November 12, 2018

Jewish Students Remember ‘Night Of Broken Glass’ In Berlin

Jewish students in Berlin on Wednesday (7th) marked the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, The “Night of Broken Glass” when Nazis terrorized Jews throughout Germany and Austria.

Some 30 students from the Jewish Traditional School lit candles and recited prayers as Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal urged them to jointly overcome Germany’s past by building a secure future for Jews in the country.

“This is the city where the Holocaust was planned and executed,” said Teichtal, a community rabbi and the head of Chabad in the German capital.

“What better answer is there than that, in this very city, the students of a Jewish school in Berlin should jointly pray and light candles showing that the answer to darkness and the evil of the past is to create education for the present and the future.” he said.

Eighty years ago this week, on November 9, 1938, the Nazis killed at least 91 people, burned down hundreds of synagogues, vandalized and looted 7,500 Jewish businesses and arrested up to 30,000 Jewish men, many of whom were taken to concentration camps.

On Wednesday (7th), students assembled under a maple tree in front of the school building.  They prayed in Hebrew and German and lit six white candles to commemorate the synagogues that were burned down, as well as the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

“I lost a big part of my family…my great-grandparents, their siblings, and therefore it is all very special to me,” said 15-year-old student Clara Eljaschewitsch. “It’s sad.  I think about it a lot.”

Kristallnacht – which got its name from the shattered glass from Jewish-owned store windows that covered German streets – is often referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust.

Teichtal also condemned the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh last month in which 11 people were gunned down in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

“It’s a terrible shock…for the Jewish community worldwide.  And it shows once again that the ugly head of anti-Semitism can show itself anywhere in the world and we have to actively combat it,” he said.

Berlin’s security official took a step in this direction on Wednesday (7th), banning a far-right protest planned for Friday (9th), the exact day of Kristallnacht.

In explaining his decision, Interior Minister Andreas Geisel said such a demonstration would “in a blatant way negate the moral and ethical significance of this memorial day,” German news agency DPA reported.



Study: German Anti-Semitism Still Exists On ‘Dangerous Scale’

“Anti-Semitic thought patterns still exist on a dangerous scale,” in Germany says Dr. Oliver Decker, co-author of a Leipzig University Study presented in Berlin Wednesday (7th).

The report found that in western Germany, anti-Semitism continued to decline (2016: 5 percent, 2018: 4.2 percent).  But in eastern Germany it has risen slightly (2016: 4.1 percent, 2018: 5.2 Percent).

Nevertheless, up to one-third of respondents agree at least in part with anti-Semitic statements,” Dr. Decker says.

“One in ten respondents explicitly agree with the statement ‘There is something different about the Jews and they really don’t fit in with us,’ while a further 20 percent implicitly agree with it,” according to the report.

The report finds that xenophobia is on the rise in general in Germany.  “Almost one in two respondents in eastern Germany agrees with certain xenophobic statements, and in western Germany almost one in three agree with some xenophobic views.

Ever since 2002, Leipzig University researchers have been studying changes in authoritarian and far-right attitudes in Germany.



UAE Minister Scolds Hamas Over Its ‘Solidarity’ With Iran

A senior United Arab Emirates government official appeared to lash out at Hamas over a statement issued earlier this week, in which it expressed sympathy with the iranian government in the wake of new American punitive measures against Tehran.

“Hamas’ solidarity with the Iranian government does not take into consideration the Gulf and Arab anxiety over Tehran’s regional interference,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted Tuesday evening (6th).  “It is unnecessary. It pushes the Palestinian issue into a maze and confirms the opinion that the movement, in its orientation, is nothing more than an Iranian regional tool.”

In a statement on Monday (5th) Hamas condemned Washington’s reimposition of sanctions against Iran, which it said seek “to destabilize security and stability in the region…and strengthen the Zionist project,” and affirmed its “solidarity with Iran’s government and people.”

Senior Arab government officials seldom issue public criticism of Hamas.

Iran is believed to be a major sponsor of Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which in the last ten years, has fired thousands of rockets at Israel.

Iran is also a major backer of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.

The UAE, along with a number of other Arab and Gulf states, vehemently opposes Iran and its support for armed groups throughout the Middle East.



PA: No Change in Abbas’ Stance Toward Gaza Truce After SISI Meeting

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi has persuaded Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to accept a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian sources told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

However, a senior PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday (8th) that he was unaware of any change in Abbas’ position towards the proposed truce between Israel and Hamas.

“Chairman Abbas agreed with the Egyptian president that there was a need to alleviate the suffering of our people in the Gaza Strip,” the official said.  “But Abbas also emphasized that Hamas was not authorized to reach any agreement with any party on behalf of the Palestinians.”

Abbas and several senior PA officials have voiced strong opposition to a truce between Hamas and Israel, arguing that such a move would consolidate the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and pave the way for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

According to the paper, Sisi briefed Abbas during their recent meeting  in Sharm el-Sheikh on Egypt’s efforts to achieve “calm” in the Gaza Strip and end the ongoing dispute between Hamas and Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction.

The sources quoted Sisi as telling Abbas that the Egyptian efforts were aimed at giving “breathing space” to the residents of the Gaza Strip.  Abbas, the sources said, agreed.

The paper said the “breathing space” consists of two phases – the first would last two to three weeks and the second six months.

In the first phase, Israel would agree to expand exports from the Gaza Strip, including fresh produce, furniture and clothing.  

In the second phase, Israel has agreed to transfer US $90 million from Qatar to Hamas for paying the salaries of Hamas’ government officials for six months, as long as the transfer takes place under the auspices of the UN.

Sisi is also reported to have told Abbas that after a truce agreement is reached between Hamas and Israel, Egypt will resume its efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift.



The World’s Largest Mezuzah

After their last project was stolen, about six weeks ago, David Roytman and his colleague did not give up and set out to build the world’s largest mezuzah.  Last weekend their creation was inaugurated in an impressive ceremony in Jerusalem.

The piece is almost sixteen and a half feet tall and weighs roughly 440 pounds.  It was placed in one of the holiest locations in the world – on the rooftop of Yesh A Torah Yeshiva, near the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

The mezuzah is a complete pyrotechnical show.  It includes a lighting show with dozens of flickering LED screens, and it can even sing “Jerusalem of Gold”.

The original mezuzah was stolen from the factory shortly before its launch in September.  Roytman filed a police complaint, but says half a year’s work and tens of thousands of dollars were lost.  Nevertheless, since the plans were already in place, he and his partners worked hard and created a new one.

“The klaf (a piece of parchment inscribed with specific Hebrew verses) will soon be inserted into the mezuzah,” promised Roytman, a native of Odessa who became religious in the Soviet Union.  He immigrated to Israel without his parents when he was 11-years-old, as part of the Chernobyl Children’s Project. In Israel, Roytman continued his studies in a yeshiva until his enlistment in the IDF.

The designers behind the project promised to officially apply to the Guinness Book of World Records… If the dimensions given by Roytman and his colleagues are accurate, it might officially become the largest mezuzah in the world.  Since other mezuzahs competing for the title are only about five feet tall.