U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attends service led by Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch • Jerusalem Police on high alert as its troops secure event.
Some 50,000 people took part in the traditional Sukkot priestly blessing ceremony at the Western Wall on Wednesday.
The ceremony was led by Israel’s chief rabbis, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau and Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch.
The blessing concluded with the chief rabbis receiving the Sukkot pilgrims.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman also attended the service.
The Jerusalem District Police were on high alert Wednesday, security for the event. Roads leading into the city were partially closed and security checks were set up to ensure worshippers’ safety.
The Pew Research Center on Wednesday published an analysis of beliefs and behaviors across denominations that identifies important traits that unite people of different religious affiliations—or divide people who share the same affiliation – producing a new and revealing classification of religion in America (The Religious Typology – A new way to categorize Americans by religion).
The survey divided the US population, represented by 4,699 respondents in late 2017, into seven groups: Sunday Stalwarts – the most religious; God-and-Country Believers – less active in church hold traditional religious beliefs and tilt right politically; Diversely Devout – believe in God “as described in the Bible” as well as in psychics, reincarnation and spiritual energy of physical things; Relaxed Religious – believe in the God of the Bible, and some of them pray daily, but few of them attend religious services; Spiritually Awake – many do not believe in the biblical God, hold some New Age beliefs such as some higher power, rarely attend religious services; Religion Resisters – believe in some higher power or spiritual force but not the God of the Bible, and consider themselves spiritual but not religious, with strongly negative views of organized religion, generally liberal and Democratic in their political views; Solidly Secular – the least religious of the seven groups, relatively affluent, highly educated, mostly white and male, reject all New Age beliefs as well as belief in the God of the Bible or any higher power at all.
We recommend you read the survey’s results, which represent a valid and as such an exciting effort to gauge the American religion using current analytical tools.
What emerges from the data, in the case of the Jews of America, is an exceptionally massive pull away from the “old-time religion” on the part of close to half of those who identify themselves as Jewish.
Close to 17% of the Jewish respondents identified themselves as Sunday Stalwarts (Shabbes stalwarts, obviously); about 8% each said they were God-and-Country Believers, Diversely Devout, Relaxed Religious, or Spiritually Awake; 17% said they are Religion Resisters, and a whopping 25% called themselves Solidly Secular.
No other religious group came even close in terms of the number of members born to the group who want to have nothing at all to do with its beliefs.
The report also clarifies something intriguing: “For the purposes of this analysis, Jews are defined as people who identify their religion as Judaism – what sociologists call “Jews by religion” – and not those who say they have no religion but identify as Jewish in other ways, such as culturally or ethnically.” Meaning, those Jewish respondents reject Judaism, God, ritual, prayer and religion, but still defined themselves as Jewish in terms of their religion.
Out of the 9 Christian groups altogether, only 3.5% said they were Religion Resisters; and 4% chose to define themselves as Solidly Secular.
Among the members of the Christian group with the least ability to retain its followers – the Catholic Church, about 7% identified themselves as Religion Resisters and another 7% as Solidly Secular.
Among Muslims, under 9% suggested they were Religion Resisters and the same percentage said they were Solidly Secular.
As we noted, not one of these groups comes even close to the percentage of Jews who have completely abandoned their tradition – a stunning 42%, or, were we to still accept the figure of 6 million American Jews as having anything to do with reality, then the past few decades have witnessed a mass migration of more than 2.5 million Jews away from their Judaism.
CEO of IMPACT-se Marcus Sheff said Palestinian textbooks hinder the development of a peaceful future for their children and hopes that the new legislation will mark the beginning of a change in education for the Palestinians.
(June 12, 2018 / JNS) U.S. lawmakers introduced new legislation last week aimed at holding the Palestinians accountable incitement in their school curriculum by increasing transparency on foreign aid.
The Palestinian Authority Educational Curriculum Transparency Act, which was introduced by Reps. David Young (R-Iowa), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) on June 7, requires the U.S. Secretary of State to submit annual reports reviewing the educational material used in schools in the West Bank and Gaza run by the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, the United Nation’s Palestinian-refugee agency.
The legislation seeks to determine whether U.S. foreign assistance is being used, directly or indirectly, to fund dissemination of such material by the P.A. and UNWRA.
The Jerusalem-based IMPACT-se, a research institute that analyzes educational materials that participated in crafting the bill, hopes the legislation will lead to a more peaceful future for Palestinians.
“Congressman Young’s vision in initiating and introducing this bill is timely, remarkable and potentially extremely significant in offering young Palestinians a peaceful vision for the future,” Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, said in a statement.
