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Three Torahs to be Donated by the Young Israel Movement to the IDF Between Pesach and Shavuot

By: Daniel M. Meyer Published: April 19th, 2012 IDF soldiers celebrating Simchat Torah
IDF soldiers celebrating Simchat Torah
Photo Credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90

Although generally thought of as an American organization, the Young Israel Movement has been very involved in Israeli life for decades – and this week, the Israel branch of the International Young Israel Movement dedicated – for the 202nd time – a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) to the IDF. This is the first of three Sifrei Torah being facilitated by the Movement between Pesach and Shavuot.

The groups have been raising funds for the Torah scrolls and donating them to the army for the past 12 years, in a project initiated by National Council of Young Israel Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Yedidya Atlas of the IDF Rabbinate. The project is named in memory of Ruby Davidman, who made aliyah over 30 years ago and was very involved in providing for the spiritual needs of IDF soldiers (www.redeematorah.org).

The donated scrolls are brought to Israel from synagogues throughout the world. They are in a worn or damaged state and donors are found to repair them and rededicate them in honor or in memory of loved ones or on special occasions. Upon their arrival in Israel, the scrolls are placed in different army, navy, and air force bases according to the needs of the IDF. Recently, Young Israel gained the rights to Sifrei Torah from Romania that survived the Holocaust, and just need donors in order for them to be redeemed and given to the IDF.

On Monday, Dr. Joseph and Judy Berger of Toronto dedicated a Sefer Torah on the occasion of Dr. Berger’s 70th birthday. In a small but moving ceremony Dr. Berger presented the Torah to the IDF Rabbinate at their central base, and from there it will be placed in an Aron Kodesh of a secret air force unit. Dr. Berger emphasized that a strong Israel is not only important for the people who live in the country, but is vitally important for the Jewish people who live in the Diaspora communities.

The second Sefer Torah will be dedicated five days after Yom Ha’atzmaut. It is being dedicated by David & Chana Walles to the Iron Dome anti-missile unit, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of their premier tour company Eddie’s Kosher Travel. David states that “giving a Sefer Torah to the IDF is of special significance to my family as this Sefer Torah will be used on a daily basis by young men who have devoted their formative years to defend those of us living in Israel. The combination of spiritual strength and physical might is in my mind, the secret of the IDF’s success in defending Eretz Yisrael, and why we at Eddie’s Kosher Travel decided to back this project and show our appreciation. We encourage others to follow…”

The third Sefer Torah is to be dedicated on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, in the final countdown to Shavuot, by Mr. Harvey Schwartz, the Chairman of the Leo V. Berger Fund and will be delivered to the Israel Navy Training base. The Leo V. Berger Fund has kindly posted a Challenge Grant for this project, whereby the Fund will dedicate one Sefer Torah for every two dedicated by others.

Ceec Harrishburg, President of the International Young Israel Movement – Israel Region states, “donating a Sefer Torah to the IDF is a wonderful way to pay Hakarat Ha’tov to all the brave young men and women who are serving their country on bases all over our country. To see them dance, laugh, and relax, from the enormity of the responsibilities they shoulder is something which is quite emotional. Each time we present a torah, I am overwhelmed by the graciousness, and proud of the strong leadership our forces have. We should be eternally grateful for all that these men and women do, so that we can live our daily lives free from worry. May the Almighty grant them strength and courage to continue with the courageous tasks.”

“The National Council of Young Israel is proud to be the conduit for so many Young Israel and non-Young Israel synagogues in the USA and Canada to send our IDF soldiers a Torah scroll for their daily and Shabbat needs,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner. “These soldiers put their lives on the line every day to protect their people and land, this is the very least we can do. It is indeed an honor.”

For further information or to get involved in this project please visit www.redeematorah.org, or email at iyimisrael@gmail.com

About the Author: Daniel M. Meyer is the Executive Director of the International Young Israel Movement -Israel Region

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/idf/three-torahs-donated-by-the-young-israel-movement-to-the-idf-between-pesach-and-shavuot/2012/04/19/

© 2012 JewishPress. All rights reserved.

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The New York Jewish Week 

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/national/suit_us_discriminates_against_jerusalem_passport_dispute

Suit: U.S. Discriminates Against Jerusalem in Passport Dispute

 

Jerusalem or Israel? People born in Jerusalem, above, are listed in U.S. passports as having a “Jerusalem” birthplace.

 

Many, but not all, Jewish groups filing briefs in support of lawsuit.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stewart Ain

Staff Writer

Major Jewish groups were set to file legal briefs this week in an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case with Jerusalem at its core, one that will test anew America’s stated goal of being an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The case revolves around the seemingly routine stamping of a passport, but it touches on such issues as control of America’s foreign policy, the Middle East peace process, the enforcement of existing American law and Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The case, which the high court is expected to hear in the fall, comes as the Palestinians prepare to seek United Nations recognition as a state with Jerusalem as its capital, and as the U.S. is seeking to convince Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations.

At issue is the right of Naomi Zivotofsky to insist that the American passport she requested for her son Menachem from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv list “Israel” as his place of birth. He was born in Jerusalem in October 2002, about three weeks after President George W. Bush signed a bill directing the State Department to list “Israel” on the passports of American children born in Jerusalem if their parents requested it.

 

 

But the State Department denied the request, citing Bush’s comments at the bill signing in which he said the law “impermissibly interferes with the president’s constitutional authority to conduct the nation’s foreign affairs...”

Menachem’s parents, Naomi and Ari Zivotofsky, are both American citizens and they sued the State Department the following September to compel it follow the law.

“When we received the passport we were not surprised because they had pretty much stated [the place of birth would be listed as Jerusalem] when we filled out the form,” Ari Zivotofksy said in an e-mail. “Even though we insisted to the clerk that it was now the law that they can write Israel, they insisted otherwise. We were thus disappointed, but not shocked. … We are gratified that this matter has captured the attention of the Supreme Court, and pray that the Court will reject the State Department’s effort to overrule Congress.”

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to affect an estimated 50,000 Americans who were born in Jerusalem.

Menachem’s grandparents, Bernie and Gitta Zivotofsky, are residents of West Hempstead, L.I. Bernie noted that his grandson “caught wind of the case just recently” when he heard other students talking about it in school. He said Menachem has not yet visited the United States, and that when he pointed out to him that his older brother and sister — who were born in the U.S. — have visited, the child replied: “Well, they weren’t born here.”

“National pride has gotten to him,” Zivotofsky said. “He understands what is happening; he is a proud Israeli.”

The Supreme Court said it would consider whether a lower court was right in saying political issues are not subject to judicial review and whether Congress impermissibly infringed on the president’s power to recognize foreign sovereigns.

The government argues that agreeing to such a change now would in effect compel the president to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem — “one of the most sensitive and longstanding disputes in the Arab-Israeli conflict” — resulting in major foreign policy ramifications.

But Alyza Lewin and her father, Nathan, who are representing Menachem, said in court papers filed last Friday that the government’s claim is “greatly exaggerated.” They pointed out that the U.S. in 1994 enacted a “virtually identical statute” regarding Taiwan over the vehement objections of China, which claims sovereignty over the island.

“The Department of State altered its earlier rule to comply with the statute and there was no perceptible effect on United States’ foreign policy,” according to their court papers.

At the same time, the brief said, Israel is “a recognized nation that Palestinians and the Arab world have learned to accept. … [The State Department] bars only supporters of Israel — overwhelmingly Jews who have a religious attachment to the land — from identifying their birthplace in a manner that conforms with their convictions.”

The U.S. government must file its brief by Sept. 23; the Lewins’ reply is due Oct. 24.

A number of Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America and the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, are submitting “friends of the court” briefs due this week. A number of other groups, including the Union of Orthodox Congregations and the National Council of Young Israel, are signing on to at least one of those briefs. But there is not unanimity in the Jewish community over this issue. Marc Stern, associate general counsel of the American Jewish Committee, said his organization believes “all issues in the Israel-Palestinian conflict have to be settled at the negotiating table and not the U.S. Supreme Court or the UN with unilateral declarations. For that reason we not participating in this case because we think it is inconsistent with our general view that peace will come to the Middle East at the negotiating table and at no other forum.

