Thursday, July 30, 2020

Breaking News: What unemployment benefits you are entitled to during the crisis and What is the Secret of Israel and Abba Kovner: An Underappreciated Holocaust Hero By Saul Jay Singer and Photography exhibit at the City of David and How did this 107-year-old survived both the 1918 Spanish flu and COVID-19 pandemics? and The Har HaBayit B'Yadeinu Debate | Rabbi Yehudah Glick, Rabbi Moshe Taragin, Rabbi Doron Perez on today Tish A'bov

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column

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What am I entitled to from Bituach Leumi during the coronavirus crises

What am I entitled to from Bituach Leumi during the coronavirus crises?

Question: I am a salaried employee and I have caught the virus – am I entitled to Bituach Leumi?

Answer:  No, you are not, but you are entitled to receive sick pay from your employer.  Hopefully, you have enough sick days.

Question:  I have been told to go into (בידוד) isolation.  Am I entitled to sick pay or Bituach Leumi?

Answer:  No you are not entitled to either.  However, if you cannot work from home, you can ask your employer to deduct your sick days in order to receive a salary.


Question:  I receive a pension but I also work and have been asked to take unpaid vacation days (חלת) can I receive this unemployment benefit?

Answer: Before the coronavirus you were not entitled to two allowances from Bituach Leumi.  However, during the coronvirus you will receive your pension and unemployment benefits from Bituach Leumi.

Question:  I am on unpaid vacation leave do I need to pay Bituach Leumi?

Answer: Yes and no.  For the first two months, your employer pays your Bituach Leumi.  After the two months, you need to pay NIS 177 p/month.

Question:  What is the minimum amount of time that I can be on unpaid vacation leave?

Answer: The minimum time is 30 days.

Question:  How long can I be on unpaid vacation leave?

Answer: The Government has extended upaid vacation leave until July 2021.

Question: I am pregnant and due to give birth in a couple of months.  However, my position has been reduced.  Will this affect my maternity payment?

Answer: No, your maternity leave allowance will be calculated on your regular salary and not the reduced one.

Question:  I work in two places.  The first place closed due to the coronavirus therefore I became redundant and the second place of work asked me to take unpaid vacation.  What do I do?

Answer: You need to update Bituach Leumi that you are unemployed and on unpaid vacation.  There is no need to made two claims.

All this information was found on the Bituach Leumi English web site.  Some of the information was found on the Bituach Leumi Hebrew web site and I used Google translate – it was that simple to find answers.  However, if you stil need financial help, please do not hesitate to contact me.

What is the Secret of Israel

What is the secret of Israel?

In case somebody desired to decipher the phenomenon of Israel, he would undoubtedly first have to deal with its borders and boundaries and centers and peoples. 

And not only with their physical outline, but predominantly with the subjects/objects these boundaries define and categorize.

 And the centers, diverse among themselves, act in totally different, yet, parallel dimensions with varied geopolitical, mythological, and economical meanings.

 If Jerusalem's neighborhood Mea Shearim represents the intellectual center of an ancient Lithuanian ultra-orthodox Yiddish speaking community, it is at the same time only a curiosity from a previous version of Jewish life or a complete worldview antithesis to the socialist and atheist movement of kibbutzim, which had with its strategically located collective agricultural settlements determined quite a few sections of the Israeli border during the war of 1948. 

And in Israel we have a traditional pre-capitalist community of Bedouins, supplementing (in times of peace) its material base with eco-tourism with main consumers being post-capitalist young urban professionals from Tel Aviv, only seeking some quietude of the Judean Desert. This is the land, where someone talked to Abraham yesterday and Jesus was born next door. And that you wouldn't have to go to the Wailing Wall by yourself, you can fax your messages 24 hours a day directly to G-d himself (and if by any chance Shabbat is already out or hasn't started yet in New York, be cautious, it might not be over yet in Jerusalem).

One nucleus of the Jewish setting in Israel, up to 1948 mostly European in origin, is a modernistic Jewish national project of not so numerous Central and Eastern European intellectuals, who in the years of 1881 to 1948 constructed a base for since already 1918 democratically functioning bureaucratically organized Jewish settlement in Palestine, later named the State of Israel. 

'A National home for the Jewish people', as it was stated in the famous Balfour Declaration, published by the British War Cabinet. And if nothing else, the project is successful in the fact that Hebrew is today after English the most commonly spoken Jewish language. This ethos, in which the kibbutzim have a very high symbolical value, still dominates. It is an ideology of a new, modern Jew, released of the tradition and the Diaspora, who is conquering the labor and the desert. Tel Aviv, is the first Hebrew city. Romantic Russian populism, combined with German schools and secularization of Jewish messianic thought. And with this ethos, one party dominated. It began in the year 1933, when the Jewish elections in Palestine were won by the Land of Israel Workers' party (Mapai) and lasted up to 1977, when Labor switches power to Likud.

 The state is, except for the lower percentage of the Ashkenazim among its cadre, still the same state. It is a Jewish national state with a democracy of an ethnical type, a space where subjects come in many categories. But if we really try to simplify, there are two categories in Israel: citizens as one and the rest of the territories as the other category (and almost a quarter of a million of not always legal temporary workers from the Third World). State statistics distinguish between Jews and Non-Jews. Jews can be born in Israel and are of Afro-Asian or Euro-American extraction, or came to Israel as immigrants. They came from more than one hundred countries with more than seventy languages. Non-Jews are Arabs (meaning, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship), who can be Christian, Muslim, Bedouin (even though they are Muslim, as well) or Druze, but also Armenians and Circassians.

The second nucleus (or the first; the order is chosen randomly) is the  three thousand years old Jewish civilization pattern, a part of a general Western Greek-Judaic-Christian-Islamic civilization complex; a pattern that exists in a number of variations higher than the number of Jews. 

And each one of them (as long as it is Jewish) is legitimate. Hear, o Israel: Lord is our God, Lord is One. All the Jewish communities in a wide Diaspora from Marakesh to Samarkand, Lithuania and Yemen have (except in the case of Ethiopian and one of the three groups of Indian Jews, the Bene Israel) preserved, despite visible phenotype differences, a remarkable ritual, and theological unity. 

We could talk of two ethnocultural groupings; Ashkenazim, living in the Christian world and mostly among the Muslims living Sephardim that, terminologically speaking, most commonly encompasses old and autochthonous Jewish communities of the Middle East as well, such as those of Kurdistan or Iraq, for instance, who are not from Spain in origin. Two-thirds of the Jews today do not reside within the State of Israel and these are predominately Ashkenazim, among which the communities in the last hundred and fifty years differ also in the theological sense. Reform and Conservative (which means, slightly less reformed) Jewish communities appeared most of all in the lands of protestant tradition. In New York, the biggest Jewish city, they are mostly Reform. Catholic Europe remained orthodox, except the Polish lands, which have, besides the ideologists of the national revival, given birth also to two main ultra-orthodox streams; rationalist Lithuanian Judaism and popular Hasidism of Galizia. The Sephardi version of ultra-orthodox Judaism, expressed through a strong and influential movement called Shas, has appeared only in Israel of the last two generations. But anyhow, in Israel we cannot really operate with terms, valid for the Diaspora. The Reforms and the Conservatives still have to present their case.

The ultra-orthodox and the orthodox are the ones holding, in addition to a quarter of Knesset, also the keys to the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem. And they decide. Not upon who is an Israeli or who has the citizenship, but rather who is a Jew. And here the question is not a membership in a Californian Reform synagogue; the question is what is it going to be written in your identification card. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel doesn't recognize Reform and Conservative conversions to Judaism, unless these are performed according to the orthodox rules. For Beltz Hasidim, for instance, that has been for over two hundred years wearing a different kind of socks than some other Hasidim and have a valid reason to do so, only the fact that Reformed men are allowed to sit next to women during prayer (and let's not talk about Reform recognition of same-sex marriages) is enough to doubt their Jewishness. Again boundaries unnoticed in the first round. 

