Christianity Through Jewish Eyes

Home » Levitt Letter » LLX News

Important articles that didn't make the Levitt Letter

Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category

IDF Soldier: “I saw the Hand of HaShem!”

Monday, August 4th, 2014

From the Facebook page for Olive Branch International Ministries

On Sunday, I received a call from A, one of the officers operating Israel’s Iron Dome system. He had been a student of mine about six years ago. I was happy to hear from him.

“Where is somewhere I can learn Torah in Ramat Gan?” he asked me.

I was surprised at the question because he was completely remote from Torah observance.

“I’m going to be released from the army in a few months and I want to start learning in a Yeshiva [school for religious instruction]. I saw Hashem with my own eyes!” he declared.

“What happened,” I asked.

“A missile was fired from Gaza. One of the features of the Iron Dome system is its capability to pinpoint where a missile is going to fall, within a radius of 200 meters. This missile was headed for a central area, in the Azrieli Towers vicinity, either in the actual square or on the train tracks. Either way, hundreds of lives were in danger!” His words rushed out; I listened breathlessly.

Azrieli Towers, Israel

Azrieli Towers, Israel

“We fired an interceptive missile, which missed. The second missile missed too, and then the third. That is highly unusual. Until today, there were only two such occurrences. I was shocked. We had about four more seconds before it would be too late to intercept the missile. We alerted the emergency services, Mada [MDA–Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross)], police, and fire department to head for the scene. We’d already activated the mass terror attack alert.

“Suddenly, with no alert from the Iron Dome system — which usually computes and predicts wind factor and direction — a strong wind from the east blew the missile southward, into the sea. We were all in shock. I jumped up and yelled, ‘There is a God! There is a God! There is a God!’

“I saw this miracle with my eyes. I didn’t hear about it; no one told me about it. I saw the Hand of HaShem** knock the missile into the sea! This was obviously not publicized due to security regulations (which is why the date and time are not reported here), but it is enough to note the miracles that we do clearly see with our own eyes in the populated areas to understand that there is a God,” he said. “I ran over to the religious soldiers, and asked them for tefillin [prayer accessories] to put on. I committed to begin keeping Shabbos [Jewish Sabbath], and it was the best Shabbos I ever experienced,” he exclaimed.

IDF soldier wearing tefillin

IDF soldier wearing tefillin

Watch the short video of a physicist giving a scientist’s perspective of the question “Who’s Protecting Israel?”

** Definition of HaShem

  HaShem — The Name the-name in Hebrew alphabet

Explained by Paul Sumner / Hebrew-Streams.org

In the Hebrew Bible, God’s personal name is the most often used noun. It occurs over 6,800 times. In Hebrew texts it is spelled only with consonants: Y-H-W-H (the four Hebrew letters (Yod, He, Waw, and He), and is called the “Four-Letter Name” or Tetragrammaton in Greek, [pronounced Yahweh — YAH-way].

Rabbinic Judaism refers to God’s name as “haShem” — literally, “The Name” (the “ha” is the attached prefix article “the”). In biblical times “YHWH” was spoken with accompanying vowel sounds. But sometime prior to the first century, that pronunciation was gradually suppressed (out of reverence). (“YHVH” and “YHWH” are variations of spelling)

In the Bible, some people’s names contained a form of God’s Name (Joshua, Isaiah, Hosea). The Greek Jewish name “Jesus” is also linked in Hebrew to the Tetragrammaton, a fact that opens insights into passages in the New Testament.

Egypt Demands Compensation for 10 Plagues

Friday, April 18th, 2014

IsraelToday.com

“We demand that the State of Israel pay compensation for the ten plagues that our forefathers in Egypt suffered thousands of years ago as a result of the curses of the Jewish forefathers.” So wrote prominent Egyptian columnist Ahmad Al-Gamal shortly before the Jewish Passover, causing a great stir.

“What is written in the Torah is that Pharaoh discriminated against the children of Israel. What have we to do with it? We therefore need not suffer!” exclaimed Al-Gamal, drawing a clear difference between the Egyptian kingdom of the Pharaohs and Islamic Egypt of today. Note that Islam accepts the biblical narrative as historical evidence.

