Melanie Phillips: For Israel, recognising another enemy is second nature
In mid-March, however, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally realized from the Italian death toll that Britain was heading for a similar catastrophe, he abruptly changed course and started to impose social-isolation rules. Yet even now, Britain hasn’t restricted flights from China, Italy or other hot spots.
Israel took a different approach from the start because it’s a very different kind of society. Unlike the pampered West, Israel permanently lives in a state of potential emergency and existential threat.
From its experience of decades fending off attacks from physical enemies, Israel is geared to be proactive against threats to national security. Despite its famously dysfunctional politics, it doesn’t flinch from taking desperately difficult decisions in order to save lives—like shutting down much of its economy.
More deeply still, Israel views every unnecessary death as a national tragedy. It would be unthinkable for Israel to do what Britain did at the start—flirt with the idea that it could sit out the threatened epidemic, until enough people had been infected to provide “herd immunity” protection, because those most likely to die in this process were “only” the old.
In stark contrast, because the duty to protect the whole population is built into Israel’s DNA, the same military and security forces that fight a physical enemy have been deployed to battle COVID-19.
So the fabled Israeli spying agency, the Mossad, was instructed to scour the world, including countries with which Israel does not enjoy diplomatic relations, to obtain virus testing kits and other essential medical equipment.
Accordingly, the Mossad has reportedly brought in from undisclosed locations some 500,000 testing kits, which are essential to offer a safe route out of lockdown by starting to get people back to work. Other such Mossad shipments over the past few weeks have included thousands of respiratory and surgical masks, protective overalls and, most important of all, dozens of ventilators.
Senior officials told the Israeli TV show “Uvda” that, by this weekend, the operation would bring to Israel another 2 million masks for medical staff, 2 million protective overalls and visors, and a further 180 ventilators. One Mossad officer described this as the most complex operation he had ever dealt with.
Caroline B. Glick: Coronavirus lessons for the coalition talks
It is hard to know how Iran and the other states in the region will look when this pandemic has passed. But it is safe to assume that they will be less stable than they were when it first hit.
This returns us to Israel which entered the crisis with a strong economy and an advanced, well-funded and functioning health system.
The coronavirus and the chaos engulfing our neighbors tell us two things. First, we need to preserve and strengthen the bonds that hold us together as a nation. Social solidarity is the vital foundation of all national efforts in times of crisis.
The second lesson is that in a world and region plagued with uncertainty and instability, we must do everything we can in the spheres that we do control to minimize uncertainty and maximize stability.
A week ago, Israel almost lost it all. Last week Israel was on verge of internal unrest and chaos the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the 2005 expulsion of ten thousand Israelis from their homes and communities in Gaza and northern Samaria. Indeed, the social cleavages that emerged since last month’s election foretold an even greater disaster than the crisis we experienced back then.
The fact that three former Israel Defense Forces chiefs of general staff were willing to work in concert with the Joint Arab List placed a question mark over the future of our society and state.
The Joint Arab List is an alliance of parties that rejects Israel’s right to exist. Its members work openly in the Knesset, in the courts and in the international arena to delegitimize the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and to undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself from external attack and internal subversion. Blue and White’s willingness to work with the alliance called into question the Israeli Center-Left’s commitment to the continued existence of the Jewish state.
The Tikvah Podcast: Moshe Koppel on How Israel’s Perpetual Election Came to an End
With the recent agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief political rival, Benny Gantz, a governing coalition is at long last beginning to emerge in Israel. After three national elections in a single year, the Jewish state will soon have a regular cabinet and resume the work of government. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. The coronavirus pandemic will have significant effects on Israel’s politics and economy, while Israel’s citizens continue to live under threat of attack from enemies in the Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. And questions remain about what will become of the Trump peace plan, especially with American elections just a few months away. In this podcast, Jonathan Silver is joined by Moshe Koppel, chairman of the Kohelet Policy Forum, a member of the Department of Computer Science at Bar-Ilan University, and one of Israel’s leading conservative political activists and policy experts. They analyze the causes of Israel’s political crisis, explain how it finally came to an end, and probe the larger significance of these recent events in Israeli history. Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.
A special message from [Australian] Prime Minister Scott Morrison for an out of the ordinary Passover.
Scott Morrison writes:
Passover is a time when we remember the journey of the Jewish people. A journey from slavery to freedom. It is a tradition dating back several millennia that has inspired Jewish communities around the world through the best of times — and the very worst, too.
