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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Ceremony’

Defense Minister Ya’alon: Assad Has Lost Control

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Against the background of the gas attack in Syria and the reports about hundreds of victims, perhaps more than a thousand, Israeli Defense Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon said on Wednesday that “the Syrian regime has lost control over the country, is present only in about 40 percent of its territory and is finding it difficult to subdue to opposition forces.”

Speaking at a ceremony welcoming the new Jewish year at the defense ministry compound in downtown Tel Aviv, Ya’alon said that “for some time now this has not been an internal Syrian conflict. We decided not to intervene in this conflict, but we drew red lines to make sure our interests are not harmed.

The defense minister expressed skepticism about the ending of the war in Syria. “We don’t envision the end of this situation, since even the toppling of Assad won’t bring about a conclusion. There are many open, bloody accounts yet to be settled by the various elements.”

“It’s a conflict that has turned global, with one axis receiving support from Russia and the other bein helped by the U.S. and Europe. Lebanon is connected to the massive Iranian support and therefore the war has been dripping into its territory as well. Inside Lebanon there are focal points of confrontation as well. But, generally speaking, the borders are peaceful and we are watching to make sure the cannons are not trained on us,” Ya’alon said.

According to rebel sources in Syria, the number of dead as a result of the chemical gas attack on a suburb of Damascus has topped 1,300, including women and children. The rebels are claiming this was a massacre of innocent civilians, who were hurt by poison gas in the area of the Guta camp, a rebel held spot outside Damascus.

A Syrian government spokesperson has said in response that those claims are unfounded, and are intended to sabotage the work of the UN inspectors who have just arrived in Syria to investigate earlier reports of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army.

Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, head of the 20-member inspection team, told news agency TT that he finds the reports of such a high number of casualties suspicious.

“It sounds like something that should be looked into,” he told TT over the phone from Damascus. “It will depend on whether any UN member state goes to the secretary general and says we should look at this event. We are in place.”

Minister Ya’alon referred to situation in Egypt as well, saying there has been relative quiet on the Israeli border with Egypt, but noted that extremist elements like the World Jihad will attempt to destabilize the border.

He warned against the recent developments in the Sinai, such as the execution by Islamist terrorists of 25 Egyptian policemen, spilling over into Israel.

“Over the past week, the Sinai border has been the hottest, and it obliges us to realign for it.”

Jewish Agency Hands Gondar School to Ethiopia

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky handed Getnet Amare, the mayor of Gondar, Ethiopia, the keys to the school that had prepared thousands of Jewish Ethiopian children for their subsequent immigration to Israel through education in math, physics, computers and English.

In a ceremony on Monday, the Jewish Agency donated all the school buildings and equipment to the city. “Jews lived in Gondar for 2,500 years. However, their longing to return home never weakened,” Sharansky said at the ceremony marking the conclusion of the Jewish Agency-led Operation Wings of a Dove. Through the operation, launched in 2010, Israel absorbed more about 7,000 people in Ethiopia, the Falash Mura, whose ancestors were Jewish but were forced to convert to Christianity.

“For us it is very symbolic that the Jewish community here is leaving behind a place of study. It’s a promise we make all the countries from which Jews emigrate: that we will leave behind a school for their local community’s children,” Sharansky said.

The final flight of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel will arrive in the Jewish state on Aug. 28 with 400 immigrants.

Did She or Didn’t She?

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Over the past two days, while the army was shooting into the crowds in Egypt and half of Beirut was lifted by a huge car bomb, and many other awful things were happening, The Jewish Press readership has been dealing with mostly the question of the possibility that a Reform Rabbi named Angela Buchdahl could have attained her high position without the benefit of a Jewish conversion.

It started with an article in The Forward (Angela Buchdahl, First Asian-American Rabbi, Vies for Role at Central Synagogue), that basically suggested Buchdahl was not Jewish according to Jewish law:

But she also engaged Judaism at a time when the Reform movement itself was undergoing dramatic change. Eleven years after Buchdahl’s birth, in a move still hotly debated in all streams of Judaism, including within Reform Judaism itself, the Reform movement overturned more than 2,000 years of tradition that recognized only those whose mother was Jewish as Jews from birth. Others, including those with just a Jewish father, were required to undergo a process of conversion, though this process varied among Judaism’s different streams.

