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October 6, 2015 / 23 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’

African-American Converts Make Aliyah to Israel

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

“We will be a part of something so big—it is unthinkable to me,” Tracie Beavers said three-quarters of the way through a nearly 12-hour flight last week.

The Columbus, Ohio, mother of three was on her way to Israel, making aliyah with the support of the Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) agency.

Tracie’s journey is an unlikely one that began about a decade ago, peaking in 2013 and triumphing when she boarded the plane to Israel. Tracie and her husband Aaron are both African-American converts to Judaism. Their long-winding path to the Jewish homeland began a generation ago with Aaron Beavers’ father, who “changed his lifestyle” when he discovered Torah, said Tracie.

Aaron’s father infused in him a love of yiddishkeit, though he never converted his wife or children. Aaron Beavers was raised Christian, but nearly two decades later, he came to the same conclusion as his father—that Torah is truth.

In 2009, Aaron and Tracie decided they wanted to be Jewish. In 2013, they completed their conversion. They pro-ceeded converted their oldest children—Anayah, 8, and Gabrielle, 6. Chanan, 2, was born into the Jewish faith.

About a year ago, the family decided the next step was moving to Israel.

“If you believe something, you should do it as much as you possibly can. You should be as close to it as you can,” Aaron Beavers told JNS.org.

The family has moved to Bat Hefer, a community in the Sharon plain, east of the central Israeli city of Netanya. Aaron said he plans to be a plumber. Tracie will continue to stay at home with the children. A former member of the U.S. National Guard, she said she now hopes to volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces.

The members of the Beavers family were just a handful of the 221 diverse faces—all newly minted immigrants in the Jewish state—aboard the NBN charter flight on the El Al airline that took off from New York City’s John F. Ken-nedy International Airport on July 12. It was the 53rd charter flight in NBN’s history. Other organizational partners behind the flight included Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, and JNF-USA.

NBN’s co-founder, Rabbi Joshua Fass, told the group prior to takeoff, “Returning to Zion is like dreaming. … It is a diverse group of Jews coming together for a common dream.” The other co-founder, Tony Gelbart, said each aliyah flight is as exciting as the next.

“For these olim (immigrants to Israel), it is their first time,” he said.

Aboard the plane were a four-month-old baby and a 90-year-old bubbie, as well as two sets of three-generation families. In total, there were 32 families and 95 children. NBN has helped more than 45,000 olim get to Israel since its founding in 2001.

The 90-year-old bubbie was Sue Friedman, grandmother of Rachel Azaria, a member of the Israeli Knesset for the Kulanu party. Friedman said she has wanted to move to Israel since she left Germany at the age of 13, years before the Nazis annihilated 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. She spent many years raising a family in Riverdale, N.Y., but infused in all of her children a love of the Jewish state. She is being embraced in Israel by 27 great-grandchildren.

“I am ready,” she told JNS.org. Friedman is now residing in an independent living facility in Ra’anana.

While there were mixed emotions in the air as families boarded the flight in New York, leaving loved ones behind in America and feeling unsure of what exactly the future holds in Israel, there was nothing but joy upon landing.

Ohio U. Students Arrested in Protest of ‘Blood Bucket’ Video

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Four students at an Ohio University student senate meeting were arrested over protests of the senate president’s recent “blood bucket challenge” of Israel.

Pro-Israel students staged a filibuster during Wednesday night’s Ohio University Student Senate meeting, which turned into chaos. The students called for the resignation of Student Senate President Megan Marzec over a recently recorded video in which Marzec poured a bucket of “blood,” which was red-colored water, over her head to support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Marzec’s video, posted on September 2 in response to an ALS ice bucket challenge issued by the university president, has sparked widespread controversy both on the campus and off. In her video, Marzec spoke in her capacity as student senate president and accused Israel of “genocide in Gaza.” The Ohio University Student Senate Twitter account subsequently apologized for the video.

The video has been criticized both for its critique of Israel and for Marzec’s divisive stance as a student body leader. Others praised her for speaking her beliefs, and Marzec reported receiving hostile messages and death threats.

