July 6, 2020

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10/02 Links Pt2: David Collier: Palestinian solidarity – the obsessive stepping stone to antisemitism; Take Bernie Sanders off the Democrat presidential contenders list; The Case for Building a Synagogue on the Temple Mount


From Ian:

David Collier: Palestinian solidarity – the obsessive stepping stone to antisemitism

Look at this tweet. It is the strongest defence Jewish people can expect from the left these days. Yes – antisemitism exists – but it is wrong to blame Jews for what Israel is doing. In other words Israel is guilty, but that Jew is innocent. But then what if that Jew supports Israel?

This adherence to a toxic cause entirely removes all responsibility from the Palestinians. They do not have to do anything to detoxify the narrative before being rewarded by MPs and American politicians wrapping themselves in the Palestinian flag. It is why sickening policies like ‘pay for slay‘ can exist. The Palestinians have no agency – they can do no wrong. These Solidarity movements have embedded themselves in the west as a ‘humanitarian’ force and are spreading a toxic hate of Jews everywhere they are permitted to set up a stall.

Until this is addressed, nothing will change. This marriage has unleashed raw antisemitism. Images like this are posted without the person in the image understanding what is wrong with what he is doing. Palestinian solidarity legitimises such hatred:

Then we see images such as this from the Labour Party conference.

None of this has anything to do with Palestinians who live in Ramallah or Gaza and want to live their lives in peace. Palestinian solidarity has created a travesty. Not only does picking up a Palestinian flag require you to support a fictitious narrative. It means you adopt toxic beliefs and it holds everyone hostage – even the Palestinians.

A question for politicians such as Afzal Khan, Marsha de Cordova, Clive Lewis, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Ian Lavery, Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn, Lisa Nandy, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib. When you hold the flag aloft of your local Palestinian solidarity group – what are you standing in solidarity with?

Are you suggesting that the Arab irregular armies were not invading in January 1948? Do you believe that the Jewish immigrants of 1890 deserved to be attacked? Are you indicating your support for the story that Jews were responsible for the massacres against them in the 1920s and 1930s? Do you oppose immigration and think refugees buying houses is a provocation that requires a violent response? Do you believe that the Zionists of 1900 could foresee the Holocaust?

Why exactly are you standing in solidarity with these lies and why are you waving the flag of such a toxic, rancid, antisemitic movement?

Jeremy Corbyn celebrates Rosh Hashanah with pro-Hamas Jewish activist

UK Labour Secretary Jeremy Corbyn marked Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, by meeting with a group of Jewish activists who included an activist who last year led a public mourning prayer for Hamas members, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported on Sunday.

In a video posted by Corbyn on Twitter ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the controversial leader goes to buy apple and honey with some Jewish Labor Party members, including Rob Abrams.

Last year, Abrams led a Kaddish in the central Parliament Square in London after 62 Palestinian were killed in clashes at the Gaza border, according to the Jewish Chronicle. At least 50 of them were affiliated to the terror organization that controls the Strip.

“The apple is the fruit of the Earth.. and it brings us back to one of the most important elements of Judaism, the guardianship of the Earth,” he explained to Corbyn in the video.

The video also featured Labour councilor Sue Lukes who in the past shared an article entitled “Jewish ‘War against Corbyn’ risks bringing real antisemitism to Britain” and expressed appreciation for Malia Bouattia, a former president of the National Union of Students, who called the University of Birmingham a “Zionist outpost.”

This episode does not mark the first time that Corbyn highly publicized his meetings with fringe Jewish organizations.

Take Bernie Sanders off the Democrat presidential contenders list

Just to emphasize my point of view, I’ll begin by stating my staunch disapproval of Bernie Sanders even being considered as the Democrat nominee for president. He would be a disaster for the the citizens of this country, for Israel and for the prosperity of the world community.

Sanders is a staunch Marxist Socialist bordering on Communist, aligns himself with the enemies of Israel and would remove the physical power and economic influence of the United States that at present keeps the world relatively safe from turmoil and conflict. He’s bad news ….for all.

First off, his declarations for free schooling for everyone, including illegal immigrants, his free medical programs for all, including illegal immigrants and his “citizenship for all” attitude would not only bankrupt this nation, it would destroy the basic institutions such as finance, production and health care and would make the 1929 Depression look like an enviable alternative.

