It was dry and cozy at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, where NY Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced a new executive order that bans companies supporting a boycott of Israeli products from doing business with NY State agencies. Outside, on Fifth Avenue, the stubborn marching groups of the 52nd annual Celebrate Israel parade were pushing ever forward under the persistent rain.
Gov. Cuomo spoke to an audience that included many Jewish leaders and lawmakers, describing the BDS movement as an “economic attack” on Israel. “We cannot allow that to happen,” the governor said, according to the NY Times. “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”
Mr. Cuomo signed the executive order, and then joined the wet masses in the parade.
The BDS usual suspects, such as the movement’s Qatari founder Omar Barghouti, called Cuomo’s move part of Israel’s “legal warfare against BDS,” and complained that Israel was trying to “delegitimize the boycott.” Mostly because the boycott represents an effort to delete, not just delegitimize Israel.
The governor later tweeted: “What a great honor it was to march in the @CelebrateIsrael parade today.”
It may have rained on Sunday in Manhattan literally, but it didn’t rain on Israel’s parade figuratively, as the Broadway Cast of Fiddler on the Roof, the band SOULFARM, – the Paprim Ensemble Dancers of Israel Dance Institute, and the Maccabeats — to name but a few — did their thing down the avenue.
Marching Bands included NYC Police, Cadets, Fusion Core, Saint Brigades Drum & Bugle Corps, Connecticut Hurricanes, Bushwhackers Drum & Bugle Corps, Long Island Sunrisers Drum & Bugle Corps, Upper Schuylkill Marching Band, Raiders Drum & Bugle Corps, Excelsior Drum & Bugle Corps, and Skyliners.
The parade featured floats and vehicles from the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center, American Friends of Magen David Adom, American Technion Society, American Zionist Movement, Ariel University, Avi Chai Foundation, Bank Leumi, Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada, Carmel, EL AL & Israel Ministry of Tourism, Gift of Life Marrow Registry, Dr. Felix Glaubach & Family, Hazon, Hebron Fund, Hillel Yeshiva, IDB Bank, IDT Corporation, Israel Bonds, State of Israel, Jfiix, Jewish Agency, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish National Fund, Kars 4 Kids, Kids of Courage, Nefesh B’ Nefesh, One Israel Fund, Russian American Jewish Experience, Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc. & Iranian American Jewish Federation, Stand With Us, and UJA-Federation of NY.
Finally, this is the complete list of the marching groups:
92nd St Y/Jdate
AJC-American Jewish Committee
American Russian Jewish Community Cluster /COJECO
American Veterans of Israel Legacy
AIFL-American Israel Friendship League
Ben Porat Yosef
Berman Hebrew Academy – Rockville, MD
Bi-Cultural Day School
Bnei Akiva of US and Canada
Boy/Girl Scouts of America
Center for Jewish Life
Congregation Or Zarua
Cyprus Federation of America
Eagles Wings Ministries
East Midwood Hebrew Day School
Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim Tzabar
Friends of the IDF
Friends of Yashar LaChayal /East Brunswick Tri-Synagogue Alliance
Golda Och Academy
H.E.S. Hebrew Educational Society
HAFTR Lower/Middle/High School
HALB Middle School
Hannah Senesh Community Day School
JAFI – Jewish Agency International Development
JCRC – Long Island
Jewish Educational Center
Jewish Educational Center – Bruriah
Jewish Educational Center – Mesivta,
Jewish Federation Northeastern, PA
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, NJ
Jewish Federation of North NJ
Jewish Federation Rockland County
Jewish Foundation School
Jewish War Veterans of the USA
Joseph Kushner Academy/Rae Kushner HS
Kinneret Day School
Lone Soldier Center
Lower Merion Cluster
Ma’ayanot Yeshiva HS for Girls
Magen David Yeshiva Celia Esses High School
Magen David Yeshivah (2015 Winner)
Maimonides Academy – Los Angeles
Manhattan Day School
Manhattan Jewish Experience
Marks Jewish Community House
Marlboro Jewish Center
Monmouth County – Federation from the Heart of NJ
National Conference of Shomrim Societies
Northeast Queens JCC
Northshore Hebrew Academy Middle/High Schools
OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services / Camp Kaylie
Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School
Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva (2015 Winner)
Ramaz School Middle/High Schools
