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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish community’

Islamist Held for Offering to ‘Guard’ Norwegian Jews With AK-47

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Norwegian police have increased security around Oslo’s main synagogue after an Islamist extremist threatened to “protect” the Jewish community with an “AK-47 assault rifle and a hunting permit.”

Police on Oct. 27 recommended indicting Ubaydullah Hussain, the 27-year-old leader of the radical Islamic organization Profetens Ummah. He was arrested last week after Norwegian media reported on a comment that appeared on his Facebook account:  “I will give them protection … as soon as I have received a hunting license and get hold of an AK47.”

Hussain, a former soccer referee who was born and raised in Norway, also lamented the absence of fatalities in a 2006 shooting outside the synagogue. Hussain, who participated in recent protests outside the U.S. embassy in Norway in connection with the film “The Innocence of Muslims,” later told Norwegian television he “could not confirm or deny” that his statements were a threat.

The comment was made in reaction to an interview with Ervin Kohn, head of Norway’s Jewish community, which recently appeared in the daily VG newspaper. Kohn said police were not providing protection outside the synagogue on Oslo’s Hanshaugen Street during services and were not proactive enough in their approach.

“We felt like we had been neglected, and this made us uneasy in light of what happened in Toulouse and in Malmo,” Kohn told JTA

In March, Mohammed Merah, a radical Islamist, killed three children and a rabbi in a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse. Last month, an explosive charge was detonated outside the only synagogue in the Swedish city of Malmo.

Kohn said that since last week, there has been police protection outside the main synagogue of Oslo, the capital city, which is home to most members of Norway’s Jewish community of approximately 700.

Kidnapping Plot Against Tunisian Jewish Community Reportedly Foiled

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

A network plotting to kidnap and ransom members of a southern Tunisia town’s Jewish community was broken up by the country’s national guard, a Tunisian newspaper reported.

The network was started by a police officer who was formerly responsible for protecting the Jewish community, according to the report  in Al Hacad, a Tunisian weekly. The officer was reportedly recruiting young Tunisians to take part in a kidnapping operation that aimed to force Tunisian Jews to leave the country. He had a car registered in Libya as well as firearms stockpiled.

A Jewish resident of the southern Tunisian town of Zarzis told JTA that extra security measures had been taken up by the national guard in the Jewish neighborhood, where about 100 Jews live.

“I was wondering why we had a new army truck stationed about 40 meters from our synagogue for the past week, and then I read about this,” he said.

The police officer reportedly was known for being involved in an Islamic extremist group and was plotting to carry out a kidnapping operation on a Friday evening when local Jews spend Shabbat on the beach.

After the plot was foiled, all those behind it were arrested. The case has been referred to the Court of First Instance in Tunis.

While relations between Muslims and Jews in Zarzis have been relatively calm in recent years, there have been past incidents where the Jewish community was the target of violence.  In 1982 the synagogue in Zarzis was torched, and Torah scrolls were destroyed in the blaze. The arson attack was considered a response to the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon.

Rally Backing Jewish Community Held in Malmo

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu was among some 300 marchers who demonstrated in the Swedish city in support of the Jewish community.

Saturday’s march follows a series of anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish community in the city of approximately 300,000 in the south of Sweden. Many of the participants wore kipahs as a sign of solidarity, according to thelocal.se.

Reepalu has called on Malmo Jews to reject Zionism as a strategy for repelling violent attacks on the community.

The Swedish minister for integration, Erik Ullenhag, announced a $76,000 government grant to the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism for a new initiative in Malmo schools to help address problems faced by the city’s Muslim and Jewish populations, thelocal.se reported.

Malmo police over the weekend announced the establishment of a dedicated hate crimes hotline following an increase in attacks on Jewish and Muslim targets.

Earlier this month, demonstrations were held outside the Jewish community center in Malmo and in Stockholm to show solidarity with the community following a firebombing of the JCC’s offices.

Muslims Murder Jewish Doctor in Ukraine

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

On Saturday morning, three Muslim murdered Jewish Professor Leon Freifeld, the Chief Orthopedist in Lviv, Ukraine.

The murder occured near his home, and the police managed to capture the three killers.

The three were apparently former students of the doctor, and were expelled from the university due to their generally poor grades. They decided to take out their revenge by killing the doctor.

