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A Temple Mount Tragedy

7 Nov

By Dr. Steven Derfler

One of the major points of contention between Israel and the Arab/Moslem World is over the most sacred piece of real estate on the planet. At 37 acres, the Temple Mount is the focal point of prayer and contention for the three western religious traditions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. While Christianity has Rome, Constantinople and Jerusalem vying for spiritual ‘seniority’, and Islam has Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, Judaism has Jerusalem, and Jerusalem, and Jerusalem.

However, traditionally, the role of the holy city, and in particular the Temple Mount, has been widely, if not grudgingly, recognized in importance by each of these traditions to the other.

It has only been in the last century, a result of ‘a Twice Promised Land’ coming out of World War One (ok, blame it on the British!) that we find disinformation and the re-writing of history taking place. But the greatest activity has taken place in the 21st Century.

The Waqf, the Islamic religious authority that was granted control of the Temple Mount by Israel decades ago, decided to ‘remodel’ a series of stables beneath the Mount, create a mosque, and then an internal entry from just north of the Al Aqsa plaza. In doing so, tons of debris, filled with archaeological treasures pertaining to the history of the Temple Mt, were unceremoniously dumped with no regard for context into the Kidron Valley; all in spite of Israeli law that forbade such activity unless overseen by the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

To make matters worse, many stones, some dating to the Tenth Century BCE, were re-used and modified for their building activity.

Archaeologist Eilat Mazar said: “There is disappointment at the turning of a blind eye and the ongoing contempt for the tremendous archaeological importance of the Temple Mount . Using heavy machinery and with little documentation, can damage ancient relics and erase evidence of the presence of the biblical structures. Any excavation, even if for technical reasons, must be documented, photographed and the dirt sifted for any remains of relics.”  Dr. Gabi Barkai slammed the way the excavations were being carried out stating that “They should be using a toothbrush, not a bulldozer”.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, rejected the Israeli charges. “We don’t harm the antiquities, we are the ones who are taking care of the antiquities, unlike others who destroy them.” Yusuf Natsheh of the Islamic Waqf argued that “remains unearthed would be from the 16th or 17th century Ottoman period”. He said al-Aqsa compound as an important religious institution. “We regret some Israeli groups try to use archaeology to achieve political ends, but their rules of archaeology do not apply to the Haram; it is a living religious site in an occupied land.”

In 2004, debris was transferred to camps set up at Tzurim Valley National Park, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. Here a sifting project was begun; and over the years the Temple Mount debris dump in the Kidron Valley was moved to the sifting site (a total of 322 truckloads, to date).

Objects testifying to the Jewish nature of the Temple Mount platform were dismissed by the Waqf. The Waqf was widely accused of attempting to hide evidence of the existence of the Jewish Temples, which many Palestinian leaders say never existed. That debate continued to rage. “The Aqsa Mosque was an Islamic mosque since the world was created,” said Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, in November, 2015. “It was never anything other than a mosque.

However, this flew in the face of what Islamic leaders said themselves about the Temple Mount earlier in the 20th Century.

But prior to 1948, even their own 1925 Wakf guidebook stated that the Dome of the Rock is situated on the universally accepted site of King Solomon’s Temple. “The site is one of the oldest in the world… its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”

Abbas himself called Israeli history in Jerusalem “illusions and legends” and “delusional myths,” referring to the “alleged Temple.”

The destructive partisan biases in UNESCO were clearly evidenced in the fall of 2016, as it would vote to ratify a resolution denying Jewish ties to Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount. An affront to science and history, the resolution, which refers to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Al-Haram Al-Sharif – ostensibly eliminating its connection to Judaism and Christianity – was expected to be approved by the committee comprised of 21 member states at its 40th session.

As UNESCO approved a resolution that ignored a Jewish connection to The Temple Mount, the Israel Antiquities Authority produced a rare papyrus fragment from the 7th century BCE, written in ancient Hebrew; that mentions Jerusalem. Archaeologists interpreted 2 lines of text as a shipping document reading, “From the king’s maidservant, from Na’arat, jars of wine, to Jerusalem.”

And even more importantly Israeli archaeologists revealed the existence of an ancient Muslim inscription testifying to the fact that the original name of the Dome of the Rock, Qubbat al-Sakhrah, was “Beit al Maqdis” بيت المقدس — “Beit Hamikdash” in Hebrew, aka the Jewish Temple — during the early Muslim era, Makor Rishon reported Friday. According to archaeologists Assaf Avraham and Peretz Reuven, the inscription is dated to the 10th century CE.