Second, his overt dislike for our military, the institution that has kept us free from all of our enemies since the onset of our nation, nearly 250 years ago would induce the likes of China, Russia and the leaders of the Islamic terrorists’ mouths to water.

Bernie also stands firmly aligned with the likes of Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, both of whom have accused Jews of dual loyalty, corrupting politics with money and hypnotizing their neighbors. His support for them was remarkable. In January of this year, he stated, “We will stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters. It’s not antisemitic to criticize Israel for electing a right-winger like Netanyahu.” He was not only dishonest, he was stirring Jew hating among Jew haters.

The Case for Building a Synagogue on the Temple Mount

This past Tisha B’Av, nearly 1,800 Jews ascended the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in observance of the annual Jewish day of mourning for the destruction of the Temples. While it is true that the observance this year fell on the same day as a Muslim holiday, and that Israeli officials decided to close the entrance to the mount to Jews for a few hours that morning out of fears of clashes, and that even when the Jews were finally allowed to ascend they were quickly shuffled off, and that Israeli police were still forced into confrontations with the Arab Muslim crowd, this nevertheless represented an extraordinary step in Jewish engagement with the Temple Mount. It may indeed have been the largest group of Jews to collectively ascend the Temple Mount with a specifically religious purpose on a single day since the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 CE, a span of 1,949 years, and another sign of the remarkable change in Jewish fortunes that has occurred in the past century, during which time a people once herded to death has transformed itself into a people on the verge of reclaiming full possession of its most ancient and once seemingly irretrievable patrimony.

In light of this, it’s worth reconsidering Israeli policy regarding the Temple Mount. Even after gaining control of the site in 1967, Israel has maintained the preexisting “status quo” in which the area is administered by a foreign religious authority that maintains a blanket ban on all non-Muslim prayer. For peace, security, and justice, Israel should now take formal control of the Temple Mount, open the site to prayer for all, erect a large and beautiful synagogue so the point is made plainly, and do it quickly.

For justice the case is simple. The Temple Mount is the site of both the First and Second Jewish Temples and, since King David’s establishment of Jerusalem as the Jewish capital and King Solomon’s spiritual consolidation of Jerusalem through his construction of the First Temple there 3,000 years ago, has been the holiest site in the world to the Jewish people. The Temple Mount is where it has been believed for probably longer than any other thing in this world, that the Holy of Holies—the divine presence of God manifested—came to rest on earth after wandering along with the Jewish people in the Tabernacle through the desert from Egypt to Israel. That spot, believed also to be the place where Abraham withdrew his knife from Isaac’s throat, has been the focal point of Jewish hope and pleading with God ever since.

Yom Kippur in Germany—Captured in an American Author’s Lost Novel

Cosella Wayne, published in 1860—the first novel written and published in English by an American Jewish woman writer, and the first coming-of-age novel to depict Jews in the United States—contains a memorable description of Yom Kippur as it was celebrated in Germany in the 1830s. Written by the forgotten author Cora Wilburn (1824-1906), born Henrietta Pulfermacher, Cosella Wayne recounts the story of its title character, who bears the same initials (C.W.) as the author herself. It appeared weekly in serial form in the American spiritualist journal Banner of Light, but never appeared as a book—until now. I discovered this lost novel while researching the life and work of Wilburn. The whole novel, with introduction, notes, and selections from Wilburn’s diary (which I was also fortunate enough to discover) is being published this month by the University of Alabama Press.

The novel opens upon a death scene. Lea, a Jewess, lies dying in childbirth in her parental home in England. Her regal Iberian-born mother, Hannah Montepesoa, quickly arranges for the surviving Jewish baby, whom Lea has named Cosella, to be abducted. The goal is to thwart what destiny seemingly demands: that Cosella be raised by Lea’s non-Jewish husband, Percival Wayne, a saintly Christian. While family members intimate to Percival that his wife and daughter have tragically died, Cosella is being abducted by the wicked Jewish gem merchant Manasseh Moshem and his long-suffering wife, Shina, (the western Yiddish pronunciation of the common Yiddish name Shayna). Manasseh proceeds to cart his little family around the world to escape Percival, who, having heard that his daughter yet lives, never abandons efforts to locate and recover her. England, Germany, Australia, India, Venezuela—the novel richly describes each location, as well as its Jews, including extraordinary ethnographic descriptions of Jewish rituals and sacred spaces. Almost uniquely for a 19th-century Jewish woman, the author Cora Wilburn knew each location firsthand thanks to her tempestuous upbringing and her parents’ roving lives.

