web analytics
April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘judaism’

Why Vote for Torah?

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Martin Oliner

In the current climate, it is almost impossible to enter an Orthodox synagogue in America that has not undertaken security measures on behalf of the institution. Time, money, and efforts of all types are expended. Members are passionately recruited to protect and ensure the physical welfare and safety of congregants and members.

Yet, even as Orthodox Jews throughout the nation firmly adhere to the mantra, “If you see something, say something,” they have, until recently, been blind to, and silent about, a different type of threat. Th is is a spiritual threat from within that is arguably as insidious and challenging to Orthodox Jewish survival as any physical threat.

In October 2015, the 37th World Zionist Congress (WZC), the “parliament” of the Jewish people, will convene in Israel. At that time, the slate of leaders and policy stewards of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) that the Jewish people had voted for before April 30th, will assume their mantle of leadership. The WZO and its constituent and affiliate organizations are empowered to distribute more than one billion dollars to support programs throughout Israel and the Diaspora.

Vying for dominance in this election, are movements within our nation which seek to undermine and subvert Orthodox Judaism. These groups are using the WZC election to facilitate that attack.

These other streams are attempting to first hijack and usurp the financial resources that fuel Orthodox educational programs and materials. They are seeking to subvert the funding of the Hesder yeshivot, the subsidization and financing of services to Orthodox communities in Israel, and the grants and funding of Orthodox Shlichim and emissaries that are so effective in so many schools and institutions throughout America.

With an agenda far beyond merely derailing Orthodoxy financially, these streams also seek to undermine the ideals, convictions and beliefs that are the life-blood of Torah-committed Jews and which these programs both sustain and perpetuate.

The unabashedly stated goals of these other streams are diametrically opposed to fundamental Orthodox religious values, which include Religious Zionist outreach, Torah inspired education, the sanctity of a united Yerushalayim, intra-marriage, and advancing Aliyah. They decry the idea of hallachically performed conversions and the preservation of Shabbat in Israel. Undermining all of this and more are the stated positions and goals of the other streams.

Shockingly, many of their positions are not only anathema to those who are Torah-motivated, but create an existential danger to the Jewish State itself.

How so?

Some of the pronouncements of these streams include the advocacy of the nascent and growing BDS movement – “Boycott, Divestiture and Sanctions.” They view support of BDS as necessary “tough love” – as they view other criticisms of Israel, the support and validation of intermarriage, and the undermining of Yehuda and Shomron.

It is imperative that Orthodox supporters of Israel recognize the current challenge. This is no mere theoretical point. It is not just another academic debate between theologians or a mere battle over funding.

It is an existential threat to Orthodoxy.

It is a threat driven by a blind selfi sh refusal to admit that, following the Pew Reports highlighting of Orthodox Judaism’s viability and vitality, it appears that adherence to a Torah way of life holds the key to Jewish survival.

In contrast to the war being waged against them, the Orthodox community is not seeking to dominate nor aggressively confront any other stream nor to be proselytizing. It is simply striving to preserve its own priorities and fundamental Orthodox religious beliefs. Th e Orthodox community is attempting to make clear, through successful presentation in the WZC election, that it is the presumptive voice of the Jewish people on the world stage.

Ukraine’s Jewish Children Still Have A School…

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

In the province of Lugansk, Ukraine and city of the same name, Jewish children and their families were witness to a Passover a miracle this year.

Their school building and its kitchen in particular was able to remain open for the entire Passover holiday, and no one was injured despite fierce clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine government troops.

News reports to the contrary were false, the city’s chief rabbi, Shalom Gopin, told Chabad.org this week. Reports on some news outlets claimed that representatives of the separatist Lugansk People’s Republic violently seized the Beit Menachem-Or Avner Chabad Jewish Day School building in Lugansk.

But Gopin, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to Lugansk, told Chabad.org the reports were untrue.

“At the end of March, representatives of the LPR entered our school building in Lugansk and told our guards that it appeared the Jewish community was forfeiting the building and they were taking it,” Gopin explained, adding that they left without incident after Jewish community officials arrived on the scene to dispute the claim.

Until the start of the war, Beit Menachem School had more than 130 students. Opened by Gopin and his wife Chana in 2006, it has served as a central point for the Jewish community during the conflict, even after the rabbi was forced to leave under heavy gunfire a little less than a year ago. He nevertheless continues to serve the community from other locations; for example, a 10-day Passover retreat was held for Lugansk Jewish refugees at the Chabad-Lubavitch of Zhitomir’s campgrounds in western Ukraine. More than 60 people showed up.