At a time when we face great challenges, the festival of Passover has special meaning. This year it has a poignancy with many grandparents and grandchildren not able to be with each other for the Seder.
We are distancing from each other this year, so that next year and beyond, all our family members can gather and share the seder together.
This global health crisis that we face is a once-in-one-hundred-year event.
It requires all of us, no matter what our faith, to do our duty as citizens.
All of us have a role to play in keeping our community safe: employers, nurses, doctors, teachers, scientists, friends, family and neighbours.
The Jewish people have shown they can endure the most trying of circumstances, and such resilience gives me great confidence that our nation will also get through this.
What the global community is facing today is unprecedented, presenting unforeseen challenges and requiring dispensing with existing prejudices and grasping of new opportunities if humans are to defeat this pandemic.
So, what are some steps that those in the pro-Israel community can take during this time?
First, we need to be uncompromising in calling out, correcting and, where appropriate, responding to the hate and anti-Semitism proliferating online.
Secondly, we have an opportunity to shape the true narrative, including the immense steps Israel is taking in assisting and cooperating with the Palestinian Authority, and that how in this toughest of times, this could perhaps even serve as a model for future cooperation.
Thirdly, Israel, through its scientific and tech expertise, has much to share with the world. Our scientists, entrepreneurs and even special IDF units are leading the global effort in finding a vaccine for the coronavirus. Israel is also a world-recognized leader in disaster relief management, and Israel’s Foreign Ministry’s efforts to repatriate Israeli citizens, as well as assist other countries, is truly inspiring. It is imperative the world knows this.
Fourthly, although Israel has not been immune to the tragic loss of life from this pandemic, per capita, it has one of the lowest mortality rates. A study by Deep Value Knowledge company on March 31 ranked Israel as the safest country for dealing with the coronavirus, while Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz credited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for alerting him (and European allies) to the seriousness of the virus and the need to take stronger action in response. The international community can learn a lot from Israel’s efforts to manage and fight this pandemic.
Lastly, we must utilize the entire array of digital diplomatic tools at our disposal to tell Israel’s story and how it is coping with this virus, to respond to the hatred and anti-Semitism mushrooming online, as well as to be pro-active in shaping our narrative.
While humans no doubt will find a vaccine against the coronavirus, it may be while longer until a cure is found for the world’s oldest hatred, anti-Semitism. Until then, we must remain vigilant and proactive.
Now, with a pandemic circling the globe and threatening us all, irrespective of race, religion, creed, or nationality, the conspiracy theorists, unsurprisingly, are at it once more. And again for the antisemites, it presents an opportunity to pin the blame on, who else, the Jews, even as the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, where, incidentally, no Jewish community exists. Nor does it matter that Israel is battling the coronavirus tooth-and-nail, or that a number of American Jews have already succumbed to the pandemic. Antisemitism is an irrational pathology. It doesn’t bend to rational statements and facts.
Here are four immediate examples of that hopelessly irrational mindset:
– A neo-Nazi was killed in a shootout with FBI agents in Kansas City on March 24. A few days earlier, he posted: “If you don’t think this whole thing [Covid-19] was engineered by Jews as a power grab, here is more proof of their plans. Jews have been playing the long game. We are the only ones standing in their way.”
– The senior pastor at Flowing Streams Church in Vero Beach, Florida, who is also a radio host, asserted, on March 24, that God is spreading the coronavirus in synagogues as punishment for “those who oppose his son, Jesus Christ.” Earlier, he had asserted that the impeachment effort against President Trump was a “Jew coup,” yet another conspiracy claim.
– Iran’s government Press TV claimed, on March 5, that “Zionist elements developed a deadlier strain of coronavirus against Iran.”
– According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, Yemeni scholar Ibrahim Al-Ubeidi delivered a sermon on March 27 in which he claimed that Jews (and Americans) created COVID-19 with the intention of closing down the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina.
To some, the reaction is a shrug of the shoulders. So what, they say. Nothing new here. I beg to differ.
In the past, such conspiracy theories have too often had real-life consequences for Jews, from ostracism to pogroms. Moreover, the power of social media today creates a reach previously unimaginable, which can touch both fellow believers and, no less importantly, the impressionable.
Stopping the conspiracy-mongers and their hateful incitement may not be a simple task. After all, they have been around for centuries, if not millennia. Failing to monitor and confront the threat they pose, however, would be shortsighted in the extreme.