It’s time for the western world, Jews, Christians and Moslems of good faith, to recognize the sanctity and legitimacy of the Temple Mount for all religious traditions, and accept the archaeological, historical and spiritual record with dignity and respect.

 

 

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Honor Shimon Peres; Buy Israeli

28 Sep

14441153_10155239980063572_4096406518751730687_nShimon Peres grew up with Israel. He moved to the British Mandate of Palestine in the early 1930’s and has been a change maker in the modern Jewish country since it was born.

On Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 we lost a true Zionist and a true peace activist for the Jewish people and the people of Israel.

In his last video message before his death, he urged everyone to buy Israeli goods. Visit one of our older blogs to see HOW and WHERE to buy Israeli

Shimon Peres’ last video statement

May his memory be for a blessing. z”l

 

 

Casting Call for a new Steven Spielberg film

29 Jun

clapper-board-152088ROLE “EDGARDO” — BOY age 6-9 to play 6 years old. This is a unique and very challenging part for a truly special boy. The story deals with the complexity of an extremely intelligent and gifted child’s situation – his desire to return to his family and the faith of his ancestors, pitted against his ability to learn the Catechism and engage with the Pope on a level far beyond his years. HE SHOULD APPEAR TO BE A JEWISH ITALIAN child. We are not looking for any kind of Italian accent. LEAD.

STORY LINE “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara”— Steven Spielberg is making a film about the true story of EDGARDO MORTARA – a 6 year old Jewish boy from Bologna who was reported to have been secretly baptized by a maid, and was deemed by the Catholic church therefore to be Christian. Pope Pius IX (to be played by Mark Rylance) decreed that the boy could not remain with his Jewish family. He was seized by the Papal State and taken to the Vatican where his indoctrination into Catholicism began. This was a cause célèbre of mid-nineteenth century European politics and the domestic and international outrage against the pontifical state’s actions may have contributed to its downfall amid the unification of Italy. This is an incredible story of real historical relevance.

To submit: Email delisicreative@gmail.comSubject line: EDGARDO SUBMISSION / Name of boy, city/state. Body of email: Parents/Guardians contact info (names/phone), boys name/age/d.o.b, city/state of residence, along w/current non retouched photos. If you’d like to include a brief introduction, bio or resume, please do! Please note any related, special, or fun facts so we get to know him!

 

Israeli President Rivlin’s Message on Independence Day

11 May

May 10th, 2016

In honor of the upcoming national days, President Reuven Rivlin sent an Independence Day message to Jewish communities and friends of Israel around the world.

 

In his message – which can be viewed here – President Rivlin spoke of his memories as a nine year old child, seeing the flag of Israel raised for the first time as the flag of an independent, sovereign state, he said, “Today, each time I see the flag flying, it fills my heart with pride and joy. As Israel turns 68, we can look with pride, at our past, and must look to the future with hope. The State of Israel was born out of a hope of 2000 years. It was born with the bravery of dreamers who worked to turn their dream into reality. Their spirit stays with us today. In the past year, I have visited many different places across this wonderful country, I have seen this spirit, this joy and pride, which still pushes us forward.”

 

The President spoke of the terrible price of terrorism and said, “Sadly, over the last year Israel has faced a wave of terrible terror attacks which has brought much pain, and left many painful scars. I sat in the houses, of the families who lost loved ones, soldiers and civilians, I felt their pain, and shared in their tears.” He stressed, “Terror will not overcome us, even though it may take a terrible price.” 

 

The President highlighted the importance of celebrating diversity in Israel’s democracy, “Real independence, means the freedom of expression, to celebrate and enjoy the diversity of voices of all the people in Israel, as different as they may be; whether we agree with them or not. An inclusive nation, which knows to debate and discuss with respect and understanding.”

 

The President concluded, “Our Independence Day is a day to celebrate. It is a day to lift the flag high in the knowledge that our hope will lead us to find the way to overcome the challenges, and to spread a message of understanding and respect between one another. And while around our borders, and even inside our borders, blow the terrible winds of radical Islam, we are sure of our path and of our ability and right to build here our national home, with security and prosperity.”

Reflections on “Inside America’s Auschwitz”

24 Apr

By Elyse Warren

In the Smithsonian article, “Inside America’s Auschwitz,” Jared Keller wrestles with the shadows of America’s riddled past with racism after a visit to Louisiana’s Whitney Plantation Slavery Museum. The museum, which opened in December of 2014, marks the first museum in the nation to be recognized as a slave museum. The museum pays homage and bears witness to the history of slavery and crimes against humanity committed against the slaves who were forced into labor at the former indigo, sugar, and cotton plantation.

 

The memorialization and pedagogical design of the tours conducted at the museum break from the confines of the conventional history lesson given in the classroom or at other plantations. The focus is placed on providing the visitor the opportunity to understand the slave experience and remove, as Keller notes, the veil of the Gone With The Wind view of America’s Southern plantations. The experience disillusions the visitor from the romanticism associated with the grandeur of the planation homes and provides a narrative that can not only educate, but act as a change agent within the visitor when they conclude their experience.

 

This thoughtful design mirrors the experience of visiting sites of atrocities committed during the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, specifically the renowned pedagogy and reconciliation constructed through Germany and Poland’s memorialization of the Holocaust. Thanks to the generous support of the Jewish Federation and Dr. Barry and Mrs. Anne Stein, I participated in the March of the Living (MOL) in 2011 with five other high school students from Sarasota and witnessed the concentration camps in Poland and traveled to Israel. Reflecting on the experience, I can still vividly remember the sensory details of visiting the concentration camps and ghettos in Poland. The stench of the rotting wood of the barracks in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the scraped walls of the cattle car at the Lodz Ghetto, and the cold, sterile, space of the gas chambers at Majdonek that were stained with an effervescent turquoise blue from the Zyklon B chemicals. All the details wove together the prisoner experience in the concentration camps into the fabric of Holocaust memorialization and memory.

 

In particular, visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps manifested a poignant experience of walking through endless barracks and fields which evoked a painful feeling of absence. The absence was augmented by comfort and support from peers and the humbling ability to walk through the space with survivors to learn from their testimony. However, the experience would not have been whole without the strong use of narrative and contextualization provided in the education by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum Center and the staff we had on the MOL. To better understand the role of education and how a nation tries to reconcile with a fraught past, I took my passion from the MOL trip and visited Poland again during a study abroad program in college the following year. I took the experience of the MOL trip and applied it to my studies of how Germany and Poland reconcile the memory of the Holocaust through education and memorialization. Staying in Oswiecim, where Auschwitz-Birkenau is located, helped me understand more fully the role pedagogy in education, as Keller commented, helps to build understanding and reconciliation with the past to ensure that “never again” reins absolute.

 

Paralleling Keller’s experience at the slavery museum, I felt a call to action when I left Poland after the March of the Living and again when I studied abroad. It was a discovery in terms of sense of self, belonging, and meaning not only to Judaism, but to Israel and preserving the history for the next generation to bear witness. Keller noticed the same call expressed in a tour group of young African American students that took to heart the moving mission of the museum. The article by Keller is his call to recognize and draw parallels to how America may learn valuable lessons from Germany, Poland, or even Rwanda in reckoning with the past centuries late.

 

While the two atrocities mentioned have different context and history, they both speak to the call for “never again.” We serve as stewards to the next generation, as the phrase L’dor Vador emphasizes. Echoing a note left at the slave museum, fostering and encouraging the movement to provide enriching educational experiences, whether through the March of the Living or a slave museum, will help ensure that the future generation knows and will not forget the past.

 

To learn more about the March of the Living program, click HERE.

 

100 Days of Impact: Investing

30 Sep

Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is committed to INVESTING donor dollars in Israel experiences for teens, such as Young Ambassadors and March of the Living. Following the logic of the many studies that show that Birthright participants are 42% more likely to feel connected to Israel than those who don’t go on a mission OR that they are 45% more likely to marry someone Jewish than a nonparticipant, our leadership feels that offering high school students an Israel experience will create a deeper attachment to Israel and to their own Jewish identity. High school is an extremely formative period when more complex thinking, including political and religious ideology, is seriously examined and when dating habits are formed.

In 2014, our Federation sent its largest delegation to date on the March of the Living Mission. As well, we had more than 10 students participate on other mission experiences through Young Ambassadors and the Send a Kid to Israel Program. For the first time, our Federation provided scholarships for two high school students to spend a semester in Israel through the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program.

