VFI News May 29, 2020
Shavu’ot and the Book of Ruth
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!” —Ruth 4:14
Today, Jewish people all around the world celebrate Shavu’ot. The meaning of the word Shavu’ot is “weeks,” as it’s celebrated 7 weeks after the second day of Passover. In the Christian tradition, it’s known as Pentecost—a Greek term which means “fiftieth,” referring to the fact that it happens roughly 50 days after Easter.
It is customary to read the book of Ruth at this time since the events recounted took place during the time of the spring harvest, and Ruth is a picture of the gentiles’ willing acceptance of a Jewish lifestyle and embracing the God of Israel.
Ruth the Moabite symbolizes the ability to create a strong and faithful connection between people, even if they are strangers, or significantly different from one another. Ruth, whose name means, “friendship,” follows Naomi, her mother in law and friend, with love and uncompromising faithfulness. She chooses the warmth of dedication over the coldness of foreignness and manages to bring people together against all odds. It is a powerful legacy and an important reminder for us all. (VFI News)
Dubai Jewish Community Gets First Shipment of Kosher Meat
A unique package recently landed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), ahead of the Shavuot (Festival of Weeks) holiday: A shipment of glatt kosher (strictly kosher) meat for the small local Jewish community.
Sources in the UAE's Jewish community told Kan News that the shipment is large enough to provide meet for six weeks, and is not connected to Israel.
Last year, it was reported that a new kosher catering company opened in the UAE, but the report at the time said that the food provided was mostly parve (neither meaty nor milky), since it was not possible at the time to import kosher meat.
A source in the Jewish community said, "Until now, we made do like partisans. Each person found his own solution for meat… thank G-d everything changed, and for that we need to thank a number of very dear Jews, who worked hard for this." (VFI News)
President Trump Pushes to Open US Churches Amid Rising Death Toll
This week, the United States surpassed a sobering milestone: 100,000 Coronavirus deaths. And as cases and fatalities continue to rise, so too does the urgency from the White House to reopen the economy.
On Thursday, President Trump announced that CDC guidelines on reopening places of worship could be announced by Friday, claiming the country will be “broken” if they remain closed.
The guidelines have yet to be released due to a disagreement between the Center for Disease Control and the Trump administration—a spat that has led the White House to revise the guidelines themselves after deeming them to be overly strict.
“I think churches, to me, they are so important in terms of the psyche of our country. …I think churches are essential. It’s wonderful to sit home and watch something on a laptop, but it can never be the same as being in a church and being with your friends. They want to have it opened and I think that’s going to be happening very shortly.” Trump said. (VFI News)
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. — Proverbs 11:14 ESV
“God, we ask that you bless all those with the difficult positions of leadership right now—that you bring them wisdom and understanding, based on a firm belief in you.”
Belgium Plans to End Army Protection for Antwerp Synagogues
Belgium is planning to stop providing soldiers for security around synagogues in Antwerp.
The plan, which has not been finalized, would end the army’s protection in the city’s Jewish neighborhood in September. The redeployment is connected with budgetary and manpower issues in Belgium, where COVID-19 has severely impacted the economy, and killed more than 9,000 people.
“The Jewish community needs more, not less, protection in these difficult times,” the Forum of Jewish Organizations of Flemish Jews wrote in a statement published Monday about the plan.
Belgian troops were first posted to guard Jewish institutions in Antwerp in May 2014 after an Islamist murdered four people in a terrorist shooting at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, located about 40 miles south of Antwerp.
Antwerp’s center has about 100 Jewish institutions servicing a predominantly Haredi Orthodox population of 18,000 people. (J. Post / VFI News)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9
Professor David Kazhdan Is First Israeli to Win Prestigious Shaw Prize
The 2020 Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences is being awarded in equal shares to Professor Alexander Beilinson of the University of Chicago and David Kazhdan, Professor of Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “for their huge influence on and profound contributions to representation theory, as well as many other areas of mathematics,” The Shaw Prize’s website announces. This is the first time that the prestigious award has been won by an Israeli citizen.
The Shaw Prize, based in Hong Kong, was established in 2002 by media entrepreneur Sir Run Run Shaw to reward individuals who have made significant and original breakthroughs in the fields of astronomy, life science and medicine, and mathematical sciences.
The prizes include a cash award of $1.2 million, and is intended to honor scientists whose ground-breaking work contributes to “furthering societal progress, enhancing quality of life, and enriching humanity's spiritual civilization.” (VFI News)
Saudi, Jordanian Officials Say Moderate Arab States Back Israel's Sovereignty Plan
When the Trump administration’s Middle East Peace plan was first unveiled on January 28th, it included a provision for Israel to apply sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea area, and all Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who had already vowed in September to apply Israeli sovereignty to those areas, immediately endorsed the plan, drawing opposition from many—with a number of Arab leaders issuing condemnations of or warnings against its implementation.
Jordan’s prime minister threatened to review his country’s ties with Israel if the sovereignty plan is put into effect, while Jordan’s King Abdullah II said the sovereignty plan could put Israel on a ‘collision course’ with the Hashemite Kingdom.
However, some Saudi and Jordanian officials say that several Arab states are quietly backing Israel’s plan, which would annex nearly a third of Judea and Samaria. (VFI News)
Hezbollah's Nasrallah Warns of 'Great War' on All Fronts with Israel
Marking 20 years since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of "the great war that will open all fronts at once," saying that it would be "the end of Israel." The Hezbollah leader stressed, however, that there are "no indications that Israel intends to launch a war against Lebanon."
