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January 26, 2015 / 6 Shevat, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘judaism’

Today is a Fast Day and not ‘Happy New Year’ Day

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

The Fast of the 10th of Tevet is today, January 1, and Chief Rabbi David Lau has asked Jews all over the world to say the mourner’s Kaddish prayer in memory of Holocaust victims.

He emphasized that with the ever-closer eventuality of the death of Holocaust survivors 70 years after the end of the Nazi death machine, there are less relatives alive to recite the prayer.

The fast marks the day on which the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem began in the year 588 BCE, an event which eventually led to the destruction on the Temple 20 years later and the first exile from Israel.

The fast day, which is observed from slightly before sunrise to after sunset, is commemorated shortly after Hanukkah.

The Chief Rabbinate 64 years ago, declared that the 10th of Tevet also is “Holocaust Day” in memory of the Nazis’ victims whose date of death is unknown.

“According to Jewish Law, if the day of death is unknown, a relative chooses which day on which to say Kaddish.”

The government-mandated Holocaust Day is in Nissan, a month when Jewish law does not allow public eulogies. Israel’s secular media, along with foreign media, have a field day every year photographing Haredim who walk while others stand at attention when a siren sounds nationwide to mark Holocaust Day in Nissan.

Haredim also have a problem with the custom of standing at attention, which they consider a non-Jewish custom.

The same media fail to note that in the Hebrew month of Tevet, Haredim mark Holocaust Day, as well as fast, while most of the secular part of the country acts as if nothing happened, except for this year, when they also party without realizing that the day marks the circumcision of the same man in whose name millions of Jews have been massacred over the centuries.

The Day Jews Prayed in a Minyan on the Temple Mount

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

The issue of whether or not to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount is bound to come up for heated discussion before the elections March 17, but a rarely shown photograph proves that Jews once managed to pray there with a minyan, the minimum of 10 men needed for public prayer.

Jewish Home Knesset Member Uri Ariel and Likud MK Moshe Feiglin have been the most prominent legislators insisting that Israel change the “status quo” and allow Jews to pray at the holy site.

The official status quo, as reported here several weeks ago, has been replaced by a new status quo in which Jews still are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount but also are restricted in their visits, even without praying.

The police implemented the new and unofficial status quo by limiting the number of Jews at the site and often closing it to Jews for reasons of “security,” meaning they don’t want to deal with Muslim rioters.

The 1995 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan not only does not specifically prohibit prayer by non-Muslims but also leaves it open as a possibility.

Paragraph 3 of the treaty states:

The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.

Regardless, the government policy not long after the Six-Day War in 1967 was to ban Jews form praying there. However, visiting was common.

Amos A., now in his 60s, told The Jewish Press that his father took him to all of the holy sites where Jordan had barred Jews. ”We went to the Patriarchs Cave in Hevron, Rachel’s Tomb at Bethlehem and the Temple Mount. No one said a word.”

He added that he and his father did not pray on the Temple Mount.

At that time, the Chief Rabbinate ruled that it is forbidden for Jews even to visit the Temple Mount, because of all kinds of issues of impurity and prohibitions of any Jew to walk on the ruins over the area where the High Priest entered only once a year, on Yom Kippur.

Very few rabbis were willing to question the opinion of the Rabbinate at the time, but that has changed in recent years. There now is an increasing number of prominent national religious rabbis who permit walking in certain areas of the holy site. Some also permit praying on condition of immersion in a ritual bath beforehand

Around 1980, give or take year, a group of 10 Jewish men, some posing as tourists, formed a minyan and prayed on the Temple Mount, as seen in the photograph above.

Yisrael Medad, a resident of Samaria, a former activist and now a blogger whose writing also appears on The Jewish Press, was one of the 10 men who formed a minyan.

The prayer service took place between 1979 and 1981, as he recalls. The picture shows nine men, with Medad on the far right. The 10th men was the photographer.

“It was one of the very, very few times that Jews have prayed on the Temple Mount,” Medad told The Jewish Press. “The group sneaked in and was able to pray until a Muslim guard was getting very upset and told us to stop. We motioned to him to wait because we were in the middle of the Amidah prayer,” the silent prayer in which interruptions are not allowed.

Medad said the guard “may have simply thought we were just looking around and not praying, but when he realized what was happening, he called the police, who hauled the men away.”

Wounded IDF Soldier’s Faith Shows How Israel Survives

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Second Lt. Aharon Karov, less than 24 hours after his own wedding, left his bride and returned to his vase in southern Israel to serve as a commander and led his soldiers into battle at the start of Operation Cast Lead.

He was critically wounded on the night of January 12, 2009, when Karov and his soldiers entered northern Gaza. They followed detailed intelligence information which led them to various houses and structures where terrorists were hiding. When they arrived at one of these houses, a powerful explosive was activated.

Between 300 and 500 metal fragments penetrated his body, and he suffered from a major injury in his head and upper body.

