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Can basketball influence change in Jewish and Arab youth?

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By Rebecca Stadlen Amir - August 12, 2018

Despite growing up in the diverse city of Jerusalem, where Jews and Arabs encounter each other at the grocery store, cinema and public transportation, a Jewish teenager named Toot had never spoken to an Arab her age.

She joined PeacePlayers, which works to unite communities through sport, and became a member of one of the first mixed Jewish and Arab basketball teams in Israel.

While training and playing alongside Arab girls her age, Toot formed friendships that existed on and off the court.

“It’s very unique that they’re a mixed team in the league and it really accelerates the impact on the girls. They are together sometimes up to six times a week, practicing and traveling around the country together for games. It’s an accelerator for friendships,” says Karen Doubilet, managing director of the Middle East branch of PeacePlayers, a nonprofit organization that  uses basketball to unite, inspire and educate young people in divided communities around the world.

As part of a report monitoring change as a result of the program, Toot recalled that when Israel and Gaza experienced a tense period of fighting in the summer of 2014, her Arab teammate and friend Aysha sent a text after a siren went off to see if Toot and her family were okay.

Read More: Israel21c

 

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2,200-year-old gold earring found in Jerusalem parking lot

 (Photo: Clara Amit/Israel Antiquities Authority)

(Photo: Clara Amit/Israel Antiquities Authority)

By Brian Blum - August 13, 2018

Did you ever find a shiny penny in a public parking lot and think “this is my lucky day?” That must have been how archaeologists digging in the Givati parking lot outside Jerusalem’s Old City felt when they discovered a rare golden earring dating back to the second or third century BCE.

The 2,200-year-old earring – a tiny gold filigree piece from Jerusalem’s Hellenistic era – was discovered during an archeological dig in the lot next to the City of David National Park.

The hoop earring bears the head of a horned animal, possibly an antelope or deer. Excavators also found nearby a gold bead with intricate embroidered ornamentation resembling a thin rope pattern.

While the earring’s owner and gender are a mystery, archaeologists are sure that it “definitely belonged to Jerusalem’s upper class. This can be determined by the proximity to the Temple Mount and the Temple, which was functional at the time, as well as the quality of the gold piece of jewelry.”

Read More: Israel21c

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Israeli runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter wins gold at European Championships

  (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

 (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

By TOI Staff - August 9, 2018

Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter won the women’s 10,000-meter run at the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin Wednesday, completing the race in 31 minutes, 43.29 seconds.

Israeli-Kenyan Salpeter came 9 full seconds ahead of Susan Krumins of the Netherlands, winning the gold medal. Sweden’s Meraf Bahta came third.

The 29-year-old became the first Israeli to be crowned European champion.

Read More: Times of Israel 

 

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Shared love of soccer draws Jews and Arabs to Jaffa Gate

 (Photo: YouTube Screenshot)

(Photo: YouTube Screenshot)

By Israel21c - August 2, 2018

While the FIFA World Cup in Russia was capturing the world’s attention in July, a less famous but no less remarkable soccer game took place at the historic Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City as 100 Jewish and Arab teens competed in Goals and Gates, a penalty shootout sponsored by the Kulna Yerushalayim (We Are All Jerusalem) nonprofit organization.

Read More: Israel21c

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While Building a Museum for Mosaics in Israel, Another Gorgeous Mosaic Is Found

 (Photo: Niki Davidoff, IAA)

(Photo: Niki Davidoff, IAA)

By Ruth Schuster - July 29, 2018

Another spectacular mosaic has been found in the city of Lod while doing groundworks for a museum to house the spectacular mosaics already found there in previous years.

The mosaic was found in a late Roman-era house dating to about 1,700 years ago. The sheer quality of the stonework indicates the owner was extravagantly wealthy.

“The villa included a large, luxurious mosaic-paved reception room triclinium and an internal columned courtyard, also with mosaics, and a water system,” says archaeologist Amir Gorzalczany, the director of the present excavation.

