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July 25, 2016 / 19 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish.’

Thousands Mark Anniversary of Hamas Kidnapped Jewish Boys in Nature Preserve Created in their Memory

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

With a stirring ceremony in the presence of family members of the abducted three youths taken by Hamas murderers in July 2014, the Head of Gush Etzion Council Davidi Perl and thousands of local residents celebrated their memory at the Oz v’Gaon Nature Preserve on the hill above Gush Etzion Junction in Judea. The nature preserve was established in the memory of the three youths.

The event, conducted by Women in Green, which launched the preserve project and has been running it as a site for education, tourism and camping, was opened by Yehudit Katsover, one of the heads of the movement, with the story of how the decision was made to go up to the preserve on the very night in which the bodies of the abducted youths were found. Katsover told the audience that this is the way of Zionism: development and growth emerge out of pain. But she added that “it could also be otherwise; we could and should cut off the enemy’s hope by applying Israeli sovereignty” in Area C of Judea and Samaria (to start, at least).

Oz v'Gaon

Oz v’Gaon

“Without the backing of the people, the parents, the council, the IDF and the various other bodies this would not have succeeded, and this is why we came to say Thank you,” said Nadia Matar, Katsover’s partner in leading the movement. Matar listed the activists and donors who contributed to the event as well as to the two-year-old nature preserve.

Katsover gave the family members of the youths a memento, symbolizing the preserve – a small JNF bench with a dedication.

Uri Yifrach, father of Eyal, Hy”d, read aloud words that Eyal wrote just a few days before he was abducted and murdered, in which he related to the value of having difficulties and pain on the way to achieving a goal. “The path is the value, and without the path, you will not arrive at the destination,” Eyal wrote. “We would be glad to do without the path, and get to the goal, but God put us on the path. We must understand that if the path takes time, this is the will of God. The path will exact casualties, it is difficult and grueling but it takes us closer to the goal. Every step on the path creates life, and when you are on the path, give it your all, take advantage of every moment of your life as if it were your last.”

Bat Galim Shaer, mother of Gil-Ad, spoke of the poem “My life is in your blood” that was heard at the event, and “became for us a daily reality, from the pain and bereavement we strive to grow towards life and activity, and Yehudit and Nadia are examples for us.”

She went on, emphasizing the uniqueness of Oz v’Gaon as a place of daily and continued activity and not a one-time memory or event, “a living, growing and breathing place every single day.”

Oz v'Gaon

Oz v’Gaon

Raheli Frenkel, mother of Naftali, Hy”d, drew a parallel with the murder of Hallel Ariel, Hy”d, on Thursday in Kiryat Arba. “We woke up in the morning and the only thing we wanted to do was to embrace the Ariel family and the memory of Hallel, our lost princess. I heard Rina cry, ‘My life is in your blood,’ and this morning became a song in praise of life for those who choose to live here, of the joy that fills this place with energy, with wonderful youth and with visitors who come from all over the world.”

Frenkel expressed the hope that the Jewish youths of the area and throughout Israel will continue to stream to the preserve, to be joyful and complete the dreams for summer vacation that Hallel Ariel, Hy”d, had, dreams that were not fulfilled.

Davidi Perl drew a connection between the weekly Torah portion of Korah, and the growth and renewal that are apparent to all those who come to the preserve. Perl mentioned the saying about the prophet Samuel, who was a descendant of Korah’s offspring who did not die. “From the pit arose the flowering of prophecy, renewal and the prayer of [Samuel’s mother] Hanna,” he said.

Oz v'Gaon

Oz v’Gaon

“Two years ago, a deep chasm opened with the murder of the three youths and we all fell together into the abyss,” Perl said, adding that “with the spirit of Oz v’Gaon this place was born anew. A call went out from here for a renewal of growth, a flowering of life with great depth on the crossroads between Jerusalem and Hebron. In the place that symbolizes this connection we have put down deep roots, two years of yearning and challenges in which we have lost other victims, two years in which the junction became a symbol of heroism and determination, of the people saying that we will stand for our rights and for our demand for full sovereignty over all of the Land of Israel, as our right and not as a gift of kindness.”

