web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Natan Sharansky’

Sharansky, Lauder Call for Claims Conference Reform

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder called on the Claims Conference to be reviewed by outside agencies in an investigation following the disclosure of a $57 million fraud scheme.

Sharansky and Lauder released a joint statement on the first day of the Claims Conference board meeting on Tuesday, criticizing the Claims Conference’s leadership for not disclosing a 2001 letter warning about the fraud to the organization’s board of directors — in addition to not disclosing a subsequent report on the letter.

For approximately 15 years, Claims Conference employees embezzled $57 million meant to be restitution for Holocaust survivors. The scandal broke in 2009.

Sharansky and Lauder said in the statement that a committee tasked with recommending changes to the Claims Conference be made up mostly of representatives of other Jewish organizations.

Jewish Agency Officials Meet in Ukraine for First Time

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Hundreds of Jewish and Zionist leaders from across the globe are meeting at the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency in Kiev, Ukraine, the first time they have met outside of Israel.

Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky said at the opening plenary Sunday that since the fall of the Iron Curtain, more than a million Jews from the former Soviet Union have made Aliyah with the assistance of world Jewry, whom he praised for their contribution to the immigration of Soviet Jewry.

Minister for Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landover noted the important contribution that immigrants from the former Soviet Union, including doctors, artists, scientists and musicians had made to strengthen the State of Israel.

The Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine, Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, said at the opening plenary that the conference was one of the most important events in the 25 year history of the revitalized Jewish community in Kiev.

Kugel Aside: an Important Observation

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

By Faigie Heiman I’m not a blogger, a jogger nor do I twitter, or book my face. The social media is not my domain, but when I’m annoyed, or gratified with editorials or articles that appear in newspapers or magazines, I write a letter to the editor.

In May, the weekend Magazine section of the Jerusalem Post featured an article by Seth Frantzman titled: Forgotten History, an informative piece relating to the history of the Western Wall whereby Frantzman quotes Knesset Member Dov Lipman in a discussion in the Knesset.

“It is very interesting relating to the Kotel that in our history we see old photos of women and men praying together. It isn’t an orthodox synagogue; it’s a place we all value and does not have the Halacha of a synagogue.”

Isi Liebler, a popular blogger, wrote an article about Religious Tolerance and Mutual Respect and he too brought up the same point, that men and women can be viewed at the Kotel together, without a divider, in all the early twentieth century pictures.

A popular Israeli radio commentator spoke about the same phenomenon, and that was enough to trigger my letter of response to Frantzman’s article. Forgotten History, as featured in the Jerusalem Post, was a good reminder of the past but regrettably, some historical facts were omitted. Those like MK Lipman who wonder why men and women are pictured together without a mechitza, have forgotten history. They have forgotten when, and where the divider was born, and why it does not appear in those old photos.

 The Sanctuary was built with an ezrat nashim, a separate area for women. Sacrifices were offered at the Sanctuary and after the destruction, animal sacrifice was replaced with prayer time, held in small or large quarters, with areas for women to emulate Temple custom. The Western Wall, the single remaining remnant of the Temple was not in our hands, not under Jewish sovereignty. Throughout the ages foreign rulers applied regulations as to what they permitted along the narrow alley below the Wall. Dividers were forbidden, and most often, prayer too.

It is wise to remember that the Kotel is now in our hands. It is neither an amphitheater nor a circus, nor an ordinary street, and age-old Jewish customs should be respected. The area begs to be a peaceful place of prayer, with traditions valued as in days of yore.

When I sent the above observation to Isi Liebler he answered immediately.

Thanks. That may be so. Nevertheless, for hundreds of years the Kotel served as a shrine for private prayer and meditation rather than exclusively as a Bet Knesset.

Do the Lieblers and Lipmans prefer to have the Kotel returned to pre-67 condition? Is that the solution, Moslem sovereignty over the narrow street at the Wall so that the area can operate as a place for a dozen Jews, men and women, to mingle and meditate? Should we turn the clock back to foreign rules and regulations?