In fact, this is the third mosaic discovery in this structure – which, in embarrassing contrast to modern construction, seems to have existed for centuries.

The archaeological find indicates the house survived in one form or another from the Roman era – the first century – to the late Roman era, around the late third century or early fourth, says Gorzalczany.

Based on other Roman-era homes found in the area, which also had mosaic decorations, it appears that this luxurious manse of yore had been in the elite neighborhood of Roman-era Lod, he says. The Israel Antiquities Authority excavators also found Roman-era coins, ceramics and marbles, as well as other signs of luxury such as fragments from frescoes typical of the finer houses of Rome itself.

To whom might this lovely domicile have belonged?

Read More: Haaretz

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Israeli fruit-fly lure helps save Togo’s mango crop

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By Abigail Klein Leichman - July 23, 2018

In the Central Valley of Togo, a mango grower named Yacuobuo started killing his trees due to fruit-fly infestation that has decimated his crop over the past three years.

In this main mango-growing region of Africa, many other small farmers face the same dilemma. And their loss extends to the “mango women” who sell the fruit at market.

“Before 2010 [we lost] 50% [of the fruit], but now 75% of fruits are spoiled,” Yacuobuo said before the start of this year’s growing season. “The women would come and say, ‘We go to Lome [the capital city] after we see all the mangos we bought from you are spoiled.’ And then I was discouraged, and after that I stopped. I didn’t sell.”

When Israeli agtech entrepreneur Nimrod Israely heard Yakuobuo’s story, he relates, “I thought to myself, this is why I studied entomology; this is why I founded Biofeed! And so I simply said to Yakuobuo, ‘Let’s change it.’”

Israely, who has a PhD in fruit-fly ecology, invented FreeDome — a line of no-spray, environmentally friendly lures containing an organic customized mix of food, feeding stimulants and control or therapeutic agents delivered by a patented gravity-controlled fluid release platform to kill the tiny flies that destroy fruits and vegetables growing in Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Read More: Israel21c

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Syria conflict: White Helmets evacuated by Israel

 (Photo: BBC)

(Photo: BBC)

By BBC - July 28, 2018

Israel says it has carried out an evacuation of members of Syria's White Helmets civil defence group from a war zone in south-western Syria.

Some 422 volunteers and family members were taken to Jordan via the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overnight.

The UK, one of the nations requesting Israel's help, hailed the operation and will assist with resettlement.

The White Helmets describe themselves as a volunteer workforce that acts to save people in Syria's war zones.

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and his Russian allies, say the White Helmets support the rebels and also have links to jihadist groups.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were acting on a request from the US, the UK and other European nations.

The White Helmets had become trapped in an area of south-western Syria near the border with the Golan Heights after an offensive by the Syrian military.

Read More: BBC 

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Sisters recount years of horror in Syria’s Palestinian camp

 (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

By AP - July 19, 2018

DAMASCUS, Syria — When the first Syrian soldier reached Lod street in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Syria’s capital, four sisters who survived the seven-year conflict hiding in their ground floor apartment emerged hesitantly and asked: “Are you a soldier or a militant?”

The young man came closer and took out his military ID to prove he was a Syrian soldier. The women began wailing emotionally, hardly believing that three years of rule by the Islamic State group had come to an end.

“The nightmare is over. They are gone,” said 62-year-old Izdihar Abdul-Mahmoud.

The Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus, once home to the largest concentration of Palestinians outside the West Bank and Gaza, housing nearly 160,000 people, has been gutted by years of war. Its few remaining residents have been traumatized by relentless fighting, bombardment, siege, and starvation. To rise again, officials estimated that 80 percent of its homes will need to be razed.

On a recent afternoon, the Abdul-Mahmoud sisters gathered with neighbors, friends, and soldiers outside their apartment, recalling the horrors they lived through the past years as they sipped dark Arabic coffee. Under IS, they were not allowed to even sit in the alley where their apartment is located.

“At the start of the siege I used to weigh 87 kilograms [191 pounds] and later 49 kilograms [107 pounds] in late 2013 and early 2014,” said Izdihar, the eldest of six sisters and four brothers.

