News Digest — 9/26/22

Temple Mount Clashes: Palestinians Throw Firecrackers, Rocks At Police

Muslim protesters who fortified inside Al-Aqsa Mosque clashed with Israeli police, throwing both firecrackers and rocks at them on Monday morning (26th), in protest of the visit of Jews to the Temple Mount on Rosh Hashanah.

According to the police, some young Palestinians shut themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque last night, and as Jewish visitors started to arrive at the Temple Mount, clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israel police officers.  Two suspects have been arrested for rioting and incitement. 

Israel Police, on high-alert, due to the High Holiday season, said that “false reports and lies about the Temple Mount were spread to incite violence.”

Israeli police had announced that there would be no changes to the status quo on the Mount, regarding both Jewish and Muslim visitors, adding that they would “not allow any person to disrupt the daily routine and public order.”

This escalation was not a surprise to the Israeli Security Forces, as just 11 days ago Eval Hulata, head of the National Security Council, said that Hamas and extremist Palestinian forces were trying to escalate the situation on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Moreover, as preparations for the High Holidays, Jewish and Arab activists were reportedly issued restraining orders keeping them away from the area, hoping to decrease tension on the Temple Mount.



Jewish Pilgrims Gather In Ukraine Despite The Perils Of War

Thousands of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims flocked to central Ukraine to mark the Jewish New Year Sunday (25th), ignoring international travel warnings as Russia struck more targets from the air and mobilized its citizens to stem losses in the war that has entered its eighth month.

The pilgrims, many traveling from Israel and further afield, converged on the small city of Uman, the burial site of Nachman of Breslov, a respected Hasidic rabbi who died in 1810.

The streets of one of Uman’s central neighborhoods were packed with men of all ages wearing traditional black coats and long side curls.  Some chanted prayers,  others shouted and danced.

Advertisements and directional signs in Hebrew blanketed the area.

The city, 125 miles south of the capital, Kyiv, typically attracts thousands of pilgrims for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which began Sunday evening (25th) and ends on Tuesday (27th).

The Ukrainian embassy to Israel repeatedly urged those planning a pilgrimage to stay home, warning on Facebook that Russia has repeatedly targeted heavily populated areas and that “attacks can cause real danger to your lives.”

The Israeli and American governments also cautioned citizens not to make the trip this year – and some of those warnings may have worked.

“More than 35,000 pilgrims visited last year, even in the face of pandemic travel restrictions,” said Local official Oleh Hanich.  “This year’s turnout was smaller, though still substantial, considering that no commercial flights were arriving in the country.”  

The United Jewish Community of Ukraine said 23,000 pilgrims were in Uman on Sunday (25th).

“Neither coronavirus nor war stops them.  For them, this is a holy place,” Hanich said, while acknowledging, “We can’t guarantee their complete safety.”

Uman is relatively far from the front lines in Ukraine’s east and south, though it is within the range of Russian missiles and has been struck before.

In 2020, thousands of pilgrims failed to reach Uman after Ukraine closed its borders due to a surge in COVID-19 infections.



On Eve Of Jewish New Year, 15.3 Million Jews Around The World, 7 Million In Israel

At the start of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), the Jewish Agency for Israel has announced that about 15.3 million Jews are living around the world.

Last year, there were about 15.2 million Jews worldwide, meaning that the population has grown by about 100,000 Jews.  The global Jewish population is still over one million less than it was before the Holocaust.

Of the 15.3 million Jews worldwide, about 7,080,000 live in Israel, an increase of about 130,000 since last year.  About six million Jews live in the United States.

The next largest Jewish population is in France (442,000), followed by Canada (394,000), the UK (292,000), Argentina (173,000), Russia (145,000), Australia (118,000), and Germany (118,000).

The following countries have less than 100,000 Jews: Brazil (91,000), South Africa (51,000), Hungary (46,000), Ukraine (40,000), Mexico (40,000), The Netherlands (29,700), Belgium (28,000), Italy (27,000), Switzerland (18,800), Uruguay (16,300), Chile (15,800), Sweden (14,900), Turkey (14,300), Spain (12,900), Austria (10,300), and Panama (10,000).

Several thousand Jews are also waiting to make Aliyah to Israel from Ethiopia.

These numbers include people who define themselves as Jewish and do not identify with another religion.