The event concluded with a walk to the observation point overlooking Gush Etzion Junction, which had undergone renovation and new artistic decoration in recent weeks. In the presence of the Head of the Local Council, the recently improved path connecting the junction to the nature preserve was dedicated. After words of blessing and thanks, the ribbon at the path was cut and hundreds of blue balloons were released into the air.

JNi.Media

Graduation Gift: York Jewish Student Awarded £1,000 for Suffering from Anti-Semitism

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Zachary Confino, 21, a Jewish third year Law student and president of the Union of Jewish Students at York University in the UK, received an apology and payment of £1,000 from the University of York Students’ Union after two years of battling anti-Semitism from students while studying at the university, The Telegraph reported.

Although the nature of the anti-Semitic abuse is not specified in the apology, the report says that “It is understood that Mr Confino, who narrowly missed out on a first class degree and had suffered with stress, had been racially abused and bullied.”

A spokesperson for the University of York said in a statement, “The University of York acted as mediator to resolve a long-running complaint brought by a student against the University of York Students’ Union. This involved an apology by the Students’ Union to the student and a token payment of £1,000.”

Joint statements had been signed with both the Jewish Society and the Islamic Society on campus.

Confino’s experience caught the attention of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who called on government to intervene to stop the rise of “poisonous hate” on campuses. In a letter to Confino, Lord Williams said he had written to Jo Johnson, the universities minister, because of the “muted” official response so far to rising anti-Semitic behavior. Williams described anti-Semitic incidents in a growing number of universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, the London School of Economics and York.

Williams added: “Anyone concerned (as I am) about Islamophobia here and elsewhere needs to be scrupulously alert to the risk of scapegoating and demonizing other religious communities, especially Jews; and anyone with even the least bit of historical sense ought to hear the echoes of past bigotry and violence towards Jewish people in Europe.”

The former Archbishop of Canterbury also said he was “dispirited” by the failure of Christian chaplains at York to support Mr Confino. “You’d expect a more simply empathetic engagement,” he wrote.

Zachary reported that one York student posting on Facebook compared Israelis to Nazis, but when he raised this with the Students Union, he was told that there was nothing the Union could do. Zachary says he has received hateful anonymous messages online, as have other Jewish students. One message said, “Hitler was onto something.” He has been called a “Stupid Israeli [expletive]” and a “Jewish [expletive].”

Zachary told The Tab that the attacks on him escalated about five months ago, after he had launched a campaign against a play put on by the Palestinian Solidarity Society. According to Zachary, his communications with the Students Union bordered on the absurd: “We entered into a debate on what is and what isn’t anti-Semitism with people who clearly don’t understand what Jewish hate is,” he said. “It’s adding insult to injury. I’m experiencing anti-Semitism and then getting told it isn’t anti-Semitism.”

JNi.Media

Jewish Practice In The U.S. Military (II)

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Chaplain Rabbi Mitchell Geller served in the Air Force for 22 years without incident, the last seven sporting a goatee which was grown during the mourning period for his father. Although he was in the Reserves, he was still subject to military regulations, and having a beard did not conform. The base chaplain presented him with the following offer, “Either you go to the barber shop or you go to jail.”

Geller found neither option appealing, not that his opinion was being solicited. No pun intended, the beard had grown on him. It was appropriate, and as far as he was concerned, the Air Force had no right to strip a Jewish chaplain of his beard.

As stated, the Air Force saw it otherwise, and since he did not comply with having his beard removed, he was discharged from the service. If it wasn’t clear before, the seriousness of Geller’s predicament was now apparent in dread clarity.

At stake was not only the principle, but Mitchell’s long-earned pension. Twenty years of Reserve Duty qualifies for a pension; however, if you are forced out of the military you become disqualified.

After a twenty-two-year investment, Rabbi Geller had adequate incentive to judiciously explore his legal options. Initially he contacted the JWB, but they were unsympathetic to his cause and saw no justification for a beard. Geller then turned to a local lawyer who offered nothing more than undeserved legal expenses.