And the question 'who is a Jew' (speaking only of religious, not ethnic, categorization), still remains unanswered. Or better, it has no final answer. Every few years, let's say every generation it is constructed slightly differently. The answer is always a consequence of continuous ideological negotiations, of constantly new life situations. And of course, each land has its own way. Once a Jewish mother was enough. The Talmud says if someone arrives from another place and claims to be Jewish, one should believe him. This remained unaltered even in 1958 with a wave of immigrants from Poland, a part of which lived in marriages with only one spouse of Jewish extraction. For the interior minister from the United Workers' Party (Mapam), to which in its renovated form many members of the kibbutzim are still giving their votes, a subjective statement of every individual suffice. In those years Ben Gurion publicly asked for the opinion of 43 humanists, intellectuals, and rabbis from all over the Jewish world and most of them chose a theological basis to the Jewish identity. 

When in the year 1964 Bene Israel arrived from India, their Jewishness was determined through a vote in Knesset. To this question, attention was paid even by the Israeli Supreme Court, which in 1962 refused Israeli citizenship to a catholic monk. Brother Daniel Rufeisen was baptized as a child during the Holocaust and has kept the new religion afterward, but has, according to his own words, preserved the Jewish ethnicity, a thing that in itself provided him with the right to Israeli citizenship, despite the division between the religious and the ethnic aspects of Judaism. The Supreme Court refused to acknowledge his request and has in opposition to the Jewish religious law, the halacha, which says that one cannot give up his Judaism, decided that a convert has no right to be a Jew.

 The civil, secular court thus gave a priority to a collective cultural and social norm, which in this case varies from the religious one and does not see someone as Jewish, if the person considers himself to be a Christian. Being in Palestine means being a member of the religious community. Since, if you are not a member of such a community, they have nowhere to educate you, nowhere to marry you, and very important, nowhere to burry you. In the Holy Land, there are no civil marriages since the Turkish times, when each community was guaranteed a total autonomy in different fields of personal and other civil law, directly connected to religious traditions. This does not mean only that marriages between members of different religions are almost impossible, but also that formally are forbidden even marriages between Jews on the basis of categories from biblical and Talmudic times. 

A member of a priestly family can, for instance, not marry a divorced woman. And what to do if a person is a totally secular Israeli who has for all of this no interest whatsoever? In recent years Cyprus developed a whole marriage industry and there is even a term for marriage, named after certain Latin American countries, whose embassy was performing such services. And these categories are numerous. Hardly arrived one million ethnically very mixed Russian Jews, who had to wait for their departure for several decades, are simply thrilled by these formalities. Besides internal categories (Cohen, Levi, etc.) that are determining personal status these groups are Jews (initially only Sephardim, today there are two chief rabbis), Jews Karaites, Jews Samaritans, Sunni Muslims, Alawi Muslims, Druse, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Greek catholic Maronites, Greek catholic Melkites, Armenians, Armenian Catholics, Ethiopian Copts, Assyrian Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and the list continues. In recent years Reform and Conservative Jews arrived from America, who, despite the fact that they haven't completely found their place yet, are quickly adapting to the local conditions, especially to Tel Aviv. Each one is its own world, its own dimension. Education also comes in many forms: two-state Jewish school systems, one state Arab school system and an independent ultra-orthodox one.

In Israel can the Jewish population on the axis of state-religion, as well as on the basis of daily cultural, consumerist, and ideological activities, be classified in a yet another way. Here everybody is orthodox, the question is how orthodox. And each category has its own name, in modern Israeli Hebrew, spoken with a Sephardi accent. One group is the secular ones, whose life cycle does in almost everything, except in few ceremonial aspects (marriage in an orthodox synagogue, birth, bar/bat mitzvah, and similar) not differ from a life of any other 'average' inhabitant of the Western world. It is the secular who mostly supports not only a possibility of a civil marriage but also the availability of other religious options, such as those offered by Reforms or Conservatives, who provide more metaphoric explanations to the mentioned biblical categories. Then, there are the traditional ones, who, for example, go to a synagogue for important holidays and preserve the ritual purity of the food. The religious ones are a group that, for instance, would not travel on Shabbat, but would still be sending its children to state schools and army. And last, but not least, three groups of ultra-orthodox Jews: two Ashkenazi and one Sephardic. They represent fifteen percent of the Jewish population and send their children to their own, independent schools and instead of the army to marriage or religious academies, yeshivas. Quoting only a few months old TV-conducted public opinion poll among the adult Jewish population, 15% pray every day, 25% go to a synagogue on Shabbat, while 60% keep kosher and 30% do not fast on Yom Kippur. 98 percent of the adult Jewish population in Israel has a mezuzah on their doorpost, a little box with a blessing, a thing much less visible in the Diaspora. The secular and the ultra-orthodox, two opposing and at the same time codependent ideas, one located in Tel Aviv and the other one in Jerusalem. Israel and Judea. Or not. Some would somehow prefer a state with less religion, while others perhaps a religion with less state. And about a separation that might not even be possible, nothing new to report.

Ideas, that help explain how the world works

Picking up the Pieces

Weary of constantly picking clothes up from the floor of little Moishe's room, his mother Rachel finally laid down the law. Each item of clothing Rachel had to pick up would cost Moishe 25 cents.

By the end of the week, Moishe owed his mother $1.50. Surprisingly, Rachel received the money promptly, along with a 50-cent tip and a note that read:

"Thanks, Mom. Keep up the good work!"

The Har HaBayit B'Yadeinu Debate | Rabbi Yehudah Glick, Rabbi Moshe Taragin, Rabbi Doron Perez on Today Tish A'bov

The Har HaBayit B'Yadeinu Debate Rabbi Yehudah Glick Rabbi Moshe Taragin Moderated by Rabbi Doron Perez

Discussion on the Har Habit

Past and Present Jerusalem Merge in Stunning Virtual Exhibition by City of David By David Israel

Using images from the G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection of the Library of Congress, the "City of Gold in Black & White" Virtual Exhibition offered by the City of David Archive juxtaposes black & white photographs of Jerusalem taken during the late 19th and early 20th centuries with full-color photographs of the the same spots as they looks today.

The Shiloach Channel in the City of David, City of Gold in Black & White Virtual Exhibition / Courtesy City of David Archive

The viewer is invited to become mesmerized by the effect of landmarks that remain wholly recognizable and virtually unchanged alongside the tremendous development of the area as a whole.

The exhibit will serve as an homage to Jerusalem, presenting the history of thousands of years and the progress of one hundred years and enabling viewers to experience the eternal Jerusalem in its here and now moment.

"The seamless merging of the images is the result of the unique eye of the exhibit's photographer, Koby Harati, who not only shot from the same angle used in the older pictures, but at the same time of day, and under the same weather conditions – creating a true integration of past and present," said Atara Spero Harow, Director of the City of David Archive.

"We spent days going through the Library of Congress collection to find high quality photographs whose specific location we could re-capture," said Harati. "The greater challenge was pinpointing the exact position and camera angle at which the older photographs were taken – to imagine buildings and structures that no longer stood and how they would have impacted the view. We used aerial photographs and even a 3D model to visualize the spaces. When it came time to photograph, I decided to ask passers-by to be volunteer to hold the old photos. Their hands in these pictures perfectly encapsulate the variety of people and characters who experience Jerusalem, who derive meaning from it and make it what it is."

The exhibit, which represents a sample preview of a large collection of photos being developed, features prominent sites of Biblical Jerusalem including the Shiloach Channel in the City of David, the Yad Avshalom monument, the Southern Wall and the Temple Mount.

How did this 107-year-old survived both the 1918 Spanish flu and COVID-19 pandemics?

She survived the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and COVID-19. What is this 107-year-old's secret?

After Marilee Shapiro Asher was admitted to the hospital in mid-April sick with COVID-19, her daughter got a call from the doctor telling her she ought to get down there right away. Her mother likely had only 12 hours to live.

"Well, he doesn't know my mother, does he?" Joan Shapiro said.

What the doctor didn't know was that Asher, a 107-year-old working artist, had already survived one global pandemic. And she was about to survive another.

In 1918, then about 6 years old, Asher contracted the Spanish flu, a deadly strain of influenza estimated to have killed at least 50 million people worldwide.

"What she told my brother and I, she remembers being sick upstairs and coming downstairs and seeing her father, who she adored, and knowing that if she saw her father everything would be OK," Shapiro said.

Fast forward a century and change: Asher had contracted the new coronavirus, which is particularly lethal for older people. She wound up spending five days in the hospital,undergoing a course of antibiotic treatment before being sent home to Chevy Chase House, a senior living community in Washington, D.C. She was never put on a ventilator.

"It's remarkable," Shapiro said. "That's all I can say. It's just unbelievable. I think perhaps it's because of her art that she's still involved in."

Well into the eighth decade of her art career, Asher was due to open a major solo exhibition later this month at the Studio Gallery in Washington, but that was canceled due to the coronavirus.

Born to an affluent Chicago family in 1912, Asher began studying sculpture in 1936 and took up painting a few years after she moved to Washington, in 1943, with her first husband, Bernard Shapiro. Her first solo exhibition was held at American University in 1947.

In D.C., the family attended Temple Sinai, where Asher served on the art committee. It was through her association with Boris Aronson that the famed Broadway set designer came to create the synagogue's ark, Shapiro said.

Bernard Shapiro died in 1974. Nearly 20 years later, at the age of 80, Asher remarried: She and childhood friend Robert Asher wed at the Cosmos Club in Washington. Robert Asher died in 2008.

In the early 2000s, seeking a less physically demanding alternative to sculpture, Asher took up digital photography. She studied digital art at the Corcoran School of Art and began manipulating photographs on her computer. She was 88 at the time.

Her work is now in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Asked the secret of her longevity last year on the activist Ralph Nader's radio program, Asher chalked it up to exercise and art.

"Here at the facility for senior living I go to tai chi class and to a yoga class, which helps to keep me kind of limber," she said in the interview. "That's very important. But even more important is one's having an interest, having something that makes you want to get up in the morning and do it."

Asher began feeling unwell in March. It started with general fatigue and gradually grew more acute, impairing her eyesight and making it difficult for her to breathe. By the middle of April, she had all but stopped eating.

By then, the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing, and at the insistence of her children and a nurse at her senior living facility, Asher went to the hospital.

"I am quite certain that she thought that she was going to die," Shapiro said. "I really think she thought that."

Asher returned home from the hospital on April 28. Shapiro says she has good days and bad ones, adding that her mother wasn't strong enough to do an interview.

"She's at the edge of the woods," Shapiro said.

In 2015, Asher published a memoir, "Dancing in the Wonder for 102 Years," in which she writes: "Dear God, I don't know who you are or where you are or if you are. But I do want to thank you for my life and all the perks I have enjoyed. I want to thank you also for 30 more years than are usually allotted according to your Bible. I hope I have not overstayed my welcome. Sincerely, Marilee."

Abba Kovner: An Underappreciated Holocaust Hero By Saul Jay Singer

Abba Kovner's resistance activities during World War II made him a symbol of heroism to generations of Israelis. After leading the partisan resistance in Vilna and Lithuania, Kovner helped organize clandestine Jewish immigration to Eretz Yisrael; enabled the transit of almost 300,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors there; was a key witness in the Eichmann trial; served with distinction in the Israeli War of Independence; and deeply influenced Holocaust and Israeli historiography. He was also one of the greatest Hebrew poets of modern Israel and was awarded the Israel Prize for literature (1970).

Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Crimea on the shores of the Black Sea and raised in Vilna, Kovner (1918-87) was educated at the Tarbut Hebrew gymnasium and attended the University of Vilna as an art student. Committed to Zionism since boyhood, he became a member and then leader of the 1,000-member local branch of HaShomer HaTzair

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Abba Kovner's resistance activities during World War II made him a symbol of heroism to generations of Israelis. After leading the partisan resistance in Vilna and Lithuania, Kovner helped organize clandestine Jewish immigration to Eretz Yisrael; enabled the transit of almost 300,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors there; was a key witness in the Eichmann trial; served with distinction in the Israeli War of Independence; and deeply influenced Holocaust and Israeli historiography. He was also one of the greatest Hebrew poets of modern Israel and was awarded the Israel Prize for literature (1970).

Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Crimea on the shores of the Black Sea and raised in Vilna, Kovner (1918-87) was educated at the Tarbut Hebrew gymnasium and attended the University of Vilna as an art student. Committed to Zionism since boyhood, he became a member and then leader of the 1,000-member local branch of HaShomer HaTzair.

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When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union and captured Vilna in June 1941, they ordered all Jews to be confined to the Vilna Ghetto, but Kovner escaped and received refuge in a Benedictine convent. However, concerned about the nuns' safety and feeling guilty about leaving his first love, Hadassah, behind, he returned to the ghetto to be with his fellow Jews and to organize the Jewish resistance.

He would soon learn that Hadassah had been murdered by the Nazis in Ponary, an abandoned Soviet oil storage facility chosen as a prime execution site because it had large pits convenient for the disposal of bodies.

Kovner was one of the very first people to comprehend that Hitler was planning a "final solution" pursuant to which all Jews would be slaughtered. Accordingly, at a meeting of delegates of all Jewish Youth Movements in the Vilna Ghetto on the night of December 31, 1941, he read aloud his "Ghetto Manifesto" in which he coined the now-famous phrase, "We will not be led like sheep to the slaughter." He explained that all their relatives had been murdered in the Ponary Massacre; that the Nazis intended to execute every last Jew; and that the only possible response was organized resistance.

Within weeks, Kovner had formed the United Partisan Organization (UPO), an integrated militia that was perhaps the first armed underground organization in the Nazi-constructed Jewish ghettos, and personally led the UPO's celebrated HaNokmim ("the Avengers") unit in training fighters, manufacturing bombs, smuggling weapons into the ghetto, and engaging in acts of mass armed resistance and sabotage against the Nazis and their allies.

After Kovner tried, but failed, to galvanize the broader Jewish community in Vilna to join the UPO in a mass uprising, he sent about 300 of his partisans into the forest while he and the few remaining fighters fought the Nazis. However, when the Nazis commenced the final deportations from the ghetto to the crematoria in 1943, Kovner directed the escape of the surviving fighters to the Rudnicki Forest, where they compiled an enviable record of destroying power, transportation, and water infrastructure; killing German soldiers; and rescuing Jews. Certain that the Jewish road to self-respect was through combat and convinced that Jews must fight as Jews, he refused all offers to be absorbed into Lithuanian or Russian partisan groups.

Returning to Vilna with the Red Army on July 7, 1944, Kovner and his Jewish partisans helped recapture and liberate the city about a week later and were distraught to find that only about 600 of the original 87,000 Jews had survived. He subsequently organized clandestine Jewish immigration as a founder of the Bericha ("escape") movement, which successfully transported 300,000 Jews from post-Holocaust Europe to Eretz Yisrael.

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Kovner traveled through the liberated countryside, making stops in Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Majdanek and, staggered by the extent of the Nazi killing machine and its industrialized mass-murder, turned his all-consuming desire for revenge into action. He formed an underground organization called Nakam ("revenge"), which was also known as Dam Yisrael Noter ("The blood of Israel avenges"), with the acronym DIN, meaning "judgment."

Kovner's first plan for revenge included killing six million Germans – one for each Jew murdered in the Holocaust – by poisoning German reservoirs in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, and Nuremberg. While Nakam members infiltrated water and sewage plants, Kovner traveled to Eretz Yisrael to secure an effective poison. Although he apparently did not receive hoped-for support from Yishuv leaders, Kovner claimed that Chaim Weizmann supported the plan and referred him to famed scientist Ernst Bergmann, who in turn assigned responsibility for preparing the poison to Ephraim Katzir, a biophysicist who later served as Israel's fourth president, and his electrochemist brother, Aharon Katzir, who was later murdered by Arab terrorists during the May 30, 1972 Lod Airport Massacre.

Most historians doubt Kovner's account, particularly because it is indisputable that Weizmann was overseas at the time. However, the Katzirs confirmed that they provided the lethal poison to Kovner, a step they were highly unlikely to have taken unless they had received permission from Jewish leadership to do so or, at the very least, their superiors knew about it. In any event, while returning to France on a British ship, Kovner was arrested by the British, but not before he was able to heave the poison overboard.

Many historians believe that Yishuv leaders who opposed Kovner's plan sold him out and reported him to the British authorities, who arrested him and imprisoned him for a few months in a Cairo jail. Upon his release, he turned to implementing a new revenge plan against the Germans, a plan that met with only limited success: a scheme to poison thousands of Nazi prisoners in a POW camp.

In early 1946, Nakam infiltrated the kitchens of Stalag 13-D, an internment camp at Nuremberg under American auspices and, in the early hours of April 13, 1946, laced with arsenic 3,000 loaves of bread to be used to feed S.S. prisoners there. The New York Times reported that 2,238 Nazis were sickened, but there are widely differing accounts regarding how many German prisoners fell victim to the attack. Recently declassified documents suggest that there were no fatalities, which seems most improbable given that Nakam used enough arsenic to kill many thousands of Nazis.

In any event, although Kovner never came close to achieving the grandiose Nakam goal, he played a fundamental role in telling the story of Jewish rebellion and keeping alive the tales of Jewish heroism during the Shoah.

Kovner made aliyah in 1945; joined the Haganah in December 1947; became a captain and served as education officer in the famous Givati Brigade of the IDF in May 1948; and fought during Israel's War of Independence on the southern front. He became particularly famous – or infamous – during the war for his "Battle Pages" (headed "Death to the Invaders!"), which contained news from the Egyptian front and essays designed to boost the soldiers' morale.

However, his pages called for revenge for the Holocaust and referred to the Egyptian enemy as vipers and dogs, which upset many Israeli political and military leaders. His first battle page, which accused the Nitzanim garrison of cowardice for surrendering to an overwhelming Egyptian force, continues to be controversial to this day. During the War of Independence, approximately 80 such Daf Kravi ("Order of the Day") leaves were printed by the IDF, the most important being those of the Givati Brigade written by Kovner.

Exhibited here is one of the more interesting Order of the Day pages from my collection. The translation is somewhat imprecise because of Kovner's extensive use of poetics, including poetic reference to the Jews' previous defeat of Egypt during the biblical Exodus, the Ten Plagues, etc.


July 17, 1948


[Background: Negba, a kibbutz founded in 1939, had a strategic position overlooking the Majdal-Bait Jibrin road, and was a target of two major assaults by the Egyptians in June and July 1948, both of which Israel successfully repelled. Negba went on to serve as a key forward base for Israeli attacks against Egyptian forces.]

It is difficult now for the defenders of Negba to hold their positions – because piles of Egyptian corpses stink from beyond.

King Farouk – so he explained yesterday on Radio Cairo – is arranging a visit to the hospitalized injured Egyptians and expressed his satisfaction over the high morale of his noble fighters. King Farouk, King Farouk! Perhaps you will attempt to remove your royal clothes and come to the fields of Negba to gather the piles of stinking morale? Because our lives are very difficult – because we got used to breathing fresh air, crisp and pure, in this birthplace of ours. [In other words, remove your stinking Egyptian carcasses.]

King Farouk – he will not come to gather his excrement. Because many years indeed have passed since the time of Moses and the Ten Plagues of Egypt – including the great-grandson [i.e., descendants] of Pharaoh becoming accustomed to the plagues.

– He became accustomed to Lice. And he is okay with it.
– He became accustomed to Boils. And he is okay with it.
– He became accustomed to Pestilence. And he is okay with it.
– And he became accustomed to Wild Beasts. And to Frogs and Locusts he became accustomed – his royal chariots are harnessed with these.

Only the Plague of Blood he will learn! And it will come:

First, for the descendants of Moshe [i.e., the Jews currently battling the Egyptians] it is different today – the Plague of Darkness. It is the night of the attack by the Yahud [the Arabic term for Jews]. After that came the Plague of Stench. He is the rot in the fields. And to this Great Plague of Blood our hands [and weapons] are still raised.


The House of the Mufti [Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who had fled to Iraq in October 1939] in Idnibba [a town about 18 miles south of Ramallah] was "gathered today to the dynamite" with great acts of purification that was conducted by our units in the Wadi Sarar area…


[Background: After occupying Yad Mordechai, Israel's general staff determined that the Egyptian forces based in Ishdod – including 2,300 men, 25 pound cannons, and 3.7 Howitzers – planned to either attack Tel Aviv or reinforce the siege of Jerusalem. They decided to send the Givati Brigade to attack the Egyptian forces there.]

On the evening of July 16, an exceptionally bold attack was carried out against the heart of the Egyptian army to the north of Ishdod. Our forces breached the gates of their camp, entered inside, and caused great enemy casualties. The battle continued for over an hour. More details are forthcoming.


Deep are the nights of Tammuz. A full moon is overflowing [i.e., is everywhere]. A light wind blows over the southern hills. People are moved to return home. And the heart is turned toward his wife and mother and the song of children far away. But around you the stupid eyes of the dogs of the Nile [i.e., the Egyptians] are sparkling – INTO THE NILE, DOGS! INTO THE NILE!…


Following the war, Kovner returned to Ein HaChoresh, a leftist-atheist Kibbutz where he served for many years as "rabbi," preached a Zionism enhanced by its Jewish roots, and instilled spiritual depth to its celebration of Jewish holidays and ceremonies. He became a prolific and renowned Hebrew and Yiddish writer and poet; traveled widely, visiting Eastern European Jewish communities; and was active in HaShomer HaTzair and the Mapam party (but never assumed a formal political role).

Throughout his post-Holocaust life, Kovner vociferously challenged all claims that the Jews had acted passively and dishonorably. He famously testified at the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem (1961) about the brutality of Germans and their collaborators in the Vilna Ghetto and about reprisals meted out by Jewish partisans against captured German soldiers. He – and many others – believed that his seminal testimony at the trial created a "spiritual earthquake" that eased the ability of many survivors to open up for the first time about their Holocaust experiences.

Kovner emerged from the trial as one of the most important and authoritative witnesses to the Holocaust and as a much-respected moral figure. His constant emphasis on Jewish morality and historical justice led him to attack the Soviet regime – the much beloved darling of Israeli socialists and leftists – and he strongly advocated against accepting a "rehabilitated" Germany before it could offer some broad accounting of, and restitution for, its Holocaust crimes.

In this December 20, 1978 correspondence written from his home on Kibbutz at Ein HaChoresh, Kovner writes to painter Mordechai Kellner:

I am already committed to lecture in Haifa on January 18 in the evening and, to my regret, I cannot participate in the evening of commemoration for my friend, Azriel [Uchmani], may he rest in peace. In any case, I would find it difficult to write anything different than what I have already said at the shivah in Ein Shemer.

Kibbutz Ein Shemer, located in the Shomron region three to four miles from Chaderah, was known for its artists, including Azriel Uchmani (1907-78), an Israeli writer and literary critic who served as secretary of the labor council of the Kibbutz. He was also a rav, having studied at the yeshiva of Rabbi Meir Shapiro, and earned a degree in agronomy from the University of Toulouse.

Kovner's poetry focused on his experience of the Holocaust in Vilna and his sense of isolation as a survivor; for him, the post-war Jewish and Israeli experience was also a material part of the ongoing Holocaust experience. He co-founded the Holocaust journal Yalkut Moreshet (1963); founded the Moreshet Holocaust Institute; served as chairman of the Hebrew Writers' Association; and was the moving force behind the founding of Beit HaTfutsot (the Diaspora Museum) and the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature.

Kovner was awarded the Israel Prize in Literature (1970), and his other awards include the Prime Minister's Prize for Hebrew Literary Works and the Cultural Prize of the World Jewish Congress. He was also artistically inclined, as evidenced by his enrollment in art school as a young man and by this unusual drawing and note to "Ziv," probably Yitzchak Ziv-Av, deputy editor of Haboker:


See you tomorrow bli Neder We need Mosiach now

Love Yehuda Lave

I will bli-neder be on the Har Habit with Rabbi Glick today!

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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