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Former Clevelander Eliezer Jaffe, Israel Free Loan Assn. founder, dies at 84 – Cleveland Jewish News

Former Clevelander Eliezer (David) Jaffe, founder and president of The Israel Free Loan Association and a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, died May 25 in Jerusalem. He was 84.

Jaffe, who made aliyah in 1960, started the IFLA in the 1980s to assist Russian and Ethiopian Jews who were moving in large numbers to Israel.

The idea for a free loan fund was born in 1989 after a visit to an immigrant absorption center in Jerusalem.

I brought my children along, he said at the time. Busloads of Ethiopian Jewish immigrants, straight off the airplane, had just arrived at the center and I explained that they were witnessing history in the making the in-gathering of the exiles. After we got home I thought to myself I have to get involved.

The IFLA has loaned more than $240 million and made more than 54,000 loans.

He also established Hebrew Universitys School of Social Work and co-founded the universitys Center for the Study of Philanthropy.

Jaffe was one of four recipients of the Knesset Speaker’s Prize for Quality of Life in Israel.

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Former Clevelander Eliezer Jaffe, Israel Free Loan Assn. founder, dies at 84 – Cleveland Jewish News

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May 25, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

The uses and abuses of anti-Semitism | SocialistWorker.org – Socialist Worker Online

Marching in Boston against Israeli apartheid

IT SEEMS On Semitism is intended to be used as a tool–there are study questions, suggested readings. What is your hope for this book?

Rebecca Vilkomerson: The more the conversation about Israel changes, the more it stays the same–there are some fundamental questions that come up over and over again that we need to untangle in order to have a breakthrough. Anti-Semitism is one of those questions.

It’s fundamental to JVP’s mission: fighting against bigotry in all its forms, including anti-Semitism. We want to open up a conversation, one in which the ways that anti-Semitism affects both Jewish lives and other communities gets proper weight, but also that will help people to distinguish between actual anti-Semitism and legitimate critique of Israel.

My own Jewish education was very much Holocaust-Israel, Holocaust-Israel. Jewishness as an identity was drilled into us as a legacy of oppression and discrimination, with statehood as the answer. With the establishment of Israel seen as the endpoint of that legacy, it created a reality where criticism of the state was assumed to be a criticism of Jewish people. You need to have tools with how to grapple with that, and unlearn that stuff, and have a much richer conversation.

THE CHARGE of anti-Semitism can be uniquely powerful, relative to other words like “racist” or “sexist” or “homophobe.” There’s particularity about what that charge can do to a person when made publicly. Why is that?

Rebecca Vilkomerson: In an ideal world, acts of Islamophobia or a charge of racism would be just as terrifying as acts of anti-Semitism. But the term has become so broad, and so associated with Israel instead of with actual acts of prejudice against Jewish people, that it’s also ripe for abuse.

Since Trump’s election, expressions of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic actions have actually come closer to the U.S. power structure in a way that I certainly haven’t experienced in my lifetime. In an atmosphere like this one, we do want to hold on to the idea that anti-Semitism is not acceptable.

But there is now a dishonesty around the word “anti-Semitism” that has made it very hard to have honest conversations about Israel or Palestinian rights. It’s made it easy to throw around accusations that are extremely damaging.

As Jews, JVP can play a very particular role in breaking down what is real anti-Semitism and what is a political accusation against the state of Israel. People need permission to be able to articulate those critiques, and to know that it’s about speaking up for human rights–not about being against the Jewish people.

RABBI ROSEN, your chapter takes up the rising number of anti-Semitic attacks across Europe. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rarely fails to use these attacks as opportunities to urge Jews emigrate to the safety of Israel. He’s essentially suggesting the only solution to anti-Semitism is ethnic separatism.

There’s a memorable anecdote related in the book, of a Netanyahu visit to France following the Jewish market attack January 2015. After he delivered his message in a Paris synagogue, the congregation rose to their feet and burst into the French national anthem. Not knowing what to do, he just stood there.

Brant Rosen: The Israeli government has been quick to pounce on every anti-Semitic attack in Europe to promote Jewish immigration to Israel, but we’ve heard nothing but crickets in response to the uptick of anti-Semitic hate acts in the United States since Trump’s election. The reason is obvious: Israel is eager to promote the narrative that “radical Islam” is the most serious anti-Semitic threat in the world. They’ve been far less eager to protest the rise of the radical right in Europe, and now in the United States, because Israel’s own political culture is increasingly dominated by the far right.

It’s fascinating to see how the newly emboldened alt-right in the United States has publicly embraced Israeli nationalism as an example of ethnic separatism that they would like to emulate. Alt-right leader Richard Spencer speaks admiringly of Israel as a home for Jews, and promotes white separation here along the same lines. (Of course, this “kindler, gentler” form of white supremacy is only a fig leaf for a more insidious vision of a “Judenrein” United States.)

FOR THE section of the European far right looking to go mainstream, the targeting of Jews has almost disappeared. A generation ago, National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen was not shy about anti-Jewish rhetoric. His daughter, Marine Le Pen, has totally eliminated that rhetoric in her bid for president and replaced it with attacks on Arabs and Muslims. With an influx of Arab and Muslim immigrants since 2015, and in the absence of any principled opposition from the French left, this shift has had some resonance.

Rabbi Rosen, you write, “as the refugees started coming in by the tens of thousands per day starting about a year ago, Europe became a safer place to be Jewish.” The same tools and tropes have been turned from Jewish scapegoating towards Arabs and Muslims. But despite this, there is clearly fertile ground to pit Jews against Arabs and Muslims and vice versa. How is this playing out?

Brant Rosen: The European right would love nothing better than to set European Jews and Muslims against one another. Not coincidentally, Israel is using the same playbook: they are finding common cause with European rightists by fomenting Islamophobia and painting Muslims as the common enemy of the West.

Those who are truly concerned with Jewish safety and security have to reject this narrative unabashedly. Our safety and security will not come by throwing in with the oppressors; it can only come through solidarity with the oppressed.

THE “NEW anti-Semitism” is a term Zionists are using more frequently, as an update of “anti-Semitism” to include criticism of Israel. How do they draw that direct line from anti-Semitism to criticism of Israel?

Rebecca Vilkomerson: There was a very deliberate schema set out by certain Jewish organizations to define Israel as “the Jew of the world.” The idea is that Israel is a person, and in the same way that Jews are discriminated against by non-Jews, Israel as the Jewish state is discriminated against by non-Jewish countries around the world. Therefore, every criticism of Israel is a reflection of anti-Semitism.

This is dangerous, but also effective, because it delegitimizes any criticism of Israel. Countries like France or the United States or Ghana can be criticized based on their political actions, both to their own citizenry and around the world. That’s a completely legitimate thing for people to talk about. Rather than Israel being a country like any other, the “new anti-Semitism” redefines what kind of criticisms are valid by putting this personhood on Israel.

It also does the reverse: It implicates all Jews into the Israeli project.

The Israeli government has made explicit claims that it is the nation of all the Jews, not a nation of its citizens. If you’re a Jew, you’re born with potential Israeli nationality. That’s why any Jew from around the world can come in and automatically become a citizen of the state of Israel, even as Palestinian citizens of Israel have less rights and state resources than Jewish Israelis. So all Jews around the world are de facto made a part of this Israeli project.

Of course, equating “Israel” with “Jews” erases the 25 percent of Israeli citizens who are not Jewish and ignores the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza entirely, where only Jewish Israelis have the rights of citizens.

It’s been also very successful within the Jewish community in getting people to see Israel as the expression of their Jewishness. They see Israel as their Jewishness, so an attack on Israel is made to feel like an attack on them. So something like the Gaza war happens, and Jewish communities have huge rallies in defense of Israel.

The phrase “anti-Israel” has become anathema. You can’t say that you’re anti-Israel, and being called anti-Israel is seen as the equivalent of being called anti-Semitic. But being anti-Israel is totally legitimate. If you’re a Palestinian who’s lost their home, lost their livelihood, is facing daily oppression, or you’re a refugee and you can’t go back, of course you’re anti-Israel. Israel is the country that has done these things to you!

The “anti-Israel is anti-Semitic” component discounts these facts and makes the conversation into a psychological thing, an irrational hatred of Jews, instead of one that is structural and fact-based. For those of us who are Jewish, we have a responsibility to say, you can hate the state of Israel, and that doesn’t mean you’re anti-Semitic.

OMAR BARGHOUTI argues in his chapter that the claim “criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic” is itself anti-Semitic.

Rebecca Vilkomerson: It flattens the Jewish experience. It discounts the historically constant Jewish strains of anti-Zionism–or non-Zionism, or post-Zionism, whatever you want to call it–that have always existed since Zionism was created. It ignores the vastly different experiences depending if you are an Ashkenazi (from Europe) Jew or a Mizrachi/Sephardi Jew, or Ethiopian Jew. When you’re talking about any sort of bigotry, part of the definition is the idea that you can make one overarching generalization about that people.

IN JUDITH Butler’s introduction, she writes, “Distinguishing among the very different historical trajectories of Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi Jews breaks up a monolithic understanding of what it is to be a Jew, and so deprives anti-Semitism of its noxious habit of vulgar generalization.” She’s saying that actually to draw out Judaism, in all its diversity, is to combat anti-Semitism. Isn’t it then true that by collapsing all Jews into one thing, support for Israel, Zionists create more fertile ground for anti-Semitism?

Rebecca Vilkomerson: Yeah. There’s also a deep sadness to it. A lot of rhetoric that comes out of Israel is that the only way that you can be Jewish–in a real way–is to be Israeli. The result is a loss of a very diverse and beautiful set of Jewish cultures. There’s something deeply sad about that.