In desperation, Rabbi Geller turned to COLPA (the National Coalition on Law and Public Affairs) that was founded that year to defend and advocate on behalf of the rights of observant Jews. COLPA agreed to accept the case, and they duly handed it over to Nathan Lewin.

The defense had a difficult task as the Air Force, like any branch of the military, had every right to demand uniformity. Not only is standardization the cornerstone of a fighting force, but deviations from the dress code are viewed as undermining discipline. This is because the military’s goal is to make everyone become and look equal; as a team works best when there are no distinctions. Furthermore, a beard is a hazard in the event a gas mask is required.

This was a difficult argument to counter. However, Lewin is a master at comprehending the winning argument. Hence, he did not argue Constitutional Law and avoided precedent. He stuck to the strongest weapon in his arsenal: pure logic. Mitchell Geller was inducted as a Jewish chaplain; a rabbi and a beard go hand in hand. To tell a rabbi to take off his beard would be akin to telling a Catholic Father to remove his collar.

Judge Aubrey Robinson, Jr. (the very same judge who sentenced Jonathan Pollard) found this reasoning very compelling and left little room for appeal in his decision. So much so, the government did not even attempt to challenge the decision.

Rabbi Geller was awarded his pension, the government restored back pay that had been lost in the interim, and Geller retired from the Air Force a Lieutenant Colonel.

(To be continued)

Chodesh Tov – have a pleasant month!

Rabbi Hanoch Teller

Belgian Court Upholds Shechita Laws Despite Challenge by Lawmakers

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The Constitutional Court of Belgium has rejected a petition by parliamentarians who once again tried to ban shechita — the Jewish ritual slaughter of meat.

The lawmakers tried to neutralize the right of Jews and Muslims to maintain the religious ritual slaughtering customs that are necessary for the proper processing and consumption of meat in both faiths.

Belgian lawmakers had requested the court extend the reach of the nation’s law requiring an animal be stunned prior to slaughter to apply also to Jewish and Muslim slaughterhouses as well. Such an act is in direct opposition to religious Jewish kashruth and Muslim halal laws.

Faith representatives turned to the Belgian courts, where it was decided that any extension of the law to the religious communities would be a violation of their freedom to practice their religion.

In December 2014, the Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare, Ben Weyts, reversed his position on the issue of Jewish ritual slaughter in Belgium and instead committed himself to opposing a proposed ban on the practice of Jewish ritual slaughter.

European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin emphasized at the time, and has since reiterated that the practice of “shechita” is the most humane method of slaughter, as it ensures the welfare of the animal not only at the time of the slaughter but also concerns itself with “the conditions in which animals are raised before their slaughter.”

Hana Levi Julian

Iwo Jima – The Jewish Connection

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The Battle of Iwo Jima, the American invasion during World War II of a desolate volcanic island and one of the greatest battles of the Pacific campaign, was also one of the bloodiest in U.S. Marine history.

Beginning on February 19, 1945, 70,000 Marines fought an unknown number of deeply embedded Japanese defenders for five weeks; troops battling for the high ground atop Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano on the island, sustained over 25,000 losses; in fact, fully one-third of all Marines killed during World War II died fighting at Iwo Jima.

The defeat of the Japanese there provided an important foundation for our ultimate victory over Japan, and the battle became a symbol of the great sacrifices made by our fighting forces during the war.

According to the late Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, the first Jewish Marine Corps chaplain assigned to the Fifth Marine Division at Iwo Jima, there were at least 150 Jewish dead and more than 400 Jews among the wounded.

In one particularly sad case, Gittelsohn tried getting a special Red Cross message to a Jewish Marine that his wife had given birth –but when he finally located him, he discovered the new father had just been killed in battle.

