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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘volunteers’

1948 Israel War of Independence Overseas Heroes Honoured by Museum of the Diaspora

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People will be opening a special exhibition to honour the volunteers who made an invaluable contribution towards winning the 1948-49 War of Independence and helped to lay the foundations of the Israel Defense Forces

Many elderly World War II veterans will be making a special journey to Israel to participate in this prestigious honour in the presence of state and military dignitaries, as well as ambassadors and military attaches.

Known as MACHAL (Mitnadvei chutz l’Aretz) which translates as volunteers from abroad, over 4,500 men and women, Jews and non Jews, from 58 countries rallied to Israel’s aid in her struggle against the invasion of 6 well-armed Arab nations.

By July 1948 it looked like the war might be lost. 70% of Israel had been occupied by the invading Arab armies. The Egyptians were 20 miles from Tel Aviv. Without the MACHAL pilots and air crews in their fighter and bomber aircraft, the outcome of the war might have been very different.

In the face of a United Nations embargo on the export of military equipment to Israel, the Machal volunteers were also instrumental in smuggling desperately needed planes and equipment into Israel.

The War of Independence was Israel’s longest, costliest, and most fateful war. 6,300 civilians and military personnel were killed (1% of the entire Jewish population of Palestine). 123 Machalniks (119 men and 4 women) lost their lives.

72nd Command Battalion of Machalniks

The late Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin stated: “You came to us when we needed you most, during those hard and uncertain days in our War of Independence. You gave us not only your experience, but your lives as well. The People of Israel and the State of Israel will never forget, and will always cherish this unique contribution made by you – the volunteers of Machal”.

Prime Minister Ben Gurion said: “The Machal Forces were the Diaspora’s most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel”.

In 1993 Stanley Medicks, co-ordinator of the British and European Machal Association and fellow Machal comrades raised the funds for a memorial to be built in Israel in memory of the 123 Machalniks who gave their lives.

http://www.machal.org.il/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=302&Itemid=357&lang=en

Jewish Press Staff

Thanks to The Jewish Press!

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

I was going to start out this blog by saying that I am happy to be back at The Jewish Press. But, in truth, I have mixed feelings. After all, I’ve been living in Israel now for 28 years, yet The Jewish Press is still in Brooklyn, along with its myriads of faithful readers. True, the staff of the Internet Edition has made it to the Holy Land, and that in itself is a sure sign that Israel’s Redemption is under way, but millions of thousands of Diasporians are still stuck in galut, waiting for Mashiach – may he come soon. How wonderful it would be if they came on aliyah too! After all, at the conclusion of every Yom Kippur, and at the end of every Pesach Seder, we say, “Next year in Jerusalem!” And to tell it like it is, Hashem in His great kindness has given most Jews enough money to buy a ticket, and there’s even a Jewish airline that serves kosher food to get you here. And there are modern apartments and villas waiting all over Israel, a stable economy, and more hederim, Talmudei Torah, yeshivot, religious ulpanot high schools for girls, dati colleges, and talmidei chachamim per square meter than any other place in the world. Not to mention the Kotel, our holy Forefathers in Hevron, the sound of Hebrew wherever you go, and just about the only place on the globe where you can spend the whole month of December and never even know that Xmas is coming. But as our Sages have told us, the Redemption comes slowly, “kimah kimah,” unfolding in gradual developing stages, like the dawning sun which gradually rises over the mountains (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 1:1).

God willing, we will talk more about these matters in upcoming blogs – but now back to The Jewish Press.

Two years before I came on aliyah, some 30 years ago, I was a young novelist and screenwriter in Hollywood. One day, I was sitting on a beach in Santa Monica when the Almighty split open the Heavens and hurled down a totally unexpected thunderbolt which set me off on a magical mystery tour and spiritual journey – the subject, blee nader, of another future blog. Traveling to Israel, I was overwhelmed by the beauty and holiness of the Land. If I was truly bent on returning to my roots, this was the place to do it, I intuitively sensed. But I didn’t know where to begin. So I returned to the States, abandoned Hollywood for the far more “Jewish” Manhattan, and began to learn Hebrew in the Jewish Agency building on Park Avenue (is it still there?)