The columnist suggested that the government in Cairo press charges against Israel: “The Jews caused the land to be stricken with locusts and all agriculture destroyed, turned the Nile red with blood so that one could drink its waters, sent darkness, frogs, and killed the firstborn.”

.

Al-Gamal continued: “During 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Children of Israel enjoyed our goods, which they stole before abandoning us.” He also recommended that Egypt bring charges against France, Great Britain, and Turkey for those nations’ historical conquests of Egypt.

The Egyptian column was picked up by the Israeli press, especially religious news outlets, which readily acknowledged all that Al-Gamal wrote as historical fact.

Some Israeli columnists retorted that Egypt need first compensate Israel for keeping the Jewish forefathers as slaves and for killing all male Jewish babies in the generation prior to the Exodus.

Christians Rediscovering Passover

Monday, April 14th, 2014
Leonardo da Vinci's mural painting of the Last Supper, located at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. Nothing reattaches Christians to their Jewish roots faster than realizing the Last Supper was actually a Passover seder meal being led by a Jewish rabbi, writes David Parsons. Credit: PD-Art.

Leonardo da Vinci’s mural painting of the Last Supper, located at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. Nothing reattaches Christians to their Jewish roots faster than realizing the Last Supper was actually a Passover seder meal being led by a Jewish rabbi, writes David Parsons. Credit: PD-Art.

By David Parsons/JNS.org

For Jews and Christians, the Passover season is a special time for reflection on the rich spiritual truths contained within this remarkable holiday. Indeed, we can all observe the command to “remember” the incredible Israelite deliverance from bondage in Egypt.

For Christians, the events of a momentous Passover some 15 centuries later have given added meaning to this holiday, so that the truths of the first are reinforced in the latter. Deliverance from Pharaoh’s taskmasters became freedom from slavery to sin. The blood of a lamb on the doorposts became a typology of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Yet the parallels between Pesach and Easter were lost for centuries to most Christians when the early Church fathers deliberately severed our faith from its Jewish roots. In time, this hostility to Judaism produced vicious blood libels against Jews at Passover.

Today, however, multitudes of Christians are rediscovering our Hebraic roots. Indeed, TIME magazine recently identified growing Christian interest in our faith’s Jewish heritage as one of the ten top trends of our day.

Even respected Jewish scholars have started joining Christian theologians in rediscovering the “Jewishness” of Jesus and the Hebraic origins of Christianity. One notable in this regard is the late Prof. David Flusser of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, considered the leading Orthodox Jewish expert on the Second Temple era and Early Christianity.

Flusser placed Jesus within the Pharasic tradition and viewed him as among the great sages of his time, such as Hillel and Ben-Shammai. But Flusser concluded that the Galilean preacher went boldly beyond the classic Judaism of that day, for instance by proclaiming the advent of the Kingdom of God and espousing a radical ethic of loving one’s enemy.

As a result of such groundbreaking scholarship, the Feast of Passover is one occasion when the lineage and cultural identity of Jesus as a “son of the covenant” now holds so much more meaning for Christians. In fact, nothing reattaches Christians to their Jewish roots faster than realizing the Last Supper was actually a Passover seder meal being led by a Jewish rabbi.

Thus, we can now see in the Gospel narratives just how closely Jesus held to Jewish traditions in presiding over the Passover meal with his disciples—or rather, his talmidim.

For instance, he followed the custom then developing in First Century Judaism of serving four cups of wine at the Passover meal to mirror the four great “I wills” of Exodus 6:6-7. When Jesus took the third cup—considered the “cup of redemption”—he used it to seal a new covenant with his followers.

Interestingly, he also used customary Jewish words of betrothal at that same moment, promising to go build them all mansions in his Father’s house and to come back for them one day as a bridegroom for his bride (John 14:2-3).

In serving them wine and unleavened bread, Jesus further played off the command to “remember” the Passover by instructing his disciples to always partake of it “in remembrance of me!”

Then, one of the most extraordinary moments of the Last Supper came when he washed the feet of his disciples.

