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June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Western Wall’

UNESCO: Jews Have No Connection to the Temple Mount

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

The executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Friday denied Israel’s claim to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

Meeting in Paris, the organization ignored the Jewish connection to Jerusalem sites in a resolution that passed with 33 votes in favor, six against, and 17 abstained, and referenced only the Al-Aksa Mosque and the Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Temple Mount). The Western Wall area was referenced as the Al-Buraq Plaza. Last year UNESCO refused to reclassify the Wall as a Muslim site.

France, Spain, Sweden, Russia and Slovenia were among the non-Arab nations who supported the resolution. Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States objected.

The resolution accused Israel of planting “fake Jewish graves” in eastern Jerusalem. This claim is especially enraging, since the old Jewish cemetery on Mount Olives was desecrated by the Jordanians before 1967, with its tombstones being used to pave roads.

Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama released a statement in response saying, “Even if UNESCO passes dozens of resolutions, and decides to continue passing thousands more, Jerusalem will always remain as part of the capital of Israel and the Jewish people.” Shama added, “As you continue on this path of incitement, lies and terror you will be sending UNESCO down a path towards irrelevance.”

JNi.Media

First Chief Kotel Rabbi’s Letter Reveals Desperation on Eve of Jordanian Capture

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Adar 1948: Three letters recently uncovered from the besieged Old City of Jerusalem, written a month before the British left and two months before it fell into the hands of Jordan, betray the desperation of the residents and their leaders.

The letters include one of the last letters signed by the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, known in Hebrew as the Kotel, who insisted on returning to the besieged city and was killed two months after signing the letter.

The three letters were written in the month of Adar 1948, 68 years ago, by the besieged people of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, were recently discovered by an unidentified individual in Jerusalem.*

The letters reveal another piece of the harsh reality in the besieged city, the internal arguments between its civilians and the efforts to save the Jewish way of life during the inferno. One of the letters is signed by Rabbi Yitzchak Avigdor Orenstein, the Kotel’s first and legendary Chief Rabbi, two months before he perished during the shelling of the Old City.

In the letter – signed also by Rabbis Yisrael Zeev Mintzberg, community rabbi of the Ashkenazi Jewish Quarter, Shalom Azoulay, Dayan of the Westerners community, and Benzion Chazan, founder of the renowned “Porat Yosef” Yeshiva – the four send a distress call to Israel’s Chief Rabbi at the time, Yitzhak Herzog.

“Have mercy on the men, women, and children, and take drastic measures where needed elsewhere, so we won’t perish, God forbid.”

The four describe the difficult situation in the Old City after the shelling by the British soldiers.

“The lives of the Old city residents are in a grave danger. During the last few nights British troops shelled the Jewish Quarter, harming the sanctity of the synagogue,” they write, adding, “The night of Thursday and the night of Motzei Shabbat, were nothing short of a nightmare for us, we thought that we would all perish, God forbid, but thanks to the mercy of Hashem, no casualties occurred… the awful bombing was imposed on us by the British soldiers, without any reason or cause.

“This morning we woke up agreeing unanimously to leave the property behind and save our lives, escape the Old City and the life of nightmare. Nevertheless, after we partially recovered, we called the residents of the city for help in taking counsel and decided to appeal to his Excellency with the broadcast above “.

Rabbi Orenstein, who was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Kotel in 1930, insisted on returning to the Old City when the siege began, even though he was then visiting the new city.

Through special efforts done by Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Rabbi Herzog, Rabbi Orenstein was able to enter the Old City. When asked why he was endangering himself, Rabbi Orenstein replied that “If someone is destined to sacrifice himself for the sake of the sanctity of ancient Jerusalem and its holy places, I am hereby committed to it more than anyone else.”

Rabbi Orenstein was killed along with his wife, Rebbetzin Mushka Liebe, during the shelling of Iyar 14th, about two months after signing the letter above. He was buried in a mass grave that he himself approved to set up within the Old City limits.

Letter written by The First Kotel Rabbi, Chief Rabbi Orenshtein two months before his death.

Letter written by The First Kotel Rabbi, Chief Rabbi Orenshtein two months before his death.

