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Category: Jewish Life (page 4 of 15)

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Abbas Comis?

So often tidbits of news and history become philosophical mind-benders…so as beholders of the Truth, as we at happen to be, we try and leave our stories open to the good rational minds of our readers…that is to say, we respect you.

So here’s the scoop, readers:

Pope Benedict XVI insists on a “great respect” between Catholics and Jews. Here’s a pocket-full of benefit of the doubt for the good Vicar…

The Pontiff is on his way to visit a synagogue in Rome… even as we speak. He says the visit will be a “further step on the path of harmony and friendship between Catholics and Jews,” he says there is a “climate of great respect and dialogue” between the two religions. This Roman synagogue is said to be the spiritual home of the oldest Jewish community in the Diaspora.

Jewish groups are divided however, due to Benedict’s praise of Pius XII – the World War II Pope. Some say, that this Pope did not do enough to save the Jews of these years from their fate of Holocaust. Now Pope Benedict is moving to Canonize Pope Pius.

In his 1940 encyclical Summi Pontificatus, Pius rejected anti-Semitism and he did protest to save certain Jewish populations from deportation to Poland. Despite this, many are still skeptical. He could not or did not save the fate of one-third of Italy’s Jewish population, who were murdered or expelled.

Jewish skepticism about the current Pope was sparked when it became known his German origins and service in the Hitler Youth program, beginning in 1941. But it became known that the program was compulsory for all German boys, and that the Pope witnessed firsthand, Nazi brutality towards German Catholics.

On one hand, Pope Benedict visited the Park East synagogue in New York City, during the eve of Passover in 2008 – and this came after his 2006 visit to Auschwitz and later Jerusalem and Yad Vashem.

He also visited a West Bank refugee camp during one of these trips, and spoke out about the need for a sovereign homeland for the Palestinian people. Needless to say this left many a questioning Zionist brow…

In 2007, Benedict issued the Summorum Pontificum, which allows wider use of the Tridentine Mass, which includes this Good Friday Prayer:

Let us pray also for the Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise. Almighty and eternal God, who dost also not exclude from thy mercy the Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Then, in 2009, he lifted an excommunication off of a British Bishop who denies that Jews were killed in Nazi gas chambers.

Me thinks, this guy is about as hard to decode as the Latin language. Nicer then some Popes have been, but tricky, yeah? Does he do it on purpose? Sorry Father, but Israel will not be embracing Jesus any time in the near future…at least, not on any sweeping basis…


Levels of Jewish in Israel Explained to “Strange Workers”

Yair Nitzani explains to foreign workers in Israel (Strange Workers) about the different levels of Jewish in Israeli society.

Who’s Scroll Is It Anyway?

More than 2000-years-old, the Dead Sea Scrolls are far from being a dead issue. A couple of months ago I posted about a battle between two top Jewish American intellectuals who differ in opinion as to who wrote the Scrolls – one held that they were wrote by the Ascetic Jewish sect, the Essenes, where as the other held that they were collected by various scribes throughout the country.
Well now the battle is not between intellectuals, but two governments and incidentally, two religions.

Jordan has complained to the United Nations that the Dead Sea Scrolls belong to them, and Israel should give them up. They claim that the Jewish country seized the ancient texts during the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel had “illegally” annexed East Jerusalem.

Rafea Harasheh of Jordan’s antiquities department said this in a statement:

“The kingdom has filed a complaint to UNESCO that the scrolls belong to Jordan…the government has legal documents that prove Jordan owns the scrolls…we have been trying our best to restore our stolen antiquities, including the scrolls. Stealing our antiquities violates international treaties and ethics…Israel seized the scrolls and other antiquities from the Palestinian Museum, which was managed by Jordan, in east Jerusalem when it occupied this part of the city in 1967.”

The scrolls, some of which as old as the third century BC, were put on display at an exhibit at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum.
In April, top Palestinian officials called on the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to step in and cancel the exhibition.

Furthermore Jordan has asked Canada to seize the scrolls, invoking the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Canada insisted that the situation is between Jordan and Israel. It will be interesting to hear the UN’s take on this.

Donate to Haiti – Help Needed Now !

