Job Opening for Knesset Rabbi: Now Accepting Women Applicants

By Steven Beck

The Knesset in Jerusalem. Photo: Xiquinhosilva

For the first time in Israel’s history, a woman can apply for the position of Knesset Rabbi.

Several months ago, the Knesset published a tender for the position of Knesset Rabbi to replace the current rabbi who will be retiring in a few months. The tender required applicants to present a certificate from the Chief Rabbinate, a provision that excluded women from applying as they are barred from completing the Rabbinate’s certification exams.

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Knesset Speaker Lights Chanukah Candles with IDF Lone Soldiers

— by Rebecca Modell

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein participated in a special Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony for the sixth night of Hanukkah, together with several Cabinet Ministers and Members of Knesset. The ceremony was also attended by 60 Lone Soldiers, arranged by Nefesh B’Nefesh, Friends of the IDF (FIDF), Tzofim Garin Tzabar, and Ha’aguda Lema’an Hachayal (The Association for the Welfare of Soldiers).

Photo Credit: Peter Halmagyi.

More after the jump.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said:

I’m happy and thrilled to be here to continue the tradition of lighting Chanukah candles in the Knesset. The lighting of the candles symbolizes the freedom of the people of Israel, and is especially relevant here in the Knesset because we have our own parliament, and despite all the disagreements that take place in it, we have the freedom to govern ourselves.

Five Lone Soldiers joined Edelstein as he lit the Chanukah candles. The soldiers, who are originally from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, France, Japan, and Uruguay made Aliyah to Israel to join the IDF with the support of Nefesh B’Nefesh and the FIDF.

Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, said at the ceremony,

We are honored to have the Knesset Speaker light the Chanukah candles with these Lone Soldiers, in this symbolic salute to all those who left their families and homes in order to make Aliyah and serve the Jewish State through the Nefesh B’Nefesh/FIDF Lone Soldiers program.

The Proof That Israel Is Not an Apartheid State

(CAMERA) On August 1, an Arab member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, Jamal Zahalka, stood at the podium and declared, “We [Arabs] were here before you and we’ll be here after you.” In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that he wanted to speak, went to the podium and answered, “The first part is not correct and the second part will not happen.”

It is clear that this could not happen if Israel were an “apartheid” state, because there would be no Arab members of Knesset. And, if Israel were not a free state, certainly no member of the Knesset could openly declare a desire for the end of the state without fear of prison or even censure.

Imagine even the most radical member of Congress, from anywhere across the political spectrum, standing on the floor of the House or Senate and envisioning the end of the United States. It would cause an uproar. But in Israel, it only elicits a brief remark from the Prime Minister.

An Ethiopian Jew’s Journey

— by Hannah Lee

I met Barak Avraham, known as Malaku in his native Amharic, during his 2-week tour of the United States on behalf of AMIT, which supports a network of 108 schools and programs in 29 cities in Israel. Avraham’s personal story is a marvelous case study of how AMIT schools turn around individual lives and whole towns. His trek began at age 9 when he walked, with his mother and four siblings, for three weeks from their village of Abu Zava to the city of Gondar in Ethiopia. Sleeping outdoors at night, they were at the peril of anti-Semites, who recognized them as Jews and strangers. (His non-Jewish father, already divorced, stayed at home.)

More after the jump.
Back in their village, his maternal family dreamed of going to Jerusalem, a place like Paradise where people wear white garments and they do not have to work. After waiting eight months, they were accepted for flight aboard the covert Operation Solomon, which airlifted over 14,000 Ethiopian Jews in a 36-hour mission in May, 1991. Before boarding, Avraham’s mother buried their remaining Ethiopian money, birr, because she thought they would not need money in the Promised Land.

Avraham’s memories of his childhood in Ethiopa included Pesach, when they eagerly anticipated the gift of matzot delivered by shluchim (emissaries), homemade soccer balls fashioned from old socks and electrical wire, and a world without television or cars, just as life was lived 200 years before. The transition from a traditional society to a modern one was especially hard for the elders, such as his grandparents who arrived later. His family spent a year in an absorption center, merkaz klita, learning to adjust to Israeli ways, including eating with forks and knives. Ethiopian foods, such as teff and injera, are eaten with the right hand.

Growing up in a rough neighborhood and with a single mother, Avraham lost his way when he was in his “foolish teen years,” tipesh esrei, when he was expelled from one school after another. No one wanted him any longer. This was a painful period for his mother, who cried in shame and sadness. “I decided that I was going to change. That if my mother was going to cry because of me, it would be with pride, not from sorrow.” On the advice of a friend attending school at the AMIT Kfar Blatt Youth Village in Petach Tikva, he wrote a letter of appeal to the director, Amiran Cohen. A visionary educator, Cohen had him sign a pledge of changes he would make in his life.

Cohen, who became a special friend, and the support network of surrogate parents, teachers, and social workers helped Avraham focus his intelligence. He had always been told that he had “much potential.” Upon passing the bagrut, matriculation exams, he was accepted into an elite intelligence unit in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and served with distinction as an outstanding soldier. His mother cried with pride and joy at this completion ceremony.

The IDF taught him discipline and it broadened Avraham’s horizons. He listened as his army mates of different backgrounds from all over the country shared their dreams for the future. He knew then he had to get an education, which was assisted by an IMPACT scholarship from the Friends of the IDF. He was the valedictorian and the top Ethiopian student graduating with a degree in government diplomacy from The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya. Later, when he earned a master’s in public service, also from the IDC, he gave a speech before an audience of 4,000 and his mother cried again from joy.

