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April 29, 2016 / 21 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Kotel’

First Chief Kotel Rabbi’s Letter Reveals Desperation on Eve of Jordanian Capture

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Adar 1948: Three letters recently uncovered from the besieged Old City of Jerusalem, written a month before the British left and two months before it fell into the hands of Jordan, betray the desperation of the residents and their leaders.

The letters include one of the last letters signed by the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, known in Hebrew as the Kotel, who insisted on returning to the besieged city and was killed two months after signing the letter.

The three letters were written in the month of Adar 1948, 68 years ago, by the besieged people of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, were recently discovered by an unidentified individual in Jerusalem.*

The letters reveal another piece of the harsh reality in the besieged city, the internal arguments between its civilians and the efforts to save the Jewish way of life during the inferno. One of the letters is signed by Rabbi Yitzchak Avigdor Orenstein, the Kotel’s first and legendary Chief Rabbi, two months before he perished during the shelling of the Old City.

In the letter – signed also by Rabbis Yisrael Zeev Mintzberg, community rabbi of the Ashkenazi Jewish Quarter, Shalom Azoulay, Dayan of the Westerners community, and Benzion Chazan, founder of the renowned “Porat Yosef” Yeshiva – the four send a distress call to Israel’s Chief Rabbi at the time, Yitzhak Herzog.

“Have mercy on the men, women, and children, and take drastic measures where needed elsewhere, so we won’t perish, God forbid.”

The four describe the difficult situation in the Old City after the shelling by the British soldiers.

“The lives of the Old city residents are in a grave danger. During the last few nights British troops shelled the Jewish Quarter, harming the sanctity of the synagogue,” they write, adding, “The night of Thursday and the night of Motzei Shabbat, were nothing short of a nightmare for us, we thought that we would all perish, God forbid, but thanks to the mercy of Hashem, no casualties occurred… the awful bombing was imposed on us by the British soldiers, without any reason or cause.

“This morning we woke up agreeing unanimously to leave the property behind and save our lives, escape the Old City and the life of nightmare. Nevertheless, after we partially recovered, we called the residents of the city for help in taking counsel and decided to appeal to his Excellency with the broadcast above “.

Rabbi Orenstein, who was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Kotel in 1930, insisted on returning to the Old City when the siege began, even though he was then visiting the new city.

Through special efforts done by Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Rabbi Herzog, Rabbi Orenstein was able to enter the Old City. When asked why he was endangering himself, Rabbi Orenstein replied that “If someone is destined to sacrifice himself for the sake of the sanctity of ancient Jerusalem and its holy places, I am hereby committed to it more than anyone else.”

Rabbi Orenstein was killed along with his wife, Rebbetzin Mushka Liebe, during the shelling of Iyar 14th, about two months after signing the letter above. He was buried in a mass grave that he himself approved to set up within the Old City limits.

Letter written by The First Kotel Rabbi, Chief Rabbi Orenshtein two months before his death.

Letter written by The First Kotel Rabbi, Chief Rabbi Orenshtein two months before his death.

Alongside this letter, the collection holds another letter written the next day, by the rabbi of the Ashkenazi community, Rabbi Mintzberg, who also addressed Chief Rabbi Herzog. In his letter, Rabbi Mintzberg describes once more the difficult situation in the quarter. “I am to inform him that after the past Sunday of Parashat Shemini (about a week before writing this letter), a bitter day for the residents of the holy city, the soldiers were raging once more, shooting the residents. In yards and homes before midnight Friday night and yesterday Motza’ei Shabbat for several hours continuously, they fired shells and mortars and destroyed several homes.”

This time, the Rabbi of the Ashkenazi community is asking the chief rabbi to intervene, in order to bring peace between the president of the Old City’s Jewish community, Mordechai Weingarten, and the ‘Haganah’ military organization. The story behind this request involves the tension between Weingarten and the ‘Haganah’, following the latter’s takeover of the Jewish Agency’s food distribution to the Jews of the Old City, which had rested with Weingarten until that point.

