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Posts Tagged ‘Belgium’

Jew Beaten in Antwerp on Way to Shul

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

On Shabbat morning, a Jewish man in Antwerp, Belgium, on his way to synagogue was beaten by a Moslem.

The Moslem began to beat the man as he was walking down the street. The man ran into the synagogue, where the Moslem followed him. The man managed to lock the Moslem in the women’s section, and held him there until the police arrived.

The man was taken to the hospital.

Knife-Wielding Man Arrested at Israeli Embassy in Brussels

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Belgian police have arrested a man whom they suspect of planning an attack against Israeli diplomats in Brussels.

The police department of Uccle, the Brussels suburb where the Israeli embassy is located, confirmed on Tuesday the Oct. 17 arrest of one man who is thought to have tried to enter the embassy while carrying a concealed knife.

Security personnel from the embassy handed over the suspect to local police after discovering the knife in a security check. The suspect was not named, but the French-language Jewish news site lemondejuif.info reported he had converted to Islam.

He was placed in a psychiatric institution for observation after displaying erratic behavior while in custody.

A second man, an Iranian national who also was not named, was detained by police later that day on suspicion that he gathered intelligence on the embassy. He was released shortly after police officers detained him, RTL reported. Police said there was no evidence linking the Iranian to the man who allegedly tried to conceal the knife.

Walking Up 45 Flights On Shabbat: Being a Jew in Hong Kong

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Last summer I went to Hong Kong for three months – for me that’s home. Although I was born in Belgium and lived in Lexington, Massachusetts while in high school, Hong Kong is my home base.  Now Hong Kong may seem exotic to you, but when it comes to observing kashrut and keeping Shabbat after a climb to the 45th floor, it becomes more difficult than exotic. My parents live there for business, along with my married sister and British brother-in-law. (We accepted him into the family because he made us seem more international.)

I was raised in a very traditional and cultural Jewish home in Asia. My parents were proud Israelis who made sure that we always had a connection to the Land of Israel and to being Jews no matter where we lived. While others may have had their Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the Western Wall, we merged these two cultures with our Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations at the Great Wall of China.  My twin brother Orrel and me had our first exposure to Torah observant Judaism at Lexington High School, where the OU’s Jewish Student Union offered free pizza on Monday afternoons.  (Jewish Student Union is a program that enhances Jewish culture at public high schools.)

Initially, Orrel and I were attending for two slices of pizza a week; but eventually, we became interested and started attending NCSY Shabbatons in our senior year. As a result, we spent a year learning in Eretz Yisrael. We now attend Yeshiva University; Orrel is at Yeshiva College and I am at Stern College. As upcoming seniors, we cannot wait for another amazing year!

Since we became shomer Shabbat, we had not been home to Hong Kong for more than a few days at a time and during those occasions, I always had my brother with me for support. This all changed in the summer of 2012 when I had to be in Hong Kong for personal reasons, while my brother was in Israel learning in yeshiva and doing medical research.  I felt that I was being left to fend for myself in Hong Kong.

On one hand, I was really excited to be with my family, but on the other hand I was scared. I was scared because since I became religious I had been immersed in Jewish communities – at seminary in Israel then in Stern College.  In addition, I had a strong support comprised of New England NCSY rabbis and my seminary Aim Bayit to answer my questions and to further my growth as a Torah observant Jew. When acquaintances from high school were placing bets on how long I would stay “religious” after NCSY, my support group was instrumental in keeping me on the “derech.”

In Hong Kong, I was entering three months in which my only social chevra would be myself. My connection to my Judaism would be up to me, and I feared I would lose everything that I had worked so hard to build in the past two years. This was not a dramatic exaggeration but a heartfelt declaration.

Within the first weeks, I felt myself losing my desire to daven and to learn Torah.  Recorded shiurim that used to excite me seemed no longer applicable to the struggles I was facing. I remember calling a friend from Stern College and telling her, “There is no way I am coming out religious after this summer.” But through phone calls of guidance from my support groups in America and in Israel, I slowly learned that the key to surviving the summer would not be the growth I had planned for myself; I had to modify my plans.