Alongside this letter, the collection holds another letter written the next day, by the rabbi of the Ashkenazi community, Rabbi Mintzberg, who also addressed Chief Rabbi Herzog. In his letter, Rabbi Mintzberg describes once more the difficult situation in the quarter. “I am to inform him that after the past Sunday of Parashat Shemini (about a week before writing this letter), a bitter day for the residents of the holy city, the soldiers were raging once more, shooting the residents. In yards and homes before midnight Friday night and yesterday Motza’ei Shabbat for several hours continuously, they fired shells and mortars and destroyed several homes.”

This time, the Rabbi of the Ashkenazi community is asking the chief rabbi to intervene, in order to bring peace between the president of the Old City’s Jewish community, Mordechai Weingarten, and the ‘Haganah’ military organization. The story behind this request involves the tension between Weingarten and the ‘Haganah’, following the latter’s takeover of the Jewish Agency’s food distribution to the Jews of the Old City, which had rested with Weingarten until that point.

The letter also mentions the need to reconcile further arguments about the discussion on the possible courses of action in the besieged city. Tensions reached a peak a month before writing the letter at hand, when commander of the Haganah’s Jerusalem unit, Avraham Halperin, was arrested in the Old City.

“Another thing I believe might affect… the heads of our government will give an order to members of the ‘Haganah’ to cooperate with Weingarten, since he is known to have relations with the government in favor of the Old City, and the cooperation will bring great benefit for the Protection of the Old City and alleviate the population’s suffering,” writes Rabbi Mintzberg to Chief Rabbi Herzog.

Another letter in the collection was sent four days later to the Religious Council in Jerusalem, by a representative group of 25 young members of the ‘Beitar’ organization, who had established a company of their own alongside the ‘Haganah’s.

According to the author of the letter, the company consists of “Young and international” olim (immigrants) from various countries including: Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, and Harbin (at that time under the control of the Soviet Union and today a part of China). In the letter, the group seeks assistance for the upcoming Passover. “We are forced to turn to you with a request of utmost importance. Passover is approaching and we are unable to satisfy all the national-religious Halachas of this holiday, such as matzo and the use of special kitchen utensils. ”

A month after the three letters were written, on May 13th, the British troops left the Old City. Three days later, the Arab counter-offensive commenced and the conquest of ‘Haganah’ positions in the city. Four days later came the Jordanian forces.

Two weeks after the departure of the British, on May 28th, the Old City was captured by the Jordanian forces.

(*Ed. Note: Kedem Auction House is handling the sale of the letters. A spokesperson told JewishPress.com the seller requested anonymity and added this is also part of its confidentiality policy, as it is with other auction houses, for varying reasons.)

Hana Levi Julian

American Reform Rabbis Warn of Disconnect with Israel

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

American Reform rabbis are warning of an imminent disconnect with Israel in their movement. The distance is growing over insulting comments by Israeli lawmakers and their outrage over the long-standing “Who is a Jew” issue that seems to again be returning for another round of debate between Israel and the Diaspora.

The Reform Movement is the largest stream of the faith in the United States, although it has marginal numbers in Israel. It has provided key support for the Jewish State both politically and financially in the U.S. and whenever Israel is threatened, the movement is among the first to respond.

The angst between American Reform Jewry and Israel was reflected during a meeting last week between the movement’s leaders and Israeli officials.

“How do you ask Jews around the world to support Israel politically, economically, socially … and at the same time you have these ministers who say to our people ‘you’re not really Jewish’ or ‘you don’t have a place here in Israel?’

“It’s a real problem for us,” said Rabbi Steven Fox, the chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The 2,000-member CCAR held its septennial convention in Israel last week.

Israel faces a thorny dilemma, being a Jewish State where some key laws are based on those in Torah, such as the definition (for marital purposes) of “who is a Jew” and what constitutes a legitimate Jewish marriage and divorce.

The state has tried to make diplomatic compromises in that it has stretched the identification of a Jew to embrace all those who met “Hitler’s definition” – that is, anyone who can prove the Judaism of a single grandparent on either side.

But the American Reform movement today includes temples with mixed gender seating, female rabbis and members who violate the Sabbath by driving to services. Many no longer recognize the kosher laws as relevant either, relegating that practice to antiquity as an ancient law used to protect public health. Some members have even taken on the practice of installing a Christmas tree in the home around the winter holidays, so their children won’t feel “different.” Many are intermarried.

Last month after three years of delicate negotiations, the state risked a crisis with the Orthodox population and designated a special mixed-gender prayer section at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In that section, women are permitted to wear prayer shawls and yarmulkas as do Jewish men.

