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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘synagogue’

Italian Police Find Pig Culprit

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Italian police have identified the man who sent the pig heads to Rome’s main shul, according to a report in The Jerusalem Post.

The man was identified as Ernosto Morosini, and he wanted to create an Antisemitic movement, and sent them to build a following.

King of Morocco Asking Local Jews to Pray for Rain

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Jews throughout Morocco this past Sabbath responded to a plea by King Mohammed VI and prayed for rain. Muslims did the same in Friday prayers at their mosques.

“In conformity with the high instructions of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI, commander of the faithful, these prayers will be called for in all the synagogues to implore the Almighty to spread ample rain throughout the territory of the Kingdom,” the Council of the Jewish community stated.

The Morocco World News reported, “Moroccan Jews performed prayers in all the synagogues in the country, imploring God to spread bountiful rain on the entire territory of the Kingdom.”

The lack of rain this year has threatened the agricultural sector of Morocco, and the economy will be severely damaged if crop production drops because of the drought.

The King’s plea is not unprecedented. In 2007, nearly all of Morocco’s Jewish population of 5,000 turned out en masses on a Sabbath to pray for rain,

Morocco is one of the more enlightened Muslim countries, everything being relative, of course. John Kerry notwithstanding, there is a less than zero chance that the Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah would ask the Jews to pray for rain – for the simple reason that Jews are no Jews living in Saudi Arabia. Okay, there always is one. You just can’t get away from the Jews, but he probably is not orthodox.

But what happens if Mahmoud Abbas gets its Palestinian Authority state? He won’t, but just for the fun of it, let’s say he does. And then comes a drought and there are no Jews living in the Palestinian Authority, because the United Nations has made an exception that a Jew-free country is essential for peace.

Abbas would have several options: One, he could ask Jews in Israel to pray for the Arabs in the PA. Chances are that he would rather die.

But he also could demand that all of the Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries move to Judea and Samaria. That way, he would not suffer the embarrassment of inviting expelled Jews back to their homes but could welcome Jews from the Arab world to fill the gap.

The big question is what happens when the rain comes, whether in the imaginary Palestinian Authority or the real Morocco?

Who gets the credit, God or Allah?

The request of King Mohammed VI sounds great for peaceful co-existence until the arguments over who gets credit turns into war.

There is one other possibility.

Let’s say the rain falls only in the Jewish neighborhoods, or only in the Arab neighborhoods. Get out your Bibles and consult past history for the results in Egypt, when Jews lived in the Goshen neighborhood, and in ancient Samaria, where Elijah made fools out of idol worshippers.

Of course, Islam is not a religion of idol worshippers, even if radicla Islam has corrupted it into a religion of evil.

But since rain always seem to fall on the Jewish Sabbath, just when the non-observant were planning a picnic, it would be best to stick with the Jews.

Vandals Desecrate Russian Synagogue with Pig’s Head

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Unidentified Russian vandals  used a pig’s head to desecrate a synagogue in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, according to representatives of the Jewish community of the city, located 600 miles west of Baku, Azerbaijan.

They found the pig’s head at the entrance to their synagogue  and  believe the perpetrators are also responsible for English-language graffiti on the building’s external wall, which read, “Happy Tu B’Shvat, Jewish Pigs,” although the Jewish holiday does not occur Jan 15.

Shneor Segal, a Chabad rabbi who used to work in Krasnodar and now serves as the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Baku, said the community has contacted police with the intention of filing criminal charges against the unidentified perpetrators.

Last month, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of a synagogue being built in Sevastopol, a Ukrainian port city located 270 miles west of Krasnodar.

The Day Mandela Went to Shul and Preached against Aliyah

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

One of the first things that Nelson Mandela did after being elected president of South Africa in 1994 was visit a synagogue and preach against aliyah at Cape Town’s Green and Sea Point Hebrew Congregation on the Shabbat after his election.

Here is an excerpt from JTA’s report:

“The congregants heard Mandela make an appeal from the pulpit for Jewish expatriates to return to South Africa.

“Pointedly excluding aliyah by saying he understands the Jewish community’s commitment to Israel, Mandela said, ‘We want those who left (for other countries) because of insecurity to come back and to help us to build our country.’