“It doesn’t mean that we don’t think West Jerusalem isn’t part of Israel,” Stern continued. “We do and we have our office there, and we say it is Jerusalem, Israel. But this is about official declarations, and official declarations don’t come about because somebody goes to court.”

Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, told The Jewish Week that he found the passport issue to be “one of the most offensive, harmful and insensitive actions of the American government, which has been tolerated and defended for so many years regardless of what administration was in office.”

“It’s insulting and has been insulting all these years,” he added. “It borders on the irrational, and it is so appealing to the Palestinian narrative and demand. … It’s time it ended. Maybe the court will see the fairness and reasonableness of [this suit] and set it straight.”

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, noted that when his 4-month-old Israeli grandson Shlomo prepared to come here to visit for Passover, his parents were also sent an American passport that listed Shlomo’s place of birth as Jerusalem, despite their request that Israel be listed.

“He’s a man without a country, even though both his parents are American and he is an American citizen,” Rabbi Lerner said. “I could be born on the steps of the Knesset and the U.S. government would say [sovereignty over] that land is not yet decided. … We’re not creating policy; it’s a statement of fact. Even in the worst-case scenario, Hadassah Hospital will still be in Israel.”

He pointed out that his organization and the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation created a website, www.borninjerusalem.org, that asks all Jerusalem-born American Jews to join for free the ad-hoc Association of Proud American Citizens Born in Jerusalem, Israel. Several hundred had joined within a week, Rabbi Lerner said.

She dismissed the argument that the court would be deciding a political question by saying the suit simply asks the court to determine if the law signed by Bush is constitutional.

“If it is, the State Department has to follow it,” Lewin said. “Nobody is asking the court to make any independent political decisions.”

The Lewins in their court papers pointed out also that those born in the West Bank or Gaza Strip may also opt to list those areas as their place of birth even though neither is a “sovereign that the United States has ever recognized.”

In its brief, the ADL pointed out that the State Department’s own manual “acknowledges that the purpose of the place of birth designation in the passport is simply to identify the citizen and distinguish him or her from other citizens with similar names or dates of birth.”

Steve Greenwald, president of the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, said his group’s brief would point out that “Congress has specific constitutional power to regulate the issuance of passports, a power that has been recognized by the Supreme Court, and when it acts pursuant to such power in a manner that is constitutionally valid, as it has done in this case, the Executive branch may not act in conflict with the congressional mandate.”

As a result, he said, the State Department “may not disregard or fail to act [regarding] … directives imposed by Congress on the issuance of passports.”?

And rather than being a political document, “that implicates foreign policy considerations,” it merely “controls exit and entry from and to the country.”

 

 

http://washingtonjewishweek.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=15389

 


 

8/3/2011 10:04:00 AM
Is 'Israel' their birthright? - You bet, say Jerusalem-born Americans

 

by Richard Greenberg Associate Editor

Menachem Zivotofsky is not alone. His compatriots reportedly may number in the tens of thousands, in fact, and hundreds of them have already come forward to declare their solidarity with the 8-year-old, who is at the heart of a geopolitical tug-of-war slated to be decided by the Supreme Court.

The Israeli-born son of Silver Spring ex-pats who made aliyah, Zivotofsky, a U.S. citizen, was born in Jerusalem in October 2002, and his parents - Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky - wanted his U.S. passport to accurately reflect where he was born, as delineated by both the name of his birth city and the country in which that city is located, namely Israel.

But the State Department refused to list Israel as the country in which he was born, despite federal legislation enacted in September 2002 that says Americans born in Jerusalem are entitled to have Israel listed on their official papers as their country of birth. As a result of the State Department's action, Menachem's passport says only Jerusalem, no Israel.

The Zivotofskys sued the State Department in 2003 on behalf of their son, and that litigation - which was later dismissed, and then resurrected on appeal - is expected to be considered by the Supreme Court late this fall.

While the case was coursing through the appellate system, lawyers representing Menachem, as well as others familiar with the case, began hearing from other American citizens who had a similar story to tell. They, too, had been born in Jerusalem (or were related to someone who had been born there)?but had been deprived of the right to have Israel recorded on their passport.

"Clearly there are people out there,"?said District-based attorney Alyza Lewin, who, along with her father, Nathan Lewin, is representing the Zivotofskys.

The Zivotofskys' latest legal brief, filed last week, says that, according to the U.S. government, some 52,000 U.S. passports were issued during a recent 10-year period that listed only "Jerusalem"?as the holder's place of birth. It is not clear how many of them are Jews, but the percentage is likely to be sizeable.

"I have a grandson who was born in Jerusalem, and all it says on his passport is Jerusalem, not Israel, so I've known about this for years,"?added Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, an organization representing more than 200 centrist Orthodox congregations in the U.S. and Israel.

Hoping to help gather a critical mass of similarly situated individuals to bolster the Zivotofsky's case, Lerner contacted the International Israel Alliance Caucus Foundation (a group that believes Israel "has a right to exist in peace within secure borders"), and then approached Lewin. She told him that the Anti-Defamation League was planning to file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Zivotofskys.

Acting in conjunction with the ADL, the NCYI?and the IIACF recently created the Association of Proud American Citizens Born in Jerusalem, Israel, an ad hoc, web-based organization that solicits names of individuals who have a special geopolitical kinship with Menachem Zivotofsky, and serves as a repository of those names. The organization will be a signatory to the ADL?brief, which is expected to be filed by the end of this week, and may include other Jewish organizations as well.

The ad hoc association also urges individuals to contact their senators and congressional representatives and urge them to join a separate friend-of-the-court brief that is being prepared by a law firm on behalf of members of Congress.

"We're trying to say that it's not about a piece of paper, it's about real people,"?Lerner said in an interview last week, noting that the effort "has gone viral. There's been an unbelievably positive reaction from people who want to be a part of this. Hundreds of people have already signed up themselves or their children or their grandchildren. We're getting comments from hundreds of people who are saying, 'Thank you for letting me know about this.' " He said he did not know how many of them are from the Washington area.

"The idea is to humanize and personalize the issue," Lewin added, "and bring home the fact that real people are impacted by this, and that it's not just a theoretical legal question."

Said Ari Zivotofsky in an e-mail: "The support for the cause is gratifying, knowing that other people share the same sentiments as us."

Despite the 2002 federal statute mandating that Jerusalem-born U.S. citizens are entitled to have Israel listed on their passport, both the George W. Bush and the Obama administrations have ignored that law, maintaining that Congress lacks the authority to intervene in such delicate foreign policy matters, particularly when it involves the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In 2004, a federal district court judge dismissed the Zivotofskys' lawsuit, claiming that a "controversial reaction is virtually guaranteed" if the courts get involved in a dispute over the status of Jerusalem. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia concurred, but the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

The Zivotofskys have argued that the State Department policy prohibiting the entry of "Israel" on the passport held by their son and others is arbitrary and discriminatory, targeting "only supporters of Israel - overwhelmingly Jews who have a religious attachment to the land - from identifying their birthplace in a manner that conforms with their convictions."

Moreover, the petitioners maintain, allowing the word "Israel" to appear on those passports would have little, if any, affect on U.S. foreign policy. "This prohibition has no rational basis other than a purported fear that Israel's enemies will criticize American policy because they will misperceive the significance of allowing 'Israel' to be recorded on passports," their brief states. "The State Department's prohibition against recording 'Israel,' was, from its inception, erroneous and misguided. The government is now urging that it must be maintained permanently because changing it would be misconstrued. This reasoning justifies the maintenance of every poor and erroneous judgment that may be criticized by a foreign interest if corrected."


http://www.jpost.com/Features/InThespotlight/Article.aspx?id=232381

US olim want ‘Israel’ on passport of their J'lem-born son
By JOANNA PARASZCZUK
04/08/2011

Despite law passed in 2002 allowing Jerusalem-born US citizens to list Israel as birthplace, policy hasn’t been implemented.

