Archive for the ‘Jewish’ Category

Bernard-Henri Lvy – Tablet Magazine

Its quite a story.

This story may seem unlikely in this era of generalized war between cultures, civilizations, and religions. And I am grateful to British journalist Ben Judah for having brought it to light in an article that appeared in the Jewish Chronicle the day after the visit to Israel of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The time is December 1971. The place is the territory then known as East Pakistan. Separated by 1,600 kilometers from West Pakistan, this Bengali part of Pakistan has been in rebellion since March.

The central government in Islamabad, rejecting the secession of what will eventually become Bangladesh, is engaged in a merciless repression, the cost of which, in lives, remains unknown even today, almost a half-century later. Half a million people may have died, of perhaps a million, 2million, or more.

On Dec. 3, India decides to enter the conflict, to interfere, as one would put it today, in the domestic affairs of its neighbor so as to stop the bloodbath. The fighting rages.

The Bengali freedom fighters, known as the Mukti Bahini, now supported by India, become increasingly daring.

New Delhis strategy is to build up slowly and gradually, a decision. This strategy seems to many ill-suited to the Bangladesh of the day, a terrain of few roads, major rivers, and innumerable marshes. Thirteen days into the new phase of the war, with the Pakistanis having massed 90,000 troops around Dacca, the capital, against the Indians 3,000, New Delhi appears to be stuck and has hardly boxed itself into the beginnings of a siege. And it is at this moment that a high-ranking Indian officer, without notifying his superiors, takes a plane, lands in Dacca, presents himself to General Niazi, head of the Pakistani forces and pulls off one of the most spectacular bluffs in modern military history: You have 90,000 men, the Indian officer tells Niazi. We have many more, plus the Mukti Bahini, who are full of the vengeance of their people and will give no quarter. Under the circumstances, you have only one choice: to persist in a fight that you cannot win or to sign this letter of surrender that I have drafted in my own hand, which promises you an honorable retreat. You have half an hour to decide; Ill go have a smoke.

Niazi, falling into the trap, chooses the second option. To the worlds amazement, 3,000 Indian soldiers accept the surrender of 90,000 Pakistanis. Tens of thousandsnohundreds of thousands of lives on both sides are spared.

And Bangladesh is free!

The story might have ended there.

Except that the general behind the masterly coup that makes him godfather to a new Muslim country is Jewish. His name is Jack Jacobs.

He was born in 1924 in Calcutta into a Sephardic family that had arrived there from Baghdad two centuries before, leaving behind 2,000 years of history.

In 1942, learning of the ongoing extermination of Europes Jews, he enlists in the British army in Iraq, fights in North Africa and then moves on to Burma and Sumatra in the campaign against the Japanese.

And remaining in the military after the independence of India in 1947, he is the only Jew to rise high in the countrys military services, eventually coming to command the eastern army that, in December 1971, will be mounting the offensive against Islamabads legions.

It happens that I met this man 46 years ago. I was in rebellious Bangladesh, having responded to French novelist Andr Malrauxs call for the formation of an International Brigade to fight for a Bengali land still in limbo but suffering mightily under the hand of West Pakistan.

I had just entered Dacca with a unit of the Mukti Bahini.

In the company of Rafiq Hussaineldest son of the first Bangladeshi family to welcome me into their home in the Segun Bagicha neighborhood, and who later became my friendI saw Jacob at Race House on Dec. 16, standing behind (and letting himself eclipsed by) his colleague, General Jagit Singh Aurora, signing, in Niazis presence, the act of surrender that he had penned.

The next day, I happened to see him again with a handful of journalists and heard him speak of Malraux, whom he was reading; of Yeats, whose poems he knew by heart; of his twin Jewish and Indian identity; of Israeli General Moshe Dayan, whom he worshipped; and of the liberation of Jerusalem, which he held as an example of military skill. But to my recollection he said nothing about the intensely dramatic, stirringly romantic, face-to-face encounter with Niazi in which the war of personality carried a thousand times more weight than the war between armies an encounter that determined the fate of the young Bangladesh.

I can picture his mischievous look. His rather heavy silhouette, unimposing in itself though emanating an incontestable authority.

And his strange and reticent way of remaining a step or two behind his comrades in arms, generals Aurora and Manekshaw, as if reluctant to claim any credit for a feat of audacity that I now know was his alone.

He appeared to me, that day, like a representative of one of the lost tribes, spreading the genius of Judaism.

He might have been a Kurtz from Kaifeng, Konkan, Malabar, or Gondar, newly returned from the heart of darkness but ready to head back up the river. Or a biblical Lord Jim or Captain MacWhirr, done for good with typhoons and ready to forge an alliance with the coolies.

People who save Jews are known in Judaism as righteous. How should one refer to a Jew who saved, raised to nationhood, and baptized a people who were not his own?

***

Translated by Steven Kennedy. You can help support Tablets unique brand of Jewish journalism. Click here to donate today.

Bernard-Henri Lvy is a writer and documentary filmmaker. His Peshmerga! (2016), a Special Selection at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, portrayed the struggle along the thousand-mile front line separating the Kurds from Islamic State. His subsequent La Bataille de Mossoul (2017) explored the fight to retake the city.

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Bernard-Henri Lvy – Tablet Magazine

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Self-sacrifice of Jewish leaders – Cleveland Jewish News

Ekev

Deuteronomy 7:12-16:17

Isaiah 49:14-51:3

In Parsha Eikev, Moses tells of going down from Mount Sinai, grasping the tablets and casting them from his hands, smashing them. The Talmud (Shabbos 87A) teaches that G-d blessed Moses and said, Yasher kochacha sheshibarta (May you be strengthened for having broken it).

Moshe upon the Mount had risen to an all-time spiritual high. The children of Israel had fallen to an unparalleled low. The gap could not be spanned. How could Moses save them? Moses descended from his elevated level by shattering G-ds commandments. This enabled him to rescue Israel. He was now in their world, and could advocate for them. Moshe had sacrificed his spiritual high for the sake of his flock. The giving of the Torah to Israel would forever endure.

