Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-30-2022

News Update

Terror in Bnei Brak: A terrorist with an M-16 assault rifle drove into the central city of Bnei Brak and began searching for targets. He first shot and killed 2 Ukrainian foreign workers outside of a grocery store. Then he shot and killed a man sitting in a car and then another man holding an toddler. The infant miraculously survived unhurt. As he was looking for more victims, 2 anti-terror policemen on motorcycles raced to the scene and got into a shootout with the terrorist. One of the policemen was killed, and the terrorist was killed. The bravery of the policemen undoubtedly prevented a much larger and more deadly terrorist attack.

The terrorist was from Y’abed, a town near Jenin (West Bank), and was affiliated with Islamic Jihad. He had been imprisoned for six months in 2013 for involvement in arms sales and planning terror attacks. Investigators believe that he received assistance crossing the barrier into Israel and was given his weapon after he crossed. Security forces raided Y’abed last night and arrested 7 suspects, including 5 members of the terrorist’s family. The terrorist’s home was also mapped for demolition. Earlier on Tuesday, security forces arrested 12 people suspected of having ties with the Islamic State terror group, in raids on several northern Arab towns. To read more about how Israel’s security forces are dealing with the terror spree, click here.

Hundreds of Palestinian Arabs publicly celebrated the terror attack in several Arab towns and cities and also outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City near the Damascus Gate.

The victims of the terror attack were:

Sergeant Amir Khoury, 32, from Nof Hagalil, was one of the policemen who killed the terrorist. He was a Christian Arab who served on the police force with great pride. His father was also a policeman. [One of the victims in Monday’s terror attack in Hadera was Yezen Falah, a Druze member of the Border Police. The fact that Christian Arabs and Druze are willing to risk their lives and serve in the Israeli army and police says a lot about the way Israel treats its non Jewish minorities. It also reflects proudly on the members of those communities who serve.] He will be laid to rest in the military cemetery in his hometown.

Yaakov Shalom, 36, from Bnei Brak, left behind a wife and five children. He was laid to rest today.

Rabbi Avishai Yehezkel, 29, from Bnei Brak, left behind a wife and a two-year-old boy. He was out with the boy when he was gunned down, but managed to shield the child with his body. He was laid to rest today.

The identities of the two Ukrainian foreign workers killed has not yet been released.

On Monday, Border Police officers and victims of the Hadera terror attack, Yezen Falah and Shirel Abukarat were laid to rest in respective funeral processions attended by thousands of mourners.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz met yesterday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman. Gantz told the king of the steps that Israel intends to take to enable freedom of worship in Jerusalem and the West Bank and the government’s initiatives to improve the quality of lives the the Palestinians, while still preserving Israeli’s security interests. The office of Jordan’s King Abdullah II said the meeting was in line with efforts lead by the king, in an attempt to create “a real horizon for establishing a justified comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution, while maintaining the historic and legal status quo in Jerusalem and the holy places which would ensure freedom of worship for Ramadan’s prayers.” President Herzog went to Jordan today to also meet with the King.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-28-2022

News Update

Terror in Hadera: Yesterday two terrorists opened fire on people near a bus stop and restaurants in the northern city of Hadera. Two Border Police officers were killed and three others wounded. Three plainclothes members of an anti-terror police unit who were eating a restaurant in the area heard the shots, raced to the scene and killed the terrorists in a shootout.

The officers killed were Yezen Falah and Shirel Abukarat, both 19. Falah, a resident of the Druze village of Kisra-Sumei in the Galilee, joined the Border Police a year ago and is survived by his parents and a brother and sister. Abukarat, a resident of Netanya whose family immigrated from France, joined the force six months ago and is survived by her parents and a brother.

The terrorists were cousins from the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, near Hadera. They were members of a local ISIS cell. The brother of one of the terrorists is an Israeli police officer in Kfar Saba. He had no knowledge of the attack, and was shocked by it. One of the terrorists had been arrested in 2016 for attempting to join ISIS in Turkey. This is similar to the terrorist who killed 4 people in Beersheva last week. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah praised the attack.

Last night a large Israeli force entered Um al-Fahm where they uncovered weapons documents, books and computers containing material affiliated with the Islamic State. Five suspects were arrested.

