News Digest — 9/28/20

Israel: Yom Kippur, 2020

Pedestrians and cyclists took advantage of Israel’s renewed lockdown on Saturday (26th), utilizing the quiet to stroll and bike along usually-busy thoroughfares.

With synagogues shuttered, Sabbath prayers were held in outdoor groups.

Under the new rules, nearly all businesses are closed, with the exception of specific companies and factories designated as “essential” by the Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Authority.  Restaurants are permitted to operate on a home-delivery basis only.

Israelis aren’t allowed to travel more than 0.6 of a mile from their homes, with the exception of specific activities that are exempted.

Police were deployed on highways and at the entrances to cities and towns to ensure Israelis don’t attempt to travel during the lockdown.

Most of the proposed measures went into effect at 2 p.m. on Friday (25th).

In an interview Friday (25th) with Channel 13 News, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein signaled the lockdown measures would likely be extended beyond the end of Sukkot on October 9.

“The public needs to be told the truth: We’re headed for a few weeks of lockdown, but in different conditions.  Following the first two weeks of a ‘hard’ lockdown, in the hope that the numbers go down, slowly we’ll begin to loosen up,” he said.

“We won’t repeat the same mistake we made of immediately opening everything before,” Edelstein added, referring to the easing of restrictions after the initial lockdown earlier this year.

The TV network meanwhile quoted an unnamed source saying the lockdown measures could remain in place for two months.

Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year, began Sunday night at sundown (27th) and will end at sundown Monday (28th).



Rivlin Calls On Jews To Light Yom Kippur Memorial Candle For COVID-19 Victims

Ahead of Yom Kippur, President Reuven Rivlin called Sunday (27th) on Jews in Israel and around the world to light an additional memorial candle in memory of the more than 1,400 Israelis who died of the coronavirus.

Many Jews light such candles during Yom Kippur in memory of a late parent.

Rivlin also published a special prayer in memory of the victims, in which he wondered if enough had been done to save them.

“The coronavirus pandemic and its victims have caused me to think about those who have lost their lives, about the invisible angel of death that does its terrible work of taking lives in isolated emergency rooms, without families present with a last touch, holding hands, and stroking faces,” Rivlin said.

The president published the full text of his writing and the prayer, as follows:

“May God remember, and may the people of Israel remember, the souls of those Israelis who have lost their lives this year because of the coronavirus.  May we remember those pioneers and founders, Holocaust survivors, veteran immigrants, fighters and creators, students of Torah and worshipers of the Lord, Jews and Arabs, old and young.

“They were all loved, all known, all had names and faces.  Fathers and sons, grandmothers and grandfathers, friends and acquaintances, neighbors and colleagues.  An inseparable part of the fabric of our lives.  May we be forgiven for the sin of weakness and inability, for not doing enough, for not managing to save them.

“Our Father, Our King, may You prevent the spread of the disease and give our leaders the understanding and strength to lead us to peace, and to guide us to peace, and lead us, Lord, to better days, to life, happiness and peace.  May it be your will, King of the universe, that health, prosperity, peace and unity will reign in our borders.

“May the souls of our brothers and sisters, the victims of the pandemic, be bound in the bond of life, and may we say Amen.



Trump’s Presidential Message On Yom Kippur, 2020

“On this Holiest of Jewish religious observances, Melania and I send our warmest greetings to our Jewish brothers and sisters in America and around the world for a blessed Yom Kippur.

“Yom Kippur signals the end of the High Holy Days — a 10-day period of repentance filled with prayer, fasting, and fellowship, which concludes with the Day of Atonement.  As the shofar bellows throughout the communities, this Yom Kippur, we are reminded how important our faith has been over these past months as we continue to face the challenges posed by the coronavirus.  Through the Almighty’s love and the power of prayer, we have found renewed strength and understanding to face these unprecedented times with stalwart resolve.

“Today, as so many seek God’s forgiveness and mercy, let us all resolve to incorporate these virtues of compassion into our daily lives.  We wish all Jewish people an easy fast and a meaningful and memorable Sabbath of Sabbaths.”



France Vows To Protect Its Jewish Community After Stabbing

France’s interior minister promised on Sunday (27th) to protect France’s Jewish community from extremists after a double stabbing in Paris blamed on Islamic terrorism.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin visited a synagogue Sunday (27th) ahead of the evening start of Yom Kippur and said more than 7,000 police and soldiers were protecting Jewish services this weekend.  France has Europe’s largest Jewish community.

“I came to assure … members of France’s Jewish community of the protection of the state,” Darmanin told reporters.  “Because we know that Jews are particularly targeted by Islamist attacks and we should obviously protect them.”

Darmanin defended authorities’ handling of a double stabbing Friday (25th) outside the former offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, saying intelligence services have prevented 32 potential terrorist attacks over the past three years.

Coordinated Islamic extremist attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris newsroom and a kosher supermarket in January 2015 killed 17 people, and Friday’s (25th) stabbing came as the trial into those attacks is currently underway.

The suspected assailant in Friday’s (25th) attack told investigators that he was targeting Charlie Hebdo after it recently republished caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, according to a judicial official.  Two people were wounded and several suspects are in custody.



Friend Of Anne Frank Lays First Stone Of Dutch Holocaust Memorial

A friend of diarist Anne Frank laid the first stone Wednesday (23rd) at a new memorial under construction in Amsterdam to honor all Dutch victims of the Holocaust.

The ceremonial laying of the first stone, on which the name of a Dutch Holocaust victim was engraved, is the latest step in construction of the Dutch memorial, which will feature the names of more than 102,000 Jews, Roma and Sinti who were murdered in Nazi concentration camps during World War II or who died on their way to the camps.

“I almost can’t believe it, but it is now really happening,” Jacques Grishaver, chairman of the Netherlands Auschwitz Committee, said in a statement.  “The first of the more than 102,000 stones has been laid.”

The last of the stones, each of which is engraved with a name, is expected to be placed in the memorial by March.

A Dutch court cleared the way last year for the memorial to be constructed.  The Amsterdam Municipality had granted permission for construction to start in 2017, but residents argued that it was too big for the location and could cause traffic problems.

Jacqueline van Maarsen, who knew Anne Frank before the diarist and her family were captured and sent to Nazi concentration camps, laid a stone engraved by laser with the name, date of birth and age of Dina Frankenhuis, who was murdered at age 20, on June 4, 1943, at the Sobibor camp.

Designed by Polish-Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind, the memorial in the heart of Amsterdam’s historic Jewish Quarter will be made up of walls shaped to form four Hebrew letters spelling out a word that translates as “In Memory Of.”