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May 28, 2016 / 20 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Hebrew’

RASG Hebrew Academy Present ‘The Odd Couple’

Monday, April 25th, 2016

The RASG Hebrew Academy of Miami Beach presented its annual spring production on April 3 in the school’s west-campus auditorium. This year’s play was directed by Sarah Berman, a faculty member with a degree in theatre. She has worked as a casting assistant for TV and film on projects including “Burn Notice,” “Magic City,” “Graceland,” “The Glades,” and “Iron Man.”

Mrs. Berman gives all the credit for the success of the play to her dedicated students. They not only were called on to act but also to paint the sets and supply costumes and props. Their hard work paid off. The enjoyable comedy was a resounding hit.

RASG Hebrew Academy's production of Neil Simon's ‘The Odd Couple.’

RASG Hebrew Academy’s production of Neil Simon’s ‘The Odd Couple.’

Beman says, “I chose ‘The Odd Couple’ for this year because it is a fun, lighthearted, and iconic tale. The audience gets to witness two conflicting personalities at their best and worst. Though the play was written and is set in the 1960s, it transcends time. Everyone knows a Felix and an Oscar. Most of the cast members are seniors, and college dorm life is eminent. I think there is much to learn from the situation the play presented.”

Cast members were Danny Bister as Felix, Daniel Ben Avner as Oscar, Tehila Moore as Gwendolyn, Rena Kahn as Cecily, Jack Benveniste-Plitt as Murray, Brian Garcia as Vinnie, Sara Fuchs as Roxy, and Jacob Mitrani as Speed.

The RASG Hebrew Academy is a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school that has proudly served the South Florida community for nearly seventy years. The school strives to inspire students through the light of the Torah and academic excellence. For more information call 305-532-6421.

Shelley Benveniste

Shanghai Magnet School Offering Hebrew, Language of the ‘Smart People’

Friday, October 9th, 2015

(JNi.media) Benjamin Peng, a Shanghai-based observer Israel-China ties and a consultant on Israeli Hi-tech investment, reported recently that a magnet, 9-year primary school in Shanghai’s Hongkou District is offering a Hebrew language classes, as part of an effort to increase students’ interests in “minority languages.” The class is being taught by Israeli teacher Miri Beck-Freund, a graduate of the Levinsky College of Education in Tel Aviv.

According to Peng, Chinese people are curious about Israel and have positive feelings about Jews and the Jewish state. “In China, it is fair to say, Israeli people are perceived, generally, as very smart people,” Peng reports.The Shanghai Evergreen school is offering Hebrew to fourth graders, who are expected to keep with the course until the eighth grade. Classed involve group learning through games, animation videos, and what Peng defines as “culture experiencing.”

With 57 classrooms, close to 2,600 students, and 176 faculty members including 106 senior teachers, Evergreen is the largest nine-year school in the area. Classrooms computer networked, there’s a television studio producing school-related programming, electronic meeting rooms, an indoor gymnasium, and state of the art labs. The school campus is beautiful, with a rock garden, fountains, pavilions and sculptures.

“The China-Israel relationship has been getting closer and closer, and today Chinese companies are also undertaking more and more investment activities in Israel,” according to Peng, who occasionally blogs for the Times of Israel. It appears that Shanghai, which served as a safe haven for thousands of eastern European Jews in WW2, is especially interested in Israel, and a large portion of Chinese investments in Israeli startup projects have come from Shnghai-based investors. Pengs says Shanghai today is “the most dynamic international financial center in China.”

JNi.Media

Coalition Runs Away from Elections and Delays Vote on Jewish State Bill

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has decided to postpone a scheduled vote this week on the “Jewish State Bill,” during which time he will try to come up with a version that is acceptable to coalition partners, who does not want to see the government fall and then have to risk serious losses in new elections.

As The Jewish Press reported here and here, the media mania over early elections – two years before the government’s term ends – makes great headlines but is mostly wishful thinking by Netanyahu’s enemies, which include the establishment print and electronic media and his coalition “partners.”

The largest party in the government after the Likud is Yesh Atid, headed by Yair Lapid. He has said he could back a milder version of the Jewish State idea, which has been resented in three versions.