The Shin Bet and the police are expected to conduct arrests of ISIS supporters in the coming days fearing copy cat attacks that could be carried out by sleeper cells. Security officials say they estimate up to dozens of ISIS sympathizers among Israeli Arab citizens, some have actively attempted or even succeeded in traveling to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State fighters in the past decade.

PM Bennett has tested positive for Covid. This was after he held an unmasked meeting with US Secretary of State Blinken.

The Negev Summit, in which the foreign ministers of Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco and the UAE as well as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attended, ended today. All of the participants condemned yesterday’s attack. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who hosted the event, said the participants had decided to make their meeting an annual event. To read more, click here.

The Israel Population and Immigration Authority will introduce a “green track” for refugees from Ukraine and Russia employed in Israeli technology companies, whether or not they are entitled to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, which applies to people of Jewish descent. On this track, the process of background checks and issuing work permits will be sped up and will take only a few days. Under existing procedures, this process takes several weeks, even for those entering Israel under the Law of Return. To read more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-25-2022

News Update

The Kremlin issued a statement saying that President Putin spoke with PM Bennett by phone on Wednesday. The statement said that Bennett “shared his assessment of the situation around Ukraine, taking into account his contacts with leaders of a number of foreign countries, and expressed several ideas in relation to the ongoing negotiations.” Putin also shared his own assessment of the situation with the PM and also offered condolences for the victims of the recent Beersheva terror attack. Zelensky also with PM Bennett by phone.

Regarding the peace talks, Bennett said that some progress was being made and that both sides had modified their original positions. He said, “At the time, Russia’s demands were to dislodge Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and completely demilitarize Ukraine. These two things are no longer part of the demands. On the Ukrainian side, the requirement was to join NATO — which also was one of the reasons the whole invasion has begun in the first place — and that is also currently not on the table. That’s why we can see some kind of progress. But like I said, there is still a long way.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Israel, the West Bank, Morocco and Algeria over March 26-30 to discuss the Ukraine war, Israeli-Palestinian relations and Iran.

The IDF and Israel Police successfully foiled the largest arms smuggling operation across the Lebanon border yesterday. Around 61 weapons and drugs valued around NIS 3,500,000 were seized and three Arab residents of the north were arrested. To read more, click here.

Israel switched to daylight savings time last night.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-23-2022

News Update

Terror in Beersheva: Yesterday in Beersheva, a terrorist rammed his car into a cyclist, killing him. The terrorist then exited his vehicle and stabbed to death another 3 people and wounded several others. The terrorist then ran to to a second and then third location nearby and stabbed people there, before he was shot by bus driver Arthur Haimov, who was in the area. The entire attack lasted 8 minutes.

The terrorist was a 35 year old Bedouin from the Negev city of Hura and an Israeli citizen. He had recently been released from a six year prison term and was known to have been an Islamic State sympathizer. According to court filings, Al-Kian was a school teacher in Hura and often preached in his local mosque. He set up a terror squad that had met covertly, where he took the role of spiritual teacher, preaching an extreme Islam practiced by IS. He has also participated in other groups espousing IS ideology in weekly meetings, near his mosque. The terrorists family/clan issued a statement saying, “We harshly condemn this terrorist act in Beersheba today that took the lives of innocent civilians. This criminal action is a lone act, that represents only he who performed it. We are a family that believes in co-existence and obeying the law.”

Hura mayor Habis Atawnah told The Times of Israel that schools and nurseries in the small town would devote hours of discussions to the violent attack by one of their residents. “We will tell them that this is not our way. We want to educate our children and young people to the values of mutual respect and the sanctity of life.”

The Arab parties in the Knesset strongly condemned the terror attack.

Hamas praised the attack. The Palestinian Authority called the terrorist a martyr.

The victims of the attack were:

Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, 50, a member of the Chabad movement, father of 4 children aged 10-22, who he ran a soup kitchen for predominately elderly residents in need. He had served as a Chabad emissary in Moldova before returning to Be’er Sheva.

Doris Yachbas, 49, wife and mother of three, from a nearby farming community. Her nephew was one of the paramedics who was first at the scene and recognized her while trying to save her life.

Laura Yitzhak, 43, wife and mother to three daughters aged 6, 12 and 14. Her brother was a local police officer who arrived at the scene right after the attack. In a video of the attack, Laura is seen trying to fight off the terrorist as he stabbed her multiple times.

