Israel News for February 29, 2016

Ax Terrorist Arrested
Israeli security forces yesterday arrested Saadi Ali Abu Hammed for attacking Tzvika Cohen, a 48 year old security guard, in the Maaleh Adumim mall on Friday. Cohen a father of four, is fighting for his life at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. The terror attack was the first to occur in Maaleh Adumim. Judea and Samaria police have banned Palestinian workers from entering the city until Thursday, but they will be allowed to go to work at the adjacent Mishor Adumim Industrial Park.

WARNING: To watch an extremely graphic security video of the ax attack against the security guard, click here.

Army Beards
The IDF is cracking down on beards, and religious soldiers are not happy. According to new orders set to take effect this week, a soldier who wishes to grow or keep his beard for religious reasons will need to receive official approval from the IDF Chief Rabbinate, his unit commander and his adjutant commanding officer. Until now the IDF’s Chief Rabbinate alone granted permission.

The Association of Hesder Yeshivas (a program that combines army service with study in a Yeshiva) said that in recent days it has received hundreds of complaints from religious soldiers who say that their requests were denied or unanswered, meaning that they will have to shave their beard by Tuesday. It said that in once case a battalion commander instructed his entire battalion, including two platoons of Hesder soldiers, that they could not have a beard.

The head of the association said, “The security problems of the State of Israel and the challenges facing the IDF are so great and significant that the decision to trouble soldiers who grow beards is an inappropriate and unacceptable step. There are hundreds of soldiers from the Hesder yeshivas, religious pre-military academies and others who see significant service in combat roles in the IDF as a religious commandment, and the order to remove beards does not sit well with the IDF being the army of the state of the Jewish people.”

Numerous rabbis, including Rabbi Shlomo Aviner (Ateret Kohanim) and Rabbi Zalman Melamed (Bet El), have called on soldiers to protest the anti-beard regulation even if it means going to jail. Hundreds of soldiers have warned that they will go to jail if forbidden from growing beards.

Bayit Yehudi MKs have called on Defense Minister Yaalon to rescind the new order and make it legal for soldiers to grow beards for religious reasons. He might be sympathetic to the request, considering that Yaalon himself, who is secular, had a full beard when he served in the IDF (as seen in a this photo –

The roots of the new regulation stem from a ruling by the High Court in response to a group of secular soldiers who petitioned for the right to grow beards, which had been a right granted only to religious soldiers. In order to make the playing field level for everyone the army decided to require soldiers to get permission from their commanders in addition to the rabbinate, to include the non religious soldiers.

An IDF spokesman stated that, “there is no intention to harm the sensitivities of any soldier. A religious soldiers who wishes to grow a beard will turn to his commanders (for permission), as will soldiers who are not religious who wish to grow beards for other reasons.”

Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Shas) said yesterday that the IDF would review the new regulation.

For further reading click here.

Iran Must Pay
In a landmark decision, a court in San Diego, California, has ruled that victims who were wounded in a 1997 terrorist attack on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem must be compensated by Iran.

The terrorist attack in question took place on September 4, 1997, when three Hamas suicide bombers simultaneously blew themselves up on the pedestrian mall, killing five Israelis.

The court ruling, which was handed down on Friday after 15 years of litigation, says the victims who have dual Israeli-American citizenship will be given $9.4 million using Iranian assets that were frozen and confiscated by the United States.

In addition, the judge ruled that even if Iran appeals to the Supreme Court over the ruling, he will not delay the transfer of the compensation to the victims’ families.

Nice job, Your Honor.

For further reading click here.

Right Wing Rapper
Popular right wing rapper Yoav Eliasi, aka Hatzel, has received a slew of death threats against himself and his family, but he claims that the police is denying him a permit to carry a weapon. In addition to the threats, Eliasi’s car has been vandalized on several occasions and his tires slashed multiple times. On his Facebook Hatzel wrote, “If, one day, I or one of the members of my family are hurt, the police will not be able to say they did not know.”

MK Issawi Freij (Meretz) announced last week that he intends to file a complaint against Hatzel, for incitement to violence.

To watch a music video by Hatzel, click here.

Chinese Jews Return
Five Chinese women, descended from the medieval Jewish community of Kaifeng, are set to arrive in Israel on Monday. The women will study at Midreshet Nishmat – The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women, where they will prepare for their official conversion to Judaism under the auspices of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

Kaifeng’s Jewish community is believed to have been founded by Iraqi or Persian Jewish merchants in the eighth or ninth century. A synagogue was erected there in 1163 that still stands today. According to estimates, the community consisted of up to 5,000 Jews during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) but decreased to 500-1000 due to wide-scale assimilation and intermarriage.

According to Michael Freund, chairman of the Shavei Israel organization responsible for bringing the women to Israel, the Kaifeng community was similar to other Jewish communities except that it did not suffer anti-Semitism.

“As a result, beginning perhaps in the 18th century, a process of assimilation and intermarriage began to settle in. Then, the last rabbi of Kaifeng passed away 200 years ago, and the synagogue was rendered unfit for use when a series of floods struck the city in the 19th century,” Freund told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

Freund said that close to 1,000 remain who are identifiable as descendants of the Jewish community and who have shown increasing interest in learning about Judaism and their heritage. Such interest has enabled Freund’s organization to bring many Chinese to Israel, the last group of seven men arriving in October 2009.

Freund further explained that around 25 years ago, Jews were given the option of registering either as regular Han Chinese or, for unknown reasons, as Muslims. “Many opted to register as Muslims since this enabled them to have more than one child, but they are still identifiable as descendants of Jews even if some of them have nothing to do with Judaism.”

“And your children shall return to their own border. 

And there is hope for your future.” — Jeremiah 31:16

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