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October 13, 2015 / 30 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Michael Freund’

A Jewish Twist on ‘Land Day’

Monday, March 30th, 2015

A new twist on “Land Day” – 3,327 years ago today on 10 Nisan the People of Israel crossed the Jordan River to enter the Land of Israel promised to them by God, in accordance with His Commandment.

Also on the tenth of Nisan – just as an additional note – we commemorate the passing of Miriam, sister of the Biblical Moshe and Aharon.

In addition, on this date in ancient times the selection of the Paschal lamb was carried out, in preparation for the holiday which begins four days hence.


Clearly, this is the date which should be celebrated as“Land Day”– and it should be held as a joyous national holiday by the Jews!!

Take a walk outside today and greet a neighbor and wish them a happy Land Day!

Author’s Note: Hat tip to columnist Michael Freund, whose article in The Jerusalem Post sparked the idea of promoting this day as a national holiday. I agree wholeheartedly!

Bnei Menashe Children Celebrate Their First Shavuot in Israel

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

On May 26 the Jewish State welcomed home members of the Bnei Menashe community of Northeast India. Today they are already celebrating their first Shavuot in Israel at the Shavei Israel immigrant absorption center in Kfar Hadidim, near Haifa.

The new Olim, who hail from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, were brought to Israel by the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization, which received permission from the Israeli government last October to bring 900 Bnei Menashe to the Jewish State by 2015.

The Bnei Menashe are considered to be descendants of the tribe of Menashe (or Manasseh), one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel exiled by the Assyrian Empire after King Solomon’s death more than 2,700 years ago.

“After 2,700 years, we are bringing members of the Lost Tribe of Bnei Menashe home to Israel. Their arrival here on the eve of Shavuot is particularly fortuitous, since they will now be able to celebrate the festival of the giving of the Torah for the first time here in the Jewish state,” said Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel.

Recently arrived Bnei Menashe children with Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel.

Recently arrived Bnei Menashe children with Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel.

About 40 people came home to Israel on this trip. That 40 are part of the larger group of 250 that Shavei Israel is bringing to Israel through the summer. Altogether, Shavei Israel has already brought 1,500 Bnei Menashe to Israel. There are 7,000 Bnei Menashe still living in India who hope to make Aliyah to Israel.

Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world.

The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim (referred to as the derogatory “Marranos” by historians) in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others.

Ancient Chinese Jewish Community to Hold First Traditional Seder in China

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Kaifeng, China, April 7 – Nearly 100 members of the ancient Jewish community of Kaifeng, China, are expected to attend a first-of-its-kind traditional Passover Seder that will take place next Monday, April 14, at the start of the holiday in Kaifeng. The Seder, which is being sponsored by the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization, will be conducted for the first time by 28-year-old Tzuri (Heng) Shi, who made Aliyah from Kaifeng a few years ago with the help of Shavei Israel and completed his formal return to Judaism last year.

As part of the preparation for the upcoming Seder, Tzuri was sent to Kaifeng by the Shavei Israel organization with all of the traditional Passover items including: Kosher Matzah packages from Israel, Kosher for Passover wine, Passover Haggadahs, which were prepared especially in Hebrew and Chinese, Kosher for Passover cakes, traditional red horseradish, and traditional Charoset.

“We are proud and excited to organize this historic event,” said Shavei Israel Chairman and Founder Michael Freund. “Kaifeng’s Jewish descendants are a living link between China and the Jewish people, and it is very moving to see the remnants of this community returning to their Jewish roots as they prepare for Passover,” he added.

Scholars believe the first Jews settled in Kaifeng, which was one of China’s imperial capitals, during the 8th or 9th Century. They are said to have been Sephardic Jewish merchants from Persia or Iraq who made their way eastward along the Silk Route and established themselves in the city with the blessing of the Chinese emperor.

In 1163, Kaifeng’s Jews built a large and beautiful synagogue, which was subsequently renovated and rebuilt on numerous occasions throughout the centuries. At its peak, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Kaifeng Jewish community may have numbered as many as 5,000 people. But widespread intermarriage and assimilation, as well as the death of the community’s last rabbi, brought about its demise by the middle of the 19th century.

Nevertheless, many of the families sought to preserve their Jewish identity and pass it down to their descendants, who continued to observe various Jewish customs. Currently, there are estimated to be approximately 1,000 Jewish descendants in Kaifeng.

“In recent years, many members of the community have begun to explore their heritage – thanks in part to the Internet, which opened up new worlds for them and provided access to information about Judaism and Israel that was previously inaccessible to them,” Freund noted.

Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim (referred to as the derogatory “Marranos” by historians) in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others.

Watch the video of the Kaifeng community preparing for Pesach, being led in v’hi sh’amda by Ram, a chazan from the Kaifeng Jewish community.

When Israeli Journalists Cross The Line

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Over the course of the past week, the Israeli media have been consumed by reports of an impending decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to launch a military strike against Iranian nuclear installations.

The hullabaloo began last Friday with a screaming headline in Yediot Aharonot, the country’s most widely read newspaper, which declared that “Netanyahu and Barak want to attack Iran in the autumn.” The article was penned by Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, two veteran political reporters and commentators.

Not content with revealing the possible timing of a raid on Israel’s enemies, the story went further and sought to undermine the legitimacy of such an operation by insisting that the move is not supported by senior Israeli security officials.

Let’s stop for a moment and consider the ramifications of this report. Assuming it is true, Yediot Aharonot just gave a heads-up to Iran to bolster its defenses and be prepared for an attack within the next two to three months, something for which the ayatollahs are most certainly grateful.

After all, why should Tehran go to the trouble of investing in intelligence-gathering operations against the Jewish state when journalists at Yediot will do the work for them?

Just in case this was insufficiently damaging to Israel, Yediot’s intrepid duo decided to toss still more gasoline on the flames by intimating that Netanyahu and Barak would like to carry out the attack prior to the U.S. election in order to help Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the race for the White House.

What Yediot Aharonot did was nothing less than scurrilous and shameful. Indeed, it boggles the mind that even as Israel faces an existential threat, and a fateful decision over how to confront it, Israeli journalists would throw caution to the wind and undermine the Jewish state’s national security in such an audacious and carefree manner.

Needless to say, the Yediot report naturally compelled other journalists to focus their attention on the story and see what they could dig up as well.

Not to be outdone, Israel’s Channel 2 television decided to devote most of its Friday night news program to the issue of Iran, informing viewers that the premier has “almost finally” decided to launch a military strike in the autumn against Iran. The final decision, it declared, would be taken soon.

Don’t be surprised if in the coming weeks there are more revelations to come, as journalists work their sources and seek to squeeze out still more scoops and headlines on what promises to be a big story.

To be sure, the reporters at Yediot and Channel 2 would argue that they were just doing their jobs, gathering information and keeping the public informed about a major development.

Is an impending Israeli attack on Iran a good story? For sure. Is it relevant to public debate? Absolutely.

But that does not mean it is right or responsible to report it.

As the old saying in boxing has it, “Never telegraph your punches.” You don’t indicate to your opponent what you are planning to do or when, for the simple reason that he can then take the requisite countermeasures to undermine the effectiveness of your plans.

This is so obvious that it should not even need to be said.

And yet this basic, simple truth does not seem to have mattered all that much to some of Israel’s leading journalists.

If I were a pilot in the Israeli air force, or a soldier in the special forces, I would be scratching my head and wondering why the media would choose to endanger us all by letting Iran know when to expect an attack.

This is the kind of reckless reporting that not only affects people’s lives but could very well endanger them. It is possible that Israel’s young men and women in uniform will soon be asked to risk life and limb to take out Iran’s nuclear program. Was there really a need to let the Iranians know when to be ready?

Don’t get me wrong. I am all in favor of a vibrant and free press, one which challenges governments and serves as a watchdog for protecting democracy and civil liberties.

But there is a fine line between responsible reporting and undermining the national interest.

Cut U.S. Funding To The UN

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

In recent weeks the United Nations has gone on the warpath against Israel, defaming the Jewish state and providing aid and comfort to its enemies.

Indeed, in a series of moves, the world body has sent the Jewish state a clear and unmistakable message that its decades-old hostility remains as potent as ever.

First, there was the decision last month by UNESCO – the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – to establish a chair at the Islamic University of Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas and has become a hotbed of Muslim extremism and terror.

This is the very same university whose laboratories have been used by Hamas to produce explosives and rockets that were later deployed against Israel. And in May, the University’s dean of Koranic studies called for the Islamic conquest of Spain and the Vatican.

It is simply unconscionable that UNESCO, which is ostensibly dedicated to “building peace in the minds of men and women”, would choose to partner with a Hamas-run outfit that inculcates students with anti-Israel and anti-Western values.

Not to be outdone, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided to get into the act last week by turning up the heat on Israel.

At the close of its 20th session in Geneva, the august body appointed a three-member fact-finding team to be dispatched to the Middle East.