In the following excerpt, Wilburn describes Yom Kippur as it was celebrated in Germany when she was young. She preserves the ancient custom of men wearing shrouds, also known as sargenesor a kittel, on the High Holidays. She also describes the practice of wearing a conical or pointed hat (Judenhut), one of many hats originally prescribed for Jews to wear and later taken on as a marker of identity and a symbol of tradition. Writing for the non-Jewish readers of Banner of Light, Wilburn describes Jewish rituals with unusual sympathy, especially when contrasted with 19th-century Christian accounts of Jewish holiday rituals. She pays particular attention to women, her principal readers, and, as if conscious of the prejudices of her day, offers reassurance that Jews “pray, too, for the earthly and Christian rulers set before them, for the prosperity of their adopted country, for the welfare of all.”

New reports on anti-Semitism shed light on BDS

The Israeli report just walks through the definition while providing evidence that the BDS movement is anti-Semitic at its core.

Highlights include:
– The co-founder and leader of the movement repeatedly denying Israel’s right to exist, the Jewish people’s historic ties to its homeland, and, lest you think this is about settlements or borders, the Jewish right to self-determination in any part of Israel;
– BDS leaders using classic anti-Semitic motifs while attempting to spread various forms of surprisingly unoriginal medieval blood libels; and
– Leaders from around the world (including the leader of the American Muslims for Palestinian and Students for Justice in Palestine groups) calling for Israel to be, among other things, dismantled, buried, and erased.

These reports are important for two reasons.

First, because universities hesitate to admit that there has been a major spike in pro-Israel students being targeted for hate speech and violence, or that one of the strongest predictors of a hostile climate toward Jews on campus is the presence of a BDS organization. But the evidence that BDS is anti-Semitic and promotes violence is just too clear now, and administrators need to reckon with these facts. Hate speech may be protected but it is still hateful, and conduct codes that forbid student groups from engaging in discriminatory activities should be enforced across the board. That is why all universities, public and private, should adopt the IHRA definition, so that schools cannot simply shrug and say they don’t know what anti-Semitism looks like.

Second, because not all BDS supporters are anti-Semitic. Many would be horrified to learn that the nonprofit umbrella group for US-based BDS organizations funnels money to terrorist organizations; that some of the leaders are actual violent terrorists; that BDS hurts the Palestinian people more than it hurts Israel, or that the rabid anti-Semitism at its core often breaks through the “nonviolent” veil, leading to people getting hurt. Supporters of BDS should know who and what they are dealing with.

As the IHRA definition makes clear, not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, and those who want to protest Israeli activity should feel free to do so.

Universities should still be aware of the difference between legitimate criticism and anti-Semitism, and students should still act responsibly. This includes not promoting a demonstrably anti-Semitic movement that is run by and supportive of terrorists and terrorism.

Exploring the origins of the anti-Semitic BDS movement

German city withdraws from award to pro-BDS US-Lebanese artist

The west German city of Aachen pulled the plug on its participation in an award ceremony to honor the US-Lebanese artist Walid Raad because of his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign targeting Israel.

Aachen Mayor Marcel Philipp announced on Monday that “according to research, we have to assume that the nominated prize-winner is a follower of the BDS movement and has participated in several measures in the cultural boycott of Israel.”

The prize is slated to be awarded October 13.

The mayor added: “Can the city of Aachen – in the Ludwig Forum for International Art in particular – award an artist who, in view of questions and requests, does not distance himself from the BDS and thus opposes artistic and cultural exchange?”

The German Bundestag classified BDS as antisemitic in May. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Aachen is located, designated BDS as an antisemitic campaign.

StandWithUs Petition Calls for University of Minnesota to Denounce SJP Conference

StandWithUs launched a petition calling on the University of Minnesota to condemn the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference taking place on their Twin Cities campus from Nov. 1-3.

The petition features a letter to University President Joan T.A. Gabel stating that “SJP has a long record of spreading hate, supporting violence, and violating the free speech rights of people they disagree with on campus.”

It also pointed out that the Nov. 2018 NSJP conference at UCLA “explicitly promoted the destruction of Zionism, celebrated disruptions of speakers who support Israel’s right to exist, and glorified terrorism against Israeli civilians.”