The letter also mentions the need to reconcile further arguments about the discussion on the possible courses of action in the besieged city. Tensions reached a peak a month before writing the letter at hand, when commander of the Haganah’s Jerusalem unit, Avraham Halperin, was arrested in the Old City.

“Another thing I believe might affect… the heads of our government will give an order to members of the ‘Haganah’ to cooperate with Weingarten, since he is known to have relations with the government in favor of the Old City, and the cooperation will bring great benefit for the Protection of the Old City and alleviate the population’s suffering,” writes Rabbi Mintzberg to Chief Rabbi Herzog.

Another letter in the collection was sent four days later to the Religious Council in Jerusalem, by a representative group of 25 young members of the ‘Beitar’ organization, who had established a company of their own alongside the ‘Haganah’s.

According to the author of the letter, the company consists of “Young and international” olim (immigrants) from various countries including: Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, and Harbin (at that time under the control of the Soviet Union and today a part of China). In the letter, the group seeks assistance for the upcoming Passover. “We are forced to turn to you with a request of utmost importance. Passover is approaching and we are unable to satisfy all the national-religious Halachas of this holiday, such as matzo and the use of special kitchen utensils. ”

A month after the three letters were written, on May 13th, the British troops left the Old City. Three days later, the Arab counter-offensive commenced and the conquest of ‘Haganah’ positions in the city. Four days later came the Jordanian forces.

Two weeks after the departure of the British, on May 28th, the Old City was captured by the Jordanian forces.

(*Ed. Note: Kedem Auction House is handling the sale of the letters. A spokesperson told JewishPress.com the seller requested anonymity and added this is also part of its confidentiality policy, as it is with other auction houses, for varying reasons.)

Hana Levi Julian

17-Year-Old Stabbed in Terrorist Attack Just Made Aliyah From Brooklyn

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

As the JewishPress.com reported earlier, just about at the close of Shabbat in Israel, two Arab terrorists stabbed a 17-year-old Israeli as he and a friend were leaving the Kotel after evening prayers.

It is now known that the Israeli victim was a student at Magen Shaul Nokdim, a pre-army mechina, and had become an Israeli citizen just one month ago. The young man was listed in fair to good condition when he was taken to Hadassah Medical Center’s Mount Scopus campus.

The victim’s name had not yet been released as his family, back in Brooklyn, were still observing Shabbat.

The 17-year-old said that despite having been the victim of a terrorist stabbing, he would not be deterred from his plan to join the IDF.

According to Walla, the stabbing victim was able to speak about the attack from his medical bed: “I did not see him [the stabber], he came from behind and stabbed. There were two stabbers, they were young.”

He also said that that he was unafraid, and that “now I’m enlisting in the army and I will give everything.” He hopes to join an elite unit in the Israeli Defense Forces. “God willing, I want to join the Sayeret Matkal,” he said.

As reported earlier, two Arab teenagers, both minors, have been taken into custody for interrogation relating to this terrorist attack.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Skver Rebbe Visiting The Kosel – Erev Rosh Chodesh Shvat 5776

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Video of the Day

Skverer Rebbe of New Square Set to Visit Israel

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

The Skverer Rebbe of New Square, Rabbi Duvid Twersky, shlita is leaving his headquarters near Monsey, New York next Sunday for a visit to the Holy Land.

Thousands of the Rebbe’s chassidim are accompanying him on this visit, according to a source in New Square. “Nearly all of the men in the village are going,” said the source. “So are men from the communities in Monsey, Brooklyn and other places.”

The Chassidic dynasty of Skver is a branch of the Chernobyl dynasty, originating from the city of Skvyra, in present-day Ukraine in the mid-19th century. There are numerous Skver communities in cities around the world, including London, Paris, Antwerp and others. In addition, there are two other subgroups of the dynasty in Brooklyn led by relatives of the Rebbe as well.

One thousand special guests will greet the Rebbe in Israel and will go together with him to pray at the Western Wall and then to visit the grave sites of various Torah Sages in Israel. There will also be a special prayer event at the Tomb of the Biblical Matriarch Rachel.

During his visit to the Holy Land the Rebbe is scheduled to attend prayers at the Ariza’l Synagogue in Tzefat (Safed).

