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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Houston’

Anti-Semitic Phone Call Leads to Restoration of Historic Boat

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

A 1943 vintage Danish fishing boat which rescued Danish Jews during the Holocaust is in the process of being moved and restored, ironically enough, thanks to an anti-Semitic phone call.

The boat had been deteriorating for a while, but since the museum doesn’t charge for admission, raising money for a restoration project wasn’t exactly easy – until conservator Braeden Howard received an “obscene anti-Semitic” phone call and posted the anonymous diatribe on YouTube.

“The Glenn Beck Show” got wind of the rant and shared it with viewers. Since then, the Houston Holocaust Museum has raised over $200,000 for the restoration of the boat, exceeding the estimated price tag for the 7-ton landlocked vessel.

TNT donated a crane, a shipyard donated a new and better cradle, and craftsmen have donated their skills.

Acting in response to a German roundup of Jews in 1943, the Danes organized a boat lift to smuggle Jews to neutral Sweden. Using a boat like this one, they were able to save 7,200 Jews.

 This article was written for JTA by By Jillian Scheinfeld

Bomb Threats Close Classes at Two Houston Synagogues

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Bomb threats on two Houston synagogues Wednesday closed classes, one day after a similar threat on a court forced a quick evacuation.

The synagogue bomb threats were called in to called in to Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform temple, and the Conservative Congregation Or Ami on Wednesday afternoon.

Both synagogues canceled Hebrew school classes for Thursday but said they would reopen Friday with more security. Officials searched the buildings and did not find anything suspicious.

The Houston Police Department, Anti-Defamation League, FBI and Department of Homeland Security all were notified about the threats, Congregation Beth Israel told the Houston Chronicle.

A message on the Beth Israel website said that a congregational dinner scheduled for Friday night was canceled; it did not say if the cancellation was related to the bomb threat.

Tuesday’s bomb threat on the HoustonMunicipalCourtsBuilding resulted in the evacuation of several courtrooms.

No explosive device was found.

Orthodox Bball Team Wins Rescheduled Pre-Shabbat Semifinal Match

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

The Robert Beren Academy of Houston has advanced to the finals in a victory over both their opponents, Dallas Covenant Academy, and the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, which had refused to move the game off the Shabbat schedule.

After mounting public pressure, the league bureaucrats gave in and permitted the semi-final game to take place 2:00 p.m. last Friday. The Beren Academy won 58-46, and is advancing to the final, which will be played next Saturday night at 8 p.m., well after the end of Shabbat.

An American Odyssey (Part 3)

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

After a good meal in Houston Thursday night, we spent the evening at the Quality Inn near the Space Center. Early Friday morning we left for the Space Center so that we could get an early start before Shabbat. I had worked for a while as a consultant at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and I found the exhibits at the center in Houston to be very interesting. We took both tram rides, met an astronaut, saw the IMAX show and the Starship Gallery, and visited as many exhibits as possible. We then headed back to town to prepare for Shabbat. During our first week on the road we had travelled over 1,800 miles, from Florida through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana to Texas.

Dov and Barbara Gilor at the Houston Space Center.

Prior to leaving New York, we had purchased a few dozen La Briute self-cooking meals and Meal Mart microwave meals for the trip, but there is nothing like “home-cooked” meals after the packaged variety. The La Briute meals were very convenient and better than airline food, but not much better.

The hospitality of the Houston Jewish community was the warmest of all of the communities we visited. Our hostess, Helen Feintuch, welcomed us and led us to her washer and drier so that we could make sure that I had a white shirt for Shabbat. My wife, Barbara, had asked our other hostess, Sandy Friedman, to order kosher roast chickens and cooked meat for our meals during the coming week’s travels. After leaving my brother Avi and me to handle the laundry, Barbara and Avi’s wife, Martha, drove to pick up the order, cut it up and package individual meals for the next few days of our trip. (We had a large cooler in the van which we kept filled with ice for those items that had to be refrigerated.)

We davened at the Young Israel of Houston and enjoyed Rabbi Yehoshua Wender’s d’rashot. We ate our Shabbat meal that evening with the Friedmans and we learned a great deal about the Houston Jewish community and its growth. Our friends, Howard and Florence Kushner, who we had met several years ago when they came to Israel for Pesach, were also guests that evening, along with Karen and Steve Rosenblatt. It was a very interesting and enjoyable evening with lots of laughs and stories.

