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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘TORAH’

Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Clarification and Update:

Wording in the title of this article has been changed from “Rabbi in Crimea Escapes with Torah Scroll” to “Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train”, to avoid any potential misunderstanding that Rabbi Yitzchok Meyer Lipszyc may have stolen the Torah from the Crimea war zone, or abandoned his community in its time of need.

The Torah was moved to a safer location in Simferopol, and Rabbi Lipszyc was advised by his superiors at Chabad headquarters to temporarily move his center of operations out of Crimea. The Rabbi is still working with his community via Skype, phone and email.

JewishPress.com apologizes for any misunderstanding the title may have caused if read out of context from the text of the article.

Crimea’s Chabad Rabbi Yitzchak Meyer Lipszyc escaped Simferopol with his wife on the last train that left the area before the Russian sealed it off.

“The main action in Crimea was taking place right across the street from our synagogue,” said Rabbi Lipszyc, who has been a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, for more than two decades. “There were demonstrations with over 30,000 people. The protestors were pro-Ukrainian. But eventually the ones who took over were in the unidentified uniforms—they were obviously Russian military. There was Cossacks there too; for Jews that was a bit scary because of their history in the pogroms.”

Lipszyc spoke told JNS.org, “For the last 22 years under the Ukrainian government, everything has been going very well. When this situation began, it turned things upside down. We were told by Chabad headquarters to get out and we barely made it out. My wife in fact got the last two tickets on a train out of Simferopol on the night before everything got sealed off by the Russians.

He said that despite the referendum that was almost unanimous for annexation by Russia, the thinks “most of the people wanted to stay with Ukraine, because that was what they were familiar with, but then when the Russians took over the media and propaganda switched the other way, within days we saw it swing towards being overwhelmingly pro-Russian.’

The situation is even worse for Americans like the rabbi, he added. “Americans were persona-non-gratis for both Ukrainians and Russians at this time. For Russians it is because of the stance the American government has taken against Russia. While on the Ukraine side they are deeply disappointed that America is not doing enough to help them.

“Oddly enough we had to leave there more because we were Americans and not because we were Jewish.”

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was anything but comfortable for Jews. Rabbi Lipszyc said that the Russian troops cordoned off the synagogue and that he and his wife moved to their house.

At his wife’s suggestion, they decided to move away as far as possible and wrote a note to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to ask his help to get them out.

“Believe it or not, when our friend reached the military checkpoint, he explained to them that we needed to retrieve the Torah out of the synagogue, [the Russian soldier] suddenly moved out of the way and removed the barriers to let him,” according to the rabbi. “On his way out, the solider actually even apologized to him for the inconvenience, which was unheard of there! It was a miracle. We were able to move our Torahs to a safer location in Simferopol, where services were held for several weeks.””

Despite anti-Semitism, Jews are able to practice without interference. However, he noted, “We have to prepare for Passover and need to raise a lot of money to help with the extra costs. We not only need extra security, but we have taken loses during the process.

“We were getting our kosher meat from Ukraine; we had ordered and paid for it, but they [Russian forces] didn’t let it through. We also paid for the Matzos, but that didn’t get through either. We need to figure out how to all our supplies through now. We are appealing to everyone to help out the Jewish community there.”

Sam Kliger, the American Jewish Committee’s director of Russian Jewish community affairs, told JNS.org that according to international law and most Western observers, the referendum was illegitimate.

“In 1991, Crimea went to independent Ukraine because, since 1954, it was part of Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic which in turn was an integral part of the Soviet Union,” said Kliger. “That is why nobody really cared. As long as it was a part of the USSR, it did not really matter whether it is formally a part of Russia or Ukraine. Now Russia, using as pretext the instability created by Ukrainian revolution and imaginary ‘discrimination’ against ethnic Russians, just grabbed the opportunity to return Crimea to where, according to Russia, it historically belongs.”

New Texts Found in ‘Dead Sea Scroll’ Caves

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

A major archaeology “discovery” of previously found but unexamined Dead Sea Scrolls has revealed nine new Biblical era documents, the Live Science and Absa Mediterranean website have reported.

Archaeologist Yonatan Adler said, “‘It’s not every day that you get the chance to discover new manuscripts. It’s very exciting.”

The documents have not yet been fully examined and it is not known, so far, what is written in the texts, which were sitting in three tefillin cases that were among the Scrolls pulled out of 11 Qumran caves in the Dead Sea area in the 1950s.