The student senate protest began at the start of the session, led by Rebecca Sebo, president of Bobcats for Israel, who rose to speak, denouncing recent threats made against Marzec but nonetheless calling on Marzec to resign. After roughly three minutes, according to the student paper, the Post Athens, Marzec called on Sebo to stop speaking so that students could speak in an orderly fashion, but she and other protesters continued to speak.

The meeting then became increasingly chaotic. Marzec shouted for order and threatened to have protesters arrested, and other students and adults at the meeting clapped and chanted over the protesters, with some denouncing them as “fascists”

Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, the executive director of Hillel at Ohio University, and who attended the meeting, said that the atmosphere became “explosive.”

Finally, Marzec issued a vote to have the protesters arrested for disrupting the meeting. Ohio University police issued the protesters a two-minute warning, arrested them and led them from the meeting. They were charged with disruption of a lawful meeting and were released. On Thursday morning, the four protesters pleaded not guilty in court, which set their pre-trial for the morning of September 24th, the day before Rosh HaShanah, which had been set as the date before they requested a change.

The maximum penalty for their fourth-degree misdemeanor count of disturbing a lawful meeting is 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

Leshaw said that although she didn’t think the protesters should have been arrested, she said the police “acted beautifully” and that their presence helped prevent a hostile situation from spiraling out of control.

“I think it was actually a blessing that the police arrived,” she told JTA.

Marzec was defiant in response to the protest. According to the Post Athens, she stood on a table after the arrests and declared that she would “never apologize for the people of Palestine.”

She added, “And I will never stand up for fascists. And this body won’t either.”

Click here to see a video of the meeting and arrest, filmed by Ohio U Post Athens newspaper’s Kaitlin Owens.

American-Born Lone IDF Soldier Found Dead

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The body of a 21-year-old Ohio native serving as a lone soldier in the IDF was found on Tuesday, two days after he was reported missing, military spokesmen announced.

Corporal David Menachem Gordon of the Givati Brigade was found with his personal Tabor rifle beside him. He had last been at the Tzrifin army base near Tel Aviv. No details were released concerning where he was found and the cause of his death.

Ohio Jewish Community Rallying Around Mother of Slain Children

Monday, June 16th, 2014

(JTA) — The Jewish community of Columbus, Ohio, has set up a fund to help the mother of two children slain in Israel by their father pay for their funerals.

The bodies of Sara and Yishai Levy, 10 and 11, will be brought to Columbus from Israel for burial. The mother has been identified as Karen Levy, a teacher at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus and a Texas native, the Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday.

Israeli media are under a gag order preventing them from identifying the family.

Sara and Yishai, who were dual American-Israeli citizens, were stabbed to death by their father on June 11, hours after arriving in Israel to spend summer vacation with him.

The Jewish Federation of Columbus reportedly made the legal arrangements to have the bodies brought back to Ohio for burial and arranged for grief counseling for the children’s family, school friends and neighbors, Gordon Hecker, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Columbus, told the Columbus Dispatch.

“We’re all grieving. Our entire community is grieving,” Rabbi Avi Goldstein of Beth Jacob Congregation, where Karen Levy and her children were members, told the Dispatch. “The Jewish community is one big family, and we come together for each other at all times and especially at a time like this.”

The Levys’ father, reportedly named Avi, contacted police late June 11 to tell them what he had done at his home in the moshav of Yashresh in central Israel, about three miles south of Ramle. He reportedly told police he killed the children in order to take revenge on his ex-wife for divorcing him.

Under the reported terms of the couple’s 3-year-old divorce agreement, the children were required to visit their father in Israel twice a year.

Jewish Leader Was on List of Possible Mass Murder Victims (Video)

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

An Ohio ex-felon, whose sporting goods store was raided by the FBI in December in a roundup of rifles and ammunition, turns out to have placed a Detroit Jewish official and other Jewish and black leaders on his list of  possible victims.

Richard Schmidt pleaded guilty to a host of charges in July and faces sentencing next month. Details of the case reveal that while the raid may have prevented a murder spree, federal laws and authorities did not stop Schmidt from managing to get a hold of  18 guns, including assault rifles and 40,000 rounds of ammunition despite his being prohibited for possessing firearms due to his previous conviction.

