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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Austria’

Vienna Hosts First European Jewish Choral Festival

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The Vienna Jewish Choir last weekend hosted the first European Jewish Choral Festival with a comprehensive repertoire of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Ladino songs, the European Jewish Press reported,

Hundreds of Jewish and non-Jewish singers from 18 groups in Europe participated n the four-day event that drew approximately 1,500 spectators.

The festival, under the patronage of Austria’s Federal President, Heinz Fischer, is sponsored by the European Jewish Parliament, the European Jewish Union and the Jewish Community of Vienna.

The singers took part in intensive workshops to increase cultural exchange, learn specifically about techniques of Jewish music under the guidance of renowned teachers and exchange views on their interpretations of Jewish music.

Roman Grinberg, who hosted the festival and who heads the Vienna Jewish Choir, founded in 1989, said it “brings together these many initiatives in Vienna to a great musical fireworks.”

The event is to become an annual festival, and Rome and Paris are scheduled to host the event in 2013 and 2014.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Vienna Jewish Museum Contains Looted Objects, Officials Say

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Officials from the Jewish Museum of Vienna said that hundreds of objects in the museum’s possession were looted from Jewish families during the Holocaust.

A review of the artifacts found 490 objects and more than 980 books that may have been stolen from Jewish owners, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

“For historic reasons, people did not see themselves responsible for investigating the collection referring to provenance,” Christian Kircher, a member of the museum’s board, told the newspaper. “This attitude changed completely during the last few years.”

Museum officials said that researching the origin of Judaica can be quite difficult, given the few identifying markers and the fact that most Jewish institutions that existed before the Holocaust were destroyed. They also cited the lack of funds for such research.

“Our situation is not comparable to any other museum in Austria,” said Danielle Spera, who became the museum director in 2010.

“Anything that was acquired illegally ought to be returned,” she told the Austrian Der Standard daily last month. “There will not be a hint of hesitation.”

JTA

More Beautiful than Everest

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Last week, I drove with my wife toward the coastline to do a little seaside touring. As we were driving there, she mentioned that someone in her family was going for a vacation to Austria.

“Austria?” I blurted, nearly losing control of the wheel. “Why would any Jew in Israel want to go to Austria?”

“For the mountains and the scenery,” she answered.

At that very moment, we reached the intersection of Highway 4, just before Tel Aviv, leading north toward Haifa. Coming out of the turn, the first thing you see is the mountain of garbage – the municipal dump that has long been a landmark on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

Every time, I see it, its beauty overwhelms me. To me it is one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, just behind Mount Moriah, Mount Herman, and Mount Tabor. The sight of it is literally breathtaking.

Soon, it will be even more majestic, now that they are converting it into a grass-covered national park, ironically named after Ariel Sharon. But, right now, it’s still Garbage Mountain.

“Why go to Austria when we have magnificent and holy mountains here?” I asked my wife. “Just look! Can anything be more beautiful than a mountain of Jewish garbage in the Holy Land? It has to be one of the natural wonders of the world. Let’s stop and take some pictures!”

“We’re on the way to an outing,” she said.

“I know,” I answered. “What a wonderful place to start!”

I am absolutely serious. In my eyes, the mountain of garbage overlooking Tel Aviv is more wondrous than Everest. After two thousand years of exile in foreign lands, not only has the Almighty given us back our cherished Homeland, He has given us such an overabundance of blessings that we have an abundance of refuse too! A whole mountain of excess trash. If Moses were here to see it, he would crawl up to its summit on his hands and his knees, kissing every piece of litter on the way to the top! Who needs Austria and the Alps?

Later that evening, I was so moved by the memory of the Garbage Mountain that I picked up my notebook and scribbled a poem.

ODE TO THE MOUNTAIN I LOVE
O holy Garbage Mountain, I love you so greatly.
In my wonderstruck eyes, you look so noble and stately.
Even though you aren’t the tallest on earth,
You fill my heart with rapturous mirth.
Everest, Rushmore, and the Alps are sublime,
But for all of their grandeur, they’re simply not mine.
Even though you are only a mountain of zevel,
Compared to you, the rest are all hevel.
Though your slopes are made of refuse that people don’t want to eat,
Each time I pass by you, your aroma smells sweet.
For you are a holy mountain of garbage in Israel and that makes you blessed,
Placing you head and shoulders over all of the rest.

PS – anyone interested in purchasing a poster size blow-up of the Holy Garbage Mountain, can order through this blog. We will also be happy to arrange shipments of its trash overseas via Zim Lines. Two month delivery guaranteed. Price is $80,000 per 200 kilos. It’s the perfect addition to your living room planter, front lawn, or Diaspora garden.

Tzvi Fishman

Iranian Money Laundering Network Running through Vienna

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

According to reports in the Austrian news magazine “Profil” and the British “Telegraph,” the Iranian regime uses Austrian banks to launder money in order to circumvent the sanctions and to provide technology for its nuclear program. A representative of the Iranian Center for Innovation and Technology Cooperation (CITC) has been in Vienna as recently as September. CITC is closely related to the office of President Ahmadinejad and has been sanctioned by the US due to its direct involvement in Iran’s nuclear and missile program.

