Israel Brief April 1, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Israelis celebrate end of Passover holiday Moroccan style



Israelis celebrate end of Passover holiday Moroccan style

Source: The Times of Israel, 4-1-13

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took part in the celebrations, attending a Mimouna gathering in Or Akiva along with his wife Sara….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 24, 2013: MKs call for leaving Seder seat open for Jonathan Pollard



MKs call for leaving Seder seat open for Pollard

Source: Jerusalem Post, 3-24-13‎

MKs hold mock seder ending with a toast to Pollard and a reading of a prayer for the Israel agent’s welfare….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 5, 2012: Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Passover Statement



Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Passover

Source: Can PM, 4-5-12
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark the beginning of Passover:

“I would like to send my best wishes to those in Canada and around the world who will be celebrating Passover tomorrow. This holiday – which commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt – reminds us of the value of freedom and perseverance, and the importance of family, tradition and faith.

“Tomorrow evening, as families and friends gather for the traditional Seder meal to recognize this important holiday, it is also an opportunity to think of those who are still struggling and fighting for their freedom around the world.

“Laureen and I join in wishing you a peaceful and joyous Passover.”

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



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.

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



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 Political Brief March 29, 2012: Gilad Shalit meets Benjamin Netanyahu, thanks him for release efforts



Gilad Shalit meets Netanyahu, thanks him for release efforts

Prime minister once again meets with Gilad Shalit, says he’s happy to see he’s coming back to life, gaining weight

Source: YNet News, 3-29-12

Gilad Shalit who was released five months ago after five and a half years in Hamas captivity met on Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. Gilad’s parents Noam and Aviva were also present at the meeting.

Shalit thanked Netanyahu for his release to which the prime minister responded with: “This year the holiday of liberation (Passover)gets a special meaning. From slavery to freedom; from darkness to light.

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“You’re looking very well and it is evident that you are coming back to life. I’m happy that you are proving (your ability) to overcome all; that you went to see a basketball game and gained weight.”
אביבה, גלעד שליט ונתניהו. "הזמן עובר מהר" (צילום: משה מילנר, לע"מ)

Gilad and Aviva Shalit with Netanyahu (Photo: GPO)

The prime minister mentioned that throughout the period of Gilad’s captivity, his wife Sara told him again and again to think of the boy living in darkness.

Shalit confirmed that he had gained 6 kilograms since his release. “Now time goes by faster and I’m more active. For example, I have a more varied daily routine. I even came here on the train. Soon I’ll be discharged from the army.”

Gilad’s father Noam added that the family sought to meet the prime minister because they wanted to thank those responsible for the release of their son. Aviva Shalit gave the prime minister a book with a dedication: “To the Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, with respect and esteem…from Gilad and the Shalit family.

Aviva added: “It was important for me to come here today with Gilad so that you will see how ‘whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.’ We came to say thank you to you and your wife who was in constant contact with me.”

משפחת שליט וראש הממשלה בקריה (צילום: משה מילנר, לע"מ)

The Shalit family with Prime Minister Netanyahu (Photo: GPO)

Netanyahu and Shalit first met on the day of Gilad’s release at the Tel Nof base. When Shalit met Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, he saluted. Netanyahu hugged him and told him: Welcome back to the State of Israel, it’s so good to have you home.”

In February Shalit visited France where he met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy who was among those who worked towards Gilad’s release.

Soon Sergeant First Class Shalit will be discharged, though an exact date has yet to be decided.

Shalit will continue to receive treatment from the Defense Ministry which will decide his status as a disabled IDF veteran. He will be entitled to further medical and psychological care and may receive a monthly allowance as a disabled IDF veteran. ….READ MORE

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