“He added that those who do not return should contribute their money and skills to South Africa.

“Mandela thanked the Jewish community for its contribution toward the development of South Africa and assured Jews they have nothing to fear from a government of national unity.

“He said he felt an affinity with the Jewish community, since it was a Jewish firm that gave him an apprenticeship in the early days of his law career, when discrimination was rife.

“He also said that he had befriended his Jewish defense counsel during the treason trial which led to his imprisonment in the 1950s and that he was still in contact with the lawyer.

“He stated that he recognizes the right to existence of the State of Israel, along with the right of Palestinians to live in their own homeland.

“He noted that he considered it significant that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat last week signed an agreement in Cairo implementing Palestinian self-rule — the same week that South Africa elected its new leadership.

“At the reception following the service, some of the younger members of the congregation raised clenched fists in solidarity with the ANC, while the shul choir led in the singing of the country’s new national anthem, “Nkosi Sikelel’ IAfrika.”

Mandela often said Israel should be a “secure“ state, but on the other hand, his citing the Palestinian-Israel conflict as dating back to 1948 clearing showed his definition of “secure” as twisted.

He wrote Thomas Friedman of The New York Times in 1991, “You incorrectly think that the problem of Palestine began in 1967…. You seem to be surprised to hear that there are still problems of 1948 to be solved, the most important component of which is the right to return of Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not just an issue of military occupation and Israel is not a country that was established ‘normally’ and happened to occupy another country in 1967.

“Palestinians are not struggling for a ‘state’ but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.”

Arabs in Judea and Samaria, who did not refer themselves as “Palestinians,” never ”struggled” for freedom under the Ottoman Empire, under the British Mandate and under the Jordanian occupation.

It was only when Jews re-established the modern State of Israel that they “struggled,” not for freedom but rather for the annihilation of Israel.

That explains how Mandela, more blind than the blindest American Secretary of State, could proclaim that Iran had no aggressive aims towards Israel. “We are indebted to the Islamic Revolution,” he one said while laying a wreath at the grave of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose idea of freedom meant a world free of Israel.

Mandela not only called Israel an “apartheid state” but also asserted that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was not a terrorist group.

He publicly supported violence against Israel during a visit to Yasser Arafat in Gaza in 1999, when he declared. “All men and women with vision choose peace rather than confrontation, except in cases where we cannot proceed, where we cannot move forward. Then if the only alternative is violence, we will use violence.”

Colorado Floods Close Boulder Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

A killer flood in Colorado submerged a synagogue and a rabbi’s home in Boulder County, and the Chabad synagogue rabbi is thankful that Torah scrolls were saved with the help of students from the nearby University of Colorado.

“Thank G‑d, the students have been immensely helpful moving the Torahs and other sacred items to higher ground” before Yom Kippur,” Rabbi Yisrael Wilhelm told a Chabad website.

Several deaths have been reported, and 500 people are unaccounted for, with more rain expected Sunday from Denver to the Wyoming border.

Thousands of people have been evacuated or have fled their homes during the flood that has drenched some areas with up to 14 inches of rain, seven times the average amount for the entire month of September.

JTA contributed to this report.

 

 

 

Nigeria’s Igbo Jews

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

By Shai Afsai

With noon temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, visitors to Habakkuk Nwafor’s family compound in Abuja seek shelter in a palm-fronds hut adjoining his private shrine. No grass grows through the sandy soil of the walled compound, while a mighty cashew tree that once offered shade was felled in a storm several years ago. A few paces from the hut and shrine is Tikvat Israel, the synagogue headed by Nwafor.

With no Nigerian rabbis, men like Nwafor, who began practicing Judaism in 2002, have assumed the mantle of religious leadership in Igbo Jewish communities. A competitive boxer in his youth, Nwafor, now in his mid-50s, works in construction and also raises goats and chickens, which roam freely about the compound.

Bearded, lean and muscular, he has a distinctly raspy voice and an intensely religious fervor. In the distance, beyond his synagogue, a towering and tree-lined mountain is visible, and it is there that Nwafor retreats by foot to fast and meditate in seclusion.