We are sure everyone has seen the pictures of the devastation in Haiti as a result of the earthquake Jan.12. Please help by donating to the organizations active in the Haiti right now. The donation page was put up on Google’s home page right below the search window.

The New Ultra-Orthodox Zionist

2009 saw approximately 2,000 haredi yeshiva students join the IDF or National Service. This is in sharp contrast to the 300 to 400 in 2008.
Most of these ultra-Orthodox men who chose to enlist in the IDF or do national service were older than 25. Most married with children.

The sharp rise may have been a result of the implementation of the Tal law. The Barak administration established the Tal Committee in 1999, with the aim of resolving problems stemming from draft exemptions for yeshiva students. The Tal law took effect in August 2002.

The law permits yeshiva students older than 22 to take one year off from their studies. During the year, they can acquire a profession or work without being drafted. At the end of the year, the students have a choice of either returning to full-time studies or completing abbreviated national service.

Between 2002 and 2005, only 1,400 yeshiva students, or 3% took a year off from their studies, and only 74 chose to fulfill national service.
The Finance Ministry blocked the creation of civilian national service for yeshiva students interested in remaining in the workforce. And the Defense Ministry, which demanded that men 23-year-olds complete a more lengthy service.

The National Service Administration reported that in 2009, 1,070 haredi men who had previously been enrolled full-time in yeshivot and kolelim opted to do national service. The men chose between a one year eight-hour-a-day track and a two-year four-hour-a-day track.
The normal National Service occupations for ultra-Orthodox participants are inside haredi neighborhoods or haredi charity organizations as paramedics, teachers, and social services workers.

As for the IDF, there’s the Shahar option. Shahar stands for haredi service (sheirut haredim) and targets married haredi men. They focus on training haredi men for non-combat roles like computer programmers, technicians and mechanics. There is also the Nahal Haredi, a battalion designated for ultra-Orthodox soldiers. Both the Nachal Haredi and Shahar provide participants with occupational training.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, a total of 5,500 21-year-old haredim asked for a deferral of their mandatory military service.
The total number of haredi men who request deferrals for the sake of devoting themselves to Torah education is about 55,000. Therefore, haredi men of various ages who choose to do national or military service make up just 3.5% of the total.

The Vanishing American Jew

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of one of the most prominent American families, is marrying a Jew, Marc Mezvinsky, who comes from a family of businesspeople and politicians. At one angle we might say, this is great. Look how far Jews have come in American society; and isn’t it wonderful that gentiles, today, accept Jews into their very families. But at another angle, we should be concerned – very concerned.
The answer is simple: We must congratulate the church in America, in its ability to befriend and stand by the nation of Israel; and especially its success in ridding itself of the anti-Semitic elements, which the history of old Christian churches, which have found a home in America, are all too laden with.

The Clinton’s are true friends of Israel and the Jews. When Hillary spoke, as first, on the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Day, she began her speech by quoting the weekly Torah parsha. It should be noted that few Israeli politicians ever do this. Hillary proved that she is a very hip shixa. During the fight to restore Holocaust victims’ property from banks in Switzerland, Hillary recruited Bill to the effort. This does not make it right for a Jewish boy to marry into their family – especially because Chelsea has no plans to convert.

The number of mixed marriages in the Diaspora has increased by 200% in the last 50 years. About 55% of all Jewish marriages are mixed ones. In one-quarter of families, the children of the next generation will no longer be associated as Jews. A look at the future shows that within a number of generations, American Jewry will nearly disappear.

The sad part is that not only is this opinion obsolete in the American mind, both gentile and Jewish, but it is so taboo to say Jews should romantically stick to Jews, that I risk being called a racist. The truth is our nation’s impressive longevity and survival depends completely on our solely sticking to one another. Assimilation and mixed marriages destroyed entire European communities, even before the Holocaust.
Judaism, as opposed to its sister religions Christianity and Islam – is not a missionary religion. It does not seek to increase the number of its believers. Not by persuasion and not by force. At the same time it is also not a closed religion, which people cannot enter. Those who wish to join can do so, but under the conditions and stipulations of Jewish Law.

