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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Passover’

Jews Ordered to ‘Register’ in Donetsk, Ukraine

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  For some Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on this Passover holiday of “freedom,” concern and even fear is lurking in their thoughts, making them wonder about the lessons of the past.

On the first day of Passover this week, three armed men in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk distributed flyers warning Jews to “register” themselves and their assets with the new pro-Russian government, according to the novosti.dn.ua website.

The flyers were handed out next to a synagogue as people were leaving following holiday prayers. They read as follows:

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,

Due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported (Stepan) Bendery Junta, and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, [the interim government] has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent age 16 and older, residing within the territory of the republic, are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register by May 3.

(Ed. Note: Stepan Bander was a Ukrainian nationalist leader in Kiev who fought with Nazi Germany in the 1940s against Soviet troops before switching sides and taking up arms against the German occupation.)

“ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles. Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revocation and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property. A registration fee of $50 is required.”

Pro-Russian separatists are occupying the building where the Jews were told the register.

The flyer was written in the Russian language and bore the symbol of Mother Russia at the top of the page and that of the Donetsk People’s Republic at the bottom. It was allegedly signed by Denis Pushilin, chairman of the Donetsk interim government but no ink signature is seen on the paper.

Donetsk was recently declared an independent “people’s republic” by pro-Russian activists. In response to a query by a Ukrainian Jewish website, Pushilin confirmed the flyers were indeed distributed by his organization. However, he was quoted by the tvrain.ru news site on Wednesday as denying any connection to the content, and called the flyers a ‘provocation.’

Nevertheless, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky told Voice of Israel government radio on Wednesday that aliyah from the Ukraine is likely to double by the end of 2014.

The flyer – authentic or not – constitutes the 17th anti-Semitic incident to have taken place in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014. Most were violent attacks. Several were aimed at Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and a few were life-threatening. Five took place in Kiev alone, according to statistics gleaned from the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism (CFCA) website.

A reader on the Israel Matzav blog warned in a number of posts that the situation in Ukraine is becoming extremely dangerous for Jews.

Wisely, a Jewish resident of Donetsk told Ynet that she does not intend to register, although she said that she had never encountered any form of anti-Semitism until she saw the flyer. “Though I take it very seriously, I am uncertain of its authenticity,” she said.

Kansas Shooting Suspect a White Supremacist, Indicted for Murder

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

The Missouri-born suspect charged in a pre-Passover shooting spree that left three dead outside two Kansas Jewish centers is a known white supremacist, media report.

Frazier Glenn Cross (aka Frazier Glenn Miller), 73, was charged with one count of first degree premeditated murder and one count of capital murder in connection with the shootings that took place on Sunday near Kansas City, Kansas.  He had three weapons in his possession when he was taken into custody on Sunday, according to police, after shooting at five people, none of whom he knew.

Of those, 14-year-old Reat Griffin Underwood and his grandfather, family practitioner Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, were both Methodists. Reat was heading for an audition for a play to be held at the Jewish community center. Occupational therapist Terri LaManno, 53, a Roman Catholic, was on the way to visit her mother at the assisted living center.

Police investigators say the shooter’s actions were “unquestionably determined” to be a hate crime,” Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass told reporters. While sitting in the back of a police vehicle after his arrest, Cross was seen in a video filmed by CNN affiliate KMBC shouting, “Heil Hitler!”

Those who know Cross told CNN that he has ‘made no secret of his racist views, writing letters to newspapers and inviting people to white supremacist meetings at his home.’

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) watchdog organization reported that Cross was the founder and former ‘Grand Dragon’ of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and the paramilitary White Patriot Party.

Also according to the Center, Cross is a “raging anti-Semite” who has called Jews “swarthy, hairy, bow-legged, beady-eyed parasitic midgets” in posts on online forums advocating the extermination of Jews.

But although he was convicted on weapons charges and for plotting to murder SPLC founder Morris Dees, Cross spent only three years in prison. And he’s been publishing ‘The Aryan Alternative’ tabloid regularly, without interference, since 2005.

(Note the difference in how American ‘justice for all’ is meted out to a convicted would-be assassin such as Cross, and a Jewish spy for the allied nation of Israel, the man named Pollard.)

The abbreviated prison term for Cross came as the result of a plea bargain arranged with federal prosecutors in exchange for testimony against 14 white supremacists in Arkansas at a sedition trial in 1988.

(The plea bargain arranged with federal prosecutors for Pollard was suddenly abrogated at the bench during sentencing without warning, with no explanation and after Pollard had already fulfilled his part of the deal. He was instead sentenced to life in prison on a one charge of passing classified information to a friendly allied nation. The crime carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison – Pollard is now entering his 29th year.)