Starting in 1983, as intermarriage advanced steadily among its members, Reform Judaism conferred a “presumption of Jewish descent” on those with one Jewish parent, whether it was a father or a mother. The one condition to this recognition was that it be established “through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith,” according to the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

In many ways, Buchdahl represents the flowering of this revolution in Judaism, and symbolizes a kind of coming of age of its children.

This was coupled with an article in Hadassah Magazine:

Profile: Angela Buchdahl

Though Buchdahl’s mother did not convert, she wanted her children to find a home in the Jewish community. Her father instilled Jewish pride in his children and gave them a Jewish vocabulary, says Buchdahl, but it was her mother who imparted a sense of spiritual yearning and wonder. Her mother’s Buddhism informs her Judaism, she says, noting that Jewish and Korean cultures overlap in their approach to life, their emphasis on giving back and their drive to succeed and to be educated.

So yours truly, enchanted by the concept of the non-Jewish Rabbi, charged ahead. I still believe all the points I was making were right, namely that the Reform  doctrine of patrilineal descent and the “presumption of Judaism” in the case of a the offspring of a non-Jewish woman married to a Jew were on the money.

Except that it turns out Buchdahl may have converted to Judaism after all.

Thanks, first, to our reader Vicky Glikin of Deerfield, Illinois, who wrote:

It is highly unfortunate that your facts and the very premise for this article are plain wrong. Rabbi/Cantor Buchdahl underwent an Orthodox conversion, a fact that you would have easily discovered had you actually been trying to write an intelligent work of journalism.

So I went looking for the misrepresented conversion, and found the following line in the Times (Defining Judaism, a Rabbi of Many Firsts), hidden among long, familiar paragraphs like this one:

Her first reaction was to think about a formal conversion to Judaism, but a second impulse quickly followed: Why should she convert to prove something, when she had been a Jew her entire life? In traditional Jewish law, a Jew is defined through the mother’s line. But over roughly the last 40 years, the Reform movement in Judaism accepted descent through the father’s line as legitimate for Jewish identification, so if a child has a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother who affiliates as a Jew (the mother need not convert if she is involved in synagogue life), the child does not need to undergo a conversion to become a Jew.

But then, the Times revealed: “Eventually, at 21, she did undergo a conversion ceremony, but she prefers to think of it as a reaffirmation ceremony.”

Another clue was in something David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, wrote in his letter today (Hebrew Union Pres. Pulls Fast One in Non-Jewish Rabbi Debate):  ”you assume an article that was written in another newspaper and upon which your author draws for his piece reveals all the facts about her life. ”

Meaning, Ellenson may have known Buchdahl had converted in an Orthodox ceremony, but to concede this would mean that he agrees that it takes an Orthodox conversion to turn even the child of a Jewish father into a real Jew — as shown by the very poster child of patrilineal descent, the subject of our attention these past two days.

I still find the entire affair more than a little bizarre: why should someone who did convert in an Orthodox ceremony be sending out all the signals that they didn’t and that they’re proud they didn’t. Perhaps we’ll find out in the next chapter of this very strange story.

Palestinians Preparing for Prisoners’ Release

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

The Palestinian authorities have finalized the preparations for the release of 26 prisoners, seen as a confidence building gesture from Israel to help sweeten the bitter pill of resuming direct peace talks.

Officials said Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will head the reception ceremony Tuesday night at the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) headquarters, where senior PNA officials and the prisoners’ families will also be present.

At the end of the ceremony, 15 prisoners will be brought to their homes in Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and 11 others will stay in the West Bank.

The delivery of the prisoners was part of a deal to free 104 prisoners arrested before signing Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993.

The Palestinians agreed to resume the peace talks sponsored by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after Israel pledged to gradually free 104 prisoners from its jails during the nine-month period to finalize the peace negotiations between the two sides. There are around 4,500 Arab terrorists kept in Israeli jails.

Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club Association, told Xinhua that the Palestinians “refuse the deportation or the expelling of any prisoner out of the Palestinian territories.

“All of them should go home,” he said.

Of the prisoners to be released, 17 were sentenced to life imprisonment and nine others to 20 to 25 years imprisonment. 19 have spent more than 19 years in Israeli jails, Abdul Nasser Ferwana, a Palestinian expert in prisoners’ affairs, told Xinhua.

A Day of Agony

Monday, April 15th, 2013

I went last night, as I do almost every year, to our local ceremony remembering Israel’s fallen. I’ve lived in this city going on 12 years. Where at first I knew none of the names, there are now three that I recognize, families that I know.

