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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Chief Rabbinate to List Rabbis Approved for Conversions Abroad

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Israel’s chief rabbis will meet next week with the members of Israel’s supreme rabbinical court and the board of the Chief Rabbinate, to decide on a list of Orthodox rabbis in the US and elsewhere in diaspora whose conversions are acceptable in Israel, following more than a decade of confusion and infighting that caused much anxiety and suffering to many converts. The most famous such convert recently has been Ivanka Trump, President-Elect Donald Trump’s Jewish daughter and mother of his Jewish grandchildren.

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau issued a statement saying they intend to reform the system of communication between their organization and parallel organizations abroad, in order to end the complaints about annulling conversions done by ‘unapproved’ rabbis from Orthodox Jewish communities abroad.

According to the chief rabbis, the plan is to create a system whereby the conversions done by rabbis who meet the chief rabbinate criteria would be approved.

In 2015, converts in Israel and the US were horrified by a chief rabbinate ruling that disqualified the conversion of an American woman living in Israel who, before making aliyah, was converted by Modern Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein from New York, who converted Ivanka Trump. When she appealed the rabbinical court’s decision she was browbeaten into undergoing a second conversion right there and then, which she did and was only then allowed to marry in a sanctioned Orthodox ceremony.

Now, the chief rabbis stated, conversions by rabbis like Lookstein would be recognized in Israel, no questions asked. “Under this proposed new plan, in which only the identity of the converting rabbi is to be checked, [Ivanka Trump’s] conversion would be validated with no further examinations required.”

The new reform could take some time to institute, as the chief rabbinate’s current list of recognized foreign Orthodox rabbis is far from complete, as turned out last April in Jerusalem District Court, during a hearing on a suit filed by ITIM, an NGO helping olim in their struggles with the chief rabbinate. Perhaps now, motivated by the call from the top for reforming the system, we’ll end up with a current list of rabbis who are approved by the Israeli rabbinate directly, rather than via local rabbinical groups abroad.


Israel, Honduras Sign Agreement to Upgrade Bilateral, Security, Technological Ties

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Israel and Honduras signed a declaration on bilateral security cooperation on Thursday (Dec. 8), with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman inking the deal for the Jewish State, and his counterpart, Honduran Defense Minister Samuel Armando Reyes Rendon, signing for his nation.

The meeting came on the heels of talks held between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Honduran President Orlando Hernandez earlier in the day. The two leaders met in Jerusalem privately and then held an expanded meeting with ministers from both countries. Hernandez is on his second visit to Israel (his first was in October 2015).

Prime Minister Netanyahu told Honduran President Hernandez, “This is a great opportunity, a concrete progress of friendship for security, prosperity and peace.”

Pursuant to existing bilateral agreements regarding security cooperation and the protection of classified documents, the two sides decided to increase cooperation and tighten links.

The agreement includes cooperation on security equipment, training, reciprocal visits between defense ministries and joint projects on the transfer of technological information, all subject to the existing agreements.

It was also agreed to strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation in water, agricultural development and additional areas.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Manufacturers Warn New APC to Cost Thousands of Jobs if Made in USA [video]

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is already retrieving jobs for America, while it appears that some Israeli leaders may be outsourcing jobs in the nation’s defense industry. The Israel Manufacturers Association is outraged at a plan to outsource production of the ‘Eitan’ armored personnel carrier in order to purchase the military vehicle with U.S. defense funding.

The wheeled APC was unveiled this past August by the Israeli Defense Ministry. It has an eight-wheel drive and is the first Israeli APC to have wheels instead of tracks; it’s also considered by Israel to be the most advanced armored wheeled combat vehicle in the world.

According to a report published this week by the Globes business news site, the IDF ground forces and Defense Ministry have been considering a plan to limit Israeli production to installation of the systems that will be used in the APC. The vehicle itself would be produced abroad.

But that plan would cost the Jewish State about 2,000 jobs, according to Manufacturers Association President Shraga Brosh, who told Globes, “Israel has to preserve its technological, security and employment interests and manufacture the Eitan APC in Israel.”

The Eitan is an 8×8 wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) that is expected to weigh 30-35 tons, have a 750 hp engine, and be able to hit speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour on paved roads. A variant of the vehicle will be able to carry 12 troops, including the commander, driver and gunner, according to Jane’s.

Production of the entire vehicle would add NIS 2 billion to the Israeli economy, according to Manufacturers Association sources. Some 200 industrial companies could be engaged in the process, mostly in the periphery.

The last time the Defense Ministry outsourced production of an Israeli APC was in 2010, when it sent production of the Namer — and 2,000 jobs with it — to the United States, defense manufacturers told Globes.