In Lugansk, 150 people signed up for 15 local neighborhood seders where Gopin distributed kosher-for-Passover food, matzah and wine from the school’s kitchen. Because it is no longer safe to go out at night, the traditional central public seder plan was scrapped and the gabbai at the synagogue held a seminar to teach local Jews how to lead a seder at their homes.

Gopin and others have since reached out to the Lugansk Minister of Religion, who personally assured the Jewish community the seizure was a mistake.

“The kitchen at our school was operating during Passover and the community’s food for the holiday was prepared there,” said Gopin. “We have been running a soup kitchen out of the synagogue kitchen and plan on opening one at the school, too,” the rabbi said. “We also hope to restart our Jewish preschool at the premises soon.”

The emissary said they have since received a personal guarantee from Igor Plotnitsky, head of the unrecognized rebel republic, that there will be no further attempts to seize the building.

Passover for Lugansk refugees in Zhitomer brought members of the besieged community closer together in a way that one could not have predicted, Chana Gopin commented.

“It has been 10 months since the fighting started but one outcome of all this is how much closer our community has become to each other. Passover together in Zhitomir gave us the opportunity to be together again, and it gives us all the strength to cope. No one knows when this will all end, and being able to gather together and eat, sing, pray together, just to be together – it gave us strength as a family and as a community.”

JewishPress.com thanks Chabad.org for its contribution to this article.

From Rescue by Kindertransport to Fighting Nazis, and the Jewish-Israeli Holiday Relationship

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined in-studio by Walter Bingham, 91 — rescued from the Nazis as a Polish child on the Kindertransport and ended up fighting against them with the British — shares his memories of Kristallnacht and of facing the German Foreign Minister who was first to hang at Nuremberg.

Then, VOI Knesset Insider Jeremy Saltan joins Yishai in-studio to discuss the relationship between the Jewish holidays established in the past and the new holidays born in the modern era of Jewish statehood. They point out that Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism, Israel Independence Day and Jerusalem Day all are marked during the “counting of the Omer” — the 50 days between Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost).

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Storms Send Israeli Mimouna Celebrants Indoors

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

It was a “dark and stormy night” indeed on Saturday night, putting a damper on traditional Moroccan “Mimouna” festivities that were set to follow the Sabbath and the day after the end of Passover in Israel.

Mimouna is a traditional celebration that never fails to bring together all of Israel’s North African Jews and the best of North African Jewish cuisine — despite the fact that cooks have been racing the clock after Passover to prepare the delicacies to be consumed by the crowds.

The celebration itself, culturally a joyous one, is also steeped in Torah tradition. One belief links the name “Mimouna” to the name Maimon – as in Rabbi Maimon ben Yosef – the father of the Rambam, the great Torah Sage, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides. Another belief connects it with the Hebrew word for faith (emunah) or to believe (ma’amin), symbolizing the past redemption of the Jews from Egypt, and having faith and belief in the future Messianic redemption of the Jewish People. As it says, “In the month of Nisan the Jews were redeemed, and in Nisan they will be redeemed in the future.”

In 2011, an article by the Jewish Agency for Israel explained the Jews of Morocco began celebrating the Mimouna several hundred years ago. “When Passover ends and the Jews are still not redeemed the Moroccan Jews do not lose their faith; as the Sages said, ‘Even if he tarries, I will expect him every day.’” In the article, the Jewish Agency noted that the Moroccoan Jews celebrate Mimouna on the evening after Passover because they believe that ‘during this night the heavens are open to our prayers…. As a result of this belief it was customary in many places in Morocco to set up matches between young men and women on the Mimouna eve.”

This year, stormy weather with thunder, lightning and downpours all around Israel led to cancellations of some Mimouna celebrations that were planned for Saturday evening and even a few planned for Sunday. Others, however, simply moved indoors and continued the party.

On Mount Hermon, however, residents in the area faced at least 10 centimeters of snow (four inches) by the end of the Sabbath. Forecasters also issued a flash flood warning for coastal areas, the Judea Desert and the Dead Sea region.

In the south, Sderot, Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva municipalities all canceled their festivities – as did Kiryat Bialik and Hatzor HaGlilit in the north.

Rain was expected to continue overnight Saturday and into Sunday, in an unexpected winter-like weather front that is crossing the region and is not expected to leave the area until at least Monday.