The doctor had a reputation in the Jewish community of helping anyone who asked.

The doctor’s brother, a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University, flew to Ukraine.

Source: Chadarei Chadarim

Liberal Protestants Show Their True Colors

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

We have long been dismayed by the trust some prominent Jewish groups place in the established non-evangelical Protestant Christian denominations. Aside from some occasional and perfunctory conciliatory statements on minor matters offered by the denominational leaders, the relationship has never become a true dialogue but rather an embarrassing, self-conscious cry for acceptance from insecure Jews.

This week the Jewish end of the “interreligious community” received yet another jolt from their Protestant colleagues.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that fifteen leaders of mainline U.S. Protestant churches and faith-based groups have written to Congress seeking a reevaluation of U.S. military aid to Israel. The leaders represented the Lutheran, Methodist and United Church of Christ denominations and the National Council of Churches umbrella group. They wrote:

As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. military assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel – offered without conditions or accountability – will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories….

We write to you as Christian leaders representing U.S. churches and religious organizations committed to seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians…. [We have] worked alongside our Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers to help build a peaceful and resilient Palestinian civil society….

According to JTA, “The Rabbinical Assembly, the international umbrella organization of Conservative rabbis, called for a reevaluation of the interfaith partnerships between the assembly and the denominations represented in the letter.”

The Rabbinical Assembly’s response read in part:

The letter calling for…reassessment was issued without outreach to longtime partners in public advocacy within the Jewish community. It was released on the eve of Shabbat, just before a long weekend of Jewish and American holidays. And it was distributed at a time when Congress is out of session, in the midst of the general election campaign…. We find these tactics to be disrespectful of channels of communication that have been constructed over decades, and an essential declaration of separation from the endeavor of interfaith consultation on matters of deep concern to the Jewish community. Indeed, we find this breach of trust be so egregious that we wonder if it may not warrant an examination on the part of the Jewish community at large of these partnerships is that we understood ourselves to be working diligently to preserve and protect.

The American Jewish Committee, for its part, declared itself outraged. The AJC director of interreligious and intergroup relations said, “When religious liberty and safety of Christians across the Middle East are threatened by the repercussions of the Arab Spring, these Christian leaders have chosen to initiate a polemic against Israel, a country that protects religious freedom and expression for Christians, Muslims and others.”

You have to wonder what progress these misguided liberal Jewish leaders believe was made all these years by pretending that liberal churchmen were really interested in a dialogue. (Many of these same liberal leaders, mind you, denigrate and dismiss evangelical Christians for their conservative social stances, not caring in the least that the evangelicals are a mighty pro-Israel counterforce to the liberal Protestants.)

Sadly, there’s nothing new in any of this. Way back in 1967, less than a month after the end of the Six-Day War, the executive committee of the National Council of Churches released a statement lambasting Israel for the “unilateral retention of lands she has occupied since June 5.”

And in a July 7, 1967 letter to The New York Times, Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, a former president of Union Theological Seminary, the academic centerpiece of liberal Protestantism in America, stated:

All persons who seek to view the Middle East problem with honesty and objectivity will stand aghast at Israel’s onslaught, the most violent, ruthless (and successful) aggression since Hitler’s blitzkrieg across Western Europe in the summer of 1940, aiming not at victory but at annihilation.

It’s about time the interreligionists learned their lesson.

Germany Proposes Legislation to Protect Bris Milah

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

After a court ruling, that brought the future of Germany’s Jewish community into question, and reminded some of a darker time in German history, proposed legislation to bring resolution.

After months of debate, today the German cabinet decided to establish a new legislation which will clearly enable and support the religious practice of circumcision.

“It is without any doubt a very positive news, this enables the continued growth and development of Jewish life in Germany” says Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin.

The legislation which has been prepared by the office of the justice minister will add a new paragraph in the law (1631d) and will allow circumcision, if the parents are informed and willing and there are no medical dangers. The circumcision can be preformed by a mohel, as well, if the child is under the age of six months.

In May, a local court in Colounge ruled that a circumcision on a child was not allowed as it caused bodily harm. The ruling sparked a debate in Germany, and brought into question the future viability of a Jewish community there, and ignited a conversation around the world.

