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Vol. 1, No. 31
August 31, 2000
30 Av, 5760



More in this issue...
Anti-Semitism in Riga
Thanks from Confrontation Line
Facts and Figures
‘Next Year in the White House’
Kaliningrad Cemetery
Aid to Ethiopia
Jewish Education
Jewish Truck Drivers
Righteous Greek
Decade for Tzabar
Young Judea – Beit Midrash
Student Leadership
This Week in Israel
Cairo Geniza Computerized
Summer Festival 2000
Sydney Paralympic Games
The Young Turks

Prime Minister Ehud Barak (right) meets with US Peace Negotiator Dennis Ross (left) in Jerusalem
see article)

In the coming year, the World Zionist Organization will be conducting a public campaign in Israel in an attempt to characterize Israel as a Jewish democratic state. In coordination with the Zionist factions in the Knesset, the possibility of passing a Basic Law that will ensure the future of the State of Israel as a Jewish democratic state is being explored. This decision was taken at a meeting of the Zionist Executive that took place this week in Jerusalem.

Chairman of the Zionist Executive and the Jewish Agency, Sallai Meridor, noted that this is one of the most significant and urgent topics on the national agenda of the Zionist movement today, which will affect the future of the Jewish people and Zionism more than anything else. Meridor stressed that the Jewish Agency is obligated to take the initiative in the fight against rising post Zionism in Israel:

«We have reached a historical crossroads, that is reflected in the academic world, in educational curricula, in bills submitted to the Knesset and in the reactions and interpretations of Supreme Court decisions. It is a crossroads at which the question whether Zionism was merely a platform for the establishment of the State of Israel or whether, now that the State exists, it is time to dismantle the Zionist scaffolding upon which the State was built and to maintain the State of Israel with no connection whatsoever to the Jewish people and Zionism,» warned Meridor.

The Treasurer of the Zionist Executive and the Jewish Agency, Chaim Chesler, emphasized that the task of defining the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is of paramount importance, one that is the responsibility of the Zionist movement and will be funded through the departments of the WZO.

According to the decision, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) will conduct a public educational campaign to ensure the future of the State of Israel as a Jewish democratic state. According to Eli Eyal, a member of the Zionist Executive and head of the project on behalf of the WZO, the campaign will include the signing of petitions, seminars and conferences on these topics to be held across the country, a website, and circulating public information material on the subject.

At the same time, a public forum composed of members of the legal profession, intellectuals and thinkers will provide counseling throughout the public campaign and will determine the principles for submitting a Basic Law defining the State of Israel as a Jewish democratic state. The task force will also lobby the Knesset in preparation for submitting the Basic Law.

The legislation will also relate to topics that are of particular interest to the WZO, such as anchoring the Status Law, defining the responsibility of the State of Israel towards the Jewish people, defining the involvement of the Jewish people in the State, issues of settlement, and other matters that the Jewish Agency and the WZO constantly deal with.

It was also decided that the Zionist Institute and the Zionist Council in Israel will concentrate in these areas.

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Mysterious anti-Semitic pamphlets were distributed in Riga, the capital of Latvia, last week, calling on Jews to leave Latvia and emigrate to Israel in order to escape from growing anti-Semitism. The composers of the pamphlet also emphasize that aliyah is funded by the Jewish Agency, and included the address of JAFI offices and the Israeli embassy in Riga. The letter ends with the words: «May God bless you on your way! Have a good journey!»

There is no indication of who distributed the pamphlets.

Efraim Meidan, head of the Jewish Agency delegation in the Baltic States, expressed strong reservations about the contents of the pamphlets, saying that this was the first time that pamphlets of this type have been distributed in Riga: «I consider this an unmistakable expression of anti-Semitism, which serves to increase the tension that already exists in this city as a result of the terrorist attack that took place two weeks ago. The information in the pamphlets in regard to the aliyah process and the address of Jewish Agency in the city is likely to create the impression that the Jewish Agency stands behind this publication and advertises its services this way - and this is very serious.»

«We are making every effort to help Jews who want to make aliyah, to come to Israel in the fastest, most expedient way. However, we don’t force anyone to do it, and we oppose using scare tactics in the local community through anti-Semitic threats of.»

The Israeli Embassy in Riga also expressed reservations about the pamphlets.

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Yossi Beilin’s Statements Against the Jewish Agency Hurt us

«Yossi Beilin causes injustice to the outline areas when he attacks the Jewish Agency. Without the Jewish Agency and the UIA-Keren Hayesod, I do not know how the settlements in the Confrontation Line would survive. «As a veteran mayor, I do not remember anyone in the Jewish Agency relating so seriously to the settlements in the Confrontation Line, as you do today» said the head of the forum for the Confrontation Line and mayor of Ma’a lot-Tarshicha, Shlomo Bouchbout, at a meeting that took place in Jerusalem last night, among the heads of the settlements in the Confrontation Line and Chairman of the Jewish Agency Sallai Meridor, Treasurer Chaim Chesler and director general Aaron Abramovich.

At the meeting, the heads of the settlements singled out the Jewish Agency’s contributions to the border line settlements and emphasized that the Jewish Agency’s precipitous response following the IDF withdrawal from Lebanon proves the importance of its existence, and the fallacy of those seeking to close it down.

With the withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon, the heads of the Jewish Agency decided to forgive the debt of Confrontation Line residents, totaling some 40 million dollars. Following the forgiveness of the debt, the Jewish Agency invested in the course of the summer, more than 750 thousand dollars in day camps, cultural events and educational enrichment in the region. At the meeting that took place in Jerusalem yesterday, participants discussed the continuation of the Assistance Program for Confrontation Line residents, provided by the Jewish Agency in conjunction with Jewish Communities world wide.

Director General of the Israel Department at the Jewish Agency, Meir Nitzan, reported that the assistance will be spread over the next three year and will focus on doubling the number of residents in the area, in the development of the human resource, the development of employment, the strengthening of the community, the reinforcement of education, culture and the arts, the development of the natural resources and a changed image of the area.

The head of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, Aharon Valencie, added that whoever argues about the existence of the Jewish Agency, does not understand that the rapidity of the Jewish Agency’s response attests to its relevance as a viable organization; «In the argument over the continued existence of the Jewish Agency, you have our support and I say this, not only because of the aid that you provide to the Confrontation Line, but also because I bear witness your widespread activities in the FSU.»

The mayor of Kiryat Shemona Chaim Barbiba’i, said that «the Jewish Agency is the last Zionist entity that can strengthen the Confrontation Line settlements and promote Zionism in the area. This is because the MKs are only concerned with the sectors that they represent».

Chairman of the Jewish Agency Sallai Meridor called the heads of the forum: «the heads of the Jewish people at the Confrontation Line» and called upon them to join forces in the battle for the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; «You sit on the Confrontation Line so that the Jewish people can have a Jewish state. Your job today is even more crucial than in the past, as today there are fewer Israelis who see the importance of strengthening the country as a Jewish and democratic state», said Meridor. He added that it is the right and obligation of the Jewish people to strengthen the settlements along the Confrontation Line.

Meridor stressed that the assistance provided by the Jewish Agency in conjunction with Jewish communities will focus in areas that are not budgeted by the Israeli government. He added, that the challenge to raise funds for the Confrontation Line, particularly in times when katyusha rockets are not being fired, should be carried out jointly by the Jewish Agency and the heads of the settlements in the north.

Jewish Agency Treasurer Chaim Chesler, said that the Jewish Agency placed the issue of assistance to the Confrontation Line at the top of its list of priorities in Israel in an effort to restore the Jewish Agency to its heroic period of construction and settlement of the land; «We must make an effort to assist not only the Confrontation Line settlements but also ensure that the state of Israel does not lose its Jewish identity». Chesler urged for an understanding between the Jewish Agency and the government: In exchange for the money that the Jewish Agency is asking for its land-rights, a fund that yields $ 50 million annually will be established. These proceeds will be the used to settle the land and to strengthen Jewish identity abroad.

«The significance of Supreme Court judge Katzir’s decision is that there is someone who takes care of the minority but there is no one looking after the majority. The State of Israel is first and foremost a democratic- Jewish state and a state of all its citizens. It is not a state of all its citizens in which coincidentally, there is a Jewish majority».

Chairman of the Israel Committee in the Jewish Agency Paula Edelstein, reported on meetings that she had with Jewish community leaders in the U.S., expressing satisfaction at the success of the Jewish Agency’s assistance program during the summer.

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  • $250,000 dollars – Amount of Jewish Agency funding for the Bronfman «Mifgashim» Center. The Center was established by the Bronfman family and the Jewish Agency’s Department for Jewish Zionist Education, to strengthen and secure ties between Jewish youth in Israel and Jewish youth from abroad, as well as to strengthen their sense of belonging to the Jewish people. The Israel Experience programs include meetings between young people from the Diaspora and Israeli youth.

  • $105,000 dollars – Jewish Agency budget for the year 2000 for «The American High School in Israel Program». This is a two month study program in Israel which offers Jewish public school students from the USA a detailed overview of Jewish history through the ages. Between 500 and 700 students participate in the program every year.

  • $16,000 dollars – Jewish Agency support during the year 2000 for the Center for Self-help of the Women’s League in Israel – which helps at-risk youth and youngsters with learning disabilities cope with their problems and overcome difficulties with the help of adult tutors with a similar social background.

  • 27,860 students studied during the first 4 months of the year at 329 Jewish Agency Ulpanim throughout the former Soviet Union that teach courses in the Hebrew language, Jewish history and Jewish tradition.

  • 27,371 – New olim from the former Soviet Union arrived in Israel from the beginning of the year until the end of July. 10,505 of them from Russia. 1,341 are from Belarus – an increase of 14% compared to the same period last year. There was also a significant increase of 31% in the number of olim from the three Baltic states compared to the same period in 1999. Aliyah from the Central Asian area and Southern Caucasus also increased by 7% compared to last year.

  • 1,750 – Olim who arrived in Israel this week, 1,478 of them from the former Soviet Union. The rest are from France, Switzerland, England, South Africa, Australia, Holland, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Chile, India, Ethiopia, USA and Canada.

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Members of the kiddush club in Washington DC's Kesher Israel Congregation recently raised their glasses with an unusual toast. "Next year in the White House" they wished congregant Joe Lieberman, Democratic nominee for Vice President.

Senator Lieberman, accompanied by his wife, Hadassah, 12-year old daughter Hani - and over a dozen secret service agents including one woman - showed up the Orthodox synagogue in the Georgetown section of the nation's capital (much to the disappointment of LA Jews who packed Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills in the hope of davening with the future vice-president). Several of the agents came into the shul. While some stood out in their white silk skullkaps, others - in knit kippot -- blended in with the regular shul-goers. Lieberman was called up to the Torah. After his aliyah, a blessing was recited for Al Gore. The Torah reading was followed by a speech by Rabbi Barry Freundel on "Hilchot Vice President."

Other members of Kesher Israel include novelist Herman Wouk, Leon Wieseltier, book editor of the New Republic, Rep. Peter Deutch from Florida, and Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman.

Lieberman has consulted with Rabbi Freundel, spiritual leader of Kesher Israel, on halachic issues. Before a fact-finding mission to Bosnia over Shavuout entailing life and death issues, for instance, he asked the rabbi whether using a car was permissible. The halachic decision - under the circumstances, he could be driven - but not drive himself.

The question now is - if the Gore/Lieberman ticket wins, what happens on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2001, which falls on Shabbat?

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The Jewish community of Kaliningrad (formerly Koenigsberg) in northern Russia is currently restoring an ancient cemetery where famous Rabbis and Jewish leaders are buried. Among them are relatives of several Israeli public figures including those of the Minister of Tourism and Transportation, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and Leah Rabin, the wife of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Remains of ancient tombstones from the 18th century were displayed this week at an exhibition on the Jews of eastern Prussia, which was organized by the Jewish community of Hamburg in Germany together with the Jewish community in Kaliningrad. The Jewish Agency’s representative in Kaliningrad, Svetlana Yaluchina reports that this ancient cemetery was discovered two years ago when the last Rabbi of Koenigsberg, Rabbi Doner visited the city.

As a result of neglect by the Soviet regime a thick forest grew within the cemetery where the local population used to hold barbecues and to drink alcoholic beverages. Many of the graves had been opened up and desecrated and many others destroyed. According to Rabbi Doner the Jewish community, with the assistance of the Jewish Agency and other Jewish organizations have begun efforts to restore the cemetery.

Rabbi Doner’s son, English businessman Abba Doner donated money to restore the gravestones and supplied a detailed map of the cemetery. A contractor, who was hired by the community, uprooted the trees which covered the graves and hindered restoration work. Many members of the Jewish Agency’s youth club in Kaliningrad are participating in cleaning the site and preparing a name list of those buried based on the names on the tombstones. Yaluchina expressed her hope that in a joint effort of all concerned, the cemetery would be restored and serve as a historic Jewish site.

Kaliningrad lies on the shores of the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania. The city which until 1946 was called Koenigsberg was annexed to the former Soviet Union together with a third of the territory of eastern Prussia following a decision of the Potsdam Committee at the end of World War II. Based on figures of the Jewish Agency’s Department for the Former Soviet Union, 4,000 Jews live in the city today out of a total population of 500,000. The Jewish Agency has a local aliyah coordinator in the city and operates a Hebrew learning center and youth club.

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The medical aid teams sent by the Jewish Agency in conjunction with Jewish communities worldwide, the Foreign Ministry, Jewish World Health Organization to victims of the famine in Ethiopia received certificates of appreciation this week upon their return to Israel. The presentation ceremony took place in the Ben Gurion Hall in the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, with the participation of the Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Sallai Meridor, JAFI Director-General, Aaron Abramovich and Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ariel Kerem.

During the May to August this year, four medical teams made up of Jewish volunteers from all over the world were sent to Ethiopia. The teams were organized by the Jewish Agency, at the initiative of the Chairman, Mr. Sallai Meridor and the Treasurer, Mr. Chaim Chesler. The Israeli team included several Ethiopian immigrants. The medical teams concentrated their efforts in the Wollo region in northwest Ethiopia, where they treated some 2,400 patients. The project became known by the nickname «Project Abie» in honor of Abie Nathan, a pioneer in humanitarian aid operations from Israel.

In the meeting to summarize and evaluate the mission, participants suggested that the Jewish Agency prepare to establish joint medical aid teams for emergencies around the world, made up of Jewish specialists from Israel and the Diaspora. It was also proposed that a hospital in Israel and one in the US jointly adopt a hospital in Ethiopia, providing it with professional guidance and support for treating the local population.

Dr. Yaakov Adler, who headed the medical aid teams to Ethiopia, praised the knowledge, the professionalism, the perseverance and the teamwork of members of the medical teams and emphasized that the successful combination of medical professionals from Ethiopia, Israeli and Jewish communities worldwide could serve a model for rescue teams in other countries around the world.

Director-General of the Jewish Agency Israel Department, Meir Nitzan, who directed the mission, said that the Jewish Agency’s network throughout the Jewish world will provide the infrastructure for joint Jewish Israeli operations in distressed areas.

First Jewish Agency team in Ethiopia as part of Operation Abie

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Jewish Education: 400 to attend first congress in Israel for leaders of Jewish non-formal education from all over the world

More than 400 Jewish directors of informal educational frameworks, about half from Israel and half from abroad, will convene in Israel at the beginning of next week at the Dead Sea to discuss ways of dealing with loss of Jewish identity among Israel and Diaspora youth.

More than 200 directors of informal education from 32 countries, and 200 from Israel, will attend the 10-day conference. These include directors of youth centers, directors of community centers, heads of youth movements, youth and student organizations, directors of Jewish radio channels, directors of summer camps and even senior officers in the IDF, who will discuss the development of a Jewish-Zionist identity in training cadets to become officers in the IDF.

Participants will discuss ways of strengthening Jewish identity, forging partnerships in the Jewish world and intensifying the contact between Jewish communities in the Diaspora and those in Israel through informal education. They will take part in hands-on workshops to reinforce Jewish identity through art, music, theater and the internet, and will tour Israel.

The conference, which is organized by the Jewish Agency’s Education Department in conjunction with the Jewish National Fund and the Ministry of Education, will take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Dead Sea. The opening ceremony at Kumran will be attended by Chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Education Committee, Amos Hermon; Chairman of the JNF, Yehiel Leket; Director of the Israel Association of Community Centers, Professor Dov Goldberger and Assistant Director-General of the Ministry of Education, Avraham Oded Cohen.

Amos Hermon, Chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Education Committee, said that in the light of the growing trends in Israel and the Jewish world to develop a secular identity, we must enlist all the educational tools at our disposal to offer members of the younger generation another alternative in order to strengthen their Jewish identity.

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Next weekend a reunion will take place at the Jewish Agency Absorption Center «Beit Canada» in Ashdod. Dozens of heavy vehicle drivers who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and South America over the last decade as part of the Jewish Agency’s «Aliyah 2000» program.

The «Aliyah 2000» program proposes employment opportunities to potential immigrants worldwide prior to making Aliyah, to ease their adjustment to Israeli society and helping the development of the Israeli economy. Thousands of immigrants in hi-tech engineering, industry and the medical professions have been absorbed in Israel over the last decade through this program, which was launched in 1993. Potential immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were heavy vehicle drivers and could prove considerable driving experience, were offered the opportunity to join one of the leading transport and trucking companies upon arrival.

Drivers who are suitable for the project undergo a preliminary selection process in their native country by representatives of the Jewish Agency and the National Transport Authority. Upon arrival in Israel, the immigrants are temporarily housed in the Jewish Agency Absorption Center «Beit Canada» in Ashdod, where they learned Hebrew, were given professional training in the field and studied for the theoretical and practical exams of the Licensing Bureau. At the same time, their spouses studied Hebrew in an Ulpan and were given counseling and professional guidance, while the children were integrated into the education system.

Since the initiation of the project, which was expanded in 1988 to include Argentina, about 185 families have immigrated and have been hired by large transportation and trucking companies.

Eighty recent graduate drivers and their spouses, will attend the reunion which will take place on Saturday night at the Jewish Agency Absorption Center «Beit Canada» in Ashdod. Mayor Zvi Zilker, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Aliyah Committee Aryeh Azoulay and the Director of the Jewish Agency’s Central region Eli Cohen will attend.

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Vasilis Perseides, a Greek citizen and former resistance commander, was honored at a special ceremony held in Athens earlier this month for his role in rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. Perseides, known by his code name, Avyerino (meaning morning star) was on the Island of Euboea in the winter of 1944, where some 40 Greek Jews arrived from Athens, intending to escape to Turkey by sea. When they were delayed by a storm, Perseides ordered the villagers to house the Jews: to give them their own beds to sleep in and to feed the Jews before eating themselves. The Jews remained there, undetected, for about a week.

Other righteous gentiles honored included the Vassiliou family, the Thadou family, Frederick Soueref, Georgios Karatzas, and Vassilis Rakopoulos. The initiative for this ceremony came from American Friends of Greek Jewry (AFGJ). Special prizes were also given to the Greek Resistance Groups of EAM/ELAS and EDES.

The Holocaust destroyed 87% of the Jews of Greece - one of the highest percentages in all of Europe.

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A group of 15 children from families that emigrated to the USA and Canada arrived in Israel last month under the auspices of the Scout Movement’s «Tzabar» Project in order to join the IDF. Members of the «Garin Asor», aged 18 to 21, came to Kibbutz Ashdot Yaakov (Ihud), to take part in three months of pre-training for military service. For the course of the training seminar, the Jewish Agency will provide a Hebrew language Ulpan and other seminars in order to familiarize them with Israeli society and the State of Israel.

The aim of Project «Tzabar,» operated by the Scout Movement for the past decade, is to prepare for military service Israeli immigrant youth from the USA wishing to serve in the IDF and to offer them support during their service.

Members of «Garin Asor» will be drafted in October or November 2000, following participation at a training seminar that will include tours of Israel, a week of preparation for the army and a week of «Gadna». The Jewish Agency will operate a Hebrew language Ulpan and other activities to enhance their understanding of Israeli society.

In the course of their army service, the young men and women who came to Israel without their parents, will live on Kibbutz Ashdot Yaakov (Ihud) and will be «adopted» by kibbutz members.

According to Reut Ohana, in charge of the «Tzabar» groups in the Scout movement, the majority of the young men in the groups serve in IDF combat units, whereas the young women serve in coveted positions as trainers. Ohana maintains that 70% of all members of the «Tzabar» groups remain in Israel following completion of their services. Among those who joined the army last year is Moran Broza, daughter of singer David Broza.

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Twenty-five young men and women from throughout the United States arrived in Jerusalem this week to take part in «Shalem,» a specialized track of Young Judea’s Year Course. The program offers a multi-faceted experience that combines Torah study with the opportunity to experience Israel as an insider through volunteer work and traveling.

Shalem, which means «whole,» is also an acronym for «Sh’nat Limud U’Ma’aseh» – a year of study and activity. The program, now in its second year, consists of intensive formal Beit Midrash and academic studies conducted at Hadassah’s Judith Riklis Youth Center on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, together with several periods of volunteer service in different Israeli community settings, and extended trips to different parts of the country.

According to Rabbi Yehuda Jason, Shalem head, the study program consists of Gemara, Bible, Jewish thought, and halacha as well as advanced Hebrew, Jewish history and Zionist thought. During the volunteer component, Shalem participants live in absorption centers and work in the towns – helping in kindergartens, tutoring and assisting in English classes in neighborhood schools, and working with the elderly or in hospitals.

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Thirty-eight students, residents of the Ofakim-Merchavim area, last week received scholarship grants, funded by Bergen County/Metro-West federation. Bergen County/Metro-West is partnered with Ofakim-Merchavim within the Jewish Agency-UJC Partnership 2000 framework.

The Ofakim-Merchavim Student Leadership Program is designed to cultivate local young leadership for the Ofakim-Merchavim region. As part of the program, the students must do four weekly hours of volunteer work in the community - with the elderly, at-risk children, and other needy populations - as well as take part in classes at Ben Gurion University’s Unit for Social Involvement.

The scholarships were presented last week for a gala happening around the municipal pool in Merchavim attended by three thousand people, including Ofakim Mayor, Yair Hazan, and Head of the Merchavim Regional Council, Avner Mori.

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Three soldiers from an elite IDF unit, Staff Sergeant Niv Yaakobi, Staff Sergeant Liron Sharvit, and Staff Sergeant Roi Even were killed and another soldier Sergeant Avraham Yosef was injured in a commando raid last Saturday night, whose aim was to capture Mahmoud Abu-Hanoud in the village of Assirah A-Shamaliya, near Nablus. Abu-Hanoud, who is considered the number one wanted Hamas terrorist, is responsible for terrorist attacks which led to the deaths of tens of Israelis, succeeded in escaping, in spite of having been wounded, as a result of chaos which prevailed after one IDF unit had shot at another one.

As a result of an investigation which took place following this event in which the three IDF soldiers were killed by friendly fire, the officer commanding IDF forces in Judea and Samaria, Brigadier General, Shlomo Oren handed in his resignation to the IDF Chief of Staff.

The peace efforts are continuing prior to the Clinton - Barak and Clinton - Arafat meetings, which will take place in New York at next weeks United Nations Millennium Assembly.

This week the chief American peace negotiator Dennis Ross continued his mediation efforts to bridge the gap between Israel and the Palestinians. Similarly President Clinton met with President Mubarak during a stop-over in Cairo at the end of his visit to Nigeria and Tanzania.

Last minute efforts between the Treasury and the school teachers unions to prevent a strike of the education system before the opening of the school year.

The Supreme Court dismissed Deri’s request to begin serving his term in jail after the High Holy Days. The former Minister of Interior will begin serving time this coming Sunday.

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The launching of the Friedberg Genizah Project – an ambitious undertaking to form a unified computerized database for the Cairo Genizah Fragments was announced last week at the 66th General Conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions in Jerusalem. 1,800 librarians from 95 countries took part in the conference.

The Cairo Genizah was discovered in the mid 1890s in the attic of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat (Old Cairo). The project will make accessible to scholars the mass of texts from the Cairo Genizah - estimated at about a quarter of a million fragments! They are currently scattered in 15 libraries: the bulk are at Cambridge University, with smaller collections in Oxford, St. Petersburg, Manchester, University of Pennsylvania, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and other locations. The project will complete the identification of unpublished fragments and merge existing catalogues and lists, to form one comprehensive, on-line computerized catalogue of all the Cairo Genizah material. A significant part of Genizah material will be also published, primarily in the areas of Rabbinic literature, Biblical exegesis, historical documents, Jewish thought, and related texts.

This database project is the brainchild of noted Judaica collector, Albert Friedberg of Toronto. It is supported by a grant from the Buckingham Foundation of Toronto, Canada. An advisory board has been set up that includes Prof. S.C. Reif, Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University; Prof. M. Ben-Sasson, Rector of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; Prof. H. Ben-Shammai, Director of the Ben-Zvi Institute; Prof. M. A. Friedman, Tel-Aviv University; Prof. M. Kahana, Hebrew University; and Prof. Cohen, Princeton University.

The Project is directed by Professors Neil Danzig of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Yaakov Elman of Yeshiva University, and Lawrence H. Schiffman of New York University. It is administered through the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies of New York University. Tamar Leiter is the Coordinator of the Cataloguing and Bibliography Unit Hebrew-English cataloguing system.

The Project has already obtained the cooperation of several individual scholars and institutions currently working on Genizah material. It has entered into agreements with the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit for furthering the cataloguing of the Cambridge collection; the Ben-Zvi Institute (Jerusalem) for publication of halakhic literature in Judeo-Arabic; Prof. M. Kahana of the Talmud Department, Hebrew University, for Midrashic texts; the Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, and Dr. Abraham David of the Jewish National and University Library for documentary material; the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; the Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem; and Yeshiva University.

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Five thousand residents of settlements on Israel’s northern border took part this week in the «Summer 2000 Celebration» at the Achziv Park. The celebration, which took place two days before the start of the school year, and was funded by the Jewish Agency in conjunction with the Mateh Asher Regional Council, brought to a close dozens of JAFI supported events and activities that took place during the summer months along the Confrontation Line.

From the early hours of the afternoon until midnight, residents of the Mateh Asher, Merom Hagalil and Ma’aleh Yosef regional councils and the towns of Nahariya, Shlomi and Ma’alot enjoyed a variety of creative activities, challenging sport events, dancing and performances of artists such as Dana Dvorin, Chaim Tzinovitch and the pop group «Knesiat Hasechel.»

The Jewish Agency invested over NIS three million this summer in cultural events, summer day camps and educational enrichment programs for the residents of the north. More than 40,000 people, half of them children and youth, participated. The Jewish Agency also funded 32 summer day camps for children in the area, among them 1,500 children with special needs.

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Four disabled Israeli sailors from Etgarim, the Israel sports and recreation association for the disabled, are currently training for the sailing competition at the Paralympic Games, that will take place in early October during the Sydney Olympics. The team is made up of Arnon Efrati, Dror Cohen, Gadi Spector, and David Weinreb. Efrati, 47, and Spector, 40, were both injured during the Yom Kippur War: Efrati lost his right hand and Spector his right leg. 32-year old Cohen was paralyzed from the waist down during the course of his military service. Weinreb, 45, is polio victim.

Etgarim was founded in 1995 to help rehabilitate the physically-disabled community in Israel through the medium of outdoor sports and recreation. It seeks to help the disabled move beyond their disabilities and focus on their abilities, and to facilitate their integration into mainstream society. Etgarim encompasses disable individuals of all ages, with all types of organic impairment, and includes both war victims as well as those incapacitated through illness or accident.

Since 1996 Etgarim has established sailing clubs all over the country. About 250 youngsters and adults participate in the clubs. The sailing team has obtained impressive achievements during a short period of time: in August 1997 they placed fourth in the European championship held in England and last August they finished in the sixth place in the World Championship held in the United States.

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Ten counselors from the Jewish youth movement Or Hachaim in Istanbul came to Israel this week on a seven-day training program. The program is designed to develop their leadership skills, and specifically to teach them how to imbue the youngsters in their group with a love for Judaism. Over the course of their visit, the counselors will take part in various seminars to augment their skills: on how to develop programs, marketing, public speaking, etc.

According to Avi Mizrachi, the Jewish Agency emissary in Istanbul there are four youth movements in Istanbul – Gestepe, Dostluk, Yilderim in addition Or Hachaim. Over the past few weeks about 25 counselors from these movements visited in Israel for training seminars.

The Jewish population of Turkey numbers some 20,000, most of whom live in Istanbul. So far this year, 65 people have made aliyah from Turkey. This compares with about 45 olim per year for the past two years.

Mizrachi reports that 19 students registered for Student Authority programs in Israel at a Jewish Aliyah fair held in Turkey this past March.

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From Tastes of Israel by Ruth Sirkis

A variety of fillings may be used for the bourekas: meat, cheese, eggplant, potato or spinach. Use 1 package (14 oz.) of ready made pastry. Makes 20 small bourekas. Spinach Filling

4 1/2 lbs. spinach
I cup margarine
2 medium onions
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 egg for glazing
1 cup sesame seeds

  • Thoroughly clean and wash spinach leaves. Cook spinach leaves in water until tender. Rinse well and drain. Slice very thin.

  • Melt the margarine in a frying pan. Mince onions and add to margarine. Fry lightly, add the crushed garlic, ground nutmeg, salt and the pepper and mix well. Add the spinach and stir for about 7 minutes, until liquid evaporates.

  • Pre-heat the oven to 475 F.

  • Roll out pastry to thickness of 1/4 inch on a well-floured work surface. Cut the pastry into equal squares. Take a tablespoon of the prepared filling, place in the center of each square and fold into a triangle.

  • Place filled bourekas evenly on a well-greased oven tray. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in a hot over for about 5 minutes, lower temperature to 350 F and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Eggplant Filling

1 large eggplant
1 large onion
3 tbsps. oil
1 tbsp. tomato puree
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4-1/2 cup water

  • Peel the eggplant and onion, coarsely grate into a large bowl.

  • Heat the oil in a medium pot and fry the grated onion and eggplant. Add the tomato puree, salt and black pepper and mix well. Pour the water into the pot and cook on a medium flame for about 15 minutes.

  • Fill pastry and bake the bourekas as described above.

Cheese Filling

1 package 9% cream cheese
3 1/2 oz. salty cheese
5 oz. grated cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 large chopped onion, fried

  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until smooth

  • Fill and bake the bourekas as described above.

Potato Filling

2 large potatoes, cooked
3 onions
5 oz. grated cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper

  • Peel the cooked potatoes and mash in a deep bowl.

  • Add the eggs and grated cheese. Mix and add the salt and white pepper. Stir well.

  • Fill and bake the bourekas as described above.

B'Te'avon! Bon Appetit!

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