Like other great rabbis of his day, Jesus had developed a unique preaching style by telling parables, many of which are universally known to this day, such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. But he was different in the way he also practiced what he preached. In washing the feet of his disciples, the rabbi Jesus taught by deed and not just words what it means to be a servant in His kingdom (John 13:14-15).

And finally, Jesus demonstrated tremendous grace that evening when he gave the place of the guest of honor to his immediate left to Judas, even though he knew this was the one about to betray him. What a difference it would have made down through history if Christians had understood that Jesus was never bitter towards Judas.

Sadly, it is too late to change that history. But we are witnessing a sea-change in Christian attitudes towards the Jewish people today, as we understand better the Jewish matrix of our faith. This historic shift is helping to build Christian support for an embattled Israel at a critical hour. And just as importantly, it is shielding multitudes of Christians against modern-day blood libels and other anti-Semitic lies now being hurled at the Jewish state.

David Parsons, ICEJ

David Parsons, ICEJ

David Parsons is an ordained minister who serves as media director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (www.icej.org).

Dutch Christians Build Mega-Menorah

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Hanukkah 2013 begins in the evening of Wednesday, November 27 and ends in the evening of Thursday, December 5.

Raising the Hanukkiah in the Netherlands

Raising the Hanukkiah in Netherlands

By Cnaan Liphshiz / JTA.org

BERLIKUM, Netherlands (JTA) — In a windswept parking lot near the North Sea shore, Klaas Zijlstra stands motionless as he admires his latest creation.

It’s the first time he is testing the 36-foot menorah he has spent weeks designing and building in the shape of a Star of David in his metal workshop in the northern tip of the Netherlands. Despite strong winds, the menorah holds, thanks in no small part to its 6-ton base.

This isn’t just any mega-menorah. For one thing, it may be the largest in all of Europe. For another, it’s the handiwork of a Protestant metal contractor, paid for by Christian Zionists, and meant to be a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people.

Oh, and it’s kosher for use on Hanukkah, too.

“It’s exactly like the rabbi wanted,” Zijlstra said.

The rabbi is Binyomin Jacobs of Chabad, who helped Zijlstra and a group called Christians for Israel design the nine-branch candelabrum so it could be used for the eight-day holiday.

On Wednesday evening, Hanukkah’s first night, Jacobs intends to mount a crane and light the first candle in front of hundreds of Christians and Jews during a public ceremony in Nijkerk, not far from Amsterdam.

Though commonplace in the United States and even in Russia, public Hanukkah events are a recent and revolutionary development in the Netherlands. Here they signify the growing self-confidence and openness of a Jewish community whose near annihilation in the Holocaust left a deeply entrenched tendency to keep a low profile.

“Twenty years ago, this wouldn’t‎‎ have been possible,” said Arjen Lont, the Christian Zionist businessman who donated $40,000 to build and transport the menorah. “It requires a lot of openness.”

Lont says the purpose of the giant menorah, which can be used either with electric bulbs or oil lamps, is to send a message.

Hanukkah menorah in place

Hanukkah menorah in place

“After unspeakable suffering, the horrors of the Holocaust and most recently the attacks on Israel, Jews may feel they are alone,” Lont said. “This is our way of saying you are not alone, we are behind you.”

The first public Hanukkah lighting ceremony in the country was organized in 1989 in Buitenveldert, near Amsterdam, by the wife of a Chabad rabbi, according to Bart Wallet, a historian of Dutch Jewry at the University of Amsterdam.

Today, such events are held annually in 19 municipalities, from the northern city of Leeuwarden, near Berlikum, to the southern border city of Maastricht, according to Jacobs.

Jacobs says public menorah lightings in the country signify the Jewish community’s confidence in asserting its place in Dutch society.

“Nowadays it’s also saying we are here, we are also a part of the fabric of religious communities and society,” he said.

Dutch Jewish reticence toward public displays of faith dates back at least to the 19th century, according to Wallet, when Dutch rabbis decreed that no Jewish rituals should be held in the public domain. At the time, Dutch Jews were keen on integrating into a democratic society as equal citizens, and they considered it counterproductive to showcase religious customs that set them apart from their compatriots.