The upheaval that followed rocked the Jewish world in Israel and the Orthodox world around the planet. Israel’s chief rabbis were furious and the rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, threatened to resign.

The American Reform movement was overjoyed, as was the activist Women of the Wall organization.

But now American Reform rabbis are angry because an Israeli minister called the movement a “waning world.” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, himself a secular Jew, pointed out that intermarriage and assimilation will eventually lead to the disappearance of the Jews who engage in those practices. Levin commented that the mixed-gender prayer site at the Western Wall would likely become unnecessary within two or three generations.

A hareidi-religious lawmaker was more abrupt and far less polite, comparing the Reform movement to the “mentally ill.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is not observant, was caught between having to try to force his lawmakers to behave with some dignity and respect, and having to pacify the deeply insulted visiting Reform rabbis.

Netanyahu had already rejected “disparaging and divisive remarks” about Reform Jews. He called the movement “part and parcel of the Jewish people” and reminded Israelis that a Jew is a Jew, regardless of which synagogue he attends. He also met with the visiting Reform rabbis, albeit without a public notice.

Hana Levi Julian

Jordan Adds to Western Wall Mixed-Gender Prayer Controversy

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Jordan is demanding that Israel “return jurisdiction” over part of the Western Wall to the Islamic Waqf controlled by Amman.

The demand followed the decision by the Israeli government last week to set aside the southernmost section of the Wall, known as Robinson’s Arch, as a place for mixed-gender prayer. Jordan refers to the same place as the “Umayyad Palaces.”

Jordan contends that the decision violates the jurisdiction of the Waqf Islamic Authority over Jerusalem’s holy places, an agreement made between the two countries in 1967.

On Saturday, Jordanian Minister of Communications and Media Affairs Muhammad Momani “urged Israel not to meddle with the Umayyad Palaces area and to ensure its return under the jurisdiction of the Jordanian Jerusalem Waqf Department, which is the entity responsible for administering and safeguarding the site,” the Jordan news agency Petra reported in the Jordan Times.

“Israeli occupation forces have recently settled internal differences among followers of different Jewish sects at the expense of the area of the Umayyad Palaces,” Petra said.

“Israeli occupation forces had decided to expand a platform to allow more Jewish worshippers into the area. The violation against the Umayyad Palaces is the latest in a long series of assaults and violations against the site. Occupation forces have carried out several excavation works there, destroying Arab and Islamic heritage,” Petra added on behalf of Jordan’s government.

Israel’s government approved plans last week to expand the Western Wall plaza in order to accommodate the increasing demands for non-Orthodox prayer at the site. A small wooden platform at Robinson’s Arch has already been set up for mixed-gender prayer.

Jordan’s lamentation over Israeli “occupation” is a bit spurious, given the Hashemite tenure itself as custodian over parts of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria lasted only from 1948 to 1967 – a total of 31 years.

Jerusalem has long since been reunited and whole for a period much longer than that: June 2017 will mark half a century since the restoration of the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and elsewhere in Jerusalem and the Land to the Jewish State of Israel.

However, to be fair, the dismay of the Hashemite Kingdom over the compromise over non-Orthodox prayer allowed by the government is also reflected among some Muslims in Israel and ironically is shared with some observant Jews locally and globally as well.

Mixed-gender prayer has never been allowed at the Western Wall – in fact, historically it was not allowed in either Holy Temple. In Torah law, women are not counted among a minyan (quorum) of men.

Not that this grants validity to the Jordanian claim of authority and hopes to win Waqf control of the site, which is more of a simple attempt at another political territory grab.

The Umayyad Palaces were two buildings which archaeologists say were built by the Umayyads who ruled for a period of 100 years in the late seventh century. They were destroyed in an earthquake and lay buried until they were unearthed by Israeli archaeologists in a 1970s excavation, creating a public history park to educate all.

The Western Wall is part of Judaism’s most sacred site on the planet, the Temple Mount, located alongside. The site is also the third holiest in Islam. The Wall is part of the outer retaining wall of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, its sole material remnant that has survived throughout the centuries. In Islam, it is believed that the prophet Mohammed rose up to Heaven on his mighty steed el-Buraq from a site near the Western Wall.

In Judaism, it is believed that somewhere on the grounds of the Temple Mount lies the site of the “Holy of Holies” of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem – the inner sanctum where the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) communed with G-d Himself during sacrifices and services. No one other than the Kohen Gadol was ever allowed to enter this place, and to this day countless rabbis forbid Jews to tread upon the Temple Mount grounds for fear of erroneously entering this area.

The Israeli government does not allow Jews to pray within the Temple Mount in accordance with a status quo agreement with the Jordanian Waqf. Within the Temple Mount grounds are built the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, where Muslims are allowed to pray.

Hana Levi Julian

17-Year-Old Stabbed in Terrorist Attack Just Made Aliyah From Brooklyn

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

As the JewishPress.com reported earlier, just about at the close of Shabbat in Israel, two Arab terrorists stabbed a 17-year-old Israeli as he and a friend were leaving the Kotel after evening prayers.

It is now known that the Israeli victim was a student at Magen Shaul Nokdim, a pre-army mechina, and had become an Israeli citizen just one month ago. The young man was listed in fair to good condition when he was taken to Hadassah Medical Center’s Mount Scopus campus.

The victim’s name had not yet been released as his family, back in Brooklyn, were still observing Shabbat.

The 17-year-old said that despite having been the victim of a terrorist stabbing, he would not be deterred from his plan to join the IDF.

According to Walla, the stabbing victim was able to speak about the attack from his medical bed: “I did not see him [the stabber], he came from behind and stabbed. There were two stabbers, they were young.”

He also said that that he was unafraid, and that “now I’m enlisting in the army and I will give everything.” He hopes to join an elite unit in the Israeli Defense Forces. “God willing, I want to join the Sayeret Matkal,” he said.

As reported earlier, two Arab teenagers, both minors, have been taken into custody for interrogation relating to this terrorist attack.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Skverer Rebbe of New Square Set to Visit Israel

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

The Skverer Rebbe of New Square, Rabbi Duvid Twersky, shlita is leaving his headquarters near Monsey, New York next Sunday for a visit to the Holy Land.

Thousands of the Rebbe’s chassidim are accompanying him on this visit, according to a source in New Square. “Nearly all of the men in the village are going,” said the source. “So are men from the communities in Monsey, Brooklyn and other places.”

The Chassidic dynasty of Skver is a branch of the Chernobyl dynasty, originating from the city of Skvyra, in present-day Ukraine in the mid-19th century. There are numerous Skver communities in cities around the world, including London, Paris, Antwerp and others. In addition, there are two other subgroups of the dynasty in Brooklyn led by relatives of the Rebbe as well.

One thousand special guests will greet the Rebbe in Israel and will go together with him to pray at the Western Wall and then to visit the grave sites of various Torah Sages in Israel. There will also be a special prayer event at the Tomb of the Biblical Matriarch Rachel.

During his visit to the Holy Land the Rebbe is scheduled to attend prayers at the Ariza’l Synagogue in Tzefat (Safed).

Rabbi Avigdor Ostreicher will host the Rebbe in Jerusalem on Rehov Petach Tikvah.

A huge tent will be installed to house the thousands of followers and guests who are expected to attend the “tishim” (gatherings) that will be held.

Hana Levi Julian

Critically Wounded Police Officer Resumes Duty 5 Months Later, Offers Prayer of Thanks at Western Wall

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

A critically injured Border Guard Police officer has returned to duty after being stabbed by a Palestinian Authority terrorist in Jerusalem.

Officer Raz Bibi returned to active service on Monday, five months after he nearly lost his life in the terror attack at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. Just 20 years old, he went back to the Old City — the place where he was attacked — to offer prayers of gratitude at the Western Wall for his miraculous recovery.

Border Guard Police Officer Raz Bibi offers a prayer of thanks for his life being saved, at the Western Wall.

Border Guard Police Officer Raz Bibi offers a prayer of thanks for his life being saved, at the Western Wall.

Upon his arrival at the Western Wall Plaza, the officer found a touching surprise, when the members of his unit greeted him with cheers and applause for his bravery.

Just before he lost consciousness on that terrible day five months ago, the courageous officer had managed to shoot and kill the vicious terrorist who stabbed him.

“I was very happy to see this special military unit that has stood by the door at the hospital since [Bibi] was wounded, and supported him and prayed for his recovery together with all the people of Israel,” said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall.

“Now [the unit] is once again with him, this time with thanks for the great miracle that happened to him, and his surprising recovery against all the predictions,” the rabbi told the soldiers who were gathered around the officer.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/critically-wounded-police-officer-resumes-service-5-months-later-offers-prayer-of-thanks-at-western-wall/2015/11/23/

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