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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish.’

Why is Pollard Being Forced to Violate the Jewish Sabbath?

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

{Originally posted to the Elder of Ziyon website}

There was always something wrong about the Pollard case, a cloud of hovering stench. Pollard was punished for giving critical info to an ally; info the U.S. was bound to give that ally (Israel) according to signed agreements between the two countries. But still, the U.S. called it “spying” and put Pollard behind bars for life, the same sentence given Aldrich Ames for the treasonous act of sharing critical U.S. defense secrets with the enemy.

Pollard was no threat to anyone, and still, the powers that be didn’t let him attend his father’s funeral. He was dangerous to no one and still the powers that be let him waste away without proper medical treatment. Lame duck presidents running out  their final days in office could have pardoned Jonathan Pollard, but did not do so.

One might suppose that Pollard was the Jew behind bars, a captive  proxy for all the ways U.S. presidents wanted to slap Israel’s hands for being too uppity. And now that he’s been sprung, they’re still slapping him around, the Jew Pollard. They have taken away the thing that is dearest to him, his observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

And they won’t give it back.

Here is how they make Jonathan Pollard break Shabbos:

By the terms of his parole, Pollard is forced to wear an electronic tracking device on his wrist, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The device cannot be removed and must be recharged by Pollard’s own hand. This can only be accomplished by Pollard plugging the device into an electric socket and sitting immobile for several hours a day. It is a violation of the Jewish Sabbath to plug an electric device into an electric socket.

Now when fully charged the transmitter lasts, at most, 24 hours, that is as long as Pollard is sitting still at the base station. If he moves outside the range of the receiver, however, the device begins to track his location, which uses up the battery faster.

Since the duration of the Sabbath is 25 hours (not to mention Jewish holidays which are twice as long), even if Pollard were to sit absolutely still at the base station, he’d need to plug in the device to recharge it at least once during this time, thus violating the Sabbath.

But there’s more: in addition to being forced to violate the Sabbath, Pollard is unable to attend Sabbath services where he might be able to pray with the prescribed quorum of 10 men (a minyan). At an earlier hearing, Pollard’s lawyers argued that, “Courts have held that ‘an opportunity to worship as a congregation by a substantial number of prisoners may be a basic religious experience and, therefore, a fundamental exercise of religion.’”

Perhaps the most irksome part of all of this is the fact that Pollard’s right to observe the Jewish Sabbath was sacrosanct as long as he remained in prison. From the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website:

Courts have also found that restrictions requiring prisoners to violate the Sabbath or other religious duties violate the First Amendment. McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 204-05 (2d Cir. 2004) (intentionally giving Muslim prisoner an order during prayer may violate First Amendment); Love v. Reed, 216 F.3d 682 (8th Cir. 2000) (failure to provide inmate with food from the prison’s kitchen on Saturday for his consumption on Sunday violates the Establishment Clause where the inmate’s sincerely held religious belief prevented him from leaving his cell or working on the Sabbath, or eating food prepared by others on that day); Hayes v. Long, 72 F.3d 70 (8th Cir. 1995) (requiring Muslim prisoner to handle pork violated First Amendment); Murphy v. Carroll, 202 F. Supp. 2d 421, 423-25 (D. Md. 2002) (prison officials’ designation of Saturday as cell-cleaning day violated Free Exercise rights of Orthodox Jewish prisoner).

While in prison, Pollard could keep Shabbos to his heart’s content. Having been “set free” however, his conditions are actually more, and not less onerous. The question is “why?”

It is widely accepted that the information Jonathan Pollard shared with Israel has been long ago rendered moot and therefore harmless. Releasing him to such harsh conditions in which he cannot leave the house to seek gainful employment or observe his most basic religious rights seems to be gratuitous and cruel: retributive. Of U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest’s recent decision to keep these restrictive parole conditions in place, Nachman Shai, head of the Knesset’s Pollard Caucus, said, “It is frustrating to see that the unmerciful pursuit of Pollard by American authorities continues,” Shai said. “We have been saying ‘enough is enough’ for so long, and the response has been insensitivity and inflexibility. He should be allowed to live a normal life, but he can’t when he is stuck to his house and prevented from working in a manner that has passed all limits of what is reasonable. They let him leave jail, so they should have let him have a longer string.”

One has to wonder whether there is something darker to the decision to deprive Pollard of his civil liberties, just as there was something dark about keeping him imprisoned for so long. Oft-quoted essayist Ahad Haam said that “More than Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.” It is no exaggeration to say that remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy ensured Jewish survival, helping the Jews outlive enemy after enemy over a two-thousand year span. It is what set the Jews apart from the others, helped us stay what we were and still are, so many years later. It kept us alive as a people, a nation.