The bill has given Israel a huge black eye around the world, mainly because most people don’t have a clue what they are talking about or simply decide that calling Israel a “Jewish” state means it will be less of a “democratic” state.

If “democracy” means a form of government, the bill changes nothing, but “democracy” has become one of those holy terms, like ”human rights” and “freedom [to kill, incite, be a traitor or simply blow up the world]” that people toss around to support their agenda.

The arguments over the bill have become a joke, mainly because the coalition leaders are using it to make themselves popular among their supporters while knowing that if they go to the polls, the entire country will be angry at everyone for a useless exercise that, barring a change in the rotation of the Earth, will leave Netanyahu in power and Lapid and Tzipi Livni with less seats in the Knesset.

The Jewish Home party, headed by Naftali Bennett, likely would gain seats, making the coalition even more right wing than it is now.

The strongest version of the Jewish State bill, which might not pass the test of Israel’s left-leaning Supreme Court, would leave Hebrew as the only official language and would downgrade Arabic to having a special status.”

It also would define the country as aiming to “settle Jews’ in Israel, without any mention of Arabs. Of course, that is exactly what Israel does anyway, put putting it writing is somehow “undemocratic.”

It also is meaningless. It is like stating that the country should “try to encourage everyone to be vegetarian.”

A milder version of the bill ignores the issue of language and settling Jews, and it does not refer to vegetarians or those who are carnivorous.

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Aliyah and the Gifted Child

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

As an education writer for the nonprofit organization, Kars4Kids, and as someone who made Aliyah from Pittsburgh 34 years ago, I decided to write about the challenges of Aliyah from western countries with school age children. See the previous piece in this series, Aliyah and the Special Needs Educator. Today I interview Rachel Moore of Neve Daniel.

Varda: Tell me about yourself, Rachel.

Rachel Moore

Rachel Moore

Rachel: I am 41 years old, expecting my 8th child. I have been working in PR and communications for the past 17 years in government and the non-profit world. I blog, sing, and study Torah whenever I can grab an opportunity.

Varda: When did you make Aliyah? How many children did you bring with you and what were their ages?

Rachel: I made Aliyah in 1995 at 22. However, I left again in 2000 and spent 12 years back in the U.S. for personal reasons, and only moved back in July of 2012.

My second time settling here was truly Aliyah for my children, who at the time were 12, 11, 11, 9, 7 and 4.

My eldest is my stepson, 19, who is a sophomore at Rutgers University in the U.S. He did not move here with us. My other 6 children are now 13, 12 year-old twins, 10, 8 and 5, and I am due with another one – today, actually[Rachel had her baby that evening, a little boy! V.E.].

Varda: Tell me about your children. What are their difficulties?

Rachel: We have at least two children who have been classified as “gifted” outside of Israel, and meeting their needs is a challenge, and also requires learning the system. In addition, I have one daughter who I suspect as having ADHD, but she hasn’t been classified – yet.

Varda: Where do they go to school?

The newest addition to the Moore family.

The newest addition to the Moore family.

Rachel: My 13 year-old daughter attends Orot Etzion girls’ school. My 12 year-old twin boys attend Horev High School (7th grade), my 10 year-old son attends Carmei Yehuda, Mamad Hativa Bogeret boys’ school in Alon Shvut, my 8 year-old daughter attends Shirat Chanan, Mamad Hativa Tzeira in Alon Shvut, and my 5 year-old attends the Mechina of Orot Etzion in Neve Daniel.

Varda: Do your children receive additional help outside of school?

Rachel: My daughter with [suspected] ADHD sees a therapist (in English) outside of school that specializes in children with this disability. My 10 year-old son is now enrolled in a gifted pull-out program in Efrat once a week called Afikim [Eligibility is determined by both written and oral tests and only 1.5% of students are accepted], and is in mitzuyanut [gifted class]within school. We had to get him special permission to take the test to qualify for Afikim at the beginning of 5th grade, because the test is usually given in 2nd grade.

We believe that our 2nd grader would have qualified [as gifted] the year we moved here, but we didn’t know she had the option to take the test in English or with translation help. No one had explained this to us, so she took it with the rest of the class. We may still pursue an appeal so that she can retake the test, but it will probably be an uphill battle.