Initially, I had strongly believed that just as my twin brother was growing every day in Israel, I had to be growing and firming my roots as an Orthodox Jew.  Instead, I had to learn to tread water in order not to drown. I couldn’t simply focus on listening to shiurim; instead my focus had to be just making it day-by-day. For example, I would try and have one meaningful davening – Shacharit or Minchah  - in Hong Kong. I couldn’t hold myself to the high religious standards that I had set for myself at Stern.

If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, I Must Be in Brussels

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The city of Brussels refused to register the name of a locally born Israeli baby as “Jerusalem” because the name does not appear on a list of approved names for children born in the country.

That gives Israel’s capital, which is not recognized by almost any other country, the miserable distinction of not being allowed to written as “Jerusalem, Israel” on American passports and not allowed to be used as a name in Brussels.

“Alma Jerusalem” was born to Alinadav and Hagar Hyman, Israelis who have lived and worked in Brussels for the past three years, JSS News reported. Hagar is a security agent with Israel’s El Al Airlines, and Alinadav works for the Israel lobby in the European Parliament.

“We are both Jerusalemites, we grew up in Jerusalem, we met in Jerusalem and we very much miss the city, so we decided to call our first child Jerusalem,” Alinadav said. “We actually argued over whether Jerusalem would be the first or middle name, and in the end decided it would be our daughter’s middle name.”

It would be fair enough to say that “Jerusalem” is a bit of an unusual name and that the clerk’s refusal wouldn’t smell of anti-Semitism except for one other little fact: Bethlehem is on the list of approved names.

The clerk, out of ignorance or chutzpah, suggested that the Hymans names their baby with the charming Jewish name of “Bethlehem.”

Despite Jewish history in Bethlehem, one wonders what kind of Bat Mitzvah speech ‘Alma Bethlehem” could deliver in 12 years to explain her name.

Not surprisingly, the Hymans declined the generous offer.

Allinday was not even sure if the clerk was serious about refusing to allow “Jerusalem” as a name since a Finnish man in line next to him was allowed to register his baby with a name that was 25 letters long.

“I cannot say if the refusal to call the baby Jerusalem is political, but the speed with which the clerk refused us compared to how quickly the [unpronounceable] Finnish name was approved raised suspicions,” said the father.

But all is not lost.

The Brussels clerk agreed to allow “Jerusalem” as a name if the Hymans could bring an official letter from the Israeli embassy confirming that it is a valid name, then it would issue a Belgian birth certificate for the baby.

One speculative question remains unanswered: What would the clerk have said if a Palestinian Authority Arab had tried to register a babe’s name as “Jerusalem”?

By the way Mohammed for years has been the most popular name in Belgium, where Muslims compromise more than 25 percent of the population.

Add Brussels to the List of Where Jews Need to Hide. Again.

Friday, August 16th, 2013

For years there have been reports of Jews being warned not to wear items that identify them as Jewish in places where there are large or numbers are particularly aggressive anti-Semites.

People are told it is best not to wear Magen David necklaces outside their clothing, or kippot on their heads when visiting certain neighborhoods in France, in England, certainly throughout much of the Arab Middle East or in parts of North Africa.

But now a Jewish school in Belgium has issued an edict to its schoolchildren: do not wear kippot near the school until you are safely inside the steel-paneled fortified building.

The Maimonides School in the Anderlecht neighborhood of Brussels was started shortly after World War II, at the initiative of the director of the Jewish orphanage, Holocaust survivor S.B. Bamberger, with assistance from Brussels’ rabbi.  It was an attempt to reclaim Jewish life in Brussels after the German occupation. The school opened its doors on September 1, 1947 on the Boulevard Poincaré.

Although it is a pluralistic Jewish school, it follows kashrut and boys are required to wear kippot, and all students are expected to dress “decently,” according to the school’s website.