Each year, I am grateful that there aren’t more; desperately, almost embarrassing grateful not to be sitting up in the front.

“Who is sitting there?” Shmulik asked me last night. He’s been to these ceremonies before, but never paid attention. That is where the mayor sits, his assistants and deputies. The chief rabbis of our city and others. But most significantly, this is where the bereaved families sit. They are separated by a low barrier so they won’t be bothered, so they can grieve a bit in private, as they sit among thousands who have come to honor them and the sons and daughters they have lost.

The ceremony begins just moments before 8:00 p.m. It is windy and cool this year; sometimes it is unbearably hot. The park, where tonight there will be singing and dancing and fireworks, was packed last night for the Memorial Day ceremony. It is a unique and amazing yearly event – to cry with all your heart one day and then smile and dance and be happy the next.

We sit there knowing we will dance tomorrow night, knowing these families will not.

Young teenagers walk onto the stage, each carrying large Israeli flags. They are divided into two lines, each moving to the side of the stage where they will remain throughout the ceremony. A man comes to the front; I don’t know his name but he has a beautiful, deep voice – he will lead the ceremony, introduce each of the speakers and singers.

He tells us in a moment, the siren will sound and asks us to stand. He asks the parents to watch over the children so that they don’t make noise and for other adults to watch if children here without parents are overly noisy. Then there is silence. Thousands are waiting for the siren. We wait …

It begins with a quiet wail, gaining and reaching the top. Unlike the real air raid siren, the sound does not go up and down – it is an endless cry that reaches into your heart and fills your eyes. They burn and you try to blink them away. I stand beside one son; another is at home with his wife. What right do I have to cry? God has blessed me – my sons are alive and safe.

The siren ends – not abruptly, but as it began, a slow decline to silence. The flag is lowered and we are asked to sit down again.

More teenagers come forward – there are four this time. The two in the middle begin a slow recitation of the names of those we have lost from our city – there are so many, too many. The father of the last to fall is asked to say the mourners prayer and the audience stands again and answers “Amen” at the appropriate times.

The mayor speaks; others as well. Songs – horribly sad songs of love of land and family, of country of life are sung. Your heart breaks and you want it to end. You want to go home and never come to another ceremony, knowing you will be there again next year, and the year after, and after that.

In all the years I have been in Israel, I have missed very few. Perhaps when my children were very young, or I was pregnant and sitting on a hard floor for an hour was torture. I know when Elie was in the army, I couldn’t go. I couldn’t sit there and listen and think. I was ashamed of my cowardice and begged the families to forgive me.

The first time I went was in Elie’s last year in the army – when he went with me. That, somehow, I managed to do. Last night, I sat next to Shmulik and as with Elie, his being there gave me comfort.

Memorial Day in Israel is as it should be – it is not a day of picnics and sales. It is not about barbecues and fun. It is agony; it is pain. It is tears and sad songs on the radio. It is a candle burning in my house in their memory, and it is the constant knowledge that without their sacrifice, we would not sing and dance tonight. We would not be free, here in our land.

May God bless the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and forever keep them in His heart, as they are in ours.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

IOC Adds Insult to Injury: Widows ‘Get’ their Minute of Silence 4 Days Too Soon

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge on Monday went ahead and paid tribute to the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed in Munich 40 years ago. According to the AP, Rogge lead a “solemn minute of silence in the athletes village.”

Indeed, the AP story eagerly noted that it was “the first time the IOC has honored the slain Israelis in a ceremony inside an Olympic village.”

It’s difficult to articulate just how insulting and callused this empty gesture on the part of the IOC and its president has been.

Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widows of slain Israeli athletes whose murder and the murders of their teammates have gone unacknowledged for forty years, have been pleading for months now, along with thousands upon thousands who have signed their petition, for the officials at the helm of IOC to act human, to tell the world, just as it is getting together to celebrate the best that humanity has to offer: When athletes are slaughtered in broad day light in the middle of the Olympic games it is a horrible things which we will never forget and never forgive.

Instead, four days before the actual opening ceremony, President Rogge threw these widows a bone.

For months Rogge has rejected calls to hold a moment of silence during Friday’s opening ceremony of the London Games. He kept saying as late as this past Saturday that the opening was not the “appropriate place” to remember the Israeli team members killed by Palestinian gunmen in Munich during the 1972 Olympics.

“We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” Rogge said on Saturday.