OVER THE past couple of years, Israel passed a number of laws attempting to ban some form of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement in Israel. First, small-business owners could sue Israeli BDS activists for damages if their business had been impacted. Now, known BDS activists from anywhere in the world are banned from Israel.

Rebecca Vilkomerson: The ban on BDS activists going in, for me personally, is a particularly sad moment. I have in-laws who are about to turn 80 there, I have family there and friends there.

ARE YOU not able to travel to Israel?

Rebecca Vilkomerson: I assume not. We’ll see how the law gets implemented.

YOU’RE A fairly prominent activist.

Rebecca Vilkomerson: The bill makes overt a policy that was already happening beneath the surface. Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, people who look Muslim according to the customs agents at the Israeli border, people of color–it’s basically a racial-profiling system, of which Israelis seem very proud. They’re trying to sell it, actually, in these police exchanges that they do with the United States–selling this racial-profiling system for how they let people in and out.

This bill brings all that to the surface, by Israel saying that whole categories of people are being targeted for their political beliefs, so people like me are being added in to the people who have already been targeted historically. As the BDS movement becomes stronger and stronger, the Israeli state is going to try to clamp down harder and harder. It’s evidence of how scared they are of BDS, and what an impact it’s having on them. There’s no way to legislate away BDS. Not letting me into Israel is not going to keep me from supporting BDS. I think it’s actually going to make more liberal Zionists say, “Well, if they’re not going to let me in, then I may as well support the full call for BDS.” And it may make a lot more people who may not know much about Israel or Palestinians at all question how much of a democracy Israel really is.

With this increasing repression, the Israeli state is overreaching in a way that is helpful for understanding the degree to which the Israeli government is engaged in extreme forms of antidemocratic governance.

U.S. LAW has begun to use definitions of anti-Semitism that include criticism of Israel, making it some form of hate speech to criticize Israel.

Rebecca Vilkomerson: Some of the bigger Jewish organizations that have a lot of resources have specifically used recent acts of anti-Semitism as a way to suppress conversation on this issue. Most recently was the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act–a federal bill intended to codify criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, which was fast-tracked through the Senate. The depth of the hypocrisy behind that bill was so clear when it was brought out right as Steve Bannon became a key adviser to Trump, and all of a sudden we were seeing a rise of anti-Semitic incidents and no response from the Trump administration.

The bill was a joint effort of American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, and is based on years of work in advancing a definition of anti-Semitism that is extremely dangerous. It could potentially make dissent about Israel illegal.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act did not go forward in the House (so far, at least) thanks to good organizing that JVP was a part of.

AS YOU mentioned, following Trump’s election, there was a sharp rise in reports of anti-Semitic attacks. Given how little it takes for Trump to go on the attack against something–SNL parodies of his administration, for example–you’d think he would have more to say about anti-Semitic attacks.

He’s called them reprehensible, but more often suggested that these attacks were “false flags” committed by political enemies to smear him. When actual anti-Semitism happens, it gets downplayed or ignored.

Meanwhile, anti-BDS legislation is moving forward in a variety of ways in national and state legislatures. Is the “new anti-Semitism” pushing actual anti-Semitism off the table and keeping only criticism of Israel?

Rebecca Vilkomerson: Since Trump’s election, support for Israel is overtly being offered as a defense against anti-Semitism. Public figures are essentially saying, “I can’t be anti-Semitic, I support Israel.” Then right-wing Jewish organizations, which spend a lot of time accusing BDS activists of being anti-Semitic, don’t make a peep when those kinds of excuses for these acts are thrown out there. Actual acts against Jews in the United States become de-prioritized; the only measure of anti-Semitism is how much you support the state of Israel.

AND THE United States has been importing this strategy over the last five years. “The world’s greatest democracy” is now curtailing free speech and attacking speech as hate speech, in order to defend their relationship with “the only democracy in the Middle East,” which is busy rolling out all sorts of antidemocratic measures.

Rebecca Vilkomerson: The United States already gives Israel more foreign aid than any country in the entire world. We already use all of our diplomatic, economic, military force to allow Israel to keep doing what it’s doing. Of course, the United States is not new to repression of its own people and its own forms of the security state. But the way that they are allying with one another is actually clarifying.

We have all these people who are newly activated and so upset about Trump. This is the moment when those people need to be brought into these fights.

We have an opportunity to say to them, “If you’re against the Muslim ban here in the United States, you should be concerned about the fact that Israel has had a de facto Muslim ban and a Christian ban for many decades. If you want to be consistent about your politics, you’re going to have to speak out about both of these things, and start to reconcile the fact that you have one set of criteria for the United States and another for Israel.”

There’s a lot of room right now to have those conversations with people, especially because it’s this elevated, activating moment where people have their minds open to really be able to talk about those parallels and what it means. If you as a political person identify with the values of equality, and freedom, and free access to countries, and refugee rights, and immigrant rights, you need to take a critical look at Israel.

JVP IS really growing–you now have over 12,000 dues-paying members. Why are so many people finding and joining JVP?

Rebecca Vilkomerson: Peter Beinart wrote a piece recently that I found extremely strange. I often appreciate his writing and how he’s openly wrestling with lots of issues. But in this article, in reaction to Israel’s ban on BDS activists, he wrote that he just wants his kids to love Israel. When they’re older they can wrestle with it, but for now he just wants them to have the space of love for it. So he tries to protect them from the realities of Israel.

To me, that’s the exact recipe for what we see with people coming into JVP who have been fed this Disney-fied picture of Israel. They feel completely betrayed when they find out it’s not the land of milk and honey that was empty and made for them, and start to understand the realities and look at the global context. The realities of life in Israel can’t be brushed aside. People are smarter than that.

Especially in this politically charged moment, people are looking for a place where they can be their authentic whole selves–where they can be Jewish and also fight strongly against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. People come to JVP because they find that here, and also they find a place where we are doing it powerfully and in deep partnership with Palestinian allies and other communities.

First published in Jacobin.

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Sites Trump Will Visit in His Holy Land Trip – Naharnet

When U.S. President Donald Trump lands in Tel Aviv on Monday for the Israeli-Palestinian leg of his trip, he will hold talks with leaders from both sides, but also visit key sites:

– Church of the Holy Sepulcher –

Located in the Old City of Jerusalem’s annexed eastern sector, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher contains a 19th-century shrine built on the site where tradition says Jesus was buried and resurrected.

The ornate shrine recently underwent a $3.7-million renovation that restored its stones to their original reddish-yellow and reinforced the heavily visited site.

The church draws tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims for the “Holy Fire” ceremony, the highlight of the Eastern Christian calendar, which takes place on the eve of Orthodox Easter.

One of Christianity’s holiest sites, the church is shared by six denominations: the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Egyptian Copts, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox.

– The Western Wall –

The Western Wall is the last remnant of the supporting wall of the second Jewish temple, built by King Herod and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The holiest site where Jews can pray, the Western Wall is located in the Old City of east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed.

It is situated below the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount.

The Western Wall’s plaza serves as a place of gender-segregated Jewish prayer, administered by the ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz, who will accompany Trump on his visit there.

Trump will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site, where it is customary to place notes containing prayers and requests between the stones.

The White House reportedly refused to allow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join Trump at the site, known in Hebrew as the Kotel (wall).

Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

When Trump’s envoy to Israel David Friedman arrived to take up his position this month, his first act was to visit the Western Wall, where he prayed and kissed the ancient stones.

– Yad Vashem –

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, perched on a forested hillside in west Jerusalem, is among the world’s foremost Holocaust education, documentation and research centers.

The vast complex includes a variety of monuments, archives and displays, including the Hall of Names with its cone structure featuring pictures of Holocaust victims, and the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, where thousands of trees are dedicated to non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

Dignitaries and celebrities visiting Israel nearly always find the time for Yad Vashem, which is the second-most visited site in Israel after the Western Wall.

Yad Vashem recently urged White House press secretary Sean Spicer to visit its website after he said that unlike the Syrian regime, Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons. Spicer later apologized for his “insensitive” remarks.

More than six million predominantly European Jews were killed during the Nazi genocide in World War II, many of them by poisonous gas.

– Israel Museum –

Not far from Yad Vashem is the Israel Museum, where Trump is set to deliver a speech, after the more exotic location of the desert fortress Masada was ruled out.

The museum boasts a collection of nearly 500,000 objects of art and archeology, ancient and modern, including the Dead Sea Scrolls which date back more than two millennia and include some of the earliest texts from the Bible.

In 2013, then-president Barack Obama viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls at the museum in a move seen as a nod to the ancient roots of the Jewish state.

– Bethlehem –

Trump is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, located in the West Bank, occupied by Israel for 50 years.

It is the “little town” where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born and it attracts thousands of pilgrims at Christmas.

Located just 10 kilometers (six miles) from Jerusalem across Israel’s separation wall, it is the site of the Church of the Nativity, which contains an underground cave where Christians believe Mary gave birth to Jesus.

Israel’s separation wall is part of a project begun in 2002 during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, that is to extend around 700 kilometers (450 miles) once completed. It is a stark symbol of the occupation for Palestinians, and in Bethlehem it has been covered by graffiti and street art.

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Sites Trump Will Visit in His Holy Land Trip – Naharnet

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According to JTA, which cites Rabi’s Hebrew-language bio, she served as a medic in the Israeli Air Force and has … – Tablet Magazine

A new Miss Israel has been crowned, a Millennial model from Jerusalem named Rotem Rabi whose win is being covered as a social media victory because online voting factored in the decision. And kudos to her: Instagram (and Facebook) is the name of the game, and she does this well, Im told, enough to beat out 15 other contestant to take the title. Next: the Worlds in China in December. No Israeli has won since Linor Abargil in 1998.