And maybe that’s the problem, from the perspective of those who insist on taking this cherished right, the right to keep the Sabbath, away from one man, Jonathan Pollard.

Our efforts to honor Sabbath day despite the Crusaders, despite the Inquisition, despite the Holocaust makes it rankle all the more that the courts have played fast and easy with this, our cherished observance. They have deemed our Jewish Sabbath not important enough for them to stop playing this game with Jonathan Pollard, in which they rob him of everything he cares about, by making him break Shabbos.

Or maybe it’s the complete opposite of that: they want to break him.

If you look at the photos of Jonathan Pollard, you can see it happening. He is no longer a cunning New York Jew in a whole mess of trouble, but a kindly-looking meek man, afraid of his own shadow.

All he has left, it seems, is his Yiddishkeit and his love of Israel.

Which is why they’ll never let him have those things. They’ll never let him observe his Jewish religion or live in the Jewish State.

That would be letting him win, the Jew. The Jew Pollard.

 

Varda Meyers Epstein

Australian Jewish College Director Suing over Claims She Pressured Abuse Victims Not to Complain

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Nechama Bendet, a former general manager of Yeshivas Oholei Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch, a.k.a. Yeshivah College, in Melbourne, Australia, is suing for libel a Facebook user who has accused her of pressuring child sex abuse victims not to complain to police, the Herald Sun reported Monday.

Bendet submitted a writ to the Supreme Court seeking damages for five Facebook posts by Bruce Cooke, whom she called a “vocal member of the Jewish community.” Cooke’s Facebook page is extensive, and much of it deals with the Lubavitch institutions in Melbourne and Sydney and the way they are being run (he is critical of the movement’s wholesale “McDonald’s approach” to opening new franchises, for instance).

Bendet, serving nowadays as the Yeshiva College’s director of development, is accusing Cooke of suggesting she attempted to ostracize two victims of the sex abuse scandal the school was mired in by calling them “moisrim” (snitches) because they had complained to police, in an attempt to discourage them from pursuing their complaints. In earlier centuries, a “moiser” would often be found with his throat slit near the river, so the accusation can be quite potent.

According to the Herald Sun, Bendet told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse that after a former Yeshivah guard had been charged with child sex abuse, her school never entertained a cover-up. Instead the school sought advice from Robert Richter, QC, a prominent Australian barrister, regarding public relations and dealing with the victims.

But, According to Bendet, Cooke’s Facebook posts have been accusing Her of knowing about the abuse and not reporting it, of trying to keep others from complaining, and even of engaging in criminal conduct in an attempt to bury the scandal. Bendet also complained that Cooke had accused her of intimidating staff at the Yeshivah as well as at Beth Rivkah Ladies College.

Bendet is also seeking a permanent injunction restraining Cook from repeating his accusations.

According to Cooke’s attorney, the Facebook maverick is relishing his day in court and is planning to defend the case.

Back on February 11, 2015, the Australian ABC network reported on Nechama Bendet’s testimony to the Royal Commission that day, admitting it was a mistake that Yeshivah College had never apologized directly to Manny Waks, a student who had been sexually abused by a guard:

Victim’s Attorney Melinda Richards: Do you acknowledge, Mrs Bendet, that Manny Waks did nothing wrong by going to the police…

Nechama Bendet: Absolutely.

Melinda Richards: …in 1996…

Nechama Bendet: Absolutely.

Melinda Richards: And again in 2011?

Nechama Bendet: Absolutely.

Melinda Richards: Do you acknowledge that he has done nothing wrong by speaking publicly about his abuse?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: And you would agree that he has in fact done a great deal of good by speaking publically about his abuse?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: Do you agree that his parents have done nothing wrong by supporting him in going to the police and speaking publicly about his abuse?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: And his broader family have done nothing wrong and are not to be blamed by association?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: Do you condemn ongoing harassment and intimidation of Mr Waks and his family?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

ABC’s Samantha Donovan noted that “Manny Waks wiped tears from his eyes as Mrs Bendet spoke. Outside the hearing room he said her words were empowering.”

JNi.Media

Coming Home: Jewish Secondary Schools Opening in Düsseldorf, Munich

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

A Jewish secondary school will open in the city of Düsseldorf in western Germany on Wednesday, and a Jewish high school will soon open in Munich, bringing the total number of Jewish high schools in the country to three, the World Jewish Congress reported. Until now, Germany’s only Jewish high school has been in Berlin.

Out of the 522,000 Jews who lived in Germany in January 1933 only 214,000 remained by the end of 1939. On May 19, 1943, Germany was declared Judenrein (clean of Jews), with no Jewish high schools. Now we’re back to three, and counting.