If you were to add all the people eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return to those numbers, the global total rises to 25.5 million people, including 7.5 million in Israel.  500,000 Israelis entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return are not registered as Jews.

The updated statistics by Prof. Sergio Della Pergola of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will be published in the American Jewish Year Book 2022.



President Isaac Herzog’s Rosh Hashanah Message To The Jewish People

The following is the full text of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s Rosh Hashanah message to the Jewish people:

Dear sisters and brothers from all over the world, Jewish communities big and small, Shanah Tovah to all of you!  As we welcome the Jewish New Year 5783, I would like to wish you all a sweet and happy new year.

Our ancient Jewish traditions wisely connect the change of seasons with our changes of heart.  Indeed, this twilight time between years invites us to embrace change as a people and as individuals.  It invites us to reflect on our lives, our choices, and our beliefs.  It invites us to question how we can do things better in the coming year–for ourselves, for our families, for our communities.  It demands we deepen our attention, and even more so, our intention, to replace bitterness with sweetness. 

Jewish tradition teaches us that on Rosh Hashanah we are inscribed in the Book of Life.  But we are not inscribed as individuals.  We rise and fall together, as a people.  Let us therefore commit to be inscribed in the Book of Life–together.  Let us help each other to be inscribed in the Book of Life–together.  Let us debate with compassion, disagree without fear, and work towards each other, rather than away from each other.

Let us recall the beauty of our unity.  Only thus may we fulfill the words of the Psalmist, King David: “May there be peace within our walls and security within our citadels.  For the sake of my brothers (and I add, sisters) and friends, I say–peace be with you.”

From your home away from home, here in the State of Israel, to your homes around the world, I wish you all, Shanah Tovah Umetukah.  Ketivah Vechatimah Tovah.



Rosh Hashanah Message From PM Yair Lapid: ‘We Are One People, With One Shared Story, With One Shared Homeland’

“To our Jewish family around the world – Shana Tova, Happy New Year!

My Hope for the Jewish people this year is that we remember we are one family.

It does not matter if you’re orthodox, secular, reform or conservative.

It does not matter which synagogue you pray in, or if you pray at all.  It does not matter where you were born, or what language you speak.

We are one people, with one shared story, with one shared homeland.

We should focus on what unites us, and know how to talk about the things we disagree upon.  That’s what a family does.

This year, let’s write the next chapter of our story: a chapter of unity.

From here in Jerusalem, on behalf of myself and the Government of Israel, I want to wish you all, and your loved ones, a Shana Tova – Happy New Year.”



Rosh Hashanah Miracle? Terrorists Placed Heavy Explosive Device At Gas Station, Fails To Explode

Israeli security neutralized a device containing four kilograms of explosives left purposely by terrorists at a gas station at the entrance to Kedumim, a Jewish community in Samaria, on Sunday (25th) – the eve of the Jewish New Year, Kan News reported.

Security camera footage documented the incident.

Miraculously, the explosives did not detonate.  There were no injuries. 

The community is located close to Nablus (Shechem) a hotbed of Palestinian terror.

Kedumim residents demonstrated later in the day, refusing to allow Arabs entry to the gas station.

Ahead of the holiday, a closure was imposed on the Palestinian-run territories of Judea and Samaria and the crossings in Gaza.

Also on Sunday (25th), Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar told Israel’s security agency that its warnings do not frighten his organization.  Hamas terror leaders have been gaining a foothold in Judea and Samaria and orchestrating terror attacks from there.



Israel To Treat 20 Seriously Wounded Ukrainian Soldiers

Israel is to treat 20 Ukrainian soldiers wounded in the conflict with Russian forces, the Israeli ambassador to Kyiv announced Sunday (25th).

The first two patients are to arrive on Sunday (25th) for treatment at Sheba Medical center near Tel Aviv, he added.

A spokeswoman for the Ukrainian embassy in Tel Aviv said the first patients will be treated with prosthetics and rehabilitation.

Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest hospital, ran a field hospital in western Ukraine for six weeks following the Russian invasion on February 24. 

Israel declined to supply weapons to Ukrainian forces, opting instead to send protective gear, such as helmets, as it attempts to maintain relations with Moscow.

Israelis also have close ties to the former Soviet Union, where a tenth of its population has roots.

Russians accounted for nearly half of Jewish immigrants to Israel over the past year, according to the immigration ministry, while a quarter hailed from Ukraine.