One day, two Israelis strode into the classroom. One of them, Meir Indor, was a clean shaven, lieutenant colonel in the Israeli Army. Today, he is the director of the Almagor Victims of Terror Association in Israel. His bearded partner, Rabbi Yehuda Hazani, of blessed memory, had a large knitted kippah, and wore sandals with socks. One of the founders and main activists for the Gush Emunim settlement movement, he was a teacher at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva and founder of the joyous, flag-waving parade to the Kotel on Yom Yerushalayim. That was back in 1982. The first War in Lebanon had broken out, and they had traveled to New York looking for volunteers to help out on the moshavim in the north while the locals were off at war. Actually, Indor and Rabbi Hazani had been brainstorming for a while, trying to think up a project to bring Jews to Israel, and this was their brainchild. Their trip to New York was the birth of the “Volunteers for Israel” program, which later turned into “Sarel.” Dr. Aharon Davidi, z”l, later joined them and worked many years on the project, but it was Indor and Rabbi Hazani who originally started it (and ran it until the “establishment” forced them out).

Anyway, I immediately decided to sign up at their emergency New York headquarters, which was located in The Jewish Press building in Brooklyn. Back in those days, although I had been learning a little about Judaism, I still hadn’t made a firm decision about observing the Torah. I owe a lot to The Jewish Press for giving me the added push to get me out of my life of Hollywood shmutz into the true limelight. Standing on the street, looking up at the formidable, block-long building, I decided to put on a kippah. I had heard that The Jewish Press was an Orthodox newspaper, so to me, a totally assimilated screenwriter from Hollywood, the building was like a mini Beit HaMikdash. From that day forth, I continued wearing a kippah, and it’s been getting bigger and bigger ever since.

Tzvi Fishman

Video: OneFamily Yom HaZikaron Memorial Service

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Israel’s victims of terror attacks are OneFamily. They are the premier national organization that rehabilitates, reintegrates and rebuilds the lives of Israel’s thousands of victims of terror attacks. OneFamily is a unique family of professionals, volunteers, supporters and victims – bereaved, maimed and traumatized – young and old – Jews and non-Jews.

Jewish Press Staff

Old School Zionism in a Modern Form: The New Israeli Guardians

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Back at the turn of twentieth century, when Jewish settlers and farmers began to return to their land, no law existed in the area, and there was no sovereign to enforce it. In 1909, “Ha’Shomer” – “The Guardian” – was established to protect these pioneers and their endeavors. They were the forerunners of the Haganah, which subsequently developed into the IDF. They were warriors, horse-riding, gun-carrying, Arabic-speaking Jews who decided to protect what was theirs, understanding that only steadfastness would enable the Jews returning to their land to survive. They fought, and in many cases, they won.

The original "Ha'Shomer"

It seems that in Israel circa 2012, some things haven’t changed. Many of the farmers face the same challenges as their precursors, including repetitive land seizures, theft and destruction of crops, theft of livestock, physical assault, ongoing threats, and damage to property. Since 2004, over one thousand heads of cattle have been stolen.

Seeing the dire necessity on the ground, a few young men have gotten together and established “Ha’Shomer Ha’Chadash,” -“The New Guardian” – with the same objectives as the original. They have taken upon themselves the task of providing security to farmers and ranchers, primarily in the Negev and the Galilee. Maintaining a continuous physical presence, 700 volunteers at 21 locations help farmers secure their lands and property. Areas patrolled by the volunteers have experienced a significant drop in violent actions against farmers.

New Guardians protecting farmland

The organization’s objective is to create a strategic change in Israeli society, developing awareness about the adversities landowners and farmers face, strengthening the weakened connection of Israelis to their land, and stressing the significance of ownership over open territory in the Negev and Galilee. These ideas are implemented by volunteers who stand guard, protecting farms and grazing lands. The volunteers also promote these Zionist ideals through educational ventures.

According to the organization, the motives for their antagonists’ actions are not only financial, but ideological as well. Their aim is to exhaust the farmers and drive them off the land, so that they can claim it for themselves, thus weakening the Jewish presence.

The New Guardians poring over a map

The police and authorities are working to eliminate the problems, but are understaffed and have difficulty responding properly. The New Guardian cooperates with law enforcement, filling in gaps left by the police.