Several years before the catastrophic influenza pandemic that struck the world in 1918, calamitous plagues were killing millions in the Middle East.
According to Prof. Melanie Schulze-Tanielian of the University of Michigan, “Widespread epidemics consumed Ottoman soldiers and civilians alike during the Great War.”
“Typhus, malaria, and relapsing fever, transmitted via disease-infected lice, mosquitoes, and ticks, were the deadliest assailants, followed by bacterial diseases like dysentery and typhoid.”
According to an account by a German medical officer, “Of the 10,000 troops serving in the Ottoman division that set off from Istanbul, only 4,635 could make it to Palestine. The rest either became ill or deserted. The ones who reached Palestine were ill and had lost their strength.”
In 1916 a typhus epidemic killed Jewish soldiers and approximately 100 Jewish laborers in Beersheba.
Former vice president Joe Biden is calling on the Trump administration to provide economic sanctions relief to Iran, falsely claiming the administration’s measures are preventing Iran from importing medicine and humanitarian aid to combat the coronavirus.
Biden, in a statement issued Thursday, said that despite the Iranian regime spending billions of dollars on arming regional terror groups, the United States should create special financial channels to allow Tehran access to the global banking system.
“Iran is struggling to contain one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world,” Biden said. “While the Iranian government has failed to respond effectively to this crisis, including lying and concealing the truth from its own people, and it continues to act provocatively in the region, the Iranian people are hurting desperately.”
“It makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failure with cruelty by inhibiting access to needed humanitarian assistance,” Biden continued. “Whatever our profound differences with the Iranian government, we should support the Iranian people.”
While Biden stated during an interview Sunday on Meet the Press that he did not have enough information to take a stance on sanctions relief, he is now pressuring the Trump administration to drop its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.
“The Trump administration abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in favor of a ‘maximum pressure’ strategy that has badly backfired, encouraging Iran to become even more aggressive and restart its nuclear program,” Biden said in the statement.
The Trump administration has never applied sanctions to humanitarian aid or medicine. It also made several offers of assistance to Iranian leadership, which the regime turned down.
Which just goes to show you: Jew hatred seems to be another beast entirely, turning people who otherwise seem to do good – and who are themselves the subject of racism – into callous individuals. https://t.co/lrWPwrcxN2
— (((David Lange))) (@Israellycool) April 3, 2020
The curtain will come down this weekend on Jeremy Corbyn’s hugely controversial leadership of Britain’s Labour party, which has been rocked by allegations of anti-Semitism under his watch. The party’s heavy defeat in December’s general election triggered Corbyn’s resignation and the race for new leader of the opposition. The result of that contest — expected to be won by moderate candidate Sir Keir Starmer — will be announced on Saturday.
All of those campaigning to succeed Corbyn have pledged to rid the party of anti-Semitism and rebuild relations with Britain’s Jewish community.
But that task may be more challenging than many assume, as journalist Ian Hernon outlines in his recently published book, “Anti-Semitism and the Left.”
It details a paradox. On the one hand, Labour was historically strongly pro-Zionist and supportive of Israel, and many Jewish voters saw it as their natural home. On the other, there is also a dark seam of anti-Semitism running through both Labour’s history and that of the wider British left. That seam, Hernon argues, existed long before the rise of anti-Zionism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The roots of that anti-Semitism, he writes, stem from a “populist pursuit of power, bigotry, ignorance or a twisted understanding of history and socialist ideals.”
Hernon is, though, no enemy of the Labour party. The former deputy editor of the left-wing weekly Tribune, he is a self-professed “lifelong socialist and supporter of the Labour party.” In December’s general election, Hernon voted Labour “despite Jeremy Corbyn, not because of him,” he said.
“As a product of generations of coal miners, car workers and footballers, I could never vote anything other than Labour, but I was tempted to spoil my ballot paper,” he told The Times of Israel.
LAAS Responds to Jeremy Corbyn’s Interview in Today’s Daily Telegraph:
“There is no evidence to suggest that Labour’s current disciplinary process for tackling antisemitism is fit for purpose.”
(For full statement https://t.co/ntHhdqJSJA)#LabourAntisemitism@jeremycorbyn pic.twitter.com/yNPJ6phiQN
— LAAS (@LabourAgainstAS) April 3, 2020
Rabbi Danny Rich has urged the community to “consider the real issues at stake” after he was criticised over plans to host parts of a virtual seder with the group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).
The seder is being organised by JVL, together with the Jewish Socialist Group, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the British Shalom Salaam Trust.
Liberal Judaism’s former senior rabbi and ex-chief executive is set to assist with the rabbinical aspects of the “liberation seder” on 9 April.
Organisers said the seder will, according to a report in the Jewish Chronicle, be a chance for those tuning in to “reflect on modern injustices’’ such as the “misery of Israel’s occupation.”
Other areas explored will include the experience of refugees and asylum seekers, the rise of food banks and the impact the pandemic will have on precarious workers, public servants and shop-workers, JVL’s co-chair Leah Levane said on Thursday.
JVL, which was set up in 2017 and is sympathetic to Jeremy Corbyn, was previously criticised by community leaders over its stance on alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Academic David Hirsh appeared to criticise Rabbi Rich on social media on Wednesday. Reacting to the Chronicle’s report with apparent faux shock, Hirsh shared a tweet from last November claiming a Labour canvasser had told him while door-knocking that she was assured by Rabbi Rich it was “okay to vote for Labour.”
The Ad Kan Organization and senior reserve IDF and Israel Police officers have filed a petition with the High Court of Justice requesting that the Attorney General be compelled to open an investigation into the Breaking the Silence group and its foreign donors for illegally gathering classified IDF information.
Among the plaintiffs are Gen. (res.) Gershon HaCohen, Brigadier General (res.) Amir Avivi, Police Brigadier General (Retired) Dubi Younger, Police Brigadier General (Retired) Avi Terrer, and Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Michael Yigal Maimon.
Ad Kan is an Israeli Zionist activist NGO. It is known for infiltrating Israeli leftist organizations, as well as organizing protests against anti-Israel groups.
The court ordered the Attorney General and Breaking the Silence to respond to the petition within the next two months. The petition was also forwarded to the European Union and to foreign embassies which have funded the Breaking the Silence NGO.
Ad Kan and the police and military retired and reserve-duty officers petitioned the Supreme Court to order Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to launch an investigation into Breaking the Silence, claiming that the testimonials gathered by Breaking the Silence go beyond mere testimonials on human rights violations, and that discharged Israeli soldiers have been asked about classified information such as IDF training practices, the locations of forces in the field, tactical plans, and weapons.
It has been revealed in the past that Breaking the Silence maintains direct relationships with foreign governments and has even signed contracts with European governments that require it to provide donors with testimonials on IDF actions in exchange for funding. Among those foreign governments are Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, and the European Union, who are all named in the petition.
There is a deeply disturbing pattern within the anti-Zionist movement of devaluing Jewish and Israeli lives.
Wholly convinced of the irredeemably evil nature of the Jewish state, many anti-Israel activists display a callous indifference toward antisemitic violence perpetrated between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The ensuing devastation to Israeli society is downplayed or dismissed as an understandable result of “pushback” against the “worse” Israeli efforts to defend itself against unending terror and violence.
Consider these examples:
– After Israeli-American Ari Fuld was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Efrat, The New School’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) wrote that “Colonialism comes with consequences.”
– On July 19, 2014, Harvard professor Cornel West wrote that Hamas’ attempts to indiscriminately murder Israeli civilians “pale in the face of the U.S. supported Israeli slaughters of innocent civilians.”
– On January 21, 2004, British Liberal Democrat party member Jenny Tonge asserted during a meeting with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign that she “might just consider” becoming a suicide bomber if she lived in Israel/the disputed territories, citing Israeli “killings” to justify this repulsive sentiment.
Sometimes, however, anti-Israel activists need not passively rely on suicide bombings, rockets, and stabbing attacks to further their cause. Why? Because a global pandemic does the trick just fine.
On March 20, 2020, former president of New York University’s SJP chapter Leen Dweik posted this now-deleted tweet:
Notably, the Israeli death that Dweik so proudly scoffs at was that of an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor.
Harvard and Yale are in hot water — well, at least lukewarm — for failing to disclose enormous gifts from foreign sources, as they are required to do by federal law. After falling fast asleep on the enforcement of that law for more than 30 years, the US Department of Education (ED) has suddenly decided that, yes, colleges and universities really should divulge when they have decided to accept significant funding from abroad.
Complaints about ‘dark money’ in American politics are a favorite theme for campus progressives. They don’t like the idea that wealthy Americans acting through nonprofit organizations have a relatively free hand to make gifts to the political parties and candidates of their choosing, and that the candidates often choose not to disclose who gave what. In the 2016 election cycle, dark money added up to $181 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But the dark money in politics is a fraction of the dark money in higher education.
In a press release in February, ED announced its investigation of foreign-gifts reporting at Harvard and Yale — the latter of which may have failed to report ‘at least $375 million in foreign gifts and contracts’ over just the past four years. Multiply this by the decades of non-reporting that preceded it, and Harvard and Yale alone probably received unreported foreign gifts and contracts in the billions of dollars.
ED also said that its enforcement efforts since July 2019 have prompted the reporting of ‘approximately $6.5 billion in previously undisclosed foreign money’.
Why is this a problem? For one thing, there’s that federal law: gifts above $250,000 from foreign sources to American colleges and universities must be disclosed. Colleges and universities, like all institutions, make policy decisions based on available funding and prospects for future revenue. Foreign governments and private parties aligned with those governments can gain significant influence over American higher education by making what are — from their perspective at least — modest investments in programs, centers, laboratories, professors and sometimes students.
Better still, if American universities cooperate, these transactions can be kept invisible. The US government need not know — nor students, faculty, alumni and the general public.
Several years ago the National Association of Scholars (NAS), of which I serve as president, launched the project ‘Purchasing Influence’, aimed at documenting some of this dark money and tracing its influence. We chose three areas where it seemed apparent that undisclosed foreign money was having a significant impact: China’s Confucius Institutes; Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s funding of Middle East Studies centers; and the mysteriously funded anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Palestinian activist accidentally admits Arab nationalists hijacked the name Palestine…
She thinks the poster on her wall promotes an Arab state.
It was created in 1928 by Zionist Zeev Raban and quotes the Jewish Bible.
In the 20s Arabs considered Palestine a Zionist word 🙃 https://t.co/nRbaelQ3OO
— Israel Advocacy Movement (@israel_advocacy) April 3, 2020
To some pundits, it goes without saying that checkpoints in the West Bank should be discussed with the bleakest of terms.
The checkpoints Israel erected in the West Bank during waves of Palestinian suicide bombings are understood by Israelis to be life-saving, and there is no shortage of examples they could point to of would-be bombers stopped at a checkpoint before they could reach their target.
Outside of Israel, though, they are often cast in a different light. They inflict “moral and physical suffering” for no other reason than to “humiliate and intimidate another people,” insisted a pair of foreign visitors to the West Bank wrote the New York Times international edition, having once passed through a checkpoint.
“I can no longer endure the anxiety” caused in part by traffic created by checkpoints, insisted Raja Shehadeh, a frequent New York Times contributor who just last week absurdly claimed Israel’s curfew on the West Bank in 2002 was imposed as “normal life” continued in the Jewish state, though 2002 was a year of relentless Palestinian suicide bombings and hundreds of Israeli deaths, unprecedented in Israeli history.
“Some of the checkpoints create terror rather than prevent it,” declared the head of an advocacy group.
Antisemitism has plagued French society for centuries, flaring up in times of crisis — especially during epidemics.
In the 14th century, for instance, Jews were massacred in France during the Black Death epidemic after they were blamed for spreading the disease by poisoning water wells. In the city of Strasbourg alone, 2,000 Jews were burnt alive by orders of the local council, according to the historian Robert Gottfried’s book “Black Death.”
That kind of disease-related conspiracy theory hasn’t widely manifested itself for centuries. Now, however, the coronavirus is reigniting that strain of antisemitism in France.
“It’s deeply saddening and it’s revolting, but the coronavirus pandemic is a reminder that Jews will be blamed whenever there’s an epidemic, be it today or 1347,” said Marc Knobel, a historian who since 2002 has been the head of studies at the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.
In recent weeks, a caricature of Agnes Buzyn, France’s previous health minister who was Jewish, pouring poison into a well — a depiction of one of the most prevalent theories that led to pogroms during the Black Death plague — has made the rounds on French social media. It’s been shared tens of thousands of times.
Another viral image superimposes Buzyn’s face on the “happy merchant” anti-Semitic caricature, which shows a grinning Jewish man rubbing his palms together.
She seems nice pic.twitter.com/ulRGNl5V2A
— (((David Lange))) (@Israellycool) April 2, 2020
Every Easter and Christmas, tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims come to Israel to walk the holy streets of Jerusalem, and to visit Israel’s many significant churches.
Like so many countries around the world, Israel has shut its borders to tourists, and the population has been asked to shelter in place.
