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May 24, 2016 / 16 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Natan Sharansky’

Benny Gantz, Natan Sharansky Named to Jerusalem Unity Prize Committee

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gants and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky have joined Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on this year’s committee to choose recipients for the Jerusalem Unity Prize.

Nominations are now being accepted for the prize, now in its second year of awards to those who are recognized for fostering Jewish unity. The Jerusalem Unity Prize was created by Mayor Nir Barkat to promote unity among the Jewish people. It was conceived with the Shaer, Frenkel and Yifrach families in memory of their sons Gil-ad, Naftali and Eyal, whose kidnappings and subsequent murders became a turning point in Jewish communal relations.

Jews from all walks of life came together in an unprecedented display of solidarity to pray for the safe return of the boys at that time.

In partnership with GESHER, the award was designed to harness that spirit of national unity and inspire continued work to bridge divides within the greater Jewish community. “Benny Gantz is a natural leader whose resolve carried the Israeli military through the tragic period following our boys’ abduction and the subsequent campaign in Gaza,” the Fraenkel, Shaer and Ifrach families said in a statement.

“Natan Sharansky serves as the ultimate symbol of Jewish heroism and courage whose personal story has inspired millions.

“Both of these figures therefore exhibit the traits which inspire pride and unity within the modern Jewish experience and we feel deeply honored to have them as part of this effort.”

“Jerusalem is the eternal home and capital of the Jewish people and the very symbol of the power of our unity. Historically, Jerusalem was not divided into tribes and the gates of our city have always been open to all. The Jerusalem Unity Prize is a modern celebration of that very power of the Jewish people coming together,” said Mayor Nir Barkat.

Gantz welcomed the appointment. “My position allowed me a unique perspective to appreciate the power of national unity,” he said. “I truly believe that the security of our future, as a People and as a country, relies on the strength we possess when united. I am excited to be able to encourage and support those who believe in the importance of working together, and I consider it a privilege to be a part of the Jerusalem Unity Prize committee.”

Sharansky added, “Jerusalem serves as a bridge between our People’s dream and our reality, and is the very realization of our national aspirations. The city unites us in times of victory as well as tragedy, reminding that when tragedy strikes it is incumbent upon us to rise and unite in action, in giving back and with mutual respect for all.

“I salute the Frenkel, Shaer and Yifrach families on this remarkable initiative and it is an honor to have been invited to be part of the program.”

Nominations for the Prize will be accepted via the Prize website until February 4, 2016. Prizes of up to 300,000 NIS total will be awarded in three separate categories of unity initiatives on the local, regional and global levels.

In 2015, awards were presented to Brigadier General Ram Shmueli, Harav Chacham David Menachem, Nifgashim B’Shvil Yisrael and the Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand. The 2015 Unity Prize was awarded in June on Unity Day, where over 1 million people participated in educational and entertainment events worldwide.

Unity Day this year will take place in early June 2016 with programs already being scheduled across the Diaspora. “Unity Day proved itself as not just a welcomed program but indeed a necessary one whereby the Jewish world was reminded of just how much we can achieve when we put our differences aside and focus on our commonalities,” said Anat Schwarz Weil, director of the Jerusalem Unity Prize.

“There is no doubt that we as a people face many challenges- indeed to our very existence. So it is all that much more important that we rally behind this initiative so that we can be a stronger and more united Jewish people.”

Jewish Press Staff

Sharansky Berates Arabs MKs for Boycotting Jewish Agency

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky has berated an Arab Knesset Member for scoring “cheap political points” by refusing to meet U.S. Jewish leaders in the same building that houses the Zionist group.

Joint Arab List MK Ayman Odeh on Thursday refused to enter a meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York, as reported here.

Sharansky’s spokesman issued a statement Saturday night saying:

It is unfortunate that members of Knesset from the Joint List are more interested in scoring cheap and expedient political points than they are in advancing the well-being of their communities.

Along with our core mission of ingathering the exiles of the Jewish people via Aliyah, The Jewish Agency is proud to serve all the citizens of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnicity, which we view as an integral part of our Zionist vision.

Thousands of Arab Israeli families enjoy a range of Jewish Agency programs, including our Youth Futures mentorship program, which has placed a particular emphasis on schoolchildren in Israel’s Arab community; Masa Israel Journey and Project TEN, which run programs focused on Arab-Jewish coexistence and on serving underprivileged Arab citizens of Israel; and an innovative Jewish Agency high school opened just this year for Bedouin youth in the Negev.

Sharansky added, “Thousands of Arab Israelis have already found their way to The Jewish Agency’s programs and to the dedicated professionals and volunteers who run them. It is high time MK Odeh and his colleagues did the same.”