The tendency was greatly reinforced after the Holocaust, when three-quarters of Holland’s population of 140,000 Jews perished — a higher percentage than anywhere else in occupied Western Europe. Today, about 40,000 Jews live in the Netherlands.

Wallet says things began to change in the 1970s, when Dutch Jews began displaying greater activism around anti-Semitism and Israel.

Even today, however, many Dutch Jews retain a sense of reticence when it comes to public displays of religion.

“There’s nothing wrong with these Hanukkah events, but to me they don’t seem familiar,” said Jaap Hartog, chairman of the umbrella group of Dutch Jewry, called the Dutch Israelite Religious Community, or NIK. “To me, Hanukkah is more a holiday that you celebrate at home with your family. The public candle lightings are more of an American thing.

“On a personal level, I’m not too keen on participating.”

Initially, Chabad rabbis organized candle-lighting ceremonies as part of their efforts to reach lapsed Jews, but today the menorah lightings are not organized exclusively by Chabad. Nathan Bouscher, a Jewish activist who is not himself religious, has co-organized candle lightings at the Dam, Amsterdam’s best-known square.

“It’s a way to build bridges between Jews and the non-Jewish environment, but also within the community and between Dutch-born Jews and the thousands of Israelis who live here and the tourists from Israel,” Bouscher said.

Back at Zijlstra’s metal workshop, his menorah is attracting attention from neighbors. During the test run last week, a few of them stopped by to admire his handiwork and congratulate him.

One elderly man, Henk van Jaarsveld, looked up at the menorah with tears in his eyes. A self-described Messianic Jew, he showed off his Hebrew skills by reading the holiday greeting in Dutch and Hebrew that Christians for Israel had attached to the menorah’s base.

Next year, Christians for Israel says it wants to place the menorah in front of the European Parliament in Brussels to protest legislative proposals that seek to restrict Jewish rights such as circumcising male infants.

“On Hanukkah, the Jewish people remember their rebellion against the Greeks because the Greeks limited the Jews’ freedom of worship,” said Roger van Oordt, director of Christians for Israel’s Dutch branch. “We want to place this menorah there as a warning against repeating that history.”

Tisha B’Av from a Messianic Perspective

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

By Connie Fieraru / IsraelToday.co.il

Tisha B'Av Messianic perspective
I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you. Lamentations 3:56-57

On the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av, 5773 – the most tragic day on the Jewish calendar, July 16 this year – thousands of religious Jews approached Jerusalem’s Kotel (Western Wall), the holiest site for Jews and Christians, to commemorate the destruction of the holy Temples, Jerusalem, and the Jewish commonwealth. This year marks 1943 years since the Second Temple’s destruction in the year 70 AD.

Tisha B’Av is the lowest point of a three-week period of mourning. During this time, all celebratory occasions are forbidden. It is a time of solemn reflection and mourning for Israel and the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.

Traditions associated with this day include sitting on the floor reciting prayers, walking without leather shoes, refraining from washing, and fasting for 25 hours. Many Jews spend the night next to the Kotel, the last remaining remnant of the Second Temple, and pray for its rebuilding and reestablishment. Today the Temple Mount is in Islamic hands, with mosques now occupying the place where once stood the Holy of Holies.

Believers in Yeshua (Jesus) see him as the true Temple of God that dwelt among us. The Tabernacle was a temporary dwelling place, as was the physical Temple, for, as it is written (2 Chronicles 6:18), God could never be contained in a house made of stone, cedar, and gold. Furthermore, Yeshua told the Pharisees that He was greater than the Temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 12:6). Yeshua Himself is the divine presence of God, which tabernacles among us (Colossians 2:9).

To those, however, who still mourn the destruction of the Temple, Yeshua remains ‘the stone that causes them to stumble.’ They stumble because they do not believe that Yeshua is the Sanctuary for His people. While the Temple stood, it signified that the way into God’s holy presence had not yet been disclosed (Hebrew 9:8). It presented an obstacle to those who would worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) and a barrier to the gentiles coming to faith in the one true God.