The Six Day War brought about the most stunning miraculous victory for Israel, and changed political and spiritual facts on the ground. It reunited Jerusalem and opened the area at the Kotel to hundreds of thousands of people to pray, visit, and meditate daily.  After over two thousand years of foreign rule, the Temple Mount and the Kotel were returned to our hands. A mechitza, a divider was necessary to implement traditional prayer service and was set up by the Ministry of Religious Affairs immediately after the area was opened to the public in 1967. That mechitza is respected by the large majority of men and women in Israel and around the world.

Yerushalmi Kugel

Yerushalmi Kugel

I remember the first Shabbat kiddush I attended after the Six Day War whereby Yerushalmi noodle kugel was served. It was dished out on small plates, a thin slice of pickle alongside the kugel. As soon as the plates of kugel were visible, everyone in the overcrowded room grabbed a plate. My husband was concerned that I wouldn’t `be quick enough, that I wouldn’t know how to grab a plate. He pushed his way over to check if I had a piece of kugel. “No” I answered. “I didn’t get kugel, but it’s okay, even if the service is not my style, it’s okay, I can eat kugel at home.”

The traditional style at the Kotel is one of a mechitza for prayer in adherence to orthodox Jewish custom. If individuals or groups find it tasteless they can pray or eat at home, or wherever their palate is sated. Not everyone must, or can, enjoy their portion of kugel in an authentic Yerushalmi setting.

With all due respect to Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky, the Kotel does not belong to everyone. The Kotel is a historic religious Jewish site, and it should be dealt with according to tradition.   Conventional prayer service as practiced in orthodox houses of prayer cannot satisfy all the people, all the time. Sufficient if it satisfies most people most of the time. If fifty Jews for Jesus want to hold a Sunday morning prayer service at the Wall, must that also be tolerated?

Some will argue, “but they too are Jews, they also need to be accommodated!”

Yes, they may be Jews, but there are red lines, there are traditional rules and the Rabbi of the Kotel draws the red lines, he is in charge, and his rulings should be upheld.
For the uninformed, religious prayer custom at the Kotel did not change after 1967. Former tradition was reinstated. The women who are disturbing the peace today are doing so first with tallit and tefillin, to be followed by removal of the divider. The egalitarian service they desire, and the means to achieving it, is a disservice to the entire House of Israel, and their behavior at the Kotel can, G-d forbid, bring the House down.

 Faigie Heiman is an accomplished short-story and essay writer and the author of a popular memoir titled Girl For Sale. Born and raised in Brooklyn she made Aliya and lives in Jerusalem since 1960.

Bennett and Livni in Facebook Fight over Women of the Wall

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Religious Affairs Minister Yair Lapid, who doubles as Finance Minister, are arguing via Facebook over the issue of a women’s minyan at the Western Wall.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky has proposed that a Women of the Wall demand for the minyan be allowed at the southern part of the Kotel, called Robinson’s Arch.

Lapid said he is working to approve new regulations but charged Livni with grandstanding. She wrote a letter to Bennett’s office on Shavuot.

Her beef does not concern her views, which are similar to Sharansky, but that no change in the law can be made without her approval.

“I’ll admit that I pray in an Orthodox synagogue…, but I believe that the time is ripe…to apply a pluralistic and tolerant approach at the Western Wall, allowing women to pray according to their customs, mostly because they do so in an area that is intended for women only,” she wrote.

Lapid took to Facebook after the holiday and wrote, “Tzipi Livni, come on.” He chastised Livni for a “provocative spin” and “media trick” by informing Israeli media that she had sent him a letter to his office on the Shavuot holiday, when he could not respond since he was not in his office.

Bennett wrote he has meet with women wanting to pray at the Western Wall with prayer shawls and tefillin that are worn by orthodox men but not women. The meeting was “the first time a religious services minister held talks with the Women of the Wall. And then came Tzipi Livni,” according to Lapid.

Livni wrote back on her Facebook page, “Naftali Bennett, come on. Minister Bennett is upset. He claims that I didn’t consult him before writing him a letter clarifying my stance on women’s prayer at the wall.”

“Since the Women of the Wall controversy broke out, Minister Bennett hasn’t called me a single time to update me on the compromise attempts that he claims he’s trying to reach on the matter, even though the law requires us both to sign the regulations, so he has no one but himself to blame.”