Therefore, the petition argues, Gabel should condemn the conference as well as “celebrating and growing your cooperation with these [Jews and Israelis] and the organizations that represent them on campus.”

StandWithUs argued in a Sept. 26 press release that organizations with ties to terror groups like “Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, [and] the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” provide funding and support to SJP. SJP also glorifies terrorists like Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan and PFLP terrorist Rasmea Odeh, the latter of whom spent 10 years in an Israeli prison for her role in a 1969 Jerusalem bombing that killed two Israeli students, per the press release.

Additionally, SJP frequently promulgates rhetoric that “falls under the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of anti-Semitism,” which “includes denying Israel’s right to exist, demonizing Israelis, and attacking Israel using classic anti-Semitic tropes,” the press release argues.

Tlaib Campaign Payments Under Review for Potential Violations

Salary payments Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) disbursed from her campaign committee to herself are now under review for potential violations.

The House Ethics Committee is looking into payments from the Tlaib campaign which occurred during and after the midterm election cycle, according to Politico. First-time candidates are permitted to pay themselves a salary from campaign funds up to Election Day, but Tlaib received $17,550 from her campaign’s coffers following the election, a potential violation first reported by the Washington Free Beacon in March.

Tlaib’s campaign has denied any wrongdoing and said it is cooperating with the ethics panel. “Representative Tlaib has cooperated completely with the Committee to resolve the referral, which involves the same claims over her publicly disclosed salary during the campaign that conservative groups pressed back in March,” Tlaib spokesperson Denzel McCampbell told Politico.

Tlaib began paying herself from her campaign on May 7, 2018, around the time she took a leave of absence from her job at the Sugar Law Center, a Detroit-based social justice organization. Tlaib’s salary payments averaged $4,000 per month outside of August, when two checks for $3,000 each were made out to Tlaib. She paid herself $28,000 from her campaign funds from early May to the general election.

Tlaib Has Promoted Four Viral Racial Hoaxes in 2019

Tlaib didn’t delete any of her tweets in these four instances, and the Washington Free Beacon could find no record of her posting follow-ups giving a clearer picture of the stories. Her office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

For a first-term lawmaker, the Michigan representative has gotten considerable attention, particularly after calling Trump a “motherf–er” upon taking office and promising Democrats would impeach him. Israel banned her and Omar from visiting due to their support for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and she received criticism for making historically inaccurate remarks about Palestinians protecting Jews during the Holocaust.

She accused Vicki Porter, a conservative witness in front of the House Oversight Committee, of being a “conspiracy theorist” while she testified last week. Tlaib grew agitated because Porter winked at a Republican on the committee who was a friend of hers.

BBC’s Middle East editor warns against premature claims yet makes one

Not only did Jeremy Bowen continue to amplify his new narrative defining Arab-Israelis as Palestinians regardless of how they self-identify but Palestinian terrorism – the reason why Israelis require ‘protection’ – was whitewashed from the Middle East editor’s simplistic analysis.

Radio 4 listeners also heard the following claim (from 04:32) from the man tasked with providing “analysis that might make a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience”.

“Netanyahu has a compelling reason to stay in office. He faces serious allegations of corruption, which he denies. They’re due to come to court next month.”

That, however, is not the case: “next month” – i.e. October 2019 – pre-indictment hearings before the attorney general will take place over four working days commencing on October 2nd. As the Times of Israel notes:

“The hearings, which will see Netanyahu’s lawyers argue his conduct was entirely proper and within the boundaries of the law, will stretch over four days and wrap up before the start of the Yom Kippur fast on Tuesday evening.

Prosecution officials told Channel 12 news on Tuesday they hoped to reach a final decision on whether to indict the premier by the end of the year.”

In other words, Bowen’s claim that allegations against Netanyahu will “come to court next month” is inaccurate and misleading to audiences both from the point of view of the time frame presented and with regard to the implication that indictments have already been made. Any potential indictment is dependent upon the outcome of the ongoing hearings and as we see above, that process will take time.

One would of course expect the BBC’s main gatekeeper of Middle East news to be sufficiently familiar with the story so as to avoid making such a “pre-emptive” and “premature” false claim.

Vandals smash windows of Brooklyn synagogue during Rosh Hashanah prayers

The windows of a synagogue in Brooklyn were smashed by vandals this week during Rosh Hashanah services.

A video showing people throwing milk crates at the Rivnitz synagogue in the Williamsburg neighborhood was circulated Wednesday on social media.