(L-R) Avi and Martha Gittler, Howie and Helen Feintuch, Barbara and Dov Gilor in front of the Feintuch home in Houston.

After Shabbat morning davening at the Young Israel, we joined Helen and Howie and the Feintuch family and their other guests for lunch. They had invited Suzie and Jeff Goldstein (of Suzie’s Grill) with their twins who had just returned from a year in Israel. Gedalia and Judy Pollack joined us with two others from Israel, Avi Lin from Raanana and Zev Gross from Kfar Saba. It was a very lively lunch and we all enjoyed ourselves.

After Minchah, I was invited to speak to the Young Israel community about life in our settlement community and answered many questions from the members.

After Havdalah, besides doing more loads of laundry, we socialized and learned about the Houston community. We were amazed to learn that some of the beautiful homes with swimming pools we visited had cost under $200,000, while in Israel a four-room apartment costs more than that.

We had planned to rush off the next morning to continue our trip, but the hospitality was so warm and the conversation so interesting that we did not get moving until after 11:00. We then headed for the Alamo.

(To be continued)

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

Former Aide: Ron Paul “Calls for Abolishment of Jewish State”

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Republican US presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul will have to answer to pro-Israel supporters following a blog post by a former senior aide stating Paul wishes Israel “did not exist”.

Posting on the “Right Wing News” blog, former campaign coordinator and national organizer for Paul Eric Dondero wrote that he “never heard a racist word expressed towards Blacks or Jews come out of [Paul’s] mouth,” and never heard him say anything “that could be called ‘anti-Semite’”.

However, Dondero stated that he is certain Paul wishes Israel would disappear.

“[Paul] is most certainly Anti-Israel, and Anti-Israeli in general,” Dondero wrote.  “He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all…. his view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth…. he sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.”

Dondero related a story about a meeting between Paul and the Houston Jewish Young Republicans in which Paul chastised the group for supporting Israel.  “He berated them, and even shouted at one point, over their un-flinching support for Israel.  So much so that the 6 of them walked out of the office,” Dondero said.  “I was left chasing them down the hallway apologizing for my boss.”

Paul’s feelings about Israel are not related to his feelings about American Jews, according to Dondero.  “Again, American Jews, Ron Paul has no problem with,” Dondero said.  “In fact, there were a few Jews in our congressional district, and Ron befriended them with the specific intent of winning their support for our campaign.”

Paul’s spokesman, Jesse Benton, responded to the blog post by telling CBS Political Hotsheet that Dondero is a “disgruntled former staffer who was fired for performance issues,” who has “zero credibility”.

Grief In Israel And Texas Over Assaf Ramon Tragedy

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Cellular phones began ringing ominously at Congregation Shaar Hashalom in Houston on Sunday afternoon as the bad news quickly spread among a group gathered for a synagogue meeting.

As the meeting drew to a close, Rabbi Stuart Federow decided to announce what many in the crowd already knew: Former congregant Assaf Ramon, the 21-year-old son of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who perished in the ill-fated Columbia space shuttle, had been killed in a plane crash in Israel.

“It was like reliving six years ago,” Federow said, referring to the day in 2003 when the Columbia disintegrated upon its re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. “Some people cried.”

An Israeli fighter pilot in training, Assaf Ramon died Sunday when the F-16 he was piloting crashed during a routine training flight in an uninhabited area of the Hebron Hills, south of Jerusalem. The Israel Defense Forces said it launched an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.

At the time of the Columbia disaster, the Ramons were well-known and beloved members of the Jewish community in Houston, where Ilan had been sent to undergo training for the space program.

Federow said the family was admired in the Texas city for its humility despite its “celebrity status,” and that its personal tragedy had touched the community as a whole.

In Israel, news of the tragedy that had struck the Ramon family a second time caused an outpouring of national grief. Thousands, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, attended Assaf Ramon’s funeral on Monday in the northern Israel town of Nahalal, where Assaf was interred beside his father’s grave.

 

 

Israeli President Shimon Peres awarded Assaf Ramon his wings in June.

