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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Shuvu International Friends Raising $1.6 Million in 24 Hours [video]

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

In celebration of Shuvu’s 25th anniversary, three generous donors have pledged to match every dollar donated today, quadrupling every single donation made online

Every donation counts in touching the lives of more and more Israelis, instilling within thousands of families a high level of secular and religious education.

Shuvu has been giving the gold standard of Jewish education in Israel for 25 years. With a network of 67 schools, kindergartens, after-school programs and parent outreach programs, Shuvu provides a dynamic educational and welfare network that reaches thousands of Jewish families each year through high-level academic and Torah study.

Initially founded to provide a much-needed education to children who emigrated from the former Soviet Union, Shuvu’s student population now includes many native Israeli children, new French immigrants and other students from diverse backgrounds.

The success of Shuvu’s programs is immense, with more than 22,000 alumni who have gone on to learn at Israel’s top yeshivas, serve in elite army units and land jobs at many distinguished companies. Shuvu has been lauded for its superior educational offerings, its remarkable Chessed programs, and its impact on Israeli society.

This year alone, Shuvu expanded its outreach and opened 29 new first grade classes in existing schools. Over 1,000 new students joined the Shuvu community.

As Shuvu’s founder Rabbi Avrohom Pam zt’l would always say, “It is beyadeinu – in our own hands!” The future of Jewish education calls upon you to help support Shuvu’s tremendous work. And for one day only, each dollar will quadruple! Today’s the day to begin building the future.

DONATE TODAY and help Shuvu pave the way for a brighter future!

Something UNBELIEVABLE is happening on Monday!

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

In honor of its 25th anniversary, the Shuvu Network of Schools in Israel has announced its largest fundraising campaign ever, to take place IY”H on Monday, June 22 – over a 24-hour period in 4 countries simultaneously!

The Shuvu Network was founded by Rabbi Avraham Pam zt”l in 1990, when the wave of Aliya from the former Soviet Union was at its peak. Rabbi Pam, together with other Jewish leaders, was concerned of the physical and spiritual welfare of these Russian Olim – and their children. They were in need of schools familiar with Russian culture and its high standards of education, and able to provide a basic Jewish education as well. After Russia’s 70 years of communism, many Russian Olim arrived in Israel with absolutely no knowledge of what it means to be a Jew. They had no sense of Jewish identity or Jewish pride. Shuvu aimed to fill this void.

From a mere 2 caravans, Shuvu has since developed into a major educational empire in Israel today, including 67 schools, kindergarten and outreach programs spread out across the country – from Akko up north to Be’er Sheva down south. Shuvu’s thousands of students receive a very high level of general education coupled with Limudei Kodesh, with an emphasis on Middos and Derech Eretz, and many exciting and educational activities throughout the year.

Seeing the unique Chinuch in Shuvu, many native Israelis over the years begged to have their children join the network as well. Today Shuvu can certainly be viewed as a “Kibbutz Galuyot” with children from Russia, America, Ethiopia, Israel – and recently many from Ukraine and France as well. Shuvu also operates many programs for the parents of the students, in order to connect them as well to the beauty of Judaism.

Shuvu is always doing more. This year alone, Shuvu has opened 29 new first grade classes, welcomed over 1,000 new students, and added programs in three of its campuses. With more support, Shuvu can continue inspiring the lives of more Jewish families. Sign up for our newsletter and stay tuned for Monday’s unbelievable news.

Anti-Semitism Drives European Jews to Israel

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Anti-Semitism is the driving force behind Aliyah from Western Europe to Israel, according to Prof. Robert Wistrich, head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

“It is indisputable that the dominant factor behind Aliyah to Israel from Western Europe is anti-Semitism,” Wistrich told the Tazpit News Agency.

The Jewish Agency for Israel said in a new report that Aliyah to Israel from Western Europe in the first quarter of 2015 was unchanged from the same period last year.

However, the statistics revealed that a large increase in the number of immigrants (olim) arriving from Eastern Europe, where an unstable economic and security situation prompted more emigration. Ukrainian Aliyah alone rose by a whopping 215 percent compared to the same period last year.

“Any comparisons to the situation in Ukraine, where Aliyah is also caused by anti-Semitism, although to a smaller extent, is a false comparison,” Wistrich said.

One reaction to the Jewish Agency’s report, in some Israeli and international newspapers, declared that anti-Semitism is simply one of many factors behind Aliyah from Western Europe. Economic considerations were touted as a more influential factor.

