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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yuli Edelstein’

Knesset Synagogue Bars Reform and Conservative Jews from ‘Mixed Prayer’

Friday, November 28th, 2014

American rabbinical students from the Conservative movement studying in Israel were prevented from holding afternoon prayers with men and women together in the Knesset synagogue, JTA reported.

Haaretz reported that the decision was handed down by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and the students were offered alternative place to pray. Reform and Reconstructionist students also were in the group at the Knesset, where the synagogue is designated as Orthodox.

“A lot of the students were very upset and shocked,” said Rabbi Joel Levy, director of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, who submitted the request on behalf of the students, told Haaretz. “You’d think that the Knesset would be a place of ingathering of the Jewish people, but actually we learned that it has boundaries that don’t include liberal Jews. Paradoxically, this decision served as an appropriate end to our conversation about religion and state in Israel.”

(One wonders if they are equally as upset and shocked that no Jews are allowed to pray on Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount.)

So here we go again. The Knesset implicitly a place that is not for the “ingathering of the Jewish people” because the synagogue is Orthodox.

Not only that, but “liberal Jews” are not allowed.

The minute they throw around the term “egalitarian prayers,” Orthodoxy has three strikes against it.

Once Judaism is defined by secular values, it becomes a monopoly of the liberals, who are tolerant of everyone who accepts them and then close the doors on anyone who challenges their power.

Power is what the argument is all about. It is the same issue that is behind the Women of the Wall movement, which gathered hundreds of thousands of supporters in the United States but which in practice cannot come up with more than a few dozen people –perhaps 100 on a sunny day – to demonstrate,  whoops – pray,  at the Western Wall once a month.

So here comes the Masoriti movement to the Knesset, where it wants their students to have a real spiritual experience and pray – men and women together – in the legislature’s synagogue.

When the Orthodox Jews set the rules, it is called a monopoly.

When the “liberals” set the rules, it is called democracy.

It would be interesting to know if the students at the Knesset have an afternoon prayer service every day, or is it only when they visit the Knesset?

And if they do, why cannot they respect the sanctity of the lace where there is a minyan of Jews every day, three times a day, instead of grabbing headlines for their “egalitarian” agenda that they think is “modern” and superior?

Okay. We gave them their headlines, just like we did with the Women of the Wall.

I wish the students an enjoyable visit in Israel but ask, “Why is it that Orthodox Jews make up such large numbers of those who move to Israel?”

Do the Reform and Conservative Jews visit Israel and go “home” because there is no mixed seating in the Knesset synagogue?

MK Yuli Edelstein Tells Chabad Rabbis Why He ‘Lost It’ Over Tefillin

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Sometimes it takes an Israeli politician to tell a rabbi about how precious a pair of tefillin can be.

Thousands of Chassidic rabbis are still trickling out of the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn in the wake of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement’s annual international convention for its emissaries.

At least 5,200 of the rabbis from more than 80 countries around the world gathered for the 31st annual International Conference of Shluchim which ran for five days. The closing banquet was held Sunday evening at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein featured as guest speaker.

A former Soviet refusenik, Edelstein was sentenced in 1984 to three years in a labor camp.

Edelstein told the those at the banquet that for him, the pivotal moment in his life came when a guard in a labor camp tried to break his tefillin boxes over his knee. That, he said, was when he “lost it” and fought back — earning himself 15 days in solitary confinement.

“You would do the same if something so dear to you was being taken away,” Edelstein explained. It is ironic, he added, that today when no one is taking away tefillin, many Jews no longer know what they are.

“This is a different world, a dangerous world,” the Knesset Speaker said. “Less dramatic than being in a prison corridor with five guards,” but the mission of Chabad Chassidim remains the same — teaching Jews to know what tefillin and Shabbat candles are for.

It was for this purpose a small group of Chassidim embraced the challenge of the Lubavitcher Rebbe about 70 years ago, to become agents of transformation.

Today, some 4500 couples are dedicated to continuing that mission in 87 countries. “The Rebbe was looking to make radical change,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, chairman of the conference committee and a leader at Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters. This year alone, 400 new emissaries took up their posts and 200 applicants are pending.

Rabbi Dovid Dubov, Chabad emissary to South London, serves the Jewish community of Wimbledon and delivered “love” as the banquet’s keynote address.

