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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘JEWS’

Preparations Completed for Priestly Blessing from Jerusalem

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Rabbis have been busy preparing the traditional Birkat Kohanim, the Blessing of the Priests, set for Thursday.

One of the most moving events in the entire holiday, Jews and Gentiles alike flock to the Western Wall from around the world to be present for the blessing.

The benediction is given solely by Jewish males who are descended from kohanim – those who are in the patriarchal line from members of the priestly class dating all the way back to the time of the ancient Holy Temples. Those who recite the blessing cover themselves (and any children they may have with them) with their prayer shawls, spreading out the shawl in such a way so that they are unseen by others as they recite the benediction.

The blessing at the Western Wall is recited during the morning service by thousands of Kohanim during Chol Hamoed, the intermediate days of the festival of Passover. It is also recited during the intermediate days of the festival of Sukkot.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews come to visit and pray at the Western Wall in the Old City in Jerusalem during this holiday, and many arrive only for the purpose of being present to receive this special blessing.

A Third Intifada to Begin at the Temple Mount?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Once again, on the eve of a major Jewish holiday, Israel Police have  closed access for Jews and Christians to the Temple Mount due to intelligence “there would be disturbances” if Jews were allowed to ascend to the site.

Hundreds of tourists who flocked to the site on Monday were turned away due to violence spawned by Muslim rioters the previous day.

Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told The Jewish Press in a telephone interview Monday morning, “Police officials made the decision to close access to the site based on information there would be disturbances similar to those that occurred yesterday, and which caused injuries to two police officers. As a result, access to the site was restricted solely to Muslim men age 50 and above, and to Muslim women of all ages.”

Asked whether Muslim women had never caused any disturbances at the Temple Mount – which they have on numerous occasions — Rosenfeld responded: “Muslim women do not pose any problem for Israel Police. It is Muslim men under age 50 who are the most dangerous to the general population and to police officers during disturbances at the site.”

On Sunday police closed the Temple Mount to visitors — but not to Muslim worshipers — after Muslim rioters hurled rocks and firebombs (Molotov cocktails) at police officers posted at the Mughrabi Gate near the Western Wall Plaza.

Two Israel Police officers were injured in the riot which started when the site was opened to visitors.

Rosenfeld claimed he had “no idea what [you] are talking about” when asked about a report posted on the Arutz Sheva website describing a virtual takeover of the Temple Mount by “dozens of Hamas men… waving Hamas flags and ‘not allowing Jews and tourists into the Mount.’

The site has always been a flash point of contention between Jews and Muslims. There is no holier site in the Jewish faith, and it ranks third in importance in Islam.

The Temple Mount encompasses the Western Wall – the last remnant of the Holy Temple, the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount. It is the wall that was the closest to the Holy of Holies when the Holy Temple once stood in Jerusalem.

In Judaism, the Temple Mount is also known as Mount Moriah, which according to Jewish tradition is the place where the creation of the world began from the Foundation Stone at the peak of the mountain, and is where Adam, the first human being, was created.

It is also the site where the Biblical patriarch Abraham was commanded to prepare his son Isaac for sacrifice, (by the way, the Muslims believe it is Ishmael who was nearly sacrificed) and where the binding of Isaac – the Foundation Stone – took place. The Holy of Holies, around which both the First and Second Holy Temples were built, is set around the Foundation Stone.

Known to the Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, the Temple Mount site is believed to be that from which Islam’s prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven to speak with God about the details of prayer rituals after a night-long journey to Jerusalem, “the farthest mosque,” on his steed Buraq. For this reason, Islamists fight with particular ferocity over the site and do what they can to claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

Israel’s willingness to allow the Islamic Waqf Authority to administer the site has backfired dozens of times as increasing violence by Islamist extremists on the eve of every Jewish holiday makes it clear it is impossible for the status quo to continue.

