Haredim & Women of the Wall Share Common Goal

Calling for an end to segregation at our holy places: Cave of the Patriarchs (מערת המכפלה) in Hebron (left) and the Western Wall (הַכֹּתֶל הַמַּעֲרָבִי) in Jerusalem.

— by Dan Loeb [email protected]

Haredim (ultra-Orthodox groups in Israel) have been opposing efforts by the Women of the Wall to allow women to pray at the Western Wall just as men have been able to do since 1967. However, while progressive women have been arrested for praying at the Wall as part of their call to end segregation there, Haredim (including American Orthodox Jews) have been arrested in Hebron as they protested against the segregation imposed on the settlers there:

Members of All That’s Left, a collective of activists committed to ending the occupation, marked the eve of Shabbat Chayei Sarah by staging a protest against segregation in the city of Hebron. During Shabbat Chayei Sarah, thousands of Jews gather in Hebron to celebrate the reading of the biblical passage in which Abraham purchases the Cave of the Patriarchs, a site located in the center of modern-day Hebron.

The activists intended to erect a tent on the city’s segregated Shuhada Street, adorned with signs reading, “Segregation is not my Judaism,” and to hold an alternative study session examining the Chayei Sarah text. The tent was to resemble Abraham’s Tent, which according to traditional Jewish exegesis was open on all four sides so that any passing stranger would know s/he was welcome.

Hebron Fund Dinner

— Fern Sidman

While most political and religious organizations and assorted worthwhile charities generally select such venues as tony hotel ballrooms or lavish catering halls to hold their fundraising events, The Hebron Fund has announced that it will be breaking with this tradition as they prepare to host their annual dinner in New York City on Tuesday evening, November 16. In a symbolic departure from past rituals, this year’s dinner attendees will be feasting on a sumptuous smorgasbord and listening to inspirational speeches while cruising around the island of Manhattan on a ship that can hold up to 1000 people.

More after the jump.
Billed as the “Hebron Aid Flotilla”, the event was created as a response to the international condemnation of Israel’s May 31st, 2010 commando raid on the MV Marvi Marmara, a Turkish flagged ship that was part of a six ship flotilla sponsored by the “Free Gaza Movement” and an Islamic Turkish NGO called the IHH (The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief). The stated intent of those on board this ship was to break the longstanding Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. The blockade had been imposed by Israel in order to prevent the smuggling of lethal arms and weapons to Hamas terrorists who would then, in turn, use these weapons against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Weapon-wielding Hamas apologists who presented themselves as “activists” for “the freedom of Palestinians in Gaza” instigated the violence that left nine supporters of Hamas terrorism dead as Israeli commandos acted in self-defense as they boarded the ship in order to peacefully convince the activists to give up. Two Israeli commandos sustained gunshot wounds as their guns were wrested away by the “peace activists” on board and other soldiers were severely beaten and stabbed.

“After the world absurdly condemned Israel for a boarding a terrorist flotilla, we decided to hold our fundraiser on a ship. Our flotilla will support peace and life”, declared Yossi Baumol, Executive Director of the Hebron Fund. Giving voice to the prominence and centrality of Hebron to the Jewish nation, Baumol added, “Hebron is one of the holiest Jewish cities, where the Cave of the Patriarchs is located. Hebron was the first tract of land purchased in the Land of Israel by the first Jew of the world. Just as Jews can live freely in Harlem, Moscow and Paris, so too are they free to live and build anywhere they choose in the Land of Israel. We are thrilled at the expansion of Jewish life in all areas of the so called West Bank and we decry the anti-Semitic attempts to curb that expansion.”

Mr. Baumol also made a point of thanking the dozen or so anarchist protestors who campaign against the Hebron Fund dinners every year because the publicity that is generated by this opposition, “does so much to bring out our supporters in droves. They are worth their weight in gold”, he said. In November of 2009, the Hebron Fund dinner was held at the Ceasar’s Club at Citi Field, the new home of The New York Mets baseball team. Despite the rabid protests by such groups as Jews Against the Occupation and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Mets organization stood by their commitment to rent the venue to the organizers of the Hebron Fund.