Now 30, Avraham is an entrepreneur and founder of an Internet start-up company and manager of a teen community house in Petach Tikva. He is also coordinator of a new program at the AMIT Rambam Elementary School in Netanya. Rambam was a failing school. The Ministry of Education appealed to AMIT to rescue this school, and AMIT now plans to designate it a magnet school, an innovative model that brings together in one school the top-achieving students with the most needy ones. Avraham’s program includes football (soccer to Americans), mentoring, and parent support. Coming from the same poor neighborhood and background, Avraham gives the children confidence that they, too, can succeed.

Avraham’s newest dream is to join the Knesset in the next election. A Social Democrat, he parts ways with the older Ethiopians who tend to vote Likud, although “it’s capitalist,” and they’re poor but they vote for the country’s security needs. His mother, for one, cannot bear to hear anything bad against Israel. (The Yesh Atid party, which won 19 seats in January, has two Ethiopians in its cabinet.) Barak Avraham’s future was paved by the caring leaders and staff of the AMIT schools.

This Is Real: Lapid Gets 19 Knesset Seats


Election Day in Israel was declared a national holiday and the weather was gorgeous. The public voted and then most of us went to the beach, to cafes, or shopping for the rest of the “day off”. It was a delightful, very Israeli experience. Everyone seemed happy and up about being who and what we are.

In the morning we found that we’ve handed our politicians a classic Israeli post-election dilemma. It feels so very Israeli and nostalgic that I did today’s cartoon in Blue and White.

— by Amir Shoam

Update: after counting all votes, including all IDF soldeirs, Habait Hayehudi got another seat and went up to 12 on the expense of Raam-Taal, that went down to 4. See full table below.

After counting 99.8% of Israel general elections votes, Yesh Atid, former journalist Yair Lapid’s one-year-old party, gets 19 seats in the Knesset. The unification of HaLikud and Israel Beytenu gets 31. HaAvoda gets 15 seats, two less than expected in TV channel samples. Right party HaBait HaYehudi gets 11 seats, like orthodox party Shas. Religious party Yahaduth HaTorah gets 7 seats. Center-left party HaTnuah and left party Meretz get 6 seats each.

Ultra-left party Hadash gets 4 seats, while Arab parties Raam-Taal and Balad get 5 and 3 seats respectively.

Kadima, largest party in current Knesset that was eliminated in TV samples, eventually enters the Knesset with 2.09% of all votes (2% is required to enter), and 2 seats.

HaAvoda had announced that it will not join a coalition headed by HaLikud. Assuming Halikud leader and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will get to build a coalition, his partners are likely to be Yesh Atid, HaBait HaYehudi and Hatnuah (67 of 120 seats total). There is also a risky possibility of having a coalition with Shas, Habait HaYehudi and Yahaduth HaTorah (60 seats). Netanyahu will speak with the leaders of all mentioned parties trying to form a 85-seat coalition, but it is not likely to happen. If Netanyahu fails to form a coalition, Lapid will get the opportunity to do so, but only if he reaches agreements with all HaAvoda, Shas, Yahaduth Hatorah, Hatnuah and Meretz (64 seats total).

Cartoon courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen.

Sensation On The Way: Lapid Expects 19 Seats In Israeli Knesset

Israeli Channel 2 TV news reports elections results
— by Amir Shoam

The big three Israeli TV channels are in agreement: the right-wing and religious parties will hold a bare majority with 61 seats in the 120 member Knesset while the Arab and left-wing parties will hold the remaining 59 seats.

  • Yesh Atid (There is a Future), the one-year-old party of Yair Lapid (shown on the right), former journalist and son of the late Deputy Prime Minister Tommy Lapid, gets 19 of the 120 Knesset seats after the Israel general elections held today.
  • The list-unification of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s HaLikud (The Unity) and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu (Israel Our Home) has weakened both parties, which got together 31 seats: by the pre-agreement of both parties, 21 will go for HaLikud (currently 27) and 10 for Yisrael Beytenu (currently 15).
  • HaAvoda (The Labor), traditionally Israel’s biggest left party, is expected to get 17 seats.
  • Habait Hayehudi (The Jewish Home, currently 3 seats) gets 12 seats having gained voters from the failing Halikud-Beytenu merge.
  • Orthodox party Shas (Shomrey Sfarad, Sfarad Guards) retains it’s 11 seats.
  • HaTnuah (The Movement), former Kadima (Forward) leader Tzipi Livni’s new party, gets 7 seats, like left party Meretz, which currently has only 3.
  • Yahaduth HaTorah (Torah’s Judaism) gets 6 seats.
  • Ultra-left party Hadash gets 4 seats, like Arab party Raam-Taal.
  • Another Arab party, Balad, expects to enter the Knesset with 2 seats (the minimum possible as 2% of all votes is required to enter).

Meanwhile, three parties Otzma LeIsrael, Am Shalem and Kadima, largest party in current Knesset (28 seats) are all expected to be eliminated. Atzmaut (Independence) has not participated in the elections after its leader, current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, had decided to retire from the Knesset after current seat.

66.6% of eligible voters have voted today.  

If I Forget Thee Jerusalem…

The Guardian: “Jerusalem is not the Capital of Israel, Tel Aviv is”

CAMERA and many others routinely expose the subterfuge at the heart of The Guardian‘s coverage of Israel. This deceit was clearly demonstrated in a correction issued for a photo caption appearing on April 20 which inadvertently revealed that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

On April 23, The Guardian issued this correction:

The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is”.

Israel’s Knesset and government resides in Jerusalem. That is a material fact. The Guardian could have remained consistent with its hostile stance towards Israel by stating that the paper does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But to deny reality by stating that Tel Aviv is the capital, when it demonstrably is not, provides an example of a news source allowing dogma to overrule physical reality. It is even more ironic that the photo caption dealt with the Holocaust, an incontrovertible reality subject to denial by individuals inimically hostile to Jewish interests.

Reprinted courtesy of CAMERA
Image with “corrected” caption