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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Ministry’

More than 1.5 Million Views for Israel’s Christian You Tube Channel

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The Ministry of Tourism’s Christian You Tube channel is attracting millions of viewers from around the world. Launched at the end of 2011, the channel crossed the 1.5 million mark this week, averaging 5,500 views per day. And while these numbers are quite tame compared to the truly viral clips on You Tube, the Ministry of Tourism views the channel as an important platform in exposing Israel to the Christian world, promoting tourism to Israel at a time when some large denominations are debating boycotting Israel altogether.

Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov says that You Tube “has turned into a central tool for the tourism industry. The positive reaction to the channel proves the significant interest among the Christian community regarding Israel.”

The channel  features videos in several languages including English, German, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, and Polish. Those show community leaders and pilgrims telling about their spiritual experiences in Israel. There are also videos of Christian holy sites and holiday themed events that are unique to Israel.

The channel was created by the Ministry of Tourism’s Religious Desk, which is dedicated to encouraging Christian tourism to Israel. Marketing activities for Christian tourism is one of the Ministry of Tourism’s main programs. In 2011, NIS 60 million was invested in reaching out to Christian communities abroad, with a similar amount being invested again this year.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Facing Heated Calls For Change On Several Fronts

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

WASHINGTON – The latest battle over religious pluralism in Israel has unleashed a new barrage of criticism and calls for reform aimed at the Orthodox-controlled Israeli Chief Rabbinate.

Unlike major flare-ups in past decades, however, this time it’s not just the Reform and Conservative movements leading the charge – mainstream, consensus-oriented Jewish groups with no denominational affiliations are speaking out, too.

One flashpoint has been the fallout from the Israeli attorney general’s decision to approve government funding for Reform and Conservative religious leaders as “rabbis of non-Orthodox communities” – albeit through the Ministry of Culture and Sports rather than the Orthodox-controlled Religious Services Ministry, which funds Orthodox rabbis.

That announcement drew a caustic response from Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who in a June 27 meeting urged more than 100 fellow Orthodox rabbis – including Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger – to pray “in order to stop the destroyers and saboteurs of Judaism [because] they are trying to uproot the foundation of Judaism.”

“There is a natural backlash on the part of American Jews and American Jewish leaders when the Chief Rabbinate issues such statements,” said Steven Bayme, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Koppelman Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations. “As we enter the 21st century, the [Chief Rabbinate] needs to be reevaluted in terms of democratic norms and modern Israel’s relationship to world Jewry.”

In response to Rabbi Amar’s remarks, about 50 Reform and Conservative rabbis protested outside of the Chief Rabbinate’s building in Jerusalem. Two Conservative rabbis filed a police complaint accusing Amar of incitement – a particularly serious claim in Israel ever since the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The Jewish Federations of North America, which has leaders from across the religious spectrum, but which in recent years has become more vocal on behalf of Israel’s non-Orthodox Jews, was quick to respond.

“It is a fundamental Jewish virtue to ‘love your fellow as yourself.’ We condemn comments that disparage fellow Jews and, in particular, well-established branches of Judaism that represent 80 percent of North American Jewry,” Jerry Silverman, the president and CEO of JFNA, said in a statement. “Statements such as those made by Rabbi Amar only serve to alienate our fellow Jews from our religion, our people and the Jewish state.”

Shortly after that controversy, the board of governors of the AJC – another nonsectarian Jewish organization with no formal ties to either the Reform or Conservative movements – went even further in criticizing the Chief Rabbinate and calling for major changes to the institution.

“In the 21st century, a coercive Chief Rabbinate has become, at best, an anachronism, and at worst a force dividing the Jewish people,” the AJC’s leaders declared in a resolution.

The Chief Rabbinate’s actions “threaten to divide the Jewish people and risk an anti-religious backlash against Judaism itself within the Jewish state,” they wrote. The AJC urged Israel’s government “to undertake promptly all needed actions” to end the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over issues of personal status.

The latest wave of criticism comes amid a backdrop of religion-related controversies – tensions between Modern Orthodox rabbis and haredi Orthodox rabbis over conversions; the push for civil marriage in Israel; and the struggle over whether haredi men should serve in the military or continue to be exempt to study in yeshivas.

“Like any human institution, the Chief Rabbinate could use improvement,” said Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive director emeritus of the Orthodox Union.

“What those improvements would be though requires a lot of thought and a lot of study, and from the OU’s perspective in no way could the Orthodox nature and the halachic nature of the Chief Rabbinate be compromised.”