“Transferring production of the APC to the U.S. will lead to the closing or construction of production lines in dozens of plants around Israel, have a negative impact on exports of systems used in the Eitan and damage the civilian sources of know-how and development based on the technologies used in the Eitan,” warned Merkava tank industries forum chairman Avraham Bar David.

In response to the concerns expressed by the Manufacturers Association, the Defense Ministry issued a statement at the beginning of the week.

‘The Eitan is still in the development stages, and has not yet been approved by the IDF for procurement and mass production,” the statement read. “If and when decisions are taken to produce it, and in what volume, the Ministry of Defense Merkava Tank Administration, which regards the involvement of Israeli industries in the Merkava project as a strategic asset, will take steps to ensure the share of Israeli industries in the project, as it has done up until now.

“We emphasize that after the project is approved, production of the Eitan will take place simultaneously with production of the Merkava and Namer. In view of the increased procurement of armored fighting vehicles following Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli defense industries’ share on all these projects will increase, not decrease.”

According to Brigadier-General Baruch Matzliach, head of the Defense Ministry’s Tank Authority, the Eitan is expected to join the tracked Namer APCs in replacing thousands of aging M113 APCs and other military vehicles still in IDF service.

Matzliach told Jane’s in an August 2016 interview that the Eitan’s main advantage is its “rapid movement on roads and quick mobility between battle sectors without dependence on trailers.”

What he meant was, the APC can move from the north to the south in Israel without the need for a flatbed to shlep it there. That advantage will be particularly important when the IDF next finds itself facing a two-front war with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah in the north, and Gaza-based Hamas in the south.

Hana Levi Julian

Mikhail Gorbachev, Friend Of The Jews And Israel

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Mikhail Gorbachev’s first years after coming to power in the Soviet Union in 1985 reflected a continuation of the Soviet approach to the “Jewish question” and anti-Zionism, long-established trends that had been intensified when Russia broke off diplomatic relations with Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Soviet regime persisted in denying that it persecuted Jews, and Gorbachev attributed claims of Soviet anti-Semitism to “an inflated anti-Soviet campaign.” Nonetheless, there were gradual changes in the expression and content of Soviet commentary, as Soviet attention to the Jewish question slowly diminished and common anti-Semitic publications gradually disappeared.

Gorbachev was among the first Soviet leaders to foresee – or at least to acknowledge – the looming economic and political failure of the Soviet system and, in an effort to forestall the Soviet Union’s impending collapse, sought to develop closer relations with the United States. Toward that end, he enacted perestroika, a “restructuring” designed to save the Soviet revolution, and glasnost (“transparency”), under which he relaxed Soviet censorship and the government’s characteristically totalitarian falsification of history.

However, President Ford had signed the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, pursuant to which the United States would not enter into the enhanced trade agreements with Russia that Gorbachev so desperately wanted and needed until the Soviet Union lifted restrictions on Jewish emigration.

To convince the United States of his new thinking about the Mideast, Gorbachev re-established diplomatic relations with Israel and opened the long-sealed doors to Jewish immigration, leading to the largest Jewish exodus in modern history. In 1989, 71,000 Soviet Jews were permitted to emigrate. Only 12,000 went to Israel but two years later more 325,000 Soviet Jews had made aliyah. President Chaim Herzog hailed Gorbachev as “the person who opened the gates for Soviet Jewry and enabled them to make aliyah.”

In a remarkable reversal of the old Soviet position, Gorbachev exchanged the first delegations with Israel in 1987 and 1988 and unequivocally urged PLO leader Yasir Arafat to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Although he maintained that he continued to advocate for the self-determination for the Palestinian people and preferred a settlement in the Middle East that included Israeli withdrawal from the “occupied territories,” he told Arafat that Israel’s interests, including its security interests, has to be taken into account.

When Gorbachev visited Israel in June 1992, accepting an invitation extended by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, he was greeted at the airport by Foreign Minister David Levy, who warmly welcomed Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, and said that “there is a warm corner in Israel for you, who have done so much for the freedom of our people.”

Gorbachev, genuinely touched by the honor and the dignified reception accorded him even though he was no longer a head of state, responded that he would “not hide my deep feelings and honor toward this people.” He was embraced as a conquering hero; public adulation ran high; and editorial hyperbole was rampant. For example, Maariv editorialized that Gorbachev was “the most important person who ever visited the land of Israel” before humorously qualifying that over-exuberant conclusion by noting that while Moses had also freed Jews, he – unlike Gorbachev – had never received an entry visa.

singer-120916During his visit to Israel, Gorbachev bemoaned the great Soviet Jewish migration, characterizing the outflow of so many Jews as “a loss for our land and society.” He had voiced similar sentiments in October 1991 on the 50th anniversary of the Nazi massacre of more than 30,000 Jews at Babi Yar in Ukraine, when he faulted the “Stalinist bureaucracy” for practicing anti-Semitism; admitted publicly that Soviet society had been poisoned with Jew-hatred; and stated that despite his best efforts to introduce reforms, intolerance remained and Russia had suffered from the emigration of millions of skilled and talented Jews.