The organization also has an educational program which trains young men and prepares them for leadership positions. An activist in the organization told Tazpit that the New Guardian has had a number of successes. Wherever they have a presence, attacks lessen, although harassment has not ceased completely. Her feelings are mixed. On one hand, the “other side” knows the New Guardian exists and is wary of the organization’s volunteers, but lately there has been an increase in hostilities. The aggressors have become bolder. The New Guardian will continue its activities, and has even attempted to meet the other side to learn its needs and perhaps come to some sort of understanding.

She says that the key is in how we perceive ourselves – “we must behave as owners of land and conduct ourselves with pride. We should internalize the notion that this is our country. If we do so, the other side’s attitude will change as well.” The focus is not the attackers, but on strengthening our roots in our land.

Based on these vital concepts, the organization has plans to broaden its educational activities, becoming a social movement that endeavors to present the ideas of courage, land, fraternity, dedication, and mutual responsibility to Israeli society. The New Guardian will work to create a public discourse on these issues, hoping to have an influence on individuals who will internalize these ideals and act upon them.

In conclusion, she said: “I grew up in a very Zionistic home, where I was educated to believe in the good in every human being, and where I was imbued with a love of the land. Hashomer Hachadash wants to direct Israelis towards these values, reconnecting them to their land and their country. There is a general feeling that these good old basic values are lacking now, and we want to return to them.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Intoxication Tests, Traffic Control, Part of Israeli Police Preparations for 64th Independence Day

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Tel Aviv District Police has completed its preparations for Memorial Day and the 64th Independence Day of the State of Israel. County units will operate with reinforcements of Police, Border Guard officers and Civil Defense volunteers, increasing normal security arrangements, easing traffic flow and preventing criminal activity.

Police and volunteers will conduct foot and motorized patrols in crowded areas, markets, shopping centers, transport stations, and cemeteries (on Memorial Day), as well as in resorts, parks, museums and beaches (on Independence Day).

The traffic system will be supplemented by volunteers who will be utilized in maintaining the flow in main traffic arteries, in parks and outside cemeteries. Independence Day will see a stricter enforcement of the laws against driving under the influence of alcohol, and intoxication tests will be conducted.

Around public entertainment stages, clubs and pubs, Police will act to prevent violence and drug use, as well as selling alcohol to minors, using detonators and gas sprays, as well as unlicensed peddling.

The public is being asked to obey by Police and security guards, and to report any suspicious person or object. Personal weapons should be left at home.

A hotline center will address questions related to traffic on Memorial Day, starting at 6:30 P.m. Israel time, at 03-6801982.

Tibbi Singer

Button Down

Friday, April 20th, 2012

In February, Chessed Yad L’Yad, Kiryat Mattersdorf’s local chesed organization, celebrated forty years of active involvement in the community. Beged Yad L’Yad, the Hand-Me-Down Pass-Me-On clothing gemach, was a natural subsidiary, especially with dozens of Anglo-Saxon families receiving clothing packages from abroad.

I stepped in 22 years ago, and with help from Hashem, and even The Jewish Press, it was flying, rather, floating. I was writing a weekly column at the time, Israel’s Sunnier Side, and putting an occasional “gesmache” plug for clothing, and the packages began coming by boat – and once even an air load from Miami!

So we grew and like Johnny Appleseed, opened up branches throughout Jerusalem and beyond, most of which quickly became independent.

Our forty-year celebration awarded five women with lovely framed plaques for distinguished service, yours truly among them.

But so many people make this project possible that I decided to devote a column to the Button Ladies, who have sat and snipped buttons off garments before they are trashed for recycling. Two of them, of blessed memory, were wives of famous people. There was Rebbetzin Malka Isbee Gurwitz, second wife of the Gateshead Rosh Yeshiva, R’ Leib Gurwitz zt”l, and Rebbetzin Kahane, wife of MK Rabbi Kalman Kahane.

Rebbetzin Malka, in her eighties, came down from upstairs, accompanied by her walker and caregiver to help settle her in. Then she went to work, regaling us with memories from her Detroit days as a teenager, when she worked in a button factory to help the family finances. Remember, those were the days of the Depression, when being shomer Shabbos and supporting a family were almost not possible. Half a century later, after years of very active communal involvement in Detroit, she realized her dream of aliyah, and then, as a second-time widow, came full circle and buttonholed herself perfectly by us, making sure that nothing went to waste.

An unsung gemach heroine up to this article.