Perhaps he would have gone for 30 seconds of silence?

I suggest Monday, July 23, 2012, will go down in the annals of Olympic history as Throw the Widow a Bone Day, or simply Bone Day.

On Monday, Rogge strolled over to the Olympic village in London, and in the midst of a quickly assembled crowd of officials, reporters and photographers, announced:

“I would like to start today’s ceremony by honoring the memory of the 11 Israeli Olympians who shared the ideals that have brought us together in this beautiful Olympic Village. The 11 victims of the Munich tragedy believed in that vision. “They came to Munich in the spirit of peace and solidarity. We owe it to them to keep the spirit alive and to remember them.”

And then, like a scene from a Fellini film, President Jacques Rogge bowed his head, and a crowd of 100 IOC executive board members, dignitaries and Olympic athletes and officials stood in silence for a minute.

For absolutely no one and nothing.

Four days before the thing began. Four days before the wonderful statement would have made an actual difference to the millions of viewers across the planet, across the Middle east, where those cowardly murderers were raised and where their crime was designed and financed. In short, four days before these words would require an actual man to say them.

“As the events of 40 years ago remind us, sport is not immune from and cannot cure all the ills of the world,” Rogge said.

Oh, wiser words have not been said by a heartless bureaucrat in some time.

Incidentally, Rogge and the IOC will also honor the murdered Israeli athletes at a private reception in London on Aug. 6.

The IOC will also take part in a ceremony in Germany on the anniversary of the attack on Sept. 5 at the military airfield of Furstenfeldbruck where most of the Israelis were killed.

Then, in March, in a small café in Rome, Rogge and a group of friends will be waiting in silence for their lunch, which should also count for something. In fact, right now, I’ll bet many IOC are sitting in their offices doing stuff while being absolutely silent.

Just as long as it’s not on Friday night at the opening ceremony, because, let’s face it, it can put a damper on the whole humanity happiness thing.

Jew Marries Gorilla in Historic Ceremony

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Exclusive to The Jewish Press!

In a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony as lovely as they come, Professor Manny Grossman and his smiling bride, Gloria, became man and wife under a chupah of grape vines and bananas, on the spacious back lawn of the Golden Gate Temple in Marin County, California, where statues of Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, and Moses are scattered around the beautiful gardens, and an award-winning fountain of drinkable Californian wine gushing forth from a boulder, and representing the well of Miriam, reminds congregants of their glorious Biblical past and Judaism’s brotherhood with the family of nations.  With the Golden Gate Bridge symbolically in the background, the nuptial union between the pioneer Jewish anthropologist and the stunning, white wedding-gowned gorilla marked a historic bridge between mankind and the world of the primates, and another one of Judaism’s great contributions to human culture. Rabbi Christine Christy, dynamic leader of California’s popular PDLR (Progressive Democratic Liberal Reform) Jewish Movement, and pulpit rabbi at the Golden Gate Temple, officiated at the tear-filled ceremony.

“I hereby pronounce you man and wife according to the tradition of Moses,” she declared, her voice cracking with emotion.

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, if I not set Jerusalem over my highest joy,”  the tuxedoed groom affirmed, stepping on and shattering the traditional glass to the cheers and applaud of the overflowing crowd of university professors, doctors, scientists, and California legislators. At first, when the ecstatic bride let out a tremendous gorilla roar, a frightened hush fell over the crowd, but when the happy groom pounded his chest in a Tarzan-like call, everyone laughed. Hand-in-hand, husband and wife walked out to the center of the lawn where everyone joined in a festive hora, as the orchestra played a lively rendition of the famous song, “Tradition,” from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“This is truly a historic occasion,” the proud rabbi exclaimed, saying she hopes to officiate at other inter-species marriages. “It puts an end to all racism, discrimination, and jingoistic talk of a ‘chosen nation,’ which has always separated the Jewish People from the brotherhood of man. Today, with their wedding, Manny and Gloria Grossman have proclaimed to the world that all the beings which God created are equal.”

Needless to say, the marriage ceremony was not without its share of controversy. In the middle of the dancing, a dozen gays crashed the festivities, holding signs which read, “We Want to Marry Gorillas Too!”

“I’d be happy to officiate at gay-gorilla weddings,” Rabbi Christy, herself a self-proclaimed lesbian, declared. “I don’t see any problem with it at all.”

“What about the rejection of non-Orthodox rabbis by the Chief Rabbinate in Israel?” a reporter asked her.