Menachem Menuhin Yehezkel, 67, survived by a sister and three brothers.

May the Almighty avenge their blood.

PM Naftali Bennett, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan met yesterday in Egypt in what appears to be an attempt to demonstrate a united front against the revival of the Iran nuclear deal. The leaders reportedly discussed he stability of energy markets, food security and other regional and international issues.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-21-2022

News Update

Ukrainian President Zelensky addressed the Knesset yesterday via live video. He castigated Israel for its reluctance to join the international sanctions against Russia and provide the Ukrainians with military assistance, particularly its refusal to sell Kyiv its Iron Dome missile defense system. He said, “Everybody knows that your missile defense systems are the best and that you can definitely help our people, save the lives of Ukrainians, of Ukrainian Jews. We can ask why we can’t receive weapons from you, why Israel has not imposed powerful sanctions on Russia or is not putting pressure on Russian business. Either way, the choice is yours to make, brothers and sisters, and you must then live with your answer, the people of Israel.”

Zelensky also drew parallels between the invasion by Russia and the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust. That did not go over well with many Israeli lawmakers and ministers, who decried the comparison and even pointed out that a large part of the Ukrainian population played either active or passive roles in the murder of the country’s Jews.

Here are a sampling of the reactions:

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said that while “I appreciate the Ukrainian president and support the Ukrainian people in heart and action,” Zelensky should not try to “rewrite the horrible history of the Holocaust, a genocide that was carried out on Ukrainian soil.”

MK Yuval Steinitz of the Likud Party said, “It is said that a person should not be judged in times of distress, but had the speech of Zelensky, the Jewish president of Ukraine, been delivered on normal days, it would have been dismissed as borderline Holocaust denial.”

MK Simcha Rotman, of the Religious Zionist Party, said, “I don’t speak Ukrainian, but if the translation I heard was accurate, Zelensky asked us to treat the Ukrainians like they treated us 80 years ago. Sorry, I think we’ll have to decline his request. After all, we are a moral nation. Light unto the nations.”

Later last night, in a video address to his nation, Zelensky thanked PM Naftali Bennett for trying to mediate between Ukraine and Russia. PM Bennett stated that the Russians are no longer demanding the removal of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky nor the complete demilitarization of Ukraine, adding that there is “still a long way to go” in mediating between Russia and Ukraine. Bennett added that Ukraine was also no longer demanding to join NATO.

273 new immigrants landed in Israel on Sunday from Ukraine, while another 330 are expected to arrive today.

An Israeli policeman, in his early 20’s, was stabbed yesterday in an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem. The policeman was evacuated to the hospital in moderate condition. The attacker, a 28 year old Palestinian man from east Jerusalem, was shot and wounded by police at the scene. Public Security Minister Omer Barlev called the attacks an attempt by “deplorable terrorists and extremist forces” to undermine the celebrations of the upcoming holy month of Ramadan and the Passover festival.

Israel has climbed three places to ninth in the 2022 World Happiness Index, which is sponsored by the UN, University of Oxford and Columbia University. The report ranks countries on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. Israel is the highest ranked non-European country behind Finland, which is the world’s happiest country for the fifth year running, and followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden and Norway. Behind Israel in tenth place is New Zealand, followed by Austria, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Canada, the US and the UK. People in Lebanon (145) and Afghanistan (146) are the unhappiest with their lives. The Palestinian territories is ranked 122.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered in Bnei Brak yesterday for the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the leader of the Lithuanian Haredi community in Israel and the greatest Torah scholar of our generation, who passed away on Friday at the age of 94. Rav Kanievsky spent his entire life engaged in intensive Torah study, studying at least 17 hours a day. He completed the entire corpus of Torah, Jewish law and mysticism every year on the same day, which was also the day that he left this world (after he completed his daily study). When he was not studying he was writing Torah books and answering questions and giving blessings to the thousands of people who stood in line outside his 2 room apartment each day to speak with him face to face. He also helped raise money for a multitude of charities. His saintly presence in our mundane world will be sorely missed. May his merit protect us and may his memory serve as a blessing for us all.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-16-2022

News Update

Israeli counter-terrorism special forces conducted raids in Nablus and in Qalandia, just outside of Jerusalem, yesterday. In both instances, security forces came under attack by local residents and responded appropriately. One Palestinian attacker was killed in Nablus and another in Qalandia. Several Palestinians were wounded. No Israelis were hurt. Security forces also staged operations in Jenin and the bedouin city of Rahat in the Negev.

