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April 29, 2016 / 21 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Purim’

Istanbul Jews to Hear Megillah in 500-Year-Old Synagogue

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Jews in Istanbul will stream into a 500-year-old synagogue tonight (Wed. Mar. 23) to hear the reading of the Book of Esther, the Megillah, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi of Turkey. It’s an ancient tradition that no one would dare to disturb.

Entrance to the centuries-old Ahrida Synagogue in Istanbul's Balat neighborhood.

Entrance to the centuries-old Ahrida Synagogue in Istanbul’s Balat neighborhood.

The Ahrida Synagogue is a fairly modest building — one has to search hard within the numerous alleyways of the historically Jewish Balat neighborhood to find it — but nevertheless, it is tightly guarded. JewishPress.com managed to secure a precious half-hour interview under the authority of the Chief Rabbinate of Turkey, and when that time was up, two men came to ensure that the synagogue caretake closed and locked the doors and gates precisely on time. To the minute.

“It is to make sure the synagogue stays safe,” we were told. There are cameras everywhere in the small synagogue, we also discovered. Everywhere. But that did not stop our guide from showing us everything there was to know about the house of worship he clearly loved.

“Hundreds of years ago, Jews made their way from Macedonia to the majestic city of Constantinople in search of a better life,” he explained. “There in the heart of what was later to become Istanbul, that small group of Jews built a modest house of worship in the Balat neighborhood.”

The Ahrida Synagogue, built in 1430 by the Jews of Ohry, Macedonia, is arranged in the Sephardic tradition with the bima in the center. Within a few years, the congregation grew, and was supplemented by those who had fled Spain in 1492.

“There are Ottoman documents dating to 1693 verifying the origins of the synagogue and the fact of its continuous use since that time,” he added.

The Ahrida Synagogue is especially famed for the shape of its bima, which is in the form of a “Tevah” – Noah’s Ark – and possibly the ships that brought the Jews to the Ottoman Empire. The mother-of-pearl inlaid door wings of the Ark that holds and protects the Torah scrolls within, and the high, magnificent wooden arched ceiling reflect classical Ottoman styles.

Torah ark with inlaid mother-of-pearl at Ahrida Synagogue in Istanbul.

Torah ark with inlaid mother-of-pearl at Ahrida Synagogue in Istanbul.

The Ahrida Synagogue was restored in 1992 by the Quincentennial Foundation, within the framework of the quincentennial celebrations of the Jewish community’s existence in Turkey.

The synagogue is one of only two in Balat that still remain in active use. A second synagogue that opened for prayers for only a day earlier this year was found with nasty epithets spray-painted on the outside wall 24 hours later. But not so the Ahrida, where neighbors are happy to talk about its history, and point out the apartment of the first chief rabbi of Turkey (“It has a Star of David on the ceiling on the balcony, can you see it?”).

Apartment of the Chief Rabbi, locatec conveniently right across the street from Ahrida Synagogue.

Apartment of the Chief Rabbi, locatec conveniently right across the street from Ahrida Synagogue.

One neighbor quietly said later, “Our streets were filled with people of many lands decades ago. It is very different now. This synagogue was open all the time back then, and the Jews prayed there all the time, every day. But after 1948, most of the Jews left. We miss them and our country is poorer for it.”

Hana Levi Julian

Purim Began Early This Year

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

As there’s no school on Purim, Israeli schools hold their Purim parties and dress-ups earlier…

Photos by Flash90: Yonatan Sindel, Gershon Elinson, Lior Mizrahi

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Photo of the Day

Cruz at AIPAC: ‘Peace Through Strength’ [video]

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) spoke to AIPAC’s policy conference on Monday evening, March 21. He followed a raucous presentation by Donald Cruz, and one given earlier in the day by Hillary Clinton.

Cruz started his talk by correcting without naming Donald Trump. He said, “Let me say at the outset, perhaps to the surprise of the previous speaker, Palestine has not existed since 1948.” Point Cruz.

He continued by invoking the story of Purim, mentioning that Jews the world over will soon be reading the Megillah (Esther). He recounted that the evil Persian Haman described the Jews as “scattered and spread out.” The Talmud teaches us, Cruz explained, that when the forces for good are divided, evil can prevail. But when forces for good come together in unity, they can defeat tyrants. Do you see where this is going?

Cruz likened the time of Haman to the time in which we live. But he promised a near future in which Americans will come together,  within the Republican party and across America.

Aware that he has a reputation as a divisive personality, Cruz hit hard on that issue of unity, unity within America and then, after November, between America and Israel. “America will stand with Israel and defeat radical Islamic terrorists,” Cruz told the crowd.