Conference of Presidents Executive Vice President Malcolm Hoenlein came downstairs with MK Merav Michaeli to try to persuade Odeh to change his mind, which is a bit of an irony since Michaeli’s Labor party recently changed its official name to “Zionist Camp.”

Odeh later explained”

I came here to represent the Arab public in Israel to American audiences. As their representative, I cannot in good conscience participate in meetings in the offices of organizations whose work displaces Arab citizens, just as in the Knesset, we do not participate in the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign Ministry, and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.:

Conference of Presidents Chairman Stephen Greenberg and VP Hoenlein said in a statement that they are “deeply disturbed and shocked at [Odeh’s] refusal to fulfill his commitment to speak before a meeting of the Conference, because our premises are shared with the Jewish Agency, and other Zionist groups.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Jewish Agency for Israel Calls for Special Diaspora Conversion Courts

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

The Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel is calling for the establishment of special religious courts in the Diaspora to handle conversions outside the State of Israel.

A resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority of the board at its meeting Wednesday (June 24) said that in the absence of such courts, the Agency would send rabbis to assist local communal rabbis in the endeavor.

“In light of The Jewish Agency’s responsibility to help ensure the unity of the Jewish people and in recognition of the existence of many interfaith families in various Jewish communities, The Jewish Agency wishes to facilitate these families’ full integration into the Jewish people via conversion, as well as through the possibility of Aliyah. In the absence of conversion courts able to serve those who wish to convert in many Jewish communities, The Jewish Agency will cooperate with the special conversion courts established for this purpose by sending rabbis to assist local communal rabbis.

“The Jewish Agency will accompany the converts through their process of preparing for Aliyah, for those who choose that option.”

“The Jewish Agency serves the needs of Jewish communities around the world,” said Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Agency.

“This is one of the very real needs voiced by various Jewish communities. The time has come to respond.”

The issue of Jewish conversion both in Israel and abroad is one that is complex, controversial and fiercely debated between individuals as well as communities.

Recently the community leadership position of a major Anglo-Israeli rabbinic figure came under question, it was believed, in part due to the controversy generated over this topic.

Hana Levi Julian

Jewish Agency’s Natan Sharansky Speaks Up for Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

A groundswell of support for Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is growing around the country, with the latest outcry coming from Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky.

Forces in the Israeli Chief Rabbinate are reportedly attempting to pressure Riskin into an early retirement from his long-time position. The rabbi is one of the founders of the Judean city of Efrat, which was built in Gush Etzion in the early 1980s, about ten minutes’ drive south of Jerusalem. Riskin is deeply popular with the city’s residents.

“The Jewish People, and particularly the people of Efrat, deserve the continued service of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, a Jewish leader and Israeli patriot,” Sharansky said in a statement released Wednesday.

“Rabbi Riskin’s contributions to Aliyah, to building the State and Land of Israel, to connecting the Jews of the Diaspora to their homeland, and to connecting all Jews to the Torah, are of historic proportions.

“In view of these outstanding and unparalleled achievements, there should be no questions about his qualifications for his continued service,” Sharansky said.

The agency leader is known throughout the Jewish world for his history of maintaining his intention to move to Israel, despite major government persecutions by the Soviet Union.

Once freed from prison, Sharansky immediately made good on his public claim and moved to the Jewish State.

Hana Levi Julian

Sharansky Praises British Parliamentarians’ Fight Against Anti-Semitism

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

The Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky hailed efforts by British members of parliament who have begun to fight the rising tide of anti-Semitism in their own country as well as the swelling tide elsewhere in Europe. Not all UK lawmakers share the views of their colleagues, making the effort far more difficult.

The recent report released by the UK’s Community Security Trust, which has reported figures for anti-Semitism in Britain annually since 1984 noted that in 2014 incidents against Jews more than doubled.

“I welcome the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism’s publication of its new report on anti-Jewish hatred, as well as the report’s important conclusions,” Sharansky stated. He pointed out that for many years it was the task of The Jewish Agency to publish reports on European anti-Semitism.

“The data in these reports was disputed and, at times, rejected in disbelief,” he added. “Recently, however, surveys and reports in France and the UK have started confirming information we released years ago. National governments and civil society now recognize the gravity of the situation.

“This recognition is an important step in the struggle against all manifestations of anti-Semitism – in the streets, on the internet, in the media, on university campuses, and in schools,” he said. “But it is not enough to deploy armed policemen and soldiers around synagogues and Jewish schools. The problem must be addressed at its very roots, through education, legal steps, and social action.