Rambam Mesivta – Midreshet Shalhevet
Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
SAR Academy/High School
Shulamith School for Girls – Cedarhurst
Shulamith School for Girls of Brooklyn
Skaters and Bladers in Memory of JJ Greenberg
Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County
Solomon Schechter School of Long Island
Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan
Solomon Schechter School of Queens
Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Team Lifeline (Chai Lifeline)
Temple Beth Abraham
Temple Israel of Great Neck
Temple Sholom of West Essex
Torah Academy of Bergen County -TABC
UJ Federation of Greater Toronto
United Congregations for Israel
United Mashadi Jewish Committee of America – UMJCA
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism/USY
Volunteers for Israel
Westchester Day School (2015 Winner)
Westchester Hebrew High School
Westchester Jewish Council
Yavneh Academy (2015 Winner)
YB Hillel of Passaic
Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore/Congregation Brothers of Israel
Yeshiva Derech HaTorah
Yeshiva Har Torah
Yeshiva High School 0f Boca Raton
Yeshiva of Central Queens (2015 Winner)
Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle/High School (2015 Winner)
ZOA – Zionist Organziation of America
The mystical mountain of Mount Meron rang out with music and song into the wee hours of Thursday morning as Jews celebrated the holiday of Lag B’Omer at the Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and that of his son, close by.
“Lag” stands for the two Hebrew letters, Lamed and Gimel, which equal 33. The holiday falls on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer – the seven-week period between Passover and Shavuot, the holiday marking the day on which the Nation of Israel received the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Tens of thousands of Jewish men and women from all walks of life streamed into the area around the Tomb of the RaShBI, as he is called, and his son (who is also buried there), for this is the day on which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai left this world, and passed to the next.
Rabbi Shimon knew the Romans would soon come to capture him, as he was a great spiritual and Cabbalistic leader at the time. He therefore fled with his son to a cave where the two men were fed by a carob tree, and drank from a pure spring that miraculously appeared.
The rabbi and his son spent 12 years in that cave, until the death of Caesar. But when he emerged, he saw a farmer tilling a nearby field, and became so upset at the apparent “waste of time from Torah learning” that his gaze actually set fire to the field. The rabbi returned to the cave for another 12 months, to begin to adjust to normal day-to-day life.
It is to mark that fiery response by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai that bonfires are lit on the night of Lag B’Omer each year.
But the holiday also marks the cessation of the deadly plague that took the lives of 24,000 students of the Talmudic sage, Rabbi Akiva – which miraculously ended on this day as well. According to the Talmud, the plague was sent by Heaven as punishment for the students’ disrespectful behavior to one another; each was jealous of the other. They denigrated each other even as they competed to reach ever higher levels of spirituality.
The tradition of celebrating the holiday at RaShBI’s tombb in Meron spans thousands of generations, drawing Jews from around the world. This year, literally tens of thousands of Jews reached the site.
According to the Magen David Adom emergency medical response service, 150 people were treated on site for light burns, dehydration and excessive drinking. Of those, 17 taken to nearby Ziv Hospital in Tzfat and Poriya Medical Center for further care. Two were listed in fair to serious condition due to alcohol poisoning.
MDA and other medical services maintained a broad spectrum of staff and equipment at the site with two clinics, ambulances, first-aid motorbikes, tractor bikes and Segways.
The extreme heat wave, or “sharav” that began on Saturday in Israel has brought with it warnings to Israelis not to forget to keep drinking water.
Those with medical conditions, the elderly, young, and pregnant are urged to remain indoors with fans or air conditioning as much as possible.
Temperatures spiked on Sunday, reaching into the 40s celsius (100s fahrenheit) in desert and beach areas such as Eilat, where it reached as high as 45 / 113 degrees.
