Rabbi Shlomo Riskin – Shabat HaGadol Drasha – Jerusalem Great Synagogue April 12 2014 – Video




Rabbi Shlomo Riskin – Shabat HaGadol Drasha – Jerusalem Great Synagogue April 12 2014
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Shabat HaGadol Drasha: The Message of Pesach to Israel and the World Jerusalem Great Synagogue April 12, 2014 Videography by Dr. Les Glas…

By: LES GLASSMAN

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Rabbi Shlomo Riskin – Shabat HaGadol Drasha – Jerusalem Great Synagogue April 12 2014 – Video

Synagogue | Define Synagogue at Dictionary.com

Bible Dictionary

(Gr. sunagoge, i.e., “an assembly”), found only once in the Authorized Version of Ps. 74:8, where the margin of Revised Version has “places of assembly,” which is probably correct; for while the origin of synagogues is unknown, it may well be supposed that buildings or tents for the accommodation of worshippers may have existed in the land from an early time, and thus the system of synagogues would be gradually developed. Some, however, are of opinion that it was specially during the Babylonian captivity that the system of synagogue worship, if not actually introduced, was at least reorganized on a systematic plan (Ezek. 8:1; 14:1). The exiles gathered together for the reading of the law and the prophets as they had opportunity, and after their return synagogues were established all over the land (Ezra 8:15; Neh. 8:2). In after years, when the Jews were dispersed abroad, wherever they went they erected synagogues and kept up the stated services of worship (Acts 9:20; 13:5; 17:1; 17:17; 18:4). The form and internal arrangements of the synagogue would greatly depend on the wealth of the Jews who erected it, and on the place where it was built. “Yet there are certain traditional pecularities which have doubtless united together by a common resemblance the Jewish synagogues of all ages and countries. The arrangements for the women’s place in a separate gallery or behind a partition of lattice-work; the desk in the centre, where the reader, like Ezra in ancient days, from his ‘pulpit of wood,’ may ‘open the book in the sight of all of people and read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and give the sense, and cause them to understand the reading’ (Neh. 8:4, 8); the carefully closed ark on the side of the building nearest to Jerusalem, for the preservation of the rolls or manuscripts of the law; the seats all round the building, whence ‘the eyes of all them that are in the synagogue’ may ‘be fastened’ on him who speaks (Luke 4:20); the ‘chief seats’ (Matt. 23:6) which were appropriated to the ‘ruler’ or ‘rulers’ of the synagogue, according as its organization may have been more or less complete;”, these were features common to all the synagogues. Where perfected into a system, the services of the synagogue, which were at the same hours as those of the temple, consisted, (1) of prayer, which formed a kind of liturgy, there were in all eighteen prayers; (2) the reading of the Scriptures in certain definite portions; and (3) the exposition of the portions read. (See Luke 4:15, 22; Acts 13:14.) The synagogue was also sometimes used as a court of judicature, in which the rulers presided (Matt. 10:17; Mark 5:22; Luke 12:11; 21:12; Acts 13:15; 22:19); also as public schools. The establishment of synagogues wherever the Jews were found in sufficient numbers helped greatly to keep alive Israel’s hope of the coming of the Messiah, and to prepare the way for the spread of the gospel in other lands. The worship of the Christian Church was afterwards modelled after that of the synagogue. Christ and his disciples frequently taught in the synagogues (Matt. 13:54; Mark 6:2; John 18:20; Acts 13:5, 15, 44; 14:1; 17:2-4, 10, 17; 18:4, 26; 19:8). To be “put out of the synagogue,” a phrase used by John (9:22; 12:42; 16:2), means to be excommunicated.

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Judaism 101: Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews

Level: Basic

There are several subgroups of Jews with different culture and traditions: Ashkenazic: Descendants of Jews from France, Germany and Eastern Europe Sephardic: Descendants of Jews from Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East Mizrachi: Descendants of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East Other subgroups are Yemenite, Ethiopian and Oriental

Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews represent two distinct subcultures of Judaism. We are all Jews and share the same basic beliefs, but there are some variations in culture and practice. It’s not clear when the split began, but it has existed for more than a thousand years, because around the year 1000 C.E., Rabbi Gershom ben Judah issued an edict against polygamy that was accepted by Ashkenazim but not by Sephardim.

Ashkenazic Jews are the Jews of France, Germany, and Eastern Europe and their descendants. The adjective “Ashkenazic” and corresponding nouns, Ashkenazi (singular) and Ashkenazim (plural) are derived from the Hebrew word “Ashkenaz,” which is used to refer to Germany. Most American Jews today are Ashkenazim, descended from Jews who emigrated from Germany and Eastern Europe from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. The pages in this site are written from the Ashkenazic Jewish perspective.

Sephardic Jews are the Jews of Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East and their descendants. The adjective “Sephardic” and corresponding nouns Sephardi (singular) and Sephardim (plural) are derived from the Hebrew word “Sepharad,” which refers to Spain.

Sephardic Jews are often subdivided into Sephardim, from Spain and Portugal, and Mizrachim, from the Northern Africa and the Middle East. The word “Mizrachi” comes from the Hebrew word for Eastern. There is much overlap between the Sephardim and Mizrachim. Until the 1400s, the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa and the Middle East were all controlled by Muslims, who generally allowed Jews to move freely throughout the region. It was under this relatively benevolent rule that Sephardic Judaism developed. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, many of them were absorbed into existing Mizrachi communities in Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Most of the early Jewish settlers of North America were Sephardic. The first Jewish congregation in North America, Shearith Israel, founded in what is now New York in 1684, was Sephardic and is still active. Philadelphia’s first Jewish congregation, Congregation Mikveh Israel, founded in 1740, was also a Sephardic one, and is also still active.