Moments later, a complex rescue mission began to save the wounded officer. IDF medics performed life-saving procedures on the battlefield and in the air as Karov was evacuated by helicopter.

Over the next 12 hours, Karov underwent a set of complex and dangerous surgeries in order to remove part of his skull. His family was told that he was in critical condition and Karov was named the most severely wounded soldier during Operation Cast Lead.

Three weeks later, against all odds, Karov was released from the hospital to begin rehabilitation.

Karov began his recovery with a deep commitment to the treatments prescribed to him by the doctors as well as a bundle of support from his family. The process was long, exhausting, and touched the heart of the entire nation. Thousands of letters of encouragement and blessing strengthened him and aided him during his journey towards recovery.

This officer’s remarkable improvement is considered a miracle. When he regained the ability to speak, Karov’s first words were dedicated to his wife. He called her on the phone and told her, “Tzvia, I love you.”

Roughly two months after the incident in Gaza, Karov’s soldiers finished their training. Karov, who insisted on being a part of the ceremony for his soldiers, stood on his legs for almost 2 hours despite his physical condition. At the end of the ceremony, he pinned his soldiers with a pin declaring them fighters, and was then promoted to the rank of Lieutenant by the Paratroopers’ Brigade Commander.

Step-by-step, word-by-word, Karov inspired the entire nation. His condition improved faster than anyone would have believed and not long after his injury Karov did the impossible and participated in various races and even a marathon. The young couple also grew their family and Karov’s wife gave birth to two children: a girl who was born a year and a half after the incident and a boy a few years later.

Today, Karov shares his story across the country, mostly with young men and women who are about to join the army.

Even though the physical injury was deep and severe, his spirit was strengthened.

Operation Cast Lead restored quite in southern Israel for a couple of years, but the legacy established by Karov and many other soldiers will last for many generations to come.

Aharon Karov leaving the hospital.

Aharon Karov leaving the hospital.

Technion Robot Lights Hanukkah Candles – but What about the Blessings? [video]

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

High schools students have programmed a robotic trio at Technion University to light Hanukkah candles as well as pour olive oil for the lighting and serve “sufganiyot,” the traditional fried doughnuts.

“The robots we built are programmed to respond to noise, and start operating upon the sound of three hand claps,” said Mor Pikman, an Ort Bialik 10th grader student participating in the program.

Another student, Kfir Lavie, added, “As part of the program, we developed a special program that makes the robot light Hanukkah candles according to the right order, and then place the candle used for lighting at the spot of the ‘Shamash,’ the ‘attendant’ candle. For humans this is a simple task, but for a robot it is quite complex, and required hours of programming work until we were able to accomplish it in the best possible way.”

“Technion’s Center for Robotics and Digital Technology is a meeting place between high-schoolers and university students who are developing and advancing methods for technology education,” said Associate Prof. Igor Verner, the Head of the Center, and the Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies and Technology Education at Technion’s Department of Education in Science and Technology. “The goal of the Center is to teach youngsters about technology through the introduction of a robot…. The movements of the robots they developed on their own, through studies they conducted on a robot’s movement operations.”

In the video below, a human being recites the blessings over the lighting of Hanukkah candles and then lights the candle in the hands of the robot, which – or who – proceeds to light all of the candles and returns the Shamash to its proper place.

There are mitzvahs that a person can perform through a messenger, even a robot, and there are others, such as listening to the shofar on Rosh HaShanah, which cannot be delegated to anyone else.

As for lighting candles, is there a difference between a robot and someone whose arm was amputated and uses prosthesis to light the candles?

But if the students teach the robot next year to recite the blessings, there is no question that it has not performed the mitzvah on behalf of someone else.

Perhaps the students can develop a robot that can digest sufganiyot.

Arabs Imitate Ancient Greeks and Vandalize Joseph’s Tomb

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

More than 1,000 Jews visiting Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef) in Shechem Sunday night discovered that Palestinian Authority Arabs vandalized the holy site for the umpteenth time.

The vandals destroyed the electric system, but the Jews, under IDF protection, lit a menorah on the sixth night of Hanukkah, which commemorates the victory of the Maccabeans over the Greek conquerors who desecrated the Holy Temple nearly 2000 years ago.

Israel surrendered open access to Joseph’s Tomb in 2001 after a terrorist attack, allowing a violation of the Oslo Accords protecting the rights of all religions to visit holy sites to become an accepted principle.

Leftists and plain President Obama-Arabs read the news differently.

The “Alternative News. Org” website reported, “1,000 Israelis raided the northern West Bank area of Nablus [Shechem] Sunday night to pray at Joseph’s Tomb, located on the outskirts of the city….

“Joseph’s Tomb is located in Area A of the West Bank, under full security and administrative control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Although entry into Joseph’s Tomb requires permission and coordination with the PA, the Israeli civilians and troops entered without either.”

Every time a Jew visits the Temple Mount or Joseph’s Tomb, and soon the Dead Sea can be added to the list, it is a “raid.”

