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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘diaspora’

Happy Birthday to the People of Israel

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

The first song to be sung at the Passover Seder table tonight should be, “Happy, Birthday to us;  Happy Birthday dear People of Israel; Happy Birthday to us.”

The first time in history that Jews were referred to as the “People of Israel’ was when none other than Pharaoh said so, in Exodus (Shmot), Chapter 1, Verse 9:

He [Pharaoh] said to his people, ‘Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are.

The Jews left slavery in Egypt as the People of Israel in the year 2448, which is 3327 years ago, according  to calculations made by Serbian-born Eliezer Shulman when he was exiled to Siberia by the former Soviet Union.

Until Pharaoh’s paranoia, Jews were never referred to as a “people.” The fact that he saw the Jews as a people underscores the insecurity of his idol worshiping regime.

When Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, they were not representing themselves. They were speaking not only in the name of God but also in the name for the People of Israel, who eventually left Egypt and 40 years later entered the Land of Israel.

Similarly in Numbers (BaMidbar) chapter 22, Balak, the king of Moab, “became terrified of the people, for they were numerous.”

It is easier to confront individuals in a group than confront a group of individuals.

Historians and non-Jewish clerics always have wondered how the Jews have been able to survive the destruction of the Holy Temples, pogroms, exiles and the Holocaust.

They do not understand because they are not Jews, whose spiritual level of faith is inexplicable

Accompanying the faith is the unity of the Jewish people, who always have been strong when united and weak when divided.

The People of Israel won the right to the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 because they were “one,” regardless of observance, political views and tradition.

Some Jews in Israel opposed the establishment of the State of Israel, but once it became fact, it was the unity of the people that allowed it not only to survive but also to be happy and committed to Zionism during the difficult years of constant Arab attacks and economic hardships.

Leaving the country to live elsewhere was considered a shame on a family.

Israel now is an independent country, but it is not truly independent because the People of Israel, which includes Jews from all over the world, are far from unified.

There is a gap of light years between the differences of opinion within Israel and differences between Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora.

In ancient Egypt, there also were differences between Jews. Torah sages say that only 20 percent of the Jews left slavery. The rest were scoffers who preferred the security of slavery than the security of faith, which won the day.

It did then and it continues to do so today, no matter how much Jews in Diaspora claim they are “Zionists” by living outside Israel and demanding that the Jewish state serve their interests instead of those living in Israel.

We overcame Pharaoh, and this too, we will overcome.


Happy Birthday to us.

Tel Aviv Follows US Model and Bans School Trips to Western Wall

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Tel Aviv has ordered a school to cancel Bar Mitzvah an eighth-grade Bar Mitzvah trip to the Western Wall in Jerusalem because of “the security situation in Jerusalem.”

City Hall explained that the cancellation of the Bar Mitzvah trip “includes tours of some of the places where violence has recently erupted.”

It turns out ”some places” means Ammunition Hill, the spokeswoman for Tel Aviv told The Jewish Press. The site is one of the most popular places for visitors because of a fierce and deadly battle there against the Jordanian army in the Six-Day War in 1967.

There have been no riots at Ammunition Hill. Nor there have been any Arabs throwing rocks there.

Someone in Tel Aviv must have looked at the map and noticed that Ammunition Hill is two or three minutes from the part of the route of the light rail train that Jerusalem Arabs have targeted on a daily basis. An Arab terrorist last week raced down the path next to a train and ran over anyone in his way, killing a three-month-old baby and another victim who died today.

That doesn’t make Ammunition Hill dangerous and more than it makes an ice hockey arena dangerous because two guys are fighting each other on the ice

If Ammunition Hill were not a safe place to visit, Jerusalem schools would not send dozens of children there every day.

But let’s say that the good citizens of Tel Aviv don’t know any better and are paranoid. The school tour no doubt wanted to include a visit to Ammunition Hill on the Bar Mitzvah trip, but why did it throw out the baby with the bath water and deprive the children of the Bar Mitzvah experience at the Western Wall instead of simply taking Ammunition Hill off of the schedule?

Tel Aviv’s reaction is as if it were in the Diaspora.

Hundreds of American Jews this past summer cancelled trips to Israel because of the war against Hamas, which attacked most of Israel with missiles, even though almost all of the rockets that reached the metropolitan area were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

The U.S. Embassy last week ordered its personnel not to travel on the light rail trains in Jerusalem because of the terrorist attack

The clueless and frightened ghetto-like reaction of the United States and Tel Aviv is the perfect response to encourage terrorists, who have two objectives. One is to kill Jews. The other is for Jews to go elsewhere – first Tel Aviv, and then the United States, or any other place where radical Islam has not yet taken over.

Cancelling a school trip to the Western Wall because of one nearby trouble spot makes as much sense as Jerusalem’s banning traveling to Tel Aviv because of fatal accidents on Tel Aviv’s inner city Ayalon highway or Mafia murders in broad daylight that often catch innocent bystanders in crossfire or simply target the wrong people.

