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June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Natan Sharansky’

Jewish Agency Launches Food Co-Op in Druze Village

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israel Venture Network (IVN) this week launched their fourth food co-op in the Druze village of Beit Jann. Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, IVN cofounder Itsik Danziger, spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze community Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, and leaders from Beit Jann and the Druze community attended the grand opening.

The new chain of food co-ops is a joint venture of the Jewish Agency and IVN, in partnership with UJA-Federation of New York and the United Jewish Endowment Fund of Greater Washington, aimed at lowering the cost of living and strengthening communities across Israel. The first three branches are located in the southern Israeli communities of Sderot, Yeruham, and Arad. The new branch in Beit Jann was launched in partnership with Ofakim LaAtid (“Future Horizons”), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering young leadership in Israel’s Druze community. The food co-ops operate as social business ventures, offering consumers significantly less expensive groceries and investing profits in local social empowerment initiatives. The chain is expected to reach forty branches across Israel and is based on close cooperation with local communities and various nonprofit organizations.

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said: “I first heard about the ‘covenant of blood’ between the Jewish people and the Druze community while I was still in the Soviet Union, fighting for our right to immigrate to Israel. But that bond must also generate a covenant of life, and we must do everything to ensure that that covenant is strong and enduring. I am confident that this new joint venture between The Jewish Agency, Jewish Federations, and Israeli business leaders will enable us to help narrow the socioeconomic gaps within Israeli society and strengthen Israel as a whole.”

IVN cofounder Itsik Danziger said: “This new chain represents a substantial new step by IVN to promote the model of social businesses, an innovative model aimed at correcting market failures in Israel. The launch of the fourth food co-op in Beit Jann demonstrates that social businesses can generate sustainable, socially conscious activity while fortifying their financial viability with independent profits. The new chain helps lower the cost of living in Israel and we look forward to expanding it into additional communities across the country.”

Spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze community Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif said: “The decision by The Jewish Agency, headed by our friend, Natan Sharansky, and IVN to launch a branch of their new food co-op chain in Beit Jann is more than a statement – it is a fitting act, because Druze communities are worthy of investment and constitute an integral part of the State of Israel.”

JNi.Media

Yankee Come Home: Knesset Marks 100 Years of Jewish-American Involvement in Israel

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

The Knesset on Wednesday marks 100 years of Jewish-American involvement in the pre-state Jewish community and in the State of Israel, with a series of committee meetings and events. The special day is an initiative of MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp-Labor), head of the Lobby for US-Israel Relations.

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by MK Tzach Hanegbi (Likud) will hold a debate on “US Jewry as a strategic asset for Israel’s security”; the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, chaired by MK Elie Elalouf (Kulanu), will discuss US Jewry’s contribution to the advancement of weaker populations in Israel; the Education, Culture and Sports Committee, headed by MK Yakov Margi (Shas), will discuss the contribution of American Jews to educational enterprises and community centers in Israel; and the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, headed by MK Avraham Neguise (Likud), will hold a debate on US Jewry’s contribution to the settlement of the Land of Israel, the absorption of immigrants and the immigration of youth to the country.

During the day, an exhibition titled “Stripes, Stars and Magen David” will be launched in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall. Initiated and curated by the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa, the exhibition celebrates the ongoing commitment of American Jewry to the welfare and prosperity of Israel. It features 100 selected photos outlining the depth and breadth of Jewish American contribution to Israel, ranging from education, medical and social services, to financial support and political lobbying.

Later, a ceremony will be held in Chagall Hall in the presence of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, and Richard Sandler, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America.

JNi.Media

Kasich’s Speech to AIPAC [video]

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third contender for the Republican nomination for President of the United States spoke at the policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Council on Monday, March. 21. Kasich spoke after Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, so his transcript and video were not available when the AIPAC edition was published on Monday.

Here is Kasich’s entire speech:

Well, I’m delighted to be back at AIPAC, an organization I’ve known and worked with since the early 1980s.

You know, back then your audience numbered in the hundreds. A testament to AIPAC is that those crowds are now in the thousands, as we can see today.

FIRST VISIT TO ISRAEL IN 1983

You know, I first visited Israel in 1983 with my late dear friend Gordon Zacks. As you all know, Gordon was a founding member of AIPAC, and it was on that trip that I actually visited Bethlehem and I called my mother on Christmas night from Jerusalem. As you can imagine, it was a very, very special moment. And Gordon always reminded me of it.

Gordon helped me as much as anyone has over the years to know and to appreciate the importance of our relationship with Israel and Israel’s unique security challenges. And I can’t think of a better guy who could have taken me to Israel.

AVITAL AND NATAN SHARANSKY

It was on my trip in 1983 that Gordon introduced me to Avital Sharansky, when her husband Natan was still in a Soviet prison. She told me her husband’s story over lunch at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and said she was going to Washington to plead for his release. I asked her, would you mind if I organized a rally in support of your husband on the steps of the Capitol. And so we came together in a bipartisan way to call for Natan Sharansky’s release.

You know, Gordy had taken Sharansky into the Oval Office to meet with the President Reagan. And when the meeting ended, Mrs. Sharansky was told by the president I will not rest until your husband is free. Sharansky’s story has always inspired me from the day that Gordy first introduced me to Avital. But I don’t know how many of you here have ever read his book, “Fear No Evil.”

Natan wrote in that book, as I related to him, and he said, I’m glad that you saw it, that when they went to him in the prison, they wanted him to confess something. And they said to Natan, well, you understand that Galileo even confessed. And think about Sharansky sitting in that prison in that solitary confinement. And he thought to himself and told them you’re using Galileo against me? No one will ever use me any against any other prisoner of conscience. For that he deserves to always be remembered.

I had a phone conversation with Natan for years, but I never had the chance to meet him. And ironically, I met him at the cemetery when we laid Gordy Zacks to rest, where Natan gave a eulogy on behalf of our great friend. Look, I want it to be clear to all of you that I remain unwavering in my support for the Jewish state and the unique partnership between the United States and Israel.

AMERICAN SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL

When I was first introduced to Israel and some of its leaders, of course the core of our partnership with Israel was already very well- defined. And we give thanks to Harry Truman for the courageous steps he took when Israel was first established.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-agencys-natan-sharansky-speaks-up-for-efrat-chief-rabbi-shlomo-riskin/2015/05/27/

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