Rabbi Weinreb stressed that OU congregations and rabbis adhere to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s decisions. He added that the process of electing chief rabbis could be refined so that it is “less political.”

The call for radical reform of the Chief Rabbinate was greeted warmly by Reform and Conservative groups.

“It’s a powerful letter from the dead center of the American Jewish establishment weighing in on what the Israeli government and the Israeli public still thinks is a fringe issue,” Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said of the AJC’s position. “It’s a welcome voice in that debate.”

Emotion-Filled Israel Trip For TV Stars

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

With tears flowing, a phalanx of top American TV stars recounted various personal and religious revelations they gained during last week’s weeklong visit to Israel. They expressed admiration for the Jewish people’s vitality and for their willingness to create a better society in the midst of political and religious upheaval in the region.

The star-studded group included, among others, AnnaLynne McCord (“90210” and “Nip/Tuck”), Omar Epps (“House”), Paul Johansson (“One Tree Hill”), Holly Robinson Peete (“21 Jump Street” and “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper”), Mekhi Phifer (“ER” and “The Tuskegee Airmen”), Holt McCallany (“Lights Out”), Zach Roerig (“The Vampire Diaries”) and Paget Brewster (“Criminal Minds”).

The trip was sponsored by the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, while the Ministry of Tourism hosted and arranged their tour with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, El Al Israel Airlines and the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel. The celebrity group was led by Irwin Katsof, director of America’s Voices in Israel (AVI), which is part of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Some key elements of the trip included a visit to an Israel Air Force base, exploration of the ancient ruins in Caesarea, experiencing the physical and spiritual beauty of the Galilee and Golan Heights regions, and meeting the people behind some of Israel’s most renowned social welfare and outreach programs. They also celebrated Shabbat amid thousands of Israelis and tourists at the Western Wall.

“The hospitable nature of the people in Israel is something you just don’t find in many places,” Epps, who plays Dr. Eric Foreman on Fox’s long-running medical drama series “House,” told foreign correspondents during a press conference at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel. “We encountered people at the Western Wall on Friday night who made sure that anyone who didn’t have a place to eat a warm Shabbat meal, were invited to someone’s home. I’ve never seen or experienced such loving care.”

Brewster, who has garnered critical acclaim for her role as special agent Emily Prentiss on the CBS crime drama “Criminal Minds,” was impressed by how a soup kitchen in Tiberias, run by Meir Panim, treated everyone with a smile. “It didn’t look or feel like a soup kitchen but rather [like] a restaurant, where the Meir Panim staff just wants to help people from all walks of life enjoy a good meal with dignity, even if they don’t have money. I was fascinated and moved by what I saw,” said Brewster.

Johansson, who has earned a notable reputation as an actor, writer and director, remarked that “I was invited many times to visit the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles, but I always wanted to run away from seeing or experiencing that type of pain. After going to Yad Vashem with Irwin [Katsof] and recognizing the continuing struggle of the Jewish people in their homeland was a very important experience for me.”

McCord, the popular antiheroine Naomi Clark on the CW’s “90210,” was enthused by the number of young Israelis who recognized her (the TV series airs on a local cable station). “Israelis of all ages are an engaging people,” she said. “It was fascinating for me to hear a wide range of opinions from so many different types of people, whether it was an aspiring blind actress trying to make a living in Jaffa to a former high-ranking Israeli diplomat who resides in Jerusalem. What I learned is that even in the midst of all the turmoil around them, Israelis love to live their lives to the fullest.”

The emotional response by the actors reinforced Irwin Katsof’s belief in America’s Voices in Israel’s ongoing mission. Katsof told The Jewish Press, “The power of bringing people like celebrities and others who have a platform on social media was made very clear by the impact this trip has had on the celebrities who came. Omar Epps will be producing a show about Israel for a cable travel network. Paul Johansson plans on directing a feature movie about [the biblical] Noah in Israel. Many of the stars sent out hundreds of positive tweets on Twitter that were seen by tens of millions of people. This trip enabled them to become ambassadors of goodwill for Israel.”

Tunisian Boy “Brave” for Refusing to Compete With Israeli in Chess

Monday, May 7th, 2012

A ten year-old Tunisian boy is gaining fame across the Aram world for having refused to compete against an Israeli opponent in the World School Chess Championship.

The eighth annual competition took place in Romania, with 640 participants competing.  Rather than compete against an Israeli, Tunisian Muhammad Hamida withdrew from the competition.

Director of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Gaza, Ahmed Machisan, called the forfeiture a “show of bravery”, according to a report in Ynet.