Police said that the incident took place on Monday afternoon and they were searching for two females who were seen in the video, according to WPIX-TV.

Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the vandalism.

“This is a shocking act of hate,” he wrote on Twitter. “We WILL find the perpetrators and hold them responsible.”

The Anti-Defamation League said it was “deeply disturbed” by the video.

“At a time when the Brooklyn Jewish community is already on edge in the wake of a series of anti-Semitic incidents, it is extremely upsetting to see this congregation targeted during what is otherwise supposed to be a joyous celebration of the Jewish New Year,” Evan Bernstein, the regional director of the organization’s New York-New Jersey office, said in a statement.

Swastika and other graffiti painted on wall of former Krakow Ghetto

Polish police are looking for vandals that painted a swastika and other graffiti on the wall of the former ghetto in Krakow.

The graffiti, drawn with a tar-like substance, was painted over on Tuesday, the same day it was discovered.

A fragment of the ghetto wall is located at Limanowskiego Street in Krakow. On Tuesday morning, the inscription “whores Jews, get the f**k out of Poland” alongside a swastika. Police investigated in the area but did not find any clues leading to the vandal.

The graffiti was immediately removed by municipal services.

“While I was extremely upset to see the hateful graffiti on the ghetto wall, especially on Rosh Hashana, the quick reaction by the city and the police reminded me why Krakow is such a good place to be a Jew,” said Jonathan Ornstein, director of the Jewish Community Center of Krakow.

On Sunday, graffiti was discovered on the wall of the Jewish cemetery in Tarnow, reading “Confederation against Jews #447”.

“Law 447,” or the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today, or JUST act, is legislation that was approved by the U.S. Congress in 2018. The legislation insures that people who survived World War II — or their heirs — receive compensation for their losses, if that has not already happened. The Confederation is a right-wing political group that opposes the restitution of Jewish property.

Argentina sees 107% spike in antisemitism

The number of antisemitic incidents in Argentina rose in 2018 by 107% in comparison with 2017.

According to a report by the DAIA, the country’s Jewish community umbrella organization, there were 834 acts of antisemitism in 2018 compared with 404 incidents reported in 2017.

The statistics and research were presented in Buenos Aires on Wednesday by the DAIA and its Bureau of Complaints, which receives information on antisemitic incidents and analyzes them.

According to the report, 68% of the incidents took place in Buenos Aires, with 32% of incidents taking place in other parts of the country. Of the 834 incidents reported, the DAIA said that 71% occurred online – mostly on websites – with 17% of this figure appearing on social media platforms.

The report found that 27% of the antisemitic content online had xenophobic connotations against Jews, 18% were fueled by events taking place in the Middle East, 17% used Nazi symbolism, while others drew from conspiracies about Jewish world domination and other related misconceptions.

“The increase in antisemitic messages is a phenomenon that had been taking place in Argentina for a long time,” said DAIA president Jorge Knoblovits. “A new element [of antisemitism] was observed in the last year in which there were personal attacks on referents of the Jewish community like the rabbi of Rosario, or what happened in Buenos Aires with an aggression toward people who were wearing kippot, which has been seen [before] in Europe, but not in Argentina.”

Fruit fly fillet? Startups strut their alternative proteins at food tech fair

It looks like chunks of tuna fish in a can, but it’s not. It is actually processed larvae of fruit flies and it’s packed with protein and minerals.

Israeli startup Flying SpArk grows the larvae, turns them into a protein powder naturally enriched with minerals, calcium and magnesium, and separates the oil. The powder is then used to create the texture and flavor of meat, poultry and fish alternatives.

Flying SpArk displayed some of its unique alternative meat protein products, including the canned NOTuna, last month in Tel Aviv at FoodTechIL, an event thronged by investors and entrepreneurs who wanted to see what the Startup Nation was up to in the food tech sector.

More than 1,200 participants attended the event, including senior executives from major global food and beverage companies such as PepsiCo, Danone, Mondelez, and Givaudan, a Swiss manufacturer of flavors and fragrances.

There were no tastings of NOTuna at the event, though this reporter was told that it tastes and smells just like the real thing.

Larvae are easy and cheap to cultivate; they use just a tiny amount of water and land in the production process, and they don’t generate polluting greenhouse gases. And they’re kosher, said a company representative.

