Social – Disclaimer: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in the Aladins Miracle Lamp is archived here under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in reviewing the included information for personal use, non-profit research and educational purposes only. Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. The opinions rendered are the authors and not necessarily those of this website or Aladin
Vatican to co-host menorah exhibition with Rome’s Jewish community
ARCH OF TITUS – ROME
I-24 NEWS – The Vatican and Rome’s Jewish community on Monday presented an ambitious exhibition on the menorah which will bring together 130 works featuring the iconic Jewish candelabrum, an ancient symbol of the faith.
The show on the seven-candle Hebrew lamp will run simultaneously from May 15 to July 23 at the Vatican museums and the synagogue complex in a city which once housed one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.
The artifacts are being loaned by nearly 20 museums around the world, including London’s National Gallery and the Louvre in Paris.
Among them will be one of the earliest known depictions of a menorah, an engraved stone found at the site in Israel where a synagogue from the Second Temple period was discovered by archaeologists in 2009.
Christian medieval candlesticks inspired by the menorah, as well as the works of contemporary artists, will also be on display.
But history’s most precious menorah, made out of solid gold, will be missing.
The candlestick, depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome, was one of the spoils brought back to the city by the Romans after they sacked the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD.
It was initially placed in the Temple of Peace but later disappeared, possibly looted by the Vandals in the sacking of Rome.
Rome’s Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni said the unprecedented joint exhibition, more than three years in the making, showed the “evolution in the dialogue between Jews and Catholics”.
“Times have changed, many positions have softened,” he told AFP.
With mega-menorah, Dutch Christians help Jews come out of their shell
In a windswept parking lot near the North Sea shore, Klaas Zijlstra stands motionless as he admires his latest creation.
It’s the first time he is testing the 36-foot menorah he has spent weeks designing and building in the shape of a Star of David in his metal workshop in the northern tip of the Netherlands. Despite strong winds, the menorah holds, thanks in no small part to its 6-ton base.
This isn’t just any mega-menorah. For one thing, it may be the largest in all of Europe. For another, it’s the handiwork of a Protestant metal contractor, paid for by Christian Zionists and meant to be a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people.
Oh, and it’s kosher for use on Hanukkah, too.
“It’s exactly like the rabbi wanted,” Zijlstra said.
The rabbi is Binyomin Jacobs of Chabad, who helped Zijlstra and a group called Christians for Israel design the nine-branch candelabrum so it could be used for the eight-day holiday.
On Wednesday evening, Hanukkah’s first night, Jacobs intends to mount a crane and light the first candle in front of hundreds of Christians and Jews during a public ceremony in Nijkerk, not far from Amsterdam.
Though commonplace in the United States and even in Russia, public Hanukkah events are a recent and revolutionary development in the Netherlands. Here they signify the growing self-confidence and openness of a Jewish community whose near annihilation in the Holocaust left a deeply entrenched tendency to keep a low profile.
“Twenty years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible,” said Arjen Lont, the Christian Zionist businessman who donated $40,000 to build and transport the menorah. “It requires a lot of openness.”
Lont says the purpose of the giant menorah, which can be used either with electric bulbs or oil lamps, is to send a message.
“After unspeakable suffering, the horrors of the Holocaust and most recently the attacks on Israel, Jews may feel they are alone,” Lont told JTA. “This is our way of saying you are not alone, we are behind you.”
The first public Hanukkah lighting ceremony in the country was organized in 1989 in Buitenveldert, near Amsterdam, by the wife of a Chabad rabbi, according to Bart Wallet, a historian of Dutch Jewry at the University of Amsterdam.
Today, such events are held annually in 19 municipalities, from the northern city of Leeuwarden, near Berlikum, to the southern border city of Maastricht, according to Jacobs.
Jacobs says public menorah lightings in the country signify the Jewish community’s confidence in asserting its place in Dutch society.
“Nowadays it’s also saying we are here, we are also a part of the fabric of religious communities and society,” he said.
Dutch Jewish reticence toward public displays of faith dates back at least to the 19th century, according to Wallet, when Dutch rabbis decreed that no Jewish rituals should be held in the public domain. At the time, Dutch Jews were keen on integrating into a democratic society as equal citizens, and they considered it counterproductive to showcase religious customs that set them apart from their compatriots.