Then there was Rebbetzin Kahana, crowning a life as an active member of the chareidi community, in her nineties, clocking in to fold shirts and snip off buttons, very important adjuncts which our busy volunteers did not have time for.

Not famous was Chava,* an arthritic volunteer living on the sixth floor. I think she earned her olam haba by defying a broken elevator one time and showing up with her walker! It was in her era that the following button story took place:

Aviva* comes in one day looking for fancy buttons. “I have a bar mitzvah coming up, and while I don’t mind wearing my standard simchah dress, I’d like to give it a new touch.” Her well-to-do mother will be coming in from the States and Aviva, whose husband is still in learning and who has a large family, does not want to look nebby.

Foraging among the treasures of gold, silver and diamonds, she comes up with gorgeous buttons that would easily cost $10 apiece in a shop. As she comes to pay her shekel, she notices a beaded evening purse for sale and shells out another three shekel.

The mother was duly impressed and thrilled with her daughter’s gift of the purse, which happened to be the rave in her high society. And ever since then, we – and Aviva – have been on the lookout for similar ones for her mother’s friends…

But geshmach miracles don’t often repeat themselves. Like a kaleidoscope, they come in different shapes and colors. Like buttons…

We had a different Malka who, sadly, is also no longer with us. This unsung heroine came from Brazil and the only way we could communicate with her was in Yiddish. An orphan girl in her forties, she dreamed of a shidduch, but we volunteers, while encouraging her, did not have much hope that this would happen. She gave her soul to the gemach, untangling belts, folding clothing and cutting off buttons. She even took work home with her!

Malka lived with an aunt who occasionally set her up with shidduchim. She did have an illustrious lineage going for her, stemming from the Chassam Sofer and from famous Rebbishe families. We would root for her before each meeting, and commiserate with her when things fell through. We duly expressed our reverence when she came back from an occasional Shabbos spent by her famous cousin (I forgot which Rebbe), who had actually spent time talking and even bantering with her.

Malka was summoned back to Heaven very suddenly when she was crossing the street one motzaei Shabbos and got hit by a car. Several volunteers attended her funeral and wept. But surely, her pure, precious and wholesome soul had found a beautiful place there.

Our story is not finished.

I had marked the date on my calendar. It was a year later, in June, that I woke up and went out to see what had sprouted in my yard. Living on the ground floor with a large front yard, I had begun encouraging people to drop things off there so that I could do the occasional washing and mending to save a good garment, and sort clothing when I wasn’t on duty at the gemach itself across the street (a busman’s holiday).

Sheindel Weinbach

Canadian Jews to Start Jewish Security Patrols in Toronto

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Anti-Semitic slogans scrawled in Calgary and an Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents conducted by B’nai Brith Canada showing a steady rise in anti-Jewish incidents has prompted a former Israeli counter-terrorism expert to establish a Jewish guard troop for relevant sites throughout Canada.

Program coordinator Doron Horowitz, Director of National Security Infrastructure for the Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs – and decorated former IDF soldier specializing in counter-terrorism – has announced the formation of a network of professionally-trained volunteers who will patrol Canadian synagogues and Jewish community centers.

The “Community Security Network” will be comprised of individuals aged 25 to 50 who will be subjected to background checks and psychological screenings to determine their fitness for the positions.  Those who are accepted will be trained in counter-surveillance, physical fitness, and observation, and be responsible for guarding no less than 5 hours per month at sensitive Jewish locations.

The program, which is being initiated in Toronto, will initially be comprised of 25 unarmed, ununiformed volunteers.  If successful, it will be launched across Canada.

Horowitz stressed that the program is meant to coordinate with current and ongoing law enforcement security efforts on behalf of the Jewish community, and will act in cooperation with local authorities.  It will not exercise force or violence, according to Horowitz, but maintain vigilance, report to law officials and emphasize prevention.

Bnai Brith Canada reported that 1,306 anti-Semitic incidents took place in Canada in 2010, a rise of 3.3% over 2009.

In the UK, the sizable Community Security Trust unites 3,000 volunteers in defense of 300 British synagogues, with the NY Community Security Service modeled after it.  Brooklyn, New York’s Shomrim (“Guards”) also surveys the security situation in New York City and Brooklyn.

Malkah Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/canadian-jews-to-start-jewish-security-patrols-in-toronto/2012/03/13/

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