IMPACT-se, which has worked with European lawmakers to pass similar legislation to prevent aid from the European Union to the P.A. from being used to teach hate, also previously worked with Sen. Todd Young’s (R-Ind.) office to challenge UNRWA’s use of P.A. textbooks that radicalize Palestinian children.
Sheff said Palestinian textbooks hinder the development of a peaceful future for their children and hopes that the new legislation will mark the beginning of a change in education for the Palestinians.
“Ultimately, these textbooks are a major impediment to the possibility of peace,” said Sheff. “They deny young Palestinians the chance of a violence-free and peaceful future, and perpetuate eternal war. We look forward to the swift passage of the bill through the U.S. Congress.”
…At, 92 he is one of the world’s oldest living journalists.
By: JTA Staff; jta.org
(JTA) — As a prisoner in Auschwitz, Noah Klieger narrowly escaped death through sheer audacity: Selected for the gas chamber on account of his pneumonia, Klieger managed to talk himself out of the sentence in a personal encounter with the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Later, he faked his way on to a boxing squad at Auschwitz that enjoyed better meal rations.
After liberation, he arrived in prestate Israel aboard the Exodus ship and fought in the 1948 War of Independence. Klieger went on to a storied career in journalism, authoring several books and a longtime column in the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened an exhibition on Jerusalem Thursday to reinforce Israel’s claim to the historic city as the Jewish people’s “eternal capital” — and rebuke over 125 countries that support Palestinian claims to east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Netanyahu’s U.N. visit follows President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December. The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly soon afterward, denouncing the U.S. announcement and declaring Trump’s action “null and void.”
The Israeli-sponsored exhibition traces Jews in Jerusalem back centuries before the Christian era, and Netanyahu said it clearly shows the city’s long history “cherished” by Israelis and friends of the Jewish people and “friends of truth.”
This “is being denied by those seeking to erase the history of our people, our connection to our lands, and our connection to our eternal capital Jerusalem,” he said.
The Israeli leader noted a disclaimer sign at the entrance to the exhibition that says: “The content of this exhibit is solely the responsibility of the sponsors. The holding of the exhibit in U.N. premises does not imply endorsement by the United Nations. Please direct any queries to the organizers.”
Hitting back at the U.N., Netanyahu responded: “Of course it doesn’t represent the United Nations. It represents the truth, and we’ll continue to tell the truth and speak the truth everywhere, including the United Nations.”
“This exhibit would not have been possible 10 years ago,” he added. “And this exhibit will be unnecessary 10 years from now. We are changing the world. We are changing Israel’s position in the world, and above all we are making it clear that we fight for the truth and for our rights. We also fight for security.”
The photos and replicas at the exhibit, titled “3000 Years of Jews in Jerusalem,” include ones of the Tel Dan Stela from 8-9th century BC, which has the first known historical evidence of King David from the Bible, and a seal with the Hebrew inscription “To Netanyahu son of Yaush” from the 7th century BC.
Netanyahu met with U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley before viewing the exhibition and praised her strong support for Israel at the U.N., saying: “We call her hurricane Haley.”
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Israeli prime minister did not ask to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“Sometimes leaders come in for a very quick visit,” Dujarric said. “The secretary-general and his senior officials are often in contact with the Israeli government. There’s nothing to read into it.”
Netanyahu came to New York after meeting in Washington with Trump and leaders of Congress. He said most of his week in the U.S. capital was devoted to Iran, which he said wants “to extinguish our history” and “our presence.”
A strong opponent of the nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers, Netanyahu said, “The best way to prevent the nuclearization of the Middle East is to either fully fix the Iran deal or fully nix it.”
He added, “There is a newfound alliance in the Middle East between all those who recognize that the greatest threat we face is a nuclear Iran and an aggressive Iran.”
As for the Palestinians, who are furious at Trump for overturning decades of U.S. policy and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Netanyahu said: “We have not walked away from peace negotiations. The Palestinians have.”
In speeches to fellow Jews around America, I often point out that many American Jews are experiencing cognitive dissonance. The institution Jews most admire — the university — turns out to be the most significant source of Israel hatred in America and the rest of the West. At the same time, the people many Jews most distrust — Christians (especially evangelical and other conservative Christians) — turn out to be the Jews’ and Israel’s best friends.
Given that these two facts are undeniable, how do many American Jews deal with this dissonance? They largely ignore the Israel hatred on campuses, and they dismiss the authenticity of the Christian support. They dismiss it by denying it is genuine. Christians who support Israel, they (and non-Jews on the left) argue, do so for two deceptive reasons.
One is they seek to convert Jews.