As for the report that they entered without permission, the IDF told The Jewish Press Monday morning that simply is not true. “There was coordination,” a spokeswoman said.

Alternative News also conveniently omitted the wording of the Oslo Accords that specifically reserves the rights of Jews to visit Joseph’s Tomb, among others, and requires “both sides shall respect and protect the listed below religious rights of Jews, Christians, Moslems and Samaritans.”

Sydney Chabad Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Canceled ‘Out of Respect’

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

The public Hanukkah candle lighting at Sydney’s Martin Place was canceled for the first time in 30 years following the terror attack that killed two Australians.

Chabad, which has erected a giant 33-foot Hanukkah menorah in downtown Sydney for the past three decades, issued a statement Thursday, saying: “Due to the very recent terror attack in Martin Place and with sensitivity towards the families of the victims of terror, the Hanukkah commemoration scheduled for this evening has regrettably been canceled.”

“The Jewish community of Australia expresses our deepest sympathy for the families of the Martin Place tragedy. May the lights of the festival of Hanukkah bring comfort and warmth to our nation,” the statement concluded.

The giant menorah was scheduled to be erected Monday night, but the 16-hour siege inside Lindt chocolate café, just yards away from where the menorah is normally erected, was still underway.

Two hostages, café manager Tori Johnson, 34, and barrister Katrina Dawson, 38, were killed around 2 a.m. Tuesday when special agents stormed the café and killed the lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, a self-styled Iranian cleric who had forced hostages to hold up a flag bearing the Shahada – the testament of the Islamic creed – in the window.

Instead of the public candle lighting, Johnson’s father Ken was greeted Thursday afternoon at the memorial site – a sea of tens of thousands of bouquets of flowers – by multi-faith leaders, including Levi Wolff and Zalman Kastel, both Chabad rabbis.

“We have people from all faiths coming together to show that we are a very strong united people and a strong country,” Rabbi Wolff said. “A small, little bit of light distills a tremendous amount of darkness.”

Rabbi Elimelech Levy, from Chabad Youth of New South Wales, told Haaretz earlier this week, “We haven’t cancelled it [and] we are waiting to hear back from authorities. We’d like it to go ahead, and to pay tribute to the victims of terror.”

And what about Christmas?

Sydney is toning down the public festivities for the holiday but not banning the lighting of trees. The usual colorful decorations and pictures of Santa will not be displayed, the London Telegraph reported, but two Christmas trees will be put up at the central train station.

Rabbi Levy said concerning the ban on the public lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, “If we cancel the event we are giving terrorist exactly what they want. We want to do it compassionately for the victims.”

The Chabad.org website wrote that after the siege of the Lindt coffee shop, the local Chabad rabbi placed a plaque affixed to the menorah that stated, “The Jewish Community of Australia expresses our deepest sympathy for the families of the Martin Place tragedy. May the light of the festival of Hanukkah bring comfort and warmth to our nation.”

A little bit of darkness dims the light.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Sydney authorities ordered that the menorah not be lit.

Steven Sotloff’s Parents to Light Public Menorah in His Memory

Monday, December 15th, 2014

The parents of Steven Sotloff, the Jewish journalist who was beheaded by a member of ISIS, will light a public menorah in Miami in his memory.

Arthur and Shirley Sotloff will light the first candle of Hanukkah Tuesday night at the Chabad center in Miami.

“Steve was a proud Jew who always enjoyed the holidays,” his father, Arthur Sotloff, told Chabad.org. “It was one of his defining characteristics.”

“Chanukah is a time we commemorate the vanquishing of our enemies who tried to deprive us of our right to live with Torah,” Arthur Sotloff said. “The Maccabees fought for Judaism, and Steve fought for the values they endowed us with.”

The directors of the Chabad center in Miami, Rabbi Yossi and Nechama Harlig, got to know the Sotloffs during the Shiva period for their son. They decided Hanukkah would be the appropriate time to honor the slain journalist “who sought to bring a little more light and truth to the world,” according to Chabad.org

Sotloff, who grew up in Miami, was abducted on Aug. 4, 2013, after crossing the Syrian border from Turkey. On Sept. 2, ISIS released a nearly three-minute video online titled “A Second Message to America” showing the beheading of Sotloff.

Sotloff published articles from Syria, Egypt and Libya in various publications, including Time.com, the World Affairs Journal and Foreign Policy. He also freelanced for The Jerusalem Post and the Jerusalem Report magazine.

It was revealed after his death that Sotloff, 31, held Israeli citizenship. His connections to Israel and the Jewish community reportedly had been sanitized from the Internet and social media in order to keep the information from his radical Islamic captors.

Sotloff, a grandson of Holocaust survivors, made aliyah in 2005.

His parents have established The 2Lives Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation to provide scholarships for journalism students.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/steven-sotloffs-parents-to-light-public-menorah-in-his-memory/2014/12/15/

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