Israeli Guards Protect Citizens from Terror and Chametz on Passover

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

How do you know when you’re in a Jewish country?

When the security guard at the entrance blocks you from coming in because you are carrying… no, not a weapon … something almost as bad:

CHAMETZ!!!!

Sounds odd, right? But it’s true. It’s against the law in Israel to display or sell any product containing chametz during Passover. Chametz is also prohibited in the nation’s hospitals and other public institutions.

That includes national parks and nature reserves around the country, where security personnel this week are checking visitors’ bags for food as well as bombs, guns and ammunition.

Anyone caught bringing leavened bread or any other form of chametz must stay outside until they are willing to surrender or dispose of the offending item.

In northern Israel, a gaggle of surprised visitors to Afula’s city park were seen eating their sandwiches outside the gate because a security guard at the entrance had stopped them from entering the area.

“The Afula municipal park is a public facility that serves the residents of the city and its environs and so the public is asked to refrain from bringing in chametz during the holiday, as is customary at many other public institutions,” the municipality explained in a statement.

At Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center, security personnel are well prepared in a variety of languages to deal with the inevitable perplexity they face from foreigners unaware of the law. Security checkpoints are well prepared with large metal shelving units set up next to the security desks so the guards can simply place the contraband on a shelf until it can be disposed of properly.

For many bemused non-observant Jewish visitors to the Holy Land, it is their first experience with true observance of the Jewish Laws of Passover — in places they least expected to discover such enforcement.

“Bikinis at the beach in Tel Aviv might lead you to think that Israel is very secular,” commented a tourist who requested anonymity when speaking to JewishPress.com during the intermediate days of the holiday on Tuesday. “But then you try to bring your picnic lunch in when you visit a friend at the hospital, or to the nearby park. And suddenly it’s a whole other world.”

Did the Police Fail or Did the People?

Monday, April 6th, 2015

The death and injuries that happened at Rabbi Shmuel Wosner’s funeral should never have happened.

It’s very easy to blame the police for not properly organizing crowd control for Rabbi Wosner’s funeral, which resulted in the death of Mordechai Gerber (27) and severe injuries of three more people who were trampled by the crowd.

The police will conduct an internal investigation, and they will determine if, where and how they failed at the funeral.

But what about the other half of the equation?

The people who were pushing and shoving everyone around them, rushing to get closer to the casket. The people who stepped on the bodies of their fellow students. The people, who despite the crowds in front of them, continued to push their way forward, leaving over a 100 injured.

At some point, the people at the funeral must investigate their own actions and their own role in the death and injuries.

In the last two years, there were two tremendously large funerals for 2 great rabbis in Israel, Harav Elyashiv and Harav Ovadia. Hundreds of thousands of people participated with dignity and Derech Eretz, and everyone left the funerals sad, but alive and well.

When a bad thing happens in a Jewish community, the Jewish response is to ask what did we do wrong to cause this to happen us.

When a body is found murdered in a field, the leaders from the nearby towns come together, publicly perform the Egla Arufa ceremony and say, “Our hands did not shed this blood.”

Every day that passes without a strong, honest assessment of this tragedy from our Torah guiding lights increases the rule of the darkness.

Muslims Chase Jews Off Temple Mount [video]

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Police barred Jews from the Temple Mount as of 9 a.m. Monday after failing to prevent masked Muslims from chasing the Jews away from the holy site.

The video below, at 1:14, shows police escorting Jews returning from the Temple Mount through the Old City, where a veiled Muslim woman motioned to police as she stood next to a poster that read, “I am banned from Al- Aqsa Mosque.” The woman helped the policeman remove the “offensive” poster.

Hundreds of Jews arrived at the Temple Mount on Sunday, the first day of Chol HaMoed, and the police were not prepared for such large numbers.

They allowed only one-fourth of the Jews to enter, according to Temple Mount activists. Police also limited their numbers while allowing Muslims, some of them masked and hired by Muslim clerics, to roam around the Temple Mouton and harass Jews.

Police did not interfere with the Muslims, none of whom were detained, and they escorted the Jews off the holy site as a jeering crowd of Muslims followed them.

Visits by Jews on the Temple Mount Monday were restricted to only three minutes. Jews were separated from tourists and subjected to body searches to make sure they did not bring any religious objects with them.

As the Muslim crowds grew, the police decided to bar entry to all Jews as of 9 a.m.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/muslims-chase-jews-off-temple-mount-video/2015/04/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: