When is the right time to leave? An opinion about the Jewish people in Ukraine these days.
Jewish organizations in Ukraine call to Israel:” Ukrainian Jews are in an emergency, help us! “
The earth is burning under the feet of the Jews in Ukraine, and this week a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a synagogue – an event that was documented on a security camera. Jewish organizations in Europe made an urgent appeal to the Israeli Government to send guards immediately to the Jewish communities in Ukraine, to protect the Jews. “That’s why the State of Israel was established”.
Rabbi Margolin, a known Rabbi in the Jewish community in Ukraine said: that this moment is a test for Israel to prove her commitment to the Jews of the world: ” The Air Force fly- over of the death camps at Auschwitz conveyed a clear message that the state shall ensure the security of Jews around the world even in foreign countries ,” he concluded . “No need to get into a situation so extreme , and unfortunately it now requires the intervention of the State”
Anti-Semitism is really frequent in Ukraine these days. Only a month ago a member of the Jewish community, Dov Ber Glickman (30),was attacked while he made his way to his house on a Friday night. He was attacked by three young men, and after he fell, they stabbed him three times, apparently in his limbs. His condition was described as stable. A week earlier, another attack happened to a Israeli Jewish teacher –in the front of the building where he lives. The Jewish community describes their daily routine as “real fear”, and demanded that Israel take care of their Security.
I think that the situation the Jews in Ukraine are dealing with leaves them no choice, but to leave, and move to a place where they can live safely. The most common option will be, of course, Israel. Unlike other difficult times in our history-where Jews had to suffer and had no other place to go- this time, they have a Jewish country, that will be happy to have them.
I pray for better days in Ukraine, and in any other place on the globe that has no tolerance, pity, and feelings. May we find the way to live without fear.
These days,the Haredim in Israel are facing a revolution: a new law that will force each Israeli citizen to either serve in the IDF or perform National Service. In the March issue of ChaiLights I will include my opinion about this situation- and here, I’m going to mention the little group among the Haredim who do serve the country, in a very unique,helpful and significant way.
The organization I would like to focus on is Zaka: “Founded in 1989 in Israel, ZAKA was originally formed to respond to terror attacks and deal with the retrieval, identification and burial of the deceased. Since then ZAKA has grown to a world renowned humanitarian organization, providing search & rescue, autopsy prevention, medical response and mortuary services. With over 2,800 volunteers based in over 15 countries, ZAKA can provide rapid response and deployment in short notice providing their expertise and equipment where needed.
In 2003 a British Member of Parliament recommended that ZAKA be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2005, the United Nations recognized the ZAKA International Rescue Unit as an international humanitarian volunteer organization (NGO). As a result of its UN recognition ZAKA has since been requested to assist at natural disasters (e.g. Japan, Haiti, New Orleans, Thailand); plane crashes (e.g. USA, Mexico) and terror attacks (e.g. Mumbai, Mombasa, Istanbul).” (taken from http://www.zakarescue.org/about-us/).
This phenomenal organization is leaded by Haredim, their president is Yehuda Meshi Zahav, a bright Haredi and a real Tsadik (righteous person). They provide help 24/7 in Israel and abroad- to Jewish people and to non Jews.
Among the divisions in Zaka we can find mortuary unit, search & rescue, medical unit, missing persons unit, and more. A basic tenet of Judaism is dealing with the importance of saving a life. And if we cannot do that, we should make sure that the dead will be buried. And these are some of many reasons why the Haredi volunteers are determined to help.
Unfortunately the quantity of the Zaka participants is low. Zaka, like many other organizations, needs help. And the Haredim can serve the country in other ways- volunteering daily in Hospital/police/fire departments. There are many possibilities- and Israel is willing to help.
Unfortunately, it seems like the general approach of the secular public in Israel towards the Haredim-is really bad. In the media, we hardly hear/see any good things about the Haredim. I believe that once the Haredim will serve the country- in many ways-they will be much more appreciated, and will have a better chance for success as independent people- who serve in the army, work, and pay for their bread.
I hope that the new law will open a new future to address the problem of inequality in the burden, that all the Israelis should do their best, so Israel will continue to exist, no shortcuts to anyone.
Israel at the Olympic games:
This week I had the honor to watch the winter Olympic games. Among all the countries, one delegation made my heart melt- you guessed right- the Israeli delegation. 5 athletes who will compete in sky, figure skating and speed skating.