Varda: What out-of-pocket expenses do you have in educating your children and what is covered by the state?

Varda Meyers Epstein

Friday the Rabbi Read Isaiah 53

Friday, November 15th, 2013

In this morning’s video pick, a recording of the late Christopher Hitchens discussing the inherently immoral notion of someone dying for someone else’s sins, a kind of spiritual cannibalism, really, reader Alex Rivera entered the comment: “I take it the editor has never read Isaiah 53…”

Since Isaiah 53 is being used as one of the foundation strategies of missionary tricksters in seeking proof for their pagan ideas in our holy scriptures, I decided to respond immediately, lest this drivel have a chance to spread further.

Now, this article is directed at both Jewish and Christian readers, as an attempt to set the record straight. If you’re a Jew, I expect this should satisfy any doubt you may have had regarding the most remote possibility that the missionary claims bear any validity; if you’re Christian, I hope that this would serve as an opening to explore further the deep seated errors of your faith.

Isaiah 53 is an amazing piece of poetry, besides bearing a stirring prophetic message. I cannot understand how one would be able to get it without a thorough knowledge of Hebrew – even if he or she don’t have preconceived notions about the Christian message. This is precisely why the missionaries are able to fool our Jewish brothers and sisters who aren’t fluent in Hebrew – but now they can all come to the JewishPress.com and see the Jewish version of Isaiah 53.

To start, the original Hebrew texts had no chapters, and we read them based on their content, referring to each as a distinct episode, or a distinct poem, with their own cohesive content.

The segment in Isaiah 53 actually starts in Isaiah 52:13, flowing into Isaiah 53:1:

52:13 goes: “Behold, My slave has become wise, he has risen and become superior and very high.”

The nation of Israel, in the singular, is called God’s slave throughout the book of Isaiah. In one particular verse, Isaiah 41:8, the text refers to our nation using both names of our patriarch: “And you Israel, my slave Jacob whom I have chosen, seed of Abraham my lover.”

Both Isaiah and Jeremiah use the term “My slave Jacob” six times, four of them with the Divine’s call to “fear not.”

In both cases, the prophets are borrowing the names of our forefather Jacob-Israel, whom God addresses with that calming call on the eve of his journey down to Egypt, in the context of his becoming a great nation, the nation of Israel:

“He said, I am God, the God of your father, fear not going down to Egypt for I shall turn you into a great nation there.” (Gen. 46:3)

So that there’s no doubt in any Hebrew reader’s mind that the prophetic poem in Isaiah 52-53 is referring to us, the nation of Israel, children of Jacob. Nothing here about some guy telling folks he is the messiah.

The scene described by Isaiah is that of the nations of the world, kings and all, who are reviewing the progress of the nation of Israel—very much the way they do today, when 9 out of 9 UN resolutions are against Israel, when the president of the United States and his secretary of state cannot tear themselves away from discussing the extra bathroom the Berkowitzes wish to construct in their East Jerusalem apartment, when the faraway, impoverished nation of Iran is devoting $175 billion, at last count, to build a weapon that would finally annihilate all the Jews of Israel – this is precisely what the prophet describes, this obsession of the entire world with the children of God.

And so, God shares His own report with them:

52:13 “Behold, My slave has become wise, he has risen and become superior and very high.”

God proceeds to describe our history:

52:14-15 “Just as many were appalled by your appearance, saying: he is so disfigured, worse than any man, and his form worse than any human being, so he will humiliate many nations, kings will stand speechless over him, for that which had not been told them they’ll see and that which they had not heard they’ll ponder.”

The prophet continues:

53:1 “Who would believe what we have heard, and to whom has God’s arm been revealed?”

Yori Yanover

Wisconsin Man Arrested after Beating Two Men for Speaking Hebrew

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Police in Madison, Wisconsin have arrested a man for punching two men who were speaking Hebrew, but he claimed he attacked them because they he thought they were speaking Spanish.

The attacker apparently doesn’t mind Israelis but perhaps has a grudge against Spanish-speaking folks. He also obviously has no language background if he cannot distinguish “shalom” from “buenos dias.”

