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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘registration’

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.

Party Registration Closed, and the Pollsters are Busy

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Registration for running in the upcoming Knesset elections officially closed on Thursday, and for the first time we actually know who is running – and where.

34 parties are running.

Among those who elected to not run are Ehud Barak’s Atzmaut (Independence) party, the Green party, and the Eretz Yisrael Shelanu party.

The first poll to be released after registration was closed was run by Dialog.

The results of their poll is as follows:

Likud-Beytenu: 37
Labor: 20
Bayit Yehudi: 11
Shas: 10
Hatnua: 9
Yesh Atid: 7
Yahudut HaTorah: 6
Raam-Tal: 5
Meretz: 4
Am Shalem: 3
Hadash: 3
Balad: 3
Kadima: 2

The Dialog poll did not give any seats to Ben-Ari and Eldad’s Otzma L’Yisrael party.

The Manu Geva poll, on the other hand, as reported on Channel 2, gave Otmza L’Yisrael 3 seats.

Voter Registration Drive In South Florida

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

The Orthodox Union and Jewish Leadership Coalition for School Choice (JLCSC) are pleased to announce a joint nonpartisan voter registration campaign in Hollywood and Boca Raton, South Florida.

September 10 through 24 will be designated for voter registration in local organizations, synagogues and schools. At these locations, voter registration forms, instructions and eligibility resources will be available. The purpose of the campaign is to increase the level of participation and engagement by Jewish Floridians in the upcoming federal, state and local elections.

Florida’s Jewish community is certainly mindful that the presidential and congressional election will impact key national policies including U.S. policy toward Israel, the economy and the healthcare system. However, many voters often overlook other important issues decided by state and local governments – issues such as tuition scholarships for their children and critical aid for parochial schools, including Jewish day schools, are often directly influenced by elections at the state and local level.

Jesse Hervitz, deputy political director for the Orthodox Union, has made the Jewish day school community’s involvement in state and local government one of the OU’s main focuses in South Florida. “There are many issues of importance in state and local governments on which the Jewish community’s voice must be heard. This will not take place until our community as a whole makes the most of their civic responsibility.”

Eliot Schreiber, director of the South Florida Chapter of the JLCSC, noted the potential impact of the Jewish community in local races as it pertains to issues of importance to the local Jewish schools. “A number of races of importance in North Miami and Miami Beach were decided by only 800 or so votes,” he said. “The Jewish community needs to understand how important each vote is. We need to get more involved and send the message that our community values this fundamental American right and takes it seriously.”

Ari Fleischer to Spearhead Republican Jewish Coalition Campaign in Israel

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

The Republican Jewish Coalition is sending two of its top officials to Israel to rally for expatriate votes.

The voter registration drive is led by Ari Fleischer, press secretary for GW Bush, and RJC executive director Matt Brooks.

Campaigning by both parties among expatriates is normally left to local organizers, as the numbers of overseas voters are low relative to domestic turnout.

But Brooks told JTA on Tuesday, one day after next week’s outreach tour was announced, that the stakes are high enough in this election that campaigning in Israel could garner potentially critical Republican votes.

“If you look at the numbers, there is a significant opportunity out there for the Republicans to mine a number of votes,” Brooks said, noting that Americans in Israel tend to favor Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate, over President Obama, in contrast to United States, where Jews tend to favor Democrats. “If this election is going to be as close as people think it is, and with the support Romney is getting in Israel, being able to turn out American voters, especially from battleground states, could be critical.”

An RJC release said the tour, from July 9-13 “will include media events, town hall meetings with U.S. citizens living abroad, and meetings with leading bloggers and social media activists on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms who are expert in communicating directly with potential voters.”

“It’s a long flight, but when you think about Israel being home to 150,000 American voters, it’s also the equivalent of visiting Dayton, Ohio or Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. to get out the message,” Fleischer said in the statement. “In this election, every vote is going to be important.”

iVoteIsrael Making Registration a Cinch for US Expats

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

A new movement to register American expatriates in Israel to vote in the US elections aims to encourage them to cast their ballots for the good of Israel.

iVoteIsrael, an initiative of a group of olim from the United States, helps Israelis with American citizenship to wade through the daunting process of registering to vote in US elections.

According to founder Eli Pieprz, who made in aliyah in 2010, though “each vote is very consequential, very significant”, only 1 out of every 8 Americans in Israel exercised their right to vote in the last election.

In an interview with the Jewish Press’s Yishai Fleisher, Pieperz agreed that some electoral states are more influential in presidential elections than others, noting the importance of each Floridian vote in the 2000 elections between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

However, he also warned Israelis that failing to participate in elections could make a big impact on them.  “If I’m a US politician and I’m looking to try to get money without having any consequences, I’m going to look towards people who are not going to vote,” Pieprz told Fleisher.   “Those of us who are in Israel and are not voting and are not trying to impact the politicians, the influential who are making decisions in America, which has an impact on Israel, if we’re not exercising the limited power that we have, which is casting one vote or talking to our friends and getting them to cast a vote, we’re doing ourselves a severe disservice.”