Just something to think about,
Next Year in Jerusalem

Religious Women and The Draft

On Wednesday, the Knesset rejected a bill which would have reduced the number of girls who dodge military service, by falsely declaring that they are religious. The bill brought by Kadima’s Yisrael Hasson, was quashed 63 to 29.

The meat of the proposed law, would have girls, asking to be exempt from the military on religious grounds, to provide proof that they had attended a religious school, for a period no less than three years.

If religious dodging is not curbed now, said an IDF representative, “In five years it will span 60% of all eligible youth.” Asking girls to provide this kind of documentation, would only match the existing stipulation for religious men.

Kadima criticized Netanyahu for his rejection of the bill saying that the Prime Minister “chose to cower before coalitional considerations and legitimize draft dodging… This is shameful surrender to such elements and spitting in the face of the public shouldering the burden.”

“This is sanctioning mass draft dodging courtesy of the defense minister, Labor and Yisrael Beiteinu. Netanyahu chose to serve his ultra-Orthodox partners and ensure his political survival at the expense of national interests.”

Given the recent settlement freeze which is a strong characteristic of the current administration, it would be hard to consider Netanyahu’s decision against this bill as an attempt to appease the religious masses, with whom he is quickly losing favor; unless it is meant as an attempt to “make it up to them” – after showing “weakness” on the West Bank settlements issue.

The Women of the Wall

On Friday, on Rosh Chodesh, the Women at the Wall (WoW) show up to pray at the Kotel, wearing yarmulkes, prayer shawls and carrying a sefer Torah. This is despite verbal tirades by ultra-Orthodox men, calling them Nazis and telling them to go to church.

In November, Nofrat Frankel, a conservative Jewish member of WoW, was briefly detained by Israeli police for wearing a talit and carrying a Sefer Torah. While Frankel was let go, the maximum sentence for such an offense is six months in jail, and a fine of about $3,000. Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich called the woman’s action “an unbearable provocation.”

WoW leader Anat Hoffman, protests that there is nothing in Jewish law that supports such sex discrimination, “There is nothing in Judaism about this. This is fundamentalism; it is a desecration of this place.” She failed to cite any scriptural evidence – but we get her drift.

In 2003, the Supreme Court made an official ruling that the Women of the Wall may not have vocal prayers at the Wall.
Peretz Rodman, a more moderate rabbi, compared the detention of Frankel to the religious persecution of Jews in the former Soviet Union:

“An Orthodox rabbinic colleague commented to me on the day of the arrest: ‘That’s what it was like 40 years ago in Moscow: wearing a talit and carrying a Torah in public could get you arrested…But that was the Soviet Union, a repressive totalitarian state; this is Israel in the 21st century.”

Restoring Jewish Cemeteries in Austria

On Tuesday, the Austrian government volunteered to pay 20 million Euros – that is $28.5 million for the restoration of the country’s oldest Jewish cemeteries.

“It was a matter of Austrian responsibility, of respect for history, for fellow Jewish citizens and for the cultural heritage of this country,” said Chancellor Werner Faymann. “Delaying the decision even further was unjustifiable.”

According to the deal, the Austrian government will annually channel 1 million Euros into an earmarked fund over the next two decades; and in addition the Jewish community will supplement the government’s pledge with an additional 20 million Euros, raised through donations and agreements with individual communities and districts.

The Jewish Community of Vienna called the funding deal a “belated Hanukkah gift” which sets an exemplary step for Europe.

The restorations are scheduled to begin next year on the country’s 70 Jewish cemeteries, 20 of which in particularly poor condition. Once the Jewish Community of Vienna can ensure that no religious laws were violated, it will compile a priority list and oversee the renovation.

Adolf Hitler annexed the Alpine nation in March 1938 in what became known as the Anschluss.” An estimated 65,000 Austrian Jews perished in the Holocaust and many others fled.

Jewish history in Austria dates back to the Roman Empire, when Jews arrived there alongside the Roman legions.

Giving Good Hanukkah Gifts

Jordan river pendantCalling out around the Tribe are you ready for a brand new beat? Winter’s here and the time is right for shopping online! Want to find good quality unique Hanukkah gifts for the whole family, without having to leave the office? No, I am not lazy, just busy – maybe some of you can relate.