Iranian related hackers launched a cyber attack against several Israeli government websites Monday night. The sites were offline for around an hour before the attack was foiled. The attack was not considered to be sophisticated and no information was leaked. Iran has accused Israel of perpetrating many attacks against it, including an attack last month against a secret drone base in northern Iran, which destroyed several hundred drones. The attack was allegedly launched from the Kurdish city of Erbil in northern Iraq, which is why Iran fired 12 ballistic missiles at the city earlier this week.

Royal Air Maroc, the Moroccan airline, has began 4 weekly flights to Tel Aviv. A delegation of Moroccan businessmen was aboard the first flight.

A new variant of COVID-19 has been detected in two passengers who recently returned to Israel from abroad. Health officials are not too worried about the new strain, since most of the country has already either been vaccinated or has recovered from Covid, or both.

If you’re planning a visit to Tel Aviv, you’ll want to see this list of the 18 best hotels to stay at. To view list, click here.

Today is the Fast of Esther, which commemorates the fast that the Jewish People undertook on the day prior to what was meant to be the day of their destruction but miraculously turned into the day of their salvation, Purim. The story of Purim was centered in ancient Persia, which is modern day Iran. And again we find ourselves in the situation where the modern day Persians threaten to destroy the Jewish nation. But the miracle of Purim reminds us not to fear, for just as we were saved over 2,500 years ago, so too will the Almighty save us in our times.

Purim is tonight and tomorrow. To learn more about this joyous holiday, click here.

We’re going to skip our Purim satire issue this year, because it would not be appropriate in the light of all the suffering that millions of innocent civilians are experiencing in Ukraine.

Have a very Happy Purim and remember … never give up hope, because salvation can come in the blink of an eye and what seemed like a hopeless situation can suddenly be transformed into one of rejoicing.

Our thoughts are prayers are with the Ukrainian people in these dark and dangerous times they are going through.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-14-2022

News Update

Iran admitted to attacking the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil in northern Iraq with 12 ballistic missiles yesterday. Iran claims it was targeting secret Israeli strategic centers in the city and warned Israel of a “harsh response” if it retaliates. The attack caused damage and one civilian was injured.

In a joint statement with the Romanian foreign minister yesterday, Foreign Minister Lapid condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, calling it unjustified. He called on Russia “to stop its shelling and attacks and resolve the issues around the negotiating table.” He added that “Israel will help as much as it can to reach a peaceful resolution”.

Israel has yet to join in imposing sanctions against Russia and the Russian oligarchs. If it does so it will need to figure out how to deal with several Jewish oligarchs who hold Israeli citizenship. To read more, click here. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s private jet landed at Ben Gurion airport this morning. But it’s not clear whether he is on board.

The head of the Shin Bet domestic security agency warned the FBI and the Pentagon of the possibility that tensions in Jerusalem would escalate into a new round of fighting between Israel and the Palestinians during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which will coincide with Passover this year.

Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin said today that, “Planting [trees] will soon be resumed in Israel’s south in areas near unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev.” Planting near these villages caused rioting in the past.

According to Channel 13 News, Israel is banning Ethiopian Christian pilgrims groups from visiting the country for the upcoming Easter holiday over fears they will not return home, as a result of the ongoing civil war in Ethiopia. Accused of discrimination, the Population Authority justified the policy, saying that “many tourist groups arriving from Ethiopia over the past years have indeed not returned and remained in Israel illegally.”

Israel will allow Ukrainian refugees who are ineligible for Israeli citizenship but who have relatives in Israel to seek refuge in the country without counting towards a 25,000 refugee cap announced last week by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked. There is no limit to the number of Ukrainians who are eligible to become Israeli citizens under the Law of Return, which includes people with at least one Jewish grandparent.