Investigators discovered that Schmidt maintained notes with the names of Detroit leaders, including,  Scott Kaufman, the chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

“For a convicted violent felon to amass an arsenal with 40,000 rounds of ammunition with no red flags popping up is problematic,” Kaufman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “ No matter where you stand on the gun issue, it makes you wonder. The moment I saw my name in this guy’s notebook, I freaked out.”

Schmidt was released from jail in 2003 after serving 13 years for manslaughter and assault in 1989, when he fired a 9 mm semiautomatic at three people as they  left a bar. Schmidt killed one of the men and wounded two others.

His “rehabilitation” included the formation of a non-profit organization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center described as having “a reputation for drinking, brawling and following a racist version of Odinism, a form of ancient paganism practiced by Vikings,” the newspaper reported.”

Schmidt later opened up his  Spindletop Sports Zone sports memorabilia business, which federal agents began tracking in 2011 for counterfeit items.

Shipments of “Men’s Clothing” turned out to be low-quality NFL jerseys, and federal agents were suspicious when they spotted him unloading a large number of boxes in four trailers.

The FBI raid in December uncovered an arsenal large enough to equip a small police force – three assault rifles, three 9 mm handguns,  four shotguns, cases of Winchester bullets and a bullet-proof vest.

Ohio Bought High Yielding Israel Bonds, Arab Advocates Shout Foul

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Josh Mandell is the treasurer for the State of Ohio.  He is also Jewish, a former Marine, and a grandchild of Holocaust survivors.

In March, Mandel purchased $42 million in Israel bonds.  It was the single largest Israel bond investment by a state, and increased Ohio Treasury’s Israel bonds portfolio to over $80 million.

“During our administration, we’ve managed to earn a ‘AAA’ credit rating on our multibillion-dollar STAR investment fund, as well as earning the first upgrade in a decade on the Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund,” Mandel told the Cleveland Jewish News on the day of the bonds purchase.

“This investment fits into the strategy that has produced positive results for us over the past couple years.”

Mandel’s press secretary told the Columbus Dispatch that, since 1993, all of Ohio’s treasurers, Democrats and Republicans, have invested state money in Israel Bonds.  Ohio law was amended in 1993 to allow the state to invest in foreign bonds.

“Israel Bonds are an attractive investment option for state and municipal public funds because they maintain a high credit rating, are dependable and yield a competitive interest rate,” Berry said.

The fixed-rate bonds purchased in the March purchase have yields that are three to four times the rates of comparable U.S. Treasury bonds.

So, a great deal for Ohio – everyone’s happy, right?  Wrong.

For those Ohioans who prefer that their state get a lower return on investment than tarnish their government dollars by investing in the Jewish State, news of the Israel Bonds purchase was more than they could bear.

Members of seventeen Ohio-based pro-Arab Palestinian organizations signed an open letter demanding that the state of Ohio pull its $80 million investment in Israel bonds.

The letter states that the investment, “undertaken without consent” of Ohio citizens, “in a state that regularly violates international law and human rights.”  It continues by describing Israel as an Apartheid State which regularly “humiliates Palestinian men, women and children,” and declares that the investment in the state of Israel “shames the state of Ohio and poorly reflects upon the character” of the state’s citizens.

“In the Ohio Treasurer’s office, we make decisions on what’s best for our taxpayers, not based on what radical Islamic groups want us to do,” was Mandel’s response.

Mandel ran for congress last fall but was soundly defeated by incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown.

The anti-Israel groups continued to demand that Israel Bonds investment be removed from Ohio’s portfolio and that the state henceforth  “refuse to invest in the state of Israel while it continues to violate international law and human rights in Palestine.” Mostly far leftist student groups, local branches of the International Socialists, and various Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim and Arab Student Unions signed the letter.

The most tasteless response to the Israel Bonds purchase was from a white supremacist site by the name, “Unity of Nobility.”  In what has thankfully become a rarity, this site revived the practice of using the word “Jew” as a verb, describing the purchase of the Israeli Bonds this way: “Ohio Just Got Jewed.”  The story was accompanied by a picture of Mandel with a yellow arm band with the word “Jude” photoshopped in.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/ohio-bought-high-yielding-israel-bonds-arab-advocates-shout-foul/2013/07/15/

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