Israel Political Brief September 14, 2012: Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Rosh Hashanah Statement

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STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA
ON ROSH HASHANAH

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on Rosh Hashanah:

“This weekend marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish New Year, signifying the time for a new beginning.“Rosh Hashanah is one of the most sacred days of the Jewish calendar. It is the first of the High Holy Days, a 10-day period of repentance in which the Jewish people around the world reflect on their faith, re-examine the past year and look to the year ahead.

“The Jewish community has greatly enriched our country, and this holy day presents an opportunity to acknowledge their invaluable contributions to all aspects of Canada’s society.

“To all those celebrating Rosh Hashanah, Laureen and I extend our warmest wishes for a healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

“L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu.”

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Israel Political Brief September 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Rosh Hoshanah Greeting

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President Obama’s Rosh Hoshanah Greeting

Source: WH, 9-13-12

As we look forward to the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays Sunday night, I want to extend my warmest wishes to all those celebrating the New Year.

This is a joyful time for millions of people around the world. But Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also opportunities for reflection. They represent a chance to take stock of our lives and look forward to the coming year with clear eyes and renewed purpose.

In that spirit, the Jewish Tradition teaches us that one of the most important duties we have during this period is the act of reconciliation. We’re called to seek each other out and make amends for those moments when we may not have lived up to our values as well as we should.

At a time when our public discourse can too often seem harsh; when society too often focuses on what divides us instead of what unites us; I hope that Americans of all faiths can take this opportunity to reach out to those who are less fortunate; to be tolerant of our neighbors; and to recognize ourselves in one another. And as a nation, let us be mindful of those who are suffering, and renew the unbreakable bond we share with our friends and allies – including the State of Israel.

In that spirit, Michelle and I wish you and your families a sweet year full of health, happiness, and peace. L’Shana Tovah.

Israel Political Brief September 13, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Attends Rosh Hashanah Toast with the IDF General Staff Forum

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PM Netanyahu Attends Rosh Hashanah Toast with the IDF General Staff Forum

Source: PMO, 9-13-12

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attended a Rosh Hashanah toast with the IDF General Staff Forum and made the following remarks:

“We live in an explosive and stormy region. Its explosions and storms are increasing. The strength of the IDF has helped ensure that we are an island of stability amidst the storms. From time to time, actions have been necessary and they were carried out with great success. Israeli citizens must know what I know – that we can rely on the IDF. There are those who know how to do the work. I wish soldiers, commanders and their families a happy, sweet and safe Rosh Hashanah.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 9, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Cabinet Meeting & Rosh Hashanah Greetings

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 9-9-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

“First of all, a Happy Rosh Hashanah [Jewish New Year] to you all. There is an apple and honey here. Let us offer to our friends from the media to take part in this beautiful custom.

I would like to congratulate Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for taking a daring and moral step and showing leadership on Friday, and thereby sending a principled and important message to the entire world, that the dark regime cannot have nuclear weapons. I call on the entire international community, or at least on its responsible members, to follow in Canada’s determined path and set Iran moral and practical red lines, lines that will stop its race to achieve nuclear weapons.

Today, the Cabinet will discuss the issue of turning the Ariel University Center into a university. I reiterate that Ariel is an inseparable part of the State of Israel and it will remain an inseparable part of the State of Israel in any future agreement just like the other settlement blocs. Approving the university in Ariel is one of a series of actions that we are taking in order to strengthen higher education in the State of Israel.  I do not think that it is sufficient that the State of Israel has seven universities; another university has not been added in decades. The population of Israel has doubled, even tripled. There is a strong desire on the part of young people in Israel to receive a university education, and I do not accept the approach of keeping a closed guild. I love to break monopolies and cartels in every field, and this one of them. If anyone has any doubt about whether or not I have a clear position on this issue, I would like to express it here. It is important that there be an additional university in Israel; it is important that there be a university in Ariel.

Last night I spoke with Noam Gershony who won a gold medal at the Paralympics. Noam encapsulates the image of the State of Israel and its story. He represents the victory of the spirit over all obstacles and I think that his personal story strongly expresses this. Noam was wounded in battle for the State of Israel. Yesterday he won a medal, a gold medal, on behalf of the State of Israel. He did not see this as just his own personal achievement, he saw it as a personal achievement for all of us, and he moved all of us when he wept to the national anthem. On behalf of the Government and the citizens of Israel, I salute you Noam Gershony.

This is the last Cabinet meeting of the outgoing year and this is the fourth time that The Cabinet is marking the start of a new year – this being an unusual event in and of itself over past decades. It broadcasts government stability, which is very important for the State of Israel at all times, but especially now. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the outgoing year was full of activity and this is my opportunity to thank the ministers for their great work on behalf of the people of the State of Israel.

We did many things together and if I were to now detail the Government’s actions, those which it carried out and those which it approved, I would need many hours. Therefore, I have chosen to point out one event per [Hebrew] month in order to note the progress of the State of Israel over the past year.

And so, in Tishrei, the Cabinet approved the agreement to bring Gilad Shalit back home after over five years in captivity.

In Cheshvan, we dedicated the new medical school in Safed, after 37 years in which no new medical school had been dedicated in Israel.  We thereby marked a turning point, not only in medicine, but in jumpstarting the Galilee and Safed. By the way, Israel is ranked sixth in the world on the Global Health Index, which was issued recently.

In Kislev, we approved the comprehensive plan to deal with infiltrators, the results of which are already being seen in the field.

In Tevet, tax benefits – that we approved – took effect for working parents and young children – representing a net addition of hundreds of shekels per month to salaries.

In Shevat, we approved the construction of a rail line to Eilat as part of the Government’s plan to invest billions of shekels in infrastructures, highways, railways and interchanges.

In Adar, I traveled to the AIPAC conference in the US to continue explaining and emphasizing the dangers posed to the world by Iran’s arming itself with nuclear weapons. Since then, all of our predictions have come true, one after the other.

In Nisan, the Bank of Israel determined that the Israeli economy grew by 4.7% in the previous year, an impressive achievement given the global economic crisis. I see the difficulties that are yet before us, but I think that if we continue to manage the economy in a responsible manner, we will continue to be above the other economies. By the way, in the same month, Israelis were ranked fourth on the global happiness index.

In Iyar, thanks to the reform we approved, new operators entered the cellular telephone market and prices of cellular calls nosedived, leading to a savings of hundreds of shekels a month for each family.

In Sivan, we expanded free dental care to include children up to age 12. As of the present, over two million free dental treatments have been given to children. This is a very significant achievement.

In Tammuz, we launched an international campaign on Israeli innovations in protecting the environment.  This was mainly abroad; it wasn’t seen so much in Israel.  But via this campaign we showed the world our breakthrough technologies in the field of environmental protection.

In Av, we completed the construction of over 200 kilometers of the southern security fence and we brought about a 90% decline in the number of infiltrators crossing the border. Soon we will complete the fence in its entirety.

And in [the current month of] Elul, we opened the school year in grand fashion – free education for children from age 3, a savings of NIS 800 per month for hundreds of thousands of parents.

I have not pointed out all of the things that the Government has done, but I think the things I have mentioned reflect the scope of a great achievement. This was a year in which we strengthened the security of the citizens of Israel in the face of the regional unrest around us and in which we kept our economy safe from the collapses that characterized other economies, and I am certain, and I promise, that in the coming year we will continue to achieve results for the citizens of the State of Israel.

Again, a Happy Rosh Hashanah to you all.

May it be a sweet year, a year of achievements, a good year.”

Israel Brief July 29, 2012: Reports of ‘Provocations’ Spur Tisha b’Av Closing of Temple Mount to Jews

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Reports of ‘provocations’ spur Tisha b’Av closing of Temple Mount to Jews

Source: JTA, 7-29-12

Reports that Jewish extremists would create “provocations” spurred Jerusalem police to close the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors on Tisha b’Av….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 25, 2012: Yom Ha’atzmaut: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Independence Day Message

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PM Netanyahu’s Independence Day greetings

Watch the Video

Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu

Israel’s Independence Day is a time for us to consider what makes Israel truly unique.

Netanyahu Thanks Israel’s Supporters on Independence Day

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s greeting in honor of Israel’s 64th Independence Day: We are unique in having such passionate friends.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released a special greeting on Wednesday, in honor of Israel’s 64th Independence Day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Greeting to Diaspora Communities for Israel’s 64th Independence Day

Source: Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs, 4-25-12

Israel’s Independence Day is a time for us to consider what makes Israel truly unique.

Israel is unique in restoring sovereignty, and the capacity for self-defense, to a people who had been stateless and powerless for 2,000 years.

Israel is unique in ingathering to an ancestral homeland an exiled people who had been scattered around the globe.

Israel is unique in having become a global technological power despite the fact that we face threats faced by no other nation on earth.

Israel is unique in the Middle East for having a vibrant, liberal democracy where women are equal, minorities are free and where all are subject to the rule of law.

But Israel is unique in one other important way: we are unique in having such passionate friends, Jews and non-Jews alike, for whom the well-being, security and future of our country are so important. This passionate support, along with Israel’s strong army, free economy and dynamic society, is the pillar of our national strength.

And this Independence Day, I want to thank the tens of millions of friends of Israel throughout the world for their unwavering support for the one and only Jewish state.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel Brief April 25, 2012: Yom Ha’atzmaut Israel Celebrates 64th Birthday — יום העצמאות

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Israel Celebrates 64th Birthday

Remembrance Day for the Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror has ended, and Independence Day has begun.

Remembrance Day for the Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror has ended, and Independence Day has begun, with fireworks displays going off countrywide.

The celebration of Israel’s 64th birthday began with the traditional ceremony at Har Herzl in Jerusalem. The main speaker at the ceremony was Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin.

Rivlin’s speech began with a mention of the external threats Israel faces but centered on what he said was an internal enemy which threatens Israel’s future – an enemy which he identified as “the extremists” and zealotry on all sides of the political and social spectrum.

“The struggle against those who set mosques on fire is not between leftists and settlers,” he said, “it is a struggle against zealots.”

“The struggle against those who spit in the face of an eight-year-old girlis not a struggle between secular people and haredim, but a struggle against marginal extremists. The struggle against those who team up with our worst enemies, who fight against Israel’s right to exist, is not a struggle between left and right or between Jews and Arabs, but a struggle against zealotry and zealots. The struggle against those who see women’s singing in the IDF as ‘an hour of destruction,’ a decree over whose trespass death is preferable, is not a struggle between secular Zionism and religious Zionism. This is a struggle against zealotry.”

Rivlin said that he does not fear the residents of Itamar or Migron, “who are faithful to the Land of Israel and love it,” nor does he fear those who oppose the settlement enterprise. “I fear the zealots,” he repeated. “I fear the extremism. I fear those who do not hesitate to break the rules in the name of the righteousness of their path; those who do not fear the destruction of the Third Temple.”

Midnight Fireworks in Jerusalem for Yom HaAtzmaut

A large fireworks display beginning at 11:30 p.m. will end Wednesday evening’s Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities in Jerusalem.
Fireworks in Jerusalem

Fireworks in Jerusalem
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A large fireworks display beginning at 11:30 p.m. will end Wednesday evening’s Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities in Jerusalem’s Independence Park.

Music, singing and dancing will be the main activities in the capital after Israel marks the end of memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Terror victims at 7:45 p.m.and begins to celebrate 64 years of an independent State of Israel for the first time in almost 2,000 years.

Music popular in the religious-Zionist community will be featured at the HaMashbir stage, at King George Street in downtown Jerusalem. Bnei Akiva and the Ezra movement will dance, and the Pirchei Yerushalayim Band will appear.

Bands will perform at Kikar HaHatulot, and music oriented for the younger generation will take place at the pedestrian mall at Hillel Street, next to Ben Yehuda Street. Student associations helped program the activities.

Opposite the Old City Walls at Mamilla, students have organized DJ entertainment, with entrance by paid tickets.

Israeli folk dancing and a songfest will be featured at the stage at Safra Square-City Hall from 10:30 p.m. until 3:30 a.m.

Yom HaAtzmaut 2012: Events

The Day of Remembrance for slain IDF soldiers will be followed by Independence Day. A list of events for those who wish to celebrate.
Jerusalem Day fireworks

Jerusalem Day fireworks
Flash 90

The Day of Remembrance for slain IDF soldiers will begin Tuesday evening and be followed by Israel’s 64th Independence Day.  This list of events was compiled by Anglo-List.Com. These are not Torah-oriented events.

Tel Aviv

Main Event, Rabin Square, 9:00 p.m. – “Only in Israel” with the participation of military bands. Clips from different periods in Israel’s history will be screened on giant screens and fireworks will paint the sky. With: Momi Levy, Miri Aloni, Shula Chen, and dozens of dancers, Tel Aviv youth and more. The evening will close with a performance by “Quartet” – with Shem Tov Levy, Alon Olearchik, Shlomo Yidov and Efraim Shamir.

Atzmadoodes – Children’s Independence Day events at the  Performing Arts Center at 8:30 p.m.  –  Roni Superstar, Tel Aviv Youth Band, the entertainment show” Katzefet VeToot ,”  fire dances, juggling clowns, aerial acrobatics performances and fireworks.

Folk Dancing – Plaza Performing Arts Center, 11:00 p.m – dancing into the night with the best; Sarah Aviv and Gadi Biton combining instrumental and vocal performance and Tel Aviv University Dance troupe.

Park Davidoff, Jaffa, 8:30 p.m. – Michelle Cohen Music School program, Alon de Loco with the  LoCo Land show accompanied by musicians and  dancers, Woody G, Yaron Ramati, local bands and more.

Haifa

Moriah Blvd: Din Din Aviv, Carolina, Erez Lev Ari, Rami Kleinstein, Rita & Ethnix

Kiryat Sprinzak: Michal Tzafir, Shlomi Shabat, Idan Yaniv

Kiryat Shmuel: Kobi Machat, Meir Banai, Yishai Lapidot and the “Of Simchas” band

Central Carmel: Rami Kleinstein, Shiri Maimon and Shimon Buskila

Neve Shaanan: Michal Tzafir, Rami Kleinstein, Shlomi Shabat, Mooki

Kiryat Haim: Shiri Maimon, Shimon Buskila, Ethnix, Josh, Mooki and Eyal Golan

Kiryat Eliezer:  Russian artists and folk music

Jerusalem

Main Stage (Kikar Hahatulot).

The Even Yerushalmit band, Adir Getz, Yaniv Barmeli and Itay Moyal, Subliminal and Momi Levi, Yossi Azulai, Keren Peles. Hosted by Elad Amedi.

Stage at the Hillel Pedestrian Street – Street Party for the Young.

In collaboration with the Students Associations, young in the center:

DJ Ron Izraeli – Hebrew party

DJ Idan Ben Hamo – Funk party

DJ Stato – House anthems 2012

Main performance: Adir Getz

Independence Day opposite the walls at the Alrov Mamilla Avenue:

For students and youngsters – entrance with payment | At 22:00

DJ Itzik Dadia

DJ Shachar Ud

Tickets can be purchased at the Students Association and at Telephone: 073-7073617

Hamashbir Stage for the Religious Zionist Public:

Ezra Movement, Bnei Akiva and more

The Ruach Zfonit band in an exhilarating dancing event

Aaron Razel

The Pirchei Yerushalayim Band

DJ Hanania Ohana

Singing independence at the Safra Square stage:

Arbaa Bemol Band with Aaron Ferrera and Yael Badash

Israeli Rock at the Square: a tribute to the founders if Israeli Rock since the days of the state’s establishment: Arik Einstein, Shalom Hanoch, Matti Caspi, Shlomo Artzi, Gidi Gov, Danny Sanderson and more.

Dancing Independence at the Safra Square stage:  from 11:30 p.m – 3:30 a.m.

A mass dancing event, Israeli and other folk dances, with leading dance guides: Avner Naim, Haim Tzemach, Boaz Cohen, Mimi Cogan, Gidi Eiko.

00:30: Fireworks display above the Experimental High School, Independence Park

Rehovot

Main Stage: Liran Danino, David Deor, Dana International, Youth choir and dancers led by Itai Segev

Park Hameginim: Matti Caspi, Gabi Shushan, Shiri and Uzi Fuchs

Hershonson Stage.: Margalit Tzanani, Benny Elbaz , Gabi and Micky Nes, Shlomit Bouhnik, Moran Kriti, Tamir Lidanil, Nati Chen and “The Independence Ride” – a 15 km. bicycle ride on Thursday morning  at 9:00 from Sportec city. For information and registration: 08-9392239.

Netanya

Winter Lake Park: Roni Superstar, Berry Sakharof, Hadag Nahash, Beit Habubot, DJ Erez Shitrit

Kikar Ha’atzmaut: Danny Sanderson, Moshik Afia.

 

WZO Lets Users Fly an Internet Israeli Flag for Independence Day

“It’s 64 years of Israeli independence. As Zionism renews itself, so does technology,” says the World Zionist Organization.
Zionist Postcard - Zev Jabotinsky

Zionist Postcard – Zev Jabotinsky

The World Zionist Organization’s Department for Activities in Israel & Countering Antisemitism is offering a new service which allows users to send postcards with Israeli flags and other pro-Israel images via the internet. The website allows a user to select and email postcards with images of Israeli flags, nature scenes and Zionist leaders such as Zev Jabotinsky, Theodor Herzl, Menachem Begin, and David Ben Gurion.

Yaakov Hagoel, head of the WZO’s Department for Activities in Israel stated, “it’s 64 years of Israeli independence. As Zionism renews itself, so does technology.”
Eitan Ori Behar, director of the WZO Communications Center said this year’s campaign is based on last year’s Fly Our Flag project.

In 2011, the WZO mailed out thousands of Israeli flags with car windows holders and sun shade screens with Israeli symbols. Anyone in the world had the ability to order a free flag on the WZO’s iZionist website.
“We’re changing to fit the needs of the day,” Behar commented on the 2012 campaign. “With the advent of handheld devices, you can send flags through our website.” Behar said he is encouraged by the positive feedback the campaign has generated in countries around the world. His staff has been translating WZO material into different languages. The iZionist website is currently available in Hebrew, English, Arabic, Turkish, German, Spanish, and Dutch. Behar added, “I hopes users will use the site to spread positive awareness about Israel.”

To send a flag, visit http://flags.org.il/view/?lang=en.

Israel Brief April 25, 2012: Yom Hazikaron: Remembering, Singing and Telling of Israel’s Fallen Soldiers Event on Memorial Day

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Remembering, Singing and Telling of Israel’s Fallen

Thousands attend the “Remembering, Singing and Telling” event, which was held at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem in honor of Memorial Day.

Thousands of people attended on Tuesday evening the “Remembering, Singing and Telling” event, which was held at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem in honor of Memorial Day. The evening was initiated by the Zochrim organization.

The emotional evening involved representatives of bereaved families who got up on stage to tell their loved ones’ stories. The evening also included remarks by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Rav Yisrael Lau, Nobel laureate Prof. Israel Aumann and other public representatives.

In addition, there were performances by some of the best artists in Israel including Udi Davidi, Gali Atari, Dudu Aharon, Yishai Levy, Yishai Lapidot, Mosh Ben-Ari, Rami Kleinstein, Shay Gabso and Sarit Hadad. The singers climbed the stage one by one and performed songs in the spirit of Memorial Day and were joined by the crowd.

A few minutes before 8 p.m. local time, when the one-minute siren marking the beginning of Memorial Day was heard, the audience lit 6,000 electronic candles in memory of Israel’s fallen.

Israel Political Brief April 25, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘When Sirens Sound, We are One Family’ in Yom Hazikaron Remarks

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Netanyahu: When Sirens Sound, We are One Family

When Memorial Day sirens sound, “We will all become one family,” Binyamin Netanyahu said as Israel remembers fallen soldiers.
Netanyahu lays a wreath on Memorial Day in Jerusalem

Netanyahu lays a wreath on Memorial Day in Jerusalem
Reuters

When Memorial Day sirens sound, “We will all become one family,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said as Israel remembers fallen soldiers and terror victims. A one-minute siren sounded at 8 p.m. Tuesday and a two-minute siren will sound at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The Prime Minister recalled his brother Yoni, who was the commander and the only IDF casualty in the daring raid on Entebbe to rescue more than 100 hostages on a plane hijacked to Uganda.

“Like you, my dear brothers and sisters, on every Memorial Day I think of my dear fallen brother; I think about my parents who lost their beloved son, and about my brother Iddo, who lost his eldest brother,” he said.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also noted comrades who died when he was serving in the armed forces.

“I remember Chaim Ben Yona from Kibbutz Yehiam,” said the Prime Minister. “Chaim was an outstanding young man. He fell next to me while we were crossing the Suez Canal in the dead of night.

“I also remember my fellow soldiers Zohar Ben Linik and David Ben Hamo, both remarkable fellows who were killed during preparations for a military operation, shortly after we enlisted together to the Special Forces unit Sayeret Matkal.  I escorted Zohar and David, who were seriously injured, to the hospital, where they were both pronounced dead….

“David Ben Hamo died in my arms on the drive from the training ground to the hospital….  When they say that it’s the best ones who fall, they mean people like Chaim and Zohar and David.

“Decades later, I visited David’s home in Beer Sheva, and I went into his room.  The room was left exactly as he had left it the last time he was there.  For us, the bereaved families, time stops as soon as we get the terrible news. A brutal sword rips our lives in two, and our lives will never be the same.

In a separate message to bereaved families, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “It was the heartfelt duty of our dear ones that led them to face the enemy…. Today, the People of Israel lay aside disagreements and stand as one beside you.”

Remembrance Day is immediately followed by Independence Day – Yom HaAtzmaut. The Prime Minister remarked that thanks to Israel’s soldiers, especially those who fell, the State of Israel was reestablished.

“Thanks to them, the State of Israel will continue to develop and prosper, and thanks to them the members of the younger generation will also be able to live their lives in security and tranquility,” he told the families.

Israel Political Brief April 25, 2012: Yom Hazikaron: PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery: Terrorists Kill, We Build

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Netanyahu on Mt. Herzl: Terrorists Kill, We Build

Terrorists kill, and we build,” Prime Minister Netanyahu told relatives of terror victims at the Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery Wednesday.
Netanyahu at military cemetery

Netanyahu at military cemetery Reuters

“Terrorist kills, and we build,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told relatives of terror victims at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery Wednesday.

“The atrocities of terror against our people know no moral bounds or political borders,” said on Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims.

“The cruelty and hate of terrorists is insatiable,” he added.” If there is one thing that is common to all of these terrorists, it is that they want to erase the People of Israel from the earth and want to uproot our people from our land, the Land of Israel. They will not succeed.:”

The military cemetery is located in Jerusalem, which the Prime Minister said is “our united city and is the holy city of the People of Israel for generations.”

“We will not stop building and developing, and we will continue…to live, grow and let our children and grandchildren reside here,” he continued.

History will overtake our enemies. I know the price has been heavy for you, and I express my appreciation of the people of Israel for your steadfastness and for the heroism of your loved ones.”

Noting that “determination is rooted in our people,” Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned the victims of terrorists who killed the five Fogel family members last year in Itamar in Samaria and a rabbi and three Jews in Toulouse earlier this year.

Yossi Mendelevich, whose 13-year-old son Yuval was killed in a bus terror attack in Haifa, took the occasion to criticize the government for freeing more than 1,000 terrorists and security prisoners for the return of soldier Gilad Shalit from captivity after ore than five years.

He said the exchange divided the public. “Is it reasonable that a terrorist responsible for the murder of an entire family will be goes free?” he asked. “Is it reasonable that the terrorist responsible for the atrocious slaughter in a hotel can celebrate with his family?”

Israel Political Brief April 24, 2012: Yom Hazikaron: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Attends Yad Lebanim Memorial Flag-Lowering Ceremony in Jerusalem

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Memorial Day: Israel’s Flag at Half Staff

PM Binyamin Netanyahu attended a flag-lowering ceremony in Jerusalem, saying ‘it cuts your life in two’ when a family member dies in war
Binyamin Netanyahu, Memorial Day

Binyamin Netanyahu, Memorial Day
Reuters

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, and Israel’s Chief Rabbis on Tuesday attended a flag-lowering ceremony in Jerusalem as Memorial Day is set to begin.

“For bereaved families, time stops when you get the terrible news… it cuts your life in two: what was before, and what will never be again,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told more than 200 soldiers and bereaved families gathered for the Yad Lebanim Memorial for the Fallen in Israel’s Wars.

“When you hear the siren tonight, we will turn into one family, and the citizens of Israel will be united in our remembrance,” Netanyahu said, recalling his own brother – Yoni Netanyahu – who was killed during the 1976 Entebbe rescue operation.

Yad Lebanim (“A Memorial for the Sons”) is the organization that supports bereaved families in cooperation with the Defense Ministry and official government bodies. The Jerusalem memorial, located near the government quarter, is the central memorial for soldiers killed in action in the capital.

Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror will officially commence Tuesday night at 20:00 local time when the siren at the Western Wall is sounded for one minute of silent remembrance.

The ceremony there will be attended by President Shimon Peres, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, and many families bereaved by war and terror.

Another siren will sound at 11 a.m., bringing the entire country to a standstill in memory of the fallen soldiers and those killed by acts of terror. Memorial events will take place at military cemeteries, at schools and places of work.

The number who have fallen in IDF service and in terror attacks in Israel since the First Aliya in 1860 presently stands at 22,993.

During its War of Independence the Jewish state lost 6,373 of its people, about 1% of its population, in the war. Of those 2477 were civilians. Some 120 foreign nationals, tourists, and workers were also killed during Israel’s War of Independence.

Last year, 15 Israelis were killed in hostilities. A total of 126 soldiers died while on active duty with the IDF during 2011, as well.

A ceremony at the Knesset this evening will include the reading of “memory poems” by the Knesset Speaker, assorted government ministers, and Israel’s police commissioner, Yohanan Danino.

The poems are written by the bereaved families and friends of Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

The flag will remain at half-staff until sundown on Wednesday, when Yom Haatzmaut – Israeli Independence Day – begins.

 

Memorial Day: Israel Prepares to Remember

Natalie Leiba, sister of late Lt. Col. Yehuda Ben Shabbat, told Arutz Sheva that Memorial Day is when memories well up, and loss pervades
Fallen Soldier's Tomb

Fallen Soldier’s Tomb
edk תקשורת

As Israel prepares to begin its Yom Hazikaron [Memorial Day] observance on Tuesday evening many bereaved families are reminded their lives contain a vacuum….

Yom Hazikaron is not only the day on which Israel honors its fallen soldiers, but also those killed in terror attacks by those seeking the destruction of the Jewish state.

Memorial services are held in cemetaries, government buildings, military bases, schools, and private venues to honor the dead and remind the Jewish nation of the cost of freedom and national sovereignty in its ancestral homeland.

Beginning at sundown on Tuesday, Yom Hazikaron will continue until sundown on Wednesday, when Israel’s 64th Independence Day celebration will begin.

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 24, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at Yom Hazikaron Memorial Day Service

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PM Netanyahu’s Address at Memorial Day Service

Source: PMO, 4-24-12

photo by GPO

Today, the State of Israel lowers its flag to half-mast in honor of the fallen soldiers and the bereaved families.  Like you, my dear brothers and sisters, on every Memorial Day I think of my dear fallen brother; I think about my parents who lost their beloved son, and about my brother Iddo, who lost his eldest brother.  And like many other citizens, I think about my brothers in arms who fell besides me, who are no more.
I remember Haim Ben Yona from Kibbutz Yehiam. Haim was an outstanding young man. He fell next to me while we were crossing the Suez Canal in the dead of night.
I also remember my fellow soldiers Zohar Ben Linik and David Ben Hamo, both remarkable fellows who were killed during preparations for a military operation, shortly after we enlisted together to the Special Forces unit Sayeret Matkal.  I escorted Zohar and David, who were seriously injured, to the hospital, where they were both pronounced dead.
Zohar was good looking, multi-talented and vibrant, an exceptional person.  David Ben Hamo died in my arms on the drive from the training ground to the hospital.  He came from Be’er Sheva; he was highly intelligent, a gifted athlete and an excellent student at the Boyer High School.  He had a nobility and gentleness that appealed to anyone who met him.  When they say that it’s the best ones who fall, they mean people like Haim and Zohar and David.
Decades later, I visited David’s home in Beer Sheva, and I went into his room.  The room was left exactly as he had left it the last time he was there.  For us, the bereaved families, time stops as soon as we get the terrible news. A brutal sword rips our lives in two, and our lives will never be the same.

When the siren goes off this evening, we will all become one family. The citizens of Israel will grieve singly, but will be united in remembrance.  They will bow their heads respectfully in memory of those who fell and sacrificed their lives to defend our people.  It is thanks to them that we were given our independence and the privilege to live securely in our country.

May their memory be blessed.

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו בטקס יום הזיכרון לחללי מערכות ישראל של ארגון יד לבנים

יום שלישי ב’ אייר תשע”ב

מכובדי יו”ר הכנסת, ראובן ריבלין,
המשנה לנשיא ביהמ”ש העליון, השופט אליעזר ריבלין,
הרב הראשי לישראל, הרב שלמה עמר,
הרב הראשי לישראל, הרב יונה מצגר,
סגן יו”ר הכנסת, חה”כ דני דנון,
ראש עיריית ירושלים, ניר ברקת,
מנכ”ל משרד הביטחון, אודי שני,
מנכ”ל משרד הרווחה, נחום איצקוביץ’,
אלופי צה”ל,
יו”ר ארגון יד לבנים הארצי, אלי בן-שם,
יו”ר ארגון יד לבנים בירושלים, אלי דהן,
יו”ר ארגון אלמנות ויתומי צה”ל, הגברת נאווה שהם,
יו”ר האגודה למען החייל, אביגדור קהלני,
מתנדבי משרד הביטחון,
מפקדים וחיילים,
אבל מעל הכל – משפחות שכולות יקרות,

מדינת ישראל מורידה היום את הדגל לחצי התורן לאות הזדהות עם הנופלים ועם אחיהם, בני המשפחות השכולות. כמוכם, אחיי ואחיותיי, בכל יום זיכרון אני חושב על יקירי שנפל, אני חושב על הוריי שאיבדו בן אהוב ועל אחי עידו שאיבד את אחיו הבכור. כמו אזרחים רבים, אני נזכר בחבריי לנשק שנפלו לצידי, שאינם עוד.

אני נזכר בחיים בן יונה, בן קיבוץ יחיעם. חיים, שהיה משכמו ומעלה, שנפל לידי בקרב אש כשחצינו באישון ליל את תעלת סואץ. אני נזכר גם בחבריי לנשק, זהר ליניק ודוד בן חמו המופלאים, שנפלו בזמן ההכנות למבצע צבאי, זמן קצר לאחר שהתגייסנו יחד לסיירת מטכ”ל. ליוויתי את זהר ודוד הפצועים אנושות בדרך לבית החולים, שם נקבע מותם.

זהר היה יפה תואר, רב כישרונות, תוסס, אדם למופת. דוד בן חמו נפטר בזרועותיי במהלך הנסיעה משטח האימונים לבית החולים. הוא בא משכונה בבאר שבע, הוא היה נער מחונן, אתלט מוכשר, תלמיד מצטיין בפנימיית בויאר בירושלים. הייתה בו, בדוד, אצילות ועדינות ששבו את ליבם של כל אלה שהכירו אותו. כשאומרים שהטובים ביותר הם אלה שנופלים, מתכוונים לאנשים כמו חיים, זהר ודוד.

כשביקרתי עשרות שנים לאחר מכן בביתו של דוד בבאר שבע, נכנסתי לחדרו. החדר נשאר בדיוק כפי שהיה כשדוד עזב אותו בפעם האחרונה. עבורנו, המשפחות השכולות, הזמן נעצר ברגע שנתקבלה הבשורה המרה. חרב אכזרית ביתרה את חיינו לשניים ומה שהיה לפני לא ישוב עוד.

ביום הזה האומה כולה עוצרת מלכת ונעמדת דום. כשתישמע הצפירה הערב נהפוך כולנו למשפחה אחת. אזרחי ישראל יתייחדו ביגון ויתאחדו בזיכרון. הם ירכינו ראשם בהוקרה לאלה שנפלו ושהקריבו את חייהם להגנת עמנו. בזכותם ניתנה לנו עצמאותנו והזכות לחיות בביטחון בארצנו.

יהיה זכרם ברוך

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 19, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Yom HaShoah / Holocaust Remembrance Day

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IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA’S YOM HASHOAH MESSAGE

Obama pays tribute to Holocaust victims on Remembrance Day: President Barack Obama paid tribute to victims of the Holocaust on Thursday, saying that “on this day, and all days, we must do more than remember. We must resolve that “never again” is more than an empty slogan…. – JPost, 4-19-12

  • Obama issues statement honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day: President Barack Obama released a statement on Thursday honoring the Jewish day of remembrance Yom HaShoah. Hebrew for “destruction,” the word “shoah” is often used in reference to the Holocaust, and Yom HaShoah is the day on the Jewish calendar … – CNN, 4-19-12
  • Obama: ‘Never again’ more than empty slogan: US President Barack Obama joined millions across the globe in commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day. On Thursday the White House published a statement in which the president said “On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I join people of all…. – Ynet News, 4-19-12

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Statement by the President on Yom HaShoah

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I join people of all faiths across the United States, in Israel and around the world in paying tribute to all who suffered in the Shoah—a horrific crime without parallel in human history.  We honor the memory of six million innocent men, women and children who were sent to their deaths simply because of their Jewish faith.  We stand in awe of those who fought back, in the ghettos and in the camps, against overwhelming odds.  And in the year of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, we are humbled by the rescuers who refused to be bystanders to evil.

On this day, and all days, we must do more than remember.  We must resolve that “never again” is more than an empty slogan.  As individuals, we must guard against indifference in our hearts and recognize ourselves in our fellow human beings.  As societies, we must stand against ignorance and anti-Semitism, including those who try to deny the Holocaust.  As nations, we must do everything we can to prevent and end atrocities in our time.  This is the work I will advance when I join survivors and their families at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on Monday.  This must be the work of us all, as nations and peoples who cherish the dignity of every human being.

Israel Political Brief April 18, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu & President Shimon Peres invoke Iran threat during Yom Hashoah ceremony at Yad Vashem

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Bibi, Peres invoke Iran threat during Yom Hashoah ceremony

Source: JTA, 4-18-12

Israel’s prime minister and president invoked the Iranian threat during remarks at the annual Yom Hashoah ceremony at Yad Vashem.

Israel began the observance of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day with the national ceremony Wednesday night at the Yad Vashem memorial. Yom Hashoah continues through sundown on Thursday.

“I believe in our ability to defend ourselves,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the ceremony. “People who dismiss the Iranian threat as a whim or an exaggeration have learned nothing from the Holocaust. To cower from speaking the uncomfortable truth – that today like then, there are those who want to destroy millions of Jewish people – that is to belittle the Holocaust, that is to offend its victims and that is to ignore the lessons.”

President Shimon Peres said, “Today humanity has no choice, we must learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and stand strong against existential threats before it is too late. Iran is at the heart of this threat. She is the center of terror, she represents a threat to world peace.There is no reason to undermine Israel’s capacities to face this threat, whether visible or hidden.”

Both leaders also expressed their sorrow at the death of Israeli soldier Hila Bezaleli, who was killed earlier in the day when lighting collapsed on a stage on Mount Herzl during a rehearsal for a Memorial Day ceremony scheduled for next week.

Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the chief Sephardi rabbi of Israel, intoned the Mourner’s Kaddish.

The central theme of the 2012 Yom Hashoah observance is “My Brother’s Keeper: Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust.”

At the national ceremony Wednesday, which was broadcast on all Israeli television channels, survivors lit six torches representing the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust. Another ceremony will be held Thursday morning following the sounding of a siren for two minutes to honor the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

On Yom Hashoah in Israel, places of entertainment are closed and Holocaust themed-movies and documentaries are shown on all television channels. Memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.

Israel Brief April 5, 2012: Shalit family prepares for Passover with Gilad

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Shalit family prepares for Passover with Gilad

Former IDF soldier’s family to truly celebrate meaning of freedom, as Gilad joins Passover seder for first time after over 5 years in Hamas captivity

Source: YNet News, 4-5-12

For the first time after six years, Gilad Shalit will sit down with his family for the traditional Passover seder on Friday. The Shalit family had previously refrained from celebrating the Jewish holiday as long as Gilad was still held captive by Hamas.

“This year we feel true freedom,” Noam Shalit, father of the former captive soldier, told Ynet on Thursday.

Related stories:

During Gilad’s time in captivity, Shalit campaign activists staged Passover seders outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s home in Jerusalem. In 2011, the Shalit family spent the seder in Jerusalem by chaining themselves to the PM’s Residence compound, while many Israeli citizens left an empty chair for Gilad at their seder table.

According to Noam Shalit, this year the festivities will truly be rejoiceful and include the extended family, as Gilad’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins will all join them for Passover.

“We’re preparing just like any other home in Israel,” he added.

שליט וההגדה המשטרתית. חג ראשון בשש שנים (צילום: באדיבות משטרת ישראל)

Zvi Shalit recieves special Haggadah (Photo: Israeli Police)

“It feels good. It’s the first time since Gilad was kidnapped when we can really celebrate the holiday. This time it truly feels like a feast of freedom.”

Despite many attempts made by rabbis and different organizations over the years, Gilad never received any of the Passover packages his family made for him during his time in captivity. “He only knew about the holiday from what he heard on the radio, but he never received matzah or wine to prepare a Passover seder,” Noam explained.

The Shalit family received a special Haggadah for the upcoming holiday, which includes photographs of Gilad from his IDF service, from the day he was released from Hamas captivity and pictures from the campaign to free him. The Haggadah was given to Gilad’s grandfather, Zvi Shalit, by Police Operations Division Chief Nissim Mor.

Israel Political Brief April 5, 2012: President Barack Obama posts Passover message, to host seder

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Obama posts Passover message, to host seder

Source: JTA, 4-5-12

President Obama will host a seder at the White House on the first night of Passover.

Obama’s seder on Friday night will continue a tradition that started in 2008, when he was a presidential candidate on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania and he joined a small group of staff members at an impromptu seder.

On Thursday, the president issued a video Passover message.

“The story of the Exodus is thousands of years old, but it remains as relevant as ever,” he said. “Throughout our history, there are those who have targeted the Jewish people for harm — a fact we were so painfully reminded of just a few weeks ago in Toulouse.

“Michelle and I are proud to celebrate with friends here at home and around the world, including those in the State of Israel,” Obama said, wishing the Jewish community a “Chag sameach.”

A Passover Message from the Obama Family

Source: WH, 4-5-12

Starting tomorrow night, the Jewish community in the United States, Israel, and throughout the world will come together to celebrate the holiday of Passover.

President and Mrs. Obama will join them, continuing their tradition of hosting a small Seder at the White House. By now, the story of how that tradition began has been told and retold, but in the spirit of Passover, I’ll tell it again: In April of 2008, the President and his staff were on the trail in Pennsylvania in the midst of a long primary campaign. Weary from a long day of work and away from their families, a small group of staffers came together to hold an impromptu Seder. When then-Senator Obama got wind of the Seder, he gathered some other staff and friends and decided to join. At the end of the Seder, the President followed the traditional “Next year in Jerusalem” declaration with a pledge of his own – “Next year in the White House.” Each year since, he has followed through on that promise. This year, he also added a new touch, a video message to Jews everywhere wishing them Chag Sameach as they continue their own traditions or start new ones this Passover.

Jewish News Brief April 5, 2012: The Maxwell House Haggadah: Popular Passover handbook goes to White House Seder table

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Popular Passover handbook goes to White House Seder table

By Pete Souza, AP

When President Obama and Jewish guests celebrate the Passover Seder ceremonial meal on Friday, they’ll read from ‘The Maxwell House Haggadah,’ a handbook of rituals, commentary and prayers published as a freebie by Maxwell House.

By Oded Ezer

Two acclaimed Jewish novelists and an Israeli artist known for his illustrations with typography collaborated on ‘The New American Haggadah,’ a book of prayers, stories and scholarly commentary to serve as the text for the Passover Seder dinner.

Source: USA Today, 4-5-12

Friday night, when President Obama joins Jewish guests for a Passover Seder in the White House, he’ll be holding a ritual handbook that’s in millions of U.S. Jewish homes — the Maxwell House Haggadah.

Yes, the coffee company publishes America’s most long standing and popular booklet (haggadah) of prayers, reading and commentary for the ceremonial meal ) in which Jews retell the story of the exodus from Egypt — freedom from bondage at God’s hand.

Decades ago, Maxwell House wanted to convey that its product was kosher, acceptable under Jewish dietary laws, for the holiday. Jewish homes have piles of these haggadahs, pulled out of the cupboard once a year.

But many also have scholarly and beautiful historic, political and artistic haggadahs as well. One of the core teachings of the holiday is that the story of freedom must be told in the present tense, as if every generation was personally experiencing oppression and liberation. Weaving in current events and issues, supplementing the readings and embellishing the art of the hagaddah is a tradition centuries old and as new as this week.

On Wednesday, the White House and Department of Agriculture teamed with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, to sponsor a Seder at the Agriculture headquarters where the haggadah theme was Food and Justice. On the Seder plate, where each of the foods symbolizes a part of the story and the theology of Passover, they added a tomato. The haggadah explained it was

… in honor of migrant farm workers everywhere who have demonstrated extraordinary courage and persistence in securing a better life for farm workers.

READ MORE

Israel Brief April 5, 2012: 56% of Israelis say Chametz Law necessary for Passover

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56% of Israelis say Chametz Law necessary

As millions prepare to celebrate Passover holiday, new survey reveals that majority of Israeli Jews will celebrate seder, refrain from eating chametz, while 42% believe law is redundant

Source: YNet News, 4-5-12 
Passover is considered to be an especially difficult holiday, yet a new survey reveals – even Israel‘s secular population does not want to give it up. A Ynet-Gesher survey indicated that a clear majority of Israel’s Jewish population, from every sector of society, are meticulous in not eating chametz on the seven days of Passover.

Moreover, a majority of the population believes that the often criticized Chametz Law, which forbids stores, restaurants, offices and public places from displaying or selling chametz, is necessary.

The survey was conducted by Panels Ltd. among 519 respondents – a national sample that represents Israel’s adult Jewish population with a maximum sampling error of 4.4%.

Every Passover sees the question come up again on the public agenda: Would it have been better to leave the matter of chametz in the hands of the population rather than the legislative authority?

According to the survey, 56% of the Israeli public believes that the law is needed both for the Jewish character of the State (34%) and in order to maintain the status quo between the religious and secular citizens of Israel (22%).

In contrast, 42% believe the law is redundant: Some think “it needs to be a social norm that stems from mutual respect (24%) while others believe the individual’s freedom must be respected and that chametz should be allowed on Passover (19%).

The survey revealed that some 70% of Israel’s secular Jews believe that the law is unnecessary, with an equal number naming social norms and individual rights as the reason for their response.

Meanwhile, 76% of traditional respondents, 83% of modern orthodox and 95% of religious respondents believe the law is necessary.

When asked if they believed the Chametz Law influenced relations between the secular and religious citizens in Israel, 38% said it hurts the rights of the individual (the majority of the secular population), 27% said it contributed to joint relations as it maintained the Jewish identity in Israel, and 28% believe the law has little influence either way.

The survey also revealed that when the Passover holiday begins on Friday night, millions throughout the country will be celebrating – in accordance with the Jewish traditions. Some 61% of respondents declared that they would be having a full-fledged seder with all the trimmings (with the majority of this group made up of traditional and religious Israelis).

Some 33% said they would have a festive family dinner during which parts of the Haggadah would be read (secular Israelis). Some 4% would make do with a regular family dinner and 1% do not feel the need to mark the holiday in any way (an additional 1% stated that they had not yet decided on how to spend the holiday).

When asked whether they would eat chametz in a public place in front of religious or traditional people, 59% said the question was redundant as they do not eat chametz throughout the holiday week, 32% declared they would avoid it – so as not to offend anyone.

Some 6% said they would eat chametz but only “privately so that no one sees,” and 2% would not consider anyone’s feelings; 1% said they had no opinion on the matter.

Gesher Executive Director Ilan Geal-Dor believes that “The State’s residents want a connection to tradition and heritage and see themselves as part of a long line of generations of the Jewish nation. That is why there is no need to enforce these things… Our challenge is to preserve this framework and transfer it on to future generations.”

Israel Brief March 8, 2012: Purim revelers party, observe holiday nationwide in Israel

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Purim revelers party, observe holiday nationwide

Festivals ranging from Tel Aviv’s zombie march to Holon’s annual Adlayada color city streets as Israeli celebrate Purim.

Source: JPost, 3-8-12

Purim costumes
By Courtesy Marom Communications

Purim is a holiday that Israelis of all ages and levels of religious observance can and do enjoy. The holiday celebrations extend from before the holiday itself, well into the weekend where parties will continue to rage for those waiting for the pending workweek to end.

Children across the country arrived to school on Wednesday – the night when the holiday began – and Thursday donning technicolor costumes both of tradition holiday characters like Queen Esther and the evil Persian Haman , and more modern characters that would not seem out of place in a Halloween parade in the United States.

Israelis revel in Purim, 2012       

Reuters/Ronen Zvulun 
Ultra-Orthodox in Bnei Brak read the Megilla

Ultra-Orthodox men unroll a segment of Esther’s megilla (scroll) to commemorate Purim.

Reuters/Nir Elias 
Schoolchildren in Tel Aviv wear costumes for Purim

Schoolchildren parade around wearing their costumes outside the Bialik Rogozin school in south Tel Aviv.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 
A worker walks by Holon Purim Adlayada floats

The 20th annual Holon Adlayada, Israel’s largest Purim parade, focused this year on the Tastes of Childhood.

Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post 
Haredi teen looks for Purim mask in Mea Shearim

A haredi (ultra-Orthodox) teen surveys possible costumes ahead of Purim.

Reuters/Amir Cohen 
Youths take part in annual Tel Aviv Zombia march

Revelers join in the Zombi march, an annual festival in Tel Aviv that precedes Purim.

Israel Sun/Ricardo Malaccao 
Youths take part in annual Tel Aviv Zombia march

Youths in Tel Aviv get dressed up for the annual Zombie march on Tuesday.

Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post 
Constumed children celebrate Purim in Mea Shearim

Children in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood don their costumes in school.

Yossi Zliger 
Haredi man divvies Mishloah Manot in Beit Shemesh

A haredi (ultra-Orthodox) man hands out Mishloah Manot, Purim gift baskets in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

As part of the holiday, some observers hand out Misholoah Manot, Purim baskets that are meant to signify goodwill and a holiday that leaves no one underfed.

A number of festival parades and marches took place across the country, with revelers dressing up as zombies in Tel Aviv, and festival-goers in Holon joining the 20th annual Adlayada, this year centered around the Tastes of Childhood theme.

In Tel Aviv, an alternative Adlayada was organized by some members of last summer’s social protest movement, adopting politicized costumes that, while they conveyed a message, still kept to the holiday’s more jovial essence.

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 8, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Remarks at White House Hanukkah Reception — Transcript

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חיוכים ובדיחות בבית הלבן (צילום: AFP)

Laughs and jokes at the White House (Photo: AFP)

A White House Hanukkah Celebration

Source: WH, 12-9-11
20111209 Hanukkah at the WH

President Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, delivers remarks at a Hanukkah reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Officially, Hanukkah doesn’t begin for another 11 days — but last night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama decided to kick things off a little early with a celebration of the holiday at the White House.

They were joined by Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in attendance, along with U.S. Ambassardor to Israel Michael Oren, the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir, and a large group of faith and community leaders.

Hanukkah, the President said, is “an opportunity to recognize the miracles in our own lives:”

Let’s honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so that we might be here today. Let’s think about those who are spending this holiday far away from home -– including members of our military who guard our freedom around the world. Let’s extend a hand to those who are in need, and allow the value of tikkun olam to guide our work this holiday season.

This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations. And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.

Watch.

Download Video: mp4 (41MB) | mp3 (4MB)

Remarks by the President at Hanukkah Reception

Grand Foyer

6:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good evening, everybody.  Welcome to the White House.  Thank you all for joining us tonight to celebrate Hanukkah — even if we’re doing it a little bit early.  (Laughter.)

I want to start by recognizing a few folks who are here.   The ambassador to the United States from Israel, Michael Oren, is in the house.  (Applause.)
We are honored to be joined by one of the justices of the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is here.  (Applause.)  We are thrilled to see her.  She’s one of my favorites, I got to — (laughter.)  I’ve got a soft spot for Justice Ginsburg.

And we’ve got more than a few members of Congress here and members of my administration in the house, including our new Director of Jewish Outreach, Jarrod Bernstein is here.  Where’s Jarrod?  (Applause.)  Hey, Jarrod.

I also want to thank the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir –- (applause) — the Voice of Tradition -– for their wonderful performance, but more importantly, for their extraordinary service to our country.

And I want to thank all the rabbis and lay leaders who have come far and wide to be here with us today.

Now, as I said, we’re jumping the gun just a little bit.  The way I see it, we’re just extending the holiday spirit.  We’re stretching it out.  (Laughter.)  But we do have to be careful that your kids don’t start thinking Hanukkah lasts 20 nights instead of eight.  (Laughter.)  That will cause some problems.

This Hanukkah season we remember a story so powerful that we all know it by heart — even us Gentiles.  It’s a story of right over might, of faith over doubt.  Of a band of believers who rose up and freed their people and discovered that the oil left in their desecrated temple –- which should have lasted only one night –- ended up lasting eight.

It’s a timeless story.  And for 2,000 years, it has given hope to Jews everywhere who are struggling.  And today, it reminds us that miracles come in all shapes and sizes.  Because to most people, the miracle of Hanukkah would have looked like nothing more than a simple flame, but the believers in the temple knew it was something else.  They knew it was something special.

This year, we have to recognize the miracles in our own lives.  Let’s honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so that we might be here today.  Let’s think about those who are spending this holiday far away from home -– including members of our military who guard our freedom around the world.  Let’s extend a hand to those who are in need, and allow the value of tikkun olam to guide our work this holiday season.

This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations.  And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.  (Applause.)

So while it is not yet Hanukkah, let’s give thanks for our blessings, for being together to celebrate this wonderful holiday season.  And we never need an excuse for a good party.  (Laughter.)  So we are going to see all of you in a second downstairs —

MRS. OBAMA:  Aren’t we in the Blue Room?

THE PRESIDENT:  Or wherever we are.  (Laughter.)  I think we’re downstairs.  We are downstairs in the Map Room.  So as I look around, I see a whole bunch of good friends.  We can’t wait to give you a hug and a kiss and wish you a happy holiday.  The guys with whiskers, I won’t give you a kiss.  (Laughter.)

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END 6:14 P.M. EST

“God bless you and God bless Israel and God bless the United States of America.”

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