Tag Archives: Orthodox

Why St George is a Palestinian hero

By Yolande Knell, BBC News

As England celebrates the day of its patron saint, many Palestinians are gearing up for their own forthcoming celebrations of the figure they also regard as a hero.

A familiar flag flaps in the wind above a Palestinian church in the West Bank village of al-Khadr.

The red cross on a white background has been associated with Saint George since the time of the Crusades.

It is the national flag of England and is also used as an emblem by other countries and cities that have adopted him as their own patron saint.

However, Palestinians have particular reason to display the symbol and revere the early Christian martyr. For them he is a local hero who opposed the persecution of his fellow Christians in the Holy Land.

“We believe he was a great martyr for his faith who defended the Christian faith and values,” says Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna.

“By making sacrifices for his faith he was able to defeat evil. We take St George as a patron for people living here – and as he was born in historic Palestine, we pray to him to remember us and this holy land.”

St George was a Roman soldier during the Third Century AD, when the Emperor Diocletian was in power. It is said that he once lived in al-Khadr near Bethlehem, on land owned by his mother’s family.

While the saint’s father is usually traced back to Cappadocia, an area in modern Turkey, it is believed his mother was Palestinian from Lydda – now Lod, in Israel.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27048219

 

The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s.

By Shalva Weil for ISN Insights

In November 2008, Lashkar e Taiba (LET), a radical Islamist group from Pakistan, specifically targeted “Nariman House” in Bombay (Mumbai) for a terrorist attack, along with other tourist locations, such as the Taj Mahal hotel. Nariman House was a ‘Chabad house’ of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Hasidic Judaism – a Jewish outreach center that included an educational center, synagogue and hostel. It was run by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. When the building was attacked, six occupants, including the Rabbi and his pregnant wife, were killed. A total of 164 people were killed in the Mumbai attacks. David Coleman Headley, who testified in the United States at the end of May 2011 in the trial of his friend, Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, confessed that he had planned the Mumbai attacks in conjunction with an officer of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, a man whom he called “Major Iqbal”. The officer was reportedly delighted that the Jews were targeted.

The Jews of Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s. Recently, Yoel Reuben, a Pakistani Jew living in the town of Lod in Israel, whose family originated in Lahore, documented some of the history of the Jewish communities with photographs of original documents. When India and Pakistan were one country, before the partition in 1947, the Jews were treated with tolerance and equality. In the first half of the 20th century, there were nearly 1,000 Jewish residents in Pakistan living in different cities: Karachi, Peshwar, Quetta and Lahore. The largest Jewish community lived in Karachi, where there was a large synagogue and a smaller prayer hall. There were two synagogues in Peshawar, one small prayer hall in Lahore belonging to the Afghan Jewish community, and one prayer hall in Quetta. Even today, according to unofficial sources, there are rumors that some Jews remain in Pakistan, including doctors and members of the free professions, who converted or pass themselves off as members of other religions.

The Jews of Pakistan were of various origins, but most were from the Bene Israel community of India, and came to Pakistan in the employ of the British. Yifah, a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, relates that her great-great-grandfather Samuell Reuben Bhonkar, who was a Bene Israel, came to Karachi in British India to work as a jailer, and died there in 1928. The Bene Israel originated in the Konkan villages, but many moved to Bombay from the end of the 18th century on. In Pakistan, they spoke Marathi, their mother-tongue from Maharashtra; Urdu and most spoke English. Prayers were conducted in Hebrew.

In 1893, a Bene Israel from Bombay, Solomon David Umerdekar, inaugurated the Karachi Magen Shalom Synagogue on the corner of Jamila Street and Nishtar Road, which officially opened in 1912. During these years, the Jewish community thrived. In 1903, the community set up the Young Man’s Jewish Association, and the Karachi Bene Israel Relief Fund was established to support poor Jews. In 1918, the Karachi Jewish Syndicate was formed to provide housing at reasonable rents, and the All India Israelite League, which represented 650 Bene Israel living in the province of Sindh (including Hyderabad, Larkano, Mirpur-Khas and Sukkur, as well as Karachi), was first convened – founded by two prominent Bene Israel, Jacob Bapuji Israel and David S Erulkar. Karachi became a fulcrum for the Bene Israel in India, the place where they congregated for High Holiday prayers. There was also a prayer hall, which served the Afghan Jews residing in the city. A 1941 government census recorded 1,199 Pakistani Jews: 513 men and 538 women. So accepted were the Jews of Karachi in these years that Abraham Reuben, a leader in the Jewish community, became the first Jewish councilor on the Karachi Municipal Corporation.

Continue reading The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan

Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

KAZAN, Russia — A string of violent attacks by Islamic militants has shattered this city’s reputation as a citadel of religious tolerance and unnerved federal officials in Moscow, who have worked for decades to prevent the spread of radical Islam out of the southern borderlands and into places like this city 500 miles east of Moscow.

Officials have long sought to contain Islamic fervor in the Caucasus to the south while insisting that places like the republic of Tatarstan, where Kazan is the capital, were different, representing a moderate “Russian Islam,” said Aleksei Malashenko, the co-chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s religion, society and security program.

But that comfortable assumption began to crumble just before the start of Ramadan in late July, when a senior cleric in charge of education was shot outside his apartment building on Zarya Street. Roughly an hour later, the city’s chief mufti survived a bomb attack that demolished his Toyota Land Cruiser. A previously unheard-of group, the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, claimed responsibility.

Continue reading Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

Ultra-Orthodox Men Now Wearing Special Blinders to Avoid Seeing Sexy Things

By: Hugo Schwyzer

Feeling tempted by scantily-dressed women on the bus, or sexy billboards by the side of the road? If you’re an ultra-Orthodox man in Israel, you’re in luck: you can now buy special blinders to prevent sin-enticing images from sneaking into your peripheral vision. As the Times of Israel reported yesterday, an organization called The Committee for Purity in the Camp is selling special stickers that the observant-but-easily-vulnerable-to-lady-business can wear on their eyeglasses. The stickers “blur vision of anything beyond the range of a few meters and so diffuse immodestly dressed women to a harmless blot.” (If you don’t wear glasses, the Purity Committee sells a non-prescription pair with stickers for the soul-saving bargain price of around $32.)

On the one hand, this is good news. As the Times notes, these eyeglasses mark a “change in tactics” in the Israeli ultra-Orthodox campaign against immodesty. Rather than forcing women to cover up (and spitting on eight year-olds with exposed forearms), these blinders place the onus for avoiding temptation where it belongs: on men. If the choice is between harassing women for displaying bare skin and turning men into carriage horses, the latter seems like the preferable option.

Continue reading Ultra-Orthodox Men Now Wearing Special Blinders to Avoid Seeing Sexy Things

Jewish-Taliban fundamentalists

Unorthodox:” A Woman’s Journey from Repression to Freedom

By Sarah B. Weir

Growing up, Deborah Feldman had to wear skirts that covered her ankles and high-necked blouses made of woven fabric so they wouldn’t cling to her body. She wasn’t allowed to read books in English because her grandfather, with whom she lived, said they were written in an “impure language.” When she was twelve, she suffered a sexual assault, which she kept hidden because she had been taught that men’s lust was ungovernable. This was supposedly the reason her world was segregated by gender.

Related: Top Jewish Rabbi: Segregated Buses Not Jewish Law

At 17, Feldman’s grandparents pushed her into an arranged marriage with a virtual stranger, but she had never even heard the word “sex” spoken or learned about the very basics of human reproduction. Once married, she was expected to shave her head and wear a wig—something she rebelled against after a year because she found it so depressing. Seven years later, despite the fact she knew she would be hated as a pariah, she abandoned her community and started life over.

You might be surprised that Feldman didn’t grow up in a far away country with repressive laws against women, but in an ultra-conservative Jewish enclave in New York City. “They’ve passed more laws from out of nowhere, limiting women—there’s a rule that women can’t be on the street after a certain hour,” Feldman told the New York Post describing the Hasidic Satmar community in which she was raised. “We all hear these stories about Muslim extremists; how is this any better? This is just another example of extreme fundamentalism.”