Police said the man demanded that his victims speak English and then hit them in their faces, knocking one of them to the ground and leaving the other man with a black eye.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Nigeria’s Igbo Jews

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

By Shai Afsai

With noon temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, visitors to Habakkuk Nwafor’s family compound in Abuja seek shelter in a palm-fronds hut adjoining his private shrine. No grass grows through the sandy soil of the walled compound, while a mighty cashew tree that once offered shade was felled in a storm several years ago. A few paces from the hut and shrine is Tikvat Israel, the synagogue headed by Nwafor.

With no Nigerian rabbis, men like Nwafor, who began practicing Judaism in 2002, have assumed the mantle of religious leadership in Igbo Jewish communities. A competitive boxer in his youth, Nwafor, now in his mid-50s, works in construction and also raises goats and chickens, which roam freely about the compound.

Bearded, lean and muscular, he has a distinctly raspy voice and an intensely religious fervor. In the distance, beyond his synagogue, a towering and tree-lined mountain is visible, and it is there that Nwafor retreats by foot to fast and meditate in seclusion.

“Only hunters and animals are on the mountain. They do not trouble me,” he says. “I go there to talk with God.”

Like Nwafor, Tikvat Israel’s congregants are Igbo, who believing themselves to be descendants of Israelites who many centuries ago arrived in what is now Nigeria, identify themselves as Jews.

The Igbo, whose traditional homeland — Igboland — is in the southeastern portion of the country, are Nigeria’s third largest ethnic group. Most are Christian, but many Igbo, even while practicing Christianity, nonetheless consider themselves Jewish. In the past few decades, several thousand Igbo have taken this self-identification a step further and embraced Judaism, which they see as their lost heritage.

The phenomenon of Igbo identification with Jews dates to the 18th century, following the Igbo’s encounter with Christian missionaries and their introduction to the Bible, in which they found similarities between Igbo customs and those of the ancient Hebrews. Some Igbo, such as the 18th-century writer Equiano Olaudah, concluded “that the one people had sprung from the other,” an opinion shared by the worshipers at Tikvat Israel.

Earlier this year, Nwafor invited me to Abuja to celebrate the annual Purim holiday — the Jewish Festival of Lots, based on the biblical Book of Esther — as well as to learn more about Nigerian Jewry.

Upon exiting Abuja’s air-conditionless airport terminal, I was met by Nwafor, who was wearing a blue and white Tikvat Israel T-shirt. A waiting car took us to Kubwa, the neighborhood where Nwafor and his wife, Amaka, live with their children. For the next week I was their guest, and as my host, Nwafor never left my side, accompanying me on all my trips to homes, synagogues and sites in Abuja.

Among the many visitors who flocked to Nwafor’s compound after my arrival were four prayer leaders and Hebrew teachers who traveled over eight hours by bus from Igboland to meet with me. The knowledge and proficiency of these four men, three of whom were in their 20s, was remarkable given that they had managed to learn so much of Jewish tradition through the Internet.

Late into the night, they chanted Hebrew prayers and played religious songs they had downloaded to their iPhones.

The power often goes out in Abuja, especially at night, and residents rely a great deal on flashlights and generators. So we sat in Nwafor’s courtyard, the thick darkness illuminated only by the blue glow of their cellphones, the air filled with music and talk of Judaism in Nigeria, the United States and Israel.

The eldest of the four visitors, a musician in his 40s named Chislon Eben Cohen, was among the first Igbo Jews to master Hebrew, which he did in part by obtaining materials through the mail from the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Israel.

Eben Cohen has taken the next step of passing on his knowledge, and among his first students was Nwafor’s now-15-year-old son, Hezekiah. Hezekiah usually leads the prayer services at Tikvat Israel — often with melodies he has composed himself — and he hopes one day to become a rabbi.

The lack of Nigerian rabbis sometimes leaves Igbo Jews uncertain about traditional Jewish practice elsewhere and has led them to rely a great deal on the Internet, as well as on books obtained from abroad.

Guest Author

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/nigerias-igbo-jews/2013/08/25/

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