Before the war, Yarmouk was a densely populated district of cheaply built multistory homes but was called a “camp” because Palestinians came there as refugees during the 1948 war.

Demonstrations took place in the camp early in the current conflict, which began in the south with protests against President Bashar Assad’s rule in March 2011. In December 2012, rebels then referred to as members of the Free Syrian Army took over the camp from government forces.

Airstrikes and bombings by the government became almost a daily occurrence. Rival insurgent groups fought one another until 2015, when the Islamic State group took control of most of the camp after deadly clashes with Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, a faction linked to the Palestinian Hamas terror group.

Read More: Times of Israel

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Cancer-Treatment Drug Gets Name from the Torah

 (Photo: Olivier Asselin/Reuters)

(Photo: Olivier Asselin/Reuters)

By Oren Oppenheim, Rocky Baier - July 17, 2018

A pharmaceutical company has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to market their new drug under a name derived from the Torah.

In a press release, Steba Biotech claimed that this is the first time the FDA has approved a name for a drug based on “its biblical context” and not on its active ingredients.

The drug, Tookad, treats prostate cancer as part of a laser-based treatment meant to be minimally invasive. It has received various forms of approval in Israel, Mexico and over 30 European countries. Its name comes from Leviticus 6:6, which says: “A perpetual fire shall be kept burning (tookad) on the altar, not to go out” (JPS 1985 translation).

Steba Biotech, based in Luxembourg, has facilities in Israel, including a research center. Some of the technology used in the Tookad treatment was licensed from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot.

Fabrice Harari, chairman and CEO of Steba Biotech, told The Jerusalem Post by phone that “it feels holy” to use a biblical name, which was given at the beginning of the research phase for the drug.

Tookad in the Torah is “the eternal fire that comes in the [Holy] Temple to burn the sacrifice,” he said, which was related to the original concept of the drug, “a drug that would bring some sort of energy to destroy the [cancerous] tumor.”

Read More: The Jerusalem Post

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Under neo-Nazi and jihadist bullying, Swedish Jewish communities are shuttering

 Carinne Sjoberg peeling off a sticker that neo-Nazis left on the door of what used to be the Jewish community center of Umea, Sweden. (Photo Courtesy of Sjoberg/via JTA)

Carinne Sjoberg peeling off a sticker that neo-Nazis left on the door of what used to be the Jewish community center of Umea, Sweden. (Photo Courtesy of Sjoberg/via JTA)

By Cnaan Lipshiz - July 15, 2018

MALMO, Sweden (JTA) — When Carinne Sjoberg dissolved the Jewish Community of Umea in northern Sweden, she knew it would send shock waves far beyond the small congregation that she had spent decades building.

The move in May is owed to intimidation by neo-Nazis, making it the first time in decades that a Jewish organization in Western Europe acknowledged that it felt compelled to close shop over safety concerns.

Neo-Nazis from the Nordic Resistance Movement, beginning in 2016, pasted stickers with fascist imagery on Umea’s Jewish community center, “making the place look like after Kristallnacht,” Sjoberg said. The closure followed surveillance activity on the center by the neo-Nazis, who published details about individual visitors.

“I didn’t take it lightly,” Sjoberg, a 56-year-old Jewish mother of two, told JTA about the decision to close. “I hate giving neo-Nazis this victory. But I can’t bear the responsibility for people’s lives, not under such threats,” she said of her city’s Jewish community of 70 people.

The closure caused a national uproar. Amid intense media coverage in Sweden of the affair, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven mentioned it in a speech denouncing anti-democracy forces in his country.

But the indignation did little to change the fact that in Sweden, Muslim extremism and the far right are part of a broader set of challenges to Jewish communal life. So while the Jewish community of Stockholm may be growing, the problems are nonetheless causing some Swedish Jews to fear for their future as a minority here.

Read More: Times of Israel 

 

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Israeli Military Joins with Christian Ministry to Help Muslims Victims of New Syrian Crisis

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By Chris Mitchell - July 9, 2018

JERUSALEM, Israel – The Syrian army, aided by Russian air power, is seizing more territory and leaving an enormous humanitarian crisis in its wake. The regime's troops captured areas along the borders with Israel and Jordan, plus Syria's main border crossing.

In the eighth year of the Syrian civil war, thousands of civilians find themselves in the crossfire.

From the Israeli side of the border, one can see Syrians on the other side of the fence. The United Nations estimates more than 300,000 civilians have fled the fighting.

Drone footage shows the sea of new tents. The Israel Defense Forces are again reaching out to help those who now call this tent city home.
 
"The main mission is to give as much humanitarian aid to the other side [as possible], an IDF medical officer with the Golan Heights Division told CBN News.

"We do this first because when you understand what's happening on the other side and you know that they don't have anything and they really suffer," he explained. "You cannot stand aside and do nothing. I think it's part of what we know to do…to help other people who need it. They are neighbors on the other side."

Read More: CBN News

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Largest Hispanic Christian Ministry Joins Friends of Zion to Fight Rising Anti-Semitism

 (Photo: CBN News)

(Photo: CBN News)

By CBN News - July 12, 2018

JERUSALEM, Israel – Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the largest Hispanic ministry worldwide, joined Mike Evans, founder of the Jerusalem-based Friends of Zion ministry, to fight the rising tide of anti-Semitism.

"We are proud to partner with Friends of Zion's President's Task Force and with its tireless founder, Dr. Mike Evans," said Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Conference and the Hispanic Israel Leadership Organization (HILC).

According to the Friends of Zion Museum website, presidents of major Christian organizations make up the President's Task Force. Such well-known Christian leaders as former governor Mike Huckabee, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Rev. Jentezen Franklin, Dr. Robert Jeffress and Dr. Jack Graham serve on the task force's executive committee.

"The aim of our partnership is to leverage the unparalleled access and influence of FOZ within Israel, along with the formidable social media and content production capabilities, to further promote pro-Israel values within the Hispanic Christian community around the world," Rodriguez said. "Our message is clear: Israel, her people and her leaders have no truer friends than Hispanic Christians. Our partnership with FOZ will help ensure it stays that way for generations to come."

Read More: CBN News


 

 

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1,600-Year-Old Mosaic Shows Biblical Spies Who Scouted Promised Land

 (Photo: Jim Haberman)

(Photo: Jim Haberman)

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer - July 11, 2018

An ancient mosaic depicting two Biblical spies sent to scout the Promised Land has been unearthed at a nearly 1,600-year-old synagogue in northern Israel. 

In the mosaic, two spies carry a cluster of grapes on a pole — likely a reference to an episode in the Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Bible. In that passage, Moses asks 12 spies, including the famous Biblical hero Joshua, to scout out the land of Canaan. Moses had good reason for sending the reconnaissance mission: He wanted to know many people lived in Canaan, whether the soil there was fertile and what the fruit there tasted like, according to Numbers 13:17-13:23. 

The mosaic shows two of those spies just after "they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs," according to the Bible's New International Version translation of Numbers 13:23.

The mosaic is one of about a dozen that archaeologists have uncovered at a synagogue in the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq, in Israel's Galilee. The detail and breadth of these discoveries indicate that the villagers flourished during the early fifth century A.D., when the region was under Rome's Christian rule. 

"The mosaics decorating the floor of the Huqoq synagogue revolutionize our understanding of Judaism in this period," Jodi Magness, a professor of archaeology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who led the excavation, said in a statement. "Ancient Jewish art is often thought to be aniconic, or lacking images. But these mosaics, colorful and filled with figured scenes, attest to a rich visual culture as well as to the dynamism and diversity of Judaism in the late Roman and Byzantine periods."

Read More: Live Science

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Archaeologists Uncover Gate to Biblical City of Zer

 (Photo: Hanan Shapir) 

(Photo: Hanan Shapir) 

By Tamara Zieve - July 8, 2018 

Archaeologists have uncovered the entrance gate to the biblical city of Zer during excavations carried out in the Golan Heights over the past two weeks, the Golan Regional Council said Sunday.

In recent days, and after a year of recess, a group of 20 archaeologists from all over the world, together with director of the Bethsaida Project, Dr. Rami Arav, and under the auspices of the Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem, conducted new excavations in two different areas of Bethsaida. The ancient fishing village is mentioned several times in the New Testament as a city where Jesus lived and where he miraculously fed a multitude of people with five loaves and two fish.

Archaeologists said the size, wealth and impressive fortifications indicate that Zer was a major city.

“There are not many gates in this country from this period. Bethsaida was the name of the city during the Second Temple period, but during the First Temple period it was the city of Zer,” Arav said, pointing to Joshua 19:35, which says: “The fortified towns were Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Kinnereth.”

Arav began carrying out excavations of et-Tell on behalf of the University of Nebraska nearly 30 years ago. In these excavations, he identified the ancient Bethsaida, and following his excavations and discoveries, masses of Christian pilgrims visited the site because of its great importance to Christianity. 

Read More: The Jerusalem Post

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New Franciscan museum in Jerusalem shows life in Jesus’ time

 (Photo: AP Photo/Caron Creighton)

(Photo: AP Photo/Caron Creighton)

By Ilan Ben Zion - July 7, 2018

AP — Jerusalem’s Franciscan friars have opened a new museum filled with artifacts related to daily life in Jesus’ time.

The Terra Sancta Museum’s new wing, built into the ruined remains of Crusader and Mamluk buildings along the Via Dolorosa in the Old City, showcases objects discovered in excavations at biblical sites over the past century.

The Custody of the Holy Land — the Franciscan Order’s organ in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon, and Cyprus — has carried out several archaeological excavations around the region, focusing on sites with connections to the Bible.

Many of the items going on display in the new exhibit, titled “The House of Herod: Life and Power in the Age of the New Testament,” have never been shown to the public. 

Read More: Times of Israel

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Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green visits Israel

 (Photo: GPO)

(Photo: GPO)

By JTA - July 5, 2018

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Draymond Green, an All-Star forward for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, met in Jerusalem with Israel’s president.

Green presented Reuven Rivlin with a Warriors jersey during their meeting Wednesday. The basketball player is in Israel as part of a visit organized by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Hadashot News reported.

“It’s not every day that I meet an All-Star,” Rivlin told Green. He also tweeted a welcome to Green.

Rivlin said that like many Israelis, he watched the NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers live, which is very early in the morning in Israel. The Warriors swept the Cavs to win their second consecutive title and third in four seasons, all at the expense of the LeBron James-led Cleveland squad.

“You did not have a simple task, defending LeBron James,” the president told Green. “You’re an amazing team, and it was a true pleasure to watch you play. I hope this will only be the first of many visits.” 

Read More: JTA

 

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Taylor Force’s father hopes ‘pay-for-slay’ law will help Palestinians in need

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By Raoul Wootliff - July 2, 2018 

In the two years since his son was killed in a terrorist stabbing spree in the coastal Israeli city of Jaffa, Stuart Force has become a regular traveler from his home town in South Carolina to Washington, DC, where he lobbied US lawmakers to adopt a law limiting aid to Palestinians, until they end stipends for terror convicts and families of slain attackers.

On Monday, three months after the US congress passed the Taylor Force Act into law, Stuart Force traveled for the first time to Israel to see the Knesset pass a similar law to slash funds to the Palestinian Authority by the amount Ramallah pays out to convicted terrorists, a policy nicknamed “pay-for slay.”

Speaking to The Times of Israel ahead of the Monday evening vote, Force said he had made the journey in order to pay back the support he had been shown since the death of his son Taylor.

“The Israeli people have been so supportive of the Taylor Force Act, and it feels right for me to be here and support them,” he said. “t’s going to be very emotional for me to be there during the vote, I’m sure, but I’m glad to be witnessing it. It’s important to our family that I’m here.”

An MBA student at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and a West Point graduate, the 29-year-old Taylor Force was visiting Israel in March 2016 when he was stabbed to death by 22-year-old Palestinian Bashar Massalha. Force’s death elicited a passionate response from US lawmakers, who, in response, took up the hot-button issue of PA funding to Palestinian terrorists.

According to Israel’s Defense Ministry, the PA in 2017 paid NIS 687 million ($198 million) to the so-called “martyrs’ families fund” and NIS 550 million ($160 million) to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club — some seven percent of its overall budget.

Palestinian prisoners serving 20- to 30-year sentences for carrying out terror attacks are eligible for a lifetime NIS 10,000 ($2,772) monthly stipend, the Defense Ministry said, citing PA figures. Those prisoners who receive a three- to five-year sentence get a monthly wage of NIS 2,000 ($554). Palestinian prisoners who are married, have children, live in Jerusalem, or hold Israeli citizenship receive additional payments.

The Defense Ministry last month released figures alleging that some terrorists who killed Israelis will be paid more than NIS 10 million ($2.78 million) each throughout their lifetimes by the PA.

Stuart Force said he was shocked to learn of the payments, and bewildered at how countries, including the US and Israel, allowed their own foreign aid funds to the Palestinians to go to terrorists.

Read More: Times of Israel 

 

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Israeli residents go public with heartfelt aid to Syrians

 (Photo: Basel Awidat/Flash90)

(Photo: Basel Awidat/Flash90)

By Abigail Klein Leichman - July 3, 2018

“Salam Aleikum” began the letter that hundreds of Syrian refugees found attached to tents they received last week via the Israel Defense Forces’ Operation Good Neighbor.

The letter was hastily written in English by Gal Lusky, who has been supplying humanitarian aid to Syrian victims of the civil war since 2011 through her secretive nonprofit, Israeli Flying Aid.

Finally, she wanted to introduce herself.

“Although you are considered to be our sworn enemies and although by operating in the field our volunteers were risking their lives, as the descendants of Jews that survived the Holocaust, we, the volunteers of Israeli Flying Aid, proud Jewish citizens of the State of Israel, sanctify life and will not stand idly by as women and children are continuously slaughtered,” Lusky wrote.

Within 24 hours, she started receiving emails in response — including children’s drawings that brought tears to her eyes.

“I’m so emotional about it,” Lusky tells ISRAEL21c. “I needed those people to know who we are. I want them to feel a tiny bit of solidarity, to fill their souls as well as their stomachs.” 

Read More: Israel21c

 

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Miss Iraq Sarah Idan Cries During Visit to Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center

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By Aussie Dave - June 15, 2018

During her trip to Israel, the wonderful Sarah Idan, Miss Iraq 2017, visited the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center and met with Iraqi Jews. By all accounts (and as you will see from some of the below photos), she was very moved (to the point of crying) by the museum exhibitions, especially a seal on which was written the words “not allowed to return to Iraq” – to which she responded “I am ashamed.”

As part of the visit, Prof. Efraim Sadka spoke about how Muslim and Christian neighbors protected and saved the Jews in Baghdad during the “Farhud” – the Pogrom of 1941. Sarah was surprised to see the photo of Renee Dangoor – Baghdad Beauty Queen of 1947.

Read More: israellycool.com

 

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Israeli children counter flaming kites with peace balloons

 (Photo: Twitter screenshot, Nir Dvori)

(Photo: Twitter screenshot, Nir Dvori)

By TOI Staff - June 15, 2018

As the Hamas terror group threatened to launch 5,000 flaming kites and balloons at Israel on Friday, Israeli children at the Gaza border countered with a message of peace.

At Kibbutz Nir Am, which has had a number of fires sparked by burning kites flown from Gaza, children and residents launched balloons carrying candy towards the Palestinian enclave, Hadashot TV news reported.

Additionally, kibbutz members on Saturday will replant groves at Nir Am burned by the kites in a message of “they burn and we plant,” the network said.

Read More: Times of Israel

 

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