“Israel is a democracy, and in our enlightened day and age, democracy rules, not God,” Rabbi Christy answered. “Israel’s attorney general decided to equally recognize all religious congregational leaders, from whatever stream of Judaism, and grant them all the same standing and financial compensation from the State – and I am sure the Israel Supreme Court will agree.”

“What if Israel’s democracy should vote that Israel will no longer be a Jewish State?” another reporter queried.

“I would gladly accept that also,” the media-adored rabbi replied. “That would be an important step toward the universality of mankind and break down the myth of Jewish statehood which has too long been an obstacle to world peace. Judaism is a religion, not a nationality, and Jews don’t need a land of their own. Let all the Israelis come and live here in California. So many of them live here already. There’s plenty of room. And just as no person or peoples are holier than any other, neither is any land holier than the next.”

Of course, Orthodox Jews don’t agree with what they call “the circus wedding” and with the new-age opinions of the ultra-progressive woman rabbi, citing the Biblical verse, “Cursed be he who lies with any manner of beast” (Deut. 27:21), which classifies sexual relations with animals as a forbidden form of incest.

“What people do in their own bedrooms is their business,” Rabbi Christy maintains. “The Torah is out of date. Rabbis have always had the ability to enact new ordinances in keeping with the times. Besides, who says that Professor Grossman intends to have sexual relations with his wife? Today, as far as I am concerned, their platonic love for each other has been sanctified by the holy bonds of marriage, that’s all.”

“If they do have children, will they be Jewish?” the rabbi was asked.

“Of course. I presided over Gloria’s conversion myself,” she insisted. “She lights the Shabbat candles and loves to listen to the songs of Jewish cantors, especially Yossela Rosenblatt.” And then with a chuckle, she added, “If they have a child, we’ll call it a Jewilla!”

The whole affair started while Professor Grossman was conducting an anthropological research mission in the jungles of Africa on the mating habits of gorillas. “It was love at first sight,” he fondly recalls. “Gloria was different from all the other baboons and chimps. We had a special relationship right from the start. I arranged for her ocean voyage to America, divorced my wife, and today I am the happiest man in the world.”

But the path to the wedding chupah wasn’t without its share of hurdles. Some conservative streams of Judaism opposed the gorilla’s conversion. After a few weeks of vociferous debate, the different branches on non-Orthodox Judaism agreed to a simple test. Concurring that all Jews loved gefilta fish and bagels and lox, Gloria was brought before a panel of progressive, liberal, reform, and conservative rabbis, and presented with a plate of gefilta fish. With a disdainful swipe of her paw, she sent the small balls flying across the hall. Immediately, Professor Grossman stood up and protested, stating that gorillas were vegetarians and didn’t eat fish. One of the reform rabbis demanding the test be repeated, observing that no Jew really liked gefilta fish without horseradish, so a bowl of horseradish was quickly fetched and set before the gorilla with a new plate of gefilta fish. Once again, all the judges had to duck as the ape sent the little balls flying. But flashing her big white teeth in a winning smile, she scooped up the crimson horseradish in one of her giant paws and swallowed it down in a gulp.

“That proof enough for me!” one of the rabbis shouted.

“That only proves that she’s half Jewish,” a conservative rabbi countered.

So a platter of bagels and lox was set before the primate. Once again, holding its nose in a gesture of disdain, the vegetarian threw away the smelly strips of fish and started chomping on the bagels.

“That’s proof enough for me,” another conservative rabbi exclaimed. “If the ape likes bagels, that’s a sure sign that the conversion is valid and that the gorilla is a Jew in every regard!”

All in all, the Californian wedding was a lovely affair. Noticing a little old Jewish woman standing to the side of the dancing, this reporter went over to her and asked what she was doing at the wedding?

“I’m Manny’s grandmother,” she answered.

“How do you feel about the celebration?” I asked.

The old lady shrugged and let out a small sigh and said, “At least he had a Jewish wedding.”

 

Nefesh B’Nefesh Landing Ceremony

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Watch your family & friends LIVE as they arrive in Israel as new Olim!

Log on to watch the festive welcome ceremony where we celebrate their Aliyah together with hundreds of guests and dignitaries.

The feed will begin on July 12, 2012 at Wednesday, 6AM Israel Time (11PM Wednesday, New York Time).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/watch-the-nefesh-bnefesh-landing-ceremony-live/2012/07/12/

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