“And Ruth said, ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God my God’” Ruth 1:16
SHAVUOT 2019: This year’s festival of Shavuot begins in the evening of Saturday 8 June and ends at dusk on Monday 10 June. The Biblical holiday of Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, 50 days after the exodus of Moses and the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. The holiday is also the celebration of the wheat harvest and ripening of the first fruits. The deeply moving Book of Ruth, a biblical story of love and covenant, is read and reflected upon during what is also known as the Feast of Weeks. Meals eaten during the holiday are traditionally based on fruit, vegetable, and dairy products. We at VFI extend to dear friends, near and far, joyous 2019 Shavuot greetings. Please pray for the joy and refreshing of Israel’s people and for protection from all violence during this time.
SHEBA MEDICAL TEAM FINDS TREATMENT FOR 4TH LEADING CAUSE OF CANCER DEATH: A Chaim Sheba Medical Center researcher has discovered a potential treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer. “In the history of oncology, there have been only two or three studies that have shown some benefits for pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Raanan Berger, head of Oncology for Sheba Medical Center, the country’s largest hospital, located in the neighborhood of Ramat Gan. “This is a very rare breakthrough.” Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most common cancer worldwide, with 458,918 new cases in 2018 alone. It is the 4th leading cause of cancer death, and less than 3% of patients with the metastatic disease survive longer than five years after diagnosis. The research was conducted by Dr. Talia Golan, the head of Sheba’s Pancreatic Cancer Center. Specifically, her research centered on evaluating the safety and testing the efficacy of a new drug treatment regimen known as POLO in order to treat a specific type of metastatic pancreatic cancer in carriers of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutation, which runs largely in Ashkenazi Jews and typically makes these individuals susceptible to breast and ovarian cancers. Golan presented her findings in Chicago this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual conference. (J. Post)
ISRAEL MOURNS AS FIRST LADY NECHAMA RIVLIN DIES AT 73: Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, passed away on Tue. 4 June 2019, one day before her 74th birthday. She worked as a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the departments of zoology, ecology, and genetics before retiring in 2007. Nechama suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and used an oxygen tank for many years to assist her breathing. She had undergone a lung transplant in March 2019, but efforts to stabilize her during rehabilitation were unsuccessful. Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu mourned the passing of the First Lady and offered his condolences to President Reuven Rivlin. “Along with the rest of the Israeli people, my wife Sara, and I express our deepest condolences over the death of the First Lady of Israel, Nechama Rivlin,” Netanyahu said. “We all prayed for her recovery during the time recently when she was struggling bravely and with great power for her life. We send our condolences from the depths of our hearts to the President and all of his family. May her memory be a blessing.” (J. Post/Times of Israel/Arutz-7)
RELIGION VS. STATE MAY BECOME THE CENTRAL ISSUE IN ISRAELI ELECTION CAMPAIGN: Israel’s repeat election was sparked by an issue that touches one of the major fault lines in Israeli society; the role of the growing ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jewish community in modern life. PM Netanyahu’s prospective government collapsed last week over the issue of military draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men, a source of longtime resentment among the secular majority of Jewish Israelis who are required to serve. The conflict over the draft law is just one of several deep disagreements over the role of religion in Israeli society. While the ultra-Orthodox parties wield significant political influence, experts say their cloistered communities are being left behind by modern society, with long-lasting negative consequences for the future of the country. After winning the 9 April 2019 elections, Netanyahu was blocked from forming a governing coalition by his political ally turned rival Avigdor Liberman, who insisted on passing legislation that would require young ultra-Orthodox men to be drafted into the military like everyone else. Not only did Lieberman’s nationalist, yet secular, Israel Beiteinu party deny Netanyahu the chance to form his fifth government, it also all but guaranteed the issue will feature prominently in the upcoming campaign. “I have nothing against the ultra-Orthodox community, and I think they should integrate,” Liberman said after the new vote was called.
