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Israel Most Popular Yom Kippur Sermon Topic in U.S.


Almost three-quarters of rabbis surveyed in a poll said they will talk about Israel's future in their Yom Kippur sermons. The Rabbinic Leadership Survey also revealed that being involved in Israel was encouraged by virtually all of the rabbis during the past year. Ninety-seven percent of the rabbis, who are from all streams of Judaism, also stated that they urge that their members contribute to Israeli charities, and nearly 90 percent said they encourage visits to the Israel.

Israel Releases Top Hamas Official

By VOA News

Israel has released Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer, a top Hamas official, who was detained by the military more than a month ago.

A military judge ordered Shaer to be released citing a lack of evidence. Israeli officials had never brought charges against the most senior Hamas official in Israeli custody. The deputy prime minister later returned to his home in the West Bank city of Nablus where he was greeted by dozens of supporters.

Israeli forces seized Shaer at his home on August 19 as they rounded up dozens of Hamas officials after Palestinian terrorists captured an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip in June.

About 30 Hamas lawmakers and cabinet members are still in Israeli custody.

President Katsav Attends Babi Yar Memorial

By &

Some 1,000 people from around the world took part in Wednesday's 65th Babi Yar memorial, a massacre which claimed the lives of some 34,000 Jews. A number of heads of state attended the event, as well as religious representatives from various faiths.

Reciting prayers was former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who is currently serving as the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.

Sixty-five years after 34,000 Jews were massacred in the Babi Yar ravine in Ukraine, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and several Jewish organizations are teaming up to identify the approximately 1 million Jews killed in the former Soviet Union during World War II.

As researchers interview the last surviving witnesses and examine old documents, the question they hear repeated over and over again is: "Where have you been until now?"

A state memorial ceremony was held at Babi Yar, near the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, where German and Ukrainian soldiers and policemen carried out the mass murder. But it is not clear exactly whose deaths are being commemorated, since more than 90 percent of the Jews killed there have yet to be identified. Yad Vashem has recorded the names of some 3,000 Jews killed at Babi Yar. While it also has the names of some 7,000 Jews from Kiev who were killed in the Holocaust, the museum's researchers don't know where they died or were buried.

The incomplete records stem from the fact that at the time of the massacre, only the number of dead was reported, and not their identifying details. Other Einsatzgruppen squads - mobile killing units that murdered about 1 million Jews between 1941 and 1943 in the western Soviet Union, northern Romania and eastern Poland - operated in a similar way.

The project to identify Soviet victims, which began on Holocaust Remembrance Day, in April, has so far collected several thousand "pages of testimony" filled out by the relatives and acquaintances of those killed in the Holocaust and a few dozen lists of victims' names and memory books written by survivors of various cities and towns.

The project was initiated by Yossi Hollander, an Israeli entrepreneur in the hi-tech sector who lives in the United States. Yad Vashem is working with Jewish organizations that operate in the former Soviet Union and Jewish communities in the area.

Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem directorate, said the museum had the names of more than 90 percent of Jewish victims killed in western and central Europe, 35 percent to 40 percent of those killed in Romania, Hungary and Poland - and only about 20 percent of those killed in the former Soviet Union.

Some 600,000 Jews were killed during the Holocaust in Ukraine alone, and some 300,000 in Belarus, according to Yad Vashem.

Researchers have gleaned the names of the victims from records kept by the Germans as well as pages of testimony and record books. Yad Vashem has collected about 3.5 million pages of testimony so far, of which only a few hundred thousand relate to people from the former Soviet Union.

One reason for the paucity of information on Soviet victims is that Yad Vashem has focused on collecting pages of testimony in Israel and Western countries, while very little has been done to retrieve data from witnesses and survivors living in the former Soviet Union.

Two Dolphins born off Israel's Coast During War


The war in Lebanon and the rocket barrages in the north may have caused great concern among Israeli citizens, but a different kind of excitement was noted among the dolphins swimming off the coast of Israel.

Members of the Israel Marine Mammals Research and Assistance Center (IMMRAC) discovered on Wednesday that the school of dolphins swimming regularly near the Israeli coast has been joined by two baby dolphins, which were apparently born during the war.

A group comprised of nine Mediterranean dolphins, which may be up to 6 meters (19.68 feet) long, was spotted swimming about 6 kilometers (3.726 miles) off the Tel Aviv coast.

Miri Kalfa, the center's spokesperson, told Ynet that the IMMRAC researches were familiar with that school of dolphins and has been watching them for the past two years. "The group swims regularly several kilometers off the Israeli coast, between Hadera and Ashkelon, and we 'visit' it every week," she said.

The close observation allows the researchers to distinguish between the dolphins through signs on their tails. "To our surprise, this morning we discovered that two baby dolphins have joined the original group," she reported.

The researchers estimate that the baby dolphins were born about two months ago, during the war in Lebanon. "Luckily, the pregnancies ended successfully in spite of the ongoing events. They seem healthy, and it appears that the battles and the increased naval activity had no influence on them. They are swimming alongside their parents and are learning how to hunt. They swam by the center's large fishing boar and ate fish we placed inside the net."

Kalfa estimates that the school of dolphins will stay off the Israeli coast also during the autumn and winter. "The drop in the water's temperature does not influence the group," she said. However, she had doubts regarding an encounter between the dolphins and human beings.

"It's difficult to believe that people will run into them, as they swim far from the coast. Should there be an encounter, it is important to understand that this is the school's living space. If a person does not attack and approach them, they won't do a thing," she explained.

Christians: We'll Fight for Israel


Millions of Evangelical Christians around the world support and constantly pray for the State of Israel, representatives at a meeting of the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus said Wednesday.

Dozens of Evangelical pastors, parliament members, and leaders from an array of countries gathered at the Knesset in Jerusalem to proclaim their support for the country, during a meeting of the Caucus, which was also attended by Knesset Members from across the political spectrum.

"We see Israelis as our spiritual mothers and fathers. It's an honor for us to be here," Pastor Norman Miller of Australia told YnetNews. "We love your God, Israel," Miller told the meeting, to a round of warm applause.

"The line between the political and the biblical is disappearing," Josh Reinstein, director of the Caucus, told the meeting. "Around the world, we see the rise of radical Islam come against our Judeo-Christian values, and we must meet it with a well organized response," Reinstein said. "We formed the Christian Allies Caucus to coordinate cooperate and communicate with our Christian allies around the world… we want to work with you, and we thank you for your support," he told delegates.

Reinstein said that modern events were shaping up to fit well with Torah prophecies. "If you can read the newspaper, than you can read the Torah, because things are coming into place like people have predicted many years before us."

"This isn't just a time to shake hands… this is really the start of a relationship, of a political relationship, and that means an economic relationship, a social cooperation, and that also means political support for the State of Israel," he said.

Addressing concerns voiced by some about an alliance with Evangelical Christianity, Reinstein said: "Of course we have to be vigilant to make sure that we're not working with organizations that are just befriending us to convert us, but what we are doing is finding real friends and creating real relationships, so we can promote each other.

"Evangelical Christians around the world are the greatest friends Israel has. And for us to turn our noses at them because of past transgressions is a ridiculous idea… the relationship between Jews and Christians in the 21st century is going to be the most important issue of our time, I think."

Reinstein said concerns about the Evangelical belief in the second coming of Jesus were unfounded: "We also have our own beliefs. For our purpose, it's completely irrelevant. If you're a Jew and you're concerned about what's going to happen in the Christian faith, you're not really a practicing Jew; because that's something you shouldn't be concerned about."

"The friendship that we receive from you, our Christian friends, has significance far beyond the good feeling it gives to us Israelis," Knesset Member Gilad Eran said. "It is clear proof to us, and to the whole world, and particularly to the terrorists, that Israel is not alone," he said.

"It says in the book of Isaiah that Egypt, Israel, and Syria will worship God together," Tom Hess, an American Evangelical pastor who has lived in Israel for the past 19 years, told the delegates.

"What's beginning to happen in the Middle East is that there are Arab leaders that God's raising up as pillars, that are standing with God's covenant, that are saying the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people," Hess said, introducing a number of Evangelical pastors from east Jerusalem, Egypt, and Turkey, described by Hess as "biblical Syria."

"They are teaching their people in their nations, they are the leaders of their nations, against replacement theology, to stand with God's covenant with the people of Israel and the Land of Israel," Hess said.

Amir Boutros, an Egyptian Christian, said to warm applause: "I assure you, Members of Knesset, and the government here in Israel, that no one can wipe away Israel. I'm not talking nonsense. It's from my own experience. I've been in the Six Days war, 1967, fighting against Israel.

"And in those days, President Nasser assured to the whole world that he is going to wipe away Israel from the map… thousands of tanks and troops came to the border, and Nasser said that we are going to throw Israel into the Mediterranean Sea. But I tell you people, that the God of Israel is defending Israel." Boutros said he had a revelation, during which he was ordered by God to love Israel.

Naim Khoury, a Palestinian Christian, said he is "wanted" by Islamic groups, adding: "I believe the land of Israel is going to prosper… the Iranian president cannot touch this land, because it belongs to God's chosen people. And God is going to protect this land, and keep Jerusalem a united city, forever and ever. Because Jerusalem does not belong to Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah or Syria. It belongs to the State of Israel, and the great king the lord Jesus Christ."

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