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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘synagogue’

First Synagogue in 500 Years to Open in Palermo, Sicily

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

More than 500 years after the Jews were expelled from Sicily, the nascent Jewish community of Palermo will celebrate its rebirth this week with the formal transfer of ownership of a facility owned by the church and monastery of St. Nicolo Tolentino, which sits atop the ruins of the Great Synagogue of Palermo. The transfer comes in response to a request by the Jerusalem-based nonprofit Shavei Israel and the Istituto Siciliano di Studi Ebraici (ISSE, or Sicilian Institute for Jewish Studies).

The handover will be carried out in an official ceremony this Thursday, marking the anniversary of the Jan. 12, 1493 expulsion of the island’s Jews. It will usher in the opening of the first local synagogue in Palermo, Sicily’s capital, since the 15th century. The move comes as a growing number of people throughout Sicily are rediscovering their Jewish roots.

The ceremony is expected to draw hundreds of dignitaries and local residents, eager to see the archbishop of Palermo, Corrado Lorefice, officially delivering part of the complex to the local Jewish community, which numbers around 70.

“It is with great joy that we have responded to this request to have a place of study and worship for the Palermo Jewish community,” Lorefice said. “The new synagogue’s location atop the ancient ruins of Palermo’s Great Synagogue makes this historic moment all the more exciting. This transfer is the product of a genuine friendship and ongoing dialogue between the church and Palermo’s Jewish community.”

The church’s historic decision to help revive the Palermo Jewish community comes after more than five years of tireless lobbying by Shavei Israel’s founder and chairman, Michael Freund. Freund’s ultimate vision – to revitalize Palermo’s once-vibrant Jewish community for the first time since 1493 – is now finally being realized.

“Ever since I learned about Sicily’s history, my goal has been to lay the groundwork for the establishment of the first Jewish community in Palermo in more than five centuries,” said Freund. “I am very moved that it will be located adjacent to where the Great Synagogue of Palermo once stood and I am grateful to the Archbishop of Palermo for having the vision and courage to make such a grand gesture of reconciliation towards the Jewish people.”

Freund added: “It is a miracle that after more than 500 years there are still people in Sicily who proudly cling to their Jewish roots, and it is a testimony to the fact that neither the expulsion nor the Inquisition was able to extinguish the eternal Jewish spark in their hearts. With God’s help, the sounds of Shabbat hymns and Jewish prayers will once again be heard in the streets of Palermo.”

The synagogue, which will include a beit midrash (study center), and a Jewish heritage center, will be overseen by Shavei’s emissary to Sicily, Rabbi Pinhas Punturello, who serves as the rabbi of the local Jewish community. Punturello also serves as a board member of the ISSE.

Shavei Israel has been working closely with a growing number of Sicilians whose forefathers were forced to convert to Catholicism in the 14th and 15th centuries, yet secretly preserved Jewish traditions and are now rediscovering their Jewish roots. There are believed to be thousands of such crypto-Jews, called “Bnei Anousim” (children of the forced ones) across Sicily.


Santa Monica Synagogue Smeared with Feces on First Night of Hanukkah

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

On the first day of Hanukkah Chabad Rabbi Boruch Rabinowitz discovered that the front window of his Santa Monica synagogue, near the menorah display, had been smeared with feces and rice, the LA Times reported. The repulsive act of vandalism, carried out overnight Sunday, did not feature anti-Semitic messages, but, of course, a repugnant picture is worth a thousand words.

At the Chabad Living Torah Center on Wilshire Boulevard they obviously suspect this was a full blown anti-Semitic act.

“This seems kind of intentional,” Assistant Rabbi Dovid Tenenbaum told the LAT Sunday morning. “With a religious artifact in the window, we have to assume so.”

Rabbi Rabinowitz, who arrived at the synagogue shortly before 8 AM Sunday, alerted the Santa Monica police came and recorded the incident, but so far there are no witnesses to the crime. Now the synagogue is going to install a security camera.

The Rabbi told KXXY TV he feels this was a targeted hate crime, since the rest of businesses on the street had not been vandalized, and then there’s the timing, at the start of Hanukkah.

“It’s so sad that at this time people should feel that they want to express themselves in such a negative way,” he said.

According to the LAT, there have been a few anti-Semitic incidents at the Chabad synagogue. A month ago, during services, a man stood up outside, raised his arm and shouted “Heil, Hitler,” but he ran away before the Jews inside could catch him. And a year ago, a letter was dropped in the synagogue mailbox, adorned with a swastika, which read: “Get out of here, you Jews.” And a year and a half ago, on Sukkot, an anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled on the synagogue’s Sukkah. And years ago a big cross was etched on the synagogue’s front window.


