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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘aliyah’

Jews Ordered to ‘Register’ in Donetsk, Ukraine

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  For some Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on this Passover holiday of “freedom,” concern and even fear is lurking in their thoughts, making them wonder about the lessons of the past.

On the first day of Passover this week, three armed men in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk distributed flyers warning Jews to “register” themselves and their assets with the new pro-Russian government, according to the novosti.dn.ua website.

The flyers were handed out next to a synagogue as people were leaving following holiday prayers. They read as follows:

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,

Due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported (Stepan) Bendery Junta, and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, [the interim government] has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent age 16 and older, residing within the territory of the republic, are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register by May 3.

(Ed. Note: Stepan Bander was a Ukrainian nationalist leader in Kiev who fought with Nazi Germany in the 1940s against Soviet troops before switching sides and taking up arms against the German occupation.)

“ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles. Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revocation and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property. A registration fee of $50 is required.”

Pro-Russian separatists are occupying the building where the Jews were told the register.

The flyer was written in the Russian language and bore the symbol of Mother Russia at the top of the page and that of the Donetsk People’s Republic at the bottom. It was allegedly signed by Denis Pushilin, chairman of the Donetsk interim government but no ink signature is seen on the paper.

Donetsk was recently declared an independent “people’s republic” by pro-Russian activists. In response to a query by a Ukrainian Jewish website, Pushilin confirmed the flyers were indeed distributed by his organization. However, he was quoted by the tvrain.ru news site on Wednesday as denying any connection to the content, and called the flyers a ‘provocation.’

Nevertheless, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky told Voice of Israel government radio on Wednesday that aliyah from the Ukraine is likely to double by the end of 2014.

The flyer – authentic or not – constitutes the 17th anti-Semitic incident to have taken place in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014. Most were violent attacks. Several were aimed at Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and a few were life-threatening. Five took place in Kiev alone, according to statistics gleaned from the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism (CFCA) website.

A reader on the Israel Matzav blog warned in a number of posts that the situation in Ukraine is becoming extremely dangerous for Jews.

Wisely, a Jewish resident of Donetsk told Ynet that she does not intend to register, although she said that she had never encountered any form of anti-Semitism until she saw the flyer. “Though I take it very seriously, I am uncertain of its authenticity,” she said.

Aliyah Up by 14 Percent in First Three Months of 2014

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Aliyah to Israel increased by 14 percent from January to the end of March, with the most impressive numbers coming from Russia and France, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Russia led the aliyah number list with 899 new immigrants, followed by France with 802.

One veteran French immigrant told The Jewish Press that despite the flight to Israel from France, plagued by violent anti-Semitism, there is a far greater exodus of Jews to the United States and Canada.

The third largest source of new immigrants so far this year is the United States, from where 203 arrived, and another 23 came from Canada.

The total number of new immigrants for the first three months of this year is 3,623.

Thousands Participate in French Aliyah Fair

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

PARIS – Thousands of Jews from throughout France participated in an Aliyah information fair held in central Paris earlier today (March 30) and organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and the World Zionist Organization. Participants met with representatives of dozens of Israeli organizations and institutions, including government ministries and local authorities, and received information on opportunities for life in Israel, Aliyah programs for young people, educational programs for teenagers, employment counseling, and more.

According to Jewish Agency figures, Aliyah from France has risen sharply since the start of the year: 854 new olim (immigrants) from France arrived in Israel during the months of January and February, compared to 274 during the comparable period in 2013. This threefold (312%) increase is due in part to increased efforts by The Jewish Agency to strengthen the French Jewish community’s relationship to Israel through educational programs, information sessions, and Aliyah fairs, as well as to the economic situation in France and communal insecurity due to anti-Semitism. 2014 is thus set to continue the significant upward trend in French Aliyah, which saw the arrival of 3,280 new olim in 2013, a 70% increase compared to the 1,917 olim who arrived in 2012.

In addition to the increase in Aliyah from France, The Jewish Agency has seen a significant rise in the number of Jewish young people interested in participating in Israel experience programs. Some 1,000 Jewish high school students recently participated in The Jewish Agency’s Bac Bleu Blanc (“High School Seniors in Blue and White”) program, which enables students at Jewish schools to explore opportunities for life in Israel following their graduation from high school. Additionally, 1,000 French Jewish young people are currently participating in Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency that enables young Jews to experience life in Israel, compared to 500 just two years ago. Some 70% of French Masa participants make Aliyah upon completing the program.

Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency unveiled a new government plan to encourage Aliyah from France. The plan includes boosting the number of Jewish Agency shlichim (emissaries) in France, increasing marketing efforts, developing new immigrant absorption programs, and establishing a special committee headed by the Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office to remove obstacles to French Aliyah. The plan also sets clear benchmarks for increasing the number of olim, seeking to double their numbers in the coming years. This groundbreaking plan is the result of intensive cooperation between the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency, along with the World Zionist Organization, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, and Keren Hayesod-UIA, all of which are working together for the first time in order to strengthen French Aliyah. The plan was developed in consultation and cooperation with French Jewish organizations, both in France and in Israel.