The statements were made during an interview with the Al-Nour Radio Station on Tuesday night, which was broadcast by the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV Channel.
In a possible reference to a series of airstrikes in recent years on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria which were blamed on Israel, Nasrallah stated that while the Syrian leadership believes that it is not in the country's interest to be drawn into a war with Israel, the "patience and endurance of the Syrian leadership with Israeli aggression has limits." (J. Post / VFI News)
Rouhani Bans Use of Israeli Products
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued an implementation order on Tuesday of parliamentary legislation passed last week that bans the use of any Israeli products in the country.
The ban includes technology, such as computer hardware and software, and was passed unanimously by Iranian lawmakers last week.
The legislation was passed "to confront the hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security," and considers any cooperation with Israel an “act against god.”
Iran, which is known for its internet censorship, has in the past blocked Israeli technology such as Waze due to its origins. (VFI News)
Colombian, Argentine Presidents Call to Congratulate Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Colombian President Ivan Duque and Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, who called to congratulate him on forming his new government.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Colombian President Duque discussed the upsurge in Iranian involvement in Latin America and agreed to ratify a bilateral free trade agreement.
The Colombian President commended the steps the Prime Minister has decided upon to block the coronavirus and said that they greatly influenced his government's dealing with the pandemic. He added that he intends to visit Israel upon the conclusion of the corona crisis.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Argentine President Fernandez discussed steps to deepen bilateral commercial ties. The Argentine President said that he is working to broaden cooperation between Israel and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay). (VFI News)
More Than 2,000 Antisemitic Crimes in Germany in 2019, Highest Since 2001
German authorities announced on Wednesday that 2019 saw more than 2,000 crimes targeting Jews—the highest recorded number of antisemitic crime since 2001, and a 13% jump since the previous year.
The Berlin paper Tagesspiegel reported that “most offenses against Jews are assigned to right-wing offenders. The most brutal attack was the attack by Stephan Balliet on the synagogue in Halle in October. Balliet tried unsuccessfully to open the door to the fully occupied synagogue and then, in his anger, killed two passersby.”
The neo-Nazi Balliet was wedded to an antisemitic world view that included the “Zionist-occupied government” theory.
Germany’s statistical data about the causes of antisemitism have faced criticism over the years.
In 2017, the German paper Die Welt reported that an outbreak of Islamic-animated antisemitism was registered as right-wing extremism. According to Die Welt’s report, “the Islamic share of antisemitic offenses is clearly under-counted in police statistics.” (J. Post / VFI News)
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. —Deuteronomy 31:6
“God, we ask that you help us to face the evil and hatred in this world—by spreading your loving compassion, and healing grace.”
Greece to Welcome Israelis, Germans, Cypriots In First Wave Of Visitors
Beginning in mid-June, Greece will allow travelers from around two dozen countries including, Germany, Cyprus, and Israel, to visit without having to be quarantined—part of a gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Tourism accounts for about 20% of the Greek economy, and the government sees the sector as a major engine of its recovery from a lockdown that has brought business to a virtual standstill.
“There will be some 20-25 countries whose nationals will be allowed to come,” a government source said, adding that the list would include Cyprus, Israel, and countries in central Europe and the Balkans. The full list would be announced this week. (J. Post / VFI News)
Churches in Jerusalem and Bethlehem Reopen as Coronavirus Restrictions are Lifted
Churches in the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, including the sites of Jesus’ birth and death, reopened Tuesday as local and church authorities lifted some of the social restrictions that were in place due to the coronavirus.
Holy Land churches have been closed to the public since March, but local authorities in the Palestinian territories announced that houses of worship would become accessible again along with businesses and stores, according to Reuters.
As Holy Land churches reopen, some restrictions continue to be enforced. Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity capped access to 50 people and required protective masks, while Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre announced that worshippers would have to plan their visits ahead of time.
Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Ma’ayah said in a statement Tuesday that the drop in new coronavirus cases allowed for the decision to be made and that reopening churches would “give hope to the whole world that hopefully this pandemic will end.” (Daily Caller / VFI News)
Post Covid-19, One-Third of Israelis Stressed and Anxious
One-third of Israelis over the age of 21 are stressed and anxious as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to a study published by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The report, “Civil resilience during the coronavirus crisis,” was the first state-run survey of its kind conducted after the lockdown was lifted., and despite a loosening of restrictions, some 18% of the population describe themselves as lonely and 16% as depressed, the report said.
Feelings of depression were more acute among Arab-Israelis than Jews, 23% compared with 17%. Nearly one-third of Arab-Israelis (31%) assessed their mental state as negative, compared with 18% of Jews, the report said.
Regarding the economic impact of COVID-19, the statistics bureau on Monday reported that as of late April, a total of 1,141,968 Israelis, or some 27.4% of the workforce, were recorded as claiming unemployment benefits.
Fourteen percent, or 789.3 million people, said they had reduced how much food they consumed in the last week due to financial reasons. (J. Post / VFI News)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19
“God, we ask that you bless the people of Israel—with vital aid and supplies, with food for their tables and shelter over their heads, but also with hope for the future you will manifest for them.”