One couple that was really unique was the Jewish-American Andrea Ania Davidovich and the Jewish Russian Yvgeny Krasnopolsky. Davidovich is 16 years old, and Kransopolsky is 25 years old- and they decided to represent Israel. They took the former professional ice dancers Galit Hayat and Gennada Krasnipski on as their coachers- and started to practice in New Jersey.
Israel doesn’t have the facilities for winter games and the USA provides a location for the Israeli competitors to practice.
Last Monday, the couple made history and made it to the final stage, and last Wednesday they achieved the 15th place overall.
For the first time, Israel has a better future in the winter Games, because Davidovich is very young- and the face that she represents -Israel-give us the hope for a better future with the winter Olympic games. I hope that the best is yet to come, and wish lots of good luck to them!
Next Wednesday I will be having an Israeli Lunch and Learn at noon
“Ariel Zilber, one of Israel’s most revered singer-songwriters, is 70 years old. Many believe it’s about time he got a lifetime achievement award from ACUM (the Israeli version of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers)—and he almost did. But the planned award fell through at the last minute due to Zilber’s political beliefs, deemed by many to be too radical.
It all started less than a week ago, when the singer Noa turned down her ACUM award because of the group’s decision to award the big prize of the evening to the controversial Chozer B’Tshuvah star. She said she objected to Zilber being honored, arguing that granting him the award would give legitimacy to his many extreme public statements. For starters, that includes his support of Rabbi Meir Kahane, as well as his statement advocating for the release of Yigal Amir, Yitzhak Rabin’s murderer (a statement he now denies). Following public pressure from Dalia Rabin, the daughter of Yitzhak Rabin, ACUM soon decided to downgrade his “lifetime achievement award” to a “prize for contribution to music.”
Since no one disputes Ariel Zilber’s major contributions to Israeli popular music, ACUM’s decision sparked an immediate cultural and political firestorm, with many defending Zilber’s right to the lifetime achievement award. Interestingly, not only right-wing politicians like Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, and Minister of Culture Limor Livnat protested the decision—so did many others who believe in art, music, and, most important, freedom of speech.”
Quoted From Tablet Magazine
How can we judge an artist- and where are the limits? Some people might boycott an artist’s work due to his beliefs. In the past, during and after World War Two, it happened with the musician Richard Wagner- who was anti-Semitic, and many Jews refused to listen to his music.
Nowadays we can take the example of Roger Waters, from “Pink Floyd”- who recently compared Israel to the Nazis in Germany. Personally, and like many other friends of mine in Israel- I will change the radio station if I can so I will not hear his music- despite the fact it’s great music.
This brings me to the power of admiration. When we adore an artist, in many cases we do much more than love his work. Usually we also love his ideas, way of life and the contents of his songs. It is difficult to separate between the product and its creator. And this might be the reason, that we are really critical when it “touches” us- and hurts us.
We might also take an example from our favorite artists: if I may say, some of the modern singers, such as Miley Cyrus, is a tragic role model for girls- mostly because of her provocative behavior and clothes (or whatever she puts on to cover herself).
And back to our discussion about Noa and Ariel Zilber: as Israeli, I would like to say that I understand why people are mad at each one of them, their behavior hurt people – Zilber said awful things about the IDF, Itzhak Rabin, the Gay community, and many others. Personally, when I’m watching him protest for the release of Igal Amir-I feel terrible. I just think to myself what a wonderful world it could be if people will just know how their words affected others.
And Noa- probably the most successful singer that Israel has ever had –a singer that was invited to the Vatican to sing in front of the Pope- and her resume in music is astonishing- but she hurt many Israelis by saying that the pain of a mother that loses her son in a war is identical (whether they die in a suicide bombing or are martyred in one)- and that’s why during the Israeli Memorial Day for soldiers, she goes also to support Palestinian families.
I believe when someone is getting such high and international recognition-they should consider what their words and acts sound like. In many situations, it can cause fans to realize that behind the art there’s a character that represents your most hated concepts.
On 1 November 2005 the UN General Assembly decided to establish an international memorial day commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. UN resolution included among others the following sections:
• The UN encourages the member states to develop educational programs that will affect the younger generations to learn the lessons of the Holocaust to prevent future crimes.
