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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Natan Sharansky’

Hundreds of WOW Pray Peacefully

Monday, November 4th, 2013

In a display of the changes the group has experienced this year, Women of the Wall held a peaceful prayer service under police protection at the Western Wall to mark the group’s 25th anniversary.

Absent from Monday’s service, which the group said drew at least 800 worshipers, were large crowds of Orthodox girls who had packed the women’s section in previous months.

For the first time in recent memory, Women of the Wall occupied the majority of the section, with a crowd of male supporters stretching back into the plaza.

The group has met for a women’s prayer service at the wall at the beginning of each Jewish month for the past quarter-century, but has seen rapid change in its status during the past six months.

Until April, women in the group who donned prayer shawls or sang too loudly often would be detained by police. But that month, a Jerusalem district court judge ruled that the group’s practices did not violate any of the wall’s regulations, and since then the police are protecting the women rather than arresting them.

“We’ve come a long way, baby,” Women of the Wall Chairwoman Anat Hoffman told JTA during the service. “It shouldn’t have taken 25 years. It should have taken two weeks. But we’re now where we should be.”

Several dozen Haredi men came to protest on Monday, but aside from a few token disturbances, the service continued uninterrupted.

The past half-year has also seen a compromise solution from Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky. An outline Sharansky released in April called for a significant expansion of an area to the south of the plaza called Robinson’s Arch that is now used for non-Orthodox prayer.

After backing away from the plan, Women of the Wall endorsed it last month, agreeing to move to the new section should a list of conditions be met.

Brandishing the Western Wall regulation that forbids the group from bringing a Torah scroll to its services, Hoffman told JTA that Women of the Wall has yet to reach all its goals. She said, though, that given the relative calm at the Wall, the group will now be turning its attention to negotiations with the government about the Robinson’s Arch plan.

“We’re not scared of jail and arrests — we’re scared of negotiations,” Hoffman joked. “Can we get the maximum? We won’t be suckers.”

Jewish School in Gondar, Ethiopia Closes as Aliyah Ends

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky on Monday turned over the keys to the Jewish school of Gondar, Ethiopia, to the town’s mayor as the final flight of Ethiopian immigrants prepares to leave for Israel..

The Jewish Agency Monday’s funded and maintained the school, where approximately 2,500 Ethiopian children studied while awaiting their immigration to Israel.

The Jewish Agency donated all the school buildings and equipment to the municipality of Gondar.

“Jews lived in Gondar for 2,500 years however, their longing to return home never weakened,” Sharansky said at the ceremony. “Today we bring to an end a journey that spans thousands of years — the conclusion of Operation Wings of a Dove,” which was launched in November 2010 when the Israeli government decided to check the aliyah eligibility of an additional 8,000 or so Ethiopians.

The petitioners are known as Falash Mura — Ethiopians who claim links to descendants of Jews who converted to  b

Their Heroes and Ours…

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

I know I have said this before, but I have to say it now. This morning. Now. Last night, we released 26 murderers – cowards, terrorists. The most pathetic of “men.” Really, to call them men is to insult 50% of the world. These are not men by any stretch of the imagination.

The government of Israel understands how sickening, how disgusting it is, how painful it is for Israelis to watch the Palestinians celebrate the return of these sniveling things and so it arranged to release them at night. How pathetic, how stupid. Did you really think the Palestinians wouldn’t come out to celebrate because it was at night? Seriously?

Let me tell you about the heroes of Israel. We have many…

Natan Sharansky has always been one of my heroes. He’s a quiet man, brilliant. He’s short…really short…and yet he is one of the tallest of men because unlike many (including most of the ministers in the government), he stands straight and tall. He risked imprisonment in the Soviet Union to be who and what he was…

His application to marry Avital was refused by Soviet authorities. He married her in a Jewish ceremony which was not recognized by the government. Today, the Soviet Union is no more; their marriage remains and they are now grandparents. Within 24 hours of that wedding, Avital had to leave the Soviet Union.

Three years later, Natan was arrested and convicted for his ongoing activities…mostly centered around maintaining his Jewish identity and trying to leave the Soviet Union to join Avital in Israel (and to get that right for millions of other Soviet Jews). For 13 years, Avital fought for Natan… and Natan fought for Avital and their life together. In 1986, Sharansky was finally freed. They came home to Israel, where they were greeted by thousands.

On July 4, 1976, Israeli soldiers flew to Entebbe and rescued more than 100 hostages. For days, the drama of the kidnapping of an Air France flight had held the world’s attention – but nowhere more than in Israel. The hijackers – German and Palestinian – separated Jew and non-Jew, releasing the non-Jews and holding the Israeli/Jewish passengers. The crew of the jet, though not Jewish, refused to leave their passengers and remained hostages as well.

The lives of the passengers were threatened and in a daring raid, Israeli fighters flew over 1,000 miles to rescue them. In the battle that followed, Yoni Netanyahu, the leader of the operation, was killed. The only casualty. He had given orders that wounded among the forces were not to be treated until the hostages were rescued – that all focus must be on saving the Jews in that terminal. Yoni was in the front, running towards the terminal where they were held, when he was hit.

Within hours, the planes were loaded and flying back to Israel. Thousands met them at the airport and celebrated their return. These are our heroes – Natan Sharansky, Yoni Netanyahu, the passengers of the plane who held on, knowing Israel would never abandon them.

For these, thousands come out to welcome them home.

The obvious connection here is to compare what Gaza and Ramallah came to welcome last night. I can’t make the comparison – or maybe I have already. For me, I am filled with gratitude that my heroes are men who lived with honor, not cowards who stabbed women and axed men to death.

I know the so-called peace talks will continue – personally, I couldn’t even look at these negotiators or be in the same room with them. They sicken me; their culture of death sickens me. There is inside of me a part that thinks our greatest victory, even if the world does not recognize it, is simply that we are not like them. That when we come out in the thousands to welcome someone home – it is for a man who has fought for freedom; a man who has died for others…not killed for his religion.

At the end of the day, I would rather belong to a people who mourn the death of Yoni Netanyahu, than one that celebrates the life of Samir Kuntar or the 26 miserable murderers we released last night.

Sharansky to Reveal Full Western Wall Plan in Two Weeks

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky will release his full plan for a compromise among religious groups at the Western Wall in two weeks, Haaretz   reported.

Under Sharansky’s plan, first reported in April, an existing egalitarian section of the wall known as Robinson’s Arch would be expanded and a unified entrance would be built leading to the wall’s traditional and egalitarian sections. Robinson’s Arch would be open at all times, as opposed to now, when it is open for a few hours per day.

The expanded section for egalitarian prayer would be run by a joint commission of the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency and representatives of world Jewry. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which runs the current Western Wall Plaza, would continue to run the traditional section.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/personal/kugel-aside-an-important-observation/2013/06/18/

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