Newsletter : 9fax0505.txt
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Chief Rabbi Calls for Day of Prayer for H1N1 Flu
Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar asked Jews on Monday to set aside a day of prayer and fasting
for this coming Thursday for the welfare of the world in light of the H1N1 flu outbreak.
He also called on people to repent and increase their study of Torah.
Amar cited a Talmudic precedent that in the time of Rabbi Yehuda around 1,500 years
ago, when he learned that the pigs had a disease, he immediately declared a day of fasting
because he said that pigs have a similar digestive system to humans.
Israeli Company Developing Swine Flu Vaccine
A revolutionary vaccine against all types of influenza is scheduled to enter phase 1
clinical trials in humans in the next few days.
The vaccine, an Israeli development, is intended to provide universal
multi-season/multi-strain protection against most human influenza virus strains, as well
as the Avian flu, for a period of five years. This would enable a long-term planning of
vaccine production and prevent shortages in national reserves.
The Health Ministry is expected to provide the final authorization for the first
clinical trials, which will take place at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv. The
outline for the trial was developed jointly by the Clinical Trial Unit and BiondVax
Pharmaceuticals Ltd, which is developing the universal vaccination in accordance with
international and FDA standards.
The vaccination is the result of a 20-year study conducted by a team of researchers led
by Israel Prize laureate Prof. Ruth Arnon. The technology on which it is based is meant to
provide protection against a wide range of virus strain, including future strains.
Dr. Ron Babkov, Biondvax's founder and CEO, explained that in addition to being a
multi-season vaccine, the new vaccination is not influences by the changing flu strains.
It can be effective both in cases of an epidemic which is limited in geographic
scope and is mainly seasonal, and a pandemic which is a worldwide outbreak of
severe influenza which takes place once in a decade.
Peres: Israel Open to Peace with Palestinians
By VOA News & YnetNews.com
Israeli President Shimon Peres said Monday that his country remains open to peace with
the Palestinians and other Arabs. Peres was interviewed by CNN and in a speech to the
annual convention of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, the chief
pro-Israeli lobby in Washington.
The Israeli president sought to reassure his listeners that new Israeli Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu wants peace with the Palestinians. But Peres did not mention proposals
for creating a Palestinian state.
Palestinian statehood has been the centerpiece of U.S. mediation efforts in the Middle
East for most of the past decade. Peres is to meet Tuesday with President Barack
In his speech to AIPAC, Peres also said Iran's nuclear activities threaten the United
States, Europe and Arab nations, as well as Israel. He said the Iranian government also
has invested heavily in long-range missile development even though, he said, Iran is not
threatened by any enemies.
Last month, Peres indicated Israel would be willing to launch military strikes against
Iranian nuclear sites if international efforts to stop its disputed nuclear activities
fail. He later retracted those comments, saying there is no military solution.
Iran said its nuclear program is only for civilian use and that it has a right to
develop such technology. The United Nations, prompted by the concerns of the U.S.,
European nations and others, has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran because of the
Peres said "President Obama elegantly articulated what is needed, when he called for an
outstretched hand instead of a clenched fist. In the future, our time may be considered as
the age of outstretched hands. Israel stands with her arms outstretched and her hands held
open to peace with all nations, with all Arab states, with all Arab people. To those still
holding a clenched fist I have just one word to say enough! Enough war. Enough
destruction. Enough hatred. Now is the time for change."
Peres praised the Saudi peace initiative, which was accepted by the Arab League.
"Israel wasn't a partner to the wording of this initiative. Therefore it doesn't have to
agree to every word. Nevertheless, Israel respects the profound change, and hopes it will
be translated into action."
Poll: Majority of Jewish Israelis Favor Strike on Iran
By VOA News & Ha'aretz
A new Israeli opinion survey said the majority of Israeli Jews favor a military strike
against Iran's nuclear facilities. The poll published Monday by Ha'aretz and co-sponsored
by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, indicates that 66
percent of Israeli Jews surveyed backed such an attack on Iran, while 15 percent opposed
it and 19 percent gave no opinion.
Seventy five percent of those who supported a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities said
they would continue to back the attack even if the United States opposed it, but 15
percent said they would change their minds based on Washington's position.
The survey also indicated that most Jewish Israelis feel positively toward U.S.
President Barack Obama. But only 38 percent thought that Obama has a friendly attitude
toward Israel, compared with 73 percent who thought his predecessor, George W. Bush, had a
friendly attitude toward their country in 2007.
Israel considers Iran an enemy because of repeated calls by Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad to "wipe Israel off the map." Israel and its Western allies believe Iran's
nuclear program may have a military component. Iran says its atomic activities are for
peaceful, civilian use.
The survey, administered by the Maagar Mochot research institute, involved 610
respondents, constituting a representative sample of Israeli Jews over the age of 18.
Iraq Refuses to Compensate Jews
The Iraqi government has rejected recent claims made by an organization demanding that
the country's Jews be compensated for property lost when they immigrated to Israel, the
London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported.
The issue was raised after an organization by the name of "Nachum," claiming to
represent Iraqi Jews that immigrated to Israel, issued a statement demanding compensation
for the property and funds deposited in the banks before the Jews escaped.
The organization stated that the Jewish property and the community's assets were
confiscated by the authorities. According to "Nahum." Iraq's Jews had controlled some 80
percent of the country's economy in the past, and the value of their assets is estimated
today at some $100 billion. The organization's claim focuses on the Basra district, which
housed tens of thousands of Jews in the past.