March of the Living

By INVESTING in our teens, the future of our Jewish community, we work to ensure the continuity of our Jewish people and a long-term attachment to Israel. The best way to demonstrate the impact these trips have on our teens is to hear from them directly…


>> The Young Ambassadors trip has had a positive impact on participants and has encouraged them to become more involved in advocating for Israel and getting more in touch with their Judaism. If it wasn’t for the Bob Malkin Young Ambassador Teen Leadership Program, local teens’ lives may have gone very different ways and they may not have been as involved Jewishly as they are today.
Samara Robbins (Young Ambassador ’12)

>> This [March of the Living] trip has increased my faith in Judaism so much that I now view it as something so fundamental, it is inseparable from myself. Being able to share this experience through two very different countries with so many other Jews proved to me Judaism is alive and strong and that the Nazis did not win. This trip made me so thankful for all of the fundamental blessings that I have in my life. However, this is a March which is not yet complete. I have learned that we need to be upstanders to make sure that the Holocaust never happens again.
Brandon Ikeman (March of the Living ’13)

>> Because of this journey, I made the decision to have my Bat Mitzvah 5 years late. Being in the holiest place on the planet made me realize what Judaism truly means and I really connected to my inner Jew. Going to the Western Wall and praying in the presence of a divine spirit was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
Erica Brown (Young Ambassador ’14)

 

100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

100 Days of Impact

100 Days of Impact started on September 22 and will run through the end of 2014. Each week we will demonstrate the the collaborative impact that we and our donors make locally and globally.

MAKE A DONATION

You are the Jewish community. This is your Federation. Together, we do extraordinary things!

March of the Living Update: A New View of Israel

5 May

Ever since I had the privilege of taking a trip to Israel last summer as a Young Ambassador, I was convinced that I had been a true witness of history, a part of a culture, and a member of a populous family. I made connections with the land while in the desert, which is when I finally caught a glimpse of spirituality. Since then, I’ve experienced dreams of passed family members, I gained an identity as a real Zionist, and my family and I occasionally practiced Shabbat together at home on Friday nights. This time around, however, Israel treated me a bit differently. I wasn’t googly-eyed and so awestruck like I was on my summer trip. Regardless of it being my first time, the feelings were all different. The first time, I was nervous, I was scared, and I was curious. This time, on my March of the Living trip, once I got over my goosebumps at Ben Gurion airport, I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t feel like a stranger. I didn’t take the land for granted; I did feel like I was at home.

madison 1

On Shabbat, there was a hustle and bustle through the streets up until 6:44 PM; when all of the stores closed, people went home and the streets were practically empty. It wasn’t like in America, in my own house, where we decide when sundown is — and it usually doesn’t occur until we’re all ready (and we all aren’t always there for it, either). In Israel, for Shabbat, obviously with a ridiculous contrast to Poland, Friday nights are reserved for families, prayer, and a visit to the Kotel. While in the states, Shabbat happened when I was ready, and in Israel, the sun unfortunately does not set according to your schedule. It was amazing again to see how barren the streets were all in observance of Shabbas. At the Kotel there were peoples of all kinds who paused their schedules to observe this holiday that, in the States, is sometimes seen as a little inconvenient. Not being able to wear shorts, shower, cook, or use technology? What’s the point? But then one realizes there’s more to the strict observances of Shabbat than rabbinical practices. There’s a history.

While Shabbas observance began thousands of years ago, my appreciation and understanding of its importance doesn’t begin until we consider 1941. Jews didn’t convert and they didn’t stop practicing their beliefs on holidays and at the end of the week. I learned that so many Jews died with their last wishes being to hear a shofar on Yom Kippur; so many Jews wanted a rabbi’s blessing; so many Jews just wanted to be wrapped in tzitzit, to wear tefillin, to read a prayer.  So, where does a simple American girl fall into all of this? Well, once you visit the sites of hell and destruction, you can feel where, you can see where, you can smell where. If these Jews died for their religion and beliefs, then I know I was put here to keep defending it. When I would go to temple, I would stare at the clock, I would never pray, and I most certainly would never think to have a “conversation” with god. Well, my friends and family, I have news for you. After witnessing the proof of destruction and imagining all of you being a part of the horror, I decided that it’s time for me to take this seriously.  I have had the privilege to come across the world to firsthand see the evidence of the Shoah, and it is now my time to take my learning and become the teacher to the rest of my generation and future generations.

Even though I felt like my first trip to Israel gave me the connection I needed to be a true Zionist, my feelings now are stronger than ever.

madison desert

Madison B.  is a participant of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee’s 2014 March of the Living delegation.

March of the Living is presented in partnership with the Shapiro Teen Engagement Program (STEP) of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. 

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