■ SYNAGOGUES in central Jerusalem are occasionally visited by dignitaries and celebrities who are not part of the regular congregation.
This past Saturday, the guest dignitary at Hazvi Yisrael invited by Rabbi Yosef Ote to deliver the sermon in his stead, was the former chief rabbi of the IDF, former head of the Otzem pre-military academy in Yated and a former helicopter pilot in the Israel Air Force. He is also head of a political party – Bayit Yehudi, but when Rafi Peretz was introduced to the congregation, his present title was omitted because he had been asked in advance not to talk politics.
That was easier said than done, especially because Bayit Yehudi blends religion with politics. Peretz talked about the importance of being godly, not just on an individual level but on a national level. He also alluded to building the Third Temple and noted that almost immediately after what had occurred in ancient Persia, the Jews started building the Second Temple in Jerusalem. While President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frequently describe Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, Peretz’s remarks suggested that he would be more interested in a Jewish theocratic state.
Relating to the Biblical injunction ‘Remember what Amalek did you,’ Peretz listed Haman and Hitler, but noted that whenever anyone tries to destroy a segment of the Jewish people, no one quite succeeds and the Jewish people rise up again. In this context, he referred to the unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif, but noted how the evacuees had for the most part risen from the trauma and rebuilt their lives.
■ THERE IS no greater tragedy for a parent than the loss of a child. Sometimes it is an even greater tragedy for a grandparent, especially if the grandparent is a Holocaust survivor. Shoshana Ansbacher is a Holocaust survivor who lost a grandchild.
Her granddaughter was Ori Ansbacher, the 19-year-old Tekoa resident brutally murdered by a terrorist last month. Shoshana Ansbacher will be speaking on Tuesday, March 26 at the annual Rose Stark Memorial Evening organized by the English Department and Holocaust studies Center at Michlalah Jerusalem College for Girls in Bayit VeGan. The title of her lecture is “Pesach in the Camps: A Haggadah in Captivity, a People Always Free.”
The evening will be dedicated to the memory of Ori Ansbacher, who unfortunately did not live to this year celebrate the Festival of Freedom. The event, which also features Rabbis Avraham Rosen and David Walk among the speakers, begins at 6:30 p.m.
■ IT’S A curious thing that in religious circles, there is almost always at least one rabbi among the speakers at a women-only event, while there is hardly ever a female speaker at a men-only event. A Rosh Hodesh Nissan Seminar for Women at the OU Center has four speakers, two women, Geula Twersky and Rebecca Rubinstein, and two men, Rabbis Yitzhak Breitowitz and Yosef Zvi Rimon; whereas the same organization is hosting its third annual Man’s Seder, advertised as a “Men’s Night Out,” at which there will be only one speaker – Rabbi Sam Shor. While there is a halachic prohibition on men listening to the voice of a woman singing, there appears to be no prohibition on listening to her speak. After all, it states in the Bible that God told Abraham to listen to Sarah. True, she was his wife, but situations involving individuals are often seen as commandments to the masses.
■ HISTORIAN AUTHOR and broadcaster Yanky Fachler is known as one of Ireland’s leading raconteurs, especially with regard to the history of Ireland’s Jewish community. After living in Israel for several years, Fachler moved to Ireland, where he founded the Jewish Historical Society of Ireland. Whenever he returns to Israel, which is home to several of his close relatives, he is in high demand as a speaker. He has also addressed audiences in the UK, US, Poland and the Czech Republic. He is currently in Israel and will speak to the Israel Branch of the British Historical Society on Monday, March 25, at 7:45 p.m. at Beit Avi Chai. Several countries have what they consider to be an equivalent to Oscar Schindler, the hero of the book and film Schindler’s List. Ireland’s Schindler, Marcus Witztum, will be the subject of Fachler’s address. Witztum was a Polish-born textile merchant living in Dublin. When Ireland was interested in importing experts in various industrial fields into the country. Witztum saw this as an opportunity to bring in Jewish textile experts to boost Ireland’s textile industry and thus was able to save them from the fate the Nazis had determined for the Jewish people.