 

“A nation is shocked and grief stricken,” Peres said. “The whole country is silent and tearful.”

Rona Ramon, Assaf’s mother and Ilan’s widow, delivered an emotional graveside speech.

“I’m angry,” she said. “This was supposed to be my plot. I was supposed to be buried here old and happy with a million grandchildren. I know your father is taking care of you now.”

Rabbi Zvi Konikov, who as the head of Chabad of the Space and Treasure Coasts Community Center near the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral got to know both father and son, said he was shocked by Assaf’s death.

“It’s very hard to gather my thoughts,” Konikov said Monday in a telephone interview from Israel, where he had flown to pay his respects to the Ramons. “It’s a great pity and my heart goes out to the family.”

Konikov said he became acquainted with Assaf when he helped the then-15-year-old, the oldest of Ilan Ramon’s four children, say Kaddish for his father after the Columbia disaster.

Though the Ramons moved back to Israel shortly afterward, Konikov saw Assaf last year when he visited Florida with his family to attend the liftoff of Jewish astronaut Garrett Reisman.

“He was just like his father,” said Konikov, who had met with Ilan Ramon a number of times prior to his fateful mission. “What touched me about them was that they both had a truthful, sincere touch.”

Along with his mother, Assaf is survived by two brothers, Iftach and Tal, and a sister, Noa.

(JTA)

Grief In Israel And Texas Over Assaf Ramon Tragedy

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009


Cellular phones began ringing ominously at Congregation Shaar Hashalom in Houston on Sunday afternoon as the bad news quickly spread among a group gathered for a synagogue meeting.


As the meeting drew to a close, Rabbi Stuart Federow decided to announce what many in the crowd already knew: Former congregant Assaf Ramon, the 21-year-old son of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who perished in the ill-fated Columbia space shuttle, had been killed in a plane crash in Israel.


“It was like reliving six years ago,” Federow said, referring to the day in 2003 when the Columbia disintegrated upon its re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. “Some people cried.”


An Israeli fighter pilot in training, Assaf Ramon died Sunday when the F-16 he was piloting crashed during a routine training flight in an uninhabited area of the Hebron Hills, south of Jerusalem. The Israel Defense Forces said it launched an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.


At the time of the Columbia disaster, the Ramons were well-known and beloved members of the Jewish community in Houston, where Ilan had been sent to undergo training for the space program.


Federow said the family was admired in the Texas city for its humility despite its “celebrity status,” and that its personal tragedy had touched the community as a whole.


In Israel, news of the tragedy that had struck the Ramon family a second time caused an outpouring of national grief. Thousands, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, attended Assaf Ramon’s funeral on Monday in the northern Israel town of Nahalal, where Assaf was interred beside his father’s grave.

 

 


Israeli President Shimon Peres awarded Assaf Ramon his wings in June.

 

“A nation is shocked and grief stricken,” Peres said. “The whole country is silent and tearful.”


Rona Ramon, Assaf’s mother and Ilan’s widow, delivered an emotional graveside speech.


“I’m angry,” she said. “This was supposed to be my plot. I was supposed to be buried here old and happy with a million grandchildren. I know your father is taking care of you now.”


Rabbi Zvi Konikov, who as the head of Chabad of the Space and Treasure Coasts Community Center near the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral got to know both father and son, said he was shocked by Assaf’s death.


“It’s very hard to gather my thoughts,” Konikov said Monday in a telephone interview from Israel, where he had flown to pay his respects to the Ramons. “It’s a great pity and my heart goes out to the family.”


Konikov said he became acquainted with Assaf when he helped the then-15-year-old, the oldest of Ilan Ramon’s four children, say Kaddish for his father after the Columbia disaster.


Though the Ramons moved back to Israel shortly afterward, Konikov saw Assaf last year when he visited Florida with his family to attend the liftoff of Jewish astronaut Garrett Reisman.


“He was just like his father,” said Konikov, who had met with Ilan Ramon a number of times prior to his fateful mission. “What touched me about them was that they both had a truthful, sincere touch.”


Along with his mother, Assaf is survived by two brothers, Iftach and Tal, and a sister, Noa.

(JTA)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/grief-in-israel-and-texas-over-assaf-ramon-tragedy/2009/09/16/

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