A similar scenario was deliberately used by Hamas to ignite the Second Intifada in the year 2000 when MK Ariel Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount just prior to the Jewish new year holidays, setting off violent Muslim riots and sparking a lethal police response. It seems likely that plans are afoot to recreate the same scenario again.

Aliyah Up by 14 Percent in First Three Months of 2014

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Aliyah to Israel increased by 14 percent from January to the end of March, with the most impressive numbers coming from Russia and France, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Russia led the aliyah number list with 899 new immigrants, followed by France with 802.

One veteran French immigrant told The Jewish Press that despite the flight to Israel from France, plagued by violent anti-Semitism, there is a far greater exodus of Jews to the United States and Canada.

The third largest source of new immigrants so far this year is the United States, from where 203 arrived, and another 23 came from Canada.

The total number of new immigrants for the first three months of this year is 3,623.

Anti-Terror Airport Squads Briefed on Tefillin and Matzah

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The Transportation Security Administration has made its employees aware the Jews with a kippa and praying with tefillin are not necessarily terrorists.

This good news should help Jews relax when praying at the airport or on the airplane during the Passover holiday.

This is no laughing matter.

When a Jewish teen put on his tefillin and prayed on board a US Airways four years ago, the crew panicked and aborted the flight from LaGuardia Airport, landing in Philadelphia amid unfounded fears of a terrorist bomb.

The tefillin’s two small Scripture-filled boxes were a bit strange to the nervous crew. After all, they could be explosives inside. Or maybe a collapsible Uzi.

And those straps! There are two straps hanging down from the tefillin that are put on the head, and there is a strap on one arm, so who knows? Someone who never saw tefillin in his life could run away with his imagination and suspect that the straps could be wires from an explosive device.

The plane landed, and the boy, a lot more scared than the crew, was met by police, the FBI and bomb-sniffing dogs

And he didn’t even get a chance to pray.

A similar incident the following year caused the pilots of an Alaska Airlines flight to lock down the cockpit and alert authorities because of three Orthodox Jews with tefillin on the flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles.

When the same thing happened on a flight in New Zealand, the country’s Race Relations Commissioner said the armed response was unfortunate and showed “an exaggerated fear of terrorism.”

So this time, TSA is prepared and instructing staffers that tefillin are not bombs, the kippa is not designed to hide a bomb, and matzah is not a bomb.

“Our workforce is aware of the unique items carried by individuals and religious practices individuals may engage in while traveling,” said a TSA statement. This may include reading of religious text or participating in prayer rituals. Observant travelers may be wearing a head covering, prayer shawl, and phylacteries — in Hebrew, kippa, tallit, and tefillin.”

The TSA has also informed baggage inspectors to be careful with matzah packages.

Perhaps they have explained to them that matzah is not suspicious cardboard. Hopefully, workers understand that they are not to be munching on any cookies made with leavened bread when checking matzah packages

“Some travelers will be carrying boxes of matzah, which are consumed as part of the Passover ritual. Matzah can be machine or handmade and are typically very thin and fragile, and break easily,

“Passengers traveling with religious items, including handmade matzah, may request a hand inspection by the TSO of the items at the security checkpoint.” TSO is the abbreviation for Transport Security Officer.

Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella group for Orthodox congregations, expressed its “profound thanks” for the notice, stating that the agency has been deeply sensitive to our community’s needs and concerns on this and many issues.”

But if a worker does accidentally break a matzah in half, who gets the Afikomen

(JTA contributed to this report.)

Below is the TV report of the tefillin-bomb scare four years ago.

Building of WWII Statue Begins in Budapest as Jews Protest

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Members of the Jewish community were among the demonstrators protesting the construction of a controversial monument to the Hungarian victims of the German occupation, implying that the Hungarian government bore no responsibility for the death of Jews.

Work on the statue began Tuesday in downtown Budapest, according to Klubradio, a news station known to be critical of the government. The protest was held that evening adjacent to the U.S. Embassy building, with protesters carrying signs saying the memorial is “a falsification of Hungary’s history.”