• UN rejects any attempt to deny partially or completely the Holocaust as an historical event
• UN condemns any manifestation of religious intolerance, racism and violence against groups based on ethnic or religious.
I wonder why the world didn’t mention this already years ago? What took the world so many years to establish a date to this ??
In Israel, we mention the Memorial Day in many ways: ceremonies in schools and in universities, many movies that deal with this subject are on the television at this date, and holocaust survivors that are telling their personal tragic and heroic stories are in the media, and everywhere.
The problem is that these holocaust survivors will not live forever, and we should make sure that their stories will never be forgotten.
Teaching and educating people about the holocaust is a huge challenge. Unfortunately, there are still mean people that deny the holocaust. Like it never happened.
Personally, when I hear about someone that denies the Holocaust (especially if he is a lecturer, teacher, or any other character that has an influence on others), I’m offended, angry and moreover – ashamed.
Ashamed that these people dare to cancel with a great disrespect one of the world’s most tragic murders in the entire history.
My father made Alyia to Israel in 1971, when he was 17. He made Alyia from Poland. In school, and ever since he could remember – he was considered “the Jew.” My father lost all his uncles and grandparents in the holocaust. Despite all this, in my father’s house the “Shoa” was taboo.
My father and his siblings never dared to ask their parents about what happened “there”. They knew it is too painful. That there are questions that they can’t even give an answer for, such as: How did this happen? How did 6,000,000 Jews be murdered, burned, and tortured, and no one stopped it?!?
We , as Jewish people, as a nation that fought and won in every single war and battle – even when the Nazis killed many of us – we are here, alive. And we should make sure to continue to tell our history, as much as we can, to each person – with an emphasis on the young generations.
This was reported in YNet this week, I do not believe it was reported on in the states:
A Haredi man gets onto a plane, and on the way to his seat, he realizes that in the seat next to him there is a woman. On El-Al flights, the Haredi have the right to ask to move their seat, and the flight attendants will do all they can to meet the request
But what happens when a woman asks to move her seat after seeing that a Haredi man is sitting next to her? This question has some renewed interest after a woman who flew with El-Al decided to check to see if her request would get the same attention and efficient treatment.
The results, as you may guess were different: “Excuse me, miss, may I ask to move my seat?”, she said to the steward, “the seats are chosen for the passengers by conditions that have nothing to do with personal requests such as “preferred company in the seats next to me”. She was told “Please go back to your seat”.
So why do the Haredim get all the attention, and know that they can ask to be moved and get it- while other passengers need to accept the fact that this is not their private plane, and they cannot make changes?
The challenges in the relationships between some Haredim and the rest of the citizens in Israel have always been great. Judging someone based only on his appearance, voice, color of skin, religion or gender- is what I tend to define as discrimination, and it’s bad and severe is it looks and sounds.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, but some people insist to behave like we were in middle ages. I believe there’s enough room for everyone- for all beliefs, colors, and approaches. We should learn to respect each other and then we might find the solution to many of the problems.
In addition, on a completely different subject, I would like to ask help from you.
Yesterday, A 4-year old girl and her 1-year-old little sister died, and two of their siblings (aged 5 and 7) are in critical condition after being exposed to pesticides in their home in Jerusalem. The parents asked all Am Israel to pray for the 2 sons that are struggling for their lives in the hospital. The sons’ names are Michael Haim Shlomo ben Michal, and Yitzhak Refael Isaac ben Michal.
A Guest Blog from Golan Sieradzki:
A note from Gal:
Golan Sieradzk received his BA in Business Management and International Affairs from Tel-Aviv University.
He has offered me to write this article this week in my blog, and I hope you’ll find it as interesting as I do.
In the History of our people, the Jewish People, we’ve had few great leaders – Moses led us to leave Egypt, King David won Goliath and conquered Jerusalem, Judas Maccabeus was a military hero and Bar Kokhba revolted against the Roman Empire in Masada. Last Saturday, one of the prominent leaders on this list, Ariel Sharon, passed away.
Sharon was a controversial leader – many people, Israelis and Arabs, still suffer because of his decisions, personally I don’t agree with many of them, and truly believe that we have been paying a very expensive price because of them. But, this week is the right moment to remember the other hand – Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin were the last viewable leaders from the list of Jewish leaders.