In Israel, a little more than half of all Jews are Mizrachim, descended from Jews who have been in the land since ancient times or who were forced out of Arab countries after Israel was founded. Most of the rest are Ashkenazic, descended from Jews who came to the Holy Land (then controlled by the Ottoman Turks) instead of the United States in the late 1800s, or from Holocaust survivors, or from other immigrants who came at various times. About 1% of the Israeli population are the black Ethiopian Jews who fled during the brutal Ethiopian famine in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The beliefs of Sephardic Judaism are basically in accord with those of Orthodox Judaism, though Sephardic interpretations of halakhah (Jewish Law) are somewhat different than Ashkenazic ones. The best-known of these differences relates to the holiday of Pesach (Passover): Sephardic Jews may eat rice, corn, peanuts and beans during this holiday, while Ashkenazic Jews avoid them. Although some individual Sephardic Jews are less observant than others, and some individuals do not agree with all of the beliefs of traditional Judaism, there is no formal, organized differentiation into movements as there is in Ashkenazic Judaism.

Historically, Sephardic Jews have been more integrated into the local non-Jewish culture than Ashkenazic Jews. In the Christian lands where Ashkenazic Judaism flourished, the tension between Christians and Jews was great, and Jews tended to be isolated from their non-Jewish neighbors, either voluntarily or involuntarily. In the Islamic lands where Sephardic Judaism developed, there was less segregation and oppression. Sephardic Jewish thought and culture was strongly influenced by Arabic and Greek philosophy and science.

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Judaism 101: Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews

Ashkenazi Jews – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other meanings see Ashkenaz (disambiguation). Ashkenazi Jews ( Y’hudey Ashkenaz in Ashkenazi Hebrew) Total population 10[1]11.2[2] million Regions with significant populations United States of America 56 million[3] State of Israel 2.8 million[4][5] Russia 194,000500,000 Argentina 300,000 United Kingdom ~ 260,000 Canada ~ 240,000 France 200,000 Germany 200,000 Ukraine 150,000 Australia 120,000 South Africa 80,000 Belarus 80,000 Hungary 75,000 Chile 70,000 Brazil 30,000 Netherlands 30,000 Moldova 30,000 Poland 25,000 Mexico 18,500 Sweden 18,000 Latvia 10,000 Romania 10,000 Austria 9,000 New Zealand 5,000 Azerbaijan 4,300 Lithuania 4,000 Czech Republic 3,000 Slovakia 3,000 Estonia 1,000 Languages Historical: Yiddish, German Modern: Local languages, primarily: English, Hebrew, Russian Religion Judaism, some secular, irreligious Related ethnic groups Other Levantines,[6][7][8][9]Samaritans,[8]Assyrians,[8][9]Italians and other Europeans[10][11]

Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or simply Ashkenazim (Hebrew: , Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation: [aknazim], singular: [aknazi], Modern Hebrew: [akenazim], [akenazi]; also Y’hudey Ashkenaz, “The Jews of Germany”), are a Jewish ethnic division whose ethnogenesis and emergence as a distinct community of Jews traces back to immigrants originating in the Israelite tribes of the Middle East[12] who coalesced in the Holy Roman Empire around the turn of the first millennium.[13] They established communities throughout Central and Eastern Europe, which had been their primary region of concentration and residence until recent times, evolving their distinctive characteristics and diasporic identity. Their millennia residence in Europe was largely brought to an end following the Holocaust, which resulted in the mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Ashkenazi Jews during World War II in a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, throughout the German Reich and German-occupied territories.[14][15][16]

Historically, the vernacular language of Ashkenazi Jews was Yiddish, a High German language consisting of six major dialects, each incorporating Hebrew, Aramaic, and by regional dialect, extensive Romance, Slavic or Hungarian vocabulary.

It is estimated that in the 11th century Ashkenazi Jews composed only three percent of the world’s Jewish population, while at their peak in 1931 they accounted for 92 percent of the world’s Jews. Immediately prior to the Holocaust, the number of Ashkenazi Jews stood at approximately 16.7 million.[17] Statistical figures vary for the contemporary demography of Ashkenazi Jews, oscillating between 10[1] and 11.2[18] million. Sergio DellaPergola in a rough calculation of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, implies that Ashkenazi make up around 74% of Jews worldwide.[19] Other estimates place Ashkenazi Jews as making up about 75% of Jews worldwide.[20] Ashkenazi Jews constitute around 3536% of Israel’s total population, or 47.5% of Israel’s Jewish population.[21][22]

Although the copious number of genetic studies on Ashkenazim researching both their paternal and maternal lineages all point to certain ancient Levantine origins, the studies have arrived at diverging conclusions regarding both the degree and the sources of their non-Levantine admixture.[23] These diverging conclusions focus particularly in respect to the extent of the predominant non-Levantine genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi maternal lineages, which is in contrast to the predominant Levantine genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi paternal lineages.