Yeshua Himself was not only the Holy of Holies, but also the Lamb of God, the one and only perfect sin offering. When His flesh was destroyed, the curtain in the Temple was also destroyed, thus releasing His presence to all who would approach and draw near to Him in faith.

But what of the promises regarding the Temple in Jerusalem?

God’s promises that one day the Temple will be restored and the children of Israel will be re-gathered from the nations are far from null and void. It is evident today that the promise of return is rapidly being fulfilled. And, interestingly, the day of mourning for the Temple is already, even before the Temple has been rebuilt, starting to become a time of renewed hope, faith, and restoration.

A new short film by the Temple Institute is just one example of how Tisha B’Av is gradually reframing itself and rising up from the sackcloth and ashes. Titled The Children are Ready II, the video depicts an emotional journey starting in the synagogue where the traditional lamentations are read. But, the focus is not on the adult’s recitation; rather, it is on the children in the next room playing with their building blocks. It is the children whom are awakened to the fact that the time of mourning has ended. The film ends with the children leading the adults out of the door of the synagogue into a bright white light with the words: “The children are ready.”

This image of the next generation pioneering change by replacing mourning with building and strengthening the destiny that lies ahead for Israel and its people is insightful; for while it focuses on the promised physical rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, it also very much representats the promised spiritual awakening of Israel that will lead them to their Messiah.

Tisha B’Av must become for us a time to rejoice that the Temple’s foretold destruction signifies that the way into God’s presence has been opened through Yeshua, and we must earnestly pray that the Jewish people’s hearts continue to be softened so that they see in Him their hope and the embodiment of the Temple they so yearn to see reestablished.

PM Netanyahu Receives “First Fruits” for Shavuot Holiday

Monday, May 13th, 2013

IsraelNationalNews.com

Netanyahu receives baskets of first fruits from children.

Netanyahu receives baskets of first fruits from children.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Sunday with children from the Valley of Springs (Emek Hamaayanot) Regional Council ahead of the holiday of Shavuot, which begins at sundown on Tuesday.

The children brought the prime minister a basket of locally grown fruits, in memory of the biblical commandment for farmers to bring the “first fruits” (bikurim in Hebrew) to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. “First fruits” had to be one of the seven species that the Bible lists as Israel’s best crops — wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates, and each year’s “first fruits” would be brought to the Temple from the holiday of Shavuot onward. Farmers would go to their orchards early in the season and mark the first fruits that appeared on the trees so that once they ripened, they could be brought to the Temple, accompanied by joyful song and music in gratitude for the harvest.

Prime Minister Netanyahu told the children, “I thank you for the basket of first fruits and I wish you and all Israelis a happy Shavuot. The first fruits are a symbol of growth, development, and renewal; may all our efforts bear fruit.”

The first fruits were from a new, educational section of a 70-year-old experimental farm in the Valley of Springs Regional Council area that was developed in order to preserve local children’s and residents’ links to the soil and the achievements of both the experimental farm and local farmers.

In the video below (in Hebrew), Netanyahu is seen with the children as they explain about the fruits they have brought.

Egypt’s Jews bury veteran leader

Friday, April 19th, 2013

By Asma Alsharif / Reuters

Egypt’s tiny Jewish community, a frail remnant of a once flourishing minority, held a rare public ceremony on Thursday in memory of its veteran leader, Carmen Weinstein, but the country’s Islamist leaders stayed away.

Weinstein, 82, died last Saturday at her home in Cairo where she was known over the past two decades for leading efforts to preserve the now-overwhelmingly Muslim country’s Jewish heritage.

Diplomats from the United States and Israel joined about 100 mourners at a ceremony, partly broadcast on one private television channel, at the heavily guarded Sha’ar Hashamayim (Gate of Heaven) synagogue in downtown Cairo.

The Jewish community has struggled to keep the faith alive and maintain its culture after its numbers dwindled to a few dozen members in recent years from some 80,000 in the 1950s.

Most Jews fled Egypt due to attacks on the community during and after the 1956 war, when Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula along with Britain and France in an attempt to regain control of the Suez Canal.