In August, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yonah Metzger, visited Germany and together with rabbi of the Berlin Jewish community, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, met with the justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and other government officials. During the meeting the Chief Rabbi explained to the minister the importance of having the circumcision done by a mohel in a traditional manner. The minister and her staff listened intently and assured the rabbis the government will do their utmost to try to find a positive solution.

 

Cory Booker & Shmuley Boteach: The Rabbi and the Rhodes Scholar (Video)

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Twenty years ago this Monday, corresponding to the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah, a young African-American Rhodes scholar walked into a Chabad Jewish student center in Oxford, England. He had had a date with a Jewish woman who told him she was going to be at the Sukkot festivities at Rabbi Shmuley’s and would meet him there. As it turned out, he was stood up, and as he waited sheepishly in the corner of the room not knowing what to do next, he was approached by the Rabbi’s wife who invited him to sit in ‘the hot-seat’ next to the young Chabad Rabbi. Being the most joyous night of the Jewish calendar, the young student would later join with hundreds of other students dancing with the Torahs. This accidental meeting would change both their lives.

Cory Booker had little exposure to the Jewish community prior to that evening and I, who was serving as the Rabbi to the students of Oxford University, had only sporadic exposure to the African-American community. But in the days, weeks, and months that followed we began studying together almost daily. We studied the great texts of Judaism and discussed the great speeches of African-American leaders. Cory would later serve a full term as President of our Jewish student organization, which was then the second largest student group at the University with thousands of members. Together we hosted luminaries like Mikhail Gorbachev and other world leaders who lectured on values-based leadership.

Twenty years, countless conversations, and hundreds of Friday night Shabbat dinners later, Cory today is a much-loved honorary member of the American Jewish community, regularly lecturing at Synagogues and Jewish conferences across the country. More significant, Cory has challenged the Jewish community to live up to its Biblical calling to serve as ‘a light unto the nations.’ In many of the speeches we deliver together he asks the Jewish participants if they study the weekly Parsha, if they honor the commandments, and cherish the Sabbath. What allows an African-American Christian Mayor to challenge Jewish leaders to deepen their Jewish commitment? Because those same leaders are amazed at Cory’s knowledge of Judaism and appreciation of the Jewish contribution to civilization.

I have long believed that the next wave of Jewish commitment will be inspired by non-Jews. In massive conferences like Christians United For Israel we are already seeing a great wave of Christian interest in Judaism and a desire to reconnect Jesus back to his Jewish roots. But Cory has taken this a step further, studying Judaism with a view to teaching it to Jews.

A few years ago AIPAC invited Cory and me to address a large group in Chicago. It was the week where we read the story of Genesis in Synagogue and Cory delivered a moving speech on the creation of Adam and Eve, culled from a speech by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The wife of a prominent American Jewish leader approached me after the speech and asked if I would study the Parsha of the week with her, as I do with Cory. I asked her why now. She responded, “When you hear someone so prominent in the American political landscape deriving inspiration from the Torah, and he’s not even Jewish, you become a little embarrassed that you are ignorant of your tradition and you want to discover what he has discovered.” I have heard similar sentiments expressed by other Jewish listeners on many occasions.

My friendship with Cory also sparked a lifelong closeness between me and the African-American community. I became the first-ever white morning radio host on America’s legacy black radio station, WWRL in New York City. I took the Rev. Al Sharpton to Israel to alleviate the enmity between him and the Jewish community, I was the driving force behind an effort to have 600 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina find permanent homes in Utah where they have been moved only temporarily, and I preached at the Martin Luther King chapel at Morehouse College at a conference with Coretta Scott King. And as part of my current run for Congress in New Jersey, I travelled to Rwanda to highlight the 1994 genocide and help combat efforts to deny it. The Rwandan government invited me to meet President Paul Kagame in New York last week and I hosted a reception for Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo with American Jewish leaders.

There are those who believe that the black and Jewish communities share a common history of persecution. But being among the world’s foremost victims is not the basis of our bond. The relationship between blacks and Jews is built on shared faith rather than shared oppression, common destiny rather than common history, shared values rather than shared interests, and a mutual commitment to social justice rather than a mutual alienation from the mainstream.

I thank God for a friendship that has endured for two decades and the enrichment it has brought to us and our respective communities.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/the-rabbi-and-the-rhodes-scholar/2012/10/07/

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