Jerusalem - Clergy representing Christians, Jews and Muslims met Wednesday near the Jerusalem synagogue where five people died in a grisly Palestinian attack to plead for tolerance amid spiking regional tensions.
The group stood in a sun-dappled courtyard outside the synagogue where two Palestinian cousins armed with meat cleavers, knives and a pistol killed four worshippers and a policeman Tuesday. After a brief gun battle, security forces shot the assailants dead.
Absent from the meeting were Muslim authorities from Jerusalem and senior Israeli rabbis. [VB: Except here is a photo of Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Imam Mohammed Kiwan==>]
“People from all religions which are here in the Holy Land want to express the common belief that this is not the way,” said Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former Israeli legislator who is active in interfaith efforts. “We can have our differences, political differences, our religious differences, but this is not the way.”
Melchior’s moderation seems an increasingly scarce commodity in this region, which in recent weeks has been riven by religious tensions. During that time 11 people have died at the hands of Palestinian attackers — most in Jerusalem, but also in Tel Aviv and the West Bank.
The ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood is uniting to mourn the Druze police officer killed in the terror attack at a synagogue on Tuesday.
Postings on social media are urging ultra-Orthodox community members to attend the funeral of Zidan Nahad Seif, who was critically wounded while trying to stop the attack at the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue.
Seif succumbed to his wounds after being hospitalized in critical condition and his funeral is scheduled to take place Wednesday at 2 P.M. in his Western Galilee village of Yanuh-Jat.
At least one bus departed from the Jerusalem International Convention Center at 12 P.M. that was carrying mourners to Seif’s funeral.
“We are asking anyone from the ultra-Orthodox community who is able to attend the funeral of the police officer who protected our praying brothers with his body,” the post on social media read. “Come show him your gratitude,” it added, describing his actions - being killed while protecting Jewish worshipers - as kiddush hashem.
Ariella Sternbuch, one of the organizers of the drive to honor Seif, told Walla! news that she was touched by a photograph of him with his baby daughter. “I was moved by the thought that he chose to sacrifice his life for the Jewish people,” she said. “Haredim [ultra-Orthodox Jews], who were the main victims of this attack, should come pay him their last respects.”
ROCKVILLE, Md. - Montgomery County Public Schools will remove religious labels from school holidays, but members of the Islamic community say the adjustments to the school calendar do nothing to gain parity and a day off for the Muslim holiday of Eid.
The school board approved the school calendar for the 2015-2016 school year Tuesday. The calendar will no longer reference specific religious holidays but rather state simply that school will be closed on dates that correspond with holidays like Eid, Yom Kippur and Christmas.
Saqib Ali, a former Maryland state delegate and co-chair of Equality for Eid, was not happy with the board of education’s action Tuesday.
“Equality is really what we’re looking for,” Ali said. “Simply saying we’re not going to call this Christmas, and we’re not going to call this Yom Kippur, and still closing the schools, that’s not equality.”
School board members said they were sympathetic to the desire to have Eid recognized and close schools but that legal precedent in Maryland bars them from closing for religious purposes.
“We can’t close for religious holidays. We can only close for operational purposes,” like high absenteeism, school spokesman Dana Tofig said.
That explanation doesn’t sit well with Zainab Chaudry, with the Council on American Islamic Relations. “What’s really concerning to us is that similar conditions weren’t placed on any other faith community.”
In the 1970’s school officials decided to close on Jewish holidays because of high absenteeism.
But school board member Michael Durso said that the schools effectively close for a religious reason: the schools had high absenteeism because of a religious holiday in the community.
Noting the attempt to move away from favoring religions by instead referring to school days off as “winter break” and “student holidays,” Durso said as long as the Islamic community’s concern for parity wasn’t somehow addressed “it comes off as insensitive, and I just think we cannot afford to be in that light”.
Read more: wtop.com
I think this is really, really stupid. Wingnut rage erupting in 4…3…2…1…
Chief Rabbi David Lau met wiith Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan, an imam and chairman of the Council of Muslim Leaders in Israel, on Thursday to issue a joint call for a cessation of violence and calm in Jerusalem following weeks of riots and unrest.
Lau invited Kiwan to his home in Modi’in, where the two religious leaders discussed the need for increasing the values of tolerance in the Israeli education system and expanding opportunities for religious leaders to meet.
“We must call for unity and peace between peoples in order that we can all live together in a better way,” said Lau. “We are the children of one God, and we must live together side by side, and everyone must work in every way to prevent extremism and hatred,” Lau concluded.
Kiwan agreed with Lau’s comments, and said that are many opportunities to bring the two sides together.
“We are meeting with the chief rabbi, who is a friend and like a brother to me, and as heads of the [different] religious communities, we call on all those responsible to prevent violence and to enter into dialogue of peace,” said Kiwan.
“The holy places are a red line and such wildness and the spilling of blood is unacceptable,” he continued.
Once every 33 years, the religious holidays coincide so that one of the biggest feast days of the year for Muslims falls on the biggest fast day of the year for Jews.
This year, Yom Kippur will coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the second most important holiday in the Muslim calendar, and the faiths radically opposed ways of marking their holidays have some worried that interfaith tensions may rise even higher than in past years.
Eid al-Adha means “The Feast of the Sacrifice” and commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. The festival is often marked with the slaughter of a goat or sheep, and families travel to get together in a celebratory mood.
Yom Kippur, on the other hand, the Jewish day of judgement, is marked by fasting and prayer. Secular Jews mark the day by refraining from driving cars, in what has become an inseparable cultural aspect to the holy day.
The phenomenon of a shared date happens once every 33 years - in 1948, in 1981, and in 2014. Due to the quirks of the Jewish leap year and the fact that the faiths use different lunar calendars, it will also happen again next year.
Tensions are already high between Arabs and Jews after the war in Gaza this summer and near-constant rioting in East Jerusalem.
The confluence of the two holidays has some worried that any interaction or misunderstanding between Jews and Arabs could quickly degenerate into widespread violence as it has in years past.
Police aren’t taking any chances. National Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the police will increase their presence in mixed cities, especially in Jerusalem and Acre.
The police try to limit their patrols in cars on Yom Kippur but will have more policemen patrolling the area on foot. The Old City is an area of special concern. “There are tensions, but police officers have met with leaders in different communities to coordinate the fact that holidays are falling at the same time,” Rosenfeld said.
In Acre, which saw riots on Yom Kippur in 2008 when an Arab resident drove through an observant Jewish neighbourhood blaring music from his car stereo, local Muslim official Abbas Zakur said an agreement had been reached between the two communities on the timing of celebrations. Muslims would celebrate and feast on Sunday, but from Saturday small electric cars will be provided for those wishing to go to the mosque to pray.
The electric cars would create less noise than motorized vehicles and would be less likely to upset religious Jews, Zakur explained. The old city of Acre would be closed to all traffic, he added.
In the city of Hebron, which sees daily confrontations between Jewish settlers and Palestinians — or between Palestinians and police — soldiers will be manning dozens of checkpoints.
The IDF said it would implement a general closure of the West Bank and Gaza starting at midnight Thursday night and lasting until Saturday night. Palestinians will only be allowed into Israel for humanitarian reasons or for emergencies.
Each religions’ customs for celebrating their holy day could also lead to increased tensions.
“The way that the Jews celebrate [Yom Kippur] is very internal,” explained Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former MK who is also the chairperson of Mosaica Center for Interreligious Cooperation, a group promoting religious tolerance and understanding across the Middle East. “We go inside ourselves on Yom Kippur, looking at our relationships and ourselves. As opposed to other [Jewish] festivals, we go into our homes and into our synagogues, it’s not a day of external celebrations.”
Read more: Leaders bid to downplay tensions as Yom Kippur, Eid al-Adha clash | The Times of Israel timesofisrael.com
A Mississippi rabbi and a restaurant owner have agreed to sit down and talk about a salad order gone wrong.
Rabbi Ted Riter, of Jackson’s Beth Israel Congregation, says he was kicked out of a Wraps Greek restaurant in Jackson because of his faith. But restaurant owner John Allis claims the whole thing was a big misunderstanding about a “Jewish Salad” that his restaurant sells.
The controversy between the two men began soon after Riter entered Allis’ restaurant on Tuesday.
“I asked the owner if I could have a Greek salad to go and he said, ‘The regular size or the Jewish size?’” Riter told WAPT. “He just goes into a tirade, throwing out all these expletives, ‘Get out of here.’”
Riter claims the owner told him, “You know Jews are small and cheap! Everyone knows that.”
The rabbi reportedly responded, “Did you really just say that to me?”
After asking whether Riter was Jewish, the rabbi was allegedly ordered to leave the restaurant.
“Expletives, F-bombs, and since I’d never been the recipient of that before, I was in shock, so I didn’t register it until the second or third time he told me to leave,” Riter told the Clarion Ledger. “It was a bit surreal. So I left.”
But Ellis has a different version of events. He claims the restaurant was extremely busy at that time and that Riter was acting indecisive. Ellis says he harbors no ill will toward the Jewish people.
“The guy said he didn’t want to do any business with us. He was probably offended because we offer different salads — that’s all,” Ellis told WAPT. “I said, ‘Greek salad or Jew?’ We have different salads. We have Carlito’s Way Salad. We have Grecian Salad. We have Jewish Salad. We have Greek Salad. We have Cesar Salad — we have a lot of salads. Names of salads derive from people; they don’t derive from the sky.”
Personally I would not have even entered that restaurant, I only eat at restaurants that are strictly kosher. It would appear this menu item was kosher, that is, it contained only vegetarian ingredients but it may have come into contact with non-kosher ingredients while it was being prepared. However that was not the cause of the dispute. The cause of the dispute was that the restaurant owner is a bigoted asshole.
That said, I hope the rabbi & his friends never enter that restaurant ever again.
Wishing You a Sweet, Happy, and Healthy New Year
Shanah Tovah from the White House! On Wednesday evening, Jews in the United States and around the world will begin celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
The High Holidays offer the Jewish community a moment of pause, a time to reflect on the previous year and recommit to the unending task of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Together, working with people of all faiths, we can bring greater peace and prosperity to the world in 5775.
In his 2014 video message for the High Holidays, President Obama extends his wishes for a sweet new year and discusses why this time of year is so significant.
Hello. As Jews across America, Israel, and the world gather together for the High Holidays, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to you and your families for a sweet and happy new year.
My good friend Elie Wiesel once said that God gave human beings a secret, and that secret was not how to begin but how to begin again. These days of awe are a chance to celebrate that gift, to give thanks for the secret, the miracle of renewal.
In synagogues and homes over the coming days, Jews will reflect on a year that carried its shares of challenges. We’ve been reminded many times that our world still needs repair. So here at home we continue the hard work of rebuilding our economy and restoring our American dream of opportunity for all. Around the world, we continue to stand for the dignity of every human being, and against the scourge of anti-Semitism, and we reaffirm the friendships and bonds that keep us strong, including our unshakeable alliance with the State of Israel.
So let’s approach this new year with new confidence and new hope. Let’s recommit ourselves to living out the values we share as individuals and as a country. Above all, let’s embrace this God-given miracle of renewal, this extraordinary opportunity to begin again in pursuit of justice, prosperity, and peace. From my family to yours, shanah tovah.
SARCELLES, France — From the immigrant enclaves of the Parisian suburbs to the drizzly bureaucratic city of Brussels to the industrial heartland of Germany, Europe’s old demon returned this summer. “Death to the Jews!” shouted protesters at pro-Palestinian rallies in Belgium and France. “Gas the Jews!” yelled marchers at a similar protest in Germany.
The ugly threats were surpassed by uglier violence. Four people were fatally shot in May at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. A Jewish-owned pharmacy in this Paris suburb was destroyed in July by youths protesting Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. A synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, was attacked with firebombs. A Swedish Jew was beaten with iron pipes. The list goes on.
The scattered attacks have raised alarm about how Europe is changing and whether it remains a safe place for Jews. An increasing number of Jews, if still relatively modest in total, are now migrating to Israel. Others describe “no go” zones in Muslim districts of many European cities where Jews dare not travel.
But there is also concern about what some see as an insidious “softer” anti-Jewish bias, which they fear is creeping into the European mainstream and undermining the postwar consensus to root out anti-Semitism. Now the question is whether a subtle societal shift is occurring that has made anti-Jewish remarks or behavior more acceptable.
“The fear is that now things are blatantly being said openly, and no one is batting an eyelid,” said Jessica Frommer, 36, a secular Jew who works for a nonprofit organization in Brussels. “Modern Europe is based on stopping what happened in the Second World War. And now 70 years later, people standing near the European Parliament are shouting, ‘Death to Jews!’ “
This is not the Europe of 1938. French leaders have strongly condemned the violence. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany this month led a rally against anti-Semitism in Berlin at which she told Germans, “It is our national and civic duty to fight anti-Semitism.”
Europe has seen protests and outbursts of anti-Semitism whenever the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has erupted, and some analysts say this summer’s anger is a cyclical episode that like others will fade away. Some note that the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents this year in France, for instance, is well below some years in the 2000s.
Yet as European support for the Palestinian cause and criticism of Israel have hardened, many Jews describe a blurring of distinctions between being anti-Israel and being anti-Jew.
Now Fischer is really desperate for America to be a “Christian Nation,” either that or he’s even dumber than we thought.
So apparently we’re to believe that China now is a “Christian Nation?”
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) released a report last month documenting the causes and the consequences of the pork miracle. The story sounds simple: In the last few decades, China has developed the world’s largest pork industry to feed a rising middle class.
Also what about Japan, where pork is the most popular meat?
I guess both Japan and China are Christian countries now, even through they’re not.
Buddhist 18.2%, Christian 5.1%, Muslim 1.8%, folk religion 21.9%, Hindu < .1%, Jewish < .1%, other 0.7% (includes Daoist (Taoist)), unaffiliated 52.2%
note: officially atheist (2010 est.)
Shintoism 83.9%, Buddhism 71.4%, Christianity 2%, other 7.8%
note: total adherents exceeds 100% because many people belong to both Shintoism and Buddhism (2005)
Also the statistics don’t mention what percentage of the “other” in Japan are Muslims. I was wondering since Fischer has also claimed Japan bans Islam which is something else he’s utterly wrong about, much like the claim that the first amendment was meant only to protect Christians.
But I digress, clearly neither Japan or China are “Christian nations.” Unless a nation can both not be officially Christian, and have a majority of its citizens belong to other faiths ( or no faith at all) instead and still somehow be a “Christian Nation,” we can safely say that neither country is Christian. Bryan Fischer has batted zero again. But this was a pathetic joke even for him.
Mark Strauss Brought to my attention, a people I had never heard of before
New research by an Istanbul-based artist has documented hundreds of haunting, sepia-toned photographs belonging to Turkey’s mysterious Dönme community—a once-thriving religious sect that practiced a unique set of beliefs based on Sufi mysticism and Judaism. Today, few remain after their true identity was discovered.
Dönme is a Turkish term meaning to “turn from one path to another” or, in this context, to convert. Originally, the community was followers of the heretical, 17th-century rabbi, Sabbatai Zevi, who rejected many traditional Jewish beliefs in pursuit of iconoclastic mysticism. Proclaiming himself the Messiah, the charismatic Zevi traveled the Ottoman Empire, promising Jews imminent deliverance from their long exile, until the authorities decided to put an end to his troublemaking by offering him the choice of death or conversion to Islam.
Zevi chose to convert, leaving thousands of followers bewildered and abandoned. But some 300 families joined Zevi in converting to Islam. By the late 1600s, they had established a community in Salonika, a city with a large Jewish population in Ottoman Greece.