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May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘judaism’

Israel Counter-Terror Bureau Nixes Travel to Tunisia

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Israel’s National Counter-Terrorism Bureau is warning citizens to avoid visiting Tunisia, especially during the upcoming holiday of Lag B’Omer.

A warning published in the travel advisory guide issued by the Prime Minister’s Office was designation as a Level 2 alert. The advisory said there was a “concrete and high threat” that terrorist groups are planning attacks against Jewish and Israeli attacks in Tunisia.

“The recommendation is to avoid visiting Tunisia” at this time, the warning said.

But Tunisia’s Interior Ministry issued a statement countering the warning and denying that any danger existed.

It’s a high-stakes issue for Tunisia, which is still struggling to restore the bountiful tourism industry it once enjoyed.

The country’s Jasmine Revolution overthrew the government and launched the region-wide Arab Spring four years ago, sweeping away the regimes of at least three other Arab nations and destroying the stability of the Middle East. Along with it went the economies, manufacturing bases and tourism industries in many, including Tunisia, where it all started.

There is a custom to make a pilgrimage on the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer – coming up this Thursday – to visit the ancient synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, home to a centuries-old Jewish community.

The El Ghriba Synagogue is one of the oldest synagogues in the Arab world. It is believed that kohanim (priests) from Jerusalem’s Holy Temple fled to the island during the period of the Roman occupation of the holy city. They allegedly brought with them a door from the Second Temple, as it was being destroyed by the Romans, and embedded it within a wall of the new synagogue they built on Djerba Island.

Until the Arab Spring, thousands of Jews from around the world came to Tunisia each year to celebrate Lag B’Omer on the island of Djerba. Most abandoned the practice in deference to security.

Jewish Life in Baltimore: Private Guards on Shabbat

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Baltimore’s Shomrim Safety Patrol organization arranged for private security officers to patrol the city’s large Jewish neighborhood on Shabbat in the wake of riots this week.

Baltimore Jewish Life reported, Friday, “We as a community pray for calm and peace to be restored, and that all the citizens of this great city be safe and secure in their neighborhoods and homes.”

Several Jewish businesses and store were looted during the riots following the death of Freddie Gray while he was in prison.

Six police officers have been charged in connection with the death of Gray, bringing out victory marches by the black community but doubts whether the charges will results in prosecutions.

The Baltimore Jewish community is one of the largest and most contiguous in the United States. It also is one of the most religious and most Zionist when it comes to giving money to Israel and less Zionist when it comes to moving to Israel.

Approximately one-third of the area’s more than 100,000 Jews are Orthodox or part of the Hareidi Agudah community, and a large percentage of the others are Conservative or Reform.

There are many pro-Israel voices in the community, especially in the national religious synagogues, one of which is attended by Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin. Like elsewhere, Aliyah is preached more than practiced.

Maybe Aliyah was going through the minds of Jews walking to and from synagogues on Shabbat, but more likely, they were thinking about getting through the day unharmed and not about the day after tomorrow.

Below: Video of riot in Baltimore”

Power Blackouts, Supply Shortages Hampering Rescue Efforts in Nepal

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

“It’s 2:30 am and we’ve had a busy day here,” writes Chabad-Lubavitch co-emissary Chani Lifshitz together with her husband, Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz from the Kathmandu Chabad House. “After two aftershocks here in the past few hours people are trying to get some sleep in the hope the rest of the night will pass quietly.

“In the morning, God willing, we plan to go out to the villages where Israelis definitely are located, according to the information we have.

“An updated list of the Israelis with whom we have made contact will be posted here at the Chabad House during the morning hours Tuesday. We want to thank all of our dear supporters from near and far; we feel it and deeply appreciate it!!”

The number of Israeli missing has now dropped to 50 who have yet to be tracked down or check in with family and friends, Israel’s foreign ministry has told media.

Chabad has been serving hot meals to all arrivals every hour on the hour. Electricity, phone service and water has been cut off, according to Chani Lifshitz. “Little by little, our staples are [also] running out,” she told Chabad.org. There is an urgent need for donations and supplies.

“Every effort by each and every one of you to help in any way will be greatly appreciated, whether it be materially or spiritually.”

Five of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites crumbled to the ground in Nepal after the worst earthquake to hit the region in 80 years struck the country. The government has issued an urgent appeal for body bags, tents and water as the death toll tops 4,000 locally and nearly 100 in neighboring countries.

There is a desperate need for more helicopters for rescue operations in rural areas, a home ministry spokesperson told AFP.

One Israeli aircraft has already landed in Nepal with 200 IDF Home Front Command officers, medical and rescue personnel. Four more are expected to arrive within the coming hours.

At least 7,935 people more are known to be injured in the wake of two earthquakes that struck the region on Saturday and Sunday. The first registered 7.8 on the Richter scale, the second – an aftershock – was nearly as strong, a 6.7-magnitude temblor. There have been more than 100 aftershocks since.

Hospitals in Kathmandu are overflowing with patients, and rescue teams are bringing in more from the remote areas where they are reaching other inured.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $10 million in relief to help the victims on behalf of the American government. Kerry said he was “shocked” by the “gut-wrenching” images of death and destruction. The United Nations has allocated $15 million in aid.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/soggy-weather-sends-israeli-mimouna-celebrants-indoors/2015/04/12/

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