French Jewish Candidate Reveals Threats

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

A Jewish politician in Marseille said he and his family received death threats amid a string of anti-Semitic incidents coinciding with municipal elections in France.

Hagay Sobol, a City Council candidate on the Socialist Party list in the final round of elections to be held Sunday, revealed on his Facebook page earlier this week that he had received the threats from an unknown person claiming to be a centrist political activist calling himself “Simon Hanavi.” Sobol said the man threatened to harm him and his family.

One of the threats appeared on Sobol’s Facebook page and read, “When this election is over, God will take care of traitor like you,” according to the news site alyaexpress-news.com. Sobol also said he received threats texted to his phone and has filed a police complaint.

He added that the perpetrator said he was a member of the UMP centrist party, “but there are strong doubts this is true,” Sobol wrote, explaining that the language and style used were typical of the extreme right.

France’s far-right National Front, whose founder and honorary president Jean-Marie Le Pen has a history of anti-Semitic statements and Holocaust denials, has made unprecedented gains in the first round of elections and is now leading in eight cities and towns.

The party won outright in one northern town and made it to the second round in 200 municipalities — gains that have prompted the Union of Jewish French Students to call on voters to mobilize against the National Front Party. Turnout in the first round was 60 percent, which is considered low.

The union also called on candidates who came in third in the eight cities where the  National Front is leading to withdraw from the race in favor of the candidates who finished second to help defeat the National Front in the second round of polling. On Tuesday, a Socialist candidate in Perpignan, Jacques Cresta, withdrew from the race to improve the chances of his UMP rival against the National Front.

Separately, the northern Toulouse suburb of Agen saw dozens of buildings covered with racist graffiti slogans, including “Jews and Arabs out, all of you to the oven.”

French Anti-Semites Beat Paris Teacher Wearing a Kippa

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Anti-Semites in Paris beat up a 59-year-old teacher wearing a kippa after he walked out of a kosher restaurant last week, the European Jewish Press (EJP) reported Monday.

The man was hospitalized for facial injuries after he was insulted and attacked by three thugs whom the victim described as ‘’young, wearing light colored hats dressed in jeans and of North African origin.”

Three days earlier, thousands of people rallied in central Paris against anti-Semitism.

The attackers started shouted at him, ” Death to the Jews, dirty Jew, dirty son of a b—–,’’ as well as expressions in Arabic he didn’t understood.

They “hit him several times in the face before opening his shirt to draw on his chest with a marker a swastika,’’ a source close to the police investigation said. The attackers fled after an elderly person appeared on the scene.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe condemned the aggression. ”This act of unspeakable cowardice is a betrayal of the foundation of the Republic and the values of Paris,’’ he said in a press statement. The anti-Semitic incident comes three days after around 10,000 people gathered in Paris, at the initiative of CRIF, the umbrella group of Jewish organizations in France, to say ‘’no to Jew-hatred’’ as they commemorate the murder two years ago of four people, including three children, in a Jewish school in Toulouse.

Jewish Man Assaulted with Taser Gun Outside Paris Synagogue

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Two unidentified men wielding a taser gun assaulted a Jewish man Monday night at a building next to a synagogue, according to the French Jewish  JSSnews.com website.

The victim was identified as K. Sassoun, a 52-year-old Israeli, and he filed a complaint for racial hate crime and assault with Paris police.

The perpetrators fled from the scene immediately after the act. Sassoun did not sustain serious physical injuries but required medical treatment after being knocked down by the taser gun, which sends electric currents that usually incapacitate targets or render them unconscious for several minutes.

One of the perpetrators was black, according to an unnamed witness who reported the incident to the National Bureau for Vigilance against anti-Semitism,  a Drancy-based not-for-profit watchdog known locally by its French acronym, BNVCA.

“The perpetrators assaulted the victim for no other reason than his clothing and appearance, which identified him as being Jewish, and the fact that he was near a Jewish place of worship,” BNVCA said in a statement.

The neighborhood used to be the center of Jewish life in Paris and is considered its historic Jewish quarter.

According to BNVCA, the assault was part of a spate of hate crimes against Jews this month.

On Saturday, a group of teenagers hurled stones at a Jewish institution in Sarcelles near Paris and shouted “death to Jews.” On Friday, BNVCA learned that a school bus full of Jewish students was pelted with stones by teenagers in Paris.

And on Sunday, several people chanted anti-Semitic slogans at a young Jewish woman near a Jewish studies center in Strasbourg. One of the chants was “Merah max” – a reference to Mohammed Merah, an Islamist who killed four Jews in Toulouse in 2012.

Earlier this month, the French Jewish community’s watchdog organization, SPCJ, released a report that counted 423 anti-Semitic incidents in France in 2013. The figure was a 31-percent decrease from the previous year, but was still higher by eight percent than the number of incidents recorded in 2011.

‘The IRS Wants YOU’ and Israel Is Going to Help Them

Monday, March 10th, 2014

A mini “economic social” cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, soon will approve an agreement to share information on accounts of U.S. citizens with the Internal Revenue Service, sources told the Globes business newspaper.

The newspaper said the proposal will allow the IRS full access on Americans’ accounts in Israeli banks and other financial institutions.

The U.S. government is preparing to sign agreements with other countries as well, but Israel is high on its “hit list,” partly because Swiss banks have accounts in three Israeli banks. Switzerland is no longer a safe place for foreigners to hide their money from the tax man, and so Israel has become a favorite home for money launderers and tax evaders.

The Israel Tax Authority is expecting increased revenues if the measure is approved. “The agreement will include an option under which, subject to certain conditions, information will be sent from the U.S. tax authorities to the Israeli tax authorities about the income of Israeli residents in the U.S.,” the document states.

However, while all information on American accounts in Israel will be sent to the IRS, Israel will receive data only in special cases.

The proposed agreement contained clauses aimed at protecting individuals from the IRS misusing personal information, but it is not clear if the IRS has learned its lessons from recent scandals, such as hunting down those nasty pro-Israel groups, as reported here.

Big Brother in Israel also is waiting on deck.

Attorney Yael Grossman, an expert in money laundering, told Globes, “The decision paves the way for further harm to the separation between the management of money by a bank and disclosure to Income Tax. Although at the moment, the measure helps the banks and saves them the need to work directly with the IRS, but experience shows that it will later expose all of the public’s banking activities to the Israel Tax Authority.

“This will be the final burial of banking confidentiality on one hand and a signal for the strengthening and prosperity of alternative institutions, which will rush to offer alternative instruments to the public.”

Americans living in Israel have an alternative to leaving their tax records and financial activities accessible by your closest friendly IRS clerk. They can simply void their American citizenship, a growing trend that was reported here in December.

Approximately 3,000 did so in 2013, three times the number in 2012. That means the IRS cannot snoop on them, but it also means they lose their right to vote in American elections, assuming it would be worth voting.

Americans in Beit Shemesh Present the Better Side of Haredim

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Amid the buzz surrounding issues of religious-secular tension—such as proposed Israeli legislation to mandate Haredi enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces and a recent rally where hundreds of thousands of people protested the bill—Haredi entrepreneurship in the Jewish state doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.

Critics lament the lack of Haredi integration into both the military and the Israeli workforce, but  Beit Shemesh, located 20 miles west of Jerusalem with a population of 100,000 people, is home to innovators like Rabbi Joel Padowitz, whose ventures have a direct relationship with the Haredi community.

Padowitz, 36, is co-creator of what he believes is a “game-changing” product for Israeli tourism and business called the “Israel App.” Originally from San Diego, Padowitz made aliyah in 2009 and lives in Beit Shemesh with his wife and six children. He teaches Mishnah every day at a men’s kollel in Beit Shemesh, is an avid mountain biker, and is the founder of a Manhattan-based investment bank. He has rabbinical ordination and an MBA from Bar-Ilan University, and he now is now pursuing a BA in social science from Harvard University.

The co-founder and manager of the Israel App is equally eclectic 28-year-old Yaakov Lehman, formerly from Tucson, Ariz., who is married with a newborn child. A part-time rabbinic student and part-time social entrepreneur, he has a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in global studies, an MA from the London School of Economics in economic history, and an MA from the University of Vienna in world history. He came to Israel in 2008.

“The reason I founded the Israel App is because people come to Israel and do not get a legitimate or even meaningful presentation of this incredible country,” Padowitz tells JNS.org. “We cater to the majority of tourists who don’t hire human tour guides. We want to give them a way to appreciate more deeply all that Israel has to offer.”

The Israel App, which currently has about 6,000 users, contains GPS-guided tours for any tourist who needs to find sites or hotels or restaurants, a virtual concierge for making reservations, coupons, and background content like an “Israepedia,” a glossary covering a wide variety of historical information. Tourists can use the app without roaming charges as they travel around the country.

When Padowitz and Lehman initiated their project, they began looking for a programming team. They happened upon NetSource and its subsidiary, Concept Creative Technology, a service provider of software development. “We liked the service, the price, and their work environment,” says Lehman.

NetSource’s 48-year-old CEO, Mazal Shirem, is a divorced mother of three who grew up as an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, where she lived until the age of 20. After 16 years with Intel and a stint in Munich, Germany, she found a business partner for her new venture whose mission “was to get Orthodox people into the employment market and give them the tools they need to learn the work environment.”

NetSource was launched in 2010 and today employs 200 people—90 percent Haredi women and 5 percent Haredi men—almost all living in Beit Shemesh. According to Shirem, the company operates so that the employees “receive the full respect of their lifestyle, including the on-site kosher kitchen, flexible work hours, and even proper subjects on which they work.”

Tamar, a 26-year-old Haredi mother of a two toddlers, is consulting with Shirem in her office. She started work there a year and a half ago as a secretary and worked her way up to an account manager.

“I really like to work here,” she says. “The girls are very nice and it’s convenient for me to work in this company because I find all the conditions which I need in order for me to go out and do my job in an appropriate environment.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/americans-in-beit-shemesh-present-the-better-side-of-haredim/2014/03/10/

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