The name Ashkenazi derives from the biblical figure of Ashkenaz, the first son of Gomer, and a Japhetic patriarch in the Table of Nations (Genesis 10). Gomer has been identified with the Cimmerians, while the biblical term Ashkenaz here may be an error for ‘Ashkuz’, from Assyrian[disambiguation needed]Akza (A/Is-k/gu-zu-ai/Asguzi in cuneiform inscriptions)[24] a people who expelled the Cimmerians from the Armenian area of the Upper Euphrates.[25] This ethnonym perhaps denoted the Scythians, though the identification is problematic.[25][26] The theory presupposes a scribal confusion between /(waw/nun), creating A-shkenaz from a-Shkuz.[27] In Jeremiah 51:27, Ashkenaz figures as one of three kingdoms in the far north, the others being Minni and Ararat, perhaps corresponding to Urartu, called on by God to resist Babylon.[27][28]

In the Yoma tractate of the Babylonian Talmud Gomer is glossed as Germania, which originally referred incorrectly to a Germanikia in northwest Syria. Ashkenaz is linked to Scandza/Scanzia, viewed as the cradle of Germanic tribes, as early as a 6th-century gloss to the Historia Ecclesiastica of Eusebius.[29] In the 10th century, History of Armenia of Yovhannes Drasxanakertc’i (1.15) Ashkenaz was associated with Armenia,[24] as it was occasionally in Jewish usage, where its denotation extended at times to Adiabene, Khazaria, Crimea and areas to the east.[30] His contemporary Saadia Gaon identified Ashkenaz with the Saquliba or Slavic territories,[31] and such usage covered also the lands of tribes neighboring the Slavs, and Eastern and Central Europe.[30] In modern times Samuel Krauss identified this biblical area with northern Asia Minor.[31] Sometime late in the Ist millennium CE., the Jews of central and eastern Europe came to be called by this term which in biblical Hebrew referred to their neighbours on the Black Sea steppe.[27] In conformity with the custom of designating areas of Jewish settlement with biblical names (Spain was Sefarad (Obadiah 20), France Tsarefat (1 Kings 17:9) and Bohemia the Land of Canaan)[32] by the first century of the second millennium, Talmudic commentators like Rashi began to use Ashkenaz/Eretz Ashkenaz to designate Germanic lands, earlier known as Loter,[27][29] where, especially in the Rhineland communities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, the most important Jewish communities arose.[33] Rashi uses leshon Ashkenaz (Ashkenazi language) to describe German speech, and Byzantium and Syrian Jewish letters referred to the Crusaders as Ashkenazim.[29] Given the close links between the Jewish communities of France and Germany following the Carolingian unification, the term Ashkenazi refers to both the Jews of medieval Germany and France because they are both descendants of the same family of Jews exiled by the Romans from Judea to Central Europe, they shared an identical culture (see “Responsa of the Rosh” chap. 20 par. 20), and, when the Jews of France were exiled, the majority of them settled in Germany (see encyclopedia “Sefer Hatishbi”, under entry “krovetz”).[34]

The exact definition of Jewishness is not universally agreed upon neither by religious scholars (especially across different denominations); nor in the context of politics (as applied to those who wish to make Aliyah); nor even in the conventional, everyday sense where “Jewishness” may be loosely understood by the casual observer as encompassing both religious and secular Jews, or religious Jews alone. This makes it especially difficult to define who is an Ashkenazi Jew. The people have been defined differently from religious, cultural, or ethnic perspectives.

Since the overwhelming majority of Ashkenazi Jews no longer live in Central or Eastern Europe, the isolation that once favored a distinct religious tradition and culture has vanished. The center of Judaism today is once again in Israel, although a large community continues to live abroad, particularly in the United States of America, where Ashkenazi Jews live alongside other Jewish groups. Furthermore, the word Ashkenazi is often used in non-traditional ways, especially in Israel. By Conservative and Orthodox philosophies, a person can be considered a Jew only if his or her mother was Jewish (meaning, more specifically, either matrilineal descent from a female believed to be present at Mt. Sinai when the ten commandments were given, or else descent from a female who was converted to Judaism before the birth of her children), or if he or she has personally converted to Judaism. This means that a person can be Ashkenazi but not considered a Jew by some of those within the Jewish communities, making the term “Ashkenazi” more applicable as a broad ethnicity which evolved from the practice of Judaism in Europe.[citation needed]

Religious Jews have Minhagim, customs, in addition to Halakha, or religious law, and different interpretations of law. Different groups of religious Jews in different geographic areas historically adopted different customs and interpretations. On certain issues, Orthodox Jews are required to follow the customs of their ancestors, and do not believe they have the option of picking and choosing. For this reason, observant Jews at times find it important for religious reasons to ascertain who their household’s religious ancestors are in order to know what customs their household should follow. These times include, for example, when two Jews of different ethnic background marry, when a non-Jew converts to Judaism and determines what customs to follow for the first time, or when a lapsed or less observant Jew returns to traditional Judaism and must determine what was done in his or her family’s past. In this sense, “Ashkenazic” refers both to a family ancestry and to a body of customs binding on Jews of that ancestry. Reform Judaism, which does not necessarily follow those minhagim, did nonetheless originate among Ashkenazi Jews (it began in Germany).

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Ashkenazi Jews – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ashkenazi (people) — Encyclopedia Britannica

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Ashkenazi,plural Ashkenazim, from Hebrew Ashkenaz (Germany), member of the Jews who lived in the Rhineland valley and in neighbouring France before their migration eastward to Slavic lands (e.g., Poland, Lithuania, Russia) after the Crusades (11th13th century) and their descendants. After the 17th-century persecutions in eastern Europe, large numbers of these Jews resettled in western Europe, where they assimilated, as they had done in eastern Europe, with other Jewish communities. In time, all Jews who had adopted the German rite synagogue ritual were referred to as Ashkenazim to distinguish them from Sephardic (Spanish rite) Jews. Ashkenazim differ from Sephardim in their pronunciation of Hebrew, in cultural traditions, in synagogue cantillation (chanting), in their widespread use of Yiddish (until the 20th century), and especially in synagogue liturgy.

