Israel News for January 27, 2017

Bus Tragedy
An Egged passenger bus (462) traveling from Jerusalem to Ariel yesterday veered off of Route 60 during stormy weather and fell 300 meters (1000 ft.) off a cliff into a ravine near the settlement of Eli. Two men were killed and seven injured. One of those killed was the bus driver, 37-year-old Avishai Kroani from Ariel, a husband and father of five. The other person killed was Ofir Rahmanov, a 23 year old resident of the Ramot neighborhood in Jerusalem.

United Hatzalah volunteer, Michael Chai Cohen, who arrived on scene stated: “We had to walk for 10 minutes in the rain and mud until we reached the bus. We requested helicopters to help evacuate the injured. Unfortunately, upon arrival, we found several victims who were unconscious and without a pulse. Others sustained varying degrees of injuries.”

To see photos of the crash and rescue click here.

Embassy Move
When asked about moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump told Fox News today, “I don’t want to talk about it yet. It’s too early.” Apparently it’s a bit more complicated than he thought when he promised, “We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March.

Regarding the $221 million that was transferred  to the Palestinian Authority by former President Obama shortly before Trump was sworn in as president, the president said “We’re going to see what happens. I don’t want to talk about it.” But yesterday PA officials announced that they have already received the money, so it’s unclear what Trump could do about it now.

Regarding the importance of repairing the US-Israel relationship, Trump responded,  “It is repaired. It was repaired the minute I spoke to Netanyahu.”

For further reading click here.

Aliyah Drop
In 2016, a total of 27,000 people immigrated to Israel versus 31,000 in 2015, according to Immigration Ministry numbers. That represents a 13% decline in the overall rate of Aliyah. Around 7,000 immigrants were from Russia, 5,500 from Ukraine, 5,000 from France, 2,900 from the US and hundreds from Brazil, UK, Belarus and South Africa.

For further reading click here.

Iceland Flights
Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW Air has requested slots from the Israel Airports Authority for six weekly flights between Ben Gurion International Airport and Icelandic capital Reykjavik. WOW is planning to start the flights in June.

WOW Air hopes not only to encourage tourism between Israel and Iceland but primarily to eat into the lucrative Israel – North America stopover flight market. Passengers traveling from Tel Aviv to Reykjavik will then have the choice of vacationing in Iceland or travelling onto nine locations in Canada and the US: Montreal and Toronto, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

For further reading click here.

Holocaust Remembrance
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945 by the Russian army. The day was designated by the UN in 2008.

As part of Holocaust Remembrance Day I’d like to share the story of my own family.

My father’s family lived in a small town called Mosciska in Eastern Poland, which is today part of the Ukraine. The town had around 2,500 hundred Jews, about half of the entire population, included scores of our relatives.

Not long after the Nazis occupied Mosciska in the summer of 1941, they launched an aktzia to roundup the Jews, most of whom were deported or murdered. My father, who was then 8 yrs old, hid in the fields along with his older sister and mother. My grandfather hid in the forest, but was captured by a farmer and taken to the train station. Luckily, the train had already left and he ended up being released. The family moved into the ghetto along with all of the remaining Jews.

At that point my grandparents decided to send my father away to hide with a Christian woman in a city in central Poland. There he posed as her nephew for over two years. Meanwhile, my grandmother’s uncle and his son had gone into hiding (after his wife and other children were murdered) with a Polish farmer in the area. He arranged for another farmer, who had been employed by our family, to hide them.

To make a very long story very short, for the next two years my grandmother and grandfather, along with their daughter (my aunt), and my grandfather’s two single brothers, hid in a barn behind a secret wall they constructed. Unlike most Jews who attempted to hide in Poland and the Ukraine, they survived.

After liberation they picked up my father and went on to build a new life in America. Other than one of my grandmother’s sisters who survived in a labor camp with her husband, where she gave birth to her first child, and my grandmother’s uncle and his son, the rest of our very large family perished in the Holocaust.

My mother was just 2 yrs old when the Nazis attacked Warsaw in 1939. My grandparents decided to flee the city. They ended up in Uzbekistan with thousands of other Jewish refugees. My grandfather joined the Polish People’s Army (communist). He fought on the front lines to help drive the Nazis out of Poland. After the war they returned to Poland where they lived for over 10 years until immigrating to Canada. Other than one of my grandfather’s six brothers and one of my grandmothers sisters, their entire families perished in the Holocaust.

May the memories of the millions of martyrs be blessed and remain with us forever.

Holocaust Resistence
In commemoration of Intenational Holocaust Remembrance Day we wanted to recommend an excellent book called Isaac’s Army: A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Polandby Matthew Brzezinski, that recounts the gripping story of Jewish resisitence in the Warsaw Ghetto and afterwards through the eyes of several fighters. To read more reviews and get the book, click here

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