We didn’t want you to miss out, however, so ISRAEL21c sent a camera crew up to the Sea of Galilee to give you a taste of all the beautiful churches and monasteries in the area.
We look forward to welcoming you in person soon.
One thing is clear to all academic institutions in Israel: campuses will never be the same following the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. This global experiment in remote learning, imposed by lockdowns, will have a dramatic impact on how academic studying is conducted in the future.
It took a little over a week once campuses were shut down nationwide in mid-March for all academic institutions in Israel to shift their curriculum, almost in its entirety, to the web. All these institutions are now preparing for the possibility of finishing the semester without students having met with faculty face to face even once, and, for the first time in Israel’s academic history, no one is doubting the validity of this option.
Israeli universities and colleges have known for years that they must prepare for a new era of online remote learning. Both faculties and institutions, however, were more comfortable sticking to what they knew, and transitioning to digital means was done slowly and sporadically. Now, faculty members had to learn to use the technology at light-speed and once this crisis is over, there will not be a single person in academia that does not know how to run a class on Zoom Video Communications Inc.’s platform.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem went from 30 to 3,000 online courses in a week, President Asher Cohen told Calclaist. Other institutions, including Technion Israel Institute of Technology and the Open University of Israel, report having shifted almost all of their courses to remote digital instruction.
— Magen David Adom (@Mdais) April 1, 2020
The Coronavirus Song – Two Chinese with a virus so small
Amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, a group of chief rabbis from around the world have organized a Shabbat observance initiative — under the banner of “Keeping It Together.”
A letter signed by top rabbinical figures from Israel, Russia, South Africa, France, Argentina, Italy, the United Kingdom and Belgium said:
“This Shabbat — the Shabbat before Pesach — is called Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat.
It was first celebrated at the birth of the Jewish people, moments before the dawn of our deliver- ance from Egyptian slavery.
Every Jewish family, alone in their homes in Egypt, sat fervently anticipating the united dream of deliverance and nationhood.
3332 years later, this Shabbat HaGadol, we too sit, isolated in our own homes, once again united in our fervent prayer for relief from the global pandemic that has shaken our world to its core.
We call on Jews around the world to adhere — with total commitment — to the health and safety protocols as set out by their country. We call on Jews around the world to make this Shabbat HaGadol a Shabbat of kindness, a Shabbat of prayer and a Shabbat of connection to the Divine — tapping into the transformative power of Shabbat.
We call on Jews in every corner of the globe to do these three things:
Call or message each other with words of support before Shabbat. In our heroic global quest to protect each other, we find ourselves physically cut off from one another. So many of us are completely alone. Call or message someone you know who is alone or struggling, wish them Shabbat Shalom and offer them words of support and encouragement. There is so much we cannot do at this time — but let’s not underestimate the power we have to uplift, encourage and support one another.
We know it’s going to be hard. After all, Seder night is possibly the most important night of the year for Jewish people to celebrate with families and friends. It’s all long tables, mismatched chairs and a few too many people than your living room can comfortably accommodate.
This year, however, reveling in our redemption from Egypt is going to be a rather solitary, and for many people lonely, affair.
In Israel, people are keeping to their very nuclear families until COVID-19 blows over, and in many other parts of the world flights and travel are banned, meaning that most of us won’t be able to spend the Passover holiday with our loved ones.
It’s at times like these that a common and very timely Israeli adage springs to mind: “We survived Pharaoh; we’ll survive this too.” We have no doubt that this will be the case, and in the meantime would like to take your mind off things with a few, unexpected silver linings to this plague-stricken Passover, as well as to wish you and your loved ones, near and far, a healthy and happy holiday.
1. You don’t have to decide where to do Seder
The annual ritual of causing mortal offense to one side of your family by celebrating Passover with the other is off the table this year, in what might be the greatest upside to this whole social distancing thing.
The dreaded question of where you’ll be doing Seder usually already pops up in September, when the side with which you’re not celebrating the Jewish New Year wishes to ensure that they’ll have you on Pesach.
Of course, that doesn’t prevent the issue from being repeatedly raised all the way through to April, as more information pours in on the whereabouts of your siblings, their spouses and that annoying cousin who’s taking off to Thailand to celebrate poolside.
This year, however, you don’t have to make up your mind. You really can’t go anywhere. Just don’t get too comfortable – expect mayhem come Rosh Hashana, when this whole balagan picks up again.
Shabbat Shalom From IDF Soldiers
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