Israel News for 9-18-17

Police Brutality
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich condemned police brutality after watching videos of the violent Haredi anti-draft demonstration in which police officers are seen punching, kicking and tackling demonstrators.

Alsheich said, “I had a bad feeling when I saw the videos yesterday. The haredi Jewish [demonstrators] were also violent, but in the videos, I witnessed incidents in which the use of force by the policemen that was not justified.”

The videos have been transferred to the Police Internal Investigations Department.

To watch a quick video clip click here.

Prayers in Awarta
Hundreds of Jews prayed, under IDF protection, at the graves of Itamar and Elazar, the sons of Aaron the High Priest (the brother of Moses), in the Arab village of Awarta in Samaria. The village is the home of the terrorist who murdered the Fogel family and is known as a hostile village that supports terror.

Among those attending was the head of the Shomron Council, Yossi Dagan, who said: “We have the privilege to live in a generation that is fulfilling the dream of generations – the right to say selichot and pray at the graves of the nation’s great figures. The contrast in the fact that these great and righteous people are specifically buried in the terrible village from which the despicable murderers of the Fogel family came illustrates the importance of guarding the site and continuing organized entries there, so as to protect sites holy to the Jewish people.”

To view a video of the prayers click here.

Smoking Battles
The IDF has declared war against smoking. It will ban the sale of cigarettes on bases, limit the number of designated smoking areas on bases and enforce a strict disciplinary policy for those caught smoking anywhere else. The new anti-smoking guidelines also prohibit tobacco companies from sponsoring IDF units and prohibit cigarette donations to soldiers through the army’s donation program.

In addition to the prohibitions, every soldier will be assigned to an anti-smoking program and those who smoke will be assisted in attempts to overcome the habit and offered support groups.

For further reading click here.

Kosher or Not
The Supreme Court rules last week that while the official state rabbinate has the sole authority to certify a restaurant as “kosher”, restaurants are permitted to describe the kosher status of their food and the type of kosher supervision they employ. The ruling opens the door to independent kosher certification organizations to provide supervision to establishments that either choose not to pay for rabbinate supervision who that do not meet the criteria required by the rabbinate to obtain certification.

For example, a restaurant that serves strictly kosher food but is open on Shabbat, and thus cannot receive kosher certification from the rabbinate, can now receive kosher certification from an independent rabbinic supervisor and advertise that fact, as long as it does not display an actual “kosher certification” certificate.

After the ruling, the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization announced that it would provide independent kosher certification. The Chief Rabbinate sent a letter to Rabbi Stab, the head of Tzohar who is also the official Chief Rabbi of the town of Shoham, that he will lose his position if he offers independent kosher certification.

For further reading click here.

Uman Journey
Around 30,000 Jews, mostly from Israel, will spend Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) in the Ukrainian town of Uman, 130 miles south of Kiev. The town is the location of the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, an 18th century Hasidic master and grandson of the Ba’al Shem Tov (the founder of the Hasdic movement). Rabbi Nachman spent the last 5 years of his life in Uman and requested to be buried there. He also promised to intercede on behalf of anyone who would come to pray at his grave on Rosh Hashana – – hence, the annual pilgrimage.

The annual pilgrimage to Uman has been a huge boon for the local economy. The area around the tomb, where around 500 Jews live, has become a vibrant neighborhood with Hebrew signage, 20 kosher restaurants and 25 hotels (mostly operating in apartment buildings). In addition to the Rosh Hashana pilgrimage, thousands of Jewish pilgrims visit Oman throughout the year. Some of the new businesses are owned by Israelis who settled in Uman while others are owned by Ukrainians or are joint Israeli-Ukrainian ventures. A good deal of the commercial growth in town is due to secular Jewish visitors as opposed to the Hasidim.

Unfortunately, the Uman pilgrimages have also spawned anti semitic attacks, drug use, prostitution, disorderly conduct and a powerful organized crime presence.

For further reading click here.

To hear a song about the Uman pilgrimage click here.