Today Ashkenazim constitute more than 80 percent of all the Jews in the world, vastly outnumbering Sephardic Jews. In the late 20th century, Ashkenazic Jews numbered more than 11 million. In Israel the numbers of Ashkenazim and Sephardim are roughly equal, and the chief rabbinate has both an Ashkenazic and a Sephardic chief rabbi on equal footing. All Reform and Conservative Jewish congregations belong to the Ashkenazic tradition. Compare Sephardi.

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Ashkenazi (people) — Encyclopedia Britannica

Israel travel guide – Wikitravel – Wikitravel – The Free …

Israel (Hebrew: ; Arabic: ) is a small yet diverse Middle Eastern country with a long coastline on the eastern Mediterranean Sea and a small window on the Red Sea at the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba). Israel is bordered by Egypt and the Gaza Strip to the southwest, by Jordan to the east, and by Syria and Lebanon to the north. It shares borders to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea with the West Bank and Jordan. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been under Israeli de-facto rule since 1967. In addition to the majority Palestinian Arab populations living in these regions, the Israeli Government has built many Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as in the annexed Golan Heights.

Israel was established as a state for the Jewish people, following the Second World War. Israel is considered part of the Holy Land (together with areas of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Territories). The three major monotheistic religionsJudaism, Christianity, and Islamall have historical ties to the region. Israel thus contains a vibrant modern history and culture, based in part on the diverse, immigrant origins of its inhabitants returning from the Jewish Diaspora. These aspects make Israel a fascinating destination for many travelers and pilgrims. As a result of this vast mix of culture, in addition to the official languages of Hebrew and Arabic, Russian, French, Spanish, Amharic and Yiddish are also spoken by a significant minority of Israelis. English in many ways acts as second language. Within Israel’s recognized pre-1967 borders, about 80% of Israelis identify themselves as Jewish, the remainder classify themselves as either as Arab and/or Palestinian, Bedouin or Druze.

Israel is a highly urbanized and economically developed society and is therefore best divided for the traveler into its main cities and towns, followed by the regions and other sites.

While the current State of Israel is a relatively new country founded in 1948, the Land of Israel has a long and often very complex history stretching back thousands of years to the very beginnings of human civilization. It has been invaded by virtually every Old World empire including the Persians, Romans, Ottomans and British. (Even the Mongols once raided cities on what is now Israeli soil.) It is also the birthplace of both Judaism and Christianity. Jerusalem is a sacred city for Muslims.

Israel has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, with Neanderthal remains from the region dating back 50,000 years. Its strategic location serving as the gateway from Asia to Egypt and Africa had made Israel an ideal target for conquerors through the ages. The first nation to have influence was the great Egyptian civilization. Approximately 1000 B.C, an independent Judean Kingdom was set up under King Saul. The land lay to the south of Phoenicia. After intermittent civil war, the land was conquered by the Assyrians and Persians and in c. 330 BC by Alexander the Great. A newly independent Jewish state, ruled by the Maccabees, was conquered in 63 BC by the Romans. Around 30 CE, Jesus of Nazareth began his ministry in the Galilee.

Following a Jewish revolt against the Romans in 70 CE, the Israelites were expelled from Jerusalem by the Romans, creating a substantial Jewish diaspora throughout the world. However, many Israelites did remain in the Land of Israel outside Jerusalem for a few centuries, although persecution gradually eroded at whatever Israelites population was left in their homeland. The area was captured by Muslims in the 7th Century. In the middle ages, European Christians invaded in a period known as the Crusades and established a small kingdom, but after a few centuries were expelled. The land was then ruled for many years by different Muslim empires, culminating in the Ottoman Empire.

During WWI, Palestine, as it was known, was captured by the British. In order to gain support of the Arabs who were siding with the rising Nazis, the British designated the eastern two-thirds of Palestine as the country of Transjordan in the 1920′s (now known as Jordan). The British agreed to support the idea of European Jews returning to their ancestral homeland in the remaining third of Palestine. During the 1920s and 1930s there was mass migration of Jews into Palestine, many of them European Jews fleeing from anti-Semitic riots (caused by political movements in Germany) which would eventually lead to the Holocaust. By 1939 the population of Palestine was one-third Jewish (by comparison, in 1917 the population was only 10% Jewish), but after the end of WWII in 1945, the British did not allow any further Jewish immigration into Palestine.

The Jewish nationalist movement was strengthened significantly because of the events of World War II. Many major powers, including the Americans, endorsed Jewish independence in Palestine as the only way to ensure the survival of the Jewish people. The British were more hesitant, however, as they worried about a possible Arab revolt. The Jewish nationalists, emboldened by support from the Americans and the French, grew impatient with the British delay in granting independence and started several armed uprisings of their own against British rule.

After two years of growing violence, in the fall of 1947 the British decided to withdraw their troops from the remaining western third of Palestine. The UN recommended that the territory of Palestine be partitioned into two states: A Jewish state, and an Arab state. The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arabs firmly rejected it. Nonetheless, half a year later, on 14 May 1948, the British withdrew and the Jewish nationalists immediately declared independence as the State of Israel. The Arabs responded with a military invasion of the nascent State of Israel, and thus no Arab State in western Palestine was ever established. The Israelis won a decisive victory in their War of Independence. Over the course of the war, approximately 600,000 Arabs in Palestine fled from the territory of the newly proclaimed Jewish state. To this day, it is hotly debated whether Israel forcibly expelled these people or they moved out on their own, but probably both occurred.