“In tennis, love equals zero. But at Chabad of Wimbledon we say that if you want to raise a racquet, serve with love,” he said with a smile.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, one of the Rebbe’s former aides and chairman of Chabad’s educational and social services division, noted the importance of the movement’s adherence to truth in Torah values, even above political correctness.

Hundreds of World Jewish Leaders to Meet in Rocket-Battered South

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Hundreds of Jewish leaders from around the world who are part of the Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governor will convene in Ashkelon, one of Hamas favorite targets for rockets and missiles, next week.

The Board had been set to meet in Mexico as part of its annual rotation amongst the world’s Jewish communities, but in light of this summer’s hostilities, it decided to move the gathering to southern Israel as an expression of support and solidarity with its residents.

Speakers will include Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, author and journalist Yossi Klein Halevi, and Racheli Fraenkel, the mother of one of the three yeshiva students whom Hamas terrorists kidnapped and murdered this summer.

Knesset to Choose Next President June 10

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Knesset members will choose Israel’s next president on June 10, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced Monday.

The decision to hold elections now is a political blow to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who tried to push off elections to replace retiring President Shimon Peres in order to block the election of current front runner, MK Reuven Rivlin.

“The current race has been muddied by slander and delegimitization,” Edelstein said, “which I feel has disgraced the process and caused severe damage to this important institution.”  While the Israeli president is technically the head of state, it is a position has traditionally been a ceremonial post, with little official jurisdiction. Presidents have little authority apart from granting pardons and accepting credentials from foreign diplomats to Israel.

Peres, however, has used the office as a personal soapbox. As president, he has remained outside politics, but has frequently voiced opinions on Israel’s diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority and other issues that have traditionally been considered outside the purview of the presidential office.

Seven who would be president

Currently, there are seven candidates for president. They include former Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin, former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Likud MK Silvan Shalom, former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. former finance minister MK Meir Sheetrit, former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner and Nobel Laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman.  Candidates have until May 27 to declare their candidacy, together with signatures from 10 Knesset members.

“I want to wish each of the [seven] candidates good luck, but beyond that I beseech and even demand of them, for me, for the Knesset and for the people of Israel, to behave with dignity, respect, decency, morality and integrity,” Edelstein continued.

Presenting Arafat’s Dead Sea Tonic

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

The days of sefirah feature several special events here in Israel.

First, the week after Pesach we have Holocaust Memorial Day, which is deeply moving as we remember, in ceremonies and through radio and TV broadcasts, the horrors perpetrated in Europe that preceded the founding of our state.

A week later we mark Memorial Day as the nation grieves for its fallen heroes and the victims of terror attacks.

The following day brings a huge outpouring of joy as the nation celebrates Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s independence day.

The most outstanding event of Yom Ha’Atzmaut is the International Bible Quiz. This year’s theme was leadership. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein jokingly told the crowd he’d already signed certificates for the winners before their names were recorded, noting that “where I come from [Russia], they would sign certificates with the winner’s name even before the contest!”

Natan Sharansky quipped, “Yuli and I went to jail [as Prisoners of Zion] before we arrived in Israel to become leaders. But now we are witnessing people becoming leaders before they go to jail!”

In contrast to Edelstein and Sharansky, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke in sober tones about leadership, stating that “true leadership is to recognize reality and know how to address it.”

The audience grew extraordinarily quiet, seeming to recognize the truth of his words.

We have come to a point where most of this usually fractious country stands behind the decisions of our prime minister. In a newly released survey, 63 percent of Israelis agree peace talks should end now that the Palestine Authority has signed a pact with their Hamas terrorist brothers rather than make any compromise with Israel, which would require the PA’s recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Interestingly, Netanyahu employed a bit of political correctness to ensure that Israel would not cave to the Palestinians’ unrealistic demands. He was so cute in making Tzipi Livni justice minister (she needed the post for her political survival) as well as the government’s representative in negotiations with the PA – while positioning one of his loyalists behind her, looking over her shoulder to prevent her from offering unilateral concessions.

In the end it was Livni herself who would have to declare the peace talks dead. What a perfect ending!

This issue of The Jewish Press arrives on newsstands on Pesach Sheini, which, according to chassidic teaching, is the holiday of the second chance – or, better said, the celebration of a new beginning.

For Netanyahu this means, to use his own words, recognizing reality and knowing how to address it.

I’m thrilled that there are people who are right now reading our paper, and maybe even this article, on airplanes flying to Israel. Perhaps many of them are coming to Meron for Lag B’Omer, and maybe some of them will be bringing kinderlach for their first haircut in Meron.

The fact is, they’ll be arriving in an Israel that faces a new reality, and our prime minister needs to address it.

Political correctness has lost its currency. Putin proved it with his malicious destabilization of Ukraine, shortly after he played “peacemaker” during the crisis in Syria, which only allowed Syrian leaders to again use chemical weapons on their own people.

Obama proved it when, commenting on the limited legalization of marijuana in Colorado, he said with a chuckle, “I do hope it doesn’t lead to a whole lot of paranoid people who think that the federal government is…listening to their phone calls” – when he knows that we know that it in fact does.

And the Palestinians have abandoned political correctness by signing certificates that pronounced them the winners even before the contest (in this case, sincere negotiations).

Netanyahu’s Struggle for the Presidency

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Behind closed doors, President Shimon Peres is whispering (loudly) that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to be a dictator over Israel.

That’s because the prime minister is attempting to end the president’s authorization to assign the top political party the task of assembling a governing coalition after each election.

Netanyahu also wants to postpone the presidential elections for up to six months, according to a report broadcast last week on Voice of Israel government radio. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein would take over the reins from Peres in July if the prime minister succeeds.

But according to a report last week in the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv, Netanyahu’s real goal is to abolish the presidency altogether.

Peres said in conversations with confidantes that Netanyahu’s initiative is “an attempt to establish a dictatorship here,” The Jerusalem Post reported. He claimed the prime minister would not “be satisfied until there is an absolute ruler [in the prime minister’s office].”

The president, who retires next month when he turns 90 years old, has always been far more active politically and diplomatically than is generally accepted. In that he is similar to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, also elderly, who has traveled to numerous nations around the world and freely spoken his mind, regardless of the impact his actions might have on U.S. relations or foreign policy in those regions – including here in the Middle East.

In the State of Israel, the position of president is one that is supposed to be primarily ceremonial, rather than actively political, and brings with it little actual authority. This has proved to be a major frustration for Shimon Peres, who has likewise felt the need to express his opinions regardless of whether they contradict those of his own government. Both men have created awkward situations for their governments and at times have even sabotaged their governments’ efforts as a result.

However, not every president is a Shimon Peres and new presidential elections are coming up fast. Netanyahu still has to drum up support for any move either to postpone elections or to eliminate a president’s ability to assign coalition-building — or for that matter abolish the post — and that’s not easy.

Likud MK Reuven Rivlin, 74, has a great deal of support for his candidacy in the upcoming election, and not only from Bayit Yehudi Housing Minister, MK Uri Ariel. Although Rivlin appears to be a genial man, he is not likely to allow himself to be sidelined so quickly, nor are his colleagues likely to be willing to sit silently by and let it happen.

His biggest rival, Binyamin Ben-Eleizer, 78, is another strong contender unlikely to allow Netanyahu to give away his right to assign coalition formation. The Iraqi-born former IDF general is close with the Sephardic population and maintains excellent relations with Arab leaders.

Silvan Shalom, 55, and a former finance and former minister, also has considered running for president but now may drop the idea. His candidacy would likely not succeed due to allegations of sexual offenses against former employees. At least one involved formal charges, but the case was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. Each of the others did not materialize for various other reasons, according to a statement by the Justice Ministry last week.

There are also reports that former Soviet refusenik Natan Scharansky, 66 and currently director of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has been approached by various people asking him to toss his hat into the ring. Hugely popular, Scharansky has not yet discussed the matter in public.

British PM Cameron to Visit Israel Next Week

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit Israel and address the Knesset on March 12.

Cameron was originally scheduled to visit Israel in February but had to postpone the trip because of flooding in the United Kingdom. This will be Cameron’s first visit to Israel since becoming prime minister in 2010.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein invited Cameron to Israel when the two met at former South African President Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

“I welcome the arrival of the prime minister of a great and important country like Britain to address the Knesset and believe that the visit will contribute to the friendship between Britain and Israel as well as the relations between the two countries,” Edelstein said in a statement. “I am also glad that the Knesset will once again take its place as the main stage chosen by the leaders of the world to address the Israeli people.”

French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Parliament President Martin Schulz all addressed the Knesset in the past year.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/british-pm-cameron-to-visit-israel-next-week/2014/03/04/

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