Tag Archives: Rabbi

Some Israelis Count Open Discourse and Dissent Among Gaza War Casualties

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JERUSALEM — The signs are everywhere.

At a recent demonstration in Tel Aviv against Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip, counterdemonstrators chanted “Death to the left!” along with the more commonly heard “Death to Arabs!” Afterward, some of the right-wingers beat some of the leftists — using large poles that had held Israeli flags.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority blocked B’Tselem, a human rights group, from running a paid radio advertisement reading the names and ages of Palestinian children killed in Gaza.

Bar-Ilan University rebuked a professor who expressed empathy for all the war’s victims in an email to students.

And at a recent screening at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, a fading bastion of liberalism, when some audience members stood for a moment of silence in memory of four Palestinian boys killed as they played soccer on a Gaza beach, others who kept their seats berated them with cries of “Shame on you — what about our boys?” and “You’re raping the audience,” according to several people who were there.

In Israel, open discourse and dissent appear to be among the casualties of the monthlong war in Gaza, according to stalwarts of what is known as the Zionist left — Israelis who want the country to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and help create a sovereign Palestinian state.

Israeli politics have been drifting rightward for years, and many see that trend sharpening and solidifying now. Several polls find that as many as nine out of 10 Israeli Jews back the prosecution of the war by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When that support slipped a bit last week, it seemed to be because more people wanted an even more aggressive assault on Hamas, the militant Islamist faction that dominates Gaza. Israelis who question the government or the military on Facebook, or who even share photographs of death and devastation in Gaza, find themselves defriended, often by people they thought were politically like-minded.

“One of the victims of war is any nuance,” said Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, who emigrated from New York in 1979. “The idea of having a nuanced position that recognizes the suffering on both sides and the complications is almost impossible to maintain.”

Rabbi Weiman-Kelman is the founder of Kol Haneshama, one of Israel’s largest and best-known Reform congregations, where every service ends with an adaptation of a traditional Hebrew prayer for peace that includes a line in Arabic borrowed from a traditional Muslim prayer. (Disclosure: I have occasionally attended those services.)

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/world/middleeast/in-israel-open-dissent-is-among-the-gaza-war-casualties.html?_r=0

Jewish circumcision leave 2 infants in New York with Herpes

Baby boys got sick after the ultra-Orthodox practice

By Reuven Blau / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Two Brooklyn infants have contracted herpes through a controversial religious circumcision ritual in the past three months, according to the city’s Health Department.

The unidentified baby boys became sick after the centuries-old, ultra-Orthodox ritual associated with the bris known as metzizah b’peh.

Under the practice, the rabbi or mohel removes blood from the wound on the baby’s penis with his mouth — a practice city Health Department officials have slammed, saying it carries “inherent risks” for babies.

The Bloomberg administration has moved to require mohels who perform the ritual to provide parents with a document informing them of the health risks involved. The parents must then sign a consent form.

But several influential religious Jewish organizations have sued, arguing the policy violates the First Amendment.

In January, a federal judge ruled against the group’s initial legal maneuver to block the new city policy.

Continue reading Jewish circumcision leave 2 infants in New York with Herpes

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

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

The Dönmeh heritage, Mustapha Kemal Ataturk & Modern Turkey

The Dönmeh: The Middle East’s Most Whispered Secret (Part I)

By Wayne MADSEN

There is a historical “eight hundred pound gorilla” lurking in the background of almost every serious military and diplomatic incident involving Israel, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Greece, Armenia, the Kurds, the Assyrians, and some other players in the Middle East and southeastern Europe. It is a factor that is generally only whispered about at diplomatic receptions, news conferences, and think tank sessions due to the explosiveness and controversial nature of the subject. And it is the secretiveness attached to the subject that has been the reason for so much misunderstanding about the current breakdown in relations between Israel and Turkey, a growing warming of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and increasing enmity between Saudi Arabia and Iran…

Although known to historians and religious experts, the centuries-old political and economic influence of a group known in Turkish as the “Dönmeh” is only beginning to cross the lips of Turks, Arabs, and Israelis who have been reluctant to discuss the presence in Turkey and elsewhere of a sect of Turks descended from a group of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th and 17th centuries. These Jewish refugees from Spain were welcomed to settle in the Ottoman Empire and over the years they converted to a mystical sect of Islam that eventually mixed Jewish Kabbala and Islamic Sufi semi-mystical beliefs into a sect that eventually championed secularism in post-Ottoman Turkey. It is interesting that “Dönmeh” not only refers to the Jewish “untrustworthy converts” to Islam in Turkey but it is also a derogatory Turkish word for a transvestite, or someone who is claiming to be someone they are not.

The Donmeh sect of Judaism was founded in the 17th century by Rabbi Sabbatai Zevi, a Kabbalist who believed he was the Messiah but was forced to convert to Islam by Sultan Mehmet IV, the Ottoman ruler. Many of the rabbi’s followers, known as Sabbateans, but also “crypto-Jews,” publicly proclaimed their Islamic faith but secretly practiced their hybrid form of Judaism, which was unrecognized by mainstream Jewish rabbinical authorities. Because it was against their beliefs to marry outside their sect, the Dönmeh created a rather secretive sub-societal clan.

The Dönmeh rise to power in Turkey
Continue reading The Dönmeh heritage, Mustapha Kemal Ataturk & Modern Turkey

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

We want PEACE, and No war between religions

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad meets leaders of Neturei Karta International (www.nkusa.org) an anti-Zionist Jewish group on Monday, September 24, 2007, at the start of a visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

– via Siasat.pkYou Tube

US court summons ISI chief in Mumbai terror case

Washington, Nov 24 (IANS) A US court has summoned top officials of Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), as also the alleged masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in response to a case filed by relatives of two American victims.

Summons were issued by a New York court to ISI’s powerful chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha and other officials, as also Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi and Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, the alleged masterminds of the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

The 26-page lawsuit was filed before a Brooklyn court last week by family members of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his pregnant wife, Rivka, who were among the 166 people killed during the attack. Their son Moshe was saved by his Indian nanny in the tragedy. …

Read more : thaindianNews

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For more details : BBC urdu

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

US Court Issues Summons To ISI Chief

US court summons ISI chief Pasha, LeT’s Hafiz Saeed

Washington: A US court has issued summons to senior ISI officials including its powerful chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha, along with Mumbai attack masterminds and LeT leaders Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi in response to a lawsuit filed by relatives of two American victims accusing them of providing material support for the 26/11 attacks.

The 26-page lawsuit was filed before a New York Court on November 19 against the Inter-Services Intelligence and Lashkar-e-Toiba by the relatives Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who were both gunned down by militants at the Chhabad House in Mumbai. …

Read more : Express