The raising of the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi on February 23, 1945 became the subject of what is widely considered the most iconic battle photograph of all time when Associated Press photographer Joseph Rosenthal took the once-in-a-lifetime shot for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

The American people embraced the photo as a compelling victory symbol. Wire services flashed it around the world, countless magazines ran it on its covers, and it was central to the monumentally successful 1945 War Bond drive that raised $26.3 billion.

Shown on this page is Rosenthal’s electrifying image of the flag-raising on Mt. Suribachi, which he has signed, adding “AP photographer, Iwo Jima, February 1945.”

Rosenthal was born in 1911 to Russian-Jewish immigrants in Washington, D.C., but converted to Catholicism as a young man. His career in photojournalism began in San Francisco, where he was chief photographer and manager for Times Wide World Photos before it was taken over by the Associated Press. After – ironically – being rejected by both the U.S. Army and Navy as a photographer because of impaired eyesight, he joined the AP and followed the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater of Operations as a kind of “embedded journalist.”

By 1945 he had already distinguished himself photographing military battles. Even before Iwo Jima there were few military men who had seen as much wartime action as Rosenthal: he was in a North Atlantic convoy of Liberty Ships under attack by German U-boats; in London during the Blitz; in the jungles of New Guinea with General MacArthur’s army; on several wartime ships in the South Pacific; in the cockpits with Navy pilots attacking Japanese controlled territory in the Philippines; and in the initial wave of beach landings while under fire in Guam, Peleliu, and Angaur.

On February 23, 1945, Rosenthal was making his daily trek to Iwo Jima on a Marine landing craft when he heard that a flag was being raised atop Mt. Suribachi, for which Marines had been battling since their initial landing on the island. About halfway up the mountain he met four descending Marines who advised him that the flag had already been raised at the summit. He nevertheless continued his ascent. It turned out the first flag had indeed been raised at 10:37 a.m. but shortly thereafter, for reasons still clouded in controversy, Marine commanders decided to replace it with a larger flag.

Saul Jay Singer

Historical Discovery in Lithuania: Escape Tunnel Used by Jewish Prisoners to Escape from the Nazis

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The escape tunnel used by the so-called “Burning Brigade” to allude the Nazis has been pinpointed at the Ponar massacre site near Vilnius in Lithuania, using Electric Resistivity Tomography.

Some 100,00 people, of whom 70,000 were Jews originating in Vilna and the surrounding area, were massacred and thrown into pits in the Ponar forest near the Lithuanian capital during WW2. With the retreat of the German forces on the eastern front before the advancing the Red Army, a special unit was formed in 1943 with the task of covering up the tracks of the genocide. In Ponar this task was assigned to a group of 80 prisoners from the Stutthof concentration camp.

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

A scan of the site using Electrical Resistivity Tomography. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

At night the prisoners were held in a deep pit, previously used for the execution of Vilna’s Jews, and during the day they worked to pen the mass graves, pile up the corpses on logs cut from the forest, cover them with fuel and incinerate them. All the while their legs were shackled and they were certain that, upon completing their horrendous task, they too would be murdered by their captors. Some of the workers decided to escape by digging a tunnel from the pit that was their prison. For three months they dug a tunnel some 100 ft. long, using only spoons and their bare hands.

On the night of April 15, 1944 they escaped. The prisoners cut their leg shackles with a nail file, and 40 of them crawled through the narrow tunnel. Unfortunately they were quickly discovered by the guards and many were shot. Only 15 managed to cut the camp fence and escaped into the forest. Eleven reached the partisan forces and survived the war.

Since WW2, the exact location of the tunnel has been lost, even though a number of attempts were made to find it. Now, through the cooperative work of Dr. Jon Seligman of the Israel Antiquities Authority; Prof. Richard Freund of the University of Hartford; Paul Bauman of Advisian of Calgary, Canada; and the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, the tunnel has been rediscovered using Electrical Resistivity Tomography, from the pit used to imprison the captives, to an open space next to it.

Electrical Resistivity Tomography is a geophysical technique used in mineral and oil exploration for imaging sub-surface structures from electrical resistivity measurements made at the surface, or by electrodes in one or more boreholes.