Flying SpArk, co-founded in 2015 by CEO Eran Gronich, has attracted the attention of one of the world’s largest canned tuna processor and exporters, Thai Union Group, which has agreed to invest half a million dollars with additional funds if certain milestones are met, for a total investment of $3 million.

Salesforce Completes $1.35 Billion Acquisition of Israeli-Founded Clicksoftware

Salesforce.com has completed its $1.35 billion acquisition of Israeli workforce management software company Clicksoftware Technologies, the former announced Wednesday. The company first announced the acquisition in August.

Founded in 1979 by Israeli entrepreneur Moshe BenBassat, Massachusetts-headquartered Clicksoftware develops and sells enterprise software, offering task scheduling, resource management, and customer service tools. In 2014, Clicksoftware was acquired by San Francisco-based private equity firm Francisco Partners Management in a deal valued at approximately $438 million.

Out of Clicksoftware’s 700 employees, approximately 200 are based in Israel. Following the acquisition, they are expected to join Salesforce’s local research and development center.

Salesforce’s Israeli operation currently has around 500 employees, boosted by the 400 people it gained following its 2018 acquisition of Israel-based marketing analytics company Datorama, which was valued at more than $800 million. In May, Salesforce acquired Tel Aviv-based conversational AI startup Bonobo, incorporated as Bonobot Technologies, in a deal estimated at $50 million.

Demi Lovato goes on a spirituality quest and gets baptized in Israel’s Jordan River: ‘I’ve never felt more renewed in my life’

Demi Lovato took a major step in her quest for spirituality and a heightened sense of connection to her family heritage.

The pop star – who suffered a near-fatal drug overdose in July of 2018 – recently took a trip to Israel and was ‘baptized in the Jordan River.’

‘There is something absolutely magical about Israel. I’ve never felt such a sense of spirituality or connection to God…something I’ve been missing for a few years now,’ the 26-year-old wrote in the caption of four photos taken during her experience that she shared on Instagram.

In the first picture from her pilgrimage, Lovato is seen getting a hug moments after she was dipped into the holy waters, with a big smile of contentment on her face.

She’s wearing a white baptismal robe that must be worn for all baptisms in the Jordan River.

It is a common practice for pilgrims to come from all over the world, like Lovato, and visit Israel to get baptized in the Jordan River.

‘I was raised Christian and have Jewish ancestors,’ the Get Back singer wrote.

‘When I was offered an amazing opportunity to visit the places I’d read about in the Bible growing up, I said yes.’

The New Mexico native went on to talk about how important it was for her to be baptized in the same place Jesus Of Nazareth was baptized, adding that she’s ‘never felt more renewed in my life.’

A tribute to some of the inspiring Jews who died in 5779

The close of every year brings with it bittersweet reminders of the incredible figures we lost. This year the task of remembering the departed is particularly fraught as 12 people on the list were murdered as acts of anti-Jewish violence in US synagogues.

Along with the shooting victims in Pittsburgh and Poway, California, are artists, activists and ordinary folks who heroically answered the call of history.

Here are some whose stories inspired us the most.

Pittsburgh victims
On October 27, 2018, a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and opened fire while shouting anti-Semitic slogans. The shooting would become the deadliest act of terrorism against American Jews in the country’s history.

Eleven worshipers were killed that morning, ranging in age from 54 to 97. Among the dead were a married couple, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, and two brothers, David and Cecil Rosenthal, along with Daniel Stein, Jerry Rabinowitz, Richard Gottfried, Joyce Fienberg, Rose Mallinger, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger.

Writer and scholar Shimon Ballas dies

The death in Israel has been announced, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, of the prize-winning writer and scholar Shimon Ballas, 89.

Shimon Ballas was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1930, and immigrated to Israel in 1951. He published stories and essays in the local Arab press for several years. Later, he spent four years in Paris, where he received his PhD from the Sorbonne. Ballas taught Arabic literature at Haifa University and latterly divided his time between Tel Aviv and Paris, where he did most of his writing.

The author of 15 books, Ballas began his writing career in Arabic. He published his first novel in Hebrew in 1964 and had been writing fiction and essays ever since. He was awarded the Prime Minister`s Prize for Literature twice (1978, 1993) and the President`s Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2006).