The exodus began after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the first war between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors. Jews were also prominent in the Egyptian Communist Party which was outlawed under President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1958.

Weinstein was buried later at the Bassatine Cemetery, Cairo’s only active Jewish burial site, which she had helped safeguard against vandalism during her lifetime.

On its English-language website, the state-owned Al Ahram newspaper called her “The ‘Iron Lady’ of Egypt’s Jews”.

“She was a very dignified woman who was very committed to the existing Jewish community. She was a real asset… She stayed here when many other people left over the years,” said Barry Friedman, a U.S. Jew living in Cairo.

Weinstein’s efforts to preserve the Egyptian Jewish heritage were exemplified by her resistance to the transfer of valuable historical artifacts to the Brooklyn-based Historical Society of Jews from Egypt (HSJE) in 1997.

The artifacts include over 100 Torah scrolls, some dating back more than 200 years, said Desire Sakkal, the director and founder of the HSJE.

“She came back with a letter saying that those items are like the pyramids and the Sphynx and should not be moved. She later turned over the items to the (Egyptian) Department of Antiquities,” he said.

On Monday members of the Jewish Community Council elected Magda Haroun as their new president.

“I want to break down the barriers that have been erected between people of different religions and beliefs,” Haroun said in a speech at the memorial service. “I promise to keep the heritage of Egyptian Jews so we can return it to the Egyptian people…They have to be remembered.”

Islamist President Mohamed Mursi paid tribute to Weinstein in a statement, calling her a “dedicated Egyptian who worked tirelessly to preserve Egyptian Jewish heritage and valued, above all else, living and dying in her country, Egypt”.

The president was on an official visit to Russia on Thursday and no member of the government attended the memorial.

Mursi’s views on Jews were not always full of praise. In a video-taped interview conducted in 2010 and posted on You Tube in January, the president is seen describing Zionists as “blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs”.

Weinstein’s death coincided with an outbreak of interest among Egyptian intellectuals in the country’s Jewish past.

A film called “Jews of Egypt” is showing in three Cairo cinemas after Egypt’s censorship office gave permission last month to screen the historical documentary, following a delay due to reservations by a security agency.

The film depicts changes in Egyptian society’s acceptance of its Jewish minority in the first half of the 20th century.ž

Settlers give pre-Passover bread to nearby Palestinians

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Third year of symbolic goodwill program; ‘why burn good bread when you can distribute it to your neighbors?’ asks Yaki Fried from the settlement of Ofra

Parcels of bread collected from settlements await distribution in the Palestinian village of Sawiyah Monday (photo credit: courtesy/Yaki Fried)

Parcels of bread collected from settlements await distribution in the Palestinian village of Sawiyah Monday (photo credit: courtesy/Yaki Fried)

By Elhanan Miller / TimesOfIsrael.com

Israeli settlers distributed hundreds of loaves of bread to needy Palestinians on Monday, combining the religious edict of discarding leavened bread ahead of Passover and sending a message of peace to their Palestinian neighbors.

For the third year in a row, members of the Eretz Shalom movement — inspired by the late Rabbi Menachem Froman — collected food products forbidden for consumption on Passover in six distribution points across the West Bank and distributed them to nearby Palestinian communities as part of an initiative called “Goodbye to Chametz” (unleavened bread).

Yaki Fried, a resident of Ofra, a settlement located 29 kilometers (18 miles) north of Jerusalem, told The Times of Israel that he collected between 500-700 loaves of pita bread discarded by grocery stores in the West Bank settlements of Eli, Shilo, and Ofra.

“Two years ago we saw the owner burn huge quantities of perfectly good bread,” Fried said. “So we decided to contact a local Palestinian and distribute the bread to needy people. There are many small things we can help each other out with.”

The Eretz Shalom activists attached a letter in Arabic to the bread parcels reading, “In the name of God the most merciful, we wish for neighborly relations. Our hands are stretched out in peace, peace from the heart. Peace is the grace of God and the name of God. From your Jewish neighbors, members of Eretz Shalom.”