In an unprecedented lawsuit that could affect over 50,000 Jerusalem-born Americans, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a Jerusalem-born American boy whose parents are demanding consular officials record Israel as his country of birth on official documents.

American olim and Jerusalem residents Ari Z. Zivotofsky and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky have been fighting for their son Menachem Binyamin’s passport and other documents to show Israel as his birth country even since he was born in Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital eight years ago.

Currently, in line with US policy, Menachem Binyamin’s passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad (equivalent of a birth certificate) only show that the boy was born in Jerusalem – but omit the country, his parents say.

As Menachem Binyamin’s parents are both Americans, he is automatically a US citizen and entitled to a US passport and other official documents.

US State Department policy is to record the city and country of birth on these documents for US citizens born overseas. However, this rule does not apply for American citizens born in Jerusalem, as the Zivotofskys discovered when they applied to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv for a passport and a Consular Report of Birth for their newborn son back in 2002.

Menachem Binyamin’s mother, Naomi, says she specifically requested that consular officials list her son’s place of birth as Israel.

Consular officials refused this request, the Zivotofskys say.

Instead, Menachem Binyamin’s passport shows only that he was born in Jerusalem.

“If a US citizen is born in Tel Aviv, his passport will designate his place of birth as Israel. But in the case of Jerusalem, the US Consular Department will not give the country of birth as Israel,” Menachem Binyamin’s father told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

The US State Department’s refusal to allow Jerusalem-born American citizens to list Israel as their country of birth on official documentation stems from the US’s official position of not recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Even though our son was born in Shaare Zedek Hospital, which is in West Jerusalem, the US Consular Department does not recognize it as being Israel,” added Ari Zivotofsky.

“And on his Consular Report of Birth, it’s even more blatant – the document is supposed to list both the city and the country of birth, and in Menachem Binyamin’s case, the country field has been left completely blank.”

The State Department’s policy is still implemented despite legislation passed by the US Congress in 2002 that said Jerusalem-born US citizens could list Israel as their country of birth on passports, Zivotofsky noted.

Yet though the law was signed by president George Bush, in practice neither he nor current US President Barack Obama have permitted US consular officials to record Israel as the birth country for Jerusalem-born Americans.

According to the US State Department, this is because the so-called “Jerusalem passport law” infringes on the president’s power to determine whether a particular territory is part of a country – and the US does not recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel.

However, the Zivotofskys say this policy harms their right to show their identification with Israel.

This is the issue that will be debated in the US Supreme Court.

In their brief to the US Supreme Court, the Zivotofskys argue that the US State Department’s policy “discriminates against supporters of Israel who would like personally, or through their children, to be identified with the State of Israel.”

The Zivotofskys’ lawyers, Nathan Lewin and Alyza Lewin of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Lewin & Lewin, LLP, argue in the Supreme Court brief that American citizens born in Tel Aviv or Haifa after 1948 can ask the Consular Department not to record “Israel” as the country of birth, if they object to Israel having sovereignty in those cities.

And Americans born in Jerusalem or anywhere else in Israel before 1948 can request that their country of birth be listed as “Palestine” on US passports and other documents, including death certificates.

Attorney Nathan Lewin told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the case was important “to American citizens born in Jerusalem and to all supporters of Israel who view Jerusalem as an integral and eternal part of the State of Israel.” Lewin added that the case also addressed important constitutional issues, and noted that the Supreme Court’s decision would likely set an important precedent in this “difficult and contentious area of defining the powers that the President and the Congress have over American foreign relations.

“More broadly, from an American constitutional perspective, it presents very important constitutional issues relating to separation-of-powers in the American governmental system. Does the president have exclusive authority over foreign relations if his judgment conflicts squarely with Congress’s? Does the president have exclusive authority to “recognize foreign sovereigns?” What does this “Recognition Power” mean? Does it include exclusive authority to determine that a particular city or territory is within a sovereign’s borders?” said Lewin.

Meanwhile, the Zivotofskys say their son Menachem Binyamin is not alone in his plight.

According to data collected by the Zivotofskys’ legal team, the US government stated that in a 10-year period, it had issued 99,177 passports listing “Israel” as the holder’s place of birth, and 52,569 passports that only listed “Jerusalem.”

With so much at stake, the Zivotofskys’ story has sparked a rapidly-growing grassroots movement in the US and Israel.

Led by the National Council of Young Israel and the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation, the movement – dubbed The Association of Proud American Citizens Born in Jerusalem – has launched a campaign in support of the Zivotofskys’ lawsuit.

Via its website, www.borninjerusalem.org, the movement is asking asking Americans in the US and Israel to lobby their senators on behalf of Menachem Binyamin.

“In the last week alone, more than 4,000 letters were sent to Capital Hill on the subject,” said Ari Zivotofsky.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is also championing the Zivotofskys’ cause, and is asking other Jerusalem-born Americans to join an amicus brief (a legal opinion given by an expert who is not party to a lawsuit) it is submitting to the US Supreme Court. According to the ADL, that brief will be filed to the Supreme Court on Friday.

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman slammed the US State Department’s policy not to record the birth country of Jerusalem-born Americans as “insulting.”

“This has long been one of the most offensive, harmful and insensitive actions of the American government,” said Foxman.

“Unfortunately, it has been tolerated and defended for so many years regardless of what administration was in office. It’s insulting that the State Department refuses to make this simple change to identify American citizens as having been born in Jerusalem, Israel. It borders on the irrational, and it’s time it ended. We hope the Supreme Court will see the fairness and reasonableness of this lawsuit, and set it straight.”

The suit of Menachem Zivotofsky vs. Hilary Rodham Clinton is set to be heard in the US Supreme Court in November.

 
January 3, 2011

Over 500 Religious and Communal Leaders Call On President Obama To Release Jonathan Pollard

A broad-based interfaith coalition comprised of more than 500 members of the clergy and community leaders sent a letter today to President Barack Obama, in which they called on the President to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard.  (The letter with the complete list of signatories is attached; the text of the letter appears below.)

 

The signatories on the letter include prominent religious and communal leaders from a wide array of Christian and Jewish communities, including representatives of Alliance for Jewish Renewal, American Values, Amit, Association of Reform Zionists of America, B'nai B'rith International, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Christians United for Israel, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, EMUNAH of America, Florida Council of Churches, Hebrew Union College, Hillel, JCC's of North America, Jewish Women International, National Council of Young Israel, New York Board of Rabbis, ORT America, Inc., Orthodox Union, Rabbinical Council of America, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Religious Zionists of America-Mizrachi, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Union for Reform Judaism, Yeshiva University, and the Zionist Organization of America.

 

"We, the undersigned over five hundred religious and communal leaders representative of the broad spectrum of the American faith community - wish to add our voices in support of clemency for Jonathan Pollard," wrote the religious and communal leaders.  "We are united in the fundamental belief that 'Justice, only justice, shall you pursue' (Deuteronomy 16:20), which rests at the core of our moral principles and system of justice."

 

"Commuting his sentence to time served would be a wholly appropriate exercise of your power of clemency - as well as a matter of basic fairness and American justice," continued the religious and communal leaders.  "It would also represent a clear sense of compassion and reconciliation - a sign of hope much needed in today's world of tension and turmoil."

 

The letter was spearheaded by David Nyer, an Orthodox Jewish activist, who collaborated on this effort with many Jewish and non-Jewish organizations.  Nyer noted that Jonathan Pollard's life sentence is grossly disproportionate when compared to the sentences of others who have spied for allied nations.  In addition, countless elected officials, individuals from the national intelligence arena and the legal world, as well as religious and community leaders, have described Pollard’s sentence as excessive, and have called for his sentence to be commuted.

 

Pollard, who just began his 26th year in federal prison, has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private in letters to many Presidents and others.  His health has deteriorated significantly during his two-and-a-half decades in prison.

 

"Jonathan Pollard has already served 25 years - much longer than anyone else having committed the same offense," said well-known Conservative Republican leader Gary Bauer, the President of American Values.  "He has repeatedly expressed remorse; his health is deteriorating.  I join many other prominent figures from across the political spectrum in urging President Obama to exercise simple American justice, clemency, and compassion on his behalf."