Travel now to Persia. Abducted by the king, a Jewish woman remains coerced as his mate, never initiating contact. Now, however, for the first time, Mordechai tells her to approach the king of her own free will. This is something that is forbidden. Esther agrees and proclaims, If I perish, I perish. If I lose the hereafter because of this sin, I am ready to do so for the sake of my people. Through Queen Esthers selfless sacrifice, Israel is saved. As a result, the Jews reaccept the written and oral law. The giving of the Torah to Israel would forever endure.

The year is 1937. Rabbi Elchonon Bunim Wasserman, may G-d avenge his blood, has come to America raising funds for his yeshivah in Baranowicz, Poland. Irving Silber, a resident of Menorah Park, is celebrating his bar mitzvah at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. Reb Elchonon is in attendance. An effort must be made to establish Jewish schools, where youngsters will study Torah with Rashis commentary. This will saturate our children with faith in all of the cardinal principles of Judaism, in both our written and oral Torah, Elchonon said.

Wasserman remains in the United States until March of 1939. The political situation in Europe is worsening. War in Poland is likely any day. Rejecting pleas to remain in safety, Elchonon returns to Europe to be with his 400 children, the students of his school.

On July 8, 1941, Rabbi Wasserman was martyred with thousands of other Jews, in the Seventh Fort, near Kovno, Lithuania. Elchonon sacrificed himself for the sake of his flock, so that the giving of the Torah to Israel would forever endure.

Rabbi Joseph Kirsch is spiritual living associate director and hospice chaplain at Menorah Park in Beachwood.

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Self-sacrifice of Jewish leaders – Cleveland Jewish News

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Stephen Miller shows that synagogues must teach Jewish values – Religion News Service

It is the week following Tisha BAv, the ninth of Av, the fast day that commemorates the destruction of both the first and second temples by the Babylonians and Romans, respectively.

On that night, I was at the Kotel (the Western Wall) in Jerusalem. I heard the doleful chanting of Eicha, the book of Lamentations. I heard pious Jews weeping over those epochal losses.

One theme continued to emerge mipnei chataeinu galinu me-artzeinu. Because of our sins, we were exiled from our land.

Its all our fault.

That is what some Jews are saying about Stephen Miller, the 31 year old senior White House adviser, and chief campaign speechwriter for Donald Trump.

Miller is now the second most scrutinized Jew in the current administration (after Jared Kushner, of course).

He is a Jew who has espoused a radical right wing agenda, which puts him outside the political and moral pale of the majority of American Jews.

He is an anomaly. Which prompts us to ask: where did Stephen Miller come from?

Stephen Miller grew up in Santa Monica, California. He received his Jewish education at two local Reform synagogues. His father was a Jewish communal leader, and generous to various Jewish causes.

And yet, according to an article in Vanity Fair, as a young teenager, Stephen Miller reportedly ended a friendship simply because the friend was Latino.

From there, it was the express lane to embracing an extreme right wing even white-nationalist political and social agenda.

At Duke University, Miller became friends with Richard Spencer, who would become the ideological powerhouse of the alt-right movement.

His right wing views would help him attain positions as a spokesperson for Michele Bachmann and John Shadegg.

Then, he became a policy adviser and communications director for Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, now the United States attorney general.

Miller, along with Steve Bannon, is reputed to be the driving force behind Trumps desired Muslim ban.

He has minimized the connection between Emma Lazarus iconic poem The New Colossus, with its compassion for beleaguered immigrants, and the Statue of Liberty upon which it appears.

In a clash with CNNs Jim Acosta over the White Houses preferred immigration policy, he lambasted the reporter as a cosmopolitan, a term that has anti-Semitic connotations.

How could this have happened? Miller is the product of a Reform Jewish education. He should have imbibed Reform Judaisms progressive values, shouldnt he?

One of Millers childhood rabbis is my old friend, Jeffrey Marx, of the Santa Monica Synagogue. He is a great rabbi.

This is what my colleague said about Stephen Miller: We did our best here to teach Stephen the ethical standards of Judaism.

So, lets talk about Jewish education.

For too many American Jews, the goal of Jewish education is to teach our kids to decode Hebrew so they can be prepared for celebrating bar and bat mitzvah.

In the words of the singer Peggy Lee: is that all there is?

No, it isnt. And many Jewish parents know it.

They know that they want their kids to learn the Jewish values compassion, justice, love of the stranger, what it means to be created in Gods image that are imbedded in those prayer texts.

Here is the problem.

We dont have the time.

Many kids enroll in religious school in fourth grade, and far too many of them drop out after bar and bat mitzvah.

So, thats four years.

Lets assume that he or she attends thirty weeks of classes per year at, say, three hours a week.

Thats ninety hours of Jewish education a year, times four years 360 hours, total.

Assuming twelve waking hours a day, that amounts to one month of Jewish education.

Most of it taking place before a kid can think abstractly and with any kind of nuance about the complex issues that face Jews and the world.

Here is the paradox.

American Jews, and America, need Jewish values and teachings, more and more.

And yet, American Jews are learning about those values and teachings, less and less.

Jewish values can only emerge out of what we would call a thick Jewish communal culture where we have robust conversations about the role of Judaism in contemporary life; where we ask ourselves what the entire purpose of Jewish life should be.

Yes, religious school however challenged that model might be.

But, also: Jewish youth programs, Jewish summer camps, Israel trips, and social justice projects.

And, also, and indispensably: the sacred conversations that happen around the family table, especially on Shabbat and holidays.

Which begs the question: how many Passover seders did Stephen Miller attend in his life?

And did he pay attention to anything deeper than the location of the haroset?

RNS columns are direct-published opinion pieces. They are not always edited and reflect the views only of the author.

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Ceremony marks rededication of vandalized Jewish cemetery in U. City – St. Louis Jewish Light

Several dozen well-wishers gathered Sunday for a rededication event at a University City cemetery that attracted national attention after acts of vandalism toppled more than 150 gravestones there in February.

Im hoping they find comfort. Im hoping they have closure, Anita Feigenbaum, executive director of the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, said of the attendees for the weekend ceremony. Im hoping that they will remember and honor people who have passed on.

Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, the namesake of the society, saw markers overturned or damaged earlier this year in a case that generated widespread media coverage. Feigenbaum said 154 stones were knocked over during Presidents Day weekend and 13 were so badly damaged they had to be replaced. She said no graffiti was present and no suspects were ever apprehended. University City Police said last week that the case is still active and all leads are being investigated, though no arrests or charges have yet to be filed.

The incident prompted a site visit at the time of the incident by Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens as well as a heavily attended interfaith vigil.

Similar acts of graveyard destruction took place shortly afterward in New York and Philadelphia spurring fears of renewed anti-Semitism.

Sundays event featured speakers and prayers as well as profuse praise for the influx of volunteers and the multiple fundraising efforts, which helped repair the damage.

Alan Simon, president of the society, recalled the day he heard the news.

By that evening, people all over the world were talking about what had transpired at our cemetery, he said, noting that the stones were reset within days. It is remarkable the amount of support that came almost immediately from near and far, from Jews and non-Jews alike.

Simon told attendees to think of the name of the cemetery itself, which translates into a reference to an act of true kindness.

We are not here out of obligation to any living relatives of the deceased, he said. We are here purely as a chesed shel emeth a true kindness. Todays ceremony is the culmination of the kindness shown by thousands of individuals from across the globe.

Rabbi Yosef Landa, director of Chabad of Greater St. Louis, said that it was meaningful that cemeteries are sometimes spoken of in Hebrew as houses of life because the life of the soul is eternal.

Our relationship with those whose bodies are buried here is not merely a distant memory of the past, said Landa who is also an advisor to the society. It is a current one. It is ongoing. It is a connection of the here and now. It is a relationship of the living with the living.

It is this concept, the enduring and essentially living nature of the soul that the depraved mind of whoever can desecrate a place like a cemetery fails to grasp, he added.

United Hebrews Rabbi Roxanne Shapiro, vice-president of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association, quoted verses from psalms. She added she was moved that help had come from so many different sources.

Our help had no barriers, no hate, simply care, compassion and hope, she told the group. While God could not guard this sacred place from harm, God did send so many to repair, reclaim and rededicate.

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said that a cemetery lies at the core of what it means to build a society and connected the vandalism to other apparent acts of hate.

The attack on this cemetery was an attack on all of us, all of us who feel marginalized, all of us who feel different, she said. As we remember this moment, we know that the story has not ended and we remember that in our world just yesterday, a mosque in Minnesota was attacked with a bomb.

Condemned as an act of terrorism by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, an explosion rocked the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in a suburb of Minneapolis this weekend causing damage but leaving no deaths or injuries.

Andrew Rehfeld, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, told the crowd he remembered being called out of a meeting to be informed of Februarys cemetery desecration.

Within just a few hours, it was clear that that act had struck a nerve, not just in the Jewish community but throughout our region, he said. In the days and weeks that followed, the Jewish community alone raised over $200,000 without so much as a formal ask, without so much as a formal mobilization campaign.

He said that it was important to continue to promote a community of values among all people that rejected such actions including the rise of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.

We stood together here, Jew and non-Jew, Muslim and Christian, to honor our past and declare firmly and forcefully, this is not who we are, he said.

After the event, audience member Karen Aroesty said the gathering was the culmination of a difficult process that has brought about new relationships, educational initiatives and awareness of security issues.

I look to the good, said Aroesty, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League of Missouri, Southern Illinois and Eastern Kansas. There is still work to be done but there are a lot more allies to do it.

Aroesty said the ADL still has a $10,000 reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of the vandals.

Eli Scher-Zagier, 17, was also on-hand for the event. The Washington University student said hed helped out with campus fundraising efforts for the cemetery.

Both Jews and Muslims across the country continue to be targeted, both with words and in physical attacks, said the economics and political science major. It is important that we keep the memory [of this attack] alive and continue to take steps to ensure everyones safety.

Audience member Tarek El-Messidi was singled out by a couple of speakers for his fundraising work. As founding director of the Philadelphia-based Muslim non-profit Celebrate Mercy, he organized a crowdfunding effort that aimed to collect $20,000 to help Chesed Shel Emeth.

We raised that in three hours, he told the Jewish Light.

The campaign eventually brought in $160,000, the excess of which El-Messidi said was either used to help other Jewish institutions that have been vandalized or held in reserve for possible future incidents.

He said he was inspired to help when he thought of a story in which Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, stood to honor a Jewish funeral procession and his disciples asked why.

He said, Is it not a human soul? El-Messidi recounted. I immediately thought of that story when I saw the images coming out of St. Louis. First and foremost, as human beings, every person has the right to rest in peace regardless of who they are, their background, their affiliation, their religion. Everyone has the right to rest in peace after they pass away.

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Ceremony marks rededication of vandalized Jewish cemetery in U. City – St. Louis Jewish Light

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St. Louis Jewish cemetery rededicated six months after more than 150 gravestones toppled by vandals – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Workers placing headstones back on their bases at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in the St. Louis area. (James Griesedieck)

(JTA) A St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery was rededicated nearly six months after more than 150 headstones were toppled and damaged by vandals.

Dozens of members of the St. Louis Jewish community and its supporters gathered Sunday at the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in University City, Missouri, on Sunday to honor those who are buried there and acknowledge the help and support of the entire local community, local media reported.

While God could not guard this sacred place from harm, God did send so many to repair, reclaim, and re-dedicate, Rabbi Roxane Shapiro of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association said during the ceremony. Our help had no barriers and no hate, simply care, compassion, and hope.

Among those in attendance at the rededication was Tarek El-Messidi, founder of the Muslim organization Celebrate Mercy. The group, with the support of other Muslim leaders including Linda Sarsour, set up a crowdfundingcampaignwhich raised $162,000 from nearly 5,000 donors, exceeding in the first few hours its$20,000 goal to help repair the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery.

Hundreds of community volunteers came to the cemetery to help with the cleanup and repairs in the wake of the attack, including Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is Jewish and had invited the vice president.

No suspects have been identified in the vandalism attack. The Anti-Defamation has offered a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to an arrest in the case.

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St. Louis Jewish cemetery rededicated six months after more than 150 gravestones toppled by vandals – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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Bonanzaville exhibit will highlight local contributions to Jewish history – INFORUM

We extend great thanks to Bonanzaville as it celebrates in conjunction with the Jewish American Society of Historic Preservation the dedication of a Jewish history marker recognizing Jewish settlers in the Dakota Territory and its impact on North Dakota’s agricultural history.

By way of context, the American Jewish population at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence was 2,000 primarily Sephardic Jews of Spanish and Portuguese origin. Nearly 250 years later, the 2017 Jewish population of the United States is 6.5 million 2 percent of the national population. Two million Jews would leave the persecution of the Russian empire and emigrate to the United States from 1881-1924.

From this great migration and transformation came Rabbi Benjamin Papermaster from Kovno, Lithuania a great center of Jewish learning who arrived in Fargo in January 1891.

According to a history written by David Papermaster Rabbi Papermaster’s son in 1959, the distance to travel to his new home did not intimidate him: “All that mattered was that it was America the land of the free.”

Rabbi Papermaster would fulfill this role serving the Grand Forks Jewish community for 43 years helping to organize a disparate collection of Russian and German Jewish families. The community incorporated Congregation B’nai Israel hale and hearty 126 years later. The community grew and prospered.

Similarly, the Fargo Jewish community has its great story of birth, growth and contributions to North Dakota and the entire region. Temple Beth El founded in 1950 has been a center of community leadership. The synagogue hosted, in conjunction with the Diocese of Fargo in 2015, the celebration and commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate with Rabbi Janeen Kobrinsky and Bishop John Folda. Rabbi Yonah Grossman established the Chabad Jewish Center of North Dakota in 2011.

Jewish Fargoans have been at the heart of civic engagement. Herschel Lashkowitz was the longest serving mayor of Fargo from 1954-1974. Judge Myron Bright served with great distinction on the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit from 1968 to his passing in 2016 at age 97.

Beyond the future I-29 corridor, the Jewish history of North Dakota unfolded throughout the state. Synagogues were established in Bismarck, Minot, Ashley and Wishek. One of the images of this exhibit is its Honor Roll. This reflects a characteristic of American life of organizing for voluntary contributors to the community and honoring the military service of American Jews in World War II.

Jews were agricultural pioneers in North Dakota. On May 21, 2017, Jewish descendants of Ashley, N.D., farmers and the local community rededicated the Jewish cemetery. It was a sacred moment of friendship and fellowship across the generations. Gov. Doug Burgum declared North Dakota Jewish Homesteaders Day.

From Valley City and Fargo comes the remarkable story of the dedication of Herman Stern to North Dakota and Jews trapped in Germany and Austria as World War II approached. Stern the first Jewish North Dakotan inducted into the Roughriders Hall of Fame organized the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce. Internationally working with Sen. Charles Nye Stern indefatigably, resourcefully and working against State Department obstruction, managed to procure visas to the United States for 150 Jews in Europe in the desperate days after the Kristallnacht.

We invite all North Dakotans to join us at Bonanzaville for this remarkable exhibition.

Hunegs is executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

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Jewish cemetery given Grade II listed status – Jewish Chronicle


Jewish Chronicle
Jewish cemetery given Grade II listed status
Jewish Chronicle
Gothic-style buildings at the Willesden Jewish Cemetery have been given protected status as the 70th anniversary of the listed building system was marked. The United Synagogue welcomed the news that the north-west London site has been given Grade II …
Willesden Cemetery buildings awarded Grade II protected statusJewish News

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Jewish cemetery given Grade II listed status – Jewish Chronicle

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Israel couples embrace a rabbinical prenup – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Groom and bride taking wedding pictures at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, April 13, 2011. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) In honor of the Jewish day of love, Tu BAv, the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization reports that there is increasing public interest in its halachic prenuptial agreement.

Tu BAv is observed this year on Monday, which is the 15th day of the Jewish month of Av.

The Heskem BAhava, or Agreement of Love, was introduced in 2015 in order to prevent legal and halachic, or Jewish legal obstacles in the event of the dissolution of a marriage.

Nearly 2,000 couples have signed the Agreement of Love contract before their weddings since its launch, with many more inquiring about it in recent months.

Tzohar hopes to make the agreement standard practice ahead of all Jewish weddings in the hopes of avoiding such issues as agunot, or trapped wives. The agreement was drafted by both rabbinical and legal scholars to address cases of get refusal where one spouse refuses to allow the other to be removed from the marriage, often demanding large sums of money or child custody in exchange for allowing the spouse out of the marriage.

Every couple who goes under the chuppah deserves to play a part in addressing the growing problem of people trapped by their spouses because of the absence of these types of agreements, said Rabbi Uri Ganzel, director of the Heskem BAhava (Agreement of Love) Program, in a statement. So by signing on, a couple is able to help make this process more mainstream and combat that trend with the hope that it will one day be completely eradicated from our society.

Founded in 1996, Tzohars core program provides halachic weddings for Jewish couples in Israel as a fully legal alternative to marriage under the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. More than 50,000 weddings have been performed under Tzohars auspices, with 20 scheduled for Tu BAv this year.

When the couple is standing under the chuppah and dreaming of their lives ahead together, all they can think of is love. But the reality of life is there will be other marriages that dont thrive in the way yours hopefully will. On their behalf, you deserve to be a part of making this agreement standard practice, said Rabbi David Stav, Tzohar founder.

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Here’s a place for all of us – Jewish Chronicle


Jewish Chronicle
Here's a place for all of us
Jewish Chronicle
It's fair to say that, when conceived, there were doubts about creating a US-style Jewish community centre in London. The project was beset with delays initially launched in 2003, the recession put paid to a speedy opening and it took a decade and

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Here’s a place for all of us – Jewish Chronicle

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Bernard-Henri Lvy – Tablet Magazine

Its quite a story. This story may seem unlikely in this era of generalized war between cultures, civilizations, and religions. And I am grateful to British journalist Ben Judah for having brought it to light in an article that appeared in the Jewish Chronicle the day after the visit to Israel of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The time is December 1971. The place is the territory then known as East Pakistan. Separated by 1,600 kilometers from West Pakistan, this Bengali part of Pakistan has been in rebellion since March. The central government in Islamabad, rejecting the secession of what will eventually become Bangladesh, is engaged in a merciless repression, the cost of which, in lives, remains unknown even today, almost a half-century later. Half a million people may have died, of perhaps a million, 2million, or more. On Dec. 3, India decides to enter the conflict, to interfere, as one would put it today, in the domestic affairs of its neighbor so as to stop the bloodbath. The fighting rages. The Bengali freedom fighters, known as the Mukti Bahini, now supported by India, become increasingly daring. New Delhis strategy is to build up slowly and gradually, a decision. This strategy seems to many ill-suited to the Bangladesh of the day, a terrain of few roads, major rivers, and innumerable marshes. Thirteen days into the new phase of the war, with the Pakistanis having massed 90,000 troops around Dacca, the capital, against the Indians 3,000, New Delhi appears to be stuck and has hardly boxed itself into the beginnings of a siege. And it is at this moment that a high-ranking Indian officer, without notifying his superiors, takes a plane, lands in Dacca, presents himself to General Niazi, head of the Pakistani forces and pulls off one of the most spectacular bluffs in modern military history: You have 90,000 men, the Indian officer tells Niazi. We have many more, plus the Mukti Bahini, who are full of the vengeance of their people and will give no quarter. Under the circumstances, you have only one choice: to persist in a fight that you cannot win or to sign this letter of surrender that I have drafted in my own hand, which promises you an honorable retreat. You have half an hour to decide; Ill go have a smoke. Niazi, falling into the trap, chooses the second option. To the worlds amazement, 3,000 Indian soldiers accept the surrender of 90,000 Pakistanis. Tens of thousandsnohundreds of thousands of lives on both sides are spared. And Bangladesh is free! The story might have ended there. Except that the general behind the masterly coup that makes him godfather to a new Muslim country is Jewish. His name is Jack Jacobs. He was born in 1924 in Calcutta into a Sephardic family that had arrived there from Baghdad two centuries before, leaving behind 2,000 years of history. In 1942, learning of the ongoing extermination of Europes Jews, he enlists in the British army in Iraq, fights in North Africa and then moves on to Burma and Sumatra in the campaign against the Japanese. And remaining in the military after the independence of India in 1947, he is the only Jew to rise high in the countrys military services, eventually coming to command the eastern army that, in December 1971, will be mounting the offensive against Islamabads legions. It happens that I met this man 46 years ago. I was in rebellious Bangladesh, having responded to French novelist Andr Malrauxs call for the formation of an International Brigade to fight for a Bengali land still in limbo but suffering mightily under the hand of West Pakistan. I had just entered Dacca with a unit of the Mukti Bahini. In the company of Rafiq Hussaineldest son of the first Bangladeshi family to welcome me into their home in the Segun Bagicha neighborhood, and who later became my friendI saw Jacob at Race House on Dec. 16, standing behind (and letting himself eclipsed by) his colleague, General Jagit Singh Aurora, signing, in Niazis presence, the act of surrender that he had penned. The next day, I happened to see him again with a handful of journalists and heard him speak of Malraux, whom he was reading; of Yeats, whose poems he knew by heart; of his twin Jewish and Indian identity; of Israeli General Moshe Dayan, whom he worshipped; and of the liberation of Jerusalem, which he held as an example of military skill. But to my recollection he said nothing about the intensely dramatic, stirringly romantic, face-to-face encounter with Niazi in which the war of personality carried a thousand times more weight than the war between armies an encounter that determined the fate of the young Bangladesh. I can picture his mischievous look. His rather heavy silhouette, unimposing in itself though emanating an incontestable authority. And his strange and reticent way of remaining a step or two behind his comrades in arms, generals Aurora and Manekshaw, as if reluctant to claim any credit for a feat of audacity that I now know was his alone. He appeared to me, that day, like a representative of one of the lost tribes, spreading the genius of Judaism. He might have been a Kurtz from Kaifeng, Konkan, Malabar, or Gondar, newly returned from the heart of darkness but ready to head back up the river. Or a biblical Lord Jim or Captain MacWhirr, done for good with typhoons and ready to forge an alliance with the coolies. People who save Jews are known in Judaism as righteous. How should one refer to a Jew who saved, raised to nationhood, and baptized a people who were not his own? *** Translated by Steven Kennedy. You can help support Tablets unique brand of Jewish journalism. Click here to donate today. Bernard-Henri Lvy is a writer and documentary filmmaker. His Peshmerga! (2016), a Special Selection at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, portrayed the struggle along the thousand-mile front line separating the Kurds from Islamic State. His subsequent La Bataille de Mossoul (2017) explored the fight to retake the city.

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Self-sacrifice of Jewish leaders – Cleveland Jewish News

Ekev Deuteronomy 7:12-16:17 Isaiah 49:14-51:3 In Parsha Eikev, Moses tells of going down from Mount Sinai, grasping the tablets and casting them from his hands, smashing them. The Talmud (Shabbos 87A) teaches that G-d blessed Moses and said, Yasher kochacha sheshibarta (May you be strengthened for having broken it). Moshe upon the Mount had risen to an all-time spiritual high. The children of Israel had fallen to an unparalleled low. The gap could not be spanned. How could Moses save them? Moses descended from his elevated level by shattering G-ds commandments. This enabled him to rescue Israel. He was now in their world, and could advocate for them. Moshe had sacrificed his spiritual high for the sake of his flock. The giving of the Torah to Israel would forever endure. Travel now to Persia. Abducted by the king, a Jewish woman remains coerced as his mate, never initiating contact. Now, however, for the first time, Mordechai tells her to approach the king of her own free will. This is something that is forbidden. Esther agrees and proclaims, If I perish, I perish. If I lose the hereafter because of this sin, I am ready to do so for the sake of my people. Through Queen Esthers selfless sacrifice, Israel is saved. As a result, the Jews reaccept the written and oral law. The giving of the Torah to Israel would forever endure. The year is 1937. Rabbi Elchonon Bunim Wasserman, may G-d avenge his blood, has come to America raising funds for his yeshivah in Baranowicz, Poland. Irving Silber, a resident of Menorah Park, is celebrating his bar mitzvah at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. Reb Elchonon is in attendance. An effort must be made to establish Jewish schools, where youngsters will study Torah with Rashis commentary. This will saturate our children with faith in all of the cardinal principles of Judaism, in both our written and oral Torah, Elchonon said. Wasserman remains in the United States until March of 1939. The political situation in Europe is worsening. War in Poland is likely any day. Rejecting pleas to remain in safety, Elchonon returns to Europe to be with his 400 children, the students of his school. On July 8, 1941, Rabbi Wasserman was martyred with thousands of other Jews, in the Seventh Fort, near Kovno, Lithuania. Elchonon sacrificed himself for the sake of his flock, so that the giving of the Torah to Israel would forever endure. Rabbi Joseph Kirsch is spiritual living associate director and hospice chaplain at Menorah Park in Beachwood.

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Stephen Miller shows that synagogues must teach Jewish values – Religion News Service

It is the week following Tisha BAv, the ninth of Av, the fast day that commemorates the destruction of both the first and second temples by the Babylonians and Romans, respectively. On that night, I was at the Kotel (the Western Wall) in Jerusalem. I heard the doleful chanting of Eicha, the book of Lamentations. I heard pious Jews weeping over those epochal losses. One theme continued to emerge mipnei chataeinu galinu me-artzeinu. Because of our sins, we were exiled from our land. Its all our fault. That is what some Jews are saying about Stephen Miller, the 31 year old senior White House adviser, and chief campaign speechwriter for Donald Trump. Miller is now the second most scrutinized Jew in the current administration (after Jared Kushner, of course). He is a Jew who has espoused a radical right wing agenda, which puts him outside the political and moral pale of the majority of American Jews. He is an anomaly. Which prompts us to ask: where did Stephen Miller come from? Stephen Miller grew up in Santa Monica, California. He received his Jewish education at two local Reform synagogues. His father was a Jewish communal leader, and generous to various Jewish causes. And yet, according to an article in Vanity Fair, as a young teenager, Stephen Miller reportedly ended a friendship simply because the friend was Latino. From there, it was the express lane to embracing an extreme right wing even white-nationalist political and social agenda. At Duke University, Miller became friends with Richard Spencer, who would become the ideological powerhouse of the alt-right movement. His right wing views would help him attain positions as a spokesperson for Michele Bachmann and John Shadegg. Then, he became a policy adviser and communications director for Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, now the United States attorney general. Miller, along with Steve Bannon, is reputed to be the driving force behind Trumps desired Muslim ban. He has minimized the connection between Emma Lazarus iconic poem The New Colossus, with its compassion for beleaguered immigrants, and the Statue of Liberty upon which it appears. In a clash with CNNs Jim Acosta over the White Houses preferred immigration policy, he lambasted the reporter as a cosmopolitan, a term that has anti-Semitic connotations. How could this have happened? Miller is the product of a Reform Jewish education. He should have imbibed Reform Judaisms progressive values, shouldnt he? One of Millers childhood rabbis is my old friend, Jeffrey Marx, of the Santa Monica Synagogue. He is a great rabbi. This is what my colleague said about Stephen Miller: We did our best here to teach Stephen the ethical standards of Judaism. So, lets talk about Jewish education. For too many American Jews, the goal of Jewish education is to teach our kids to decode Hebrew so they can be prepared for celebrating bar and bat mitzvah. In the words of the singer Peggy Lee: is that all there is? No, it isnt. And many Jewish parents know it. They know that they want their kids to learn the Jewish values compassion, justice, love of the stranger, what it means to be created in Gods image that are imbedded in those prayer texts. Here is the problem. We dont have the time. Many kids enroll in religious school in fourth grade, and far too many of them drop out after bar and bat mitzvah. So, thats four years. Lets assume that he or she attends thirty weeks of classes per year at, say, three hours a week. Thats ninety hours of Jewish education a year, times four years 360 hours, total. Assuming twelve waking hours a day, that amounts to one month of Jewish education. Most of it taking place before a kid can think abstractly and with any kind of nuance about the complex issues that face Jews and the world. Here is the paradox. American Jews, and America, need Jewish values and teachings, more and more. And yet, American Jews are learning about those values and teachings, less and less. Jewish values can only emerge out of what we would call a thick Jewish communal culture where we have robust conversations about the role of Judaism in contemporary life; where we ask ourselves what the entire purpose of Jewish life should be. Yes, religious school however challenged that model might be. But, also: Jewish youth programs, Jewish summer camps, Israel trips, and social justice projects. And, also, and indispensably: the sacred conversations that happen around the family table, especially on Shabbat and holidays. Which begs the question: how many Passover seders did Stephen Miller attend in his life? And did he pay attention to anything deeper than the location of the haroset? RNS columns are direct-published opinion pieces. They are not always edited and reflect the views only of the author.

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Ceremony marks rededication of vandalized Jewish cemetery in U. City – St. Louis Jewish Light

Several dozen well-wishers gathered Sunday for a rededication event at a University City cemetery that attracted national attention after acts of vandalism toppled more than 150 gravestones there in February. Im hoping they find comfort. Im hoping they have closure, Anita Feigenbaum, executive director of the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, said of the attendees for the weekend ceremony. Im hoping that they will remember and honor people who have passed on. Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, the namesake of the society, saw markers overturned or damaged earlier this year in a case that generated widespread media coverage. Feigenbaum said 154 stones were knocked over during Presidents Day weekend and 13 were so badly damaged they had to be replaced. She said no graffiti was present and no suspects were ever apprehended. University City Police said last week that the case is still active and all leads are being investigated, though no arrests or charges have yet to be filed. The incident prompted a site visit at the time of the incident by Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens as well as a heavily attended interfaith vigil. Similar acts of graveyard destruction took place shortly afterward in New York and Philadelphia spurring fears of renewed anti-Semitism. Sundays event featured speakers and prayers as well as profuse praise for the influx of volunteers and the multiple fundraising efforts, which helped repair the damage. Alan Simon, president of the society, recalled the day he heard the news. By that evening, people all over the world were talking about what had transpired at our cemetery, he said, noting that the stones were reset within days. It is remarkable the amount of support that came almost immediately from near and far, from Jews and non-Jews alike. Simon told attendees to think of the name of the cemetery itself, which translates into a reference to an act of true kindness. We are not here out of obligation to any living relatives of the deceased, he said. We are here purely as a chesed shel emeth a true kindness. Todays ceremony is the culmination of the kindness shown by thousands of individuals from across the globe. Rabbi Yosef Landa, director of Chabad of Greater St. Louis, said that it was meaningful that cemeteries are sometimes spoken of in Hebrew as houses of life because the life of the soul is eternal. Our relationship with those whose bodies are buried here is not merely a distant memory of the past, said Landa who is also an advisor to the society. It is a current one. It is ongoing. It is a connection of the here and now. It is a relationship of the living with the living. It is this concept, the enduring and essentially living nature of the soul that the depraved mind of whoever can desecrate a place like a cemetery fails to grasp, he added. United Hebrews Rabbi Roxanne Shapiro, vice-president of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association, quoted verses from psalms. She added she was moved that help had come from so many different sources. Our help had no barriers, no hate, simply care, compassion and hope, she told the group. While God could not guard this sacred place from harm, God did send so many to repair, reclaim and rededicate. Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said that a cemetery lies at the core of what it means to build a society and connected the vandalism to other apparent acts of hate. The attack on this cemetery was an attack on all of us, all of us who feel marginalized, all of us who feel different, she said. As we remember this moment, we know that the story has not ended and we remember that in our world just yesterday, a mosque in Minnesota was attacked with a bomb. Condemned as an act of terrorism by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, an explosion rocked the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in a suburb of Minneapolis this weekend causing damage but leaving no deaths or injuries. Andrew Rehfeld, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, told the crowd he remembered being called out of a meeting to be informed of Februarys cemetery desecration. Within just a few hours, it was clear that that act had struck a nerve, not just in the Jewish community but throughout our region, he said. In the days and weeks that followed, the Jewish community alone raised over $200,000 without so much as a formal ask, without so much as a formal mobilization campaign. He said that it was important to continue to promote a community of values among all people that rejected such actions including the rise of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. We stood together here, Jew and non-Jew, Muslim and Christian, to honor our past and declare firmly and forcefully, this is not who we are, he said. After the event, audience member Karen Aroesty said the gathering was the culmination of a difficult process that has brought about new relationships, educational initiatives and awareness of security issues. I look to the good, said Aroesty, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League of Missouri, Southern Illinois and Eastern Kansas. There is still work to be done but there are a lot more allies to do it. Aroesty said the ADL still has a $10,000 reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of the vandals. Eli Scher-Zagier, 17, was also on-hand for the event. The Washington University student said hed helped out with campus fundraising efforts for the cemetery. Both Jews and Muslims across the country continue to be targeted, both with words and in physical attacks, said the economics and political science major. It is important that we keep the memory [of this attack] alive and continue to take steps to ensure everyones safety. Audience member Tarek El-Messidi was singled out by a couple of speakers for his fundraising work. As founding director of the Philadelphia-based Muslim non-profit Celebrate Mercy, he organized a crowdfunding effort that aimed to collect $20,000 to help Chesed Shel Emeth. We raised that in three hours, he told the Jewish Light. The campaign eventually brought in $160,000, the excess of which El-Messidi said was either used to help other Jewish institutions that have been vandalized or held in reserve for possible future incidents. He said he was inspired to help when he thought of a story in which Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, stood to honor a Jewish funeral procession and his disciples asked why. He said, Is it not a human soul? El-Messidi recounted. I immediately thought of that story when I saw the images coming out of St. Louis. First and foremost, as human beings, every person has the right to rest in peace regardless of who they are, their background, their affiliation, their religion. Everyone has the right to rest in peace after they pass away.

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St. Louis Jewish cemetery rededicated six months after more than 150 gravestones toppled by vandals – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Workers placing headstones back on their bases at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in the St. Louis area. (James Griesedieck) (JTA) A St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery was rededicated nearly six months after more than 150 headstones were toppled and damaged by vandals. Dozens of members of the St. Louis Jewish community and its supporters gathered Sunday at the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in University City, Missouri, on Sunday to honor those who are buried there and acknowledge the help and support of the entire local community, local media reported. While God could not guard this sacred place from harm, God did send so many to repair, reclaim, and re-dedicate, Rabbi Roxane Shapiro of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association said during the ceremony. Our help had no barriers and no hate, simply care, compassion, and hope. Among those in attendance at the rededication was Tarek El-Messidi, founder of the Muslim organization Celebrate Mercy. The group, with the support of other Muslim leaders including Linda Sarsour, set up a crowdfundingcampaignwhich raised $162,000 from nearly 5,000 donors, exceeding in the first few hours its$20,000 goal to help repair the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery. Hundreds of community volunteers came to the cemetery to help with the cleanup and repairs in the wake of the attack, including Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is Jewish and had invited the vice president. No suspects have been identified in the vandalism attack. The Anti-Defamation has offered a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to an arrest in the case.

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Bonanzaville exhibit will highlight local contributions to Jewish history – INFORUM

We extend great thanks to Bonanzaville as it celebrates in conjunction with the Jewish American Society of Historic Preservation the dedication of a Jewish history marker recognizing Jewish settlers in the Dakota Territory and its impact on North Dakota’s agricultural history. By way of context, the American Jewish population at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence was 2,000 primarily Sephardic Jews of Spanish and Portuguese origin. Nearly 250 years later, the 2017 Jewish population of the United States is 6.5 million 2 percent of the national population. Two million Jews would leave the persecution of the Russian empire and emigrate to the United States from 1881-1924. From this great migration and transformation came Rabbi Benjamin Papermaster from Kovno, Lithuania a great center of Jewish learning who arrived in Fargo in January 1891. According to a history written by David Papermaster Rabbi Papermaster’s son in 1959, the distance to travel to his new home did not intimidate him: “All that mattered was that it was America the land of the free.” Rabbi Papermaster would fulfill this role serving the Grand Forks Jewish community for 43 years helping to organize a disparate collection of Russian and German Jewish families. The community incorporated Congregation B’nai Israel hale and hearty 126 years later. The community grew and prospered. Similarly, the Fargo Jewish community has its great story of birth, growth and contributions to North Dakota and the entire region. Temple Beth El founded in 1950 has been a center of community leadership. The synagogue hosted, in conjunction with the Diocese of Fargo in 2015, the celebration and commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate with Rabbi Janeen Kobrinsky and Bishop John Folda. Rabbi Yonah Grossman established the Chabad Jewish Center of North Dakota in 2011. Jewish Fargoans have been at the heart of civic engagement. Herschel Lashkowitz was the longest serving mayor of Fargo from 1954-1974. Judge Myron Bright served with great distinction on the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit from 1968 to his passing in 2016 at age 97. Beyond the future I-29 corridor, the Jewish history of North Dakota unfolded throughout the state. Synagogues were established in Bismarck, Minot, Ashley and Wishek. One of the images of this exhibit is its Honor Roll. This reflects a characteristic of American life of organizing for voluntary contributors to the community and honoring the military service of American Jews in World War II. Jews were agricultural pioneers in North Dakota. On May 21, 2017, Jewish descendants of Ashley, N.D., farmers and the local community rededicated the Jewish cemetery. It was a sacred moment of friendship and fellowship across the generations. Gov. Doug Burgum declared North Dakota Jewish Homesteaders Day. From Valley City and Fargo comes the remarkable story of the dedication of Herman Stern to North Dakota and Jews trapped in Germany and Austria as World War II approached. Stern the first Jewish North Dakotan inducted into the Roughriders Hall of Fame organized the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce. Internationally working with Sen. Charles Nye Stern indefatigably, resourcefully and working against State Department obstruction, managed to procure visas to the United States for 150 Jews in Europe in the desperate days after the Kristallnacht. We invite all North Dakotans to join us at Bonanzaville for this remarkable exhibition. Hunegs is executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

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Jewish cemetery given Grade II listed status – Jewish Chronicle

Jewish Chronicle Jewish cemetery given Grade II listed status Jewish Chronicle Gothic-style buildings at the Willesden Jewish Cemetery have been given protected status as the 70 th anniversary of the listed building system was marked. The United Synagogue welcomed the news that the north-west London site has been given Grade II … Willesden Cemetery buildings awarded Grade II protected status Jewish News all 4 news articles »

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Israel couples embrace a rabbinical prenup – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Groom and bride taking wedding pictures at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, April 13, 2011. (Nati Shohat/Flash90) JERUSALEM (JTA) In honor of the Jewish day of love, Tu BAv, the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization reports that there is increasing public interest in its halachic prenuptial agreement. Tu BAv is observed this year on Monday, which is the 15th day of the Jewish month of Av. The Heskem BAhava, or Agreement of Love, was introduced in 2015 in order to prevent legal and halachic, or Jewish legal obstacles in the event of the dissolution of a marriage. Nearly 2,000 couples have signed the Agreement of Love contract before their weddings since its launch, with many more inquiring about it in recent months. Tzohar hopes to make the agreement standard practice ahead of all Jewish weddings in the hopes of avoiding such issues as agunot, or trapped wives. The agreement was drafted by both rabbinical and legal scholars to address cases of get refusal where one spouse refuses to allow the other to be removed from the marriage, often demanding large sums of money or child custody in exchange for allowing the spouse out of the marriage. Every couple who goes under the chuppah deserves to play a part in addressing the growing problem of people trapped by their spouses because of the absence of these types of agreements, said Rabbi Uri Ganzel, director of the Heskem BAhava (Agreement of Love) Program, in a statement. So by signing on, a couple is able to help make this process more mainstream and combat that trend with the hope that it will one day be completely eradicated from our society. Founded in 1996, Tzohars core program provides halachic weddings for Jewish couples in Israel as a fully legal alternative to marriage under the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. More than 50,000 weddings have been performed under Tzohars auspices, with 20 scheduled for Tu BAv this year. When the couple is standing under the chuppah and dreaming of their lives ahead together, all they can think of is love. But the reality of life is there will be other marriages that dont thrive in the way yours hopefully will. On their behalf, you deserve to be a part of making this agreement standard practice, said Rabbi David Stav, Tzohar founder.

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Here’s a place for all of us – Jewish Chronicle

Jewish Chronicle Here's a place for all of us Jewish Chronicle It's fair to say that, when conceived, there were doubts about creating a US-style Jewish community centre in London. The project was beset with delays initially launched in 2003, the recession put paid to a speedy opening and it took a decade and …

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