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Jews and Evangelicals Pursue Recognition of Israel with Arab Leaders in the Gulf

By Israel Hayom

Against the backdrop of the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula is an interfaith conference that includes prominent U.S. rabbis and Christian evangelicals, who are seeking stronger recognition of Israel through closer ties with Muslim figures and Arab leaders. These merged interests come as Arab leaders look to strengthen ties with the Trump administration through his evangelical base of supporters. It's also happening as Gulf Arab states take their once-private outreach to Israel more publicly in the absence of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. Rabbi Marc Schneier of New York has been a pioneer in building ties between Jews and Muslims in the U.S. and the Middle East. Through greater interreligious dialogue, he's pushed for closer relations between Muslim leaders and the state of Israel. "I think there is a very, very keen interest in bringing Islam and Judaism together, but our role as Jewish leaders — we also need to sensitize and educate and expose both Gulf leaders and Muslim interfaith leaders to the fact that Israel again is not a political dimension for the Jewish people; it's at the very core of our religion," he told AP in an interview on the sidelines of Pope Francis' visit to the United Arab Emirates. Schneier has carved a foothold in the region to deliver that message. The king of Bahrain has appointed him as a special adviser and he's been hosted by Qatar's ruler in Doha. He also has links to Saudi Arabia's interfaith center in Vienna and has been invited to Saudi Arabia to meet the crown prince. He even boasts that he has helped ensure kosher hot dogs will be available to soccer fans attending the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar. Over the weekend, he delivered a sermon to a congregation of expatriate Jews in an unmarked synagogue in Dubai — a move that not only underlined growing acceptance and recognition of Jewish life in Gulf Arab states but also of the warming of ties between these nations and Israel. "I remember when I first entered the fray here in the Gulf, there was a tendency to bifurcate Israel and Judaism, to break out Israel from Judaism," Schneier said, explaining that he used to hear people in the region say: "We have nothing against Jews. It's Israelis and Zionists that we have a problem with. I no longer hear that rhetoric. It's no longer part of the conversation," he said. For Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, which still feel stung from the 2015 nuclear deal with rival Iran that was struck by then-President Barack Obama and other world leaders, building ties with the Trump administration and Israel are seen as ways to counter Tehran's footprint in regional conflicts. For some U.S. evangelicals, support for Israel is at the very core of their faith. Last year, a delegation of top Christian evangelicals, including American-Christian Zionist leaders, traveled to Riyadh to meet the crown prince — the first-ever meeting of its kind. The delegation to Riyadh was led by Israeli-based communications strategist Joel Rosenberg, a messianic Jew, and included former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann; Jerry Johnson, the president and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters; and Michael Little, former president and COO of The Christian Broadcasting Network, among others. CBN described it as a meeting "filled with both political controversy and spiritual opportunity." The group issued a statement after the meeting saying they were "encouraged by the candor of the two-hour conversation" and were looking forward to continuing the dialogue. The Riyadh meeting came about after the crown prince had met with top Jewish American leaders in the U.S. in April. He'd also been quoted speaking about Israelis' "right to have their own land" during his tour of major U.S. cities. Just before their Saudi stop, the evangelicals were in Abu Dhabi meeting with its crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. They'd previously already met with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Crypto-Jews Face Genocide in Nigeria, Separatist Leader Warns