Cross appeared in court on Tuesday in a wheelchair wearing an anti-suicide garment to face the charges of murder: the first, for killing a boy and his grandfather outside the Jewish community center. Neither victim was Jewish. As he heard the other accusation for killing a woman visiting her mother at the nearby Jewish assisted living facility, he learned that in this case he had also failed: nor was his third victim a Jew.

Hundreds at Bangkok Chabad Passover Seder

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

More than 400 people sang their way through the Haggadah on the first night of Passover at the first seder held this year at the Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand.

Dozens of children ascended special stage set up in the hall where the seder was held in order to sing the traditional “Ma Nishtana” – the Four Questions that launch the story explaining the reason for the celebration of Passover.

For those with slim budgets, the Chabad of Bangkok website stated clearly that everyone was welcome regardless of ability to pay. “Please contact the Rabbi in confidence if the charge is beyond your means,” the statement on Chabad’s “JewishThailand.com” site advised. “‘All who are hungry may come and eat’ is the theme of Passover and it will be our pleasure to host you regardless of financial ability.”

A seder for the second night was made available with the Kantor Family according to the announcement, sponsored by the Jewish Association of Thailand. “No charge but please RSVP,” the notice read.

Hebrew-language Passover seders were conducted in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ko Samui and Phuket.

President Obama’s Passover Statement

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014).

As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House.

Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world.

On Tuesday, just as we have every year of my presidency, my family will join the millions taking part in the ancient tradition of the Seder. We will enjoy the company of friends and loved ones, retell a timeless story, and give thanks for the freedom we are so blessed to enjoy.

Yet even as we celebrate, our prayers will be with the people of Overland Park, Kansas and the family and friends of the three innocent people who were killed when a gunman, just one day before Passover, opened fire at a Jewish community center and retirement home on Sunday. As Americans, we will continue to stand united against this kind of terrible violence, which has no place in our society. We will continue to come together across faiths to combat the ignorance and intolerance, including anti-Semitism, that can lead to hatred and violence. And we will never lose faith that compassion and justice will ultimately triumph over hate and fear.

For that is one of the great lessons of the Exodus. The tale of the Hebrew slaves and their flight from Egypt carries the hope and promise that the Jewish people have held in their hearts for thousands of years, and it is has inspired countless generations in their own struggles for freedom around the globe.

In America, the Passover story has always had special meaning. We come from different places and diverse backgrounds, but we are bound together by a journey from bondage to liberty enshrined in our founding documents and continued in each generation. As we were so painfully reminded on Sunday, our world is still in need of repair, but the story of the Exodus teaches us that with patience, determination, and abundant faith, a brighter future is possible.

Chag Sameach.

The Deeper Dimension Of Passover

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Passover holds many fundamental elements of faith and belief. This is reflected in the mention of the Exodus in the Shema prayer. Yalkut Shimoni (Hosheya Remez 519) comments: “In the merit of emunah [faith] were our ancestors redeemed from Egypt.”

By definition, emunah is required at the point that intellectual grasp stops. How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine? One of the principal intellectual proofs for the existence of an Entity beyond the parameters of the universe as we know it is the axiom that “no entity can make itself” (bring itself into a state of existence), the conclusion being that Someone beyond the realm of the universe brought the universe into existence.

This, however, only “proves” His existence but offers no clue as to what He is really about (essential knowledge vs. existential knowledge). All we are doing is extrapolating from the universe, positing that God transcends it but not knowing the nature of His transcendence.

True, we acknowledge that the ability to create ex nihilo can only come from God who has no beginning and no preceding cause. Only He, therefore, can bring about the creation of entities that also have no preceding cause and “potential form” from which they might develop gradually; rather, they radically emerge out of “nothing,” save for the Power bringing them into existence.

Nonetheless, the creative ability is only one of Hashem’s powers. The only access we have to the Creator’s essential transcendence is due to His kindness in activating a process of revelation. The main stage of such Divine revelation took place at Sinai at the giving of the Torah, and subsequently through the prophets of later generations.

This is why we read that “God descended upon the mountain” (Shemos 19:20), indicating that these are reaches unattainable through man’s ascent but only through Divine descent and revelation.

Where does emunah come in? As much as there is a process of revelation, it is still limited to the limited parameters of human intellect and emotions. To go beyond those parameters, one has to rely on emunah, faith and belief in divine axioms that transcend human intellect. Some examples: God’s Unity, His Perfection, and His Incorporating of Opposites (such as infinity and finity).

These matters of belief are spelled out as mitzvot of the Torah, and Jews have explicit emunah and belief in them. However, is it true that a Jew will believe merely because he is commanded to in the mitzvot? Is it fair to blame those who don’t believe, despite having been so commanded?