Orthodox Women May Stand to Lose Under Sharansky’s Proposal

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Natan Sharansky recently put forth a proposal to renovate and extend the Western Wall plaza to include Robinsons Arch, thereby creating an egalitarian prayer space alongside the ones currently designated for men and women. As an Orthodox woman I am not egalitarian, nevertheless, I think creating space to include all the denominations comfortably at the Kotel is a positive thing, nobody should feel excluded from Jerusalem’s holiest site. Despite that, I am very disappointed with what this proposal might mean for Orthodox women.

Though Kotel access and inclusion for the progressive denominations is an important issue, Sharansky was specifically charged with coming up with a solution in response to the escalating conflict surrounding the Women of the Wall. Though some people may conflate those two issues they are in fact separate and distinct and in this case it looks like the issue of denominational access has won out over women’s rights. And what is even worse is that it is the women’s hard work which enabled this victory and yet is coming at their own expense.

As an active Orthodox feminist I have invested years of my life to advancing women’s rights within the framework of Halachah, studying at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education instead of seeking ordination from one of the liberal movements, working at the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, serving as an intern at Congregation Ramath Orah on Manhattans’ Upper West Side, founding and leading various women’s tefillah groups where women could be represented and share their voices without having to abandon their communities to do so.

I was also a huge proponent of Women of the Wall (WOW) for many years. I saw WOW as my sisters in Israel struggling for women’s Halachic rights at the Kotel, the same way I was struggling for them here in America. Not a violation of Halachha, but a fight against patriarchal social norms that prevent me, and millions of other women, from actualizing our Halachically permitted potential. Anat Hoffman, in an opinion piece she wrote in the Forward in 2010 states

Simply put, our goal is to obtain the freedom to pray and to do everything that is Halachically permitted for women on the women’s side of the mechitzah (the barrier between men and women). This includes reciting prayers together that do not require a minyan, and, yes, most of all, it includes reading from the Torah. At a minimum, we want to be allowed to pray at the Wall for one hour each month, free of injury and fear. This should not be a provocative request. If I wanted to mount a provocation at the Wall, I certainly wouldn’t do so by inviting a group of modestly dressed women — most of them devoted Orthodox Jews — to show up early in the morning to pray in a manner entirely consistent with Halacha. That some are provoked does not make us provocative. We have been waking up early to pray every Rosh Hodesh for the past 21 years — this is no fad, no political act. It is done for the sake of prayer. Over the past week a number of people have questioned the premise that an egalitarian section at the Kotel does not address the needs of progressive Orthodox women. In response I would say firstly that I should not have to leave a space or community that I am an active part of in order to assert the rights afforded to me by Halachah, as an Orthodox women in a de facto Orthodox space shouldn’t my actions be a valid part of the greater whole that determines the status quo by which we set our norms? Secondly, davening in an egalitarian space is probably not seen as a Halachically viable option for most Orthodox women for whom an allegiance to Halachah is paramount to their other needs.

Thirdly, the proposed space is not a free for all space, even if a group of women wanted to get together within that proposed space and hold a women’s tefillah group, not a minyan, I question whether they would be able to. I have enough liberal friends and have been exposed to the progressive denominations sufficiently to see that they too have a bias and I question if such a group would be welcome.

Sharansky Says Yoni Netanyahu Was an Inspiration while in Jail

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Yoni Netanyahu, the brother of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who was killed in the Entebbe rescue, was an inspiration to Natan Sharansky while imprisoned in a Soviet jail, the former Refusenik said Sunday.

Speaking to 5,000 Masa Israel Journey participants at a Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers ceremony, Sharansky said, “While in the Soviet prison, … I thought about the three Israeli sportsmen who had visited Russia and had bravely met with us. They told us that Israel was a place of great joy.

“I later heard that one of the three was killed in the Yom Kippur war. But, mostly I thought about Yoni Netanyahu. The fact that the State of Israel was prepared to send its soldiers to rescue Jews all over the world gave me great strength. Yoni was 29 when he was killed and was 29 when I was arrested. Every time that I felt that I didn’t have the strength to keep resisting the authorities, I thought about Yoni Netanyahu and it gave me the strength to keep going.”