Yet while some olim fail to participate because of lack of effort, others bow out of election season on principle, seeing their participation in elections as disloyalty to Israel or a failure to identify exclusively as Israeli.

“Participating in the political process through casting a vote, I don’t believe in any way that mitigates the huge sacrifice and frankly the huge excitement and drive that we all feel by making aliyah, living in Israel, and making our lives in the Jewish State,” Pieprz said.  “I think you could make a strong argument that for the average American Jew in Far Rockaway versus the average American Jew in Gush Etzion where I live, the President of the United States will have a more direct, a more acute impact on my day to day life than the American Jew in Far Rockaway, and I think that’s something that we really should be thinking of, that it’s not so much about America.”

“Our organization is called iVoteIsrael.  We’re not voting in the Israeli elections, we’re voting in the American elections to enhance Israel, to benefit Israel on a day to day basis and also to hopefully enhance and bolster our political power back in the States to affect decisions that affect our lives.”

What’s more, Pieprz says voters from Israel can make a big difference when it comes to counter-balancing powerful anti-Israel organizations working to get out the vote in the US.  In a press release issued by iVoteIsrael, Pieprz warned that “forces hostile to Israel are active, effective and are engaged in the campaign season”, and urged pro-Israel voters to be sure to cast their ballots.

Interested potential-voters are encouraged to visit the iVoteIsrael website, where they can register and sign up to participate in the campaign to encourage others to vote.

“Every vote that comes from Israel enhances Israel’s political capital,” Pieprz said.

There are approximately 3 million voting-age Americans residing outside the United States.

Part II: College – I Don’t Think So!

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Suddenly and abruptly, everything I had always known about myself no longer applied. There would be no long yeshiva career, Kollel or the like. At that point I really had no identity. I didn’t know who I was or what it was that I was going to do.

Adjusting to post-yeshiva life was difficult. I hadn’t realized how much structure having a schedule of shiurim and sedorim (even if I skipped most of them) gave my life. Shacharis, which had been an imperative for my entire yeshiva career (the one thing I NEVER missed) suddenly fell to the back burner. Having no schedule can take away any sense of meaning from your life. Having no schedule, and at the same time, no identity, can be crippling.

My parents were very clear about what I would do next. I’d be starting college in the spring (at the time I didn’t realize that “spring” in college parlance begins in January). I had absolutely no interest, not because I had anything better to do with my time, but because I was so convinced that college was not part of who I was (even though I had no real idea who I was anymore).

After floundering for a few weeks, my father drove me to Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), and forced me to fill out and submit my application for admission. As it turns out, the day I registered was the last day for new student applications for the following semester (Bashert to my parents, rotten luck to me).

A classic piece of Americana is the vision of a student running out to the mailbox to see if they have received their college acceptance letters, ripping the letter open and jumping for joy at the good news. I have no memory of receiving my acceptance letter. I only know that it came because my parents were going to force me to go to registration.

My father literally took me to campus on registration day. At the time, NEIU still required that all paperwork and registration forms be filled out in person. Registration day was a lot like going to the DMV. It was a full day affair. There were lines everywhere, and it was extremely confusing. The registration process even included a line to tell us which set of lines we had to wait on.

I was not interested in any of this, so my father took me from line to line, collected the appropriate registration forms and documents, filled out those forms and submitted them on my behalf. I wasn’t at all concerned about how long this was taking because, from my perspective, the longer the ordeal the more likely my father would give up or my classes would close.

I remember filling out one questionnaire about my feelings regarding Division 1 athletics for the school. As a huge sports fan, I enthusiastically endorsed that idea. This was rather ironic because as a student leader on campus years later I was a vocal part of the fight to remove NEIU from Division 1.

There wasn’t much talking between my father and me that day. After all, he was quite busy trying to fill out the correct paperwork and submit all of the right forms, and I was just trying to blend in with the walls. My father also picked my classes for me (two history classes because that had been my favorite high school subject) as we walked to the registration waiting area. I still, however, thought I had an ace in the hole. NEIU used arena registration, timed and strictly regulated by numbers. They did not let you into registration until your number was called. This was good luck because, although I had a number, my father, who was not a registered student, did not.

My father did make sure to get me my number as well as to hold on to it (to prevent me from losing it). This would be the longest wait of the day. The final waiting area was in a large social room outside of the registration hall. There was a large digital board, slowly counting up the numbers. I sat there and stared at it for hours, watching the numbers tick by, one at a time, hoping all the while that something would come up that would prevent my number from being called (I kept hoping someone would pull the fire alarm).

As my number drew closer reality began to set in; I wasn’t getting out of this. I would have to go into that registration room, like it or not. As my number appeared on the big digital board, my father literally pushed me toward the rather large gentleman who was guarding the door. It must have been a comical scene, as I leaned all of my (rather significant) weight back toward my shoulders and my father pushed me from behind. For a fleeting moment, after he pushed me through the turnstile, I thought I was free. I could come back to my dad and tell him that my courses were all closed, and that would be the end of my college career.

One Mitzvah Leads To Another

Friday, April 17th, 2009

I have written in the past about my visits to the Israeli Misrad Harishui (Israel’s DMV) in the 1970′s and 1980′s. At that time, I served as a Senior Administrative Law Judge in the American DMV Traffic Courts, Vice-Chair of DMV’s Appeals Boards, and Director of DMV Downstate Field Operations.

When I visited Israel, I was hosted by the director of driver licensing and vehicle registration in the Ministry of Transport. The Israeli authorities and I often discussed measures that could be taken to reduce the number of traffic accidents in Israel, as many more Israelis die in traffic accidents than are killed by terrorists. We also talked about “housekeeping” issues, such as minimizing waiting times in our offices.

On one trip, the director took me on a tour of the back office computer operation in the Israel DMV’s main office in Holon. At that time, I prevented a former New Yorker from fraudulently obtaining a driver’s license to operate a motorcycle, based on a non-existent New York State motorcycle license. A few days later, he took me to visit the Jerusalem DMV District Office in Talpiot.

In Talpiot, we met with the district director in charge of the office, took a tour, and discussed the problems of DMV offices, both in Israel and in New York. As we were leaving, the district director said to me, “If you ever need help, feel free to call on me.”

My wife and I spent the following Shabbat in Efrat with our widowed sister-in-law. Over the course of the Shabbat, I told her of my Israeli DMV experiences, including the district director’s parting remark.

Our sister-in-law’s car registration was still in her late husband’s name. She needed to transfer the registration to her own name. Efrat residents are required to transact their DMV business in the Jerusalem office.

She went to the office to get the transaction done. Predictably, the clerk told her that she was missing a necessary document. Back to Efrat she went to get the needed paper.

On her fourth trip to the Talpiot office, the clerk once again turned her down. This time, remembering what I had told her about my visit to that office a month or so earlier, she asked to see the district director.

He looked at her papers and reiterated what the clerk had said – that she still needed more documentation to get the registration transferred.

At this point, throwing caution to the winds, my sister-in-law said, “Sir, about a month ago, my brother-in-law, the Director of Downstate Field Operations for the New York State DMV was hosted here by your director. You told him if he ever needed help, he should just ask. Do I need to have him call you from America to ask you to help me?”

“No, of course not. Let me look at these papers again.”

After a short re-examination of my sister-in-law’s documents, he called over the clerk and told him to process the application to transfer the registration.

My “good deed” in stopping fraud in Holon was repaid.

Could Americans In Israel Elect The Next President?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

A grassroots, Israeli-based voter registration organization maintains that eligible American voters in the Jewish state could significantly impact the results of next Tuesday’s race for the White House.

VotefromIsrael.org, a nonprofit group encouraging American immigrants in Israel to register and vote, succeeded in registering nearly 7,000 eligible U.S. citizens over the past few weeks.

  According to informed sources, Americans living in Israel represent the third largest expatriate-voting group after Canada and England – with about 47,000 eligible voters.In an exclusive interview with The Jewish Press, VotefromIsrael.org spokesperson Shimon Greenspan revealed some fascinating information about the overseas immigrant voters:

 

The Jewish Press: Is this the largest number of eligible American voters ever recorded in Israel?

Greenspan: I believe so, but I don’t have a specific source to back it up. In our own dealings with Americans on the ground, most are registering for the first time abroad because they did not know how – or did not know they could.

 

Can 47,000 voters really make a difference in certain swing states?

The 2000 presidential election was decided by 537 votes in Florida. Currently, Ohio and Florida – both of which have a large [voter] representation in Israel – feature very tight races and could definitely make a difference. It is also important to note that no president since 1960 has won the election without winning at least two of the three so-called [key] swing states, which this year include Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

 

Considering that there are between 200,000 and 250,000 Americans living in Israel, plus some Israeli-Americans who are of voting age, 47,000 voters appear to be a relatively low number?

There are about 125,000 American citizens in Israel who are probably eligible to vote. For most Americans living in Israel, life is hard enough. Only the most diligent citizens will try to inquire about their democratic rights. VotefromIsrael.org has encountered so many Americans who are thankful for the opportunity to vote because the process can be long, tedious and even expensive. Our efforts have alleviated some of those stresses, and we believe that in the future the numbers of voters in Israel will continue to rise.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles//2008/10/29/

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