The Freedom Square monument, due to be completed in May, will pay tribute to “all Hungarian victims with the erection of the monument commemorating the tragic German occupation and the memorial year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust,” according to the Hungarian Government Information Center.

The Jewish community has argued that the memorial removes any responsibility from the Hungarian government of that time for the death of Hungarian Jews.

Along with the Jewish community, the protesters included Hungarian opposition politicians and civil activists.

Construction was halted before the general elections, held over the weekend, due to the opposition of the Jewish community.

Andras Heisler, president of the Hungarian Jewish community, told Klubradio that the start of construction was a surprise to the leadership of the Jewish community, coming just days after the  elections in which the ultranationalist Jobbik party garnered 23 percent of the vote — an increase of 6 percent from four years ago.

Following Sunday’s elections, Jewish community leaders congratulated the winning Fidesz party, notably its leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

 

Kosher Nightclub to Open in Moscow

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

A Russian Jewish group is preparing to open a kosher “Shachar Club” nightclub in the center of Moscow Saturday night, the Russia-language Israeli news site izrus.co.il reported.

“Jewish youth in Moscow should have somewhere with an easy, relaxed atmosphere to hang out, discuss their identity, or just have fun,” a co-founder of the new club, Ilya Lipetsker, told Izrus. He said he hoped the club would help unite young Jews from different backgrounds.

The club reportedly will only offer kosher food and drink, and organizers wrote on Facebook that the new club will not be open on Shabbat.

Lipetsker helped establish the club with Alexander Kargin, who heads a group called Shachar, which organizes activities for the Jewish community, mostly with a pro-Israel orientation. Shachar has organized rallies in Russia to express solidarity with Israel, including during the 2011 Pillar of Defense operation in Gaza.

Lipetsker said the new club is meant to expose Moscow’s 100,000 Jews to “a slice of the Tel Aviv nightlife and thus allow Moscow Jews to immerse themselves in that scene.”

ADL Audit: Rise in Anti-Semitic Assaults but Less Overall Cases

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States decreased by 19 percent in 2013, but physical assaults against Jews nearly doubled, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

In its Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, the ADL reported that there 751 incidents in 41 states and Washington, D.C. — one of the lowest numbers since 1979, when the ADL began collecting data. The number of incidents has been steadily declining for the past decade.

The audit includes assault, vandalism and harassment targeting Jews and Jewish property and institutions reported to ADL’s 27 regional offices and the police.

Despite the overall decline, the audit found a “significant” increase in “violent anti-Semitic assaults” — 31 assaults compared to 17 in 2012, although no assault was life threatening or required hospitalization.

“The high number of violent in-your-face assaults is a sobering reminder that, despite the overall decline in anti-Semitic incidents, there is still a subset of Americans who are deeply infected with anti-Semitism and who feel emboldened enough to act out their bigotry,” said ADL’s national director Abraham Foxman.

“In the last decade we have witnessed a significant and encouraging decline in the number and intensity of anti-Semitic acts in America,” he said in a statement. “The falling number of incidents targeting Jews is another indication of just how far we have come in finding full acceptance in society, and it is a reflection of how much progress our country has made in shunning bigotry and hatred.”

The audit attributed the declining number of anti-Semitic incidents to “a relatively quiet year for anti-Israel activity in the public sphere.”

Despite the overall decrease of incidents, the ADL reported increases in several states, including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio and Texas. The states with the highest number of incidents were those with the largest Jewish populations: New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

The ADL does not count critiques of Israel or Zionism as anti-Semitic incidents, unless such criticism invokes “classic anti-Jewish stereotypes or inappropriate Nazi imagery and/or analogies,” the organization said in a news release. It does, however, count “public expressions of anti-Israel sentiments that demonize Jews or create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation for U.S. Jews.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/adl-audit-rise-in-anti-semitic-assaults-but-less-overall-cases/2014/04/02/

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