Wistrich, however, thoroughly disagreed with that analysis. He claimed that such statements were “jumping to conclusions,” and ignored long-standing work.

Ukraine’s Jewish Children Still Have A School…

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

In the province of Lugansk, Ukraine and city of the same name, Jewish children and their families were witness to a Passover a miracle this year.

Their school building and its kitchen in particular was able to remain open for the entire Passover holiday, and no one was injured despite fierce clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine government troops.

News reports to the contrary were false, the city’s chief rabbi, Shalom Gopin, told Chabad.org this week. Reports on some news outlets claimed that representatives of the separatist Lugansk People’s Republic violently seized the Beit Menachem-Or Avner Chabad Jewish Day School building in Lugansk.

But Gopin, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to Lugansk, told Chabad.org the reports were untrue.

“At the end of March, representatives of the LPR entered our school building in Lugansk and told our guards that it appeared the Jewish community was forfeiting the building and they were taking it,” Gopin explained, adding that they left without incident after Jewish community officials arrived on the scene to dispute the claim.

Until the start of the war, Beit Menachem School had more than 130 students. Opened by Gopin and his wife Chana in 2006, it has served as a central point for the Jewish community during the conflict, even after the rabbi was forced to leave under heavy gunfire a little less than a year ago. He nevertheless continues to serve the community from other locations; for example, a 10-day Passover retreat was held for Lugansk Jewish refugees at the Chabad-Lubavitch of Zhitomir’s campgrounds in western Ukraine. More than 60 people showed up.

In Lugansk, 150 people signed up for 15 local neighborhood seders where Gopin distributed kosher-for-Passover food, matzah and wine from the school’s kitchen. Because it is no longer safe to go out at night, the traditional central public seder plan was scrapped and the gabbai at the synagogue held a seminar to teach local Jews how to lead a seder at their homes.

Gopin and others have since reached out to the Lugansk Minister of Religion, who personally assured the Jewish community the seizure was a mistake.

“The kitchen at our school was operating during Passover and the community’s food for the holiday was prepared there,” said Gopin. “We have been running a soup kitchen out of the synagogue kitchen and plan on opening one at the school, too,” the rabbi said. “We also hope to restart our Jewish preschool at the premises soon.”

The emissary said they have since received a personal guarantee from Igor Plotnitsky, head of the unrecognized rebel republic, that there will be no further attempts to seize the building.

Passover for Lugansk refugees in Zhitomer brought members of the besieged community closer together in a way that one could not have predicted, Chana Gopin commented.

“It has been 10 months since the fighting started but one outcome of all this is how much closer our community has become to each other. Passover together in Zhitomir gave us the opportunity to be together again, and it gives us all the strength to cope. No one knows when this will all end, and being able to gather together and eat, sing, pray together, just to be together – it gave us strength as a family and as a community.”

JewishPress.com thanks Chabad.org for its contribution to this article.

110 Ukraine Jews Arrive on IFJC Refugee Rescue Flight

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

A special refugee rescue flight sponsored by the IFJC (International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) brought 110 Ukrainian Jews on their aliyah trip home to Israel on Tuesday.

Among the group was the husband of the late Irina Shelkayeba, killed at the beginning of February by a direct hit from a rocket that slammed into her home as she was cooking. The attack on the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk was launched by pro-Russian separatists.

Irina’s husband and the rest of the family members who came with him on aliyah were met at Ben Gurion International Airport by her niece Liora Nissim. It was Nissim who had also assisted the family with their decision to leave Ukraine and move to Israel.

“I made aliyah myself 17 years ago as part of the Na’ale program, while my family remained in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine,” she explained.

“They lived next to the airport, an area in which the difficult battles were waging. This was continued on and on and they waited all this time for it to finally end. It is hard to leave home, especially when war is raging outside. Then the rocket fell and killed my aunt. The house was ruined. They remained with no property.

“I started aiding them from Israel. I heard the IFCJ is organizing refugee flights and I immediately called. Their representative contacted my broken family that fled under heavy shelling to the city of Dnieper and a month and a half later they were on their way to Israel”.

Tuesday’s flight was the third sponsored by IFJC since December, totaling 560 Jews rescued from Ukraine alone.

The organization says it has decided to increase its efforts in bringing home the thousands of Jews who are in distress in countries around the world, in the years to come. IFJC is supplementing the standard aid package granted to new immigrants in Israel, since many of the newcomers are battle refugees, and others were harshly affected by the economic state that Ukraine was suffering. In addition, IFJC reached out to local mayors across Israel to advocate for special support to the newcomers in their towns.