Our thoughts are prayers are with the Ukrainian people in these dark and dangerous times they are going through.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-11-2022

News Update

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met yesterday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at his palace in Amman. The two met to discuss growing tension in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount in the lead up to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Lapid’s office reported that the two also discussed regional and international policy issues, the progress of normalization and peace, as well as joint projects pertaining to renewable energy and trade.

FM Lapid with travel to Romania and Slovakia this weekend for talks with their respective leaders.

The Knesset a controversial bill, known as the citizenship law, denying naturalization (Israeli citizenship) to Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza married to Israeli citizens. The law, which would force thousands of Palestinian families to either emigrate or live apart, passed just before the Knesset disbanded for a holiday recess by a 45-15 majority vote that crossed party lines. The only parties that opposed the bill were the left-wing Meretz party and the Islamist Ra’am faction. The law is based on a temporary order that first passed during the height of a Palestinian uprising in 2003 and was renewed annually until it expired last July.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. The funding is part of a larger $1.5 trillion spending bill for the fiscal year 2022 to fund the federal government through the end of September. The Iron Dome funding will come in addition to the annual $3.8 billion defense assistance package for Israel. Some progressive Democrats offered stiff opposition to the Israel aid package. PM Bennett tweeted, “Thank you to the U.S. Congress for your overwhelming commitment to Israel’s security & for passing the critical security package — including the replenishment of the life-saving Iron Dome. Thank you [President Biden] for your leadership & friendship. Together, we are stronger.”

Ukraine President Zelensky will address the Knesset via zoom in the near future. Zelensky has already spoken with PM Bennett 4 times since the Russian invasion of his country. Bennett has been trying to mediate between the 2 countries.

Turkey has agreed to return to Israel an ancient inscription from Jerusalem, currently housed in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. The Siloam Inscription, a 2,700-year-old ancient Hebrew text that provides concrete historical support for the biblical account of the construction of a tunnel which brought water from the Pool of Siloam to the City of David, below the southern edge of the Temple Mount, during the reign of King Hezekiah.

The six-line inscription in paleo-Hebrew found etched into the wall of the tunnel describes the excavators, working from opposite ends, calling to one another near the completion of the project. The construction of the tunnel is recounted in the biblical books of Kings and Chronicles.

The inscription reads: “… this is the story of the tunnel, while [the hewers lifted] their axes toward their counterparts, and while three cubits more were to (be hewn?), was heard the voice of a man calling to his counterpart, (for) there was [a crack?] in the rock, on the right and on the left. And on the day of [the final barrier’s] piercing, the stonecutters struck each man towards his counterpart, ax against ax and water flowed from the source to the pool for 1,200 cubits and 100 cubits was the height of the rock, over the head of the stonecutters …”

Our thoughts are prayers are with the Ukrainian people in these dark and dangerous times they are going through.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-9-2022

News Update

President Isaac Herzog traveled to Turkey today. He is the Israeli leader to visit in 14 years. Herzog is scheduled to hold talks with Turkish President Erdogan in Ankara, before traveling to Istanbul for meetings with the Jewish community there.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said that Israel will grant 5,000 entry visas to non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war. For more details, click here. [There are no limits to the number of Jewish Ukrainians, or those eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, entering the country.]

Israel is in the process of setting up a field hospital near Lviv, around 9 miles from the Polish border. With the help of 80 doctors, nurses, and medical personnel from Israel, the hospital is expected to operate for at least a month. The shipment of medical equipment from Israel is expected to arrive on Thursday. Most of the treatment will be done in special tents that will be set up in the parking lot of a large educational institution in the town, between a medical center for children and a local hospital. To read more, click here.

Our thoughts are prayers are with the Ukrainian people in these dark and dangerous times they are going through.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-7-2022

News Update

Syrian state media reported an Israel missile strike against several Iranian related military targets around Damascus last night. Material damage was caused and 2 people were killed.

A 19 year old Palestinian terrorist stabbed and wounded an Israeli policeman in Jerusalem’s Old City yesterday. Police nearby opened fire on the terrorist, killing him. Another police officer was lightly wounded in the gunfire.

PM Bennett said he was trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. He met with Russian President Putin in the Kremlin on Saturday and spoke with Ukrainian President Zelensky 3 times by phone in the last 24 hours. Bennett said that although the chances of success were slim, Israel had the moral obligation to “leave no stone unturned.” Yesterday, Zelensky thanked Israel for its support.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked met with FM Yair Lapid to formulate an immigration policy to assist refugees from Ukraine who are not eligible for automatic Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, since they are not Jewish.