He also mentioned that his colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, had hosted an event for him earlier in the day, “which should allay the doubts of anyone here that the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can still do miracles,” eliciting a big guffaw.

As did both Clinton and Trump, Cruz mentioned the brutal murder of American Christian Taylor Force who was recently stabbed to death in Jaffa by a Palestinian Arab terrorist. Force was from Lubbock, Texas, so it was no surprise that Cruz mentioned him.

He used the tragedy to remind the audience that America and Israel are in the fight together against radical Islam. Sadly, not one of the candidates mentioned another American recently murdered in Israel, Ezra Schwartz. Schwartz was a Jewish teenager from Boston.

In his four years in the Senate, Cruz has initiated efforts to support Israel in various ways, and he mentioned several of them during his speech on Monday. One, a critical effort, was when he stood up to the U.S. State Department when it shut down Ben Gurion Airport during Operation Cast Lead, after a rocket from Gaza landed – harmlessly – a mile away.

Cruz had immediately called on the U.S. government to explain why it had imposed what he called an economic boycott on Israel, pointing out that the U.S. had not shut down the airspace in other hot war zones such as Pakistan, Afghanistan or even in the Ukraine, where a passenger airline had just been shot down by Russia.

When Cruz demanded that the Obama administration answer the question, the response he got was that his suggestion was ridiculous. Cruz then informed them that he would shut down every nomination to the State Dept. until it answered his question.

The closure of Israeli airspace was lifted within 36 hours, thanks at least in part to the action taken by Cruz.

Cruz pointed out that on one of his three trips to Israel, he visited a hospital in the north, where “Israel has treated more than a thousand Syrians, free of charge.”

He quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Israelis use missile defense system to protect our citizens, while Hamas uses its citizens to protect its missiles to launch into his one mention of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Clinton had sought to justify Hamas keeping its missiles in schools and hospitals by explaining that Gaza is very small and crowded.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

The Maccabeats – Purim Song

Monday, February 29th, 2016

The kids have all begun talking Purim and costumes, so let’s kick off with a classic.

Video of the Day

Pizza Hamantashen

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

It was Purim Katan the other day, and we were sent this photo of a pizza hamantashen.

Looks good.

(If anyone knows who took this photo, please let us know in the comments).

Photo of the Day

Hamas Purim Terror Plot Foiled by Shin Bet

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) foiled a plot by Hamas to attack Israeli military forces this past Purim.

Details of the plan were released by the Shin Bet for publication on Tuesday (April 14.)

Members of the terrorist cell who were to carry out the operation were arrested at the beginning of March and are residents of the Arab town of Abu Dis, on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem.

  • Ma’an Nour al-Dun Sha’ar, 26, of Burqa (in Samaria), alleged leader of the cell, worked at the cafeteria of Al Quds University in Abu Dis; he is a Hamas member who served time in prison from 2009 to 2011 for shooting Israeli soldiers;
  • Daoud Raja Daoud Adwan, 32, of Azariya, another former prison member of Hamas with expertise in weapons use.

“They were arrested before being able to carry out the attacks. We have seized firearms in the course of the investigation,” officials said.

The terrorists had already purchased the vehicle with which to carry out the attack, had undergone firearms training and had gathered intelligence on their targets, according to the Shin Bet. They also had already advanced their plans and practiced firing with a Kalashnikov rifle and a 9 mm caliber handgun. They also confessed to planning to burn their getaway vehicle in a forest near Azariya after the attack.

“During questioning by the Shin Bet it emerged that Ma’an is the one who began in recent months to form a plan to carry out the attack, which was initially planned for Jerusalem,” the Shin Bet said in a statement. “He drafted Daoud, and the latter – due to difficulties in carrying out an attack in the city – suggested changing the target to the Kiosk checkpoint at the entrance to Jerusalem. Ma’an also planned to draft an additional operative to act as a driver and assist in the getaway of the shooter from the scene of the attack. “

The Shin Bet warned in its statement that the investigation underlines “the high motivation by Hamas to carry out attacks in Jerusalem and its environment, and the danger posed by Hamas members who return to the cycle of terrorism after being released from prison.”

The suspects are to be charged at the Judea Military Court within the next few days, officials said.

Hana Levi Julian

Supermodel Bar Refaeli Rumored to be Engaged to Israeli Businessman

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli is engaged to her boyfriend and Israeli businessman Adi Ezra, according to Israeli media.

Ezra reportedly popped the question while traveling with her in the Caribbean during Purim.

The picture originally shown with the article was taken by David Zimand.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/supermodel-bar-refaeli-rumored-to-be-engaged-to-israeli-businessman/2015/03/09/

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