That Christians seek to convert non-Christians is, of course, true. The primary aim of Christianity, after all, is to spread belief in Christ. But why would anyone think supporting Israel will convert Jews? Does anyone think that Christians who support Israel’s enemies are making Muslims convert to Christianity? The fact is there isn’t a shred of evidence that Jews have converted to Christianity, because of Christian support for Israel. Indeed, the Jews who most support Israel are either the most religious or the most strongly identifying secular Jews. Neither is a candidate for conversion.
Another way Christian support for Israel is belittled is by claiming that Christians support Israel in order to hasten the Second Coming of Jesus. But pastor John Hagee, head of Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel organization in America, has said countless times nothing a Christian can do will hasten the return of Jesus; only God will decide when that happens — and in His own good time.
Moreover, even if this were the reason Christians support the Jews and Israel, why would it disturb Jews? It would mean that Christians would support them until Jesus returns. What’s wrong with that?
Having spoken at numerous churches’ “Night to Honor Israel” events, I know how genuine this support is. But last week in Nashville, I witnessed a particularly convincing example of the sincerity of this support. I spoke before thousands of Christians at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention when they gathered one evening solely to express their support for Israel. Maybe five Jews were present. Isn’t thousands of Christians devoting an entire evening to express support for Israel — with essentially no Jews in attendance to witness it — about as convincing a proof of the authenticity of this support as one could imagine?
So, why do Christians support Israel? They believe in supporting American allies and supporting countries that share their moral values. And, unlike the left, they have moral problems with Islamism, not with Zionism.
But the primary reason virtually every Israel-supporting Christian gives is the biblical verse from Genesis in which God says to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” These Christians believe (as does this Jew) God blesses those who treat the Jews decently and curse those who seek to harm the Jews.
You don’t have to be a believer in the God of Abraham or the Bible to accept this proposition. All the Jews’ ancient enemies disappeared from history. And look at what happened to Spain after it expelled its Jews in 1492. One of the greatest powers of the world became largely irrelevant to history within a couple of generations. As for Germans, the perpetrators of the Holocaust, they endured a staggering amount of death and suffering as a result of their support for the greatest Jew hater in history; and their country was divided in half for the next half-century. Likewise, the countries today that most curse the Jews — Arab and other Muslim countries — are among the most benighted countries in the world. If they were to devote to building their countries the money and energy they devote to attempting to destroy Israel, they would be in far better condition morally, socially, economically and politically.
Meanwhile, the country that has most blessed Israel and the Jews is America. No country in the modern period has treated its Jews as well as America has, and no country has stood by Israel as much as America has. And America has been almost uniquely blessed.
These American Christians know something that the secular and left-wing elites do not: The day America abandons Israel will be the beginning of the end of America as we know it.
(JTA) — Thirty years ago, Jews in the Soviet Union were not allowed to study Hebrew, eat kosher food, talk about Zionism, go to a synagogue or, most important, leave the country. If they tried to emigrate, they would almost certainly be refused, lose their jobs and be blackballed in their professions. They would then be put on trial and imprisoned for being unemployed.
Thirty years ago, American Jews understood that if Soviet Jews were being silenced, American Jews would have to be loud.
On Dec. 6, 1987, some 250,000 American Jews got very loud. They gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to protest the plight of their Soviet brethren on the eve of a U.S.-Soviet summit. Organizers weren’t sure the demonstrations would work – and there was real worry that a small
demonstration would do more damage than no demonstration at all. But after 25 years of tireless activism, American Jews gathered in huge numbers and used their voices to change history.
I came of age under a regime that barely tolerated and actively persecuted me, my family and my friends because of our heritage. The pre-summit protests showed the world that my community was not alone. The power of unified action won for us our fundamental freedoms.
Speaking at the event, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush called on Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to “let these people go.” The next day, President Ronald Reagan confronted Gorbachev with news of the protest, and the U.S. government began to focus on the plight of Soviet Jews in its exchanges with Soviet authorities. Reagan regularly carried lists of refuseniks into meetings, insisting that their circumstances be addressed. Slowly but surely the gates of Soviet Russia began to open, all the result of resolute advocacy by the American Jewish community. It is not exaggeration to say that the American Jewish community set my people free.
Many Jewish families can trace their presence in the U.S. directly to that day on the National Mall: PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, actress Mila Kunis, singer-songwriter Regina Spektor and Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg, among others. The scale of the eventual exodus from the Soviet Union to the U.S. was vast. Today, former Soviet Jews and their offspring account for 10 to 15 percent of the Jewish population in North America.
As a Jew brought up in Lvov in Ukraine, my gratitude toward the American Jews and the pride I feel in their accomplishment is immense. In 1987, Soviet Jews were only 40 years away from one of the worst genocides in world history – the Holocaust, whose scale and unfathomable cruelty in the
countries of the former USSR are not yet properly documented to this day. Many of us still carry the scars of that horror, as well as from Stalin’s purges and other violent anti-Semitism in many corners of the world.
Were it not for the 1987 march in Washington, whole families would have been lost, American society would have not been as enriched, and the world would have lost untold technological and cultural advances. None of this would have been possible had Jewish people and their leaders in America
decided instead to play it safe.
The struggle to achieve religious and cultural freedom has defined and shaped all of human history. Every generation, whether Jewish or not, must confront humanity’s bloody history and fight to achieve and maintain the freedoms that are rightfully ours. The world learned 30 years ago that it is
those choices that make the difference.
The lesson I carry with me on this anniversary is a powerfully uplifting one: When we unite behind the common good, when we stand up to danger, and when we join hands to take action, great things can happen. The Jewish community across the world, no matter where they or their grandparents
call home, should look back to the 1987 march on Washington with pride and a renewed sense of purpose. Together we called on the world to let our people go – and our people were freed.
(JTA) — In the aftermath of a second anti-Semitic attack this week in southern Sweden, the spokesman for a local watchdog group said the Jewish community must be vigilant but will not go underground.
Willy Silberstein, spokesman for the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, spoke to JTA on Monday hours after an incident in Malmo in which police said they discovered traces of a flammable fluid near a Jewish cemetery that they suspect had been targeted by arsonists.
“There is a wave of anti-Semitic attacks right now, and I suspect this won’t be the last incident,” Silberstein said.
A spokesman for the Swedish police said there were no suspects in custody in connection with the incident.
On Saturday night, several men hurled firebombs at a synagogue in the nearby city of Gothenburg hours after hundreds marched through the city in protest of the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday in a White House announcement by President Donald Trump. Three arrests were made.
Notwithstanding the incidents, the capital of Stockholm will have a public lighting of a Hanukkah menorah in a central square on Wednesday, Silberstein said.
“People are advised to be vigilant but normal life continues, even under increased police protection, which we received this week,” he said of the centers of the Jewish community of Stockholm, where some 18,000 Jews live.
Swedish police reportedly have tightened security near Jewish sites throughout the country in the wake of the two attacks.
Silberstein said wearing a kippah in Stockholm is relatively safe, “but there are some areas of Malmo where I wouldn’t advise it.”
Following the attack in Gothenburg, some observers, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, linked the incidents to the Swedish government’s perceived hostile attitude toward Israel. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom last year said that killings of Palestinians who attempted to carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis were “extrajudicial executions.”
But Silberberg rejected the claim, saying authorities have done much to protect Swedish Jews from attacks, whose perpetrators are often Arab or Muslim.
“Maybe more could have been done,” he said, “but generally speaking the Swedish authorities have taken necessary measures.”
The attacks in Sweden followed a violent assault on a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam Thursday and chants in Arabic about killing Jews that were heard in Vienna, London and Berlin, as well as in Malmo at protest rallies against U.S. recognition of Israel’s capital. In France, the boycott of Israel was promoted at two protest rallies, in Paris and Lyon. The rally in Paris featured calls to free Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons on murder charges, who were celebrated at that rally as “heroes.”
The Amsterdam attack ended with the arrest of a 29-year-old Palestinian waving his national flag who smashed the eatery’s windows, broke in while staff was inside and took out a flag of Israel that was hanging in the restaurant. Two police officers who watched his actions with passers-by arrested him as he exited the restaurant.
Ronny Naftaniel, a board member of the CEJI organization for education against hatred and a former director of the Dutch CIDI watchdog on anti-Semitism, criticized the Dutch judiciary for a draft indictment of the man, who admitted the actions attributed to him, because it did not contain a reference to his actions as a hate crime. He is to be charged with vandalism and theft, according to the Dutch media.
“When you enter a kosher restaurant, break in and take the Israeli flag, you are not committing a break-in,” Naftaniel wrote Monday on Twitter. “You are committing a hate crime.”
“And almost two-thirds could not name 1944 as the year of the D-Day landings. One in 10 even had no idea Adolf Hitler was involved in the war.”
Another survey released in April coducted by Onepoll.com on behalf of the History Channel found that of 2,000 respondents many had a poor understanding of the history of the Vikings.
“Almost four in 10 admit they believe the Vikings were just like the stereotype of ferocious raiders with blonde hair and big beards, but more than one in 10 aren’t convinced the Vikings even existed,” the Mirror reported last spring.
“One in four were also unaware the Vikings raided the U.K., with more than one in 20 believing they targeted south America instead.”