Continue reading Jewish-Taliban fundamentalists

In Israel, women’s rights come under siege

By Ruth Marcus

Women are forced to board public buses from the back and stay there. Billboards with images of women are defaced. Public streets are cordoned off during religious holidays so that women cannot enter.

Continue reading In Israel, women’s rights come under siege

Jewish court sentences dog to death by stoning

(AFP) – JERUSALEM — A Jerusalem rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a dog it suspects is the reincarnation of a secular lawyer who insulted the court’s judges 20 years ago, Ynet website reported Friday.

According to Ynet, the large dog made its way into the Monetary Affairs Court in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, frightening judges and plaintiffs.

Despite attempts to drive the dog out of the court, the hound refused to leave the premises.

One of the sitting judges then recalled a curse the court had passed down upon a secular lawyer who had insulted the judges two decades previously.

Their preferred divine retribution was for the lawyer’s spirit to move into the body of a dog, an animal considered impure by traditional Judaism.

Clearly still offended, one of the judges sentenced the animal to death by stoning by local children.

The canine target, however, managed to escape.

“Let the Animals Live”, an animal-welfare organisation filed a complaint with the police against the head of the court, Rabbi Avraham Dov Levin, who denied that the judges had called for the dog’s stoning, Ynet reported.

One of the court’s managers, however, confirmed the report of the lapidation sentence to Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot.

“It was ordered… as an appropriate way to ‘get back at’ the spirit which entered the poor dog,” the paper reported the manager as saying, according to Ynet.

Certain schools of thought within Judaism believe in the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation.

Courtesy: AFP, Google News

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gpVCUh9KzOc5uEutaeYfOTL_m2dw?docId=CNG.7cb7d99990eea60a7a2805cbbc294dbf.631

“Burqa got a befitting French kiss” – by Marvi Sirmed

Before reading this argument on recent Burqa-ban by France, you need to know who I am. Raised in an orthodox Muslim Deobandi family, I’ve been educated in Pakistan’s Punjab where urban middle class used to be too sensitive about purdah in 1980s and 90s – the decades when I went to school and then university. Being first generation migrated out of the village in a big city, my father was a part of purdah sensitive educated middle class professional class. But my mother, raised and educated in a secular and Sufist Sindh, fought against Burqa throughout her life in order to save me from this ‘curse’ as she would put it.

Mom succeeded in this battle to the best of my luck and now no one expects her or me in Burqa or purdah in general. …

Read more : Let Us Build Pakistan

Christian, Jewish and Muslim Fundamentalists Agree that Natural Disasters Are God’s Revenge on the Modern World

Their religions vary, but the fundies agree that the punitive but righteous hand of God is responsible for catastrophe.

When a Shiite prayer leader blames earthquakes in Iran on immodestly dressed and promiscuous women, neocons like Michael Ledeen snicker.

When a prominent ultra-orthodox Israeli spiritual and political leader agrees with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyehthat the fire destroying Israel’s Carmel Forest is a punishment from God, there’s silence.

Ovadia Yosef, a former Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, who remains a prominent spiritual and political leader of the Shas party, and Palestinian Prime Minister elect Haniyeh agree that the Deity has been venting His fury by means of  the destructive blaze in Israel, but disagree about why.

Read more : Alternet.org

The Man Behind Mumbai terrorist attack

The Man Behind Mumbai – by Sebastian Rotella

This article was co-published with the Washington Post

Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg had come to India on a religious mission. They had established India’s first outpost of Chabad Lubavitch, the Orthodox Jewish organization, in a six-story tower overlooking a shantytown. The Holtzbergs’ guests that evening were two American rabbis, an Israeli grandmother and a Mexican tourist.

Hundreds of miles away in Pakistan, a terrorist chief named Sajid Mir was preparing a different sort of religious mission. Mir had spent two years using a Pakistani-American operative named David Coleman Headley to conduct meticulous reconnaissance on Mumbai, according to investigators and court documents. He had selected iconic targets and the Chabad House, a seemingly obscure choice, but one that ensured that Jews and Americans would be casualties.

Read more : ProPublica