“The new anti-Semitism, which fuels many of the violent attacks against Jews, feeds on the delegitimization, demonization, and double standards applied to Israel. It becomes even more pronounced and vicious when Israel is forced to defend itself and protect its citizens.

“The hotbeds of incitement and the root causes of anti-Israel hatred must be dealt with in order to quell all forms of anti-Semitism and ensure that Jewish life may thrive in safety across Europe,” Sharansky said.

Hana Levi Julian

Jews Are Leaving France: 10,000 to Arrive in Israel in 2015

Monday, January 12th, 2015

 

France is bleeding Jews. The onslaught of radical Islamic terror combined with growing anti-Semitism has finally persuaded the country’s most loyal immigrants that it’s time to leave.

One of Britain’s most influential Jewish journalists, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard, said on Friday, “Every single French Jew I know has either left or is actively working out how to leave.” Pollard’s comment came shortly after French police had ordered shops along Rue de Rosiers in the famous La Marais Jewish neighborhood to close in central Paris. The measure was taken as a precaution following the terror attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery that left four people dead and others injured.

More than 100,000 French Jews have left the country since 2013, according to sources quoted by The Daily Mail. Pollard said in a tweet that the attack on Hyper Cacher was no “fluke.” He wrote in a series of posts on the Twitter social networking site, “So, it’s a fluke that the latest target is a kosher grocer, is it?

“What’s going on in France – outrages that have been getting worse for years – put our antisemitism (sic) problems in perspective,” he wrote.

The Jewish Agency for Israel, meanwhile, has told its staff to prepare for a wave of French aliyah. Chairman of the Executive of the Agency, Natan Sharansky accompanied Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the unity rally in Paris on Sunday. “The Jewish Agency embraces the French Jewish community at this difficult time and is extending its full support by helping provide for the physical security of Jewish communities across France, increasing our assistance to any individual who wishes to immigrate to Israel, and working to ease immigrants’ integration into the Israeli workforce and Israeli society,” he said.

There were 7,000 new immigrants from France in 2014, more than double the 3,400 who arrived in 2013 and triple the 1,900 who came in 2012, Sharansky noted. The French Jewish community is the third largest in the world after Israel and the United States, with some 500,000 Jews; but more than one percent of the entire community immigrated to Israel last year.

Even before last week’s reign of terror, Jewish Agency officials had predicted that the increase in French aliyah would continue, and that the number of immigrants from France could reach up to 10,000 in 2015. In the past year, at least 50,000 French Jews inquired about immigrating to Israel, according to Sharansky. The Jewish Agency is currently holding two information seminars daily in France, he added. They are leaving, he said, and “they want to live in a Jewish state.”

The Fund for Emergency Assistance to Jewish Communities, established following the 2012 attack on the Jewish elementary school in Toulouse, has provided Jewish communal institutions in France and elsewhere with the means to install and reinforce security measures where they are needed most, in order to also enable Jewish communal life to continue uninterrupted.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has already begun to roll out the red carpet.

At a rally at Jerusalem City Hall to show solidarity with the French people and the French Jewish community on Sunday, Barkat said, “Brothers and sisters – the gates of Jerusalem are open to you. Zion and the entire Jewish world stands beside you. Nous sommes tous Juifs de France, we are all Charlie, we are all Jews of France.”

The Jerusalem Municipality, under the directive of Mayor Barkat, will open a special situation room for new immigrants from France in order to assist them in their move to Jerusalem. At the entrance to City Hall, there is a special booth for immigrant absorption manned by French-speaking volunteers who will help the immigrants with all of their absorption needs.

Hana Levi Julian

Exodus from France Leads Aliyah to 10-Year High

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Immigration to Israel hit a 10-year high in 2014  with the arrival of approximately  26,500 new immigrants, 32 percent higher than last year’s 20,000 new “olim.”

France for the first time topped the list of countries of origin for immigrants,  with nearly  7,000 Jews moving to Israel in 2014, double the 3,400 who came last year.

The other unusual rate of aliyah was from the Ukraine, from where 5,820 Jews moved to Israel, nearly three times the 2,020 who made aliyah in the previous year.

Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky chairman said, “2014 was a year of record-breaking Aliyah. This year also saw a historic shift: for the first time in Israel’s history, the number of immigrants who came to Israel from the free world is greater than that of immigrants fleeing countries in distress.

“This trend is evidence of Israel’s attractiveness as a place where it’s good to live, as well as of the success of our joint efforts to promote aliyah and strengthen connections between Jews around the world and the State of Israel.”

Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said that she expects that another 10,000 new immigrants will come from France in 2014.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/exodus-from-france-leads-aliyah-to-10-year-high/2014/12/31/

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