Perhaps he is best known for Ma’abara, an account of the transit camp experiences of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Commemorating the Australian Aborigines Who Fought to Liberate the Land of Israel from the Ottoman Empire

Last Wednesday, a ceremony was held in the town of Tzema?, near the Sea of Galilee, unveiling a sculpture in commemoration of the battle that took place there in 1918 when Australian cavalrymen—many of whom were Aborigines—stormed a German position as part of the larger struggle between Britain and the Ottomans for control of the land. Ofer Aderet describes the encounter. (Free registration may be required.)

Under the cover of darkness, [guided] only by the light of the moon, the Australian cavalry drew their swords and galloped toward the local train station, a strategic point in those days. The German enemy, allied with the Ottoman empire, had barricaded itself in the stone station building. But the Australians, fighting for the British crown, were undeterred. They surged forward aloft on their steeds and . . . fought face to face with bayonet and sword.

The fighting ended at 5:30 AM, shortly after dawn. About 100 German soldiers were dead and many more were injured. Hundreds were captured. The Australians paid a price, too: fourteen dead, dozens injured, and half their horses would never gallop again.

Jack Pollard, a grandson of one of the fighters, came to Tzema? to inaugurate a statue, The Aborigine and His Horse, commemorating his grandfather and dedicated to all the Aborigine soldiers who fell during World War I. The sculpture depicts [the elder] Pollard holding a Bible and bending over the grave of his brother in arms. The horse in the rear also bows its head toward the fresh grave. The statue was designed by an Australian artist and manufactured using a 3-D printer.

About two years ago, during the centennial of World War I, James Lingwoodock, grandson of one of the Aborigine fighters [who fought in the Palestine campaign] visited Israel. Alongside other descendants of the fighters, he participated in reenactments of the battles.

50,000-Plus Worshippers Travel to Uman for Rosh Hashanah

Tens of thousands of Jews from around the world have arrived in Uman, Ukraine, to spend Rosh Hashanah near the tomb of spiritual leader Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. The two-day holiday begins on the evening of Sept. 29 and ends after sundown on Oct. 1.

The mass pilgrimage is an annual tradition that began after the rabbi’s death and burial in 1810.

Following a fire that destroyed his home in Bratslav (60 miles west of Uman), the 38-year-old rabbi moved to Uman for the last year of his life, invited by a Jewish community there who provided him with housing and care as he suffered from tuberculosis. As many made the journey to hear the rabbi’s sermons on the major Jewish holidays, and as his illness progressed, Rabbi Nachman asked his followers that year to be with him for Rosh Hashanah in particular.

Following the rabbi’s death just weeks Rosh Hashanah, an annual pilgrimage was instituted to his gravesite every Rosh Hashanah, which continued even during Communist rule.

Until today, Jews from all walks of life—the majority Chassidic Jews from Israel and elsewhere—travel on major Jewish holidays and Rosh Hashanah in particular to Uman, a small town of 83,000 in the Cherkasy region of central Ukraine.

Israel Daily Picture: Yom Kippur 100 Years Ago — Or More: Photographic Treasures from the Library of Congress from Jerusalem, New York and a French Battlefield

Photographic Treasures from the Library of Congress from Jerusalem, New York and a French Battlefield

Jews at the Kotel on Yom Kippur (circa 1904) See analysis of the graffiti on the wall for dating this picture. The graffiti on the Wall are memorial notices (not as one reader suggested applied to the photo later).

Next week Jews around the world will commemorate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. For many Jews in the Land of Israel over the centuries the day meant praying at the Western Wall, the remnant of King Herod’s retaining wall of the Temple complex destroyed in 70 AD.

We present here a reprint of our 2013 Yom Kippur posting.

Several readers commented on the intermingling of men and women in these historic pictures.
It was not by choice.
The Turkish and British rulers of Jerusalem imposed restrictions on the Jewish worshippers, prohibiting chairs, forbidding screens to divide the men and women, and even banning the blowing of the shofar at the end of the Yom Kippur service.

View this video, Echoes of a Shofar, to see the story of young men who defied British authorities between 1930 and 1947 and blew the shofar at the Kotel.

For the 19 years that Jordan administered the Old City, 1948-1967, no Jews were permitted to pray at the Kotel. 

The Library of Congress collection contains many pictures of Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall over the last 150 years.

After the 1967 war, the Western Wall plaza was enlarged and large areas of King Herod’s wall have been exposed. Archaeologists have also uncovered major subterranean tunnels — hundreds of meters long — that are now open to visitors to Jerusalem.

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