“Every generation has its own miracle of Exodus,” IFJC president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said. “After years of involvement in the bringing of the newcomers from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, the IFJC is excited to be a central activist in the enterprise of rescuing the Jews of Ukraine that experience over a year now an ongoing emergency crisis.

“The IFJC wishes a happy Redemption Holiday to all the olim, and promises to stand by them till they are fully absorbed in Israel.”

ZAKA Rescued Body of Abandoned Jewish Soldier Who Died for Ukraine

Friday, March 6th, 2015

It took five weeks, a break in the battle and special permission from the Ukrainian army, but poor Yevgeni Yatsina was finally rescued by his Jewish brethren.

At least his body was, thanks to a faithful friend who just wouldn’t give up, and ZAKA, the organization that is there when nothing else can be done.

Yatsina was a Jewish solider killed five weeks earlier, in the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine government. His friend hadn’t heard from him and started to wonder why.

A week ago on Wednesday, volunteers from the ZAKA emergency first response organization (some of whom came from Israel) rushed to the area to begin a search when permission was received to enter the military zone.

Until that point, Yatsina’s body remained on the battlefield. Rescue and recovery personnel had been forbidden to retrieve his remains.

Last Friday – at last – Yatsina was taken from the battle zone, ZAKA chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav told media.

For quite a while, no one even knew the soldier was dead. His friend was really the first to figure it out; it was he who asked ZAKA Sharon regional commander Israel Godlevski to try and track him down.

“There is a ZAKA unit in Ukraine,” said Meshi-Zahav. “We tried to turn to the Ukrainian army and get initial information about [his] fate…

“At first they didn’t even admit that he is dead. Then they said he was killed in battle and that his body was left lying there.”

For two weeks ZAKA sought permission to remove the soldier’s body but were denied permission on the grounds he was in a battle zone. They were told “no one can even approach the area” at that point.

Jewish law does not permit any Jew to endanger his life or that of another for the sake of burying the dead. But eventually the Ukraine army finally allowed ZAKA to enter the area under its protection, and when there was some calm in the area.

“The entire operation took place at night in complete darkness, with constant exchanges of fire between the sides in the background,” Meshi-Zahav said. “We tried to locate the body in the darkness according to information we received from the army. After searching for about an hour and a half, it was found.

“At first we weren’t certain that it was him, as it was impossible to carry out basic identification on the ground. Only after moving several hundred meters away from the area, we were able to confirm that this was the Jewish soldier we were looking for,” he added.

ZAKA commander in Ukraine Rabbi Yosef Asman, is the son of Ukraine Chief Rabbi Moshe Asman and is in constant communication with the military. Although he personally was ready to give up more than once, Asman said Meshi-Zahav’s persistence won out, ensuring “the respectable and emotional ending when we gave late soldier Yevgeni Yatsina a Jewish burial.”

Last Friday, Yatsina was laid to rest in a Jewish cemetery in Kiev. May his soul find the peace he sought in life, and his memory be for a blessing.

Lithuania Restores Military Draft, Eyes Ukraine’s Fight for Life

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

As the situation in Ukraine provides an object lesson in what to avoid in national defense strategies, Lithuania has decided to restore mandatory army service to its list of “to do”s for young men entering adulthood.

Lithuanian males from ages 19 to 27 will be called to serve their country for a period of nine months beginning in September 2015. The draft will be in force for the next five years.

Some 3,000 eligible males will be drafted, government officials told international media on Tuesday. President Dalia Grybauskaite said after a meeting of top government officials and military leaders the measure was necessary due to the “growing aggression in Ukraine. Lithuania has no tanks or military aircraft, however. Its entire military force totals some 15,000 troops.

The move comes amid tensions that continue to widen concern around the region — as well as around the world — as Ukraine fights for its life with pro-Russia separatists seizing control over an increasingly wide area.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday, according to the DW website.

Speaking to a meeting of U.S. senators, an irritated Kerry said Tuesday that officials in Moscow had been “lying” about Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

“Russia has engaged in a rather remarkable period of the most overt and extensive propaganda exercise that I’ve seen since the height of the Cold War,” Kerry told the Senate subcommittee meeting. “And they have been persisting in their misinterpretations — lies — whatever you want to call them — about their activities to my face, to the face of others, on many different occasions,” he added.

On Saturday, he and the Russian foreign minister would meet to discuss “Syria and other things” before leaving for Iran to continue negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear development program.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/lithuania-restores-military-draft-eyes-ukraines-fight-for-life/2015/02/25/

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