Some 40 fifth-grade students will make up the inaugural class of the newly founded Albert Einstein Gymnasium in Düsseldorf, the state capital of North Rhine Westphalia. For now the new school will be housed in temporary accommodations, with a new school building scheduled to be completed in five years. Some 90% of the new school budget is funded by the North Rhine Westphalia state government.

“We are convinced that Jewish life has a firm place in Germany,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the news agency DPA. Whenever there are enough students to open such a school, that’s “a great gain for the Jewish community,” Schuster said.

Schuster, a physician, was born in Haifa in 1954. His father David Schuster emigrated to Palestine in 1938, and both of his mother’s parents died in Auschwitz. The Schuster family returned to Germany in 1956. Josef went to school in Würzburg and studied medicine at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg. He became a specialist in internal medicine after training at the Juliusspital. Since 1988 he has maintained a private practice in internal medicine in Würzburg.

Josef Schuster is well aware of the risks Jews living in Germany are facing. He told the newspaper Welt that many refugees seeking to live away from the ISIS persecution nevertheless come from “cultures in which hate toward Jews and intolerance are fixed components,” and that as a result, “sooner or later we will not be able to avoid [setting limits]” on refugee migration into Germany. He said he feared that if the influx of refugees in Germany continues at the present rate, it will become “increasingly difficult” to integrate migrants and “pass on our values.”

Meanwhile, the 7,000 strong Jewish community of Düsseldorf, Germany’s third largest, after Berlin and Munich, have established the new school as a way to pass their values to the next generation of German Jews. The school will offer eight hours a week of Hebrew and Jewish subjects, which non-Jewish students will also be allowed to attend.

JNi.Media

The Ancient Susiya Synagogue

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

The Israel Museum has reconstructed part of the inside of the ancient Susiya (Susya) synagogue. You can see what a magnificent building it must have been.

The excavated Jewish synagogue in Susiya dates from the 4th to the 7th century CE and was in continuous use until the 9th century CE.

(The Israel Museum) The magnificent synagogue of Susiya in the southern Hebron hills stood for hundreds of years and underwent many renovations. Its bema (podium) was built next to the long northern wall, which featured three arched niches. The central one likely held the Torah Ark, and the two others each held a menorah. The bema’s carved and incised motifs included menorahs, animals, and plants. Numerous donor inscriptions on the walls and floor attest to the community’s active participation in the building’s construction.

Susiya Synagogue in the Israel Museum 2

The Susiya Synagogue in situ:

1024px-SusyaSynogogueInterior Source: Yaacov / Wikipedia

Susiya Synagogue Explanation

Photo of the Day

Russia Successfully Tests Ballistic Missile in Jewish Autonomous Area

Friday, August 19th, 2016

An Iskander ballistic missile was successfully launched during an exercise in the Jewish Autonomous Area in the Far East and hit a target 185 miles away, a spokesman for the Eastern Military District, one of the four operational strategic commands of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, announced Friday.

The Iskander ballistic missile is equipped with two solid-propellant single-stage guided missiles, each one controlled throughout the entire flight path and fitted with an inseparable warhead. Each missile in the launch carrier vehicle can be independently targeted in a matter of seconds. The mobility of the Iskander launch platform makes a launch difficult to prevent. Also, the Iskander targets can be acquired not only by satellite and aircraft but also by a conventional intelligence center, by an artillery observer or from aerial photos scanned into a computer. The missiles can be re-targeted during flight in case of engaging mobile targets.

Another unique feature of the Iskander system is the optically guided warhead, which can also be controlled by encrypted radio transmission, including from AWACS or UAV. The missile’s on-board computer receives images of the target, then locks onto the target with its sight and descends towards it at supersonic speed.

“The launch was carried out from a training site in the Jewish Autonomous area. The missile hit a target at a proving ground in the Amur region 300 kilometers (185 miles) away,” the spokesman said.

The missile destroyed several military infrastructure facilities of a hypothetical enemy, including a command center. Mechanized infantry units then went on the offensive. More than 400 officers and men and 100 pieces of military equipment from a missile unit of the Eastern Military District are involved in the exercise.

The Jewish Autonomous Oblast (administration) is a federal autonomous region in the Russian Far East, bordering the Heilongjiang province in China. The Soviets established the autonomous oblast in 1934, as part of Stalin’s Soviet nationality policy, which provided the Jewish population of the Soviet Union with a territory in which to pursue Yiddish cultural heritage. According to the 1939 population census, 17,695 Jews lived in the region at the time, about 16% of the total population. The Jewish population peaked in 1948 at around 30,000, about one-quarter of the region’s population.