Adler announced his findings at an international conference in Switzerland on Qumran and the Dead Sea region.

The texts that he found in the tefillin cases may shed more light on religious observance in the period of the Second Temple, but they are unlikely to expose major texts such as were found in the Dead Scrolls that already have been examined.

Other tefillin parchments previously have been examined, and the nine newly-found texts, if they can be deciphered, probably will confirm previous findings and the content of several verses of the Torah are written on parchments in tefillin worn by Jews around the world.

Court to Rule If Jerusalem’s ’Cinema City’ Can Violate the Sabbath

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Jerusalem’s $75 million, 19-theatre Cinema City opened on Tuesday, but the Supreme Court will decide next month if it can operate on the Sabbath, in violation of both Jewish law and the “status quo” that maintains an equilibrium and unstable peace between observant and non-observant Jews in the capital.

Multi-screen theatres are common in Israel, but not in Jerusalem. The new eight-floor complex, located across the street from the same court building that will decide its fate on the Sabbath, includes 50 cafes and shops and is expected to see up to 15 million visitors in its first year of operation.

The last thing Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat needs is another reason for riots from the Haredi community, which already has enough fuel for a city-wide blaze of anger over the idea of a military draft for all Jews, including yeshiva students. The argument over the compulsory draft for all conveniently does not focus on Arabs. That is another story by itself but illustrates how Israeli politicians manage to ride the rails of populism.

Mayor Barkat has taken the safe road on the issue of Shabbat. During last year’s mayoral election race, he said the complex should remain closed on the Day of Rest. He now emphasizes that the decision is up to the court. Given the financial income to the city by thousands of tourists spending money on movies and restaurants on the Sabbath, Barkat’s heart might be in the wallet and not in the Torah.

The municipality has stated that the agreement between Cinema City’s developers and the Finance Ministry stipulated that the movie complex will not operate on the Sabbath since it is located on government property.

City Council member Merav Cohen insists that Barkat can change the terms of the agreement if he wants to and that it is not dependent on the Finance Ministry.

Deputy Mayor Yossi Deutsch claims that most of the city council opposes a Shabbat opening for the theatre complex. Whether or not a majority really wants it closed because of religious reasons or out of respect for the Orthodox community, they certainly would prefer Jerusalem get attention from other areas instead of Haredi riots.

The fact is that when the Jerusalem City Council decided four years ago that Cinema City would be closed on the Sabbath, only three members at the meeting objected.

National religious Rabbi Yaakov Medan of Gush Etzion has written that the cinema complex should be open for secular Israelis, with restrictions against restaurants and other commercial establishments being open. He said that Jerusalem needs secular residents, who should not feel they have to live elsewhere to avoid restrictions due to the Sabbath.

The argument is an old one. Is it religious coercion to close down movie theatres on Shabbat? Is it secular coercion to allow them to open? Does it ruin the religious character of the city, if not Israel, by allowing them to operate?

Those are interesting social, theological and philosophical questions, but the more immediate question might be if the court will take into consideration the physical safety of citizens if it allows Cinema City to open its doors and if riots follow.

Everything in Israel comes down to politics. The Haredim correctly feel they are being marginalized, although the change is long overdue. The government has cut funds for yeshivas, it wants Haredi youth to serve in the army just like everyone else – except secular draft dodgers about whom no one seems to write.

The Haredi establishment has managed to hold on to the Chief Rabbinate, but its powers are being undermined with a belated reform of kosher supervision that is aimed at  eliminating corruption and making sure that “kosher” really is ”kosher” and not just a stamp on a certificate in return for money in the pocket.

Torah Scrolls Saved in Utah Day Care Center Fire Alarm

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

A rabbi and his daughter at the Chabad Lubavitch day care center in Salt Lake City, Utah saved two Torah scrolls from possible destruction Monday after he smelled smoke in the building.

Twenty children, including five infants, were evacuated, according to the local Tribune newspaper.

A faulty furnace was cited as the source of the heavy smoke that promoted the two-alarm fire reported by Rabbi Benny Zippel, whose daughter Chaya saved one of the scrolls from smoke damage.

A faulty furnace was blamed for smoke that prompted the evacuation of a Salt Lake City day care on Monday afternoon.