But have no fear: the diplomatic trio in question will not be garnering frequent-flyer miles to investigate the Syrian government’s slaughter of its own civilians, nor will it be rushing through airport security to get a first-hand look at the fundamentalist takeover in Egypt.

Instead, despite all the turmoil in the region, the UNHRC is determined to get to the bottom of what it considers to be a far more vexing problem: ongoing Jewish housing construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

That’s right. A Jew enclosing a porch in Ariel, or extending a living room in Hebron, apparently poses a more significant threat to the rights of all humanity than rising Islamic fundamentalist extremism or the crushing of dissent.

The move comes following a UNHRC resolution passed back in March which employed all the classic anti-Israel bias and one-sidedness that has become standard fare in the halls of the UN.

Lest anyone had been toying with the naïve thought that the UNHRC might give Israel a fair hearing, the text of the resolution went out of its way to bash the Jewish state and its policies in the harshest of terms.

In its preamble, the decision affirmed that “Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and constitute very serious violations of international humanitarian law and of the human rights of the Palestinian people therein.”

It also expressed “grave concern” about “the continuation by Israel, the occupying Power, of settlement building and expansion.”

The UNHRC then defined the mandate of its investigative team, instructing it to explore “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people.”

What do you think the chances are that Israel will get a fair hearing?

Not surprisingly, Israel was quick to reject the proposed UNHRC mission, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor saying, “The fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the territories.”

“Its existence,” he added, “embodies the inherent distortion that typifies the UNHRC treatment of Israel and the hijacking of the important human rights agenda by non-democratic countries.”

And then, to top it all off, came reports in the Israeli press that the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been supporting and even building illegal structures for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

OCHA has ignored repeated Israeli requests to cease such activities, to the point where the government is now said to be considering imposing sanctions on its employees.

This is nothing less than a deliberate snub of Israel and its sovereignty and violates all norms of diplomatic decency.

Clearly, as the above examples illustrate, the UN remains as antagonistic as ever toward the Jewish state, treating it in ways it would not dare to treat any other country.

Take Back The Holy Sites

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Displaying their customary respect for Jewish holy sites, Palestinian vandals struck again last month, desecrating an ancient synagogue in Naaran near Jericho.

In addition to damaging priceless relics, the perpetrators spray-painted swastikas, Palestinian flags and political slogans, adding insult to injury in their hate-filled assault.

The defilement of the site was discovered by a group of Israeli worshippers who visit it regularly to maintain a Jewish presence in the area.

The synagogue in question was built more than 1,500 years ago, predating the establishment of Islam and serving as tangible proof that the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel preceded that of our foes.

Indeed, perhaps that is one of the reasons why the Palestinians attacked it. After all, the Naaran synagogue gives the lie to their dubious claim to the land.

Needless to say, this latest outrage received virtually no coverage in the mainstream press. Only a handful of Israeli news outlets bothered to mention it, and the international media showed no interest in sharing the story with their audiences.

Contrast this with the whirlwind of reports last October when an Israeli Arab mosque was desecrated and you begin to get a sense of the hypocrisy at work in the media. Indeed, the incident in Naaran is just the latest in a long line of Palestinian acts of sacrilege that have targeted Jewish religious sites.

Remember Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus)?

It was nearly twelve years ago, on October 7, 2000, that the IDF withdrew from the site under cover of darkness after a joint assault launched by Palestinian police and terrorists. The Palestinians, of course, agreed to protect the tomb, but that promise quickly went up in smoke. Several hours later the burial ground of the biblical Joseph had been reduced to debris.

Palestinians armed with pick-axes and hammers attacked the tomb, smashing the stone structure and ripping it apart, brick by brick. They burned Jewish prayer books and other religious articles and subsequently began transforming the site into a mosque. It was then and there, at Joseph’s Tomb, just days after the start of the Second Intifada, that the Palestinians learned two very dangerous lessons – lessons that continue to haunt Israel until today.

First, they saw that violence pays. Israel’s retreat from Joseph’s Tomb was the first time Israel had fled under fire, abandoning territory to Palestinian control under threat of the gun.

Second, the Palestinians learned they could deliberately assault Jewish sites of immense historical, religious or emotional significance without fear of retribution from Israel.

The same holds true of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where successive Israeli governments have failed to stand up to wanton Palestinian acts of desecration. And therein lies the “original sin” of various Israeli policymakers, who have consistently capitulated, retreated and withdrawn whenever the Palestinians have trampled on some of our most important national symbols.

Instead of displaying some elementary Jewish pride and confronting the Palestinians to prevent them from assaulting what is holy to us, we prefer to shrug our collective shoulders, look away in shame, and hope for the best.