The tendency was greatly reinforced after the Holocaust, when three-quarters of Holland’s population of 140,000 Jews perished — a higher percentage than anywhere else in occupied Western Europe. Today, about 40,000 Jews live in the Netherlands.
Wallet says things began to change in the 1970s, when Dutch Jews began displaying greater activism around anti-Semitism and Israel.
Even today, however, many Dutch Jews retain a sense of reticence when it comes to public displays of religion.
“There’s nothing wrong with these Hanukkah events, but to me they don’t seem familiar,” said Jaap Hartog, chairman of the umbrella group of Dutch Jewry, called the Dutch Israelite Religious Community, or NIK. “To me, Hanukkah is more a holiday that you celebrate at home with your family. The public candle lightings are more of an American thing.
“On a personal level, I’m not too keen on participating.”
Initially, Chabad rabbis organized candle-lighting ceremonies as part of their efforts to reach lapsed Jews, but today the menorah lightings are not organized exclusively by Chabad. Nathan Bouscher, a Jewish activist who is not himself religious, has co-organized candle lightings at the Dam, Amsterdam’s best-known square.
“It’s a way to build bridges between Jews and the non-Jewish environment, but also within the community and between Dutch-born Jews and the thousands of Israelis who live here and the tourists from Israel,” Bouscher said.
Back at Zijlstra’s metal workshop, his menorah is attracting attention from neighbors. During the test run last week, a few of them stopped by to admire his handiwork and congratulate him.
One elderly man, Henk van Jaarsveld, looked up at the menorah with tears in his eyes. A self-described Messianic Jew, he showed off his Hebrew skills by reading the holiday greeting in Dutch and Hebrew that Christians for Israel had attached to the menorah’s base.
Next year, Christians for Israel says it wants to place the menorah in front of the European Parliament in Brussels to protest legislative proposals that seek to restrict Jewish rights such as circumcising male infants.
“On Hanukkah, the Jewish people remember their rebellion against the Greeks because the Greeks limited the Jews’ freedom of worship,” said Roger van Oordt, director of Christians for Israel’s Dutch branch. “We want to place this menorah there as a warning against repeating that history.”
Israeli defense chief says I.S.I.S in Sinai not a threat
I-24 NEWS – Liberman says ISIS’s Sinai affiliate ‘random amateurs’ compared to Hamas, Hezbollah. Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday downplayed the threat posed by the Islamic State jihadist group’s affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, saying that while they are “annoying” and “hindersome” they are not a serious concern for Israel’s security.
“If you are talking about Hamas and Hezbollah then [the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate] is not even a terror group,” Lieberman told Army Radio, describing the group as “random [amateurs] who decided to build themselves an army.”
“We need to see everything in proportion,” he said.
Liberman’s comments came after two projectiles were fired from the Egyptian enclave, landing without incident in open areas in southern Israel. While no group claimed the rocket fire, the Islamic State claimed hours earlier that an alleged Israeli drone strike in northern Sinai had killed five of its militants.
Asked whether Israel had carried out the strike, Liberman said sarcastically that the terrorists were likely taken out by “the special forces of Lichtenstein,” before adding: “We do not let anything go without a response.”
The jihadist group’s Egyptian affiliate Wilayat Sayna (formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis) has been behind periodic rocket fire toward Israel, most recently claiming a salvo of rockets fired at the nearby Red Sea resort of city of Eilat.
The group said the attack was launched “in order to teach the Jews and the crusaders a proxy war will not avail them of anything.”
The Islamic State group claims to be active on Israel’s northern border as well, announcing though its affiliated Amaq news website that it had expanded its reach in southwestern Syria near in the Golan Heights, which borders Israel.
Syrian rebels and witnesses said ISIS militants launched a surprise attack on towns situated along the Yarmouk river between Syria and Israel.
“In a surprise attack Islamic State made an attack on positions held by the Free Syrian Army FSA groups which no one expected to happen so fast,” Newsweek quotes Colonel Ismail Ayoub, a Syrian opposition army defector, as saying.
Israel has so far largely avoided major ISIS-inspired attacks in the country, though it estimates that around 50 of its citizens have traveled to Syria to fight with Sunni rebels.