(JTA) – As Yom Kippur approaches, Jewish baseball fans hark back to the fall of 1965, when Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax said he would not take the mound in Game 1 of the World Series against the Minnesota Twins.
Mind you, this was no ordinary pitcher. Koufax dominated on the hill that season for Los Angeles and would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Koufax, now in his early 80s, and his choice would go down in Jewish lore, to be recalled annually on the Day of Atonement – or perhaps whenever his coreligionists have a tough call to make.
“There was no hard decision for me,” he would say later in an ESPN documentary released in 2000. “It was just a thing of respect. I wasn’t trying to make a statement, and I had no idea that it would impact that many people.”
Learn more about Koufax’s story in the video above.
Roads and airwaves fall silent, but security and rescue services remain on high alert.
Israel shut shut down on Friday for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
All flights in and out of Ben Gurion airport ceased at 1:35 p.m., while public transport gradually halted with buses and trains stopping their routes until after the fast day.
As sundown approached all local radio and television broadcasts gradually fell silent.
Yom Kippur begins Friday at sundown and ends Saturday night.
It is marked with a 25-hour fast and intense prayer by religious Jews, while more secular Israelis often use the day to ride bicycles on the country’s deserted highways.
Security and rescue services, however, remain on high alert.
For the Magen David Adom Rescue service, Yom Kippur is one of the busiest days of the year with hundreds of extra medics, paramedics, ambulances and volunteers deployed across the country.
Most injuries over Yom Kippur come from accidents on the roads as tens of thousands of children and teens take advantage of the deserted streets to ride their bicycles. Other common Yom Kippur injuries are caused by parents leaving children unattended outside synagogues and, of course, dehydration and complications from fasting.
However, the weather this year is expected to be relatively mild, with even some light rain expected in the north.
Meanwhile, the IDF imposed a closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. The closure is expected to last until midnight on Saturday, “depending on a situational assessment,” the army said.
The closure is a routine procedure during Israeli and Jewish holidays. However, in a less common move, the military also announced that Palestinian workers would be barred from entering Jewish settlements in the West Bank — a measure that is not normally taken during closures. The army said special permission may be granted in some cases.
This additional restriction is likely tied to a terror attack on Tuesday morning, in which a Palestinian gunman hid among a group of laborers waiting to enter the Har Adar settlement, outside Jerusalem. When he was called to stop, the terrorist opened fire with a handgun, killing three security officers and wounding a fourth.
In addition, the Jewish high holiday season, which began last week with Rosh Hashanah, is generally seen by defense officials as a time of increased tension in the region, when the risk of terror attacks is higher.
Some of the seals are inscribed with biblical names, several of which are still used today, such as Pinchas.
A rare collection of ancient seals inscribed with the names of officials dating to the Judean Kingdom prior to the Babylonian destruction has been unearthed near the Old City’s walls during excavations conducted by the Antiquities Authority.
Dozens of seals, made of small pieces of clay used to officially close letters, were well preserved in the City of David and serve as evidence of their owners.
According to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, directors of the excavation funded by the Ir David Foundation (Elad), the seals illustrate the advanced administrative underpinnings of Jerusalem during the First Temple period.
“The earliest seals bear mostly a series of pictures,” the archeologists said on Monday.
“It appears that instead of writing the names of the clerks, symbols were used to show who the signatory was, or what he was sealing.”
During later stages of the period – from the time of King Hezekiah (approximately 700 BCE) and up to the destruction of Jerusalem, in 586 BCE – the seals bear the names of clerks in early Hebrew script.
“Through these findings, we learn not only about the developed administrative systems in the city, but also about the residents and those who served in the civil service,” they noted.
Some of the seals are inscribed with biblical names, several of which are still used today, such as Pinhas.
“One particularly interesting seal mentions a man by the name of Ahiav Ben Menahem,” they said.
“These two names are known in the context of the Kingdom of Israel: Menahem was a king of Israel, while Ahiav does not appear in the Bible, but his name resembles that of Ahav [Ahab] – the infamous king of Israel from the tales of the prophet Elijah.”
Although the spelling of the name, “Ahiav,” differs somewhat from “Ahav,” they said it appears to be the same name.
“The version of the name that appears on the seal discovered, Ahiav, appears as well in the Book of Jeremiah in the Septuagint, as well as in Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 15:7-8),” they said.
Chalaf and Uziel added that the appearance of the name “Ahiav” is interesting for two main reasons.
“First, because it serves as further testimony to the names that are familiar to us from the Kingdom of Israel in the Bible, and which appear in Judah during the period following the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel,” they said.
“These names are part of the evidence that after the exile of the Tribes of Israel, refugees arrived in Jerusalem from the northern kingdom, and found their way into senior positions in Jerusalem’s administration.”
While Ahab is portrayed as a negative figure in the Bible, his name continues to be in use, albeit in a differently spelled version.
“It was used both in Judea during the latter days of the First Temple, as reflected in Jeremiah and on the seal; and also after the destruction in the Babylonian exile, and up until the Second Temple period, as seen in the writings of Flavius Josephus,” the researchers said.
The stamps, along with other archeological findings discovered during recent excavations, will be exhibited to the public for the first time at the 18th City of David research conference, the annual archeological conference held by the Megalim Institute, on September 7 at the City of David National Park.
“This is a time for the Jewish State to help our Diaspora brothers at their time of need,” Bennett said. “They helped us when we needed it, it is our turn to help them.”
Bennett said the funds, which which will go to assist in the rebuilding of schools, synagogues and the local JCC that were damaged by the hurricane, are a “clear message about mutual responsibility.”
According to statement put out by Bennett, many of the schools and synagogues serving the 60,000-strong Jewish community cannot be used, and the community’s senior citizens home and JCC have suffered extensive water damage.
Regarding Mexico, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, set to leave for Latin America this evening, told the cabinet Sunday that when he meets Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, he will offer Israel’s assistance to areas hit by the devastating earthquake there last Thursday.
Netanyahu said these are “not easy days for Mexico,” and sent his condolences to the victims of the disaster. At least 90 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the earthquake which badly hit the states of Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Netanyahu characterized his trip to Argentina, Colombia, Mexico — and from there to New York where he will address the UN General Assembly — as “historic,” inasmuch as it will be the first ever visit by a serving Israeli prime minister to South or Central America.
“This visit will strengthen our economic, security and technological ties with Latin America, and will constitute the continued strengthening of Israel’s position in the world, something we are leading in a successful and systematic manner,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nadav Argaman, the head of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) briefed the cabinet before Netanyahu’s departure.
Netanyahu said before that briefing that the Shin Bent thwarted the efforts of more than 70 cells that were planning attacks. “Israeli citizens don’t know everything that the Shin Bet does,” he said. “I want to express my deep appreciation to the Shin Bet and all who deal with this important work for Israel’s security.”
38 years after returning to the West Bank City, Hebron’s Jewish community has acquired the official status of an independent settlement.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman upgraded the municipal status of Hebron’s Jewish community, separating it from the Palestinian municipality, which governs the West Bank city.
Liberman announced the change in the status of the 1,000 Jews in Hebron during a briefing with reporters in Tel Aviv.
A 1997 agreement split the city, of what is now more than 220,000 Palestinians, leaving 80% under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and 20% under Israel. But the Hebron Municipality is expected to provide basic services to the Jewish community, which has limited ability to government its own life.
The upgrade severs them from the Hebron municipality and allows them to independently seek services from the Civil Administration, which oversees civilian life in Area C of the West Bank.
The move was necessitated this year after the Palestinians in Hebron elected as their Mayor Sheikh Tayseer Abu Sneineh, who had been convicted and served time for his role in killing six Israelis in a terrorist attack.
“For years, Hebron’s Jewish residents lived without a municipal authority to take care of all the services required for normative civilian life,” said Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan (Bayit Yehudi). “After the election of a murderer for mayor of Hebron, the idea that they will receive these services from the municipality has become even more absurd.”
He added: “This is another important step in normalizing the lives of the Jews in Hebron, in particular, and in all of Judea and Samaria, in general.”
The upgrade comes during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
In July, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization registered Hebron’s old town and the Tomb of the Patriarchs to the State of Palestine on its World Heritage List.
The inscription focuses on preserving the Muslim character of the 3,000-year-old-city with ties to three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Most of Hebron’s Jewish community of close to 1,000 people, live in the city’s old town.
It also comes as the Defense Ministry is in the midst of fierce negotiations to sway 15 Jewish families in Hebron to peacefully evacuate Beit Hamachpela, a three-story apartment building they illegally moved into in July.
The families have worked for the last five years to register their property claim and have provided documentation to show that they purchased it from the Abu Rajab family, which disputes the claim and has filed a petition before the High Court of Justice, seeking the removal of the Jewish families.
She gave the coin to the archaeological department of the Israeli body that coordinates government activities in the West Bank, as required by law.
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.
An Israeli cinematographer and composer heads to middle America to capture art that is, truly, out of this world.
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.
Who knew something so far out in space could keep us so grounded, if only for a day?
Washington’s treatment of the Jewish people was something that had a much larger affect than just on his country.
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.
The boycott movement targeting Israel is “deeply antisemitic and should have no place in Frankfurt,” the deputy mayor of Frankfurt said.
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.”
The site is believed to be the home of apostles Andrew, Peter and Philip.
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 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.
“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.