Fried said that last year, movement volunteers distributed candy to Palestinians with a similar message of piece on a Muslim holiday, garnering extremely positive reactions.

Shawkat Abu-Ras, 36, a peace activist and resident of the Palestinian village of Sawiyah, 48 kilometers (29 miles) north of Jerusalem, received the bread from Fried and distributed it among the needy families of his village.

He told The Times of Israel that he hoped such initiatives would improve relations between Jews and Arabs.

“Enough blood has been spilled between our peoples,” Abu-Ras said. “We should donate our blood instead to the sick in hospitals. We should give our blood with love.”

Fried acknowledged that the “Goodbye to Chametz” initiative is largely symbolic, but said that fact didn’t dissuade him from carrying out similar initiatives in the future.

“This will not solve the problem, but lots of small steps can create a different atmosphere.”

IDF Video Prayer of Tears and Hope

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

This year on Yom Kippur, the military released a gripping video of an IDF Chief Cantor Shai Abramson’s recital of the U’Netaneh Tokef prayer with background of soldiers in battle.

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu www.IsraelNationalNews.com

The prayer’s central theme is “Who will live and who will die” and “Repentance, Prayer, and Charity removed the evil of the decree” [translation by the Orthodox Union].

The video of Lt. Col. Shai Abramson reciting the prayer was selected by IDF Facebook users as the last song on the cantor’s new album and was produced with the video for the High Holidays.

The video of the prayer, along with a recital in the Great Synagogue on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, revolves around the Yom Kippur War and a battalion commander and his armored brigade whose soldiers fought in the fierce and deadly “Valley of Tears” battle on the Golan Heights. At one point, 40 Israeli tanks faced approximately 500 Syrian tanks.

The “U’Netaneh Tokef” prayer is attributed to Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, as related to Rabbi Klonimus ben Meshullam, according to the Orthodox Union.

The prayer, recited also on Rosh Hashannah and before the open Ark of the Torah, states, “The great shofar will be sounded and a still, thin sound will be heard. Angels will hasten, a trembling and terror will seize them – and they will say, ‘Behold, it is the Day of Judgment, to muster the heavenly host for judgment!’- for they cannot be vindicated in Your eyes in judgment.

“All mankind will pass before You like members of the flock. Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the fixed needs of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict.

“On Rosh Hashannah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.

“But Repentance, Prayer and Charity remove the evil of the decree!”

Annual Blessing at Kotel by Priests — video

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

The Priestly Blessing, chanted by thousands of male descendants of High Priest Aaron, delivered Wednesday from the Western Wall.

By Uzi Baruch, Hana Levi Julian www.IsraelNationalNews.com

The annual Priestly Blessing from Jerusalem, chanted by thousands of Kohanim, male descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron the Levite, the first High Priest, went forth Wednesday (October 17) from the Jerusalem’s ancient Western Wall (Kotel).

The participants, members of the ancient priestly class of Jews, echo Israel’s chief rabbis in blessing the Jewish People, a ritual that takes place during morning prayers at the Western Wall, attended by thousands, three times a year, during each of the three major festivals in the Jewish calendar -– Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (Booths) — during which Jews are enjoined to “go up to Jerusalem.”

The ceremony was led by Israeli Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger and Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

Although the same ritual takes place daily in synagogues everywhere in Israel, the blessing at the Kotel is viewed by millions of Jews around the world via webcams installed above the perimeter of the Western Wall (Kotel) plaza. Outside Israel, the priestly blessing is only given by Kohanim on the first and last days of festivals and not on the intermediate days. Otherwise, it is merely read by the cantor.

Thousands of people began arriving at the Western Wall plaza for the event in the wee hours of the morning in order to ensure that they would have a place. No vehicles were allowed into the Old City, and crowds made their way on foot to the ancient site -– the only remnant left of the retaining wall of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and together with the Temple Mount the holiest site on the planet for Jews.

Following the ceremony, the rabbis and other Jewish leaders greet worshipers in the sukkot (temporary holiday booths) set up in the Western Wall plaza area.


Zola Levitt Presents
Levitt Letter
Tours
Podcasts