Self-Acclaimed ‘Satanist’ Jailed for 4 Years for Defacing Torah

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

A Tennessee court Monday sentenced self-acclaimed anti-Semitic and anti-Christian Satanists Justin Baker to four years in prison for defacing a Torah scroll and prayer books in Memphis last January.

Baker pleaded guilty on December 9 to damaging and defiling holy Jewish items of the Margolin Hebrew Academy. Judge Roy Morgan Jr, sentenced Baker to the maximum amount of time in jail for each charge, but all of the sentences will be served concurrently, the Jackson, Tennessee Sun reported.

“I think that’s just so very obvious from what’s been presented today as to why these individuals were victimized in this case,” Morgan said in court. “It’s quite clear that for thousands of years people have been attacked around the world and persecuted for their religious beliefs, whatever that belief is, and the nature of the crime here is clearly a direct, intentional attack on what’s guaranteed as a freedom in this country, freedom of religion.”

Baker vandalized the Torch scroll and marked on it phrases, such “Gentiles Win” and “Hail Satan.”

His Facebook and MySpace pages were full of hate statements and Baker’s interest in Satanism and violence.

“Currently in Iraq. Like metal and Muy Thai. I’m a father to a little boy, a husband to a sexy wife. I like working out and eating everything. Dedicated spiritual Satanist. Anti-Jew, Christian, and drama. If you fit the above, don’t send me a request,” he wrote. A screenshot of the pages was read by the prosecution in the courtroom.

One posting read, “Satanic priest, one with a darkness and loving it I also have a little thing with blood lust. And I live for music and Satan. I like to make bombs and blow up (expletive) that doesn’t belong to me. I also practice ninjutsu and beat the hell out of (expletive) that also don’t belong to me. And singing in my strange (expletive) band. I know I can’t spell for (expletive).”

Baker’s wife Jordan, who also said she is a Satanist, testified, “He’s a really good father and husband. He done a very (good) job taking care of us, and his boys are his entire world and he would do anything for those kids.”

Baker’s defense lawyers claimed he suffered mental problems, anxiety and loss of memory, but Judge Morgan didn’t buy it and said Baker should be held fully responsible for his crimes.

The court also ordered him to up to $89.999 in restitution costs.

Baker still faces sentencing in March for charges of damaging religious property.

Two Torahs Stolen from Bayit V’Gan Shul

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

On Saturday night thieves broke into the “Gra” shul in Bayit V’Gan in Jerusalem, and stole two Sefer Torahs.

Afterwards, the thieves tried to break into the Orchot Meir yeshiva, but were unsuccessful.

The police are investigating.

As Torah scrolls in Israel are marked so the owners can be easily determined, its not clear what market for a stolen Sefer Torah in Israel actually exists.

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Calls for Ban on Women Reading from Torah

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has called on Orthodox synagogues to ban “partnership” minyan services, where women can lead prayers and read from the Torah.

“I know that you are working with our communities to find ways, within the boundaries of halacha, to make prayer, learning, leadership and involvement more meaningful for men and women alike, and I encourage this wholeheartedly,” Rabbi Mirvis wrote, Rabbi Mirvis wrote a message sent to rabbinic leaders Wednesday. However, he added that the services were “not something that can take place within our synagogues,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.

Last month, The United Synagogue condemned the Golders Green United Synagogue for allowing women to handle the Torah on Shabbat and holidays. In that synagogue, the Torah is taken out of the ark by a man and handed to a woman, who takes it around the women’s section before returning it to the men.

Mirvis recently supported the idea of women becoming trustees of the United Synagogue and lay leaders of synagogues, according to the Chronicle.

Damaged Torahs Found in Iraq Buried in New York

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Damaged Torah scrolls found by U.S. troops in Iraq’s intelligence headquarters were buried in a cemetery in New York on Sunday, according to Jewish law for disposing of unusable religious objects and texts.

More than 100 people, including Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., attended the ceremony at the New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon, Long Island. “This is a statement by the government and people of Iraq that we are here to respect the heritage of the Jews,” Faily said.

Thousands of Jewish ritual items were discovered by U.S. troops in 2003, after the U.S. ouster of Saddam Hussein. U.S. troops found the items in the waterlogged basement of Iraq’s intelligence headquarters, and they were shipped to the National Archives, where experts set about restoring them.

An exhibit there on display through Jan. 5, is the first opportunity to see them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/damaged-torahs-found-in-iraq-buried-in-new-york/2013/12/17/

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