A group claiming Jewish heritage in eastern Nigeria is facing systematic extermination at the hands of Islamic terrorists, a separatist leader warns, citing the recent discovery of mass-graves in the Abia region. Nnamdi Kanu, a leader of the Biafra separatist movement, told Arutz Sheva Tuesday that Islamists have targeted members of a crypto-Jewish group within Nigeria's Igbo minority in a recent string of mass-killings. The bodies, he said, were found four days ago, dumped in ditches around the city of Aba in southern Nigeria. Kanu warned that the recent killings suggest Islamic terror groups active in Nigeria are singling out Igbo who identify as Jews or with the local Messianic community. "The discovery four days ago of fresh human corpses inside a ditch along Aba-Port Harcourt Road in Aba, Abia State in Eastern Nigeria has raised fresh concerns and fears over intensified plans or policies to wipe off or exterminate the Judeo-Christian People of Eastern Nigeria; otherwise called `Igbo/Biafra-Jews'," Kanu told Arutz Sheva. "The intelligence unit of the Indigenous People of Biafra had four days ago (2/1/2019) discovered that fresh corpses of innocent citizens of Judeo-Christian identity killed in custody are routinely dumped inside various ditches across Abia State and possibly other parts of the Eastern Region of Nigeria." The claims were not independently verified, but Kanu cited reports from human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Intersociety: The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law regarding massacres of the Igbo minority in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Islamic terrorism has been on the rise in Nigeria in recent years, surging after the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. According to a report by the monitor Control Risks', the number of terror attacks annually rose from 317 in 2013 to 1,549 by 2018. Much of this increase has been attributed to the expansion of Boko Haram, an ISIS-affiliated Sunni Muslim terror organization centered in eastern Nigeria. With nearly 200 million people, Nigeria is the largest country in Africa and is home to a variety of ethnic groups. Among them is the Igbo, a group of some 35 million living in southeastern Nigeria. In 1967, the Igbo region split off from Nigeria, forming the short-lived Republic of Biafra. By 1970, Biafra was reincorporated into Nigeria. Like some 40% of Nigerians, most Igbo identify as Christian. Tens of thousands of Igbo, however, identify as Jewish, with many claiming Jewish ancestry – either from one of the Ten Lost Tribes, from Jewish migrants to Africa following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE or the West African Jewish communities of Bilad el-Sudan. Over the past 30 years, interest in Jewish tradition and legends of Jewish heritage among the Igbo have increased significantly, leading to the establishment of dozens of synagogues. While most of the Igbo who identify as Jewish retain elements of Christian belief and practice, some have renounced their former religion, with some even formally converting to Judaism. While a report by Howard Gorin, a Conservative rabbi from the United States, in 2006 suggested there were only a handful of verifiably halachic Jews among the Igbo, the community has continued to grow. Kanu himself has stated that he identifies as Jewish. In October 2018, Kanu surfaced in Jerusalem, after having fled Nigeria. "I owe my survival to the State of Israel," Kanu said, noting that he received help from Israel's Mossad, though he did not indicate what kind of assistance he may have received from Israeli authorities.

