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.