Over the years the neighborhood in which the school is located has deteriorated.  Anderlecht used to be called “little Jerusalem” because there were so many Jews.  The neighborhood is now increasingly populated by Muslim immigrants from Morocco and Turkey, and right near the school building is a subway station where many Muslim immigrants gather.  Attendance at the school has been dwindling.

Last year the Maimonides board of directors concluded that they will soon have to move, because parents have become too frightened to send their children to the school in its current location. The dramatic drop in attendance – the pre-k through senior high school once had 600 students, but it is now down to less than 150 – has created enormous financial difficulties for Maimo, as it is called.

“In recent years, the district suffered a sharp deterioration. The establishment struggled to deal with the problems of insecurity, of cleanliness. Many parents no longer wish to enroll their children in Maimonides because they fear for their safety,” explained Jacques Wajc, chairman of the school’s board of directors, to the Belgian news source 7 Sur 7.

An incident unnerved the school community in March of 2012.  According to the Coordinating Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism,

“Four individuals of Arab-Muslim origin arrived at the door of the Athenaeum Maimonides in Anderlecht and tried to pull the door to enter multiple times. The security services of the school intervened and were joined by police officers on site.  When checking on the individuals, one of them said, ‘I do not care to touch the door of s[**]t dirty Jew,’” according to the Coordinating Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism,  The four who attempted to gain entrance to the school were illegal immigrants.

Until the school can raise the money to move, it has had to issue a new directive to its students, as reported by Gates of Vienna:

Especially since the attack by Mohamed Merah at the Jewish school in Toulouse last year, which resulted in four deaths, the fear of radical Islam with a North African flavor has increased a lot in Brussels.The director of the school has banned the wearing of kippahs by students outside the school in an attempt to protect them. The kippah is a sign of respect towards God. So a fundamental aspect of the Jewish belief system had to go.

There are two Jewish schools in suburban Brussels.

Approximately 25,000 Belgian Jews were deported to the death camps from Brussels during World War II.  Of those, only 1,207 survived the war.

Israeli Team Fined for not Playing Davis Cup Match on Yom Kippur

Monday, August 12th, 2013

The Israel Tennis Association has been fined more than $13,000 for refusing to play a Davis Cup match against Belgium on Yom Kippur this year in the world group playoffs, the highest level of Davis Cup play.

The Belgian Tennis Association turned down Israel’s request to postpone the game on Sept. 14. The International Tennis Federation, which sponsors the Davis Cup, intervened and changed the date of the match to Sept. 15, but it ordered the Israeli national team to pay the Belgian team for the inconvenience of adding a day to the tournament, Yediot Acharonot reported.

“The Israel Tennis Association is a non-profit organization, which designates all of its funds to promote tennis in Israel and develop Israeli tennis players. As a result, the high fine is a detrimental blow for the budget of the professional program for the Israeli tennis teams and to Israeli tennis in general,” Israel Tennis Association Chairman Asi Touchmair said in a statement on the association’s website.

“As an institution that represents the State of Israel and its values, we in the Israeli Tennis Association stand proud, before all those who refuse to recognize the importance of the Jewish tradition, on behalf of Israel and Jews world over,” the statement said.

Roger Waters Features Nazi Uniform, Pig Balloon and Star of David

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Bitter anti-Israel rock musician Roger Waters used a giant, pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David and symbols of dictatorial regimes during a recent concert in Belgium.

Waters, who recently urged other performers to boycott Israel and compared Israel to apartheid South Africa, was singing on stage on July 20 under the balloon while toting a machine gun replica and wearing a long black leather jacket with a red-and-white arm band, reminiscent of a Nazi uniform.

The former Pink Floyd member was singing “get him up against the wall, that one looks Jewish and that one’s a coon, who let all of this riff-raff into the room” – the lyrics of the song “In the Flesh.”

Thousands of fans shouted his name and applauded as he stood on stage pretending to fire the replica.

Michael Froehlich, editor-in-chief of the Belgian Jewish monthly Goods Actual, called on the government to issue a statement condemning what he  called “an anti-Semitic display” at the concert.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/roger-waters-features-nazi-uniform-pig-balloon-and-star-of-david/2013/07/25/

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