I’ve always been pleased with the gear that I bought at and since I am so thrilled that I just filled my shopping cart up there and therefore Hanukkah Harry is 84% done with his preliminary holiday duties – I thought I’d brag to you, dear blog readers, about some of my scores. The item which I picked up is a little something for my mother-in-law, it basically has her name written all over it.

Jordan RiverI allotted to “mom” a $100 budget and found for even less – The Jordan River Smiling Heart Pendant! For under $100, I will be in my Bible-pounding mom-in-law’s heart for an unconditional eternity.

The one that I got for mom was green Peridot – however they are also available in orange, blue, clear crystal or purple Amethyst. And here is the kicker! The glass pendant comes filled with either Jordan River water or a parchment with a personal blessing.

Since I give my mother-in-law blessings in other ways I ordered mine filled with the Jordan River water – a place that she cherishes most on earth.

Shame Shame

Starving children, constant rioting, what’s next? What COULD be next? Jerusalem’s haredi neighborhood has found another way to offend their comrades…who they refuse to admit as being such.

Private investigators of the Education Ministry have revealed that several ultra-orthodox schools in the holy city have enrolled students who are probably fictitious.

The Education Ministry of the State of Israel provides elementary schools an annual sum of NIS 6,000 (about $1,597) per student. An inquiry showed that Haredi schools in Jerusalem were registering children affiliated with the Eda Haredit, who do not acknowledge the State of Israel and whose children do not attend its establishments. Altogether millions of shekels have been stolen from the government.

The Eda Haredit admitted that they may know something of the phenomenon but refused to cooperate with Israeli investigators.

“We are not interested in dealing with the State of Israel’s losses…it’s not our problem. We solve our problems in our courts.”

Satmar KinderlachThe Eda Haredit are the ones, by the way, who have refused to accept Intel’s compromise about keeping their Jerusalem factory open on Shabbat but not employing Jewish workers and are therefore responsible for embarrassing dangerous and needless demonstrations – just don’t torch any parked cars you guys!

If there was once a portion of the hard-working Israeli soul which felt guilty for being less religiously observant than the Haredim or for showing up in the holy land at a later era, these sentiments may be put to rest. When the State’s religious core has become almost the greatest example of vanishing morals in the entire country, we may as well reassert our values and our hearts.

More Clashing of Worlds in Jerusalem

Despite some violence and 1,500 ultra-Orthodox protesters, shouting”Shabes! Shabes!” Intel Corp. says that it has no plans of closing down their chip making factory in the industrial zone of Har Hotzvim on Shabbat.

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSThe protests were sparked by Intel’s opening of a new facility near the ultra-orthodox area; the company has operated on Saturday’s for more than twenty years, and plans to continue to do so.

Intel is one of Israel’s biggest corporate supporters. They first opened a plant in Haifa in 1974 and in Jerusalem in 1984. By the year 2000, they employed more than 4000 Israelis.

Most businesses in Jerusalem close down for the Sabbath and those which stay open tend not to be located near haredi neighborhoods. There has always been tension in Jerusalem between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up one third of the city’s population. Well starting last year, things began to get worse. First, voters elected a secular mayor to replace the ultra-Orthodox incumbent, and then City Hall decided to open a municipal parking lot on Shabbat near the Meah Shearim neighborhood. These instances have been the cause of much controversy and violence over the last year, occasionally splashing onto the headlines.

What we have here dear readers is a “failure to communicate” as Paul Newman once put it in “Cool Hand Luke.” Who is right and who is wrong? This is a mere reflection of the case of the disappearing public sphere in the Jewish Country. There needs to a modifier, a common law to entice both sides to come together. It should be the blending of ancient Torah values, with modern Zionist vision; and an effective change of attitude should start in school.

What Would Jesus Do, Really?

As it stands, it is very taboo for Jews to visit the Temple Mount. When Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon went up there in 2000, it caused the second Intifada. Jews visiting the ruin, which houses the Dome of the Rock mosque, has been the cause of Arabs rioting in the past. And there have been halachic rulings by orthodox rabbis, forbidding Jews to visit the site. However non-Muslims, during the morning on certain days of the week can scale the bridge from the Old City and visit the other side of the Kotel – but alas are forbidden to pray.