Sharon and Rabin were political opponents with different solutions to the Middle East, but the comparison isn’t ridiculous – they both started their careers as agriculturists and left their private ambitions to serve the new state in the new Israeli Defense Forces; they both were military commanders and heroes who were responsible for the great victories in the Independence War (1948) and the Six-Day War (1967), and Sharon was responsible also for the victory in Yom-Kippur War (1973) in the southern battlefront. But the main reason for my comparison is that Sharon and Rabin believed during all of their lives in a strong handed policy against the Palestinians, but when they became Prime Ministers, they understood the responsibility of the Israeli leaders’ role, they knew better than anyone the price of the war, and they made brave and unpopular decisions, sometimes against their own personal opinions and life’s work, ready to pay a private price – everything was based on the inspiration of changing the history of the Jews and the State of Israel. As PM, they both gave us hope, they both thought strategically about the long term and not tactically on the short one; and unfortunately, the processes that they both started were stopped before a final accomplishment.
I remember as a child during the daily terror attacks at the beginning of the previous decade – the security absence to go around streets, the scares when I couldn’t reach my family on the phone after explosions in Tel-Aviv, and the infinite arguments with them whether I’m able to take buses or to shop in malls. Ariel Sharon solved this unbearable situation, and afterward decided that lives are more important than land – and unilateral disengaged Israeli settlements in Gaza Strip. Exactly like Rabin, we’ll never know what would happen if Sharon had accomplished his plans.
This is the right time to mention and remember Ariel Sharon’s magnificent contribution to the huge Aliyah from Russia at the beginning of the 90′s, and his ability as PM to preserve and improve the relations between Israel and USA, supported by the American Jewish communities.
I miss these unique kind of leaders who understand the role of the Israeli Prime Minister, who are ready to take hard and unpopular decisions, who are able to believe in something, to say it and to do it.
The Protests by African Migrants
Protests by African migrants in Israel, unprecedented in their scope, continued for a fourth straight day Wednesday as about 10,000 people, many of whom came by bus from Tel Aviv, gathered at the Rose Garden in Jerusalem across from the Knesset. “We are refugees; we need protection,” they chanted. Signs carried by the protesters proclaimed: “We need protection;” ”We are not criminals, we are refugees,” and “We are not infiltrators, we are human beings.” Organizers said more than 100 buses transported the protesters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Israel is dealing with so many difficulties, most of them relate to inner conflicts, the relations between the citizens, security issues, and politics. This time the focus is on a group of people that are not Jewish, not Arabs, not Israelis. These people are the immigrants who have lived in Israel for the last several years. They came from Sudan and Eritrea, most of them escaped from the reality of war, terrorism and violence, where their lives were in a danger 24/7. Some of them lost their loved ones on the way, and they arrived to the only democracy country in the middle east-Israel.
At first, I would like to state the differences among the immigrants: there is a huge group of infiltrators, who came to Israel to find work and live better life. Many of these people’s lives are not in danger, they came to improve their lives. The smaller group is people who escaped from the war- and with them; I believe that Israel should act very gently and thoughtfully. They are allowed to stay in Israel as long as their lives are in an actual risk, by convention relating to the status of refugees.
Approximately 70,000 of these people live in Israel, most are from Eritrea and Sudan, and a huge group lives in south Tel Aviv. I think and believe that they all deserve a good life, but I’m also aware of the problematic situations that Israel needs to deal with. Since many of the refugees are not working, they sometimes commit crimes; they steal, they drink, and threaten and commit violence- I feel terrible for them, but I also feel terrible for the Israelis who live with them in the same neighborhoods. Many citizens say that they are afraid to live their house after 5pm. They are afraid to be at the wrong place in the wrong time, and to be punched, to be threatened or G-d knows what else.
South Tel Aviv became “Mini-Sudan”; Shops,businesses,restaurants,private education system : they can’t afford to send their babies to kindergarten- so they have a “teacher” that takes care of 20 babies in one apartment from 7am to 7pm, while the parents are working. The poor babies are suffering from low sanitation conditions, and over all- they are in a huge risk. They can feel bad and the kindergarten teacher wouldn’t notice- because she has to deal with other 19 babies at the same time.