While the Israeli political spectrum is often defined over where politicians stand on matters of Palestinian statehood, the internal divide is just as profound on matters of religion, and in particular the ultra-Orthodox parties’ status as political kingmakers in Israel’s fragmented parliamentary system. The ultra-Orthodox have leveraged their clout over the decades to maintain a segregated lifestyle. They run a separate network of schools, raise large families on taxpayer-funded handouts and enforce a public status quo - such as preventing most commerce and public transportation on the Sabbath - that has enraged the secular majority. The ultra-Orthodox also wields a monopoly over matters of marriage, burials, and conversions. But in a country where Jewish males must typically serve three years in the army, the sweeping military draft exemptions have done the most to feed the visceral culture war. “Giving one’s life for one’s country is the ultimate sacrifice. It is unconscionable that there are free-riders in Israel who have the gall to treat the rest of us as lower caste mercenaries to ensure their livelihood,” said Dan Ben-David, a Tel Aviv University economist. He said the draft is “symptomatic” of something much bigger. “They ostensibly prefer not to enter modern society, but have no compunction about claiming its fruits, from modern health care through modern infrastructure to the extensive subsidization of their lifestyle,” he said. (WIN) Intercede that ultra-Orthodox party leaders and members will be greatly weakened in their ability to blackmail, manipulate and destabilize Israel’s government and that they will cease to escape public responsibilities in terms of being employed and serving their time in the military as do all young men and women of Israel. The ultra-Orthodox parties must not be allowed to run the country in terms of harsh religious decrees and unpopular rulings because of their political sway and power.
GERMAN INTELLIGENCE: IRAN BUYING ILLEGAL TECHNOLOGY FOR WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: Iran is "making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction," according to a Bavarian state intelligence report. The Bavarian agents define weapons of mass destruction as “the spread of atomic, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.” Iran was termed a “risk country” in the 335-page Bavarian document outlining serious threats to the security and democracy of the state. German domestic intelligence agencies are roughly equivalent to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). The report noted that Germany's criminal customs police recently prevented an electronic beam-welding machine from being sold to Iran that can be used for the production of missile launch vehicles." (J. Post)
HAMAS LAUNCHING MASS-FUNDING CAMPAIGN: Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said this week that his organization was planning to send hundreds of millions of text messages to Muslims around the world in order to raise money for its activities. The text messages, he said, will be sent in eight languages and the money collected will be intended to "support the open campaign with the supreme enemy of the Islamic nation." Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala called on Muslims around the world to unite and announce support for the organizations fighting the Arab regimes collaborating with the United States and the "Zionist entity." Al-Qassam Brigades has in the past urged supporters of the “Palestinian resistance” to transfer financial aid to the organization via the electronic currency Bitcoin. While Hamas runs Gaza, it is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, the EU, and others. It has faced financial woes in recent years as banks have sought to ensure they have no dealings with the organization. Iran is a supporter of Hamas and provides the terrorist organization with both weapons and money. (Arutz-7)
GREECE ELECTS FIRST-EVER JEWISH MAYOR IN THE CITY OF LOANNIA: Moisis Elisaf, a local medical doctor, is the first Jewish person to be elected as mayor in Greece. Running as an independent candidate, he won 51.1% of the votes. Recovering from a massive debt crisis, which only officially ended in 2018, Greece has seen an increase in the rise of Euro-skeptic and xenophobic forces like the Golden Dawn party. Greece, occupied by Nazi Germany during WW2, witnessed the destruction of Greek Jews. Roughly 80,000 Greek-Jews lived in the country before the Holocaust, the entire Jewish community of modern Greece numbers around 5,000 people. (J. Post)
ISTANBUL’S NEW AIRPORT TO ESTABLISH TWO JEWISH PRAYER ROOMS: Istanbul's new airport, which is set to be the largest in the world, now boasts of two synagogues. The two Jewish prayer rooms in the airport are to be located in the regular and business class lounges, and there are plans to open one in the general hall as well. The initiative was undertaken by Turkish Airlines, which provides between 600 to 5000 kosher meals every day. Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, the Ashkenazi rabbi of Turkey said that "There are more Turkish Airlines flights from Tel Aviv to Istanbul than from Istanbul to London." Chitika also supplied each of the little synagogues with Jewish prayer books that will accommodate both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, "so that everyone who passes through the airport can pray." It warms the heart that also in Istanbul, every Jew that wishes can put on Tefillin and pray." (J. Post)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by JNN writers and editors are based on the best information received.
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Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff