Danny Danon (do not publish again).
(photo credit: Flash 90)
Almost three years after the deadly attack at the Mumbai Chabad House, the
Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee on Thursday discussed terrorist
threats against Chabad Houses worldwide, as well as Israel’s cooperation with
programs for outreach and education of overseas Jewry.
MKs called on the
government to increase funding for Chabad educational institutions worldwide,
and to restore the budget for Jewish education in the Diaspora, which has been
reduced by nearly 80 percent in recent decades.
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Committee Chairman Danny
Danon (Likud) complimented the activities of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
“Every Jew who arrives at any remote point in the world knows that they have a
place on holidays and Shabbat. The government already invests today in Jewish
education in the Diaspora, and should use this power to take responsibility for
places where travelers are concentrated on the holidays,” he said.
called on Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi (Shas) to prepare a proposal
for a cabinet decision to determine criteria to provide financial support for
Chabad institutions to cover security and education- related
Rabbi Berel Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia and a Chabad
rabbi, told the Knesset committee that most Israelis are exposed to Chabad
Houses during emergency situations and tragedies, but that even in routine
situations, they are an address for Israelis seeking lodging, food, a telephone
call to home or just rest.
“The existence of the Jewish people in the
Diaspora is part of Jewish existence in Israel, and thus there should not be any
problem with utilizing Israeli budgets,” he said, adding that money should be
allocated not just to Chabad Houses but to other Jewish
Lazar added that recently, when the embassy was closed in
one of the Caucasian states out of concern that it could be targeted for attacks
marking the anniversary of the death of Hezbollah terrorist leader Imad
Mourghniya, the embassy’s security officer recommended that the local Jewish
school be closed.
Lazar said that he was concerned that when the school
was reopened, the local Jews would be hesitant to send their children – and so
instead of closing the school, the institution remained open with increased
In a similar vein, Rabbi Nechamya Wilhelm, a
Chabad emissary in Thailand, said that “there are warnings of terror threats
against concentrations of Israeli travelers, but the Chabad House’s security is
carried out at our expense, at a cost of $60,000 to $80,000 per
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said Chabad had developed
to previously unknown levels a model of emissaries for the Jewish
“Although Chabad does not declare their desire for in-gathering of
the exiles, the fact is that more people immigrate to Israel after receiving
Jewish education,” he said. “In places where the Jewish Agency is unable to
maintain an institution or an emissary, we certainly rely on the Chabad
emissary. Chabad rabbis lead the struggle for Israel on campuses. The
cooperation between us and Chabad is not sufficient, and we are ready and happy
to expand it.”
Deputy Education Minister Menahem Eliezer Moses (United
Torah Judaism) said that in the past two decades, the state’s budget for
overseas Jewish education had plummeted. In 1987, it stood at NIS 48 million,
and by 2003, then-education minister Yuli Tamir (Labor) had stripped it down to
NIS 8m., he said.
Moses said that he had asked that the budget be
restored to NIS 50m., and that Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) had
promised to discuss the subject in the cabinet.
director-general of the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, called
on Chabad representatives to submit proposals for increased cooperation to his