“Only hunters and animals are on the mountain. They do not trouble me,” he says. “I go there to talk with God.”

Like Nwafor, Tikvat Israel’s congregants are Igbo, who believing themselves to be descendants of Israelites who many centuries ago arrived in what is now Nigeria, identify themselves as Jews.

The Igbo, whose traditional homeland — Igboland — is in the southeastern portion of the country, are Nigeria’s third largest ethnic group. Most are Christian, but many Igbo, even while practicing Christianity, nonetheless consider themselves Jewish. In the past few decades, several thousand Igbo have taken this self-identification a step further and embraced Judaism, which they see as their lost heritage.

The phenomenon of Igbo identification with Jews dates to the 18th century, following the Igbo’s encounter with Christian missionaries and their introduction to the Bible, in which they found similarities between Igbo customs and those of the ancient Hebrews. Some Igbo, such as the 18th-century writer Equiano Olaudah, concluded “that the one people had sprung from the other,” an opinion shared by the worshipers at Tikvat Israel.

Earlier this year, Nwafor invited me to Abuja to celebrate the annual Purim holiday — the Jewish Festival of Lots, based on the biblical Book of Esther — as well as to learn more about Nigerian Jewry.

Upon exiting Abuja’s air-conditionless airport terminal, I was met by Nwafor, who was wearing a blue and white Tikvat Israel T-shirt. A waiting car took us to Kubwa, the neighborhood where Nwafor and his wife, Amaka, live with their children. For the next week I was their guest, and as my host, Nwafor never left my side, accompanying me on all my trips to homes, synagogues and sites in Abuja.

Among the many visitors who flocked to Nwafor’s compound after my arrival were four prayer leaders and Hebrew teachers who traveled over eight hours by bus from Igboland to meet with me. The knowledge and proficiency of these four men, three of whom were in their 20s, was remarkable given that they had managed to learn so much of Jewish tradition through the Internet.

Late into the night, they chanted Hebrew prayers and played religious songs they had downloaded to their iPhones.

The power often goes out in Abuja, especially at night, and residents rely a great deal on flashlights and generators. So we sat in Nwafor’s courtyard, the thick darkness illuminated only by the blue glow of their cellphones, the air filled with music and talk of Judaism in Nigeria, the United States and Israel.

The eldest of the four visitors, a musician in his 40s named Chislon Eben Cohen, was among the first Igbo Jews to master Hebrew, which he did in part by obtaining materials through the mail from the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Israel.

Eben Cohen has taken the next step of passing on his knowledge, and among his first students was Nwafor’s now-15-year-old son, Hezekiah. Hezekiah usually leads the prayer services at Tikvat Israel — often with melodies he has composed himself — and he hopes one day to become a rabbi.

The lack of Nigerian rabbis sometimes leaves Igbo Jews uncertain about traditional Jewish practice elsewhere and has led them to rely a great deal on the Internet, as well as on books obtained from abroad.

Croatian Synagogue Demolished by Fascists to be Rebuilt

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

The Jewish community of Zagreb, Croatia, is moving ahead with plans to rebuild a synagogue destroyed in the World War II.

“We are conducting examinations in Prague Street on the site of our destroyed synagogue in order to rebuild it,” said a statement from the local Jewish community, quoted Thursday by the Jutarnji newspaper.

Today, the site is a parking lot and features a plaque memorializing the synagogue. A debate over whether to rebuild the synagogue started soon after Croatia became independent in 1991, but nothing was done partly because of disagreements within the Jewish community, the paper reported.

The synagogue was opened in 1867 and was destroyed 1942 by the Fascist Ustasha regime, which ruled Croatia under Nazi and Italian patronage from 1941 until May 1945.

Nazis and their collaborators murdered about 9,000 Jewish men, women and children in the city during the Holocaust. Less than 3,000 survived the Nazi occupation, and  800 of them emigrated to Israel in 1948, according to the  non-profit  Beit Israel,.

Only 509 Jews remain in all of Croatia, according to the 2011 census.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/croatian-synagogue-demolished-by-fascists-to-be-rebuilt/2013/07/27/

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