The Hebron Fund is proud to announce that the master of ceremonies at this year’s dinner will be the esteemed criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafman and the guest of honor and keynote speaker will be Ms. Caroline Glick, the managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, the Senior Fellow for Middle East Affairs of the Washington, DC based Center For Security Policy and chief diplomatic correspondent for the Makor Rishon newspaper. Ms. Glick was named by the Israeli newspaper “Maariv” as “the most prominent woman in Israel” and she also served as producer of the video clip entitled, “We Con the World” which spoofed the hypocrisy inherent in the public reaction to the Gaza flotilla incident. As a retired IDF captain, Ms. Glick will receive the auspicious Gevurat Ha’Imahot (Bravery of the Matriarchs) award. Other special guests, including both American and Israeli politicians will also be present.

Popular attorney, columnist and Long Island community leader, David Seidemann of Lawrence, New York along with his esteemed wife Jane will be the recipients of the Bonei Hevron (Builders of Hevron) award. Mr. Seidemann is a longtime Hebron Fund board member and former Fund president.

The Chasdei Avot(Charity of the Patriarchs) award will be bestowed to David and Joclyn Stern, two beloved activists on behalf of Hebron. The Sterns are regular guest in Hebron during the special Chayei Sarah weekends attended by tens of thousands each year. Mr. Stern is the president of Brooklyn’s Young Israel of Midwood synagogue and has led numerous missions to Hebron.

Fred and Carole Samuel are slated to receive the Magen Avraham (Abraham’s Shield) award for their constant devotion to the security of the people of Hebron. During their frequent trips to Hebron, they have established close and enduring friendships with the local residents and Mr. Samuel is currently spearheading an important Hebron related security project.

The Aishet Chayil (Woman of Valor) awardee for 2010 is the distinguished Ester Arieh-Hatanian. She is the mainstay of the Hebron Fund office in Brooklyn, New York and will be receiving the recognition that she so justly deserves for over a decade of dedicated service that can only be termed as above and beyond the call of duty.

“The Jewish settlements are legal and donations to humanitarian and religious causes are tax deductible by law regardless of the ethnicity or the location of the recipients”, said Mr. Baumol. “We encourage Americans to provide tax deductible donations to aid the residents of Judea and Samaria. President Obama must know that discrimination against the expansion of Jewish life won’t be tolerated”, he added.

The “Hebron Aid Flotilla” will set sail at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, November 16 on Pier 59 at Chelsea Piers. Those interested in attending this unique celebration of Jewish life in Hebron may contact The Hebron Fund at 718-677-6886 or by e-mail at: [email protected], or [email protected]

UNESCO Vote on Rachel’s Tomb and Cave of Patriarchs

— Betty Ehrenberg

On behalf of the World Jewish Congress, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder wrote a letter to Director General Irina Bokova of  the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations expressing deep dismay at the recent passage of the resolution that designated Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs as Palestinian, with Rachel’s Tomb named a mosque. In the letter, Lauder said

“For UNESCO to try and remove these two ancient Jewish sites from Israel is an outrage. For thousands of years, Biblical tradition has upheld that the Tomb of Rachel was acquired and built by Jacob the Patriarch of Israel, and has been among the most sacred sites of Judaism since. The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron has for an even longer period of time been part of the heart and soul of Israel. One has only to reference the biblical portion read just this past week in synagogues world wide that describes the purchase by Abraham the Patriarch of the Cave of the Patriarchs and the surrounding area of Hebron… To deem these historic sites that have been an integral part of the Jewish heritage for thousands of years is a denial of factual history.”

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The World Jewish Congress believes that politicizing and falsifying the origins of important Jewish religious and historic sites where Jews have prayed for millennia   contravene the important role of UNESCO which was established to preserve and guard sacred heritage sites around the world. To deny the Jewish people the Biblical legacies of Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs is to deny history.

It is to Israel’s credit that under its administration, people of all faiths continue to have free access to their holy sites and we value Israel’s repeated assurances that this will remain so. World Jewish Congress welcomes the rejection of this resolution by the United States, and will continue to work against the misuse of United Nations bodies in the unfair and biased treatment of Israel.