning to appear. Immediately after Yom Kippur ends on Thursday night, the actual building of the Succas begins in earnest. The Succot holiday begins next Monday evening at sundown.
Before then however, we will observe the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, when the Jewish people fast completely - no food, no water - for 25 hours. The Yom Kippur services in synagogue are among the most beautiful and moving of the entire year. Though it is a solemn day, it is also a day of great thankfulness toward Hashem whose mercies are new every morning and whose faithfulness is eternal. May He be praised forever!
Shalom and blessings, Leah
Succot Pilgrims Fill Jerusalem – October 20, 2005
Lekarev - Despite the pouring rain yesterday ( a blessing for Israel!), thousands convened at the Western Wall to pray, including the colorful Ethiopian Jews pictured here. Jerusalem is packed with Jews during Succot and at least one visit to the Wall is always on the agenda.
We've already had rain several times in the last week, a very good sign! Succot marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel but typically we don't get heavy rains until late December, January and February. A couple of good rainfalls now are an added blessing for which we are grateful. May they be a harbinger of good rains to follow this winter.
More About Succot – October 20, 2005
Lekarev - Succot is the most prayer- and mitzva-laden holiday on the Jewish calendar, full of the symbolism which makes Jewish life so rich. A Succah, a booth of sorts, must have at least 3 walls, but its most striking feature is the schach. Schach, the roof of the Succah, must be made of plant material like tree bark, bamboo, reeds, or palm branches. The Schach must come from the earth, yet be detached from the earth. The Schach is not meant to be a very useful roof; you must be able to see sky through it. It is this unusual thing called Schach which make the Succah unique and filled with symbolism.
The Succah, with its peaceful inner-sanctum and its semi-permeable Schach, resembles the womb. Inside its safety the Jew is protected from the slings and arrows of persecution, and manages to reproduce spiritually and physically generation after generation.
The wedding canopy [chupah] is the Succah of Peace which descends upon a bride and groom at their wedding day. So too, the Succah is the canopy of the marriage of the Jewish people and Hashem. The Holiday of Succot is the wedding which follows the cleansing period of Yom Kippur.
The Schach above our heads, made of earth-grown plants, also symbolizes the earth itself. We are buried under the earth, and yet we are still alive. The message of Succot is the cycle of life: we are born, we marry, we die, and we continue on through the next generation and through our faith in Tchiyat Hameitim, the Resurrection of the Dead.
Gmar Hatima Tova - May You Be Sealed for a Good Life – October 21, 2005
Lekarev - It is shortly after 3 pm here in Israel. The streets are already quiet and the entire country is shutting down for the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. Jewish people everywhere have been greeting each other with the phrase above - may you be sealed for a good life.
In less than two hours, Jews will begin a 25 hour complete fast - no food, no water - and spend the day in prayer and reflection. There is very little news, if any; the police and IDF are on high alert as they always are at holiday times for who can forget the Yom Kippur attack of 1973?
Before the fast begins, I want to say to all of you that if I have done anything during the past year that has offended you in any way, I sincerely ask your forgiveness. May this day bring a fresh blessing into your life wherever you are. I will be back with you Friday morning.
Shalom and blessings, Leah
Kassams Fall During Simchat Torah; Orders from Damascus – October 26, 2005
Lekarev - After several rocket attacks at Israeli cities, especially Sderot, during the Simchat Torah holiday, Israeli security officials said today that the order to fire Qassam rockets at Israeli communities came from the Islamic Jihad’s headquarters in Syria. Following the killing of the group’s West Bank terror leader Louie Sa’adi earlier this week, Jihad leaders in Syria exerted heavy pressure on terrorists to respond by directing mortar and rocket fire at Israel, at any cost.
This time around, Syrian officials cannot pretend they had no idea what was happening right under their noses, because Israel relayed messages to Damascus, through various sources, informing the Syrians about the rocket attacks about to follow. Some officials in Israel thought Syria, which is already facing intense international scrutiny, might push the Islamic Jihad to curb its attacks, but Syrian officials did absolutely nothing.
Meanwhile, Israel also informed the Palestinian Authority hours before the Qassam strikes that terrorists are planning to launch rocket attacks. PA officials were asked to take steps in a bid to prevent the fire, but Palestinian security officials did not even pretend to be acting on the information. It would certainly appear that President Bush's admonition to Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, last week to stop terrorism at all costs, fell on deaf ears. No surprise to us here.
Simchat Torah - Rejoicing Over the Torah – October 25, 2005
Lekarev - At sundown tonight here in Israel, we begin the last day of the Succot festival which is called "Simchat Torah" or Rejoicing over the Torah". The synagogue service is one of the most joyous and exciting of the entire year. There is a great deal of dancing and celebrating for Hashem's gift of the Torah to His people, Israel.
Aish.com has posted a touching and true Simchat Torah story which I've linked below and I encourage you to take a few moments to read. You'll be blessed and enriched.
Biblically, the last day of Succot is the same as the first day; i.e., they are both celebrated just like a Shabbat which means there will be NO Lekarev Report tomorrow. We will go to synagogue, sing and celebrate and spend the rest of the day with family and friends, thanking Hashem for His wonderful gifts to the family of Israel. I'll be back with you on Wednesday.
Shalom and blessings to all, Leah
The Day After – October 26, 2005
Lekarev - Simchat Torah is over and all over Israel today, families are taking down their 'succas' and storing them for next year's holiday. Yesterday was one of the most joyous of the year in Israel. Throughout the country, synagogues were filled with singing, dancing and rejoicing over the gift of the Torah to us as a people so many centuries ago.
Torah scrolls are removed from the Ark where they are kept and carried in procession around the synagogue seven times on Simchat Torah. Between each hakafot (procession) there is exuberant dancing and singing of psalms by the congregation, as pictured above. In our synagogue here, the service which began at 8 am carried on well past noon and the joy was palpable. I was reminded of the saying of one of our sages, 'One who has never seen the rejoicing of Simchat Torah, has never seen true joy.' If you had been here yesterday, you would have agreed.
Having been focused in recent weeks on repentance and renewal of our commitment of obedience to Hashem and to His Torah, now that the holidays are over, the most important work begins - that of living the commitments we made. A life of obedience to Hashem is a life of the greatest freedom and joy there is. May we all experience that freedom and joy in this new Jewish year of 5766.
Go to: Fall 2005 – “The Land and the Zionist State of Israel”, Part One
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