Cannabis for the Observant Jew

By YnetNews
How do you smoke marijuana on the Sabbath without smoking? The Jewish mind has come up with a patented solution. Lior Meshulam, who suffers from chronic pain, developed a cannabis vaporizer that works on Shabbat without human contact, and it even has a kosher certificate from The Tzomet Institute, which seeks to integrate Jewish law into the modern world. Lior Meshulam has lived with chronic pain 24 hours a day since the age of 16. The only solution to his constant agony is smoking medical marijuana. But as an observant Jew, the onset of Shabbat every Friday sundown, with its ban on smoking, was the start of a 25-hour nightmare."Every Shabbat was a de facto process of detox, in which the body becomes paralyzed," he said. "Either you go to bed after every meal and try to sleep the Sabbath away, or you are angry, on edge and suffering from the entire Shabbat." But Meshulam may have found the solution. Over the past year, the 50-year-old has been working on what is supposed to be the "ultimate solution" for the Sabbath-observant patient: a way of smoking marijuana without desecrating Shabbat. He has even got a "kosher" certificate from the Tzomet Institute, which seeks to integrate Jewish law into the modern world. According to Meshulam, the device evaporates the material that is inserted into it within 10 minutes or so, and a small fan pushes the steam into the bag above. When the bag is filled with the vapor, one disconnects it from the appliance, attaches it to a cigarette holder and smokes. At the age of 16 Meshulam awoke one morning to discover that he had become half-paralyzed by a virus. "The doctors had no solution, and since then I have been confined to a wheelchair and 100% disabled," he said. "The paralysis has led to other medical problems aside from the pain. This is not normal pain, but rather pain that is present all the time, even when eating or talking to someone else. About five years ago, I received approval for medical marijuana, and since then the pain has not completely disappeared — it still exists — but cannabis makes it bearable." About 20 years ago, Meshulam became religious. "I discovered that Shabbat is a serious problem for all smokers, not just cannabis users. Smokers are actually addicts, and every Shabbat poses the same problem from the start. "One solution is to use cannabis oil or marijuana cookies, but for me and many others, when it comes to cannabis use to counter pain, the oil and cookies simply do not affect us. Another possibility is to say that this is a life-saving treatment, and the Jewish law states that saving a life takes precedence over keeping Shabbat. But it's not truly life-saving, and therefore not a solution," Meshulam said. "A few months ago I had an idea of using an evaporator. But during that process, you heat the material and breathe in the smoke that was created during combustion. The idea was to take a vaporizer that would warm the medical marijuana and produce steam that enters the balloon. It was a primitive device that I developed with the help of an electrical technician, with some form of a Shabbat clock, that periodically switches on during Shabbat. And when you need it, you put the material in the cartridge, and the evaporation occurs." Meshulam's wife, Bat El, pushed him to invest in the commercial development of the device. "Not only to take care of myself but to take a direction that would benefit the many, that is, something that would help other people who are religious and face the same difficulty." So I turned to the Tzomet Institute, presented the device I created, and they told me it was worthwhile to go for a more innovative solution. I turned to a computer programmer who created software that runs the device every half hour, but you can also time it for longer breaks." The device, called "Elor," got the Tzomet seal of approval. "The reactions," says Meshulam, "were amazing both for those who need medical marijuana, and those who are addicted to cigarettes and suffer every Shabbat." Rabbi Menachem Perl, dean of the Tzomet Institute, explained that Halacha (Jewish law) permits the use of the device on Shabbat as there is no act of lighting or extinguishing a flame. He said the institute approved the use of the device on Shabbat "only for the substance defined as medicine, and only for a person who suffers without the use of the drug during Shabbat." They also determined that to make the appliance suitable for use on Shabbat, all the material for vaporization had to be inserted into the cartridge before the start of Shabbat. "The institute sees its role as to be as helpful as possible to patients and to those who need medical marijuana in line with their doctor's instructions," said the rabbi. "We are pleased that the Tzomet Institute has the means to find solutions and help Lior and anyone who else who can experience Shabbat without suffering and pain."

Foul Ball Struck and Killed 790Year-old Jewish Woman

By the Jerusalem Post
A California Jewish woman died four days after being hit in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Linda Goldbloom, 79, died Aug. 29, ESPN reported, citing a Los Angeles County coroner's report. The incident had not been reported in the media. Goldbloom, a mother of three and grandmother of seven, was a "true fan" of the Dodgers, her daughter said. She and her husband of 59 years, Erwin, had a 10-game season ticket plan for the past 10 years. The coroner said the cause of death was "acute intracranial hemorrhage due to a history of blunt force trauma" and cited Goldbloom being hit in the head with the ball at Dodger Stadium as the cause of the injury. Though not reported by news outlets, the family said in an emailed death announcement, "While the end came suddenly by a foul ball at Dodgers (sic) Stadium, she had a long beautiful and blessed life." The accident happened in the top of the ninth inning during a game against the San Diego Padres, according to ESPN. Goldbloom was taken to the hospital and had emergency brain surgery. She was unconscious and on a respirator for three days before the family allowed her to be taken off, per wishes she had made known before the accident, according to the report. Erwin Goldbloom turned down his chance for Dodgers postseason tickets and did not renew his subscription for 2019, according to the report. "Mr. and Mrs. Goldbloom were great Dodgers fans who regularly attended games," a team spokesman told ESPN. "We were deeply saddened by this tragic accident and the passing of Mrs. Goldbloom. The matter has been resolved between the Dodgers and the Goldbloom family. We cannot comment further on this matter." The family plans to establish a fund in her memory to assist victims of such accidents and their families.

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