Following the establishment of Israel in May 1948, there was a surge of immigration of refugees survivors of the European Holocaust which had not been allowed to enter Palestine under the British Mandate government. At the same time the surrounding Muslim countries expelled most of their Jewish populations, and Israel experienced a further surge of immigration of these Sephardic Jews from countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. To this day a large proportion of modern Israelis are the offspring of these refugees from those Arab countries. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 there was a further large wave of immigration of Jews from former Soviet countries and Russian has now became a common language heard in Israel.

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Israel travel guide – Wikitravel – Wikitravel – The Free …

The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency

(also see separate Gaza Strip and West Bank entries)

Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN proposed partitioning the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. (The territories Israel occupied since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted.) On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives and Syria to achieve a permanent settlement. Israel and Palestinian officials signed on 13 September 1993 a Declaration of Principles (also known as the “Oslo Accords”), enshrining the idea of a two-state solution to their conflict and guiding an interim period of Palestinian self-rule. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. Progress toward a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians was undermined by Israeli-Palestinian violence between 2001 and February 2005. Israel in 2005 unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, evacuating settlers and its military while retaining control over most points of entry into the Gaza Strip. The election of HAMAS to head the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 froze relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). In 2006 Israel engaged in a 34-day conflict with Hizballah in Lebanon in June-August 2006 and a 23-day conflict with HAMAS in the Gaza Strip during December 2008 and January 2009. Direct talks with the Palestinians launched in September 2010 collapsed following the expiration of Israel’s 10-month partial settlement construction moratorium in the West Bank. In November 2012, Israel engaged in a seven-day conflict with HAMAS in the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU formed a coalition government in March 2013 following general elections in January 2013. Direct talks with the Palestinians resumed in July 2013 and are ongoing.

Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon

31 30 N, 34 45 E

total: 20,770 sq km

land: 20,330 sq km

water: 440 sq km

total: 1,017 km

border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km

273 km

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The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency

Israel: Geography, History, Politics, and More …

President: Shimon Peres (2007)

Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu (2009)

Land area: 7,849 sq mi (20,329 sq km); total area: 8,019 sq mi (20,770 sq km)

Population (2012 est.): 7,590,758 (growth rate: 1.541%); birth rate: 18.97/1000; infant mortality rate: 4.07/1000; life expectancy: 81.07; density per sq km: 319

Capital and largest city (2009 est.): Jerusalem, 768,000 Note: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the U.S., like nearly all other countries, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

Other large cities: Tel Aviv-Yafo 3.219 million; Haifa 1.027 million

Monetary unit: Shekel

More Facts & Figures

Israel, slightly larger than Massachusetts, lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Egypt on the west, Syria and Jordan on the east, and Lebanon on the north. Its maritime plain is extremely fertile. The southern Negev region, which comprises almost half the total area, is largely a desert. The Jordan, the only important river, flows from the north through Lake Hule (Waters of Merom) and Lake Kinneret (also called Sea of Galilee or Sea of Tiberias), finally entering the Dead Sea 1,349 ft (411 m) below sea levelthe world’s lowest land elevation.

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Israel: Geography, History, Politics, and More …

Israel – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

State of Israel (Hebrew) (language?) Anthem:Hatikvah (The Hope; ) Capital and largest city Jerusalem[a] 3147N 3513E / 31.783N 35.217E / 31.783; 35.217 Official languages Ethnicgroups (2013[2]) Demonym Israeli Government Parliamentary democracy[1] – President Shimon Peres – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Speaker of the Knesset Yuli-Yoel Edelstein – President of the Supreme Court Asher Grunis Legislature Knesset Independencefrom Mandatory Palestine – Declaration 14 May 1948 Area – Total 20,770/ 22,072km2[a] (153rd) 8,019/ 8,522sqmi – Water(%) 2 Population – 2013estimate 8,134,100[b][3] (97th) – 2008census 7,412,200[b][4] – Density 359/km2 (35th) 930/sqmi GDP(PPP) 2012[5]estimate – Total $248.719 billion (49th) – Per capita $32,312 (26th) GDP(nominal) 2012[5]estimate – Total $240.894 billion (43rd) – Per capita $31,296 (26th) Gini(2008) 39.2[1] medium 66th HDI (2013) 0.900 very high 16th Currency New shekel () (ILS) Time zone IST (UTC+2) – Summer(DST) IDT(UTC+3) Date format dd/mm/yyyy (CE) Drives on the right Calling code +972 Internet TLD .il a. ^ Excluding/ including the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem (see below). b. ^ Includes all permanent residents in Israel, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Also includes Israeli citizens living in the West Bank. Excludes non-Israeli population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For the historical people of Israel, see Israelite.

The State of Israel is a country in southwestern Asia on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel became an independent country in 1948.[6] Israel is the only Jewish country, and Jews all over the world think of Israel as their spiritual home. Israel’s population was 8.1 million people in 2013 and 6.04 million are Jewish. Almost all the other citizens of Israel are Arabs (1.6 million) and include Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Samaritans.[7]Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and largest city.

Israel is a small country, but it has mountains, deserts, shores, valleys and plains. The climate is hot and dry in the summers, and cool and rainy in the winters.

Israel has few natural resources and imports more goods than it exports. It has a relatively high standard of living and life expectancy. Almost all of its people can read and write.