According to JTA, which cites Rabis Hebrew-language bio, she served as a medic in the Israeli Air Force and has worked as a model while starting the process to join theIsrael Polices investigative division. She dropped out of the Miss Israel contestlast year to accept a modeling contract in Milan.

The timing of her win is interesting in one sense because Gal Gadot, Miss Israel 2004, has become a veritable Hollywood star. Her upcoming solo flick, Wonder Woman, should made oodles of cash,regardless of how goodor bad it is. Perhaps Rabis star will rise still.

Rabis victory reminds me of a fantastic article by Daniel Estrin about the outspoken Ethiopian-born Yityish Titi Aynaw, Israels Bold New Queen, who won the competition in 2013. (Notably, the Miss Israel contest has been held every year since 1950). In it, Estrin details Aynawslong Cinderella journey to Israel.

Born in a small township near Gondar in northwest Ethiopia, she was orphaned by age 10. Her father died a year after she was bornshe never found out howand a decade later her mother died of a sudden illness. Her mothers parents, who had already uprooted to Israel in 2000, arranged for her and her brother to move, too.

Aynaw grew up like many Ethiopian Jews, dreaming of going to Israel. I was told this was the land of milk and honey, she said, laughing. That Id go on the street, bend down, and pick up golden coins. Id open the faucet and milk would pour out.

In March 2003, Aynaw and her brother flew via Kenya to Israel. Her grandparents, whom she had hardly remembered, brought them to their hardscrabble immigrant neighborhood in the seaside town of Netanya. Without knowing a word of Hebrew, she was shuffled off to a religious Jewish boarding school in Haifa catering to new immigrants. Today her Hebrew is accentless and expressive. They threw me into the deep water. But thats how you learn to swim the best, she said.

Read the rest of Estrins piece here, and congratulations to Rotem Rabi.

Previous: The Chosen Ones: An Interview With Titi Aynaw

Jonathan Zalman, a staff editor, runs The Scroll, Tablet’s news blog.

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According to JTA, which cites Rabi’s Hebrew-language bio, she served as a medic in the Israeli Air Force and has … – Tablet Magazine

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Aliyah from Ethiopia – Wikipedia

The Jewish aliyah from Ethiopia, or the immigration of ethnically and religiously Jewish Ethiopians to Israel, began during the mid-1970s, during which the majority of the Beta Israel community emigrated to Israel.

In 1973 the Israeli Ministry of Absorption prepared a comprehensive report on the Beta Israel ethnic group (the historical name of the Israelite Ethiopian community), which stated that the Falasha were foreign in all aspects to the Jewish nation. The report concluded that there was no need to take action in order to help the ethnic group make Aliyah to Israel.

Shortly after the publication of the Ministry of Absorption report in 1973, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the Sephardi chief rabbi, decreed that the community of “Beta Israel” are a descendant tribe of Israel. He also said that giving them a proper Jewish education and the right to immigrate to Israel, in his definition, was a Mitzvah. On the other side, Shlomo Goren, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi, said that the Beta Israel Ethiopians are not the descendants of the Tribe of Dan and he said that they had been assimilated to non-Israelite communities over the years.[citation needed]Ovadia Yosef’s Halakha ruling ended with the Law of Return being applied to the community, notwithstanding the Ministry of Absorption report and notwithstanding the position of the Ashkenazi chief rabbinate. In order to bring the Beta Israel community to Israel, an inter-office staff was founded, which included representatives from the Israeli Justice Department, Israeli Ministry of Interior, Israeli Ministry of Absorption and the Jewish Agency for Israel. This action was mainly promoted after the election of Menachem Begin as Prime Minister in 1977.

In the absence of full diplomatic relations with Ethiopia, The Israeli Mossad contacted officials in Sudan, which is adjacent to Ethiopia. Thousands of Beta Israel community from Ethiopia traveled by foot to the border with Sudan, and waited there in temporary camps until they were flown to Israel. Between the years 1977 and 1984, these immigrants were led from those camps to Israel by means of vessels of the Israeli Sea Corps and airplanes. Until Operation Moses, about 8,000 made a dangerous journey to Israel during which about 4,000 Beta Israel perished from disease or hunger or were killed by bandits.

After it became clear that the immigrants who remained in the Sudanese camps were in danger, it was decided to pursue an operation of intense immigration, nicknamed “Operation Moses”, during which about 8,000 immigrants were brought to Israel from Ethiopia using Israeli aircraft. Most of the immigrants in Operation Moses originated from the Gondar area.

Entire families including little children undertook long and dangerous treks, which often spanned whole months. As a result of the difficulties of the journey and bad conditions, hundreds and possibly even thousands of Beta Israel Ethiopians died on the way to the Sudanese camps. One of the main Ethiopian activists was Frada Aklom, whom many perceive as an important figure in the Beta Israel community.

The operation ended prematurely, after a press leak in Israel regarding Ethiopian Aliyah via Sudan to Israel. After the media exposure to the operation, the political situation the region changed. The Sudanese government, which had allowed Beta Israel entry into the country on their way to Israel, was dismissed, and relations between Israel and Sudan were soured.

Despite this, more Beta Israel were brought to Israel, including 1,200 in the Operation Sheba and 800 more on Operation Joshua that took place in 1985, with the help of George H. W. Bush, who was then Vice President of the United States.

At the beginning of 1991, the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia was about to collapse due to the rebel forces approaching the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. In the end of May 1991, several days before Addis Ababa was seized by the rebels, Mengistu escaped from Ethiopia and found shelter in Zimbabwe. An agreement was obtained between officials from Mengistu’s government and Israel allowing the Ethiopian Beta Israel to emigrate to Israel in exchange for about 35 million US dollars and shelter in the United States for several of the officials of the government.

Due to this agreement, Operation Solomon took place, during which about 14,400 Beta Israel were brought to Israel within 34 hours on 24 May 1991, in about 30 airplanes of the Israeli Air Force and the airline El Al.

There are many descendants of Ethiopian Beta Israel, whose ancestors converted to Christianity and who are now returning to the Mosaic Israelite faith. This group of people is known as the Falash Mura. They are admitted entrance to Israel, although not as Israelites, thus enabling the Israeli government to set quotas to their immigration and make citizenship dependent on Orthodox conversion to modern Judaism. Although nobody knows for certain the exact population of the Falash Mura in Ethiopia, it is approximated to be 20,000-26,000. However, recently some reporters and other travelers in remote regions of Ethiopia have noted that they have found entire villages where people claim they are Beta Israel or are Falash Mura (Beta Israel who have been practicing Christianity). Chief Kes Raphael Hadane has argued for the acceptance of the Falasha Mura as Jews.[2]

In April 2016, the Israeli Government approved a plan to bring 9,000 Falashmuras to Israel over the course of five years. 1,300 are scheduled to arrive in June 2016.[3]

The biggest concentrations of the Ethiopians Beta Israel are in the cities: Beersheba, Dimona, Mitzpe Ramon, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Lod, Ramla, Or Yehuda, Jerusalem, Netanya, Kiryat Malakhi.

A report carried out by the Bank of Israel in 2006 gave cause for concern regarding the absorption of the Ethiopian community to Israeli society:

The Bank of Israel report also highlights mistakes made by the government in its attempt to integrate Ethiopian immigrants into mainstream Israeli society, despite the estimated 400,000 NIS spent per immigrant. In addition to government financial investments, money was also invested from private donations, and by local authority welfare systems, and towards Affirmative action schemes to help immigrants undertake mandatory army or national service and for their greater inclusion in higher education. The report recommended that measures be taken to encourage immigrants to disperse around the country, rather than remain concentrated in the small communities in which they were initially placed. In addition, it recommended that greater resources be allocated to schools to improve education for Ethiopian children. Lastly, the report recommended that greater emphasis be placed on providing professional training to Ethiopian immigrants and that affirmative action be considered to aid their inclusion in public service jobs.

In 2009, Tzion Shenkor, the highest-ranking Ethiopian officer in the Israel Defense Forces with a rank of Lieutenant Colonel, became the first battalion commander of Ethiopian descent.[4][5]

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Aliyah from Ethiopia – Wikipedia

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Red Sea Diving Resort Casts a Marvel Superhero – Slash Film – /FILM

In todays edition of casting news pieces that arent quite bigenough to get their own story but are certainly more interesting when lumped together:

Now, lets go into detail.

Based on the real-life rescue mission of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel in the early 80s, Chris Evans will star as Mossad agent Ari Kidron in Red Sea Diving Resort.Heres the synopsis of the Gideon Raff film from ComingSoon.net:

The story begins in the late 70s, when the spy agency was given an assignment far different from its usual cloak-and-dagger activities when it was ordered to help in the transfer of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who were stuck in refugee camps in Sudan and deliver them to the Jewish state. No stranger to action in enemy countries, the agency established a covert forward base in a deserted holiday village in Sudan and deployed a handful of operatives (including a team of Ethiopians on the ground) to launch and oversee the exodus to the Promised Land, by sea and by air, in the early 1980s. The Mossads Red Sea Diving Resort operated for five years and saved thousands of refugees and brought them to Israel.

Evans will lead a confirmed cast ofHaley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Michael K. Williams, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell and Mark Ivanir, as well as Academy Awardnominee Greg Kinnear and Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley.

Rebel Wilson will be living every romantic comedy sidekicks dream in Isnt It Romantic, a comedy in which a cynical woman (Wilson) discovers that her life has become a rom-com. Wilson goes from sidekick to romantic lead, getting caught in a love triangle between Adam Devine and Liam Hemsworth. Devine, who co-starred with Wilson in Pitch Perfect, will play a character who is stuck in the friend zone while Hemsworth the hunky object of Wilsons affections.

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, Isnt It Romantic was initially written by Erin Cardillo, with revisions by Dana Fox, Katie Silberman, Paula Pell, Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly. Todd Garner, Grant Scharbo, Gina Matthews and Jeremy Steinare producing the comedy, which is set to start production in June.

The third installment of Maze Runner is getting off the ground with Walton Goggins joining the cast. Maze Runner: The Death Cure was delayed due to star Dylan OBrien being injured on set, but production has resumed inSouth Africa.

Based on the third novel inJames Dashners trilogy,Maze Runner: The Death Cure follows OBriens Thomas as he embarks on a mission to find a cure to a deadly disease knows as the Flare. Along the way, he meets Goggins character Lawrence, an unusual and dangerous character who is part-revolutionary, part-anarchist, and a voice for the voiceless people, according to Deadline.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is directed by Wes Ball with T.S. Nowlin penning the script. The film is set to hit theaters and finish theMaze Runner series on February 9, 2018.

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Red Sea Diving Resort Casts a Marvel Superhero – Slash Film – /FILM

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Chris Evans to Lead All-Star Cast in Gideon Raff’s THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT – Broadway World

Chris Evans will head a star studded ensemble cast in writer/director Gideon Raff’s THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT, it was announced by producers Aaron L. Gilbert of Bron Studios and Alexandra Milchan of EMJAG Productions. Joining Evans are: Haley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Michael K. Williams, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell and Mark Ivanir and Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear and Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley. (Credits and reps below).

THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT is produced by Gilbert, Milchan and Raff; in association with Creative Wealth Media, whose Jason Cloth and Andy Pollack serves as executive producers. Principal photography begins on June 22 in South AFRICA and Namibia.

The film is based on one of the most remarkable rescue missions ever, the exodus of the Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel in the early 80s. Evans play Ari Kidron, the Mossad agent who led the mission. THE STORY begins in the late 70s, when the spy agency was given an assignment far different from its usual cloak-and-dagger activities when it was ordered to help in the transfer of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who were stuck in refugee camps in Sudan and deliver them to the Jewish state. No stranger to action in enemy countries, the agency established a covert forward base in a deserted holiday village in Sudan and deployed a handful of operatives (including a team of Ethiopians on the ground) to launch and oversee the exodus to the Promised Land, by sea and by air, in the early 1980s. The Mossad’s Red Sea Diving Resort operated for 5 years and saved thousands of refugees and brought them to Israel.

Raff, who directs from his original screenplay, is the co-creator of such breakout hits as “Homeland,” “Tyrant” and “Dig.” Aaron L. Gilbert is known for “Fences”, “Beatriz at Dinner,” “The Birth of a Nation,” and “Tully.” Alexandra Milchan is the executive producer of “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the upcoming AMC series “The Terror”, and producer of the upcoming “Untitled Reed Morano,” “Paranoia,” “Street Kings” and “Mirrors.”

The award-winning behind-the-scenes team on THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT includes; Director Of Photography Roberto Schaefer (“Quantum of Solace”, “Finding Neverland”, “The Host”); Production Designer Jeff Mann (“Transformers”, “Mr & Mrs. Smith”, “Tropic Thunder”); Costume Designer Ruth Myers (“The Legend of Tarzan”, “The Golden Compass”, “L.A Confidential”); Editor Tim Squyres (“Unbroken”, “Life of Pi”, “Hulk”) and Casting Director: Mary Vernieu (“The Magnificent Seven”, “Suicide Squad,” “The Birth of a Nation”).

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Chris Evans to Lead All-Star Cast in Gideon Raff’s THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT – Broadway World

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Shavuot: A Holiday in Search of a Home – Jewish Exponent

By Rabbi Robert Layman

Parshat Emor

Every holiday in the Jewish calendar has a fixed date determined by the Torah or by events not recorded in the Torah (such as Purim on the 14th of Adar and Chanukah on the 25th of Kislev).

Such is not the case with Shavuot, the date of which was dependent on counting seven weeks from a particular day during Passover. The exact reference to that day is open to a variety of interpretations. We are commanded in Leviticus 23:15 in this weeks reading: And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering mi mochorat ha-shabbat you shall count off seven weeks.

The untranslated Hebrew phrase is the crux of the problem. We are instructed to observe the festival on the day following the completion of seven weeks of counting (sefirat haomer, the Counting of the Omer), namely the 50th day. We are currently in the midst of that counting period known simply as sefirah. Because Shavuot falls on the 50th day, it is sometimes referred to as Pentecost, a word of Greek derivation.

The absence of a fixed date for Shavuot is further highlighted by a mitzvah recorded in Deuteronomy 16:9, where the Israelites are instructed to count off seven weeks: Start to count the seven weeks when the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Obviously, this important agricultural activity could vary from year to year depending on weather conditions.

The phrase mi-mochorat ha-shabbat is generally rendered, the day after the Sabbath. But which Sabbath does the text refer to? Rabbinic tradition translated Shabbat in its broadest sense as day of rest and applied it to the first day of Passover. Thus, the counting begins on the 16th of Nisan, leading to the 50th day on the sixth of Sivan.

This is the date on which Shavuot has been observed by most of world Jewry, with the addition of the seventh of Sivan in the Diaspora by all but Reform Jewry. It is interesting to note, however, that some authorities and Diaspora communities understood Shabbat in its literal sense and began the counting on the day after the Sabbath during Passover, namely Sunday, so that Shavuot always fell on a Sunday.

This interpretation was advanced by the Sadducees, who were strict literalists and narrow in their interpretation of halachah. It was also followed by the medieval Karaites, who rejected Rabbinic Judaism, as well as by the Samaritans, generally considered outside the pale of mainstream Judaism.

Among the Ethiopian Jews, Shabbat was given yet another interpretation, having been applied to the final day of Passover, so that in Ethiopia, Shavuot was observed on the 12th of Sivan. Finally, evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls indicates the community of Qumran understood Shabbat to mean the Sabbath after the conclusion of Passover, so that Shavuot always fell on a Sunday, the 15th of Sivan on their fixed solar calendar, according to the Encyclopaedia Judaica.

In summary, Shavuot enjoys the peculiar distinction of being the only festival whose date is not specified by the Torah, and of being observed by different communities at different times in the month of Sivan.

While Shavuot is almost universally celebrated on the sixth of Sivan today, it remains a holiday in search of a home. Unlike the other festivals, Pesach and Sukkot, which are replete with rituals and symbols, Shavuot, which basically commemorates the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai, is lacking in color and symbols.

There are, of course, additions to the liturgy of this holiday, notably the recitation of a special piyut (hymn) composed by Meir ben Isaac Nehorai, a 12th-century German rabbi. One of the themes of that piyut, called Akdamut, is, Were all the skies parchment/ and all the reeds pens, and all the oceans ink/ and all who dwell on earth scribes/ Gods grandeur could not be told. Because of the length of this poem, it is chanted in abridged form in many congregations, if at all.

A distinctive feature of the ritual of Shavuot is the reading of the Book of Ruth. The association between this lyrical Biblical book and the festival of Shavuot has been summarized concisely as follows:

Over the years, various attempts have been made to enliven our celebration of Shavuot so that it will rank in importance with Pesach and Sukkot in the popular mind and practice.

Early in the 19th century, the newly established Reform movement introduced the ceremony of confirmation to mark a transition point in our young peoples Jewish education and the time to affirm the vows at Sinai as an old confirmation hymn expresses it. Confirmation remains a standard celebration in Reform congregations to this day and has been adopted by many Conservative congregations as well, especially in the Philadelphia area.

Other efforts to enhance Shavuot include decorating our homes and synagogues with flowers and plants to reflect the season and the enjoyment of dairy cuisine. Among the various alternate names for the festival is chag habikkurim (Holiday of the First Fruits), recalling the special offerings made by farmers in ancient Israel. The farmers would form colorful processions to Jerusalem, accompanied by music. This ritual was revived in modern times when Jews resumed farming in pre-statehood Eretz Yisrael.

In addition, in recent years many congregations have successfully revived interest in the holiday by instituting an all-night program of study (with dairy refreshments) called Tikkun Leil Shavuot.

If modern Jews would make the effort to observe Shavuot to the extent that they observe the other festivals, Shavuot, which is now celebrated on a fixed date, will cease to be a holiday in search of a home. May it find an honored place in our homes.

Shavuot will be celebrated this year on May 31 and June 1. A few weeks in advance, let me wish everyone a chag sameach.

Rabbi Robert Layman previously served as regional director of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and is a past president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia. The board is proud to provide the Torah commentary for the Jewish Exponent.

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Shavuot: A Holiday in Search of a Home – Jewish Exponent

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May 12, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Son of Ethiopian immigrants travels to Ukraine to advocate Jews there move to Israel – Ynetnews

Uri Biv, 31, a son of immigrants from Ethiopia and a member of the Nazareth Illit city council, will leave next week on a campaign to encourage immigration to Israel (and to Nazareth Illit in particular). Bivs destination is Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

Uri Biv (Photo: Zohar Shachar)

Biv is to attend a conference in Kiev attended by hundreds of Jews from all over Ukraine. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is a partner in financing the trip. When the mayor suggested that I go on a delegation to encourage immigration to Israel, it was unexpected because I was a member of the opposition. He put politics aside and made a decision for the good of the city, he said.

Biv is not concerned about the language problem. I speak fluent English, and a translator will join me to help me with the immigrants, he explained. As a young man of Ethiopian origin, integration into Israel was not easy. I reached where I am, and Im an example of successful absorption in Israel.

A few days before the flight to Kiev, Biv met with new immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were studying at the absorption center in the city and received a few tips from them. Alexander Smolensky, 23, who immigrated to Israel from Ukraine three months ago, said, I never encountered an emissary of Ethiopian origin. It could be very successful.

Ronen Plot, the mayor of Nazareth Illit, said, I chose Uri Biv to go on the mission and to encourage immigrants from Ukraine to come to Nazareth Illit because he is a successful example of absorption.

(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)

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Son of Ethiopian immigrants travels to Ukraine to advocate Jews there move to Israel – Ynetnews

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Former Clevelander Eliezer Jaffe, Israel Free Loan Assn. founder, dies at 84 – Cleveland Jewish News

Former Clevelander Eliezer (David) Jaffe, founder and president of The Israel Free Loan Association and a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, died May 25 in Jerusalem. He was 84. Jaffe, who made aliyah in 1960, started the IFLA in the 1980s to assist Russian and Ethiopian Jews who were moving in large numbers to Israel. The idea for a free loan fund was born in 1989 after a visit to an immigrant absorption center in Jerusalem. I brought my children along, he said at the time. Busloads of Ethiopian Jewish immigrants, straight off the airplane, had just arrived at the center and I explained that they were witnessing history in the making the in-gathering of the exiles. After we got home I thought to myself I have to get involved. The IFLA has loaned more than $240 million and made more than 54,000 loans. He also established Hebrew Universitys School of Social Work and co-founded the universitys Center for the Study of Philanthropy. Jaffe was one of four recipients of the Knesset Speaker’s Prize for Quality of Life in Israel.

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The uses and abuses of anti-Semitism | SocialistWorker.org – Socialist Worker Online

Marching in Boston against Israeli apartheid IT SEEMS On Semitism is intended to be used as a tool–there are study questions, suggested readings. What is your hope for this book? Rebecca Vilkomerson: The more the conversation about Israel changes, the more it stays the same–there are some fundamental questions that come up over and over again that we need to untangle in order to have a breakthrough. Anti-Semitism is one of those questions. It’s fundamental to JVP’s mission: fighting against bigotry in all its forms, including anti-Semitism. We want to open up a conversation, one in which the ways that anti-Semitism affects both Jewish lives and other communities gets proper weight, but also that will help people to distinguish between actual anti-Semitism and legitimate critique of Israel. My own Jewish education was very much Holocaust-Israel, Holocaust-Israel. Jewishness as an identity was drilled into us as a legacy of oppression and discrimination, with statehood as the answer. With the establishment of Israel seen as the endpoint of that legacy, it created a reality where criticism of the state was assumed to be a criticism of Jewish people. You need to have tools with how to grapple with that, and unlearn that stuff, and have a much richer conversation. THE CHARGE of anti-Semitism can be uniquely powerful, relative to other words like “racist” or “sexist” or “homophobe.” There’s particularity about what that charge can do to a person when made publicly. Why is that? Rebecca Vilkomerson: In an ideal world, acts of Islamophobia or a charge of racism would be just as terrifying as acts of anti-Semitism. But the term has become so broad, and so associated with Israel instead of with actual acts of prejudice against Jewish people, that it’s also ripe for abuse. Since Trump’s election, expressions of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic actions have actually come closer to the U.S. power structure in a way that I certainly haven’t experienced in my lifetime. In an atmosphere like this one, we do want to hold on to the idea that anti-Semitism is not acceptable. But there is now a dishonesty around the word “anti-Semitism” that has made it very hard to have honest conversations about Israel or Palestinian rights. It’s made it easy to throw around accusations that are extremely damaging. As Jews, JVP can play a very particular role in breaking down what is real anti-Semitism and what is a political accusation against the state of Israel. People need permission to be able to articulate those critiques, and to know that it’s about speaking up for human rights–not about being against the Jewish people. RABBI ROSEN, your chapter takes up the rising number of anti-Semitic attacks across Europe. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rarely fails to use these attacks as opportunities to urge Jews emigrate to the safety of Israel. He’s essentially suggesting the only solution to anti-Semitism is ethnic separatism. There’s a memorable anecdote related in the book, of a Netanyahu visit to France following the Jewish market attack January 2015. After he delivered his message in a Paris synagogue, the congregation rose to their feet and burst into the French national anthem. Not knowing what to do, he just stood there. Brant Rosen: The Israeli government has been quick to pounce on every anti-Semitic attack in Europe to promote Jewish immigration to Israel, but we’ve heard nothing but crickets in response to the uptick of anti-Semitic hate acts in the United States since Trump’s election. The reason is obvious: Israel is eager to promote the narrative that “radical Islam” is the most serious anti-Semitic threat in the world. They’ve been far less eager to protest the rise of the radical right in Europe, and now in the United States, because Israel’s own political culture is increasingly dominated by the far right. It’s fascinating to see how the newly emboldened alt-right in the United States has publicly embraced Israeli nationalism as an example of ethnic separatism that they would like to emulate. Alt-right leader Richard Spencer speaks admiringly of Israel as a home for Jews, and promotes white separation here along the same lines. (Of course, this “kindler, gentler” form of white supremacy is only a fig leaf for a more insidious vision of a “Judenrein” United States.) FOR THE section of the European far right looking to go mainstream, the targeting of Jews has almost disappeared. A generation ago, National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen was not shy about anti-Jewish rhetoric. His daughter, Marine Le Pen, has totally eliminated that rhetoric in her bid for president and replaced it with attacks on Arabs and Muslims. With an influx of Arab and Muslim immigrants since 2015, and in the absence of any principled opposition from the French left, this shift has had some resonance. Rabbi Rosen, you write, “as the refugees started coming in by the tens of thousands per day starting about a year ago, Europe became a safer place to be Jewish.” The same tools and tropes have been turned from Jewish scapegoating towards Arabs and Muslims. But despite this, there is clearly fertile ground to pit Jews against Arabs and Muslims and vice versa. How is this playing out? Brant Rosen: The European right would love nothing better than to set European Jews and Muslims against one another. Not coincidentally, Israel is using the same playbook: they are finding common cause with European rightists by fomenting Islamophobia and painting Muslims as the common enemy of the West. Those who are truly concerned with Jewish safety and security have to reject this narrative unabashedly. Our safety and security will not come by throwing in with the oppressors; it can only come through solidarity with the oppressed. THE “NEW anti-Semitism” is a term Zionists are using more frequently, as an update of “anti-Semitism” to include criticism of Israel. How do they draw that direct line from anti-Semitism to criticism of Israel? Rebecca Vilkomerson: There was a very deliberate schema set out by certain Jewish organizations to define Israel as “the Jew of the world.” The idea is that Israel is a person, and in the same way that Jews are discriminated against by non-Jews, Israel as the Jewish state is discriminated against by non-Jewish countries around the world. Therefore, every criticism of Israel is a reflection of anti-Semitism. This is dangerous, but also effective, because it delegitimizes any criticism of Israel. Countries like France or the United States or Ghana can be criticized based on their political actions, both to their own citizenry and around the world. That’s a completely legitimate thing for people to talk about. Rather than Israel being a country like any other, the “new anti-Semitism” redefines what kind of criticisms are valid by putting this personhood on Israel. It also does the reverse: It implicates all Jews into the Israeli project. The Israeli government has made explicit claims that it is the nation of all the Jews, not a nation of its citizens. If you’re a Jew, you’re born with potential Israeli nationality. That’s why any Jew from around the world can come in and automatically become a citizen of the state of Israel, even as Palestinian citizens of Israel have less rights and state resources than Jewish Israelis. So all Jews around the world are de facto made a part of this Israeli project. Of course, equating “Israel” with “Jews” erases the 25 percent of Israeli citizens who are not Jewish and ignores the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza entirely, where only Jewish Israelis have the rights of citizens. It’s been also very successful within the Jewish community in getting people to see Israel as the expression of their Jewishness. They see Israel as their Jewishness, so an attack on Israel is made to feel like an attack on them. So something like the Gaza war happens, and Jewish communities have huge rallies in defense of Israel. The phrase “anti-Israel” has become anathema. You can’t say that you’re anti-Israel, and being called anti-Israel is seen as the equivalent of being called anti-Semitic. But being anti-Israel is totally legitimate. If you’re a Palestinian who’s lost their home, lost their livelihood, is facing daily oppression, or you’re a refugee and you can’t go back, of course you’re anti-Israel. Israel is the country that has done these things to you! The “anti-Israel is anti-Semitic” component discounts these facts and makes the conversation into a psychological thing, an irrational hatred of Jews, instead of one that is structural and fact-based. For those of us who are Jewish, we have a responsibility to say, you can hate the state of Israel, and that doesn’t mean you’re anti-Semitic. OMAR BARGHOUTI argues in his chapter that the claim “criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic” is itself anti-Semitic. Rebecca Vilkomerson: It flattens the Jewish experience. It discounts the historically constant Jewish strains of anti-Zionism–or non-Zionism, or post-Zionism, whatever you want to call it–that have always existed since Zionism was created. It ignores the vastly different experiences depending if you are an Ashkenazi (from Europe) Jew or a Mizrachi/Sephardi Jew, or Ethiopian Jew. When you’re talking about any sort of bigotry, part of the definition is the idea that you can make one overarching generalization about that people. IN JUDITH Butler’s introduction, she writes, “Distinguishing among the very different historical trajectories of Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi Jews breaks up a monolithic understanding of what it is to be a Jew, and so deprives anti-Semitism of its noxious habit of vulgar generalization.” She’s saying that actually to draw out Judaism, in all its diversity, is to combat anti-Semitism. Isn’t it then true that by collapsing all Jews into one thing, support for Israel, Zionists create more fertile ground for anti-Semitism? Rebecca Vilkomerson: Yeah. There’s also a deep sadness to it. A lot of rhetoric that comes out of Israel is that the only way that you can be Jewish–in a real way–is to be Israeli. The result is a loss of a very diverse and beautiful set of Jewish cultures. There’s something deeply sad about that. OVER THE past couple of years, Israel passed a number of laws attempting to ban some form of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement in Israel. First, small-business owners could sue Israeli BDS activists for damages if their business had been impacted. Now, known BDS activists from anywhere in the world are banned from Israel. Rebecca Vilkomerson: The ban on BDS activists going in, for me personally, is a particularly sad moment. I have in-laws who are about to turn 80 there, I have family there and friends there. ARE YOU not able to travel to Israel? Rebecca Vilkomerson: I assume not. We’ll see how the law gets implemented. YOU’RE A fairly prominent activist. Rebecca Vilkomerson: The bill makes overt a policy that was already happening beneath the surface. Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, people who look Muslim according to the customs agents at the Israeli border, people of color–it’s basically a racial-profiling system, of which Israelis seem very proud. They’re trying to sell it, actually, in these police exchanges that they do with the United States–selling this racial-profiling system for how they let people in and out. This bill brings all that to the surface, by Israel saying that whole categories of people are being targeted for their political beliefs, so people like me are being added in to the people who have already been targeted historically. As the BDS movement becomes stronger and stronger, the Israeli state is going to try to clamp down harder and harder. It’s evidence of how scared they are of BDS, and what an impact it’s having on them. There’s no way to legislate away BDS. Not letting me into Israel is not going to keep me from supporting BDS. I think it’s actually going to make more liberal Zionists say, “Well, if they’re not going to let me in, then I may as well support the full call for BDS.” And it may make a lot more people who may not know much about Israel or Palestinians at all question how much of a democracy Israel really is. With this increasing repression, the Israeli state is overreaching in a way that is helpful for understanding the degree to which the Israeli government is engaged in extreme forms of antidemocratic governance. U.S. LAW has begun to use definitions of anti-Semitism that include criticism of Israel, making it some form of hate speech to criticize Israel. Rebecca Vilkomerson: Some of the bigger Jewish organizations that have a lot of resources have specifically used recent acts of anti-Semitism as a way to suppress conversation on this issue. Most recently was the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act–a federal bill intended to codify criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, which was fast-tracked through the Senate. The depth of the hypocrisy behind that bill was so clear when it was brought out right as Steve Bannon became a key adviser to Trump, and all of a sudden we were seeing a rise of anti-Semitic incidents and no response from the Trump administration. The bill was a joint effort of American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, and is based on years of work in advancing a definition of anti-Semitism that is extremely dangerous. It could potentially make dissent about Israel illegal. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act did not go forward in the House (so far, at least) thanks to good organizing that JVP was a part of. AS YOU mentioned, following Trump’s election, there was a sharp rise in reports of anti-Semitic attacks. Given how little it takes for Trump to go on the attack against something–SNL parodies of his administration, for example–you’d think he would have more to say about anti-Semitic attacks. He’s called them reprehensible, but more often suggested that these attacks were “false flags” committed by political enemies to smear him. When actual anti-Semitism happens, it gets downplayed or ignored. Meanwhile, anti-BDS legislation is moving forward in a variety of ways in national and state legislatures. Is the “new anti-Semitism” pushing actual anti-Semitism off the table and keeping only criticism of Israel? Rebecca Vilkomerson: Since Trump’s election, support for Israel is overtly being offered as a defense against anti-Semitism. Public figures are essentially saying, “I can’t be anti-Semitic, I support Israel.” Then right-wing Jewish organizations, which spend a lot of time accusing BDS activists of being anti-Semitic, don’t make a peep when those kinds of excuses for these acts are thrown out there. Actual acts against Jews in the United States become de-prioritized; the only measure of anti-Semitism is how much you support the state of Israel. AND THE United States has been importing this strategy over the last five years. “The world’s greatest democracy” is now curtailing free speech and attacking speech as hate speech, in order to defend their relationship with “the only democracy in the Middle East,” which is busy rolling out all sorts of antidemocratic measures. Rebecca Vilkomerson: The United States already gives Israel more foreign aid than any country in the entire world. We already use all of our diplomatic, economic, military force to allow Israel to keep doing what it’s doing. Of course, the United States is not new to repression of its own people and its own forms of the security state. But the way that they are allying with one another is actually clarifying. We have all these people who are newly activated and so upset about Trump. This is the moment when those people need to be brought into these fights. We have an opportunity to say to them, “If you’re against the Muslim ban here in the United States, you should be concerned about the fact that Israel has had a de facto Muslim ban and a Christian ban for many decades. If you want to be consistent about your politics, you’re going to have to speak out about both of these things, and start to reconcile the fact that you have one set of criteria for the United States and another for Israel.” There’s a lot of room right now to have those conversations with people, especially because it’s this elevated, activating moment where people have their minds open to really be able to talk about those parallels and what it means. If you as a political person identify with the values of equality, and freedom, and free access to countries, and refugee rights, and immigrant rights, you need to take a critical look at Israel. JVP IS really growing–you now have over 12,000 dues-paying members. Why are so many people finding and joining JVP? Rebecca Vilkomerson: Peter Beinart wrote a piece recently that I found extremely strange. I often appreciate his writing and how he’s openly wrestling with lots of issues. But in this article, in reaction to Israel’s ban on BDS activists, he wrote that he just wants his kids to love Israel. When they’re older they can wrestle with it, but for now he just wants them to have the space of love for it. So he tries to protect them from the realities of Israel. To me, that’s the exact recipe for what we see with people coming into JVP who have been fed this Disney-fied picture of Israel. They feel completely betrayed when they find out it’s not the land of milk and honey that was empty and made for them, and start to understand the realities and look at the global context. The realities of life in Israel can’t be brushed aside. People are smarter than that. Especially in this politically charged moment, people are looking for a place where they can be their authentic whole selves–where they can be Jewish and also fight strongly against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. People come to JVP because they find that here, and also they find a place where we are doing it powerfully and in deep partnership with Palestinian allies and other communities. First published in Jacobin.