At least 440 people so far have been treated between Saturday and Monday mornings for heat exhaustion, dehydration, fainting and other results of the heat wave. The Magen David Adom emergency medical response service said it has been called to treat hundreds of people. More than 30 were dehydrated, and nearly 200 had fainted.
Three suffered from heat stroke. Among those were an eight-year-old girl who was hiking near Nachal Tavor in the Lower Galilee, and a 40-year-old man, found semi-conscious on Sunday on the roof of a building in Lod. Both were hospitalized in serious condition.
The extreme heat is expected to continue at least into Tuesday.
An IDF officer and a second soldier were wounded Tuesday night in a quadruple bomb attack at the Hizme checkpoint, while an hour later five more bombs were defused by IDF sappers.
The IED (improvised explosive device) were detonated by terrorists as the officer was searching a suspicious package planted on the road at the entrance to the checkpoint.
Two pipe bombs were discovered attached to a gas canister shortly after that initial bombing attack, according to local sources. The Adam junction was evacuated for the safety of everyone in the area.
Sappers then discovered five more additional bombs as well, including that which was tied up with the gas canister. The bomb squad carefully worked on dismantling all five bombs at the site.
The IDF officer, meanwhile, was evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center with serious face and upper body wounds, according to Magen David Adom medics on the scene. The victim sustained head and facial wounds but was fully conscious.
A second soldier was in stable condition after sustaining shrapnel wounds in the leg. He too was treated at the scene before he was evacuated for further treatment.
The Hizme checkpoint is located near the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev, not far from the Jewish community of Adam.
Israel’s defense establishment appears to be preparing military forces and civilians for a possible outbreak of hostilities either in the north or the south sometime soon.
A major civil defense drill – the largest since the 2014 war with Hamas – was held this past Thursday in southern Israel at Kibbutz Erez, barely a mile from Gaza.
Civilian response teams, IDF soldiers, Magen David Adom emergency medical teams, police officers, firefighters and others participated in the drill, Channel 2 reported Friday.
The exercise simulated an attack by Hamas terrorists on an Israeli kibbutz which included abduction of Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers overpowering the terrorists in the kibbutz dining hall.
According to the report, recent IDF preparations to meet a possible conflict have included the infusion of additional forces along the Gaza border. In addition, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported Thursday that four IDF bulldozers leveled ground along the security fence a few meters inside Gaza, east of the city of Rafah, which straddles the enclave’s border with Egypt.
Nevertheless, defense officials continue to say that although Hamas is gathering its forces within Gaza, the terrorist group does not appear to be preparing for a direct war with Israel in the near future.
While the IDF is preparing to meet whatever threat may present itself in the south, forces are also making preparations in the north for much the same reason.
The IDF has beefed up its forces in northern Israel along the border with Lebanon and in the Golan Heights, near Syria. A major military drill began in the north on Wednesday and continued through the end of the week.
The latest round of peace talks between opposition forces and the Syrian government started Wednesday (April 13) in Geneva but by the weekend had achieved nothing.
The Syrian regime has escalated the fighting near Aleppo, and local residents who had not yet fled are now making an effort to flee while they can. Opposition forces are accusing Syrian government chief mediator Bashar Ja’afari of not being serious about seeking a solution to the five-year civil war.
United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura is trying to keep the talks focused on political transition but with intensified battles continuing, the opposition is losing its resolve.
In addition, Da’esh (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Army of Islam and Jabhat Al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) radical Islamist terror organizations are not at the table. Since they control at least half of the territory in Syria, even if negotiations succeed in resolving the issue of who governs Syria, the question still remains whether there is anything geographically, territorially left to govern.
Al Nusra controls the territory closest to the sole border crossing between Israel and Syria, at Quneitra. Last Tuesday (April 12) Syrian sources told international media that Da’esh (ISIS) now controls 90 percent of the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. The community is home to Arabs from the Palestinian Authority and is also a stronghold for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization.
So far, the capital, Damascus is still in the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.