The country’s history goes back thousands of years, to ancient times. Two world religions, Judaism and Christianity, began here. It is the place where the Jewish nation and religion first grew. Jews and Christians call it the Holy Land, because it is the place of many events described in the Bible.

Three thousand years ago, the Canaanites and other Semitic peoples lived here. Between about 1800 and 1500 BCE, another Semitic people, called the Hebrews, settled in Canaan. They were named the Children of Israel or Israelites. The Israelites had 12 tribes. They chose a king, Saul, as their leader. The next king, David, began the Kingdom of Israel in about 1000 BCE and made the city of Jerusalem his capital. His son, Solomon, built the first Temple for the worship of God. Solomon died in about 928 BCE. His kingdom broke into two countries. The northern country kept the name Israel. The southern country, called Judah, kept Jerusalem as its capital.

The Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 732 BCE and the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE. Many Jews returned from Babylonia and built a country again. First the Persians, then the Greeks and then the Romans ruled the Land of Israel.

The Jews fought against the Romans but the Romans defeated them. In 70 CE, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple there. Again, in 132 CE, the Romans defeated the Jews and killed or took many of them to other places. The number of Jews living in Israel became much smaller. Many were forced to live in other countries. This spreading of Jewish communities outside of Israel is called the Diaspora.

Many of the Jews who remained moved to the Galilee. Jewish teachers wrote important Jewish books, called the Mishnah and part of the Talmud there, in the 2nd to 4th centuries CE.

The Romans began to call this region by the word that became Palestine in English. The Roman and then the Byzantine empires ruled until 635 CE, when Arabs conquered the region. Different Arab rulers, and for a while Crusaders, ruled the land. In 1516, the Ottoman Empire conquered the land and ruled the region until the 20th century.

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Israel – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?

Russia and Israel seem to have a growing affinity for each other. A few weeks ago, Israel abstained from a vote in the U.N. censuring Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. A senior Israeli official said that Israel's absence from the United Nations vote was viewed around the world as an extremely irregular measure, a departure from a long-standing Israeli policy of voting with the United States in …

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Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?

Israel appropriates land in West Bank: newspaper

By Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has carried out a new land appropriation in the occupied West Bank, the Haaretz daily said on Sunday, in a move that could complicate efforts to extend troubled peace talks with the Palestinians. Haaretz said the Defense Ministry declared nearly 250 acres of territory in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc just south of Jerusalem "state land". The land …

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Israel appropriates land in West Bank: newspaper

Israel detains Israeli Arab journalist for attending newspaper conference in Lebanon

JERUSALEM Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service says it has detained a young Israeli Arab journalist for traveling to Lebanon, which Israel considers an enemy country.

Majd Kayyal, a 23-year-old journalist for the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, traveled to Beirut last month for a conference.

Although Lebanon bars Israeli citizens from entering, the Shin Bet says Palestinian officials in the West Bank gave Kayyal Palestinian travel documents.

Kayyal was arrested last Saturday at the Israeli border on suspicion of being recruited by a militant organization. The Shin Bet says it dropped that suspicion, and is considering indicting him for traveling to Lebanon.

Kayyal has been held since his arrest without access to a lawyer. The Shin Bet says this is permitted in security cases.

Israel lifted a gag order on the arrest Thursday.

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Israel detains Israeli Arab journalist for attending newspaper conference in Lebanon

What is anti-Semitism? – Anti-Defamation League

The belief or behavior hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.

Hostility toward Jews dates to ancient times, perhaps to the beginning of Jewish history. From the days of the Bible until the Roman Empire, Jews were criticized and sometimes punished for their efforts to remain a separate social and religious group – one that refused to adopt the values and the way of life of the non-Jewish societies in which it lived.

The rise of Christianity greatly increased hatred of Jews. They became seen not merely as outsiders but as a people who rejected Jesus and crucified him – despite the fact that the Roman authorities ordered and carried out the crucifixion. By the high middle ages (11th –14th centuries), Jews were widely persecuted as barely human “Christ-killers” and “Devils.” Forced to live in all-Jewish ghettos, they were accused of poisoning rivers and wells during times of disease. Some were tortured and executed for supposedly abducting and killing Christian children to drink their blood or to use to it in baking matzoh – a charge known as the “blood libel.” A large number were forced to convert to Christianity to avoid death, torture, or expulsion, though many secretly practiced Judaism after their conversions. (In recent times, the Catholic church and other Christian churches have rejected these anti-Semitic falsehoods.)

In the 18th century, as the influence of Christianity began to lessen during the Enlightenment – which celebrated the rights and possibilities of men and women to a far greater extent than ever before – religiously based hatred of Jewishness gave way to non-religious criticism: Judaism was attacked as an outdated belief that blocked human progress. Jewish separatism was again targeted. As European countries began to take modern shape in the 19th century and national pride grew, Jews, who were still usually deprived of civil rights and lived throughout Europe as outsiders, were subjected to further hostility. This hostility resulted at times in deadly persecution, as in the late-19th century Russian pogroms — violent attacks on Jewish communities with the aid or indifference of the government.

At the same time, in response to the decline of Christian belief and the growing number of Jews beginning to join the mainstream of European society (a trend known as “assimilation”), anti-Semites turned to the new “racial science,” an attempt, since discredited, by various scientists and writers to “prove” the supremacy of non-Jewish whites. The opponents of Jews argued that Jewishness was not a religion but a racial category, and that the Jewish “race” was biologically inferior.

