8-Year-Old Israeli Girl Finds 2,000-Year-Old Half Shekel

By: JTA; jpost.com

She gave the coin to the archaeological department of the Israeli body that coordinates government activities in the West Bank, as required by law.

Rare 2,300-year-old silver and bronze coins, jewelry found in ancient northern cave. (photo credit:COURTESY OF ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

An 8-year-old Israeli girl found a rare coin from the Second Temple period.

The half-shekel coin dates from a time when it was used to pay a yearly Temple tax, archaeologist Zachi Dvira told The Times of Israel. The custom is prescribed in the Torah (Exodus 30:11-16).

Hallel Halevy discovered the coin in May when she was picking up her sister from kindergarten in the Halamish settlement in the West Bank, The Times of Israel reported. On Wednesday, she gave the coin to the archaeological department of the Israeli body that coordinates government activities in the West Bank, as required by law.

After Halevy told her father about the find, he contacted a local professor, Zohar Amar of Bar-Ilan University. Amar conducted some research and was able to identify the find as a half-shekel coin that he believes was made in 66-70 C.E.

“These half-shekel coins were used to pay the Temple tax during the Great Revolt, replacing the Tyrian shekel used previously,” Dvira said, referring to the currency approved by the Romans before their temporary overthrow by the Jewish Zealots. “It appears that these half-shekel coins were minted by the Temple authorities on the Temple Mount itself.

Halevy said she was thrilled to have found the ancient coin.

“I felt that ‘wow!’ It was written on it ‘Jerusalem the Holy City.’ That’s really exciting,” she said, according to The Times of Israel.

 

Total Eclipse of the Art

By: Ashley O’Brien; jpost.com

An Israeli cinematographer and composer heads to middle America to capture art that is, truly, out of this world.

The small town of Depoe Bay, Oregon prepares for the coming Solar Eclipse. (photo credit:REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)

It started as a simple idea at the Swissa Creative headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. In a time where it seems the world is only plagued with bad news and dividing views, we needed something to bring us, all of us, together. Something to remind ourselves that we are all one people on one planet, and at the risk of making a cliche metaphor, something to bring us back to Earth.

Enter: Kobi Swissa, a proud Israeli, Chicago pizza enthusiast, and owner and CEO of Swissa Creative. Kobi, who currently calls Chicago home, made the six-hour drive to Union, Missouri with his creative team for a chance to be in the direct path of ‘totality’ of the 2017 solar eclipse.

As the eclipse captured our attention, our hearts, and our minds, Kobi was busy capturing some of the most incredible, out-of-this-world footage, and has graciously agreed to share with our JPost readers.

Below are still frames from Swissa Creative as they filmed the incredible 2017 solar eclipse.

Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative

 

Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative

 

Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative

 

Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative

 

Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative

 

Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative

Who knew something so far out in space could keep us so grounded, if only for a day?

 

Inherently American to be Pro-Israel

By: Benjamin Glatt; jpost.com

Washington’s treatment of the Jewish people was something that had a much larger affect than just on his country.

Washington Crossing the Delaware, December 25, 1776, by Emanuel Leutze, 1851.. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)
The presidents of the USA, by far, have always taken a pro-Israel stance.
From Unitarian president John Adams expressing his desire to see the Jews return to their land and establish a state, to Baptist president Harry S. Truman, who was the leader of the free world when he recognized the State of Israel in 1948, and all the way until Presbyterian President Donald J. Trump. Even through President Trump has disappointed on the embassy issue, he has nonetheless proven to be a true friend of the Jewish state, US-Israel relations have almost always been on the amicable side.
While each leader may have had his own personal beliefs, the courage to implement them came from the “Father of His Country.” George Washington set a standard for his successors, and it was clearly made known in a letter he wrote to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, following a visit there on August 17, 1790.
“May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while everyone shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid,” he said. “May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”
Washington’s response was meant to further strengthen the ideology of separation of church and state and to strengthen the right of each individual to practice his or her religion.
However, Washington’s treatment of the Jewish people was something that had a much larger affect than just on his country.
Washington, baptized as a child into the Church of England, was a practicing Christian his whole life, but what exactly he practiced is still debated by scholars.
He did live in a society influenced by the Puritans, who believed themselves to be like the Israelites fleeing Egypt, wandering into the vast and unknown wilderness and reaching the promised land of the New World. They used the Bible as their guide, adopted biblical customs, established biblical codes, such as observance of the Sabbath, and gave their children Hebrew names.
As Washington wished for the freedom of the Jews in Newport and in the United States in general, he made it clear that this was his wish for all the Jewish people, and all nations.
“Since Washington asserted the principle of ‘asylum’ [in general orders from April 18 1783] and wished that the Jewish people would find in America their ‘vine and fig tree’ [in his letter to the Newport congregation] it is safe to assert that he would have favored the existence of a justly established homeland for Jews in Israel,” wrote Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary, in his book George Washington & Israel.
Constantly seeing the “finger of Providence” in the Thirteen Colonies’ quest to become nation, Washington would have had no doubt in seeing God’s hand pave the way for the creation of the State of Israel. And according to Lillback, this set the precedent for future presidents, save for a select few who chose to deny the two countries’ friendship. Thus making it inherently American to support the Jewish people and their State of Israel.

“Washington’s views about Israel helped set the direction that American presidents have taken toward Israel until now,” he wrote during the tenure of president Barack Obama.

Deputy Mayor of Frankfurt Seeks to Ban ‘Deeply Antisemitic’ BDS

By: Benjamin Weinthal; jpost.com

The boycott movement targeting Israel is “deeply antisemitic and should have no place in Frankfurt,” the deputy mayor of Frankfurt said.

Protesters attend a rally against anti-Semitism in Frankfurt August 31, 2014. . (photo credit:REUTERS)

The deputy mayor of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, submitted a bill that would ban municipal funds and space being used for activities that aim to boycott Israel.

Becker, a leading German political voice against antisemitism, said on Wednesday, “The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign with its messages uses the same language as the National Socialists once used to express: ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’” The boycott movement targeting Israel is “deeply antisemitic and should have no place in Frankfurt,” he said.

The proposed law would outlaw all public funding and space for the support of “the antisemitic BDS activities.”

The bill in Frankfurt, which has a population of nearly 733,000, would also urge private companies to refrain from commerce with BDS groups.

The deputy mayor spearheaded his Christian Democratic Union’s adoption of its anti-BDS platform at the party’s congress in 2016.

Becker said on Wednesday, “Frankfurt maintains, with its partnership with Tel Aviv, a special closeness to Israel and has continued to expand over the previous years this special relationship.”

The municipality said in a statement that Becker announced Frankfurt’s clear position against BDS in light of anti-boycott measures taken by other national and regional legislatures, including Munich’s.

Becker said BDS, at its core, is a movement that “delegitimizes the State of Israel and uses the method of a boycott to defame [Israel].” He cited BDS actions to intimidate artists who want to appear in Israel.

He also noted the boycott activities of “department store police” who stigmatize Israeli products in order to pressure stores to turn against the Jewish state.

Anti-Israel activists have over the years marched into stores in Bremen, Bonn and other German cities to single out Israeli goods for opprobrium.

Becker said his city is engaged for a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Last week, Becker wrote on his Facebook page: “With the rising terrorism in Europe, more and more people start to understand the situation that Israel has been facing since David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independence of Israel on May 14, 1948. This rising awareness should also open the eyes of the people in Europe to see that it is up to us to support Israel, as it is the only democratic country under the rule of law in the Middle East. Israel is the democratic bridge between Occident and Orient and is linked closely to our European values and virtues and way of life.”

He continued, “This year marks a decade of suffering for the people in Gaza. No, not from Israeli policy, as many people in Europe might think.

No, people in Gaza suffer from a lack of freedom, from a lack of democracy, from the brutal rule of Hamas, which is betraying its own people and has been governing Gaza since Israel withdrew in 2005 and Hamas took over power in 2007 after fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The corrupt leadership of Hamas has received hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade, but the money has not gone to the people, but to the accounts of corrupt Hamas leaders and to the funding of terrorism and terrorist infrastructure in their fight against Israel.”

Becker further said that “there should not be any European tax-money funding terrorism. And as long as it is not possible to track where our tax money meant for the humanitarian aid in Gaza goes, we should freeze our financial support.”

 

New Evidence of Lost City of Julias Unearthed Near Sea of Galilee

By: Daniel K. Eisenbud; jpost.com

The site is believed to be the home of apostles Andrew, Peter and Philip.

