Grapevine October 25, 2020: A moment of prayer for two contemporary sages

It’s interesting that Jewish males go through life as the sons of their fathers, except when they are ill, at which time they revert to being the sons of their mothers.

A WALK to Israel team (photo credit: COURTESY OLAMI)
A WALK to Israel team
(photo credit: COURTESY OLAMI)
Internet messages from both Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, and the world Chabad organization have asked Jews around the world to pray for the well-being of two contemporary British sages, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who was Mirvis’s predecessor in office, and Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, who for many years was head of the London Rabbinical Court (Beth Din). Both men are seriously ill. Sacks, who is a regular contributor to the Chabad website as well as to many other Jewish websites,is undergoing treatment for cancer. The Jewish public around the globe is being asked to dedicate their prayers, religious studies and charitable donations to Yaakov Zvi ben Liba and Chanoch Hacohen ben Blumele.
It’s interesting that Jewish males go through life as the sons of their fathers, except when they are ill, at which time they revert to being the sons of their mothers. Among the explanations given for this is that the Hebrew words for womb and compassion have the same root, and therefore it is a given that a mother is usually more compassionate than a father. Thus, in prayers for mercy for the sick, the patient is referred to as the son of his mother.
■ LIKE SO many other annual events, this year’s AACI Memorial Ceremony for American and Canadian-born soldiers who died while serving in the Israel Defense Forces will not be at the Sha’ar Hagai memorial site on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway, but will be online at 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 25. The featured speaker will be former prisoner of Zion, human rights activist and author Natan Sharansky. Other speakers will be US Ambassador David Friedman and Canadian Chargé d’Affaires Martin Larose. Viewing is free of charge on the AACI Facebook Page and the AACI YouTube channel.
■ MORE THAN 20 years ago, Charles Bronfman, together with Michael Steinhardt, co-founded Birthright, and Bronfman was for several years one of its principal donors. He has given generously to many causes in Israel, and was among the team of philanthropists who provided the seed money for the initial publication in its early period of The Jerusalem Report, which is now part of The Jerusalem Post Group, but was originally an independent magazine.
Now, at 89, the Canadian-American businessman remains active, generous and concerned about the future of the Jewish people. His latest venture in conjunction with philanthropy adviser Jeffrey Solomon is in a sense a reversal of Birthright, the aim of which is to bring young Diaspora Jews to Israel so they can learn some history of the country along with the basics of Jewish heritage. Now he wants Israelis to learn about the role and significance of Diaspora Jewry.
The first step in this direction is to bring Israelis and North American Jews together, given that the largest concentration of Diaspora Jews is in North America. The project, named “Enter: The Jewish Peoplehood Alliance,” is scheduled to go into operation in January.
Former US ambassador Dan Shapiro, who currently resides in Israel, and is a distinguished visiting fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, is the chairman of Enter’s advisory committee. Also on board, is former justice minister Dan Meridor. Other members of the advisory committee are representatives of the organizations that are partners in this new endeavor. They include the Koret Foundation, the Diane & Guilford Glazer Foundation, the Nadav Fund and the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, each of which has pledged to contribute $250,000 a year for the next three years. Enter’s CEO, Alon Friedman, is based in Israel.
■ INCREASING ANTISEMITISM in the form of conspiracy theories, violent attacks and hate speech is of major concern to European Jews and to municipalities with Jewish communities. On Tuesday, October 27 at 2 p.m. Paris time (3 p.m. Israel time), the Simon Wiesenthal Center together with the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism will host a Zoom conference on how European municipalities manage to monitor and fight back, in the context of the COVID pandemic, the lessons learned, the resources needed and the good practices required to retain and develop. Speakers will include John Mann, the British government’s independent adviser on antisemitism; French parliamentarian Sylvain Maillard, who chairs the National Assembly’s Working Group on Antisemitism; Frankfurt Mayor Uwe Becker; and David Meghnagi, a senior professor at Italy’s Roma Tre University. Participation should be confirmed at [email protected]
The link is
Zoom ID: 818 7024 8632
Passcode: 397578
■ NOT ALL immigrants to Israel can find their place in the country. There are language problems, scarcity of jobs, cultural differences, and a host of other reasons that influence their decision to return to the countries from which they came. But if they came from Middle Eastern or other Muslim countries, sometimes via a third country, their chances of returning are very slim – or at least they were prior to the Abraham Accords.
It is widely believed that other countries in the region will enter into cooperative agreements with Israel, which in time will lead to full diplomatic relations. Once this happens, it may open the gates to countries that never previously permitted entry to anyone traveling on an Israeli passport. Of course many Israelis as well as non-Israeli Jews are dual and triple nationals, and have been able to visit old homes and to pay respects at graves of deceased relatives.
Beirut-born Rabbi Elie Abadie, who left as a refugee when he was a child, went to Mexico and later pursued higher education at Yeshiva University, might find it difficult to go back to Beirut from New York, where he has been living for all of his adult life. But thanks to the Abraham Accords, he can return to the region, and in fact that’s exactly what he’s doing. Last week, it was announced that Abadie, who was the founder of Congregation Beit Edmond (formerly the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue) in New York City, and is now its rabbi emeritus, has been appointed senior rabbi in residence of the Jewish Council of the Emirates. He will be working closely with JCE Chief Rabbi Yehuda Sarna.
The multilingual Abadie, who can trace his distinguished rabbinic lineage back to 15th-century Spain and France, is also a qualified gastroenterologist. He is therefore in a prime position to heal both body and spirit.
■ ANOTHER EXAMPLE of something beneficial to both mind and body was the Olami Walk to Israel challenge that was launched in July, as a pedometer fundraiser to help Jewish nonprofit organizations around the world whose finances were greatly depleted due to the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19.
The initiative, which saw participants sign up to walk 100 miles (160 km.) each, was also designed to unite and connect Jewish communities worldwide during a summer of national lockdowns and travel restrictions.
The campaign raised $2.5 million. It proved to be so popular and so successful that a second campaign is already in the pipeline.
More than 1,900 walkers comprising 160 teams from 16 countries including Israel, collectively walked a recorded total of 112,507 miles (181062 km.), which according to organizers, is the equivalent of more than 19 flights between New York and Israel!
The teams were walking in the US, UK, France, Spain, South Africa, Canada, Belarus, Georgia, Australia, Russia and Ukraine. Aside from the walkers in each team encouraging each other, those in teams across the geographic divide also encouraged each other. It was an extraordinary example of Jewish togetherness while apart.
Esther Karfunkel, walking in New York, was the star-walker, covering an incredible recorded 1,100 miles (1,770 km.) on her individual Walk To Israel fundraising page She was closely followed by Jamie Fuhrman in Chicago who covered more than 1,000 miles (1,610 km.), but not quite as many as Karfunkel, who was part of Team Beatie, the team assembled and managed by Israel’s champion female marathon runner and Walk To Israel ambassador Beatie Deutsch.
In her congratulatory message, Deutsch said: “Esther has walked the equivalent of over 40 marathons to support Jewish life worldwide in the COVID-era. This remarkable achievement is a real inspiration and shows what can be achieved with sheer determination and commitment!”
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