The belief in a Jewish race would later become Germany’s justification for seeking to kill every Jewish person in lands Germany occupied during World War II, whether the person practiced Judaism or not. In fact, even the children or grandchildren of those who had converted to Christianity were murdered as members of the Jewish race. The Holocaust, as this systematic mass extermination between 1939-1945 is known, resulted in the death of six million Jews — more than a third of the world’s Jewish population. While the rise to power of the Nazis (Germany’s leaders during World War II) in the 1920s and 1930s involved numerous social and political factors, the views that helped turn anti-Semitism into official government policy included belief in the inborn superiority of “Aryans,” or whites; belief that Jews destroyed societies; that Jews secretly worked together to gain control of the world; and that Jews already controlled world finance, business, media, entertainment, and Communism.

In the half-century since World War II, public anti-Semitism has become much less frequent in the Western world. While stereotypes about Jews remain common, Jews face little physical danger. The hatred of Jewishness and the conspiracy beliefs of past eras are for the most part shared only by tiny numbers of those on the fringes of society (although as the World Trade Center and Oklahoma bombings showed, even a handful of extremists can carry out acts of great violence). There are exceptions, of course: disagreement over policy toward the State of Israel has created opportunities in which the expression “Zionist” – support for Israel as the Jewish homeland – is often used as an anti-Semitic code word for “Jew” in mainstream debate. Holocaust denial and other recent re-writings of history – such as the false claim that Jews controlled the Atlantic slave trade – lie about the events of the past in order to make Jews seem underhanded and evil.

More seriously, many nations in Europe and in the former Soviet empire are struggling, mostly due to unsettled or chaotic economic and social conditions, with movements opposing “foreigners” – including recent immigrants and traditional enemies. These movements champion racial or national supremacy, and call for the type of charismatic, authoritarian leader that historically persecuted Jews and other minorities.

But while parts of Europe remain caught up in racial unrest, the Middle East is home to the harshest anti-Semitism in the world today. Nazi-like language is regularly expressed by the media and governments in the countries that oppose Israel and the West. And as dozens and dozens of terrorist incidents have demonstrated, there are many in Middle Eastern countries willing to act on these beliefs.

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What is anti-Semitism? – Anti-Defamation League

Judaism Origins, Judaism History, Judaism Beliefs

Formed c. 2000 B.C.E. Origin Canaan Followers 14,000,000 Deity God (monotheistic) Sacred Texts Torah, Tanakh (Hebrew scriptures), Talmud Headquarters None

Judaism is a religious tradition with origins dating back nearly four thousand years, rooted in the ancient near eastern region of Canaan (which is now Israel and Palestinian territories). Originating as the beliefs and practices of the people known as “Israel,” classical, or rabbinic, Judaism did not emerge until the 1st century C.E. Judaism traces its heritage to the covenant God made with Abraham and his lineage that God would make them a sacred people and give them a holy land. The primary figures of Israelite culture include the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophet Moses, who received God’s law at Mt. Sinai. Judaism is a tradition grounded in the religious, ethical, and social laws as they are articulated in the Torah the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Jews refer to the Bible as the Tanakh, an acronym for the texts of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. Other sacred texts include the Talmud and Midrash, the rabbinic, legal, and narrative interpretations of the Torah. The contemporary branches of Judaism differ in their interpretations and applications of these texts. The four main movements within Judaism today are Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist, respectively ranging from traditional to liberal to religiously progressive in their application of Torah. While diverse in their views, Jews continue to be unified on the basis of their common connection to a set of sacred narratives expressing their relationship with God as a holy people. Judaism tends to emphasize practice over belief. Jewish worship is centered in synagogues, which completely replaced the Second Temple after its destruction in 70 C.E. Jewish religious leaders are called rabbis, who oversee the many rituals and ceremonies essential to Jewish religious practice.

Quick Fact Details:

Quick Fact Sources include www.adherents.com, www.bbc.co.uk/religion, The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions (2006), The Encyclopedia of Religion (2005), the Religious Movements Page at the University of Virginia, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions (2002), and the Encyclopedia of World Religions (1999).

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Judaism Origins, Judaism History, Judaism Beliefs

Anti-Semitism – New World Encyclopedia – Info:Main Page …

From New World Encyclopedia

Anti-Semitism (alternatively spelled antisemitism) is hostility toward or prejudice against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group, which can range from individual hatred to institutionalized, violent persecution. Anti-Semitism has a long history, extending back to the Greco-Roman world and culminating in the Nazi Holocaust. Before the nineteenth century, most anti-Semitism was religiously motivated, based on oft-repeated Christian allegations that the Jews had killed Jesus, and that their refusal to accept Jesus as the Messiah made them reprobates who deserved second-class status. Judaism was the only large religious minority after Christianity became the official religion of Europe and so suffered from discriminatory legislation, persecution and violence. Religious anti-Semitism (sometimes called anti-Judaism) usually did not affect those of Jewish ancestry who had converted to another religionthe Spanish Inquisition being the notable exception.

The dominant form of anti-Semitism from the nineteenth century until today has been racial anti-Semitism. With its origins in the cultural anthropological ideas of race that started during the Enlightenment, racial anti-Semitism focused on Jews as a racially distinct group, regardless of their religious practice, viewing them as sub-human and worthy of animosity. With the rise of racial anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories about Jewish plots in which Jews were acting in concert to dominate the world became a popular form of anti-Semitic expression. The highly explicit ideology of Adolf Hitler’s Nazism was the most extreme example of this phenomenon, leading to the genocide of European Jewry called the Holocaust.