In 2010, according to the Russian Census Bureau, there were only 1,628 people of Jewish descent in the Jewish Autonomy, fewer than 1% of the population, while ethnic Russians made up 92.7% of the population.

David Israel

Joseph Wilf, Real Estate Developer And Supporter Of Jewish Causes, Passes Away At 91

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Joseph Wilf, a Holocaust survivor who created a building construction empire in the United States and was known for his Jewish philanthropy and support of Israel, passed away on Aug. 3 at his home in Hillside, New Jersey. He was 91.

Wilf was born in 1925 in Jaroslaw, Poland. Along with his parents, Oscar and Ella, and his brother, Harry, Wilf survived the Holocaust living in a Siberian labor camp. His sister, Bella, died in the Warsaw ghetto.

After the war, Wilf met his future wife, Elizabeth (“Suzie”). The two married in 1949, immigrated to the United States shortly thereafter and had three sons, Sidney, Zygi and Mark.

In the 1950s, Joe and his brother Harry started the Garden Homes construction firm, which built housing complexes, shopping centers, and more. It has become one of the largest real estate companies in the United States and Israel. Their commercial success led them to create, in 1964, the Wilf Family Foundation (there are now several different funds), which over the years has given away some $200 million.

Despite ample finances, “Joe Wilf lived a very simple life,” according to Rabbi Moshe Herson, director of Lubavitch of New Jersey and dean of the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, N.J.

Herson, who knew known Wilf for 45 years, said “he did so much in terms of building – not just physical structures, but building Jewish institutions and communities.”

Among those institutions was the Rabbinical College of America, the New Jersey-based Chabad-Lubavitch center of higher learning for men studying for their rabbinical degree.

The Wilfs, both Joe and Harry, were not just philanthropic donors to the RCA, stressed Herson, but took an active role in the continued growth of the educational institution.

“They didn’t just write a check,” said Herson. Rather, they used their business acumen and life experiences “to guide us in the right direction and give us advice, whether it was on a building expansion or buying an additional piece of property for the school.”

He added that they were dedicated to Israel and invested heavily in projects there. The brothers were involved with Israel, said Herson, “not for the sake of making money, but for the sake of investing in Israel’s economy to help the country and create jobs.”

The rabbi said the Wilfs “wanted to make a difference in the lives of the Jewish people, and create something they never had the chance to do in Europe. And they succeeded to a great extent. They used their success for the benefit of others, to do good.”

Herson stated that “the passing of Joe Wilf is almost the end of an era that is unduplicated. The feeling the Wilfs had for Yiddishkeit, for Jews, and for Israel was very strong, just outstanding. Their legacy lives on because their children and grandchildren are fully following in his footsteps.”

Faygie Levy Holt

Bennett Relying on Orthodox to Lead Israel’s Jewish Identity Project for Diaspora Youth

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), Israel’s Minister of Education and of Diaspora Affairs recently announced a wide-ranging effort to “strengthen Jewish identity and the connection with Israel” for Jewish college students in diaspora. With a considerable budget of more than $30 million a year, a third picked up by the Israeli government and the rest by philanthropist groups, Bennett has made no bones about who, in his opinion, should be deposited with the responsibility for enhancing Jewish identity on campus — namely, the folks who are already doing it: Chabad, Olami and Hillel.

The fact that the first two of these organizations is completely Orthodox, while the third varies from one campus to another has irked many, in Israel and abroad. But, according to Bennett’s office, the project does not promote religion. As Bennett himself put it, “The activities on campuses throughout the world are the real answer to the growing anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel on campuses. For the first time since the founding of the state, the State of Israel understands that it’s not just the state of Israeli citizens, but the state of all Jews throughout the world.”

So, no religious instruction, but rather opportunities for Jewish students to feel more connected to their brothers and sisters in their home country and in Israel. Which would be a nice switch from the constant, anti-Israel drivel they encounter on so many campuses in the US, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Hillel’s foundation for Jewish campus life is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, working with thousands of college students globally.

Unlike Chabad, which enjoys an organic network of outreach institutions around the globe and a consistent and reliable Jewish agenda, Olami is more of a a network of local organization focusing on Jewish identity, including, most notably, Aish HaTorah.

Reform Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Reform Movement in North America, complained to Ha’aretz that the Bennett plan in its current scope does not appeal to more than about 20% of Jewish students in America. Another US Jewish official rebuked Israel for pouring its hard-earned shekels on a minority of north American Jewish activists on campus, and suggested it looked like Bennett was trying to export the Israeli disproportionate dominance of the Orthodox.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bennett-relying-on-orthodox-to-lead-israels-jewish-identity-project-for-diaspora-youth/2016/08/17/

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