Iraqi lawyer Hashem Muhammad Ali, who lives in Basra, expressed his support for the
Jewish organization's statement. According to him, the Jews were part of Iraq's social and
economic fabric for thousands of years, and the British Mandate and Iraqi government's
policies forced them to leave the country.
On the other hand, the former manager of Basra's department of antiquities and heritage
argued that the Jews sold their property before leaving Iraq. According to him, communal
property is subject to the supervision of the Iraqi government's Waqf office.
The Iraqi government, on its part, said that the Jews who emigrated from Iraq could
have been compensated had they been able to prove that they were forced to emigrate. The
official Iraqi policy states that the Jews' emigration was "made out of choice." Iraqi
government workers quoted by the Arab media stated that the new compensation claim was
"provocative" and was part of an Israeli attempt to extract funds from the Iraqi treasury.
'Israelis in New York More Connected to Judaism Than U.S. Jews'
Israelis living in New York are much more connected to their "Jewishness" than
American-born Jews, according to a new study.
The study, recently released by UJA-Federation of New York, claims that Israelis "far
outscore" Americans in terms of synagogue attendance, kashrut observance, participation in
Jewish charity events, volunteering to aid needy Jews, visiting Jewish museums and Web
sites as well as in membership in Jewish community centers.
The study showed that 60 percent of Israelis in New York light Shabbat candles and
maintain kashrut in the home. Nine out of 10 light Chanukah candles, fast on Yom Kippur
and view Jewish education for their children to be "of supreme importance." Seventy-two
percent maintain close connections with Israel.
The divorce rate, however, is lower among Israelis in New York than among American
Jews, the study continued. "More than 96 percent were married with 40 percent having four
to five family members and 15 percent six or more, which points to a large proportion of
Orthodox or Haredi families in the New York Israeli population," the authors of the study
Conducted by Prof. Steven M. Cohen and Dr. Judith Veinstein in order to enable UJA to
create effective programming for Israelis in New York, the study also revealed surprising
data about their numbers.
While previously it was estimated that 1.5 million Israelis live in the East Coast
metropolis, the study showed the actual number to be 41,000. This estimate includes Jews
born in Israel as well as those who lived there for at least one year and then
Hot Air, High Winds Heat Up the State of Israel
There are numerous names in Hebrew and Arabic for the hot, nearly gale-force wind that
swept up from the Sahara Desert and into the Land of Israel on Monday.
But all added up to the same thing: extreme heat, downed power lines and fires in
communities around the country. A thick, dusty haze settled into the air from the morning
hours, casting an eerie orange tint in the sky. Temperatures ranged from the low to
mid-30's Celsius (approximately 86 95 degrees Fahrenheit).
In the northern Negev community of Arad, Lili Muallem told Israel National News she
called a neighbor from her job to make sure all the windows in her house were closed. "We
live on the edge of town, right next to the desert," she explained. "Any time we have a
sand storm it just pours in any open window, even if it is only a little bit open. This
time maybe I will be lucky."
Moving up the coast, in the Tel Aviv area, three houses were set afire when a tree
crashed down on nearby power lines in the Chassidic village of Kfar Chabad. A short
circuit plus dry conditions and high winds were all it took to kindle the blaze. No one
In central Israel, three apartments were badly damaged as flames shot up after high
winds brought down more power lines near a building in Petach Tikvah. No one was injured
in the blaze. In Elad, near Bnei Brak, a fire broke out near a school also causing
no injuries. Small fires also broke out in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim.
Along the northern coast, firefighters were called to battle a large blaze in Netanya.
Another firefighting unit was summoned to Kibbutz Ziv to put out a fire near the
cooperative community's chicken coops.
Near Route 44, a fire broke out at a carpentry shop, and at Moshav Avial a fire broke
out in a field. Towards Jerusalem, firefighters were called to battle a forest fire that
struck the hills around Beit Shemesh.
At Ben Gurion International Airport, the haze also affected traffic, and pilots took
extra precautions due to the poor visibility. Dov Air Field in Tel Aviv limited its air
traffic due to weather conditions.
The weather was expected to break by evening, with temperatures predicted to drop some
12 degrees Celsius (20 degrees Fahrenheit) by Tuesday, and a new weather pattern bringing
a light rain to the north of the country. Cool weather is in the forecast for the rest of
the week, with temperatures rising slight on Friday and the Sabbath.
The Bible in Comics
The Education Ministry has recently introduced a new comic book into school curriculums
in order to facilitate Bible studies among elementary school students.
The book, which contains an illustrated version of the books Samuel and Judges
(Shoftim), is intended for use among fifth and sixth grade students, but the ministry
plans to gradually expand the use of comics to all elementary school grades. It should be
stressed that the books are meant to accompany and compliment the students' reading of the
original biblical text, rather than replace it.
This is yet another move in a series of initiatives taken by the national supervisor of
Bible studies at the Education Ministry, Drora Halevi, whose purpose is to bring children
closer to the subject matter. She explained that love of the Bible stems from an
understanding of the text, sympathizing with the characters, a sense of familiarity with
the places where the stories took place, and dealing with ethical dilemmas.
She said that the comic book, which was written by Noya Sagiv and illustrated by Bella
Goldenberg, enables teachers to "obtain quality teaching objectives through a humoristic
experience. The comics allow students to understand the text, particularly at a time when
students read very little, and read the Bible even less, and are having trouble
Studying through cartoons, Halevi believes, "Connects the students to the Bible via
their own world, and we have to adjust the teaching to the reality of the 21st century. We
have to teach students in their way and help them feel close to the events."
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