Israeli Consul Says ‘Barbaric Attack’ at Breslov Synagogue Aimed at Ukraine-Israel Bilateral Ties

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Israel’s honorary Consul in West Ukraine has expressed shock at the vicious attack on one of the most revered sacred sites in eastern Europe, discovered Wednesday morning at the synagogue of Reb Nachman of Breslov.

Ukrainian vandals placed a pig’s head, upon whose forehead was carved a swastika, on top of the Uman gravesite of the late Talmudic Sage, according to the Breslov Hasidim who arrived early to pray at the site. Pig’s blood was splattered all over the floor and walls of the Rebbe’s tomb, and the adjoining synagogue was smeared with red paint.

Oleg Vyshniakov, honorary Israel Consul in West Ukraine, said, “I am startled by the barbarian attack at the Reb Nachman of Breslov’s Synagogue.

“Anti-Semitism is a severe phenomenon which exists, not only in the Ukraine unfortunately, and it must be addressed immediately and with full force.

“However, what concerns me more in this case is the appearance of this despicable violence directed towards a holy landmark to the Jewish people, occurring just as the relations between Israel and the Ukraine tightens.

“It was only recently that the United Nations held a vote regarding Crimea, in which Israel expressed support in the Ukraine’s right for sovereignty.

“Furthermore, Volodymyr Groysman, Ukraine Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Israel in the near future,” he pointed out, adding that he was “well aware” that there are groups who “may not be in favor” of the these actions.

“These people are traitors,” Vyshniakov stated bluntly, “and should be punished by the full extent of the law. According to the Ukrainian Criminal Law, section number 161, I expect them to receive between five to eight years in prison. Those guilty of these crimes should be arrested and must be sentenced for their deeds, so that it is made clear to all others that they mustn’t act in this manner. I am glad that Yuriy Lutsenko, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine has taken this case under his own hands.”

Vyshniakov added that he hoped Israelis would understand that the attack was carried out as a provocation, and “does not reflect the Ukrainian attitude towards Israel and Israelis in the least.” The Ukrainian people “are very grateful for this support and true friendship,” he emphasized.

Hana Levi Julian

Amsterdam Police Foil Jihadist Attack on Synagogue While Dutch Lawmakers Hope to Reduce Security Costs

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

The Jewish community of Netherlands is raising raised alarm bells in response to efforts by two right-wing Dutch lawmakers, Louis Bontes and Joram van Klaveren who are trying to reduce the strong security measures for Jews that have been in place to this point.

The two lawmakers last week criticized the Dutch Justice Ministry for measures that were taken over the previous year to protect the Jewish community from terrorist attacks, including a permanent police presence at some synagogues.

A Moroccan jihadist and his accomplices who planned to attack an Amsterdam synagogue was recently arrested by Dutch police, according to a report published in the Telegraaf Daily, thanks to surveillance carried out by the police counterterrorism unit. Much of the information about the jihadists and their plot that was used in the newspaper report was culled from a leaked police report obtained by the newspaper.

There has been permanent police protection in place at some of Amsterdam’s synagogues. However, the two lawmakers are leading a movement to replace those measures with less expensive — and less effective — video surveillance instead.

The Jewish community vehemently opposes this plan, citing the elevated risk involved.

The terrorism ring uncovered last year was allegedly connected to the Arrayan Sunni mosque, also in Amsterdam, according to the police document obtained by the newspaper.

The attack was allegedly planned by the self-named “Abdelhakim” and at least two suspected accomplices, identified in a police document as “Izzy” and “Ibo,” and was part of a larger terrorist plot that was to take place on New Year’s Eve, 2015-2016, the Telegraaf reported.

Abdelhakim, a man in his 40s was described as being of Moroccan descent with a goatee and receding hairline, driving a white Audi, and was known to be knowledgeable in the writings of Islam, according to the document.

The TCI counterterrorism division in the Dutch Police force reportedly kept the suspect and his accomplices under surveillance as the plan unfolded to strike the synagogue in the southern part of the Dutch capital last January.

Hana Levi Julian

Panorama Killer of Jewish Worshipers Gets Life in Prison

Monday, November 28th, 2016

The 37-year-old terrorist who murdered two Jewish men as they prayed the afternoon service a year ago last November was sentenced to life in prison on Monday in the Tel Aviv District Court.