 

"I have written president Obama seeking a pardon for Jonathan Pollard," said Professor Charles J. Ogletree, the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and the Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.  "I hope the President grants the wishes of many who have supported a pardon for Mr. Pollard."  Professor Ogletree, who was President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama's law professor at Harvard and remains friends with them today, recently sent his own letter to the President concerning Jonathan Pollard.

 

Rabbi Donald A. Levy, the Rabbi of Temple Beit Torah in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a Chaplain, Major in the United States Air Force (retired), is a signatory on the letter and has asked President Obama to commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence.  Rabbi Levy was on active duty in the U.S. Navy and working as a cryptologist when Jonathan Pollard was arrested.  At the time, Rabbi Levy was chosen to participate in the team assessing the damage potentially caused by Jonathan Pollard's disclosures.

 

"There was nothing that we came across to indicate that Pollard gave information to any country but Israel," said Rabbi Levy.  "Further, the information he probably disclosed consisted primarily of daily operational intelligence summaries, information that is extremely perishable.  It did not appear to me at the time that the information he gave Israel should have resulted in a life sentence."

 

"It appears that Mr. Pollard is in prison not because of the crime he committed but due to geopolitics," said Carlos M. Salinas, former Acting Director of Government Relations for Amnesty International USA.  "No human being should ever be a chit in such a game."

 

"After spending the past quarter-century in a jail cell, it is time for the United States to open the prison gates and allow Jonathan Pollard to return home to his wife, his family, and the Jewish people," said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel.  Rabbi Lerner, who communicates regularly with Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther, and is considered by Jonathan to be his clergy, has been intimately and actively involved with Jonathan Pollard’s plight for almost 20 years.

 

"I urge President Obama to heed the calls of prominent law enforcement personnel, renowned legal professionals, and many other elected officials, professors of law, and community leaders, all of whom concur that Jonathan Pollard's life sentence is grossly disproportionate when compared to the sentences of others who have spied for allied nations," continued Rabbi Lerner.

 

"As he enters his 26th year of imprisonment, Jonathan Pollard has paid disproportionately for the crimes for which he has repeatedly expressed remorse," said Malcolm Hoenlein, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.   "It is time that he be released and allowed to rebuild his life.  It is now a humanitarian matter that calls for compassion and justice."

 

"The time has come for Jonathan Pollard to be released from prison," said Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.  "Having already served a quarter of a century, his time in prison greatly exceeds that of many whose crimes are more serious.  Justice has been done, and must now be tempered by mercy.  Clemency is now the moral choice."

 

The following is the text of the letter to President Obama:

 

January 3, 2011

 

The Honorable Barack H. Obama

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

We, the undersigned over five hundred religious and communal leaders representative of the broad spectrum of the American faith community - wish to add our voices in support of clemency for Jonathan Pollard. We are united in the fundamental belief that "Justice, only justice, shall you pursue" (Deuteronomy 16:20), which rests at the core of our moral principles and system of justice.

 

Mr. Pollard is currently serving his 26th year of a life sentence, having been indicted on one count of passing classified information to an ally without intent to harm the United States. We certainly do not condone his crime, nor do we underestimate the gravity of the offense. But it is patently clear that the sentence was and remains terribly disproportionate - the average punishment is a 2-4 year prison term - and (as several federal judges have noted) constitutes a gross miscarriage of justice.

 

As you know, prominent figures from across the spectrum have publicly stated their support for Mr. Pollard's release. They include Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Senators Charles Schumer and Arlen Specter, Harvard Law Professors Charles Ogletree and Alan Dershowitz, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, Benjamin Hooks of the NAACP, former federal Judge George Leighton, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olsen, Pastor John Hagee, and Gary Bauer. Furthermore, thirty-nine members of Congress have recently submitted to you a "Dear Colleague" letter led by Congressman Barney Frank in support of commuting Mr. Pollard's sentence. Perhaps most noteworthy, similar support has come from those who have seen the classified information of the actual damage caused including former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, Congressman Anthony Weiner, and former Senator and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dennis DeConcini.

 

After more than two and a half decades in prison, Mr. Pollard's health is declining. He has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions, and by all accounts has served as a model inmate.

 

Commuting his sentence to time served would be a wholly appropriate exercise of your power of clemency - as well as a matter of basic fairness and American justice. It would also represent a clear sense of compassion and reconciliation - a sign of hope much needed in today's world of tension and turmoil.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

Respectfully,


<signed>

To view all 500+ signatories, download the seven page PDF file by please clicking here


 
October 20, 2010

187th Torah Dedicated by Young Israel to the IDF

On Wednesday the 20th October, 2010 the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) and the International Young Israel Movement - Israel Region (IYIM) will proudly donate a Sefer Torah to the I.D.F for the 187th time, over the past twelve years. This project spearheaded by Rabbi Pesach Lerner (Exec. V-P, NCYI) and Rabbi Yedidya Atalas (I.D.F Rabbinate) has allowed for thousands of soldiers on bases throughout Israel to fulfill their spiritual needs.

This project now named the Ruby Davidman Sifrei Torah for the I.D.F. project is named after the recently deceased Ruby Davidman, who made aliyah over 30 years ago and was a tireless volunteer on behalf of Eretz Israel, Torat Israel and especially the soldiers of Israel (his wife will be attending the ceremony).

The Sefer Torah will be placed in the ark in the synagogue of the main base of the I.D.F. in the Gush Etzion region in a celebratory event that will occur on Wednesday morning. The Sifrei Torah are placed on different bases according to the needs of the I.D.F.
The Sifrei Torah are brought to Israel from synagogues throughout North America. They are in a worn or damaged state and donors are found to repair them and rededicate them in memory of loved ones.

The Sefer Torah on Wednesday is being rededicated by Joe and Rozanne Poalnsky (formerly of North Bellmore, NY, now Jerusalem) and Gershon and Braina Tryfus (North Bellmore, NY) through the Gemach of Young Israel of North Bellmore.

Executive Director of IYIM - Israel Region, Mr. Daniel Meyer stated: “Throughout the last 2000 years of Jewish history the burning of Sifrei Torah became the norm. We at Young Israel are proud to reverse this trend of Chilul Hashem into Kiddush Hashem, and restore older Sifrei Torah and to bring them to our brave soldiers.”

For further information or if you would like to attend the event please contact:
Daniel (Mush) Meyer - iyimisrael@gmail.com /0544826649

///

Sefer Torah,IDF,Young Israel,Gift,Yediya Atlas,Pesach Lerner

As printed in The Jerusalem Post 10/20/2010

THE National Council of Young Israel and the International Young Israel Movement-Israel Region will, for the 187th time, donate a Torah scroll to the IDF.

The project, which has been in operation for 12 years, is spearheaded by NCYI vice president Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Yedidya Atlas of the IDF Chaplaincy Corps.

The project has been renamed in memory of recently deceased Ruby Davidman a"h , a tireless volunteer for numerous causes here, especially those related to members of the IDF. He and his wife Phyllis came from the US well over 30 years ago. The 187th Torah Scroll will be placed in the synagogue of the main IDF base in Gush Etzion region in a ceremony that will be attended by members of the Davidman family.

All the Torah scrolls that are part of the project have been brought to Israel from synagogues throughout North America. Usually they are worn or damaged and donors are found to repair them and rededicate them in memory of loved ones. The scroll in today's ceremony will be rededicated by Joe and Rozanne Polansky (formerly of North Bellmore, NY, now Jerusalem) and Gershon and Braina Tryfus (North Bellmore, NY).




           IDF Receives Torah Scroll from American Jewish Youth

Cheshvan 13, 5771, 21 October 10 01:13

by by Elad Benari

(Israelnationalnews.com) On Wednesday, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) and the International Young Israel Movement – Israel  Region (IYIM) donate a Sefer Torah to the IDF for the 187th time. This was done as part of a project which has been running for the past 12 years and was initiated by NCYI Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Yedidya Atlas of the IDF Rabbinate. The project allows for IDF soldiers in bases throughout Israel to fulfill their spiritual needs.

The NCYI – Ruby Davidman Sifrei Torah for the IDF project is named Ruby Davidman, a gentleman who made aliyah over 30 years ago and volunteered on behalf of Eretz Israel, Torat Israel and especially the soldiers of Israel.

During a special ceremony attended by Davidman’s wife on Wednesday morning, the scroll was placed in the ark of the synagogue located in the IDF’s main base in Gush Etzion. The donated scrolls are brought to Israel from synagogues throughout North America. They are in a worn or damaged state and donors are found to repair them and rededicate them in memory of loved ones. Upon their arrival in Israel, the scrolls are placed in different army bases according to the needs of the IDF.

This particular Sefer Torah was rededicated by Joe and Rozanne Polansky (formerly of North Bellmore, NY, now Jerusalem) and Gershon and Braina Tryfus (of West Hempstead, NY) through the Gemach of Young Israel of North Bellmore.

The Young Israel Movement is an organization whose purpose is “to foster and maintain a program of spiritual, cultural, social and communal activity towards the advancement and perpetuation of traditional Torah-true Judaism; and to instill into American Jewish youth an understanding and appreciation of the high ethical and spiritual values of Judaism and demonstrate the compatibility of the ancient faith of Israel with good Americanism,” as its website states.

“The National Council of Young Israel is proud to be the conduit for so many Young Israel and non Young Israel synagogues in the USA and Canada to send our IDF soldiers a Torah scroll for their daily and Shabbat needs,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner. “These soldiers put their lives on the line every day to protect their people and land, this is the very least we can do. It is indeed an honor.”

www.IsraelNationalNews.com

 

Click here to begin Video

 

 
August 31, 2010
Young Israel Movement Reaction to the Shooting at Bani Naim Junction

National Council of Young Israel President Shlomo Z. Mostofsky made the following statement today following the deadly shooting of four Israeli citizens, including a pregnant woman, near the city of Hebron:

"The National Council of Young Israel and the International Young Israel Movement mourns the tragic loss of the four innocent Israelis who became the latest victims of a tragic terrorist attack directed at the Jewish State.

This senseless shooting, which comes on the eve of the start of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is a stark and painful reminder that the PA is incapable of being a true partner in peace.  While the Palestinian leadership is telling the United States and the world what it believes they want to hear, its citizens are simultaneously carrying out carefully planned and premeditated acts of terror against innocent men, women, and children.

Today's murder of an Israeli family at the Bani Naim junction just south of the holy city of Hebron comes as the Israeli leadership is being pressured to make concessions for the sake of peace, which compromises its security and puts its citizenry at risk.  We hope and pray that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' trip to Washington results in a clear and compelling call for a swift end to the violence and the cessation of the brutal acts of terror that are being perpetrated against the people of Israel.

May the Omnipresent comfort the families of the victims among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."

 
April 6. 2010
YOUNG ISRAEL MOVEMENT TO HOST 98th ANNIVERSARY DINNER

The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) and the International Young Israel Movement will host its 98th Anniversary Dinner on Thursday evening, May 6, 2010.  The dinner will take place at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which is located at 36 Battery Place in Manhattan.  The theme of this year's dinner is "Honoring our Past...Impacting the Present...Building our Future," which has been a hallmark of the Young Israel Movement's nearly century of service to the Jewish community.  There will be a reception beginning at 6:00 PM followed by the program at 7:30 PM.

According to NCYI President Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, the National Council of Young Israel has selected an array of honorees, each of whom has made significant contributions to their synagogue, their community, and to the broader Jewish community.

"We chose to honor a number of worthy individuals who aptly represent our rich and vibrant past and embody the best of the present," Mostofsky said.

The honorees are as follows:

Consul Arie Sommer, the Commissioner of the North and South America Israel Ministry of Tourism who has been at the forefront of expanding Israel's appeal to travelers from the western hemisphere during his three-decade career with the Ministry of Tourism, will be the Guest of Honor;

The Young Israel Beth-El of Borough Park, New York and the Young Israel of Greater Cleveland, Ohio, two of the oldest Young Israel synagogues in the country, will receive the organization's coveted Legacy Award;

Rabbi Julius Meles of the Young Israel of Oxford Circle, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will receive the Lifetime Rabbinic Achievement Award recognizing over 55 years of Rabbinic leadership;

Mr. Abe Kestenbaum of the Young Israel Benevolent Association and a member of the Young Israel of Bensonhurst, New York, will receive the Chesed Shel Emet Award for his tireless work on behalf of the Young Israel Benevolent Association;

Mike and Sandi Samole of the Young Israel of Kendall, Florida, will receive the prestigious Shofar Award for their work on behalf of their community;

The David Project will receive the Israel Advocacy Award, which will be accepted by Mr. Lawrence Muscant, Acting Executive Director, in recognition of the David Project's partnership with the National Council of Young Israel in teaching the tools of Hasbara (advocacy) to teenagers, college students and adults;

Shmuel Goldis of the Young Israel of Hollywood-Ft. Lauderdale, Florida will receive the Herbert S. Schweitzer Youth Award that recognizes a young person's service to his synagogue;

JBFCS's Ezrat Chayim/Pride of Judea will receive the Olam Chesed Yibaneh Award, which will be accepted by Mrs. Tina Machnikoff, LCSW, Program Coordinator and a member of the Young Israel of Great Neck, New York, for their work on behalf of those in need on mental health services; and

Mr. Samuel Kosofsky, the founder of the Hillcrest Shidduch Committee and a member of the Young Israel of Hillcrest, New York, will receive the Bayit Ne'eman B’Yisrael Award for his tireless work on behalf of singles.

The National Council of Young Israel is the umbrella organization of over 150 Orthodox synagogues in the United States and Canada and nearly 60 synagogues in Israel.  For almost 100 years, the Young Israel name has been respected throughout the world for its integrity to halacha, innovative programming, and unflinching support and commitment to the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

For more information about the National Council of Young Israel's May 6th dinner or to make reservations, visit www.youngisrael.org/dinner2010; send an email to dinner@youngisrael.org; or call 212-929-1525 x100.

 
April 2, 2010
NCYI's Leadership Educator Interviewed in Mishpacha Magazine

Please click on image below to download article


 
December 31, 2008
Young Israel Movement Hosts Economic Crisis Program

As the current economic downturn continues to permeate the Jewish community, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI), together with the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, sponsored a program for rabbinic leaders from Brooklyn and Staten Island entitled "Economic Crisis Affecting Our Community: How Can We Help?"  The December 16, 2008 program, which was co-sponsored by Agudath Israel of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, gave participants the opportunity to hear answers to their questions about the economic crisis and to learn from the experts.

According to NCYI Director of Rabbinic Services Rabbi Binyamin Hammer, who coordinated the event, the program was intended to enable Rabbis, who are often the "first responders" in their respective communities, to learn more about the various programs and services that are available for people in need.

Approximately forty people participated in the program, which was hosted by the Young Israel of Flatbush and its Mara D'Atra, Rabbi Kenneth Auman.  After welcoming remarks from NCYI Chief Operating Officer Chaim Leibtag, the participants heard from a number of prominent speakers, including Rabbi Yechezkel  Pikus, the Executive Director of COJO of Flatbush; Peter Brest, the Chief Operating Officer of the Met Council on Jewish Poverty; Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger of Agudath Israel of America; Rabbi Heshy Billet, the spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Woodmere; and Sam Bergman of the Eliezer Project, an organization based in the Five Towns that helps individuals and families who are encountering financial difficulties.

The presenters spoke about the various service organizations in the community and discussed the assistance that they offer families, including credit counseling, mortgage assistance, job retraining, and mental health services.

Upon the conclusion of the formal presentations, there was a question and answer session, as well as an opportunity for people to meet one-on-one with the various presenters.

"We all are committed to work with one another to streamline the various bureaucracies so that rabbanim and shul leaders can make proper referrals for their congregants," said Rabbi Hammer.

"The economic decline has unfortunately affected our families, our communitywide organizations, and our Torah institutions," said NCYI President Shlomo Z. Mostofsky.  "With people facing difficult financial times and an uncertain economic future, there are a lot of unanswered questions that people have.  This program gave people the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with professionals who understand the predicament that they are facing and who have the ability to offer sound counsel and sage advice."

The National Council of Young Israel is planning a similar program for Rabbis in Queens in the coming months, and encourages the local synagogues and social service organizations to participate so that the public can be better informed and know where they can turn to for help.

"The National Council of Young Israel is in a unique position to bring together various groups for the betterment of the Jewish community," said NCYI COO Chaim Leibtag.  "We will continue working to unite our community and keep educating rabbinic and community leaders so that they will be even better positioned to assist people in need."

For information about the National Council of Young Israel's upcoming programs, please contact the NCYI Department of Rabbinic Services at (212) 929-1525 x113; send an email to rabbis@youngisrael.org; or visit www.youngisrael.org.

 

December 3, 2008
Young Israel Statement On Terrorist Attack In Mumbai


National Council of Young Israel President Shlomo Z. Mostofsky made the following statement today regarding the recent terrorist attack that took place in Mumbai, India:

"The National Council of Young Israel joins with individuals and communities throughout the world in mourning the tragic deaths of the approximately 200 people whose lives were cut short by the terrorist attacks that devastated Mumbai. We especially mourn the untimely passing of six of our fellow Jews who were killed in cold blood in the Chabad center - Rabbi Benzion Kruman, Rabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum, Mrs. Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich, Mrs. Yocheved Orpaz, and Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, the young couple who operated the center. The Holtzbergs were kindred spirits whose great generosity, boundless hospitality, and gregarious personalities helped bring joy and comfort to countless Jews who passed through the Indian city of Mumbai.

The senseless killings in Mumbai are yet another disturbing reminder of the catastrophic and painful effect that terrorism has on families, on communities, and on the world at large. Brutal acts of murder have no place in a civilized society, and it behooves our world leaders to not just condemn heinous acts of terrorism when they occur, but to take definitive steps to curb the spread of suicide terrorism.

These attacks are also a painful reminder that "random" acts of violence are never as arbitrary as they appear to be. All too often throughout history the world has witnessed widespread acts of terrorism in which the terrorists have gone out of their way to single out Jewish targets and take Jewish lives. It was just five years ago that terrorists carrying out acts of carnage in Morocco made sure to include a Jewish community center as one of their targets. The attack on the Chabad center reminds us how vigilant we as Jews must be at all times.

As we mourn the loss of our Jewish brethren and all the victims of the Mumbai attacks, we pray for the speedy and complete recovery for the hundreds of innocent men, women, and children who were injured at the hands of the terrorists. As we stand together with Jews from all corners of the globe in this time of terrible sadness, we take this opportunity to focus on prayer, acts of kindness towards others, and charitable endeavors. Although the Holtzbergs were taken from us seemingly too soon, it is up to the rest of us to continue their good work and to serve G-d as they did - with love, alacrity, and a sense of achdus, unity. We must ensure that their legacy lives on and that we never forget the lessons that their deeds and actions taught us about how to live life as committed Jews.

The National Council of Young Israel is embarking on a campaign to complete the study of Mishnayos by the end of the Shloshim for the Jewish victims of the Mumbai attacks. The study of Mishnayos in memory of the victims is an appropriate way to honor their memories and to help perpetuate the legacy that they left. To sign up to learn Mishnayos in memory of the Jews who perished in the attacks in Mumbai, please visit www.youngisrael.org.

To the families of the victims, we offer you our solace and our prayers. May you know of no more sorrow, and may your lives be enriched with happiness and joy in the future. HaMakom Yenachem Etchem B'toch Shaar Avlei Tzion V'Yerushalayim - May G-d comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."

* * * * *


 

September 15, 2008

YOUNG ISRAEL MOVEMENT LAUNCHES SUCCOT CAMPAIGN TO PROVIDE FAMILIES FROM GUSH KATIF AND SDEROT RESIDENTS WITH FOOD FOR YOM TOV

 

The National Council of Young Israel announced that it has reactivated its Shalosh Regalim Campaign to provide provisions for the holiday of Succot to the former residents of Gush Katif and Northern Shomron who were expelled from their homes in August 2005.  The Young Israel's food distribution campaign will also help the families of Sderot, whose lives have been in turmoil for the past several years while Kassam rockets rain down on their community.

 

The National Council of Young Israel initially embarked on its food distribution campaign before Succot 2007.  Together with the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel ("CYIR"), and in conjunction with the Yad Ezra organization in Israel, the NCYI provided several truckloads of food to families who had been evacuated from Gush Katif.  With the help of Eugen and Jean Gluck of Forest Hills, Queens, and many other shuls and individuals who made additional financial contributions, the National Council of Young Israel purchased several truckloads of food for Succot.  The food was delivered to over 500 families in Nitzan, as well as to many other Gush Katif families in the Golan, Ashkelon, and various other cities.

 

The NCYI also organized a food distribution campaign for Pesach 2008.  

Several days prior to Pesach, after having funds to buy food for the families of Gush Katif for Yom Tov, the NCYI and Yad Ezra arranged to have four truckloads carrying more than twenty-five tons of food delivered to the city of Nitzan, and another truckload delivered to Sderot.  More than 700 families in need benefited from the Shalosh Regalim Campaign on Pesach.  As they had done for the Succot campaign, the Glucks of Forest Hills took a leading role once again and helped ensure the success of the Pesach food distribution campaign.  The food distribution campaign was replicated again for the holiday of Shavuot, when two truckloads carrying 50,000 containers of dairy products were delivered to the families.

 

With Succot 2008 virtually upon us, the National Council of Young Israel is again collecting funds to purchase food for the families of Gush Katif and Sderot for Yom Tov.  NCYI Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner urged people to participate in the Shalosh Regalim Campaign so that families, who otherwise would not be able to bring the joy of Yom Tov into their home, will be provided with the opportunity to do so.

 

Shuls and individuals are encouraged to help sponsor a family or families at $500 - $750 for the holiday.  Contributions should be made payable to Young Israel Charities - Shalosh Regalim Campaign and mailed to the National Council of Young Israel, 111 John Street, Suite 450, New York, NY 10038.  Donations can also be made online at www.youngisrael.org (simply click on "Donate" and check off Gush Katif - Shalosh Regalim Campaign).

 

* * * * *

 

September 7, 2008

 

YOUNG ISRAEL MOVEMENT CONDEMNS DESECRATION OF JEWISH HOLY SITE, CALLS ON ISRAELI GOVERNMENT TO PREVENT FUTURE DEFILEMENT OF RELIGIOUS SITES

The National Council of Young Israel ("NCYI") today strongly condemned the desecration by Arab worshipers of the Cave of the Patriarchs (Maarat Hamachpela) in the Israeli city of Hebron. The NCYI also called on the Israeli government to implement measures to ensure that Jewish holy sites are properly protected from future acts of defilement.

Jewish worshipers who arrived at the site on Saturday morning were stunned to find that Arab worshipers had urinated near an Ark containing Torah Scrolls, and that Hamas flags had been thrown into the areas that mark the burial sites of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs.

"The desecration of Maarat Hamachpela by Arab worshipers should shock people throughout the world, Jews and non-Jews alike," said Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, the President of the National Council of Young Israel. "Defiling a historic religious site demonstrates a total disregard for human decency and utter contempt for the beliefs of others."

The desecration occurred as thousands of Muslim worshipers entered the site on Friday as part of their Ramadan rituals. Each Friday during the month of Ramadan, the Cave of the Patriarchs is closed to Jews so that Muslim worshipers can enter the site and pray.

"The Arabs claim that Maarat Hamachpela is holy to them and that they require access to the site during Ramadan in order to pray," said Mostofsky. "One has to wonder how important this site truly is to Muslims if they feel it is acceptable to use it as a public restroom and a place to pay homage to terrorists who murder innocent people. They are not using the Cave of the Patriarchs as a place to pray; they are using it to perpetuate hatred and disregard for others."

Mostofsky noted that Friday's act of desecration at the Cave of the Patriarchs is the latest in a series of desecrations that have occurred at the site when it is open solely to Arabs, and closed to Jews. Although reports of the destructive acts have been reported to the police, there have not been any arrests made.

According to Mostofsky, the Israeli government should consider prohibiting Arab worshipers from entering Maarat Hamachpela in the future without proper supervision by the Israeli authorities.

"The Israeli government needs to take steps to ensure that Jewish holy sites are properly protected from defilement and desecration," said Mostofsky. "The Arabs have proven time and time again that they do not possess the tolerance and understanding necessary to warrant giving them the keys to one of Judaism's holiest sites for unfettered access. If they cannot be trusted to maintain the site's integrity, they should not be permitted to enter the site at all."

Mostofsky also called on the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations, the European Union, and the entire international community to condemn this act of defilement in the strongest terms possible.

"There are those in the international community who never relinquish an opportunity to criticize and condemn Israel," said Mostofsky. "Those same folks need to immediately stand up and denounce this cowardly and appalling act of defacement by Muslim worshipers. Silence in this instance is simply not an option."

In addition, Mostofsky urged Jews to show solidarity for Maarat Hamachpela and to visit the site whenever possible in order to demonstrate the importance of maintaining control of one of Judaism's holiest religious sites.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

REMARKS FROM THE COALITION FOR A UNITED JERUSALEM
PRESS CONFERENCE, JULY 22, 2008 – ELDAN HOTEL, JERUSALEM ISRAEL

As American citizens living in Israel, we extend a warm welcome to Senator Barack Obama and
his two traveling companions, Senators Reed and Hagel, on their current visit to Jerusalem, the
eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel.

We want to state from the outset that we are not here to endorse or criticize any candidate. What
we are here for is to call upon Senator Obama, as the presumptive Democratic Party candidate
for President of the United States, to state in clear and unequivocal terms that he recognizes that
Jerusalem is and shall for all time remain the exclusive and undivided capital of the Jewish State
of Israel. And, if he is elected as President, that that will be the unalterable position of his
administration.

A little historical perspective is in order:

In 2000, during a failed run for the House, then State Senator Obama stated “Jerusalem should
remain united AND should be recognized as Israel’s capital.”

In January 2008 Senator Obama answered an American Jewish Committee question posted on
their website: “How do you see the likely final status of Jerusalem?” with the following response
and I quote: Jerusalem WILL remain Israel’s capital, and no one should want or expect it to be
re-divided.”

At the recent AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, to rousing applause and a standing
ovation, Senator Obama reiterated and I quote, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, AND
it must remain undivided.”

While these statements are clear, Senator Obama recently appeared to muddy the waters during
his recent interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN when he said that his AIPAC statement “had
some poor phrasing” and he should have been more “careful in terms of our syntax.” This
apparent backtracking is highly troubling to the more than 250,000 American citizens living in
Israel.

The Coalition for a United Jerusalem calls on Senator Obama to:

• Reaffirm his positive remarks at the AIPAC Policy Conference regarding the need to
insure that Jerusalem remain the undivided Capital of Israel.

• Disavow subsequent retractions which qualified his original calls for an undivided
Jerusalem to mean only that it would not be separated by barbed wire as in 1948-67.

• Declare that security and access to all holy places can only be guaranteed by Israeli
sovereignty and administration as demonstrated during the past 41 years.

• Acknowledge that Israeli withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza in the past have
led to destabilization and increased violence and terror, and that these withdrawals
presage a similar deterioration likely to occur in eastern Jerusalem if Israel were to
withdraw and turn the area over to Fatah, which would likely be usurped by Hamas.

• Take immediate steps to introduce a more balanced and a pro-Israel perspective by
appointing a number of foreign policy advisors who are more likely to consider an
undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty or meet with leadership and
representatives from our organizations so we can offer a different perspective. Past and
present, formal and informal advisors, such as Zbigniew and Mark Brzezinski, Samantha
Powers, Robert Malley, Susan Rice, Merrill McPeak, Anthony Lake, David Bonior, Ivo
Daalder, Scott Lasensky, Dan Kurtzer, Joseph Cirincione along with current traveling
companion Senator Chuck Hagel offer an extremely one-sided “pressure Israel” view
which should be mitigated by advisors who are not predisposed to reject the possibility of
a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

If there is one word that encapsulates Senator Obama’s campaign it is ‘Change.” Senator Obama
is certainly permitted to change his mind and if he has in fact done so, he is duty bound to state
so in clear and accurate terms so that the American electorate has a full understanding of his
position on this most significant issue.

*************************************

The Coalition for a United Jerusalem, comprised of the American Israeli Action Coalition, the
Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel, Emunah Women, the Rabbinical Council of
America in Israel, the Worldwide Young Israel Movement, and the Zionist Organization of
America, serves to highlight the views of some of the major American/Israeli organizations and
dual American/Israeli voting citizens living in Israel. The Coalition aims to voice their deep
concern over the future of the historical capital of Israel and the Jewish people.

AIAC: American Israeli Action Coalition: Harvey Schwartz, Chairman

Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel: Rabbi Jeffrey Bienenfeld, President

Emunah Women: Toby Willig, Member, Board of Directors

Rabbinical Council of America in Israel: Rabbi Aaron Borow, President

Worldwide Young Israel Movement: Rabbi Aaron S. Tirschwell, Director of Israel Operations

Zionist Organization of America: Jeff Daube, Director of the Israel Office

For more information, please contact:

Aaron S. Tirschwell: 972.52.608.9756; aaron@youngisrael.org

Jeff Daube: 972.52.538.0840; jdaube@zoa.org

 

* * * * *

Submitted by hhoffman on Wed, 23/07/2008 - 00:06.

July 22, 2008

"AGAIN?"

It's just about three weeks since an Arab

resident of eastern Jerusalem utilized a heavy

tractor to overturn buses and cars in a terrorist

attack in the heart of Jerusalem.

Today another driver of a tractor left his

construction site in Jerusalem's Yemin Moshe

neighborhood and drove onto King David

Street, apparently seeking to recreate this

terrorist incident. He attempted to overturn a

bus and crashed into several cars, overturning

one. Eyewitnesses said he also tried to lower

the blade of his equipment on the head of a

passerby but just missed. At least sixteen

people were injured, one seriously, before he

was shot dead, apparently in combined effort

by a civilian and police, as he neared Gan

Hapa'amon (Liberty Bell Park), at the

intersection of King David Street and Keren

Hayasod Street.

~~~~~~~~~~

It is reported that the terrorist was Hassan

Abu-Tir, a resident of the Umm Tuba

neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem, and

possessor of an Israeli identity card. Hassan is

a relative of the Hamas parliament member

Muhammad Abu-Tir, who is being held in Israeli

prison.

Passage to eastern Jerusalem was reportedly

blocked for a period as the police were seeking

two additional individuals. Perhaps more

information will follow in the next day or so.

~~~~~~~~~~

Barack Obama is here in Israel now and all of

this occurred about half a block from the King

David Hotel, where he will be staying tonight. I

might hope that this would help bring home to

Obama the situation that we are living with.

~~~~~~~~~~

Tonight a press conference was held in

Jerusalem by the Coalition for a United

Jerusalem, which consists of the American

Israeli Action Committee, the Council of Young

Israel Rabbis in Israel, Emunah Women,

Rabbinical Council of America in Israel,

Worldwide Young Israel Movement, and Zionist

Organization of America.

These groups -- all American organizations with

representation in Israel -- took advantage of

Senator Obama's presence in Jerusalem to raise

serious questions about his position on

Jerusalem.

In his recent speech to the American Israel

Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Public Policy

Conference, Obama said, "Let me be

clear...Jerusalem will remain the capital of

Israel, and it must remain

undivided." ("Undivided" is a code word

universally understood to mean that it would

remain exclusively under Israeli sovereignty.)

Within days he had backtracked, explaining that

what he meant when he said "undivided" was

simply that the city shouldn't again be divided

by barbed wire as it was between 1949 and

1967. He suggested that there was room for

Palestinian sovereignty in the city as well. In a

CNN interview, he said he thought a good

"starting point" for negotiations was the Clinton

plan advanced at Taba in 2000, which called for

a divided city, but actually was subsequently

taken off the table.

~~~~~~~~~~

Now the Coalition publicly called upon Obama

to:

-- Reaffirm his original remarks made at the

AIPAC Conference.

-- Disavow his subsequent retraction.

-- Declare that security and access to all holy

places can only be guaranteed by Israeli

sovereignty.

-- Acknowledge that Israeli withdrawals from

southern Lebanon and Gaza have led to

destabilization and increased terror, and that

this presages a similar deterioration likely to

occur in eastern Jerusalem if Israel were to

withdraw and turn the area over to Fatah,

which would like be usurped by Hamas.

-- Take immediate steps to introduce a more

balanced and pro-Israel perspective by

appointing a number of foreign policy advisors

who are more likely to consider an undivided

Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. Past and

present formal and informal advisors to Obama

in his campaign offer an extremely one-sided

"pressure Israel" view predisposed to rejecting

the possibility of a unified Jerusalem.

~~~~~~~~~~

All of the salient points were made during the

course of this press conference regarding why

Jerusalem should remain undivided:

Issues of security if half of the city were to be

in the hands of Fatah or Hamas, which would be

able to shoot at western Jerusalem.

Religious issues regarding our right to retain

control of our holiest site, which the

Palestinians are eager to usurp.

The long-standing tradition of Jerusalem as a

Jewish city, going back 3,000 years.

The affront to Israel of not allowing her to

determine her capital without challenge, when

no other nation is similarly challenged.

Connected to this, the fact that the vast

majority of Israelis is opposed to division of the

city.

The actual logistical impossibility of dividing the

city, as Arab and Jewish neighborhoods are

intertwined.

~~~~~~~~~~

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to

town to visit on Sunday and addressed the

Knesset yesterday, the first British prime

minister to do so. He attempted to begin and

end with a phrase in Hebrew. He described

himself as a life-long friend of Israel and

described his father's ardent support for our

nation. He praised Israel's achievements "in the

face of the war, terror and violence,

intimidation and insecurity" as ""truly

monumental," saying they represented a

"boundless capacity of mind and spirit." He

pledged to fight academic boycotts of Israel

inside of Britain.

"Let me tell the people of Israel today," he

declared, "Britain is your true friend."

~~~~~~~~~~

And then... then he advised those gathered that

"peace is within your grasp." This peace would

be founded upon "a two-state solution based on

1967 borders," with "Jerusalem the capital for

both," a "just and agreed settlement for

refugees" and "freezing and withdrawing from

settlements."

They do it every time. This is the mantra, with

every single "friendly" visitor seeming to

consider it de rigeur to make this

pronouncement. It was not enough for Brown to

say we need to make accommodations with the

Palestinians in order to achieve peace, that we

must negotiate flexibly to that end. He had to

spell it out -- '67 borders (they were armistice

lines, Mr. Prime Minister, not borders), sharing

of Jerusalem and all. These are issues that are

supposed to be negotiated, yet he has

determined the outcome already.

The problem is that the Palestinians have

convinced the world that they have a right to

these things and that justice won't be done

unless they receive them. Many of the world's

leaders don't give a damn about us at all and

are eager to accommodate Arabs. But even

those professing friendship have conveniently

convinced themselves that if only this can be

achieved peace will be possible, and take it

upon themselves to advise us of this.

~~~~~~~~~~

Prime Minster Brown should be told that true

friends don't ask friends to surrender their

ancient heritage and box themselves into a

non-defensible position.

~~~~~~~~~~

I -- with others -- have been speaking for some

time about the need for a change in the

paradigm of thinking in the Western world with

regard to this issue. It's time for recognizing

that the notion of a Palestinian state is failed:

That in 14 years the PA has not built necessary

civic and economic infrastructure and does not

provide equal rights under the law, or freedoms

of speech or press or basic human dignity. That

the PA is thoroughly allied with terrorism. The

"moderate" Abbas rejoiced for Kuntar's release,

for heaven's sake!

The notion of a Palestinian state is ridiculous on

the face of it. And yet the world will not let this

go.

~~~~~~~~~~

Unfortunately, it's harder to tell the world this

when we have Olmert as prime minister. He

held a joint press conference with Brown and,

while he defended our need for settlements,

announced that he believes that there can be

an agreement with the PA by the end of 2008

and that we are "closer than ever."

~~~~~~~~~~

The days of Olmert as prime minister, however,

are numbered. After considerable infighting, the

Kadima party has changed its constitution so

that an early primary is permitted. A date --

presumably in September -- now must be set

for the party leadership contest.

In response to some of the fierce internal

Kadima fighting that went on with regard to

this, Olmert reportedly referred to Livni as a

"backstabbing liar."

While an unnamed Kadima MK said, "Olmert is

a corpse that has already started to stink and

he needs to be removed as soon as possible."

~~~~~~~~~~

As to the possibility of an indictment of Olmert,

we're being by State Attorney Moshe Lador that

a decision on this will be coming soon. The

body of evidence being gathered against Olmert

would soon be handed over to Attorney-General

Menachem Mazuz, who will make the final

decision.

The cross examination of Talansky is still in

process, but daily more questions are raised

about his reliability as a witness, as he "forgets"

things he knew before, or professes confusion

as to why he said what he did before, or just

contradicts himself.

The state's case is not built exclusively on his

testimony however, as Israeli investigators

went to the US to garner documentation and

further testimony. And there is as well the

question of Messer's willingness to talk.

Besides which, there is the new issue of alleged

double billing of non-profits for Olmert's trips,

with excess funds having gone for his private

use.

I cannot predict how this will play out. There is

a strong desire in many quarters to see true

justice done. Very clearly, at a minimum,

Olmert is finished in politics because his

associates and the nation have heard enough.

The statement about his being a corpse that

has started to stink says it all.

Case after case has been cited of leaders who

resigned because of legal or even complex

political difficulties. Even Nixon was evoked in

this regard the other day -- Nixon having had

the sense to say that his remaining in power

while he fought the accusations against him

would distract the nation from important

business. Only Olmert has hung on despite

everything, and to hell with the nation.

Whether he will be held legally accountable for

his various doings remains to be seen.

~~~~~~~~~~

Al-Hayat in London reported today that

according to an Egyptian source -- Egypt being

the go-between in negotiations on Shalit --

Marwan Barghouti is among the 70 prisoners

that Israel has so far agreed to release in

exchange for Shalit. This would be another

huge error -- another victory for terrorist forces

that makes a mockery of Israeli justice. To the

best of my knowledge this has not yet been

confirmed by other sources.

Barghouti, a Fatah leader, founder of the

Tanzim and major instigator of the first

Intifada, is serving five life sentences. As the

man who gave his blessing to a 2002 terrorist

attack on a Bat Mitzvah party that killed six and

wounded 30, he is just one more evil being who

should never see the light of day. He would

surely be recidivist, returning to terrorism as a

leader.

In spite of Hamas demands, however, it is

being said that Israel has refused to release

Popular Front Secretary-General Ahmad

Saadat, who was involved in the assassination

of Israeli Minister Rehavam Ze'evi.

In any event, the Egyptian source is saying that

Hamas will not release Shalit unless Israel

agrees to all 450 names that have been passed

via Egypt. The full demand is for 1,000

prisoners, but it is 450 names that are critical

to Hamas. If Israel has only agreed to 70, there

are many other names besides Saadat that are

being refused.

~~~~~~~~~~

Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin reported to the

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

today that Hamas has taken advantage of the

"ceasefire" to plant mines across widespread

areas of Gaza.

(Sounds to me not only that we should have

gone in before this happened, but that when we

ultimately do, which, one assumes, eventually

we will, there will have to be more air

operations.)

Diskin additionally reported that the smuggling

of weapons into Gaza has continued without

letup, as well, and that the group has rockets

that can reach Kiryat Gat and likely Ashdod. As

Hamas is gaining strength during this time, it

has a vested interest in maintaining the "quiet."

Diskin is opposed to the "ceasefire," and says

that we need a presence inside of Gaza in order

to combat terrorism. He is also opposed to the

release of Barghouti.

~~~~~~~~~~

see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info