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This year marks the 70th anniversary of not only the end of World War II, but of the liberation of many of the Nazis’ concentration camps. Tablet’s Andrew Harris brings us this story of boys who were liberated from Buchenwald in April of that year, and who have celebrated their liberation every year since:
On April 11, 1945, Szaja Chaskiel was liberated from Buchenwald concentration camp. He was one of 900 boys, aged 8 to 18, “born” that day, as he puts it. Uniquely bonded, they quickly became known as ‘The Buchenwald Boys.’ For 66 years a group of these survivors and their descendants in Melbourne, Australia, have celebrated this rebirth with the annual ‘Buchenwald Ball.’
This year, the night before the ball, which fell a few hours after the end of this Passover—precisely seventy years after their liberation—Szaja, now 86, retold the story of the exodus of the Buchenwald Boys from the Shoah, led by the Third Army’s Rabbi Herschel Schacter, the American liberator who addressed them in their mamaloshen. Assembled in Szaja’s living room were five other Boys who were surrounded by their descendants as well as those of the Boys who had since passed on.
Following liberation, roughly half were initially sent to France by the Red Cross and other agencies while the other group went to Switzerland. While some remained in France, many left Europe for New York, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and to cities in Israel and in South America. A 65-strong band came to Australia, settling in Melbourne and Sydney; today, less than twenty are still alive, and four have died in the past year.
In the late 1940s the Boys seized their teenage years, dancing in the clubs of Paris. They learned how to dance the cha-cha and the jitterbug to charm the ladies, and how to party. Now old men in Melbourne, the Boys are still celebrating.
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Friday, April 24th, 2015 at 3:19 PM | Stand For Israel
My flesh and my heart may fail
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)
This week, Israel observed Yom HaZikaron, her Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror. Here, IDF soldiers stand strong to honor those whose lives have been cut short defending the Holy Land, so that others may live in freedom and peace. Shabbat shalom, friends.Comments (0) »
Friday, April 24th, 2015 at 11:51 AM | Stand For Israel
Late yesterday, we reported on rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, attacks which were countered by the IDF. The rocket attack came at the end of Israel’s Independence Day celebration, and The Times of Israel’s Itamar Sharon and Joshua Davidovich report that the Jewish state was quick to state that such incidents will not be tolerated:
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Israeli security officials warned Thursday night that the nation would not tolerate a “dribble” of rocket attacks against Israel, saying Hamas was responsible for keeping the peace in the Gaza Strip…
Though officials said Hamas was not believed to be behind the rocket fire, a senior security official told Ynet news that “we view Hamas as responsible… and expect it to enforce order in its territory. Hamas is the ruler on the ground and needs to ensure that there is quiet, otherwise it bears responsibility.
“We will not accept a situation of a dribble (of rockets) by some party or other,” the unnamed official added.
Israeli forces struck a site in the northern Gaza Strip late Thursday night, hours after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave at southern Israel broke months of a shaky truce between the sides.
The Israel Defense Forces targeted a “terror site” belonging to Hamas near Beit Hanoun. There were no reports of injuries or damage in Gaza.
The army said tanks were used to hit the target. The strike came shortly after a rocket exploded in an open field in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.
The launch of the rocket set off alarms across a number of communities bordering the Gaza Strip, sending many residents scurrying for shelter.
Friday, April 24th, 2015 at 8:24 AM | Stand For Israel
This week marked Yom HaZikaron, Israel Memorial Day, and Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. On Wednesday, Israel Memorial Day, the nation of Israel paused to honor its fallen veterans and victims of terror with a moment of silence. That day is immediately followed by Israel Independence Day, marking the day 67 years ago when Israel received her statehood.
Also this week in Israel in the News:
• Negotiations for a nuclear deal with Iran are underway again with discussions aimed at completing a full accord by the end of June.
• International groups fear that the fragile ceasefire in Ukraine between Russian-backed rebels and government forces is breaking down. According to the U.N. more than 6,000 have died in the conflict this year.
• Re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been given an extension to put together a new national government. If he fails to do so, the president can ask another Knesset member to form a government.
This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features The Fellowship’s Yonit Rothchild on the “hidden heroes” who represent the freedom of living in Israel.
Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 5:00 PM | Stand for Israel
As we reported earlier, rocket fire from Gaza targeted Israel at the end of its Independence Day. Now, Yediot Achronot reports that the IDF has targeted military positions in the Gaza Strip:
After four months of quiet, a rocket was fired on Thursday evening from Gaza towards communities in southern Israel. The rocket exploded in an open field in the Sha’ar Ha Negev Regional Council. There were no injuries or damages reported.
Later in the evening, the Israeli Air Force attacked militant positions in the northern Gaza Strip in retaliation for the rocket that landed in southern Israel a few hours earlier.
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Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 4:24 PM | Stand for Israel
As night fell on Israel’s 67th Independence Day, The Times of Israel reports that the celebration was broken by a terrorist rocket launched into Israel from Gaza:
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Rocket warning sirens were heard in the western Negev region near the Gaza Strip Thursday night, and the army said shortly afterwards that a rocket had been fired by terrorists in the Strip.
The attack came on the final hours of Israel’s Independence Day celebrations.
The military said the rocket may have exploded inside Israeli territory, but an impact has not yet been confirmed. Channel 2 News said residents reported hearing an explosion in the area…
Israel is wary of Gaza terrorist groups rearming after Operation Protective Edge. The IDF says Hamas has been conducting test launches in recent months in order to increase rocket launching capabilities.
Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 1:50 PM | Stand for Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recorded the above video as a greeting for today’s “occasion for genuine celebration” – Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s 67th Independence Day.Comments (6) »
Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 11:33 AM | Stand for Israel
Today, Israel celebrates her 67th year of independence. Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, comes after yesterday’s day of mourning for the nation’s fallen soldiers and terror victims. Writing at The Jerusalem Post, Isi Leibler says that while Israel is the only nation in the world whose right to exist and defend itself is constantly questioned, the Jewish state has overcome great challenges and is stronger than ever today, at age 67:
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The Bible quotes Balaam describing the Jews as “a people that dwells alone and is not counted among the nations.” Alas, that aptly describes the status of the Jewish state on the 67th anniversary of its rebirth. Yet despite enormous challenges confronting us, we have every reason to celebrate.
Yes, Israel is the only country in the world whose right to exist and defend itself is continuously challenged.
We have neighbors who still dream of driving us into the sea; we face an ongoing global tsunami of anti-Semitism; the world judges us by double standards; Israel is an oasis in a region in which primitive barbarism reigns as hundreds of thousands of people are butchered as a matter of routine.
But despite this, by any benchmark Israel unquestionably represents the greatest national success story of all time.
Exiled and scattered throughout the world for 2,000 years and suffering endless cycles of persecution and mass murder climaxing with the Shoah, the Jews miraculously resurrected a nation state…
Today, on our 67th anniversary, we should give thanks to the Almighty for enabling us to be the blessed Jewish generation, privileged to live in freedom in our resurrected ancient homeland. We should continually remind ourselves that our success defies rationality and by any benchmark must be deemed miraculous.
Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 9:15 AM | Stand for Israel
Last year, Rabbi Eckstein wrote about a documentary by Nancy Spielberg about those who helped Israel win her independence. Today, as the people of Israel celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, we invite you to watch an extended trailer for the newly released film, and read this fascinating article about the brave Jewish-Americans who helped the Jewish state to victory 67 years ago:
On May 30, 1948—fifteen days after the fledgling Jewish state was invaded by the armies of five Arab nations—Milton Rubenfeld, a former stunt pilot who served in the British Royal Air Force and the U.S. Air Force in World War II, flew on a critical combat mission that stopped the advancing Iraqi army.
When his plane was hit by enemy fire, he bailed out, landing in the field of an Israeli kibbutz. Since no one at the time knew that Americans were flying for Israel in its War of Independence, Rubenfeld was mistaken for an enemy pilot by the rifle-brandishing kibbutz members. Hands raised in the air, Rubenfeld—who spoke not a word of Hebrew—identified himself to the Israelis and saved his life by shouting what little Yiddish he knew—“Gefilte fish”, “Shabbos”, and “Pesach”!
This little-known true story is recounted by Rubenfeld’s widow and his son, the actor Paul Reubens (better known as Pee-wee Herman), in a remarkable new feature-length documentary “Above and Beyond”.
Produced by Nancy Spielberg (sister of Steven Spielberg—yes, that Spielberg) and directed by the accomplished Roberta Grossman, the 87 minute film tells the fascinating tale of the American airmen who, just three years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, volunteered with Rubenfeld in the 1948 war.
“Above and Beyond” has won rave reviews and multiple awards on the festival circuit. Opening on January 30, it’s been screening to admiring audiences nationwide…
…as Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) notes, the “outrages of the Holocaust” surely also compelled them to “fight for what they knew was a just cause”.
“What changed me was knowing what Hitler did,” says one of…Read More » Comments (4) »
Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 9:14 AM | Stand for Israel
1. Israeli wildlife is awesome! When taking in Israel’s beautiful outdoors, you can expect to see deer, ibex, hyrax, and jackals at any point!
2. The southern city of Eilat is a top destination for scuba divers—the tropical fish and colorful coral are breathtaking!
3. 510 species of birds have been spotted in the Holy Land. The migrations they form are incredible!
4. Israel’s landscape is super diverse. From skiing in the north to soaking up some rays at the beach, you would never guess that the Negev desert takes up more than half of the country!
5. The Dead Sea—where else in the world can you float effortlessly in water? Fun fact: The Dead Sea is the lowest water surface on Earth!
6. Israel’s population has increased almost tenfold since its establishment!
7. Jews from around the world live in Israel, creating a melting pot of different communities. While the country’s official languages are Hebrew and Arabic, you can hear English, Russian, Yiddish, and more.
8. 7 million Jews from 130 countries have immigrated to Israel!
9. Ancient artifacts that are thousands of years old are always being discovered—either on purpose, or by accident!
10. Thank you to everyone for sharing this one with us: Israelis are God’s chosen people!
11. Israel has had some of the best leaders in the world. We can still look to Israel’s founders for inspiration today!
12. Israel turned a desert into a blooming greenhouse.
13. Israel is the only nation in the Middle East where Christians are free to live without fear of persecution
14. Israel is the “Promised Land.”
15. No matter its hardships, Israel has a strong future. We can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Israel.
16. 67 is young!
17. Israelis value, respect, and celebrate life.
18. It is a home for Jews around the world, and is a sign of what people can do if they work together.
19. Israelis show kindness even in the face of hatred.
21. Israel has contributed so much to science and medicine.
22….Read More » Comments (11) »
Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 9:05 AM | Stand for Israel