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May 25, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Sites Trump Will Visit in His Holy Land Trip – Naharnet

When U.S. President Donald Trump lands in Tel Aviv on Monday for the Israeli-Palestinian leg of his trip, he will hold talks with leaders from both sides, but also visit key sites: – Church of the Holy Sepulcher – Located in the Old City of Jerusalem’s annexed eastern sector, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher contains a 19th-century shrine built on the site where tradition says Jesus was buried and resurrected. The ornate shrine recently underwent a $3.7-million renovation that restored its stones to their original reddish-yellow and reinforced the heavily visited site. The church draws tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims for the “Holy Fire” ceremony, the highlight of the Eastern Christian calendar, which takes place on the eve of Orthodox Easter. One of Christianity’s holiest sites, the church is shared by six denominations: the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Egyptian Copts, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox. – The Western Wall – The Western Wall is the last remnant of the supporting wall of the second Jewish temple, built by King Herod and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The holiest site where Jews can pray, the Western Wall is located in the Old City of east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed. It is situated below the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount. The Western Wall’s plaza serves as a place of gender-segregated Jewish prayer, administered by the ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz, who will accompany Trump on his visit there. Trump will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site, where it is customary to place notes containing prayers and requests between the stones. The White House reportedly refused to allow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join Trump at the site, known in Hebrew as the Kotel (wall). Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. When Trump’s envoy to Israel David Friedman arrived to take up his position this month, his first act was to visit the Western Wall, where he prayed and kissed the ancient stones. – Yad Vashem – Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, perched on a forested hillside in west Jerusalem, is among the world’s foremost Holocaust education, documentation and research centers. The vast complex includes a variety of monuments, archives and displays, including the Hall of Names with its cone structure featuring pictures of Holocaust victims, and the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, where thousands of trees are dedicated to non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Dignitaries and celebrities visiting Israel nearly always find the time for Yad Vashem, which is the second-most visited site in Israel after the Western Wall. Yad Vashem recently urged White House press secretary Sean Spicer to visit its website after he said that unlike the Syrian regime, Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons. Spicer later apologized for his “insensitive” remarks. More than six million predominantly European Jews were killed during the Nazi genocide in World War II, many of them by poisonous gas. – Israel Museum – Not far from Yad Vashem is the Israel Museum, where Trump is set to deliver a speech, after the more exotic location of the desert fortress Masada was ruled out. The museum boasts a collection of nearly 500,000 objects of art and archeology, ancient and modern, including the Dead Sea Scrolls which date back more than two millennia and include some of the earliest texts from the Bible. In 2013, then-president Barack Obama viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls at the museum in a move seen as a nod to the ancient roots of the Jewish state. – Bethlehem – Trump is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, located in the West Bank, occupied by Israel for 50 years. It is the “little town” where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born and it attracts thousands of pilgrims at Christmas. Located just 10 kilometers (six miles) from Jerusalem across Israel’s separation wall, it is the site of the Church of the Nativity, which contains an underground cave where Christians believe Mary gave birth to Jesus. Israel’s separation wall is part of a project begun in 2002 during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, that is to extend around 700 kilometers (450 miles) once completed. It is a stark symbol of the occupation for Palestinians, and in Bethlehem it has been covered by graffiti and street art.