Cornered by Pressure from Likud Ministers on Ulpana Hill Eviction, Barak Uses Mockery

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon and Transportation Minister Israel Katz on Saturday sharply criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak for his handling of Judea and Samaria settlements, both stressing their objection to the evacuation of the Ulpana Hill neighborhood, which is slated to be demolished in a month.

The Defense Ministry responded with a mocking statement, saying that “Katz and Ya’alon must have contracted a severe case of ‘Feiglinism’ (a reference to Moshe Feiglin who has been threatening for more than a decade to take the helm at the Likud party from Primi Minister Netanyahu, and to bolster the representation of religious members and settlers). This isn’t good for the state, for its security, its future and the good of the public in general.”

Sources close to Barak joked with Walla News: “We hope that, for the sake of the public and its elected representatives in the Knesset, it will turn out that this ‘Feiglinism’ isn’t contagious.”

Speaking at a cultural event in B’er Sheva, Ya’alon said that if the Attorney General and the Ministry of Defense persist in their plan to evacuate the Ulpana Hill in Beit El, this would lead to the collapse of the Netanyahu government.

“We’ve agreed at the beginning of the term of this government that we would complete the certification of the design and construction processes. Suddenly, we witness only the joy of destruction and no arrangement,” Ya’alon said.

“We are forced to deal with a problem like the Ulpana Hill, where normal people have taken out mortgages, while at the Ministry of Defense and the AG are rushing to destroy the place. We have declared that we would not remove this neighborhood,” he added.

Meanwhile, Transportation Minister Katz, who was visiting the Ulpana Hill neighborhood in Beit El, said that he had come to make his position clear, that the neighborhood homes should not be destroyed. He criticized the Defense Minister: “He took the Ministry of Defense and turned it into a political tool at the expense of residents. There are other ways to gather votes.”

Katz added that “it is necessary to update the government’s position regarding the Ulpana Hill neighborhood. There is no doubt that in its initial response to the High Court, the State did not take into account all the consequences.”

In recent weeks, following the High Court’s order to evacuate the Ulpana Hill in Beit El by May 1, Likud ministers have been applying great pressure on the Prime Minister to prevent the eviction, and last week Netanyahu has held several meetings on the future of the neighborhood, where dozens of families live in multi-story apartment buildings, constructed with funding from the Ministry of Housing.

IDF Chief of Staff Visits Canadian Counterpart, Relations ‘Growing’

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

The IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz concluded his official visit to Canada on Friday. Gantz was greeted by his Canadian counterpart, General Walt Natynczyk, who emphasized the importance of strengthening security cooperation between the two countries. The CDS hosted Lt. Gen. Gantz for an official dinner, in which his deputy and other senior officers participated.

“Our relationship with the Israeli Defense Forces is growing. We will continue to build upon our friendship with practical initiatives of mutual benefit,” said General Natynczyk.

The two met for an extended “one-on-one” meeting, during which they exchanged views on current security issues.

Following the meeting, the CDS conducted a roundtable panel with representatives from the Ministry of National Defense and senior officers from the Canadian military, during which Lt. Gen. Gantz gave a detailed brief regarding the current challenges in the Middle East, the radical elements which carry negative influence in the area, and the existing trends in light of the changes that several countries in the Middle East have faced over the past year.

The panel ended with a discussion on the current fields of cooperation between the Canadian military and defense establishment and the Israeli Defense Ministry and the IDF.

Since the March 2008 signing of the “Declaration of Intent” between the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Canada and the Ministry of Public Security of the Government of Israel, there has been an accelerated rapprochement between the Canadian and Israeli security establishments.

The 2008 agreement allows Canada and Israel to enhance cooperation in the areas of organized crime, emergency management, crime prevention, and other related public safety concerns.

Cyber Attacks UPDATE: Pro-Israeli Hackers Hit Iranian Official Websites

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Pro-Israel hackers, calling themselves “IDF Team” took down the websites of Iran’s Press TV and the Ministry of Health and Medical Education on Thursday.

The hackers, in messages on the downed websites, stated that their actions were a reprisal for the hack attacks on Israeli sites the day before.

“At 16:30 Israel Clock the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education website will be down until further notice. In addition to Iran’s television network, broadcasting in English round-the-clock, based in Tehran that called Press TV will be down until further notice.”

In a final taunt, they wrote, “Ahmadinejad what do you have to say about that?”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/cyber-attacks-update-pro-israeli-hackers-hit-iranian-official-websites/2012/01/26/

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