Yom Ha’atzmaut Draws 200 New York UJA Leaders

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

The UJA Federation of New York’s William Rosenwald Mission landed in Israel Sunday with 200 leaders who will be celebrating the country’s 65th anniversary as a modern state on Tuesday.

The delegation will examine how the New York community can help improve Israel’s quality of life, especially for children in distress, Holocaust survivors and new immigrants living under the poverty line.

Members of the Park Avenue Synagogue will visit the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood in Jerusalem, where they will pitch in to help in renovations of a bomb shelter at an elementary school.

During their six-day visit, the leaders will meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as well as with Dalia Rabin at Yitzchak Rabin Center. hey also  will have discussions with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky and Jodi Ruderon, Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times.

The Most Dangerous Women in Israel

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Over the past few months, I’ve befriended Shira Pruce, Director of Public Relations for Women of the Wall. In our few phone conversations so far, we’ve agreed on many issues which she deems important, and in my opinion my articles about her organization’s activities, published in a right-wing, religious, Jewish American online magazine, present those activities in a fair manner. I don’t twist what Shira tells me, and I don’t show her and her partners in struggle in a negative light, as do other religious, right wing publications, when they even bother to acknowledge them.

To anyone who hasn’t yet been exposed to stories about the Women of the Wall, I’ll summarize that it’s a group of several hundred women, about a quarter of whom are Modern Orthodox and the rest Conservative (Massorti Judaism), or Reform, whose stated goal is to pray on Rosh Chodesh (first day of the Jewish month) and on other special days, such as Purim, in the women’s section of the Western Wall, while wearing talitot and tefillin.

Rosh Chodesh is a special day for women in Jewish tradition, a gift from God for the fact that women did not debase themselves by participating in the making of the golden calf in the wilderness (to remind you, the sin of the golden calf was secondary only to the sin of the spies, and both, according to our tradition, altered, each one in its turn, the Israelite nation’s relationship with its God):

Aaron was contemplating the matter, saying: If I tell the Israelites, Give me silver and gold (to smelt and create the calf), they’d bring them over right away. What I’ll do instead is tell them, Give me your wives’ rings, and the rings of your sons and daughters, and the whole thing will be annulled. When the women heard, they refused to give their rings to their husbands, telling them: You want to create an abomination that has no power to save us. They refused to listen and so God rewarded them in this world and the next, as it says (Psalms 103:5): He satisfies your body with precious things; your youth is renewed like the eagle renews its plume. (Pirkey d’Rabbi Eliezer, C. 44).

It’s important to recall, therefore, that in the discussion of the Women of the Wall’s 25-year struggle over the right to pray every Rosh Chodesh at the second holiest Jewish site (the holiest is situated a few meters above, on Temple Mount), it’s the women who enjoy the right of ownership over the marking of Rosh Chodesh. Religious women avoid menial labor on Rosh Chodesh, and dress up. The researcher Dr. Devorah Ushpizai of Bar Ilan even points to a Biblical source for this custom, in the story about the woman from Shunem who had a son through the blessing of the prophet Elisha. Her husband asks: Why go to him today? It’s not the New Moon or the Sabbath. Which means that, had that day been the new moon, the husband would have understood why his wife is going to seek out the prophet.

HALACHICALLY, THE WOMEN OF THE WALL MAY BE RIGHT

There are many examples in our traditional sources about women of valor who received the sages’ permission to keep commandments that were intended for men only. Why did they need the permission? Because for the most part, women are absolved of the commandments that are time-related. With your permission we’ll avoid here the feminist discussion and simply state that women in pre-industrial society had much more pressing obligations than to pray three times a day, which is why the halacha absolved them of praying on time, as it did wearing a talit and tefillin.

Says Maimonides (Laws of the fringes, Chapter 3):

Women, slaves and minors are absolved of the obligation of talit based on the Torah. But from the sages we learn that a minor who knows how to wrap himself in a talit must do so for the sake of teaching him the commandments. And women and slaves (who, like women, are not the masters of their time) who wish to wear a talit may do so without saying a blessing, and likewise for all the positive commandments that women are not obligated to keep, they may keep them if they wish, but without saying a blessing, and we don’t stop them.

If they want they can, if they don’t that’s fine, too.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-most-dangerous-women-in-israel/2013/04/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: