This is the biggest story of all to consider and Day One of Rome part two and 13 Facts About Syrian Jews By Menachem Posner and Netflix founder dons Tefilin for the first time and Erased: The Almost Forgotten Stories of Jews From Arab Lands and Iran
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.
The Three are Rabbi Yehuda Glick, famous temple mount activist, and former Israel Mk, and then Robert Weinger, the world's greatest shofar blower and seller of Shofars, and myself after we had gone to the 12 gates of the Temple Mount in 2020 to blow the shofar to ask G-d to heal the world from the Pandemic. It was a highlight to my experience in living in Israel and I put it on my blog each day to remember.
The articles that I include each day are those that I find interesting, so I feel you will find them interesting as well. I don't always agree with all the points of each article but found them interesting or important to share with you, my readers, and friends. It is cathartic for me to share my thoughts and frustrations with you about life in general and in Israel. As a Rabbi, I try to teach and share the Torah of the G-d of Israel as a modern Orthodox Rabbi. I never intend to offend anyone but sometimes people are offended and I apologize in advance for any mistakes. The most important psychological principle I have learned is that once someone's mind is made up, they don't want to be bothered with the facts, so, like Rabbi Akiva, I drip water (Torah is compared to water) on their made-up minds and hope that some of what I have share sinks in. Love Rabbi Yehuda Lave.
This is the biggest story of all
A ramming attack ignored by the international press that would have been front-page news worldwide had it been an Arab child who died.
JackEngelhard צילום: מתוך האתר האישי
A six-year-old Israeli boy, Matan Zinman, was fatally injured while traveling with his family on a highway in the Binyamin Region of Israel.
Not the end of the world, some would say.
Besides, the world has bigger problems…Russia, China, Iran, and back here in the US, inflation, corruption, crime…all that just for starters.
No wonder the story of Matan and the Zinman family gets no traction in the United States, and no coverage anywhere else in the world.
(For an Arab child, this would be Front Page, The New York Times.)
In Israel itself, yes, some attention is being paid by the press. But for the fullness of it all, there is only INN/Arutz Sheva.
The Zinman family Courtesy of the family
That is where you will read all about it and share the broken heart of Haim Zinman, father of the fallen son, and husband to wife Rivka Atara and other children of theirs who were injured in the "accident" and being treated in various hospitals for a head-on collision that Haim and Rivka insist vehemently was intentional and no accident.
For Haim Zinman, this is the end of the world and for the rest of us who have parental instincts and human feelings, there is no story bigger than this.
Life goes on…but not for a father whose son has been taken. Nothing is more precious: "Absalom, my son, my son, would that I had died for thee."
As his wife and family recuperate, Haim Zinman wants no doubt for the cause of his misfortune.
He says, "When looking at the facts, this was no car accident. We want the case to be investigated."
Plainly, what she saw was a car occupied by Palestinian Arabs coming to hunt them down through a ramming process.
Over the years, ramming has been quite the thing among Palestinian Arabs. It's how they manifest their grievance for the "catastrophe."
It's how they keep themselves inflamed from one "peace process" to the other and prepare themselves for two-state solutions.
This is their war between the wars, against Jewish civilians, a grudge against Jews that keeps being passed along from one generation of Palestinian Arabs to the next.
This was illustrated most recently by PMW, Palestinian Media Watch, which shows how the Palestinian Authority "trains and recruits hundreds of child terrorists."
Exactly so say both Haim and Rivka Zinman. "This was a terror attack."
"The vehicle made a sharp turn towards me," says Rivka, "and accelerated."
She tried to brake, but it was too late.
We've yet to hear a condemnation from Israel's "peace partner" PA "chairman" Mahmoud Abbas. Nor from his friend Joe Biden.
From stone throwing to ramming and other tactics, Israelis face uncertainties every time they hit the roads.
Even so in districts, like Binyamin, where Arabs supposedly live "harmoniously" with their Jewish neighbors.
Just the other day, as reported here, "Six east Jerusalem Arab schools have been put on conditional license due to textbook incitement against Israelis."
(Why is "east" Jerusalem specified when ALL Jerusalem is in fact the undivided capital of the Jewish State?)
So on it goes.
Will there be an investigation, not only for the Zinmans, but for the nation?
Arab incitement, Islamic terror, these are facts, no accidents.
New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.
He wrote the worldwide book-to-movie bestseller "Indecent Proposal," the authoritative newsroom epic, "The Bathsheba Deadline," followed by his coming-of-age classics, "The Girls of Cincinnati," and, the Holocaust-to-Montreal memoir, "Escape from Mount Moriah." For that and his 1960s epic "The Days of the Bitter End," contemporaries have hailed him "The last Hemingway, a writer without peer, and the conscience of us all." Website: www.jackengelhard.com
Rome Day one 2 of 2
On an impromptu trip to Italy to help a friend do a mitzvah, Yaakov and Yehuda go to Rome and then to Florence. In Rome, we see the Major sites, The Colusseum (built with the blood of 180,000 Jewish slaves brought back from Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple and with the Gold from the Second Temple the Beit HaMikdash) the catacombs, and the Forum. I went to see the Pantheum and the Famous Trevi Fountain (coins in the fountain) as well. We spent a lot of time in the Jewish Quarter eating.
1. Jews Have Lived There Since the Dawn of Our Nation
Before G‑d called on him to travel west to the Holy Land, Abraham, the father of our nation, lived in what is now Syria.1 Years later, King David captured much of that territory,2 which attained a status of quasi-sanctity, not quite like the Land of Israel proper, but not like the Diaspora either.3
2. There Are Halabi and Shami Jews
Ancient synagogue in Jobar, near the center of Damascus, named for Elijah the Prophet, and destroyed in the Syrian Civil War in 2014 (photo courtesy of Chrystie Sherman/Diarna.org).
The two greatest centers of Jewish life were in Aleppo and Damascus. Aleppo is referred to in Hebrew as Aram Tzova (pronounced Aram Soba, by Syrian Jews). Its Arabic name is Halab (which was mangled into "Aleppo" in English), and its people are referred to as Halabi.
Damascus is referred to among Syrians as Al-Sham, and the Jews of Damascus and their descendants are referred to as Shami.
3. There Were Many Notable Syrian Rabbis
The classic collection Likdosim Asher Baaretz by Rabbi David Laniado lists hundreds of notable Syrian scholars, each of whom contributed to the advancement of Torah learning.4 Here is a sampling of some of the best-known scholars, some of whom called Syria home and some who just passed through:
Rabbi Saadia Gaon(c. 882-942): Brilliant leader of the Babylonian Torah academy who rendered the entire Torah into flowing Arabic, and whose teachings and traditions remain central to Judaism today. While in Aleppo, he was instrumental in preventing the Jewish world from fragmenting into a situation that would have involved different places using different calendars.
Rabbi Yosef Bar Yehuda (c.1160–1226): A student of Maimonides, he was an outstanding scholar, physician, and philosopher in Aleppo, where he lived for many years. Maimonides wrote the Guide to the Perplexed to assist him in his efforts to reconcile his philosophical beliefs with belief in G‑d.
The Dayan Family: As their name indicates (dayan is Hebrew for "judge"), successive members of the Dayan family, direct descendants of King David, served as rabbis in Aleppo for centuries.
Rabbi Shemuel Laniado (--1605): Born in Aleppo to Sephardic parents, he studied under Rabbi Yosef Karo in Safed before returning to his hometown where he served as chief rabbi for four decades. He was known as the Baal Hakelim, because the titles of many of his published works began with the word keli.
4. Aleppo Had a Giant Synagogue Complex
Postcard showing of the outdoor section of the Great Synagogue of Aleppo (scan courtesy of Diarna.org).
The Great Aleppo Synagogue (known locally as al safra, "the yellow") was actually a complex with several synagogues, including an outdoor sanctuary that was used during the dry summer months. It had seven holy arks on the southern wall, consistent with the tradition that synagogues face toward Jerusalem (Aleppo is north of Jerusalem).
The synagogue was destroyed during the 1947 violence that broke out after the UN's declaration of the partition of Palestine. It has since been partially restored but is rarely, if ever, used.
For more than five centuries, the Jews of Aleppo were stewards of a priceless annotated text of the entire Tanach, known as Keter Aram Tzova ("The Crown of Aleppo") or the Aleppo Codex, thus named because it was bound as a book ("codex") as opposed to the traditional scroll format.
The book—which was produced by the famous Ben Asher family of Tiberia—came to Damascus along with a descendant of Maimonides, who treasured the Keter and consulted it in his own quest to identify the most proper and accurate Torah text.
Unfortunately, a portion of the Codex went missing when the Great Aleppo Synagogue was destroyed in 1947. The remainder is now housed in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.
6. They Were Joined (and Dominated) by Sepharad
In the wake of the Catholic persecution of Jews in the Iberian Peninsula, which culminated with the Spanish expulsion of 1492 and the Portuguese expulsion of 1496, Spanish Jews (Sephardim) streamed into the relative tolerance of Muslim Arabia, including Syria. The Sephardim were originally separate from the native Jews (Musta'arabim), forming their own communal infrastructure and maintaining their own traditions. In time, Sephardic customs and traditions dominated, and all Jews of Syria identified as Sephardic.
7. Their Language Was Arabic
Historically, the Jews in Syria spoke Arabic, similar to their non-Jewish neighbors. When Sephardim originally converged on Syria, they brought along their language, Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish. However, after hundreds of years of becoming one with the existing Arabic-speaking locals, Ladino was largely forgotten among the descendants of the Spanish exiles.
8. Some Light an Extra Chanukah Candle
On Chanukah, some Syrian descendants of the Spanish exiles light a second shammash candle on the menorah, celebrating their ancestors' safe flight from the Spanish Expulsion.
9. They Have a Rich and Unique Canon of Synagogue Music
Detail from the cover of a holiday prayer book following the rite of the Jews of Aleppo, published in venice in 1527 (scan courtesy of Hebrewbooks.org)
For hundreds of years, Syrian Jews have woken early on winter Shabbat mornings to sing bakkashot (prayer hymns). Some of them were composed by the great Sephardic Kabbalists and are known across the Jewish community, but others were composed and are sung only in the Syrian community.
10. Syrian Jews Live All Over
In Holon, Israel, the Magen David Synagogue serves Jews from Syria and their descendants (photo: Roman Yanushevsky).
The fabric of the Syrian economy began to unravel in the mid 19th century, when the industrial revolution and the opening of the Suez canal meant that there was much less East-West trade passing through Syria. As Jews emigrated elsewhere, a Syrian diaspora sprung up in Israel, the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Panama and elsewhere.
11. There Are Large Communities in Brooklyn and Deal
The Shaare Zion Synagogue as it appeared in 1964, during the decades-long tenure of Rabbi Abraham D. Hecht (photo: Library of Congress).
Since the early 20th century, Brooklyn, N.Y., has been home to a large and prosperous Syrian Jewish community, whose grand synagogue, Shaare Zion, was among the largest Orthodox congregations in North America.
There is also a Syrian-Jewish population in Deal, a small town in Central New Jersey, where the overwhelming majority of the residents are Syrian Jews, served by a growing bevy of synagogues, yeshivot, and communal organizations.
12. They Famously Banned Conversion
Fearing that their rapidly assimilating community members would arrange perfunctory "conversions" for non-Jewish lovers, Syrian rabbis in Argentina—and later on in the US—decreed that no conversions would be performed and that no Syrian Jews could marry converts.
13. Jews Were Persecuted Out of Existence in Syria
The 55,000 Jews in Syria after the establishment of Israel were severely restricted, and by 1964, there were barely 5,000 left. They were even more harshly persecuted, and they were not even allowed to travel from city to city. Their every move was watched by the Mukhabarat (secret police). The more they were tortured and confined, the more determined people were to leave Syria.
The former Jewish quarter in Qamishli, near Turkey, which lost its once-significant Jewish population (photo courtesy of Joseph Samuels/Diarna.org).
Except for 20 or 30 souls, all remaining Jews left Syria when Hafez al-Assad opened the doors in the early '90s, and today there are no more than perhaps a dozen Jews left in Syria, mainly in Damascus.5
Netflix founder dons Tefilin for the first time
Mark Randolph hosted two Jewish brothers on his podcast 'It Will Never Work' and received a moving offer in return.
Chabad tefilin stand (illustrative) Flash90
Mark Randolph, better known as the founder of 'Netflix', put on tefillin (ritual items worn by adult males during morning prayers) with the help of two brothers working for the Chabad movement.
Chabad reported that Yossi and Levi Chayo, two young entrepreneurs who own the hat shop 'Blissimo' in Kingston, United States, are the ones who honored Mark by putting on the tefillin for the first time in his life.
According to the report, the brothers made their way to California to be a guest on Netflix founder Mark Randolph's "It Will Never Work" podcast.
Mark usually hosts young entrepreneurs in order to encourage them to open small businesses and develop in the business field.
When the Chayo brothers entered the recording room, they suggested Mark put on tefillin. He was enthusiastic about the offer and asked them to place the tefillin on him while telling them that this was the first time he had ever donned them.
The 64-year-old Mark, moved by the mitzvah (positive commandment), broke into a Hasidic dance with the brothers and sang the traditional Jewish song of celebration Siman Tov Umazal Tov (A Good Omen and Good Fortune).
Erased: The Almost Forgotten Stories of Jews From Arab Lands and Iran
Most people know about the murder of six million European Jews in the Shoah. Some know about the antisemitic pogroms of Imperial Russia decades earlier. But not many people are familiar with the epic survival story of the more than 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran.
The Forgotten Exodus, a new limited podcast series presented by American Jewish Committee (AJC), explores the rich heritage of these Jews, some of whom fled antisemitism and found refuge in the State of Israel.
Each Monday, for the next six weeks, AJC will release a new episode of The Forgotten Exodus, the first-ever narrative podcast series to focus exclusively on Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews. Watch the video trailer below.
Tune in to hear Carol Isaacs, an Iraqi Jew who is a well-known musician and cartoonist, discuss the heartbreaking saga of the Farhud, the antisemitic pogrom, that led her family from the streets of Baghdad to London.