In Islamic countries, until recently, Jews were generally treated much better than they were in Christian Europe. Muslim attitudes to Jews changed dramatically after the establishment of the State of Israel. It is in the Islamic world that one today finds the most rabid examples of anti-Semitism. Often it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Zionism and Israel’s policies, but goes beyond this to attack the Jews more broadly.

The term “anti-semitism” derives from the name of Noah’s son Shem and his ancestors who are known as Shemites or Semites. Therefore, “anti-Semitism” technically refers not only to Jews but all Semitic peoples, including the Arabs. Historically, however, the term has predominantly been used in a more precise way to refer to prejudice towards Jews alone, and this has been the only use of this word for more than a century.

German political agitator Wilhelm Marr coined the German word Antisemitismus in his book The Way to Victory of Germanicism over Judaism in 1879. Marr used the term as a pseudo-scientific synonym for Jew-hatred or Judenhass. Marr’s book became very popular, and in the same year he founded the “League of Anti-Semites” (Antisemiten-Liga), the first German organization committed specifically to combating the alleged threat to Germany posed by the Jews and advocating their forced removal from the country.

In recent decades some groups have argued that the term should be extended to include prejudice against Arabs, otherwise known as anti-Arabism. However, Bernard Lewis, Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton University, points out that until now, “anti-Semitism has never anywhere been concerned with anyone but Jews.”[1]

The earliest account of anti-Semitism is to be found in the Book of Esther (third or fourth century B.C.E.) which tells the story of the attempt by Haman to exterminate all the Jews in the Persian Empire under Xerxes. Although this account may not have been historical, it provides evidence that Jews suffered from outbreaks of anti-Semitism in the Persian Empire. Egyptian prejudices against Jews are found in the writings of the Egyptian priest Manetho in the third century B.C.E. who, reacting against the Biblical account of Exodus, claimed the Jews were a leper colony that had been expelled and then taken over Palestine, a land to which they had no claim.[2]

Sustained antipathy to the Jewish tradition began in the Hellenisitic era.[3] The cosmopolitan Greeks took offense at the Jews’ assertion that the universal God had selected them to be his ‘Chosen People’. This is known as the scandal of ‘particularism.’ The Jews further set themselves apart by the unusual practice of circumcision and refusal to marry non-Jews, whom they regarded as unclean. Their dietary laws prevented them from engaging in normal social intercourse. This apparent unfriendliness provoked hostility and accusations of ‘strangeness.’

The Greeks from their perspective saw the Jews as a thorn in the side of their multi-racial and multi-national civilized universe, created by Alexander the Great. Proud of their distinguished literary, artistic and philosophical tradition, they regarded their culture as superior and universal, one which should be promoted everywhere. The Greeks were humanists who believed they should make their own laws, choose their own gods and define their identity through their social relationships. Their sexual mores were very liberal, and they glorified the human body encouraging exercise and games in the nude. Alexander the Great deliberately promoted intermarriage and the adoption of Greek culture by establishing gymnasia, theaters and lyceums throughout his empire. After he died his successors built towns and cities throughout the Near East, promoting and often imposing Hellenism.

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Anti-Semitism – New World Encyclopedia – Info:Main Page …

Ukraines anti-Semitism: Real and not new

A twisted Star of David at Beis-Chabad in Ukraine in 2009. Photo Peter Marcus

View more photos fromZhitomir, Ukraine below the article.

Over the last few days there have been disturbing reports out of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, of leaflets being handed out by masked men to worshipers leaving Passover services at the Bet Menakhem-Mendel synagogue. The leaflets demanded that Jews register with the authorities and pay a fine or risk being deported and having their property confiscated, haunting echoes of a not-too-distant history of the Jewish laws that developed before and during the Shoah.

Government officials in the region quickly denied responsibility and blamed Russian sources for cynical fear mongering. Much has already been written about whether the leaflets were real or the result of a hoax and, as of this writing, the most plausible theory seems to be that they are fraudulent documents and that the officials named in them were clueless about any such requirements.

What is less suspect, or even capable of dispute, is the visceral fear that must have visited those who were leaving the synagogue when they were handed the papers, as they were again confronted with an existential threat to their people. Our people.

[Related:Anti-Semitic fliers in Ukraine: Who is responsible?]

Family legend has it that my own great-grandfather Max who was born 90 miles northwest of Kiev in the city of Zhitomir, Ukraine left town alone as a young teen in the 1880s and walked across Europe, making his way to London. There he found work in a glass factory and earned enough money to gradually bring his brothers, and then the rest of the family, to England. From there, our family dispersed like branches of a stream, one drifting toward New York, one toward Israel and the third remaining in London.

In 1996, when I moved 3,000 miles east from New York to Los Angeles, I couldn’t help comparing and contrasting the difference of buying a one-way ticket for a six-hour flight compared to what Max’s journey must have been. What would cause such a young person to strike out alone and leave his family behind in the way that he did?

In 2009, I was invited to join an international legal delegation of lawyers, judges and professors to take part in a conference in Kiev. It was an impressive group that included lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and other jurists from courts around the world. I was asked to speak to the prestigious group about trademark counterfeiting and intellectual property infringement, a welcome opportunity in my professional career. However, part of why I agreed to go was that the trip offered me an opportunity to visit Max’s hometown.

When I spoke about my plans with Rabbi John Rosove, senior rabbi of my congregation, Temple Israel of Hollywood, he quickly put me in touch with the Chief Progressive Rabbi of Ukraine, Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny, who in turn arranged for one of his congregants to lead me on a tour of our ancestral home.

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Ukraines anti-Semitism: Real and not new