The answer is that Jews are endowed to naturally believe in these truths. In addition, they have inherited this faith from their ancestors Avraham (known as the rosh, the head, of believers), Yitzchak and Yaakov.

Those who profess not to have this faith suffer from temporary obstacles blocking their access (faith can often be obscured by layers of intellectual trappings). When such Jews are confronted by situations threatening their intrinsic connection to God, this faith will come to the fore in order to overcome such obstacles.

The Exodus was a prelude to the Sinaic Revelation. However, it was for the merit of the intrinsic faith Jews possessed all along during their slavery in Egypt. For God knows the pitfalls of intellect, even when confronted by open, undeniable miracles changing the course of nature. To this day you will find explanations of “natural phenomena” that are thought to have activated the splitting of the Red Sea. Hashem desired that Revelation be coupled with strong, unshakable emunah, which Jews possessed all along, and in that merit they were redeemed.

Once emunah is firmly entrenched, all natural phenomena are viewed differently. Divine providence and intervention, sometimes openly miraculous and many times not, are then perceived and felt in all natural events. All these phases are reactivated every Pesach and our emunah is strengthened anew. May we thereby also soon merit the Geulah Sheleimah through Mashiach.

Biur Chametz

Monday, April 14th, 2014

No, it’s not another Haredi protest against the draft.

In these photos, we are seeing the traditional burning of the Chametz (leavened bread), that Jews do on the day of Passover.

As part of the ceremony, any leavened bread that might still accidentally be in one’s possession is declared owner-less.

Burning Chametz 2

Burning Chametz 3

For some reason, I’m reminded of Lag B’Omer.

A Third Intifada to Begin at the Temple Mount?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Once again, on the eve of a major Jewish holiday, Israel Police have  closed access for Jews and Christians to the Temple Mount due to intelligence “there would be disturbances” if Jews were allowed to ascend to the site.

Hundreds of tourists who flocked to the site on Monday were turned away due to violence spawned by Muslim rioters the previous day.

Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told The Jewish Press in a telephone interview Monday morning, “Police officials made the decision to close access to the site based on information there would be disturbances similar to those that occurred yesterday, and which caused injuries to two police officers. As a result, access to the site was restricted solely to Muslim men age 50 and above, and to Muslim women of all ages.”

Asked whether Muslim women had never caused any disturbances at the Temple Mount – which they have on numerous occasions — Rosenfeld responded: “Muslim women do not pose any problem for Israel Police. It is Muslim men under age 50 who are the most dangerous to the general population and to police officers during disturbances at the site.”

On Sunday police closed the Temple Mount to visitors — but not to Muslim worshipers — after Muslim rioters hurled rocks and firebombs (Molotov cocktails) at police officers posted at the Mughrabi Gate near the Western Wall Plaza.

Two Israel Police officers were injured in the riot which started when the site was opened to visitors.

Rosenfeld claimed he had “no idea what [you] are talking about” when asked about a report posted on the Arutz Sheva website describing a virtual takeover of the Temple Mount by “dozens of Hamas men… waving Hamas flags and ‘not allowing Jews and tourists into the Mount.’

The site has always been a flash point of contention between Jews and Muslims. There is no holier site in the Jewish faith, and it ranks third in importance in Islam.

The Temple Mount encompasses the Western Wall – the last remnant of the Holy Temple, the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount. It is the wall that was the closest to the Holy of Holies when the Holy Temple once stood in Jerusalem.

In Judaism, the Temple Mount is also known as Mount Moriah, which according to Jewish tradition is the place where the creation of the world began from the Foundation Stone at the peak of the mountain, and is where Adam, the first human being, was created.

It is also the site where the Biblical patriarch Abraham was commanded to prepare his son Isaac for sacrifice, (by the way, the Muslims believe it is Ishmael who was nearly sacrificed) and where the binding of Isaac – the Foundation Stone – took place. The Holy of Holies, around which both the First and Second Holy Temples were built, is set around the Foundation Stone.

Known to the Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, the Temple Mount site is believed to be that from which Islam’s prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven to speak with God about the details of prayer rituals after a night-long journey to Jerusalem, “the farthest mosque,” on his steed Buraq. For this reason, Islamists fight with particular ferocity over the site and do what they can to claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

Israel’s willingness to allow the Islamic Waqf Authority to administer the site has backfired dozens of times as increasing violence by Islamist extremists on the eve of every Jewish holiday makes it clear it is impossible for the status quo to continue.

A similar scenario was deliberately used by Hamas to ignite the Second Intifada in the year 2000 when MK Ariel Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount just prior to the Jewish new year holidays, setting off violent Muslim riots and sparking a lethal police response. It seems likely that plans are afoot to recreate the same scenario again.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/a-third-intifada-to-begin-at-the-temple-mount/2014/04/14/

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