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May 21, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

According to JTA, which cites Rabi’s Hebrew-language bio, she served as a medic in the Israeli Air Force and has … – Tablet Magazine

A new Miss Israel has been crowned, a Millennial model from Jerusalem named Rotem Rabi whose win is being covered as a social media victory because online voting factored in the decision. And kudos to her: Instagram (and Facebook) is the name of the game, and she does this well, Im told, enough to beat out 15 other contestant to take the title. Next: the Worlds in China in December. No Israeli has won since Linor Abargil in 1998. According to JTA, which cites Rabis Hebrew-language bio, she served as a medic in the Israeli Air Force and has worked as a model while starting the process to join theIsrael Polices investigative division. She dropped out of the Miss Israel contestlast year to accept a modeling contract in Milan. The timing of her win is interesting in one sense because Gal Gadot, Miss Israel 2004, has become a veritable Hollywood star. Her upcoming solo flick, Wonder Woman, should made oodles of cash,regardless of how goodor bad it is. Perhaps Rabis star will rise still. Rabis victory reminds me of a fantastic article by Daniel Estrin about the outspoken Ethiopian-born Yityish Titi Aynaw, Israels Bold New Queen, who won the competition in 2013. (Notably, the Miss Israel contest has been held every year since 1950). In it, Estrin details Aynawslong Cinderella journey to Israel. Born in a small township near Gondar in northwest Ethiopia, she was orphaned by age 10. Her father died a year after she was bornshe never found out howand a decade later her mother died of a sudden illness. Her mothers parents, who had already uprooted to Israel in 2000, arranged for her and her brother to move, too. Aynaw grew up like many Ethiopian Jews, dreaming of going to Israel. I was told this was the land of milk and honey, she said, laughing. That Id go on the street, bend down, and pick up golden coins. Id open the faucet and milk would pour out. In March 2003, Aynaw and her brother flew via Kenya to Israel. Her grandparents, whom she had hardly remembered, brought them to their hardscrabble immigrant neighborhood in the seaside town of Netanya. Without knowing a word of Hebrew, she was shuffled off to a religious Jewish boarding school in Haifa catering to new immigrants. Today her Hebrew is accentless and expressive. They threw me into the deep water. But thats how you learn to swim the best, she said. Read the rest of Estrins piece here, and congratulations to Rotem Rabi. Previous: The Chosen Ones: An Interview With Titi Aynaw Jonathan Zalman, a staff editor, runs The Scroll, Tablet’s news blog.

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May 15, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Aliyah from Ethiopia – Wikipedia

The Jewish aliyah from Ethiopia, or the immigration of ethnically and religiously Jewish Ethiopians to Israel, began during the mid-1970s, during which the majority of the Beta Israel community emigrated to Israel. In 1973 the Israeli Ministry of Absorption prepared a comprehensive report on the Beta Israel ethnic group (the historical name of the Israelite Ethiopian community), which stated that the Falasha were foreign in all aspects to the Jewish nation. The report concluded that there was no need to take action in order to help the ethnic group make Aliyah to Israel. Shortly after the publication of the Ministry of Absorption report in 1973, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the Sephardi chief rabbi, decreed that the community of “Beta Israel” are a descendant tribe of Israel. He also said that giving them a proper Jewish education and the right to immigrate to Israel, in his definition, was a Mitzvah. On the other side, Shlomo Goren, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi, said that the Beta Israel Ethiopians are not the descendants of the Tribe of Dan and he said that they had been assimilated to non-Israelite communities over the years.[citation needed]Ovadia Yosef’s Halakha ruling ended with the Law of Return being applied to the community, notwithstanding the Ministry of Absorption report and notwithstanding the position of the Ashkenazi chief rabbinate. In order to bring the Beta Israel community to Israel, an inter-office staff was founded, which included representatives from the Israeli Justice Department, Israeli Ministry of Interior, Israeli Ministry of Absorption and the Jewish Agency for Israel. This action was mainly promoted after the election of Menachem Begin as Prime Minister in 1977. In the absence of full diplomatic relations with Ethiopia, The Israeli Mossad contacted officials in Sudan, which is adjacent to Ethiopia. Thousands of Beta Israel community from Ethiopia traveled by foot to the border with Sudan, and waited there in temporary camps until they were flown to Israel. Between the years 1977 and 1984, these immigrants were led from those camps to Israel by means of vessels of the Israeli Sea Corps and airplanes. Until Operation Moses, about 8,000 made a dangerous journey to Israel during which about 4,000 Beta Israel perished from disease or hunger or were killed by bandits. After it became clear that the immigrants who remained in the Sudanese camps were in danger, it was decided to pursue an operation of intense immigration, nicknamed “Operation Moses”, during which about 8,000 immigrants were brought to Israel from Ethiopia using Israeli aircraft. Most of the immigrants in Operation Moses originated from the Gondar area. Entire families including little children undertook long and dangerous treks, which often spanned whole months. As a result of the difficulties of the journey and bad conditions, hundreds and possibly even thousands of Beta Israel Ethiopians died on the way to the Sudanese camps. One of the main Ethiopian activists was Frada Aklom, whom many perceive as an important figure in the Beta Israel community. The operation ended prematurely, after a press leak in Israel regarding Ethiopian Aliyah via Sudan to Israel. After the media exposure to the operation, the political situation the region changed. The Sudanese government, which had allowed Beta Israel entry into the country on their way to Israel, was dismissed, and relations between Israel and Sudan were soured. Despite this, more Beta Israel were brought to Israel, including 1,200 in the Operation Sheba and 800 more on Operation Joshua that took place in 1985, with the help of George H. W. Bush, who was then Vice President of the United States. At the beginning of 1991, the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia was about to collapse due to the rebel forces approaching the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. In the end of May 1991, several days before Addis Ababa was seized by the rebels, Mengistu escaped from Ethiopia and found shelter in Zimbabwe. An agreement was obtained between officials from Mengistu’s government and Israel allowing the Ethiopian Beta Israel to emigrate to Israel in exchange for about 35 million US dollars and shelter in the United States for several of the officials of the government. Due to this agreement, Operation Solomon took place, during which about 14,400 Beta Israel were brought to Israel within 34 hours on 24 May 1991, in about 30 airplanes of the Israeli Air Force and the airline El Al. There are many descendants of Ethiopian Beta Israel, whose ancestors converted to Christianity and who are now returning to the Mosaic Israelite faith. This group of people is known as the Falash Mura. They are admitted entrance to Israel, although not as Israelites, thus enabling the Israeli government to set quotas to their immigration and make citizenship dependent on Orthodox conversion to modern Judaism. Although nobody knows for certain the exact population of the Falash Mura in Ethiopia, it is approximated to be 20,000-26,000. However, recently some reporters and other travelers in remote regions of Ethiopia have noted that they have found entire villages where people claim they are Beta Israel or are Falash Mura (Beta Israel who have been practicing Christianity). Chief Kes Raphael Hadane has argued for the acceptance of the Falasha Mura as Jews.[2] In April 2016, the Israeli Government approved a plan to bring 9,000 Falashmuras to Israel over the course of five years. 1,300 are scheduled to arrive in June 2016.[3] The biggest concentrations of the Ethiopians Beta Israel are in the cities: Beersheba, Dimona, Mitzpe Ramon, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Lod, Ramla, Or Yehuda, Jerusalem, Netanya, Kiryat Malakhi. A report carried out by the Bank of Israel in 2006 gave cause for concern regarding the absorption of the Ethiopian community to Israeli society: The Bank of Israel report also highlights mistakes made by the government in its attempt to integrate Ethiopian immigrants into mainstream Israeli society, despite the estimated 400,000 NIS spent per immigrant. In addition to government financial investments, money was also invested from private donations, and by local authority welfare systems, and towards Affirmative action schemes to help immigrants undertake mandatory army or national service and for their greater inclusion in higher education. The report recommended that measures be taken to encourage immigrants to disperse around the country, rather than remain concentrated in the small communities in which they were initially placed. In addition, it recommended that greater resources be allocated to schools to improve education for Ethiopian children. Lastly, the report recommended that greater emphasis be placed on providing professional training to Ethiopian immigrants and that affirmative action be considered to aid their inclusion in public service jobs. In 2009, Tzion Shenkor, the highest-ranking Ethiopian officer in the Israel Defense Forces with a rank of Lieutenant Colonel, became the first battalion commander of Ethiopian descent.[4][5]

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May 13, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Red Sea Diving Resort Casts a Marvel Superhero – Slash Film – /FILM

In todays edition of casting news pieces that arent quite bigenough to get their own story but are certainly more interesting when lumped together: Now, lets go into detail. Based on the real-life rescue mission of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel in the early 80s, Chris Evans will star as Mossad agent Ari Kidron in Red Sea Diving Resort.Heres the synopsis of the Gideon Raff film from ComingSoon.net: The story begins in the late 70s, when the spy agency was given an assignment far different from its usual cloak-and-dagger activities when it was ordered to help in the transfer of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who were stuck in refugee camps in Sudan and deliver them to the Jewish state. No stranger to action in enemy countries, the agency established a covert forward base in a deserted holiday village in Sudan and deployed a handful of operatives (including a team of Ethiopians on the ground) to launch and oversee the exodus to the Promised Land, by sea and by air, in the early 1980s. The Mossads Red Sea Diving Resort operated for five years and saved thousands of refugees and brought them to Israel. Evans will lead a confirmed cast ofHaley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Michael K. Williams, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell and Mark Ivanir, as well as Academy Awardnominee Greg Kinnear and Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley. Rebel Wilson will be living every romantic comedy sidekicks dream in Isnt It Romantic, a comedy in which a cynical woman (Wilson) discovers that her life has become a rom-com. Wilson goes from sidekick to romantic lead, getting caught in a love triangle between Adam Devine and Liam Hemsworth. Devine, who co-starred with Wilson in Pitch Perfect, will play a character who is stuck in the friend zone while Hemsworth the hunky object of Wilsons affections. Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, Isnt It Romantic was initially written by Erin Cardillo, with revisions by Dana Fox, Katie Silberman, Paula Pell, Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly. Todd Garner, Grant Scharbo, Gina Matthews and Jeremy Steinare producing the comedy, which is set to start production in June. The third installment of Maze Runner is getting off the ground with Walton Goggins joining the cast. Maze Runner: The Death Cure was delayed due to star Dylan OBrien being injured on set, but production has resumed inSouth Africa. Based on the third novel inJames Dashners trilogy,Maze Runner: The Death Cure follows OBriens Thomas as he embarks on a mission to find a cure to a deadly disease knows as the Flare. Along the way, he meets Goggins character Lawrence, an unusual and dangerous character who is part-revolutionary, part-anarchist, and a voice for the voiceless people, according to Deadline. Maze Runner: The Death Cure is directed by Wes Ball with T.S. Nowlin penning the script. The film is set to hit theaters and finish theMaze Runner series on February 9, 2018.

