-------------- -------[ B''H

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mr Bagel is Back

Yes its true, despite a spectacular absence of blogging for over two months, Mr Bagel has returned.
Mr Bagel has been 'moving' from a remote country location to a more civilised part of Australia.

Moving has required Mr Bagel to do five seperate trips of over 2,000kms each, despite selling what we thought was almost all of our worldly possesions, we still had to do five trips to move our 'personal belongings'. Which raises one very valid point, how personal can 5 trailers worth of belongings be? Do you think Mr Bagel might just be a horder? mmm?

Anyway after selling all our furniture we have been rushing around buying beds and fridges and lounges and just about everything else required to life a civilised life. Now that Mr Bagel has moved to civilisation he has decided to stop talking to the soccer ball with a wig. (Tom Hanks.)

We've only been in town a week but, living where there are shops, and services is such a refreshing break from living hours away from the most basic shopping. Its taking some adjustment, I generally spoke to about 3 peaople a month where I lived, now I see hundreds a day.

Mr Bagel: Thank you to all the well wishers and the emails I received


Monday, October 29, 2007

Haveil Havalim #138 is up!

Soccer Dad - Haveil Havalim 138

Soccer Dad is behind this weeks edition of Haveil Havalim #138 and he has kicked a goal, it's a huge edition with some great posts.

Well done to Soccer Dad for such a worthy edition.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Haveil Havalim #137:

If I forget you, O Jerusalem

Yaaqoov from EsserAgaroth is behind the wrap up of Haveil Havalim #137 and he has done a wonderful job, it is a very large edition with some very relevant reading.

Well done to Yaaqov for such a worthy edition.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Jewish School wins landmark court battle

In Test of Religious Protections, Court Sides With Jewish School in New York

In a decision watched closely by religious rights groups and municipal officials, a federal court has ruled in favor of an Orthodox Jewish religious school that fought for five years with the village of Mamaroneck, N.Y., over its right to construct a new school building.

The case was seen as an important test of a 2000 federal law known as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which extends broad protections to religious groups that claim their exercise of faith is “substantially burdened” by government land-use regulations. The law also extends similar protections to prison inmates.

In its ruling yesterday, the three-judge federal panel said the Zoning Board of Appeals of the affluent Westchester County village exhibited “an arbitrary blindness to the facts” in 2002 when it denied an application by the Orthodox school, the Westchester Day School,[Map] to build a new, 20-room school building.

Religious groups have embraced the Religious Land Use law as a bulwark against what they see as the meddling of government bureaucracies, while opponents see it as giving too much power to religious groups in deciding how the local landscape evolves.

While various court decisions since 2001 have come down on different sides of that balance of power, yesterday’s decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit was viewed as a clear victory for the religious side.

“This will shift the balance of power between houses of worship and bureaucrats who until now have wielded unreviewable authority,” said Derek Gaubatz, a lawyer who submitted a brief in support of the Orthodox school on behalf of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Washington religious rights group. “This gives a real boost to the cause of religious liberty.”

The United States Justice Department and several other religious organizations also filed briefs in support of the school’s suit, and in defense of the 2000 law.

Kevin Plunkett, the lawyer representing the village of Mamaroneck, said village officials had not decided yet whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“Of course, we are disappointed,” he said, “but it’s been apparent from the start that the constitutional issues raised by this case are issues that need to be resolved in the U.S. Supreme Court. In our view, this continues to be a serious First Amendment issue needing resolution.”

The new structure in Mamaroneck was to be the fifth building on a 25-acre campus where 450 students attend both religious and academic classes in preschool through eighth grade. School administrators said they had outgrown their space and would lose enrollment unless they could expand.

Residents in the area complained that the new building would add to already-congested traffic. The Zoning Board of Appeals cited the neighbors’ concerns, and what the board said was inadequate space for parking, as reasons for denying the application. Neither community members nor zoning board members could be reached for comment yesterday.

The school filed the suit in Federal District Court in 2002, citing the law. Its lawyers contended that the zoning board’s denial of the building application “substantially burdened” the practice of Orthodox Jewish faith because the new building was in its entirety a religious enterprise intended to teach the tenets of Orthodox Judaism, though both academic and religious classes would take place there.

The village’s lawyers cited several grounds, including the 10th Amendment’s protection of the rights of state and local government. But mainly they argued that the law violated the First Amendment’s prohibition against government infringement or advancement of religion. The lower court ruled in favor of the school, and the village appealed.

Joel Haims, the lawyer representing the Westchester Day School pro bono throughout the five years of the case, said that for school officials the decision meant “vindication, but mainly a good outcome for the school and the kids.”

The court yesterday ordered the village zoning board to issue a permit for the new building. But Mr. Haims said there were still several layers of local review to undergo before construction began. “There is the planning board next, and then the building department has to review the plans, I think,” he said.

But Mr. Haims said he hoped the court decision would make those stages of the review process easier than the first one has been.

Mr Bagel: Joel Haims, the lawyer representing the Westchester Day School should be congratulated for his dedication and altruism. One hopes the battle is near over, but it seems there may be more issues yet, with the schools building plan.

Westchester Day School: Mission Statement


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kosher Roll Out

The Popular Subway chain is trying to sandwich in some new growth to its 21,000 locations. The Newest kosher Subway has opened in Los Angeles.

Despite the ingredients being more expensive along with the 'Subs' they're already proving popular with the locals.

Mr Bagel: I so wish that Sydney had a Kosher Subway! I've heard of Kosher Mcdonalds in Israel but Subway food is just so much healthier.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rabbi Avraham Shapira dies

Ex Israeli Chief Rabbi Dies

JERUSALEM (AP) — A spiritual leader of Israel's religious Zionist movement, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, has died after a long illness in Jerusalem. He was 94.

Shapira, a chief rabbi in Israel for ten years beginning in 1983, died Thursday after being hospitalized earlier in the week due to deteriorating health. Thousands of his followers had prayed for his well-being in recent days at the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in Jerusalem's Old City.

The rabbi of the movement that forms the backbone of Israel's settlement enterprise was most known in Israel for his call on observant soldiers in 2005 to disobey orders to dismantle 21 Jewish settlements during Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip that year.

Many Orthodox Jews oppose any withdrawal from the West Bank or Gaza, considering them part of their God-given Land of Israel. Shapira's call helped foster widespread fervent opposition to the pullout and fears of clashes between settlers with their backers and the security forces.

The "disengagement" from Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank was completed with no great violence or casualties in September 2005.

"Before the disengagement he was among those who gave the settlers the feeling that it would not go through, that it wouldn't happen if there was a struggle, that there would be some divine intervention," Yossi Beilin of the dovish Meretz Party told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. "What he did created a very serious crisis for an entire generation."

Shapira also opposed the first Israeli-Palestinian peace accords in 1993, saying Jewish law forbade Israel from transferring holy land to the Palestinians.

He was a top adjudicator on the Torah and a leader of his movement's Mercaz Harav religious seminary in Jerusalem.

"Rabbi Avraham Shapira was beholden to the Torah," Hanan Porat, a former lawmaker from the movement's National Religious Party, told Israel Radio. "For him there was no separation between questions on the Sabbath ... and questions on society, morality and the Land of Israel of course."

He was to be buried in Jerusalem later Friday. Mourners at the funeral were told not to cry, since expressions of sorrow are forbidden during the seven days of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot.

AP: Ex Israeli Chief Rabbi Dies


Jewish History: Rhodes: A decimated Jewish community

from JPost
After 2 Millenia a community is destroyed

Rhodes is the most easterly of all the Greek islands and is situated only a few kilometers from the Anatolian coast of Turkey. It is believed that Jews arrived on this island when they left Judea in 300 BCE and settled in the Mediterranean basin. The first mention of Jews on Rhodes was made by a Roman historian at the end of the first century CE. A reliable document, written by a Spanish Jew who visited the island in the 12th century, found more than 500 Jews there, while in Jerusalem he found only 200.

The Crusaders were driven out of the Holy Land in 1291 with their defeat at Acre, and found refuge in Cyprus. In 1306 they landed in Rhodes, taking three years to conquer the town, which was then ruled by these Knights Hospitalers. The year 1480 saw a large-scale attack by the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II with the aim of conquering Rhodes from the Crusaders. The Jewish quarter of this walled city, known as the Juderia, is situated near the harbor from which the Turks bombarded with cannons. They breached the wall and entered the town through the Juderia, destroying most of the buildings in the process. However, they did not succeed in conquering the island and they returned to Anatolia.

The Crusaders saw this as a miracle and built a church in the destroyed Juderia and also in appreciation for the support of the Jews, they reconstructed the Great Synagogue, which had been destroyed by the Turks.

Italian rabbi Ovadia Yare de Bertinoro visited Rhodes in 1487 and wrote about how intelligent, polite and kind the Jewish community was, and he was especially impressed by the embroidery work of the women.

After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, some of them arrived in Rhodes. Unfortunately, in 1502, the same grand master of the Knights Hospitalers who had rebuilt the Great Synagogue 20 years earlier decreed that those Jews who did not convert to Christianity had 40 days in which to leave the island. Property that was not sold would be confiscated and those who did not convert or leave would be sold as slaves. The majority of the Jews left and found refuge in Salonika and Genoa.

In 1522 the Ottomans again attacked Rhodes and this time forced the knights to surrender. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent asked the Jews who had been forced to convert in 1502 to return to their faith. The "converted" Jews were joined by hundreds of other Jews who had been brought to the island as slaves by the knights. The sultan offered tax privileges to Jews who came to settle in Rhodes, and many arrived from Constantinople and Salonika, most of whom were of Spanish origin. Over the years, Sephardic customs were adopted as was the Ladino language, which was used until 1944, replacing Greek which had been used by the Jewish community.

The Ottoman occupation lasted nearly 400 years. They banned Greeks from living in the old walled city, while allowing the Jews to remain in their Juderia. The Jews enjoyed a certain amount of autonomy and administered their own court of justice and educational system. There were unpleasant times, such as in 1840 when the community was accused of ritual murder of a girl.

At the end of the 19th century, the Jews of Rhodes started leaving on account of their economic situation. A few families were well off, but the vast majority were poor, with no prospect of improving their financial situation. Some went to America, where they settled mainly in Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Atlanta. Others went to Buenos Aires and to Africa, to the southern Belgian Congo around Elizabethville, while others went to Southern Rhodesia where they settled around Salisbury. In Africa, many of them opened general stores near the mines and in the smaller villages.

Typically, the husband would leave Rhodes first, and when he'd accumulated sufficient funds, his wife and children would join him. This migration continued until the outbreak of the World War II.

When the Belgian Congo became independent in 1960, the Jews, along with the other Europeans, fled, with many of them moving south, to Cape Town which suddenly found itself with a French-speaking Sephardic community which is still very active. Guerrilla warfare and eventual black rule in Rhodesia in the 1970s and '80s resulted in the emigration of this community, a number of whom settled in Israel. At one stage there were about 400 Rhodian families in Salisbury.

Downward spiral
The Turkish-Italian war of 1912 resulted in the Italian occupation of Rhodes, which was legalized by the Treaty of Lausanne. The Jewish population at this time was about 4,500 and suffered no particular hardships. In 1936 the governor was replaced by the authoritarian fascist Count de Vecci. He abolished the Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish family courts. The Jewish cemetery had been just outside the wall of the city for centuries. He ordered that it be moved a few kilometers away and that 100 of the old tombstones were needed for building his palace. The supposed reason was that he wanted the area for public gardens, which were never laid out. Those who could afford to moved the graves to the new cemetery, while in many cases just the tombstones were transferred. After that, he closed the rabbinic college and forced Jewish shops to remain open on Saturdays and holy days and then banned kosher slaughtering.

The governor also decreed that all Jews who had obtained Italian citizenship after 1919 had to leave Rhodes within six months. Many of them were from Turkey and could not go back there. Most of them were poor and could not afford the fare to leave the island. With the financial help of Rhodians living abroad, 500 were put on a ship going to Haifa while another 300 were put on a ship to Tangier, from where they went to the Belgian Congo, Southern Rhodesia and the US. As it turned out, these were the fortunate ones.

When Italy surrendered in September 1943, there were already German soldiers on Rhodes and they took control. Some of the young Jewish men fled in rowboats to the nearby Turkish coast. The Jewish community at that time consisted mainly of women, children and the elderly, as most of the young people had left for economic reasons or because of the racial laws.

At the time, the Royal Air Force was bombing the port of Rhodes, and the Juderia, being adjacent to the port, suffered much damage. In February 1944 eight Jews were killed in an air raid, and on the first day of Pessah another 26 were killed. Many Jews sought shelter in the neighboring villages.

On July 19, 1944, all Jewish males older than 16 were ordered to report for work. This was only a ruse to force the women and children to join them the following day, and to bring all their valuables with them, which were of course taken by the Germans. The consul-general of Turkey, Selahattin Ülkümen, intervened and saved 40 people, including families where only one person had a Turkish identity document. He was later honored at Yad Vashem.

They were kept in a basement without food until July 23, when the 1,600 men, women and children were marched to the harbor and forced onto three old cargo boats. This was the last day of the existence of the community that had lived in Rhodes for more than two millennia. The boats departed on an eight-day journey to Piraeus, where the Jews were briefly interned at the Haidari camp near Athens. They were then put into railway cars and sent on a 13-day journey under terrible conditions to Auschwitz. Many of them had died on the sea journey, in Athens and on the train. About 1,200 were gassed on arrival at Auschwitz.

Only about 120 women and 30 men were left alive at the end of the war. They did not return to Rhodes, but joined their families in Africa and America or made their way to Palestine, while some remained in Europe. Some of the others, who had avoided deportation, tried to rebuild the community but were not successful.

In 1948, the island of Rhodes was returned to Greece and the Rhodes municipality renamed a square in what had been the heart of the Jewish Quarter "Square of the Jewish Martyrs." Some Jews came to settle in Rhodes from the Greek mainland, but they were too few in numbers. One family did remain and looked after the only surviving synagogue, the Kahal Kadosh Shalom. The building was completed in 1577 and has been renovated a few times, but without major changes. The bima is in the center of the synagogue and faces the ark, which is in two sections, on either side of a large door. Next to the entrance is a plaque with the family names of those murdered in the Holocaust.

The synagogue and the adjoining museum are open for tourists in the summer months. Rene Shaltiel, whose parents were born in Rhodes, comes to the island every summer from Cape Town to help. Samuel Modiano, who spent his 13th birthday in Auschwitz, also comes every summer from his home in Rome. He takes groups of Italian gentile children to Auschwitz every year. Another Auschwitz survivor, Stella Levi, now resident in New York, also spends her summers in Rhodes, guiding visitors in the synagogue and museum. She has helped many Rhodes descendents to locate their families' homes and graves.

Services are held only on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, when a rabbi is brought from Israel. There are about 30 Jews living permanently on the island, but they do not practice Jewish customs.

The Menashe family
The story of the Menashe family is typical of many of the Jewish families in Rhodes.

Eliahu Menashe was born in 1895 and at 14 left for the US where he lived among the Rhodes community in Seattle, where he had a shoe-shine stand and a sandwich bar. He returned to Rhodes in 1924 to marry Rachel Menashe (not related), a marriage his parents had arranged, which was not uncommon. After the birth of his first son Isaac, he left for Que Que in rural Southern Rhodesia, where he worked for his brother who had a trading store.

In 1928 his wife and by this time a second son, Boaz, joined him in Que Que, where their daughter Lily was born. They then moved to Salisbury where Eliahu opened his own store. In 1938 the family went back to Rhodes for a six-month vacation, where they stayed with Rachel's parents, who were quite well off, and also with Eliahu's sister. Sadly, this was the last time they saw their family, as they all perished in the Holocaust.

They returned to Salisbury, where Lily married and moved to Johannesburg and later made aliya, while Boaz and Isaac married and remained in Salisbury. Boaz made aliya in 1978, while Isaac, a stalwart of the Jewish congregation, immigrated to Australia in 2004.

Article reprinted in full from JPost for historical purposes.
Thanks to the author David Zetler.

Rhodes: A decimated Jewish community


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