Rabbi Avigdor Ostreicher will host the Rebbe in Jerusalem on Rehov Petach Tikvah.

A huge tent will be installed to house the thousands of followers and guests who are expected to attend the “tishim” (gatherings) that will be held.

Hana Levi Julian

All Together Now… Maoz Tzur Yeshuati…

Monday, December 7th, 2015

PM Netanyahu lit the Chanukiah at the Kotel on the first night of Chanukah.

Photo of the Day

Abbas Wants UNESCO to Declare Western Wall Part of Al Aqsa

Friday, October 16th, 2015

The Palestinian Authority is laying the groundwork for UNESCO to declare that the Western Wall is part of the Al Aqsa compound on the Temple Mount, according to a report by the Hebrew daily Yediot Acharonot.

Ramallah is a member of UNESCO but not of its executive committee, and the Palestinian Authority has circulated a draft resolution to be presented to UNESCO by six Arab states on the committee – Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia and the UAE.

A copy of the draft resolution obtained by the newspaper includes these clauses:

1. The Western Wall is part of “Plaza Buraq,” the Arabic name for the Western Wall.

2. The international community should condemn Israel for allowing citizens to bear arms during the recent violence;

3. The IDF and Israel should be condemned for suppression in the “capital of occupied Palestine.”

4. Israel should be condemned for excavations at the Temple Mount.

5. Israel should be condemned for “prohibiting freedom of worship at the Al Aqsa mosque and breaking the status quo.”

6. Israel should be condemned for allowing “Jewish extremists to attack Al-Aqsa,”

7. Israel should be condemned for planning to build a cable car to the Western Wall.

8. The Patriarchs’ Cave and Rachel’s Tomb should be declared as part of “Palestine.”

9. Israeli “settlers and extremists” should be condemned for violence.

That is a lot of condemnation, as well as lies.

Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Simcha HaCohen, said that the draft resolution “pours fuel on the fire of incitement to terror.”

Te Palestinian Authority began a campaign more than five years to claim that Jews have no connection with the Western Wall. Laughable at first, the propaganda has escalated and spread.

Last year, PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al-Habash told Israleli television:

Every piece of land Israel occupied in 1967 belongs to the Palestinian state. The Buraq Wall, too, will be under Palestinian sovereignty.

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

NY Mayor de Blasio ‘Stands with Israel’ on Eve of Visit

Friday, October 16th, 2015

New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio told reporters on Thursday, the day before he is scheduled to fly to Israel for a visit through Sunday:

I’m proud to be going at a moment when Israel is in need, and where friends need to stand and be counted.

We’re looking forward to what’s obviously going to be a sober environment, and a difficult environment, but I look forward to meeting with my fellow Israeli mayors and mayors from around the world to stand in solidarity with Israel.

He is scheduled to visit the Western Wall but also had planned to meet Palestinian Authority Arabs, a departure from the itinerary of his three predecessors, Michael R. Bloomberg, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Edward I. Koch, who restricted their trips to Israel to meetings with the country’s political and business leaders.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year refused to accept an invitation from the Palestinian Authority ambassador to the United Nations to visit Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

DeBlasio will meet with Arabs, but not as he planned.

He had wanted to talk with Arabs in Ramallah, without meeting with Palestinian Authority officials, but the wave of terror has forced him settle for meeting them in Israel.

However, he says he is not afraid, explaining:

In terms of my own safety, I believe that Israeli security forces obviously know what they’re doing, and NYPD knows what it’s doing, and I’m very comfortable with that.

DeBlasio will meet with Arab children who learn with Jews at a school that was torched last year in an arson attack by Israeli extremists.

He said:

This is a region that needs peace deeply, and peace is elusive. One of the ways we foster peace is through inclusion. And our hopes have to be with the young people at this point. The previous generation hasn’t managed to find the path of peace.

Orthodox Jewish businessman Baruch Eliezer Gross is paying for the mayor’s trip.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ny-mayor-de-blasio-stands-with-israel-on-eve-of-visit/2015/10/16/

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