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May 13, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Chris Evans to Lead All-Star Cast in Gideon Raff’s THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT – Broadway World

Chris Evans will head a star studded ensemble cast in writer/director Gideon Raff’s THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT, it was announced by producers Aaron L. Gilbert of Bron Studios and Alexandra Milchan of EMJAG Productions. Joining Evans are: Haley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Michael K. Williams, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell and Mark Ivanir and Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear and Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley. (Credits and reps below). THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT is produced by Gilbert, Milchan and Raff; in association with Creative Wealth Media, whose Jason Cloth and Andy Pollack serves as executive producers. Principal photography begins on June 22 in South AFRICA and Namibia. The film is based on one of the most remarkable rescue missions ever, the exodus of the Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel in the early 80s. Evans play Ari Kidron, the Mossad agent who led the mission. THE STORY begins in the late 70s, when the spy agency was given an assignment far different from its usual cloak-and-dagger activities when it was ordered to help in the transfer of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who were stuck in refugee camps in Sudan and deliver them to the Jewish state. No stranger to action in enemy countries, the agency established a covert forward base in a deserted holiday village in Sudan and deployed a handful of operatives (including a team of Ethiopians on the ground) to launch and oversee the exodus to the Promised Land, by sea and by air, in the early 1980s. The Mossad’s Red Sea Diving Resort operated for 5 years and saved thousands of refugees and brought them to Israel. Raff, who directs from his original screenplay, is the co-creator of such breakout hits as “Homeland,” “Tyrant” and “Dig.” Aaron L. Gilbert is known for “Fences”, “Beatriz at Dinner,” “The Birth of a Nation,” and “Tully.” Alexandra Milchan is the executive producer of “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the upcoming AMC series “The Terror”, and producer of the upcoming “Untitled Reed Morano,” “Paranoia,” “Street Kings” and “Mirrors.” The award-winning behind-the-scenes team on THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT includes; Director Of Photography Roberto Schaefer (“Quantum of Solace”, “Finding Neverland”, “The Host”); Production Designer Jeff Mann (“Transformers”, “Mr & Mrs. Smith”, “Tropic Thunder”); Costume Designer Ruth Myers (“The Legend of Tarzan”, “The Golden Compass”, “L.A Confidential”); Editor Tim Squyres (“Unbroken”, “Life of Pi”, “Hulk”) and Casting Director: Mary Vernieu (“The Magnificent Seven”, “Suicide Squad,” “The Birth of a Nation”).

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May 12, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Shavuot: A Holiday in Search of a Home – Jewish Exponent

By Rabbi Robert Layman Parshat Emor Every holiday in the Jewish calendar has a fixed date determined by the Torah or by events not recorded in the Torah (such as Purim on the 14th of Adar and Chanukah on the 25th of Kislev). Such is not the case with Shavuot, the date of which was dependent on counting seven weeks from a particular day during Passover. The exact reference to that day is open to a variety of interpretations. We are commanded in Leviticus 23:15 in this weeks reading: And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering mi mochorat ha-shabbat you shall count off seven weeks. The untranslated Hebrew phrase is the crux of the problem. We are instructed to observe the festival on the day following the completion of seven weeks of counting (sefirat haomer, the Counting of the Omer), namely the 50th day. We are currently in the midst of that counting period known simply as sefirah. Because Shavuot falls on the 50th day, it is sometimes referred to as Pentecost, a word of Greek derivation. The absence of a fixed date for Shavuot is further highlighted by a mitzvah recorded in Deuteronomy 16:9, where the Israelites are instructed to count off seven weeks: Start to count the seven weeks when the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Obviously, this important agricultural activity could vary from year to year depending on weather conditions. The phrase mi-mochorat ha-shabbat is generally rendered, the day after the Sabbath. But which Sabbath does the text refer to? Rabbinic tradition translated Shabbat in its broadest sense as day of rest and applied it to the first day of Passover. Thus, the counting begins on the 16th of Nisan, leading to the 50th day on the sixth of Sivan. This is the date on which Shavuot has been observed by most of world Jewry, with the addition of the seventh of Sivan in the Diaspora by all but Reform Jewry. It is interesting to note, however, that some authorities and Diaspora communities understood Shabbat in its literal sense and began the counting on the day after the Sabbath during Passover, namely Sunday, so that Shavuot always fell on a Sunday. This interpretation was advanced by the Sadducees, who were strict literalists and narrow in their interpretation of halachah. It was also followed by the medieval Karaites, who rejected Rabbinic Judaism, as well as by the Samaritans, generally considered outside the pale of mainstream Judaism. Among the Ethiopian Jews, Shabbat was given yet another interpretation, having been applied to the final day of Passover, so that in Ethiopia, Shavuot was observed on the 12th of Sivan. Finally, evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls indicates the community of Qumran understood Shabbat to mean the Sabbath after the conclusion of Passover, so that Shavuot always fell on a Sunday, the 15th of Sivan on their fixed solar calendar, according to the Encyclopaedia Judaica. In summary, Shavuot enjoys the peculiar distinction of being the only festival whose date is not specified by the Torah, and of being observed by different communities at different times in the month of Sivan. While Shavuot is almost universally celebrated on the sixth of Sivan today, it remains a holiday in search of a home. Unlike the other festivals, Pesach and Sukkot, which are replete with rituals and symbols, Shavuot, which basically commemorates the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai, is lacking in color and symbols. There are, of course, additions to the liturgy of this holiday, notably the recitation of a special piyut (hymn) composed by Meir ben Isaac Nehorai, a 12th-century German rabbi. One of the themes of that piyut, called Akdamut, is, Were all the skies parchment/ and all the reeds pens, and all the oceans ink/ and all who dwell on earth scribes/ Gods grandeur could not be told. Because of the length of this poem, it is chanted in abridged form in many congregations, if at all. A distinctive feature of the ritual of Shavuot is the reading of the Book of Ruth. The association between this lyrical Biblical book and the festival of Shavuot has been summarized concisely as follows: Over the years, various attempts have been made to enliven our celebration of Shavuot so that it will rank in importance with Pesach and Sukkot in the popular mind and practice. Early in the 19th century, the newly established Reform movement introduced the ceremony of confirmation to mark a transition point in our young peoples Jewish education and the time to affirm the vows at Sinai as an old confirmation hymn expresses it. Confirmation remains a standard celebration in Reform congregations to this day and has been adopted by many Conservative congregations as well, especially in the Philadelphia area. Other efforts to enhance Shavuot include decorating our homes and synagogues with flowers and plants to reflect the season and the enjoyment of dairy cuisine. Among the various alternate names for the festival is chag habikkurim (Holiday of the First Fruits), recalling the special offerings made by farmers in ancient Israel. The farmers would form colorful processions to Jerusalem, accompanied by music. This ritual was revived in modern times when Jews resumed farming in pre-statehood Eretz Yisrael. In addition, in recent years many congregations have successfully revived interest in the holiday by instituting an all-night program of study (with dairy refreshments) called Tikkun Leil Shavuot. If modern Jews would make the effort to observe Shavuot to the extent that they observe the other festivals, Shavuot, which is now celebrated on a fixed date, will cease to be a holiday in search of a home. May it find an honored place in our homes. Shavuot will be celebrated this year on May 31 and June 1. A few weeks in advance, let me wish everyone a chag sameach. Rabbi Robert Layman previously served as regional director of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and is a past president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia. The board is proud to provide the Torah commentary for the Jewish Exponent.

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May 12, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed

Son of Ethiopian immigrants travels to Ukraine to advocate Jews there move to Israel – Ynetnews

Uri Biv, 31, a son of immigrants from Ethiopia and a member of the Nazareth Illit city council, will leave next week on a campaign to encourage immigration to Israel (and to Nazareth Illit in particular). Bivs destination is Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Uri Biv (Photo: Zohar Shachar) Biv is to attend a conference in Kiev attended by hundreds of Jews from all over Ukraine. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is a partner in financing the trip. When the mayor suggested that I go on a delegation to encourage immigration to Israel, it was unexpected because I was a member of the opposition. He put politics aside and made a decision for the good of the city, he said. Biv is not concerned about the language problem. I speak fluent English, and a translator will join me to help me with the immigrants, he explained. As a young man of Ethiopian origin, integration into Israel was not easy. I reached where I am, and Im an example of successful absorption in Israel. A few days before the flight to Kiev, Biv met with new immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were studying at the absorption center in the city and received a few tips from them. Alexander Smolensky, 23, who immigrated to Israel from Ukraine three months ago, said, I never encountered an emissary of Ethiopian origin. It could be very successful. Ronen Plot, the mayor of Nazareth Illit, said, I chose Uri Biv to go on the mission and to encourage immigrants from Ukraine to come to Nazareth Illit because he is a successful example of absorption. (Translated and edited by J. Herzog)

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May 5, 2017   Posted in: Ethiopian Jews  Comments Closed


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