Jerusalem’s deputy mayor Rachel Azaria called Tel Aviv’s ban “outrageous.”

Thousands of Jerusalem children and adults travel every day to the Western Wall. There also are visits to Ammunition Hill without incident. There is no requirement to take the light rail train..

Ammunition Hill in quieter times.

Ammunition Hill in quieter times.

Only 12 Jews Left in Egypt, Community Leader Says

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Only 12 Jews remain in Egypt, the remnant of a community of some 100,000 that lived there until the 1950s, the community’s leader said.

“We are dying, we are drowning, we are finished,” Jewish community head Magda Haroun told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Sept. 18.

Haroun said that her “first duty is to take care of the human beings,” the remaining Jews, “the old ladies which have no family, are alone.”

“And my second duty and most important one is these things that will never die,” she said, pointing to the religious and ritual objects.

Most of Egypt’s Jews left in the 1950s and 1960s when Egypt and Israel were at war and Jews were accused of being spies.

Haroun was elected head of the Jewish community in April 2013 following the death of Carmen Weinstein. At the time there were about 40 Jews in Egypt, mostly elderly women split between Cairo and Alexandria.

Her father, Chehata Haroun, was a nationalist politician who was anti-Zionist.

Israelis Fiercely Oppose Inter-Marriage

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Three-quarters of Israeli Jews and nearly two-thirds of Israeli Arabs would not marry someone from a different religion, according to a Dialog poll conducted by Haaretz this week.

The survey found that opposition to interfaith relationships was highest among Haredi Jews, at 95 percent, while 88 percent of traditional and religious Jews and 64 percent of secular Jews also opposed inter-dating.

Seventy-one percent of Muslim Israeli Arabs opposed interfaith relationships, but only half of Christian Israeli Arabs were opposed.

Across religious denominations, Israeli Jews would be much more opposed to their relatives marrying Arabs than they would be to relatives marrying non-Arab non-Jews. Only a third of secular Jewish Israelis would be opposed to a relative marrying an American or European Christian, but a majority would oppose a relative marrying an Arab. Seventy-two percent of Israeli Jews overall would be opposed to a relative marrying an Arab.

Last week, a small far-right group protested in Jaffa outside the wedding of an Israeli Arab and a Jewish-born Israeli who converted to Islam.

Intermarriage rage in Israel used to be minimal but has grown to approximately to five percent nationwide, and only 1 per cent of less in Judea and Samaria.

The primary cause for the rise increase is the large-scale immigration of Jews from the former Soviet bloc. Approximately 300,000 immigrated even though only the father was Jewish. A child is Jewish if his or her mother is Jewish, regardless of the religion of the father, according to Jewish law.

Not surprisingly, opposition to intermarriage was lowest among immigrants from the former Soviet Union. More than half would avoid having a relationship with a non-Jew, but if they were to fall in love with a non-Jew, only 35 percent would insist their spouse convert.

Two-thirds of Israeli Jews see intermarriage as a serious threat to Jews worldwide, and one-third see it as a serious threat to Jews in Israel.

The rate of intermarriage in the United States has shot up to more than 60 percent.

Bomb Scare Forces Evacuation of Australian Jewish School

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

More than 200 students at the King David School in Melbourne, Australia were moved off the campus after 8 a.m. Thursday when security personnel found an abandoned van containing a suspicious object near the school.

The Australian Jewish community’s Community Security Group alerted local police, and the department’s Bomb Response Unit used a remote-controlled robot to examine the van. The van did not contain explosives, and the campus was declared safe at approximately 11 a.m.

“While this did prove to be a false alarm, parents should rest assured that the security and safety of our students is our highest priority,” King David principal Marc Light wrote in a letter to parents Thursday.

The school makes “no apologies” for following security protocols, Light told local media.

“We haven’t had any specific threat to the school or to our students whatsoever,” he said.

The false alarm came hours before protesters gathered in Sydney near the opening of the Israeli Film Festival after a judge had blocked the planned protest outside the cinema.

Nevertheless, some protesters handed out leaflets to people entering the cinema urging a boycott of the festival, calling it part of a “charm offensive” to present Israel in a favorable light and to “disguise and legitimize the oppression of Palestinians.”

Inside, Albert Dadon, founder of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange, which organizes the film festival, told the audience that he had started telling his children to be careful.

“I didn’t think in Australia I’d have to do that,” Dadon said.

The festival, in its 11th year, will screen in major cities across Australia for the next two weeks.

Skyrocketing Global Anti-Semitism Unveils Its Ugly Face

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Global anti-Semitism is doing the ‘Gaza Strip’ although it has never needed an excuse; the Cossacks predated 1948. But when the State of Israel decides to defend itself against its enemies, there is usually a spike in the number and severity of worldwide incidents since anti-Semites feel freer to unveil themselves to the world.

It’s as if they feel they are given a permit by anti-Israel media to unleash their natural hatred and perpetrate attacks in an endless ‘Day of Rage’ against the Jews.

In the old days, this would have taken the form of a pogrom; in the 21st century, incidents range from media attacks on Israel to violent attacks on Jews anywhere around the world.

Some fearful Jews in the Diaspora are blaming Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the phenomenon. “Netanyahu doesn’t ask Diaspora Jews for starting a war that is (unjustifiably) producing anti-Semitism that affects us all,” wrote M.J. Rosenberg, a writer at The Huffington Post who was formerly a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. Previously, he worked on Capitol Hill for various Democratic members of the House and Senate and was a one-time Clinton political appointee at USAID. In the early 1980s, he was even the editor of AIPACs weekly newsletter Near East Report, according to his media biography. None of which has stopped him from misunderstanding the cause of anti-Semitism.

If we limit ourselves to incidents that have taken place this past week:

1. Anti-Semites hurled firebombs at a synagogue in the western German city of Wuppertal in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. One arrest was made and police are searching for two more suspects, according to police spokesperson Alexander Kresta. The synagogue was undamaged. The identity of the 18-year-old male who was arrested was not released to media.

2. The 40-year-old rabbi of Gateshead, England was hospitalized after he was severely beaten by four teenage males (ages 16, 17, 18 and 19) on Rydal Street early Friday, while leaving his yeshiva in the center of the Orthodox Jewish community in Bensham. Two of the attackers were Qaiser Malik, 19 and Balawal Sultan, 18, both of Newcastle, and were brought to a judge for bail hearings. There was also an incitement tweet in connection with this case, showing a picture of a Jewish elementary school. “This Jewish school in Gateshead cheered when the bombs fell in Palestine.”

3. In Rome, the city’s historic Jewish quarter was defaced over the past several days with swastikas and flyers, reading ‘Anne Frank story teller’ on Appia Nuova Street. Other posters also have appeared in the Prati neighborhood,, depicting a Palestinian Arab hurling a rock at an IDF tank, together with a Celtic cross and the slogan, “Each Palestinian is a camerata’ – the Italian word for members of Mussolini’s facist movement. ‘Same enemy, same barricade,’ the slogan adds. The Jewish community in Rome is one of the oldest continuous Jewish settlements in the world.

4. For the second time in less than a week, the Jewish community of Miami, Florida also has been targeted. Early Monday morning, the word ‘Hamas’ was spray-painted on the pillars of Congregation Torah V’Emunah, along with a few swastikas, in northeast Miami-Dade.

5. A similar incident occurred on the Sabbath, when a family in the mostly Jewish neighborhood of Miami Beach returned home from synagogue services to find their two cars splattered with eggs and cream cheese. The words ‘Hamas’ and ‘Jew’ were scrawled on the back windows. Police in both communities are investigating, and it is unknown whether the two incidents are related.

In Times Of Danger, Run To – Rather Than From – Israel

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

In this week’s parshah, the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half of Menasheh request to remain on the eastern side of the Jordan. A cursory review of their request gives us insight into why these particular tribes tried to remain outside Israel.

Reuven was, of course, the first son of Yaakov. When the brothers returned from Egypt and told their father that the viceroy (who was really Joseph) insisted they bring brother Binyamin to Egypt before they would be given more food, Reuven steps forward. Turning to his father he declares: “If I do not bring Binyamin back you can kill my two sons.” Yaakov rejects Reuven’s overture (Genesis 42:37-38).

Only after Yehudah comes forward saying he would be a surety for Binyamin does Yaakov relent.

The difference between Yehudah and Reuven is obvious. Yehudah assumes responsibility. He expresses a total commitment to Binyamin and is ready to put himself on the line if he fails. Not so Reuven. He guarantees Binyamin’s safety by using his children as collateral rather than himself.

Not surprisingly the children of Reuven who don’t understand the message of areivut, of caring for others, bear children and a tribe that prefers to remain apart from Israel.

Gad is one of the children of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid. He is described as being very strong. In the words of Yaakov’s blessing as explicated by Rashi: Troops (armies) shall be found of Gad (Genesis 49:19). Still, when Joseph is sold Gad does not come forward to protect him. Here again, it is understandable that Gad becomes a tribe that asks to live outside Israel.

Menasheh is the eldest son of Joseph. When he is born Joseph calls him Menasheh, “For God has made me forget (nashani, the root of Menasheh) all my toil and all my father’s house” (Genesis 42:51). Here is a description of one who breaks with his home. Not coincidentally, Menasheh’s children wish to separate from Israel.

Moshe tells the two and a half tribes that they may live outside Israel but only after they first help conquer and settle the land. Here Moshe teaches the message of areivut to those who come from a tribe where the sense of caring is missing. And these tribes get the message. They lead the way in helping liberate the land. They were able to turn around the lack of areivut in their family history into a sense of real commitment to the Jewish people.

An important message, especially now, for Jews in the Diaspora – in times of need we should, like the two and a half tribes, run to Israel rather than from Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/in-times-of-danger-run-to-rather-than-from-israel/2014/07/17/

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