That may have made sense when the extent of our national power was limited to community councils in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, but surviving in the modern-day Middle East requires an entirely different approach.

For far too long we have inculcated in the Palestinians a sense of impunity when it comes to vandalizing or defiling Jewish holy sites, and it is time for this to change. In light of the Palestinians’ serial abuse of Jewish holy sites, it should be clear to all that they cannot, must not, be entrusted with safeguarding or administering them under any circumstances whatsoever.

The Palestinians have once again failed to demonstrate even the modicum of decency and civility that calls for respecting houses of worship that belong to others.

And so Israel should not hesitate to do what should have been done already: take back Joseph’s Tomb, reassert its sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and eject the PA- controlled Muslim Wakf from the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

These three sites, more than any others, symbolize our ties to this Land, and the abiding faith upon which they are based. It is time for all of them to return to sole Israeli control, along with all Jewish holy sites in Judea and Samaria.

Stop Funding Tel Aviv University

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

One of Israel’s leading universities seems to have lost its way.

In a move that is as incomprehensible as it is shameful, Tel Aviv University (TAU) agreed to allow a student group to hold a ceremony commemorating “Nakba Day,” when Palestinians bemoan the establishment of the state of Israel.

The event included the reading of Palestinian poetry, a moment of silence and the recitation of an alternative version of the Yizkor prayer Jews traditionally say in memory of their loved ones.

In case their intent was unclear, the organizers of this anti-Israel hatefest went out of their way to elucidate the reasons behind it, with one telling Haaretz in no uncertain terms that Israelis need to realize that, “We’re talking about a disaster that must be known on a human level.”

Another student involved in planning the event said she saw it as a way “to remember the tragedy and great loss that befell the people who were here before ’48.”

Have these people lost their minds? What on earth would prompt Jewish students at an Israeli institution of higher education to lament the founding of their own country?

Clearly, something is very wrong at Tel Aviv University. Though ostensibly a Zionist institution, its administration ignored the pleas of various public figures and permitted this outrage to go forward.

Indeed, for an institution whose website states that it has “a deep commitment to Israeli society and the Jewish people,” it is hard to fathom what would prompt university officials to sign off on such nonsense.

After all, this has nothing to do with the boundaries of free speech or the fundamental right to criticize one’s government. It is about delegitimizing Israel and attempting to undermine its very existence.

Promoting Nakba Day is a crucial political goal of the Palestinians. Giving it a platform not only fosters a false narrative of history, but it also plays directly into the hands of those who wish to dismantle the Jewish state.

At a time when Israel is facing existential threats from its neighbors, there can be no excuse for allowing the publicly funded grounds of an Israeli university campus to serve as a staging area for assaults on its continued survival.

Clearly, university administrators have lost sight of one of the essential purposes of education. As the 18th-century political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu pointed out, the promotion of love for one’s country “ought to be the principal business of education.”

This is so patently obvious that it should not even need to be stated.

Then again, given some of the radical faculty that populates various departments at Tel Aviv University, it should hardly come as a surprise that this basic idea has been all but overlooked.

As Dr. Steven Plaut and the IsraCampus organization have been documenting for years, various TAU departments have become hothouses for anti-Israel hotheads.

These range from a professor who denies that the Jews are a nation to another who has referred to the residents of Judea and Samaria as “Jewish Cossacks.”

Yet another TAU instructor justified a Palestinian grenade attack on Israeli soldiers as a legitimate act of resistance while others have affirmed their support for efforts to boycott the Jewish state.

If you find this hard to believe, just go to the IsraCampus website (www.isracampus.org.il) and see for yourself how various anti-Zionist and Marxist loons have been indoctrinating Israel’s younger generation at TAU with toxic views. Anyone concerned for the future of Israel should be concerned by what is happening on campuses such as Tel Aviv University.

A growing cadre of Israeli academics are preaching extremist far-left views and turning the hallowed halls of higher education into profane pillars of puerile Palestinian propaganda.

There is no reason why the Israeli taxpayer, or pro-Israel Diaspora Jews, should continue to generously fund TAU even as it serves to undercut the values they hold dear.

For all their talk of principle, college administrators can be swayed if enough pressure is applied. And that is what needs to be done in order to restore some sanity, and Zionist commitment, to Israeli academia.

So the next time you reach for your checkbook and consider making a donation to Tel Aviv University, do yourself and the Jewish people a favor: stop and think whether your money is truly going to a good cause. In the current environment, chances are it isn’t.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/fundamentally-freund/stop-funding-tel-aviv-university/2012/05/16/

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