I think that Israel, as a democracy, and the ONLY one in the middle east, should take care of the refugees with tolerance. That’s true to say that we, as Jews who suffered the most from racism and war- only because they were different, should be patient and sensitive. The well known Israeli Author David Grossman, came to the protest and said: “for me, the name ‘Israel,’ contains the idea of refugees, of people who escaped from a terrible destiny to find refuge and shelter.” President Shimon Peres noted Wednesday that international law prevented the repatriation of people to countries where they faced death and said many Israelis well-remembered “what it was like to be refugees.” Israel, he said, “will act morally” where the migrants are concerned. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued that the protesting migrants, however, are not refugees but are, rather, “economic migrants,” and vowed earlier this week that they would not be allowed to remain in Israel.
This is a very complicated issue and I would urge everyone to read more about it. Here is an article to get you started: 10,000 African migrants stage demonstration in Jerusalem.
I wish you all that this coming year will be even better. Today in my blog I’ll share with you some of Israel’s best achievements:
When Yityish Aynaw Became the First Ethiopian-Israeli Crowned Miss Israel – 2013 was a very progressive year for the Ethiopian community in Israel. We are going to discuss it this month on Jan 13th, in my evening lecture about the Ethiopians in Israel. We will get to know this amazing community also through stories, and Yityish Aynaw is definitely a local hero to her community. During the past year, she also fulfilled her dream – and met her hero – President Barack Obama: Aynaw told the BBC, “I was influenced and inspired by Obama. Like him, I was also raised by my grandmother. Nothing was handed to me on a plate, and like him I also had to work very hard and long to achieve things in my life. To this day he inspires me just as he inspires the rest of the world.”
And From One President to Another – our most admired and loved one, Shimon Peres. The man and the legend, celebrated his 90th birthday at a beautiful party with important guests from all over the world, who came to celebrate with the Man who represents Israel at its best. Among the well-known people you could have seen are President Bill Clinton, and many other guests.
And how can we mention Israel without mentioning The Tremendous Aid that it served, like in the past, to so many countries in need. This time it happened in the Philippines, when a delegation of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) including doctors, nurses and many more, built a “field-hospital” and over a two week period 2,686 patients (out of which 848 were children) were treated in the field hospital in Bogo City by Israeli Army doctors.
Still in “Mitsvot” (=Mitzva in plural) – A guiness record was broken to help cancer patients when hundreds of women donated their long hair to those who need it. What a beautiful gesture!! Over 100 pounds of hair was donated in a single nationwide drive, with 200 salons around the country offering free cuts.
Another Huge Success occurred when Google purchased the Israeli navigation system “Waze” for 1 Billion dollars! When Google bought Israeli app Waze for $1 Billion Dollars!
There are many achievements to Israel this past year, but the one that is undoubtedly the most surprising was The Snow! Too bad I didn’t have the opportunity to see it – but I have plenty of it here in Peoria!
Wishing you a wonderful year!!
Kipa,Tora and Rock&roll.
Arie and Gil Gat, two Hassidic brothers from Bet-Shemesh (a city next to Jerusalem), became a phenomenon in Israel in recent months. They became the first Haredim to participate in Israel’s very well known singing competition- “Hakochav Haba”- the next star, which is perhaps the Israeli parallel show for “America got a talent”.
At first glance, most of the viewers didn’t know what to say. Among all the other participants- the Gat Brothers were so…. Unique. The assumption was that they wouldl sing mostly Hassidic songs, but no one predicted the following results: They became Rock stars!! This combination of Hassidic people with a musical style that no one thought would work- made an enormous interest in the media, even abroad.
Its not a gimmick, they really do Rock&Roll, despite their appearance, and way of life. and not only do they do it- but they are exceptional. The lyrics were fluent, and every single show the Gat brothers broke all convention and even the most cynical viewers understood- the Gat brothers are just great artists.
Everything seemed to be perfect- a nice and important lesson about accepting people who doesn’t seem to have the same look, beliefs or thoughts as you- and finding a common denominator for both of you. However, a few days ago, at the last show of Hakochav Haba, all the participants had to sing together. The Gat brothers refused.
The Gat brothers refused to sing with women, and this, might be the reason that the viewers of the show, got so upset. Some Haredi people believe that a woman’s voice should not be heard in a group of men, and the Gat siblings decided to follow their beliefs, and to stick to the “rules” that they believe are true.Eventually, the Gat brothers came in 2nd place in the contest, 63-percent of the viewer votes, versus 60 percent for the Gat brothers. Both acts will likely go on to achieve greater mainstream success.
Watch the Gat brothers singing Simon and Garfunkel