Raed Khalil, also known as Raed Masalmeh, was convicted this past July for the murders of 32-year-old Aharon Yesiav and 51-year-old Reuven Aviram. The two men were praying the afternoon service at a synagogue in the Panorama building in Tel Aviv when they were stabbed to death by Khalil, who confessed to the killing.

Khalil, the father of recently-born twins and three other children, said he took a nine-inch knife from the Tel Aviv restaurant where he worked under a legal permit that allowed him to enter Israel from the Palestinian Authority. He went upstairs to the second-floor synagogue to hunt for victims at the synagogue.

He stabbed Aviram a number of times, but the dying man managed to stagger away and yell a warning, “Terrorist!” before he collapsed. Khalil found Yesiav next, and stabbed him nine times in the torso, before moving on to find another victim.

Worshipers slammed the door to the synagogue, blocking the killer from entering as he fought to get in before finally giving up and running out of the building with the knife still in his hand. Khalil attacked three others as he attempted to make his escape, until he was caught and held by passersby, who handed him over to police.

It’s important to reiterate that the Palestine Liberation Organization, on behalf of the Palestinian Authority government, generously rewards terrorists such as Khalil and their families with high monthly salaries to compensate for their incarceration in Israel. The more Israelis they wound and kill and the longer the jail sentence, the higher the salary and the more vocal the praise by government officials for their “heroism.”

Before he was sentenced, Khalil spoke of the Dawabshe family, attacked and murdered through arson in July 2015 by Jewish extremists in one of the handful of Jewish terror attacks ever carried out against Palestinian Authority Arabs. The Dawabshe family was officially declared to be victims of terror under the protocols of the Israeli government and are receiving the same consideration that Jewish terror victims do.

Hana Levi Julian

Historic Upper West Side Conservative Synagogue Going Condo

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

Congregation Shaare Zedek, an egalitarian Conservative congregation at 212 West 93rd Street in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, is planning to tear down their 93-year-old building, in order to keep the congregation alive. Back in October, Shaare Zedek President Michael Firestone told a community board 7 meeting that the congregation had already signed a contract with a developer, who will build a condo building in which Shaare Zedek will own three floors.

Apparently, Congregation Shaare Zedek just can’t keep up with mounting costs. Firestone says the building is too big and expensive — with a capacity for 1,000 worshipers, the congregation only has about 80 families. In addition, they own and maintain the Shaare Zedek cemetery in Queens, to the tune of $80,000 a year. Firestone told News1 NY the sale would allow the congregation to fund its operations, including the cemetery, indefinitely.

“The synagogue will own the first three stories of the condominium, which will be a modern social hall, a modern sanctuary,” Firestone said.

The move does not sit well with the old synagogue’s neighbors, who hate losing this neighborhood fixture that’s been there since 1923, and are worried about the environmental effect of the new condo building. Some of them have filed a Request for Evaluation (RFE) with the Landmark Preservation Commission, as an emergency measure to prevent the sale. But, so far, the city has no plans to landmark the building.

Former Shaare Zedek president Roz Paaswell told DNAinfo the building is not as important as the congregation. “In Judaism buildings aren’t so important, they are places that we use… but we move, we move a lot,” she said.


‘Holy Trash’ Exhibition Turns Lost Synagogue Books into Stone [video]

Friday, October 28th, 2016

“Holy Trash: My Genizah” is a new project by fine arts and performance artist Rachel Libeskind created especially for the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) exhibition space in the great hall of the Center for Jewish History.

According to Solomon Schechter, Genizah is “the storeroom or depository in a synagogue a cemetery in which worn-out and heretical or disgraced Hebrew books or papers are placed. In medieval times…their sanctity and consequent claim to preservation were held to depend on their containing the “names” of God.” What’s between the Genizah and today’s Jewish archive?

My Genizah presents a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Genizah. Crafted with texts and objects formerly belonging to the AJHS collections, My Genizah is a hard-edge, personal commentary on the making of the Jewish archive from the documents of the Genizah, and on today’s archival procedures of sorting, cataloguing, and organizing history.

“I think it’s interesting to look at the inventory of things that make up our lives,” Libeskind News1 NY. “Some of them are holy, and some of them are definitely not holy, and we just think of them as trash, and some we’re just not comfortable throwing away. It’s kind of an endless idea.” said.

On view through December 1, 2016.

Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011, Tel: 212-294-6160

Visitor information.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/holy-trash-exhibition-turns-lost-synagogue-books-into-stone-video/2016/10/28/

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