Stop the Bomb, a European coalition which works towards the enactment of economic and political sanctions against the Iranian Islamist regime, has criticized the lack of action by the Austrian authorities: “Apparently, the authorities knew about the years of excessive traveling of a representative of the CITC, without taking an interest,” says Simone Dinah Hartmann, STB’s spokesperson. “We demand that this case and the general involvement of Austrian banks be fully investigated and conclusions be drawn. The latest reports prove that only a solid EU travel ban for all representatives of the Iranian regime can prevent Iran from continuing to procure critical components for its nuclear program and laundering money in Europe,” Hartmann added.

STB points out that the laxity of the Austrian authorities as well as the suspected involvement of Austrian banks in the circumvention of the sanctions stand in the tradition of Austria’s previous policy towards Iran. Back in 2006, the president of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Ali-Naqi Khamoushi, named Austria the “gateway to the European Union” for Iran. STB states that the recently passed EU sanctions that were supported by Austria, in particular the prohibition of the import Iranian natural gas, are steps in the right direction. However, these sanctions are hardly enough to stop the regime in Tehran from continuing its nuclear weapons program and the brutal repression of the Iranian people. Austrian companies, in spite of all previous sanctions resolutions, are continuing to do business with Iran in the extent of hundreds of millions, STB reports. While exports are declining slightly, imports have exploded in the first half of 2012 and several hundred of Austrian companies are still active in Iran.

Despite of the massive criticism, which has been voiced by STOP THE BOMB and numerous Members of the European parliament, including its Vice-president, as well as two democratic members of the US senate, the Austrian MEP Josef Weidenholzer (SPÖ) will still partake in a trip to Iran planned by the “Delegation for relations with Iran” of the European Parliament. Simone Dinah Hartmann stated: “We continue to call for the cancellation of this courting of the Iranian regime. Dialogue, as being preached by politicians like Weidenholzer, only buys the Iranian regime more time to work on its nuclear program and undermine the efforts of the Iranian opposition. Weidenholzer should follow the example set by Belgian social democrat Kathleen van Bremt who has withdrawn her participation from the Iran trip publicly.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Winners of “Face of the German Tourist” Contest Arrive in Israel

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

An Austrian couple is enjoying the sites in the Holy Land after winning an Israel Government Tourist Office competition for “the face of the German tourist in Israel.”

Some 350 couples registered to compete for the Grand Prize – a 10-day visit to Israel and participation in a film for the German tourist campaign, designed to encourage tourism from Germany, Switzerland and Austria to Israel.

The winners are Barbara and Roman Egger, a Christian couple from Salzburg, Austria, aged 38 and parents to  a 4-year-old girl.

In their application, the couple wrote “Whether it is in the desert, at sea, at the Western Wall or the Galilee, Israel has fascinated us for a long time. We are eager to visit and hope our smile will pave the way for our journey.”

Upon their return to Austria, the couple will hold a press conference and will participate with the Israel Government Tourist Office for a year on various advertising campaigns.

During the first half of 2012, approximately 132,000 tourists from Germany arrived in Israel, a 4% increase over the same period last year.

Malkah Fleisher

The Circumcision Debate in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Monday, July 30th, 2012

A German regional court held at the end of June that circumcision of males, practiced by Jews and Muslims, is a “bodily injury” of the child and punishable as a crime. German political leaders reacted against the opinion, and the probability that it would portray today’s Germany in a negative light. The court order will likely be nullified definitively by the German parliament and constitutional court, but anti-circumcision policies have spread to Switzerland and Austria as well.

A month later, on July 20, the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, passed a resolution calling for the protection of the rights of Jewish and Muslim parents to circumcise of their male offspring with medically-qualified personnel. A draft law guaranteeing these religious liberties has been proposed for introduction this autumn.

The action by German politicians was followed, however, by news that two medical institutions in Switzerland, the Children’s Hospital in Zurich and the St. Gallen teaching hospital, decided temporarly to suspend circumcision of infants unless medically necessary.

Then, on July 24, came an order by Markus Wallberg, governor of the western Austrian province of Vorarlberg, also prohibiting the circumcision of males for non-medical reasons in all public hospitals, pending clarification of the German situation.

The Cologne case originated in November 2010, when a four-year old Muslim boy was circumcised at a clinic in the city, on the request of his parents. After two days, because the child was bleeding, the parents took him to the emergency room at the University Hospital of Cologne.

The public prosecutor in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia filed a complaint against the doctor who performed the procedure. The lower, district court determined in June 2012 that the doctor was blameless, and the doctor was acquitted. The district court held that circumcision was a form of “bodily injury,” but was justified by the approval of the parents, the cultural prevalence of circumcision among Muslims, and evidence of medical advantages among circumcised males.

Medical researchers have affirmed that circumcised males are less susceptible to sexually-transmitted diseases and to penile cancer. Der Spiegel acknowledged that “It remains undisputed that circumcision leads to better hygiene and can also be helpful in preventing some forms of cancer,” but noted that while common in the U.S., Israel, Muslim countries, and elsewhere, male circumcision is less widespread in Europe. Currently, about 55 percent of newborns in the U.S. are circumcised. Only 11 percent of German males are circumcised.

The public prosecutor in North Rhine-Westphalia appealed and the case was moved up to a regional court. The regional court also rejected the charge against the doctor in the matter, ruling that the “grey area” of legal uncertainty about male circumcision left the practitioner innocent. The judges, however, reaffirmed that, as a precedent for the future, circumcision was a form of “bodily injury” that was not justified by the parents’ wishes, and was unnecessary for the health of the child.

The regional court determined that the child’s “right to physical integrity” was more important than the constitutionally-guaranteed religious rights of the parents. The judges held that the religious freedom of parents, and their right to decide how to raise their children, would not be restricted if they were compelled to wait until the child himself decided whether he wanted to be circumcised. As described by the German weekly Der Spiegel, the court concluded that “a child’s right to self-determination should come first.”

The regional court opinion did not apply to the whole of Germany. But the Berlin Jewish Hospital announced that in accord with the law, it would suspend circumcision for religious purposes.

The controversy brought universal condemnation of Germany by Jewish and Muslim representatives, who were joined by Christian religious leaders in condemning the court action. Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the criminalization of circumcision could make Germany a “laughing-stock” of the world. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle pointed out that it would harm Germany’s efforts to present itself as a tolerant country. Many commentators agreed that the court opinion was especially problematic because of Germany’s history of anti-Jewish genocide during World War II.

Religious leaders were more severe in their comments. Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, called the court decision the worst attack on Jews in Germany since the Holocaust. Noting that the opinion was based on the ostensible rights of the child, Rabbi Goldschmidt warned that “the language of the human rights” is a new medium for anti-Jewish prejudice.

Veli Sirin

Beyond Politics: Inspirational People of Israel

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Title: Beyond Politics: Inspirational People of Israel
Author: Ronda Robinson
Publisher: Mazo Publishers

Beyond Politics: Inspirational People of Israel is a compact introduction to decency. Its eighteen personality profiles illustrate how Israelis from all walks of society improve the Holy Land’s quality of life, and then some. Author Ronda Robertson is a freelance journalist who decided to offset mainstream media’s negative stereotyping of today’s Israelis with a book. She did an outstanding job of presenting the goodness of Israel to the world at large in a mere 144-page paperback.

Unlike formulaic biographies from popular publishing houses in the Orthodox Jewish world, Beyond Politics is not predictable. The vignettes of individual men and women who trekked through Ethiopia and Sudan, flew in from Austria, India, and Algeria, or were born on Israeli soil are gritty, adventurous, and heartwarming.

Robinson lets her readers see, hear, and taste the efforts that her subjects undertook to become part of Israel. Shlomo Malla rose from being an illiterate desert dweller who walked 485 dangerous miles to become an Israeli and later a highly educated politician; former Algerian Sara Lanesman made aliya to unify Israel’s deaf citizens with a sign language they can share, ending the confusion of multiple signing dialects in one tiny country; Dr. Lior Sasson leads the way in healing indigent children around the world of heart defects – at no cost to their families; terror attack survivor Liora Tedgi helps people cope with tragedy with her Terror Victims Support Center. Each of them explains the gut-wrenching moments that changed their lives forever, and how they chose to help others to cope with fear, social alienation, life-endangering illness, and grief. Other people lift just as vividly off the page to inspire you and the information-challenged critics of Israel’s Jewish population.

Younger readers will have material for book reports as they marvel over Chicken Lady Clara Hammer, docent Rena Quint, skateboard king Elchanan Davidson (he’s far more accomplished in amazing ways) and shepherd/diplomat Yisrael Avidor. Adults will also appreciate peace-promoting teacher Miri Flusser, Azerbaijan-born violin maker Lev Strinkovsky, biblically-inspired chef Moshe Basson, Scottish-born Sam Greene, therapist Davina Davidson, happily married Joe and Marion Goodstein, Hevron’s beloved tzabarit leader Sarah Nachshon, plus Faydra Shapiro and her pro-Israel education of non-Jewish tourists. Completing the inside look at Israel are interviews with story-teller Rabbi Hanoch Teller and founder of world-famous B’erot Bat Ayin holistic school for women Rabanit Chana Bracha Siegelbaum.

Enjoy the read. Buy Beyond Politics: Inspirational People of Israel to arm yourself with responses to the next nasty reporter who maligns Israel. And consider sending him or her a copy.

http://itsmycrisisandillcryifineedto.blogspot.com/

Yocheved Golani

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/beyond-politics-inspirational-people-of-israel/2012/04/18/

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