Preparations for the ERT scan of the trench used to hold the victims before their execution. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

Preparations for the ERT scan of the trench used to hold the victims before their execution. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

Dr. Jon Seligman, of the IAA, said, “As an Israeli whose family originated in Lithuania, I was reduced to tears on the discovery of the escape tunnel at Ponar. This discovery is a heartwarming witness to the victory of hope over desperation. The exposure of the tunnel enables us to present, not only the horrors of the Holocaust, but also the yearning for life.”

Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev said, “I congratulate the Israel Antiquities Authority on its participation in this international effort that turns history to reality. The exciting and important discovery of the prisoners escape tunnel at Ponar is yet more proof negating the lies of the Holocaust deniers. The success of modern technological developments, that have aided the Jewish people to reveal another heroic story the Nazis attempted to hide, profits all humanity.”

The memorial to the Holocaust at Ponar. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

The memorial to the Holocaust at Ponar. / Courtesy. Photo credit: Ezra Wolfinger, Nova

The award-winning science series NOVA, produced by WGBH for PBS, will follow this excavation and the team, capture their stories, and restore the memory of this lost world in a new film slated to premiere in the US on PBS in 2017. The documentary will tell the story of the fate of the Jews of Vilna, Lithuania, now the modern city of Vilnius, through major archeological excavations of several sites in and around the city, including the larger excavation project at The Great Synagogue of Vilna. The discovery of the evidence of an escape tunnel at the Ponar pits sheds new light on a story of life, resistance and courage.

It is the intention of the partners to return to the site in the near future to expose the tunnel for public viewing as part of the memorial for the victims of Vilna and the surrounding area.

JNi.Media

Bennett Plans to Bolster Jewish Identity, Connection to Israel, via New Education Program

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

During Monday’s meeting of the Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett presented a program to strengthen Jewish identity across the Diaspora and foster closer ties between Jews overseas and the State of Israel.

The new initiative, which is being promoted jointly by the Education and Diaspora ministries, will fund Jewish studies programs, Hebrew ulpans, and classes in Israel studies for school aged children around the world.

During the meeting, Bennett said the plan was to begin with a pilot program, focusing on dozens of elementary- and high-schools in Latin America and Europe, as well as the appointment of a planning committee to establish criteria for school programs to train teachers, and assist administrators in Jewish schools.

The committee will also operate a support network to connect educators in the Diaspora with their counterparts in Israel.

Diaspora Committee Chairman Avraham Neguise (Likud) called to strengthen Jewish identity among Jewish teenagers overseas, because, he said, they are feeling less and less connected to Judaism and the State of Israel.

Bennett responded that “Israel is responsible to protect and strengthen Jewish identity and affinity for Israel among each and every Jew everywhere in the world.”

“Jewish schools [serve] as important community centers, where the next generation is educated, and as a meeting place where Jewish identity is formed in wider circles. The State of Israel must aid educators to continue and expand educational programs bringing together the many parts of the Jewish people,” Bennett reiterated.

Bennett further said that his office was monitoring anti-Semitic activity and is accompanying Jewish communities abroad that are dealing with the phenomenon. His office is also following efforts in foreign countries to curb anti-Semitism through legislation.

Diaspora Affairs Ministry Director-General Dvir Kahane presented the ministry’s activities to strengthen Jewish identity across the Diaspora. The ministry spends tens of millions of dollars on such activities, which are also aimed at sharply increasing the number of Jewish university students who come to study in Israel, as well as assisting Jewish schools, mainly in Europe and South America.

One feature of the new campaign is to have Jews from abroad video themselves as they talk about their Jewish lives and their connection to Israel. Sample videos have already been posted on the Diaspora Affairs Ministry site.

According to Yogev Karasenty, the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s Director for Combating Anti-Semitism, most anti-Semitism is fueled by Muslims who were born in Europe. “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” – the anti-Semitic, fabricated text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination, is very popular in Egypt, he told the committee.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bennett-plans-to-bolster-jewish-identity-connection-to-israel-via-new-education-program/2016/06/28/

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