Under the current policy, first-degree relatives of Israeli citizens who aren’t eligible to relocate under the Law of Return will only be allowed to enter Israel under a 90-day tourist visa, contingent upon their Israeli host’s signature and their commitment to return to Ukraine at the end of the approved period of stay. Ukrainians that do not fall under this category will be questioned by border control upon arrival in order to ensure they have family in Israel. The refugee’s host family will be asked to guarantee their departure from Israel, and put down a NIS 10,000 deposit per person to avoid overstaying.

Shaked said she believes that under the current policy, Israel had taken in more refugees than any other Western country that doesn’t share a border with Ukraine, stating that 2,034 Ukrainian nationals have already entered the country’s borders since fighting began late February. Shaked added that Israel was preparing to receive over 100,000 Jewish immigrants and their families from Russia and Ukraine and the consequent housing and employment challenges that may arise as a result.

A delegation of more than 100 senior Turkish businesspeople has arrived in Tel Aviv for meetings with their Israeli counterparts and a cooperation memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Turkish Exporters Assembly and Israel’s Federation of International Chambers of Commerce. To read more, click here.

In the midst of this tragic and criminal invasion of Ukraine by Russia, it doesn’t seem that there is any particular targeting of Jews, beyond what is being done to the Ukrainian population in general. The Jews living in Russia also have not suffered any specific religious persecution by the government. If you wonder why, you might find an answer in this story, taken from the book “Mashcheni Achareycha” by Rabbi Reuven Elbaz:

This happened several years ago, in the midst of Hanukkah. In Moscow, a large Hanukkah party was held for the Jewish community, which was attended by Rabbi Berl Lazar Shlit”a- the Chief Rabbi of Russia to this day, and the President of Russia – Mr. Vladimir Putin.

The Chief Rabbi held a speech on Hanukkah eve, after which the President was given the honor to speak in the presence of the large crowd that had gathered there.

Putin stood up to speak and surprised the crowd: “Please listen, Jews, as I want to tell you a real story that happened here in Russia, I’m familiar with all its details.

“A poor family lived in one of the neighborhoods – two parents and one small child. The parents worked hard from morning until night to make a living, while their child returned to an empty and lonely home until his parents came back. He sat in the small, dark house, hungry and lonely, joyless, with nothing to do, until his parents came home and gave him some food.

And there, in their neighborhood, lived a modest and good Jewish family. Every time they saw the little boy waiting alone in the house, they would approach him and ask him if he had anything to eat. In most cases, he would say no, and they immediately did their best to ensure he had warm and delicious food to eat, without ever asking for anything in return. On Shabbats and Jewish holidays, they invited him to their home and served him delicacies and meats, all out of the goodness of their generous hearts, they were compassionate and always looked for ways to make him feel better.

So for a long time, the non-Jewish boy became a part of the family in their home, he received a large portion of food, same as the rest of the family members. When the Jews saw that the boy’s clothes were ripped, they made sure to give him warm and cozy clothes suited for the Russian cold. This kid didn’t know how to thank them, they just saved his life every day.

Dozens of non-Jewish neighbors who knew about this, didn’t even pay him any attention, and it was only this family that cared for others, and were looking at what was happening around them, who saved his miserable soul.”

President Putin ended his speech with a shocking revelation and said, “Dear Jews, do you want me to tell you who that poor, miserable boy was whose life was enlightened by Jews?”

Then he went on to say: “This was me… and I will never be able to forget the sympathy and compassion of the Jews that cared for me. To this day, I can still hear the melody of the meal hand-washing blessing, Hamotzi, and Birkat HaMazon said by the family members whenever I attended their Shabbat and holiday meals.

I don’t forget, dear Jews, the good you’ve done to me, I am the president of the superpower that is Russia, and hence, our relationship is so good, it’s all thanks to how much you care about the others, and the poor!”

The reason I’ve included this story is not in any way to excuse Putin’s criminal behavior. It is to highlight the power of good deeds. You never know what long term effects and results might come from even a single good deed you do today.

Our thoughts are prayers are with the Ukrainian people in these dark and dangerous times they are going through.