Many Russian olim who lived under the Soviet regime under his rule, who arguably knew him best, were understandably not as willing to forget the past and protested against Gorbachev’s presence in Israel. Natan Sharansky, perhaps the best-known Soviet dissident, undoubtedly shared their views but he nonetheless attended a formal dinner at the residence of President Herzog and shook the hand of the former Soviet leader who had released him from prison six years earlier.

Gorbachev, who met with many Israeli leaders, made a point of visiting Yad Vashem and was mobbed by a friendly Jewish crowd during a visit to the Kotel. During a meeting with Prime Minister Shamir he made the stark and surprising admission that Zionism had triumphed over communism. Shamir thanked Gorbachev for his personal intervention in three events which, he said, would prove critical in the history of the Jewish people: the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries; the opening of the gates of the Soviet Union for Jewish immigration to Israel; and Soviet leadership at the Madrid Conference. In his acceptance speech after being awarded a $35,000 Peace Prize from the Technion, Gorbachev declared that “the democratic Russian public rejects and denounces anti-Semitism, and will do everything in its power to uproot the phenomenon from our society.”

Exhibited with this column is a lovely association piece, a program for an October 25, 1998 State of Israel Bonds dinner celebrating the tenth anniversary of the mass emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union, signed by honoree Gorbachev, who was presented with the prestigious Gates of Freedom award, which read:

“To Mr. Gorbachev, who opened the gates of the Soviet Union to the Great Aliyah and who thereby has earned the undying gratitude of the Jewish Nation.”

During his address Gorbachev again spoke of the great loss the Soviet Union had sustained through the emigration of Russian Jews. He recalled that he regretted the response by Russian Jews to the call of their homeland because “they had done so much for our country,” citing Jewish contributions in science, culture, medicine, and law, but “nevertheless, I could not tell them not to go” because that was the “position of freedom.”

The guests of honor included former prime minister Shamir who in his address at the dinner said that “Israeli officials had long appealed to Soviet officials in almost biblical terms to `Let My People Go.’ He heard. And more, he listened. He recognized the implications and acted.”

Shamir credited Gorbachev with bringing “new light to the Jewish people” and enriching “the life of the state of Israel.” Other speakers throughout the evening credited Gorbachev with almost single-handedly being responsible for freeing Russian Jews, though there were undoubtedly other factors that played an important part, including the Soviet Jewry movement and Soviet negotiations with the United States.

While Gorbachev called the Israel Bonds event “an amazing experience,” many of those in attendance were no less dumbfounded by the astonishing historical turn of events. Joining Gorbachev and Shamir on the dais were community activists – many of whom had actively crusaded against Soviet policies – who were honored for their work on behalf of Soviet Jews,. Audience members included Jews from the former Soviet Union who had been imprisoned during that period for their open identification with Jews or for their support of Israel.

Saul Jay Singer

Migration Time [Photos]

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Thousands of cranes are taking a break in the Hula Valley, in northern Israel. Tens of thousands of cranes stay in the reserve each year as they migrate from Europe to Africa.

Cranes in the Hula Valley

Cranes in the Hula Valley

Cranes in the Hula Valley

Photo of the Day

Rabbi Adin Even Yisrael Steinsaltz Hospitalized in Jerusalem

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Rabbi Adin (Even Yisrael) Steinsaltz, 79, was rushed to Sha’are Zedek Medical Center on Wednesday after he suffered a possible stroke.

The Israel Prize-winning Torah scholar underwent a catheterization procedure to remove a cranial blood clot. He is reportedly awake and responsive to his surroundings in the intensive care unit at the hospital.

Born in Jerusalem in 1937, Rabbi Steinsaltz is known to Jews around the world as a teacher, philosopher, social commentator, and spiritual mentor.

He was referred to by TIME magazine as a “once-in-a-millennium scholar,” who has devoted his life to making the Talmud accessible to all Jews, in The Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud and a simpler book called, “The Essential Talmud.”

The rabbi authored many other volumes, including: “The Thirteen-Petaled Rose,” a discourse about Jewish existence and belief, “We Jews,” “My Rebbe,” and “A Guide to Jewish Prayer.”

The family has asked the public to please pray for the recovery of Rabbi Adin ben Rivka Leah.

Hana Levi Julian

The Burger King Donut

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Some people like their Chanukah donuts filled with jelly, some with chocolate, others with cream.

Burger King Israel apparently knows you want it your way, so in Israel, Burger King is stuffing their donuts with hamburgers, lettuce, tomatoes and ketchup.


Photo of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/the-burger-king-donut/2016/12/07/

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