An image of the excavation site. (photo credit:COURTESY OF ZACHARY WONG)

The lost Roman city of Julias – believed to be the birthplace of Jesus’s apostles Andrew, Peter and Philip – may have recently been unearthed after decades of searches by archeologists in the upper Jordan Valley, near a delta entering Lake Kinneret.

The discovery was made during excavations at Beit Habek, located in Bethsaida, near a nature reserve by the Arik Bridge, by archeologist Dr. Mordechai Aviam, head of the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archeology at Kinneret Academic College. The lost city of Julias was named after the daughter of Roman Emperor Augustus.

Bethsaida, once a fishermen’s village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, is mentioned in several New Testament books as the home of at least three of Jesus’s most important apostles.

However, the exact location of the lost city has long been debated.

Aviam, who worked with Prof. Steven Notley of Nyack College in New York during a recent dig, said several important clues were found that reinforce the identification of the site.

A mosaic fragment discovered attesting to the existence of a bathhouse from the Roman period ( COURTESY OF ZACHARY WONG)

“A layer from the Roman period was discovered in the current [excavation] season, with potsherds and coins from the first to the third centuries CE,” he said Sunday.

“The layer from the Roman period was found at a depth of 2 meters below a layer from the Byzantine period. Our main surprise was that at the bottom of the excavation, in a limited area, a wall of a building was discovered, next to which was a mosaic floor and artifacts that characterize a bathhouse.”

Noting that bathhouses during the Roman period were not common in the area, Aviam said it serves as an important clue to the possibility that beneath the surface are the remains of Julias, which has not been identified to this day.

“This is a discovery that will arouse great interest among early Christian scholars, historians of the New Testament, and scholars of the Land of Israel in general, and the Jewish Galilee during the Second Temple period in particular,” said Aviam.

The researcher added that a rare silver coin from the time of Emperor Nero during 65-66 CE was also unearthed at the site.

A silver coin from the time of Emperor Nero (65-66 CE) ( COURTESY OF JOUSUA DREY)

“At the very same time [of Nero’s rule], toward the end of 66 CE, Josephus, who fought against Roman soldiers from the army of King Agrippa II, came to the Galilee near Bethsaida,” he said.

“In the swamps surrounding the city, his horse stumbled and he was wounded.

According to him, he was taken to nearby Kfar Nahum to the doctor for treatment.”

During previous excavations, a complex of buildings from the Byzantine period was also found in the area, in addition to nearly 30 coins from the 5th century CE under the pavement of the houses.

Excavation of the site will continue until the lost city of Julias is definitely identified, Aviam said.

 

Australian city bans the building of a new synagogue — and the reason has people fuming

By: Beth Baumann; theblaze.com

The Bondi City Council in Australia voted against building a new synagogue in the area because of potential terrorist threats. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Jewish community in Bondi, Australia, was shocked after the city council denied the construction of a new synagogue. According to the council, having a synagogue less than a mile from Bondi’s famous beaches could pose a terrorist threat to local residents and tourists.

Even more shocking to them was the Land and Environment Court’s decision on Wednesday to uphold Bondi’s ruling.

According to Jewish leaders, Bondi’s decision stripped Jews of their right to freely practice their religion.

“The decision is unprecedented,” Rabbi Yehoram Ulman told news.com.au. “Its implications are enormous. It basically implies that no Jewish organization should be allowed to exist in residential areas. It stands to stifle Jewish existence and activity in Sydney and indeed, by creating a precedent, the whole of Australia, and by extension rewarding terrorism.”

Chief executive Vic Alhadeff of NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the officially elected representative body for the Jewish community in South Wales, said he hasn’t heard of other religions being denied a place of worship because extremist organizations are targeting them.

“It’s a very sad day for Australia if an established community, which needs a house of worship, is refused permission to build it because of fear that others may pose a threat,” Rabbi Ulman said. “This simply shows how we’re all losing our freedoms. Those who want us to be afraid are winning, and this ill-conceived judgment represents a dangerous precedent.”

The synagogue’s proposal included a required risk assessment, which had security features built into it, including setback buildings and blast walls. Both the council and the court cited those security measures as a reason for denying the building.

“The proposed development should be refused as the site is not suitable for the proposed synagogue use as the Preliminary Threat and Risk Analysis relied on by the Applicant raises concerns as to the safety and security of future users of the Synagogue, nearby residents, motorists and pedestrians in Wellington Street and the physical measures proposed to deal with the identified threats will have an unacceptable impact on the streetscape and adjoining properties,” the ruling stated.

According to the city council, if the design was changed to increase security it would be too unsightly, which would also be unacceptable.

When the proposal was put together, Jewish leaders commissioned a terrorism expert to review the plans. The Friends of Refugees from Eastern Europe, who challenged the council ruling, argued the expert didn’t indicate any risk to those passing by.

“It would seem that a more sophisticated risk assessment process could be required for matters such as a potential terrorist threat,” Commissioner Graham Brown, who ruled on the case, said.

Rabbi Ulman said the decision threatened the Jewish religion’s future in Australia.

“By pulling the terror threat argument they have shown that they are completely out of touch both with the reality and with needs of their constituency,” Ulman said.

 

‘Wonder Woman,’ Big-Name Concerts Upstage Cultural Boycott of Israel

By: Adam Abrams; jns.org

As Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s “Wonder Woman” film heads toward $400 million in earnings after debuting in early June, and numerous big-name musical acts line up to perform in Israel this summer, the influence of the BDS movement’s cultural boycott of the Jewish state appears to be waning.

Gadot, who served in the IDF, has drawn ire from anti-Israel activists worldwide for her vocal support of Israel. Yet despite BDS campaigns to boycott “Wonder Woman” in Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Algeria due to the “Zionist” actress’s leading role, Gadot’s Marvel comic superhero movie soared to success—earning $103.1 million in North America during its first weekend—and received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

On the musical front, while leading artists routinely receive BDS pressure to cancel their shows in Israel, the number of star-studded acts scheduled to perform in the Jewish state this summer is unprecedented.

“Most artists understand that boycott campaigns in this case are racist and destructive, and will not lead to peace,” Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel education organization StandWithUs, told JNS.org.

“Not only is the boycott movement against Israel a failure among performing artists, but 21 [U.S.] states have already passed anti-BDS legislation because it is viewed as discriminatory and harmful,” she added.

Steven Tyler, lead singer of rock band Aerosmith, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, as the band makes a tour stop in Israel for a concert, on May 15, 2017. Photo by Rob Ghost/Flash90

In May, the Aerosmith rock band and pop star Justin Bieber both performed at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, resisting BDS petitions signed by thousands to cancel their concerts in Israel. Adding to their defiance of the boycott movement, the Aerosmith rockers met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem. “You don’t want to miss a thing,” Netanyahu told the band when recommending places to visit in Israel, a reference to the group’s first number-one hit.

“Artists that come to Israel have understood that people are trying to take advantage of them because of hatred and for narrow political needs….[At their performances] they see a young, liberal, open audience…and feel that attempts to make them boycott Israel do not give credit to their intelligence,” Lior Weintraub, vice president of The Israel Project educational organization, told JNS.org.

Besides the Bieber and Aersomith performances, big-name shows hitting Israel this summer include Tom Jones, Armin van Buuren, Britney Spears, the Pixies, Guns N’ Roses, Rod Stewart, Lil Wayne, Radiohead and comedian Chris Rock.

Ahead of Radiohead’s July 19 performance in Tel Aviv, the band publicly clashed with the de facto frontman of the BDS movement, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, over the cultural boycott of Israel.

The public spat was instigated when Waters, along with South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, published an open letter on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day demanding that Radiohead cancel its performance in Israel.

The letter, co-signed by dozens of artists, stated, “By playing in Israel you’ll be playing in a state where, U.N. rapporteurs say, ‘A system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people’…Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over.”

Radiohead’s lead singer, Thom Yorke—who rarely speaks with the media—responded furiously to the letter in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

Yorke lambasted critics of Radiohead who assumed he and his bandmates were ignorant about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and condemned Waters for “throw[ing] the word ‘apartheid’ around.”

“The kind of dialogue that [BDS activists] want to engage in is one that’s black or white. I have a problem with that,” said Yorke, who added it is “really upsetting that artists I respect think we are not capable of making a moral decision ourselves after all these years….There’s an awful lot of people who don’t agree with the BDS movement, including us. I don’t agree with the cultural ban at all.”

Creative Community for Peace co-founder David Renzer told JNS.org, “We are pleased to see the continuation of major international artists performing in Israel, despite the ongoing efforts of the BDS movement and artists such as Roger Waters.”

Renzer, whose organization works “behind the scenes” to provide support to artists performing in Israel, added, “Thankfully, artists are recognizing that the arts are a powerful means to building bridges and aren’t allowing themselves to be manipulated.”

 

Uncovering the Divine Spirit During the Six Day War

By: Benjamin Glatt; jpost.com

Declassified documents reveal IDF rabbi’s excitement over liberating Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron.

The iconic 1967 photo of Rabbi Shlomo Goren holding a Torah scroll as he leads the first Jewish prayer session at the Western Wall since 1948.. (photo credit:REPRODUCTION PHOTO: BENNY RON)

In 1967, as Israel was preparing for the war that by all odds would likely see the nascent state almost annihilated or at the very least have it escape miraculously with only a narrow defeat, IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren was making his way back to Israel after a fundraising stint in Australia.

Flying back to the Holy Land via the Pacific, he landed in New York an hour before Shabbat had started, spending the holy day of rest at a Jewish community near the airport. During Friday’s service, someone recognized him, and immediately he was asked to speak during the services the following day.

“In the evening there was a big crowd in the synagogue. There was a lot of anxiety. People were crying and the general feeling was that we were about to have another holocaust,” Rabbi Goren recalled in the testimony he gave to the Defense Ministry after the Six Day War, in documents that were recently declassified and released to the public for the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and of the liberation of Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan Heights. “When I saw their anxiety and that they were crying I opened up the ark and said, ‘I swear, on this Torah scroll, that in any constellation, against any enemy that we will have to fight against, on whichever front it will be, against one Arab army alone, or against all of them – we will win. I told them that I was also planning on blowing the shofar at the Western Wall, and this greatly eased their anxiety.”

Throughout his speeches, in New York, and previously in Australia, Rabbi Goren constantly mentioned that the build-up to the military conflict was indeed a tremendous opportunity to liberate the entire territory of the land of Israel. Although Rabbi Goren was a major-general, due to his mission overseas he had not been privy to all the information the IDF’s top brass had received regarding the situation. His belief in the upcoming victory no doubt stemmed from the extraordinary amount of spiritual work he had performed over his lifetime in order to see how God was setting up the pieces to bring redemption to His Chosen People.

But as he embarked on the flight to Israel from his stopover Saturday night in London, he learned that the feeling that he had about this amazing opportunity wasn’t exclusive to him. Rather, whoever opened up their Jewish soul to let in an extra dose of faith in God, could also feel that victory for the Nation of Israel was nigh.

“There were only 11 people on the plane. They were all Israeli military officials returning home, except for one Jew from the US, calling himself ‘Einzneir,’ who said that he’s flying to Israel because a Jew’s place in a time of war is in the land of Israel, and that he would stay there until the end of the war, until the victory,” Rabbi Goren remembered. “That’s what he told me, and afterwards, I met this Jew at the end of the war, and the two of us cried when we met.”

A Deal

In 1961, Rabbi Goren had been chatting with commander Motta Gur saying that Central Command had promised him that whenever the IDF should liberate Jerusalem’s Old City, he would be the first Jew to reach the Western Wall. Gur, who had been at loggerheads with Rabbi Goren over a religious issue, told him that if he wants to be the first one to reach the Kotel, they have to be at peace.

“What do you mean?” Goren remembered asking. “And he answered me, in this exact language: ‘Because I am going to liberate the Old City.’ I told him: ‘If you promise to liberate the Old City, I’m making a peace deal with you.’”

In a special televised show bringing together the major players involved in the liberation of Jerusalem, Goren said to Gur, who by chance had his mission to the Sinai canceled and instead was told to liberate the Old City: “If you were a rabbi, I would have seriously believed that the spirit of the prophets was upon you.”

Into the Lions’ Gate

“I asked him: ‘Where are you?’ and he answered, ‘We’re going up to the Lions’ Gate.’”

Upon hearing that Israeli troops were heading into Jerusalem’s Old City, the IDF chief rabbi didn’t waste any time joining Paratrooper Brigade commander Gur on June 7, 1967, to enter the city of the perfection of beauty.

“I ‘flew’ straight to the Rockefeller Museum, left the car there and I took my Torah scroll and shofar with me,” Rabbi Goren said. “I got out of the car, and with the Torah scroll in one hand and the shofar in the other, I started running toward the Lions’ Gate. As I was running there, the brigade was getting ready to go inside.”

In the meantime, Rabbi Goren told the Defense Ministry transcribers that he saw the Central Command commanding officer and the deputy chief of staff driving quickly in our direction.

“I didn’t pay attention to them. I didn’t want to drive there, I wanted to go by foot. I said it’s not important if I’m killed or not, the most important thing is for us to reach the ancient city of Jerusalem,” he said.

When they got to the Lions’ Gate he started blowing the shofar as it says in the Torah to blow trumpets, or the shofar, in times of war: “When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast…” (Numbers 10:9).

The whole way, Goren relived, he was blowing the shofar and reading Psalms. “I remember that I read the verses of “Whenever the ark set out, Moses said, ‘Rise up, Lord! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you’” (Numbers 10:35), and of “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid… (Deuteronomy 20:3).

And then they reached the destination. After being expelled from the Old City for 19 years after having returned to it after an almost 2,000-year period – they were finally back in the dwelling place of God.

“When I got to the Temple Mount I blew the shofar, but first I fell to the floor and bowed down, as you are supposed to bow down at the site of the temple.

“I left the soldiers on the Temple Mount, as the inertia and my memories [of the Old City] pushed me to go to the Western Wall, even though I was standing right next to the site of the Holy of Holies, a place that is much more sacred than the Western Wall.”

Rabbi Goren remembered the exact psalms he read, beginning with Psalm 126, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed,” and then reading Psalm 122, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together.”

As he stood on the Temple Mount, he saw that they were hanging a flag on the Western Wall.

“I didn’t notice who was hanging it. It was like I was in a dream, all the time I was running from place to place. And then I continued to run to the Western Wall.”

Rabbi Goren recalled that he didn’t know how to get to the Western Wall from the Temple Mount. After all he said, he had a custom of praying at the Kotel every Shabbat, and during the mourning period after his mother had passed away he would lead the prayer services at the Western Wall on the eve of every new month. But he had never been allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount.

“At that precise moment, an Arab appeared, started walking around, and told me in Arabic, ‘this way.’ He understood that I was trying to get to the Western Wall.”

He went straight to the Mughrabi Gate, finding there two officers, who were also running to find the Kotel. The way was long with many steps and many inner gates. Finally they broke open the last gate and descended to the ancient limestone wall, where despite it only being a remnant of the age of the temples, as fourth-century scholar Rav Acha said: “The divine presence has never departed from the Western Wall, as it says in Song of Solomon (2:9) ‘Look! There he stands behind our wall’” (Shemot Rabbah 2:2).

“This is the Western Wall,” Rabbi Goren said. “I immediately fell on the floor, kissed the floor, got up and made the Shehecheyanu blessing for special occasions and the ‘Consoler of Zion and Builder of Jerusalem’ blessing. There wasn’t a living soul there. It was as if the Divine Spirit was there.”

Mama Rachel

“As I was in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, I said that we have additional tasks to complete.”

Rabbi Goren was referring to Bethlehem, with Rachel’s Tomb, and Hebron, the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs.

With the Jordanian Legion completing abandoning the city where David had lived, Rabbi Goren and three of his colleagues searched the pitch black of Bethlehem to find Rachel’s Tomb.

“When we entered, it was dark, we had a flashlight, and we also had some candles. We lit two of them, and I said the verses of Jeremiah the Prophet off by heart (31:15-17): ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted,  because they are no more. This is what the Lord says, ‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,’ declares the Lord. ‘They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants, declares the Lord. Your children will return to their own land,’” Rabbi Goren recalled. “We fulfilled the vision of the prophecy of Jeremiah the Prophet.”

Fathers and mothers

One of Rabbi Goren’s major efforts before the war in the Sinai in 1956 was to create a special prayer for the soldiers going to battle. Before the Six Day War, the Chief Rabbinate distributed hundreds of copies to the troops, with Rabbi Goren later saying “this prayer played a significant contribution to raising the general morale. Every last soldier had received the prayer from the chief of staff in veneration, and when I had gone around to the various units, the officers and the soldier showed me that they were saying the prayer before going to battle.”

After the success of liberating Bethlehem and Rachel’s Tomb, Rabbi Goren and his team continued to Gush Etzion, about 15 minutes south. Before dawn, he was told, the troops would be heading even farther south, to Hebron.

“At 4 a.m., I stood on a tank in the middle, and all the soldiers gathered around me,” he recalled. “I spoke to them and I told them simply, ‘I want to tell you about the enormous merit that has fallen into your hands today. Today, you need to know what you are about to liberate, and for who you are going to war.

“Today we are going to liberate the second most holy city in the world – the City of Our Forefathers, Hebron, the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs, where for years, not only during our statehood, but long before was closed to us. And, today, it is in your hands to liberate the city.

“When I went inside the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Divine Spirit was there. The cleanliness and beauty was unbelievable – just like at the Western Wall. Also at the Western Wall I could really feel the clapping of the wings of the Divine Spirit.”

On June 10, the six days of battle ended. By the seventh day, Israel was just beginning the work it had been doing.

Sears to Pull ‘Free Palestine’ Clothing from Site Amid Controversy

By: JTA; jpost.com

The item was pulled amid criticism first published in The Jerusalem Post.

The Free Palestine t-shirt sold by Sears.com.. (photo credit:screenshot)

NEW YORK — Sears says it will remove a line of clothing featuring the slogan “Free Palestine” from its website.

The clothing was offered for sale by a another company, Spreadshirt Collection, and included tank tops, t-shirts and hoodies featuring a variety of pro-Palestinian messages. The clothing was offered for sale through Sears Marketplace, which offers a platform for third-party sellers to offer their wares through websites managed by Sears.

The designs included a clenched fist in the colors of the Palestinian flag and statements opposing the Israeli occupation.

The item was first spotted by Jerusalem Post reader Larry Sherman, who said, “It is unacceptable to de-legitimize the State of Israel.”

When questioned about the issue, a Sears representative told The Jerusalem Post that they were aware of the t-shirt and have escalated the situation. “We will be removing the items soon. Please allow us 24 hours. Thank you for understanding,” he said on Tuesday.

“We do not want our members to be unhappy,” he continued. “This item is sold by a third-party seller via the Sears Marketplace. Given the feedback we’ve received, we are currently evaluating the items in question to determine appropriate action. We will fix it and ensure this is not repeated.”

According to a statement from a Sears spokesman, the apparel was pulled from the site based on feedback the company received.

The statement added that Sears felt it had been “unfairly singled out on this issue,” as similar items are available for purchase from other companies, such as Amazon and Walmart.

Amazon sells some of the exact same items from Spreadshirt, as well as a wide range of other pro-Palestinian merchandise.

The Sears statement notes that the company serves “a broad base of customers around the country and around the world,” and that it has 200 employees in Israel.

Ariane Mandell contributed to this report.

‘Wonder Woman’ Screenings Suspended in Tunisia Amid Opposition to Gal Gadot

By: Reuters; jpost.com

The film is still expected to open this week in Morocco, Egypt, and the Arab Emirates.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. (photo credit:FACEBOOK)

After being banned in Lebanon and pulled from a festival in Algeria, global blockbuster “Wonder Woman” is facing a similar fate in Tunisia, where its theatrical release has been suspended ahead of its sneak premiere Wednesday evening.

The superhero movie was set to open in at least two Tunisian theaters on Thursday but was suspended following a lawsuit filed Monday by the Tunisian Assn. of Young Lawyers, which called “Wonder Woman’s” Israel-born lead actress Gal Gadot a “champion Zionist.”

The Tunisian courthouse decided to halt the theatrical release of “Wonder Woman” while it examines the lawsuit, according to local reports.

The film was subsequently removed from the local ticket-booking website tiklik.tn, which serves all Tunisian theaters. Meanwhile, the Facebook page for the sneak premiere Wednesday was also updated with a tag saying “suspendu” (“suspended”). The film was due to play in 3D, with subtitles, and had gathered 237 confirmed guests on the Facebook page.

As in Lebanon, where the film was banned May 31, the Tunisian Assn. of Young Lawyers filed a lawsuit on the grounds that Gadot had publicly praised Israel’s military actions during the 2014 war in Gaza. The group also pointed out that the actress had served in the Israeli army.

“Wonder Woman” was also pulled from a festival in Algiers, where it was supposed to open Sunday during the second edition of Nuits du Cinema, a festival organized to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. But it was unclear whether Gadot’s background was the issue.

But Amine Idjer, head of press at MD Cine, which co-organizes the Algerian festival, said the film was pulled because of “administrative issues linked to exhibition rights.”

A petition to boycott the film in Algeria called “Non! Pas en Algeria” (“No! Not in Algeria”) was launched last week after Lebanon’s ban was announced.

The film is still expected to open this week in Morocco, Egypt, and the Arab Emirates.