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSOfficially, there really is no plan set in stone for visiting there, like there is in Hebron, at the Cave of Machpelah; and such a plan would have a set time for Jewish prayers, however the Islamic Christian Society in Support of Jerusalem says that this would be unacceptable. However, they have yet to explain their reasoning.

If Israel were to give East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, Jews and probably other non-Muslims would be kissing away their dream of holding religious communion at the Temple Mount. Additionally, Christians should fear what would happen if the Church of the Holy Sepulchre became under Palestinian control. Putting the threat of violence on the State of Israel aside, religious tolerance would obviously become enforced in Jerusalem’s Old City.

In Bethlehem, during the Intifada, PLO terrorists fled to the Christian Church, which is the scene of the Nativity for Christians. They held the monks hostage, stole valuables, left feces all over, starved the Christians and all but ruined the site.

In Jerusalem, Muslims built themselves a mosque taller than the holiest Christian edifice in the city, just to undermine it. They built toilets overhanging it and they broke through a wall into a couple of storerooms of the Church, and occupied them. The PLO refused to return the rooms, until after much protest, Arafat finally gave in.

Religious Christians who would like to see Israel lose control of East Jerusalem and holy sites in the West Bank must be out of their mind, unless they are thinking of converting to Islam.

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor

Searching for the truth about Jewish History became a game of deceit and backstabbing last week in America. There are two schools of thought regarding the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many historians claim that they were written by a scribe from the ascetic Jewish sect the Essenes, of whom it is also claimed inhabited the Herodian fort at Masada.

dead sea scrollWhile others, including professor Norman Golb of the University of Chicago, that in fact the scrolls were the collective work of a larger range of Jewish communities. A harmless, Lawrence Schiffman, a famous Jewish studies professor at New York University. With the phony account, Golb sent messages to NYU students and officials, in which Schiffman admitted to plagiarizing and misrepresenting Norman Golb’s work. Apparently Golb opened other email accounts under other aliases to send emails and post on various blogs, in order to “color the debate.”

According to Golb’s attorney, Ronald Kuby, Golb denies having sent the emails. He explains that they were merely an “intellectual prank”, and that:

An attempt to influence a public academic debate by emails and blog postings authored under assumed names cannot be an object of criminal laws designed to protect people from fraud, threats or physical harm.
The court has yet to rule on Kuby’s attempt to have the charges dismissed.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are dated at more than 2,000-years-old. They were found in the 1940’s, in British occupied Palestine, just before the founding of the State of Israel, by a young Bedouin. The scrolls were placed in clay jars and hidden in a cave in the Judean Desert, most likely around the time of Judea’s Revolt on Rome (66-70 c.e.) near the Dead Sea, hence the name of the scrolls. They are the oldest existing copy of Hebrew scripture, known in the world.

Spy vs Spy

Earlier last week, Shabtai Kalmanovitch, an Israeli immigrant from the former Soviet Union who had served prison time for spying for the KGB was shot to death while driving in a Mercedes in downtown Moscow.

kalmanovicThe car that he was riding in was attacked by a passing vehicle, carrying men with semi-automatic weapons. Kalmanovitch’s driver, Fyotor Tomnov was also wounded and is currently being hospitalized in critical condition.

Shabtai Kalmanovitch immigrated to Israel in 1972, then a young man. As an agent he had an assignment to get information about Nativ, a Zionist immigration and liaison agency in the former Soviet Union. Moscow had always been suspicious of Nativ, as an anti-Soviet Union organization.

At one point Kalmonovitch attempted to land a position in the Israeli Prime Minister’s bureau, during the tenure of Golda Meir. In spite of this he did work for Samuel Flatto-Sharon and Yigal Hurvitz, a former Knesset member.

Flatto-Sharon and Kalmanovitch had ties with an East German lawyer named Wolfgang Vogel. Vogel was famous for his involvement in the negotiating of a prisoner release of Israeli, Miron Marcus, who was kidnapped by Mozambique rebels, when his plane was forced to make an emergency landing in that country.

The details behind Kalmanovitch’s murder are still foggy at best. Police suspect that the murder was related to a business dispute between Kalmanovitch and another former agent of the KGB.

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