JTA NEWS
22 October 2017 - 2 Heshvan 5778 - ב' חשון ה' אלפים תשע"ח
JTA NEWS :
Yom Kippur – our fate is sealed E-mail

Yom Kippur the Day of Atonememt is the most holiest day of the Jewish year. The day falls on 10 Tishrei, which is ten days after Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.

The ten days between the two Jewish holidays are meant to be days of awe and deep introspection. On Yom Kippur, G-d seals our fate for the coming year. The entire day is spent fasting and praying to G-d for forgiveness and a good year ahead. We refrain from work, fast and attend synagogue services.

It is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year. This day is, essentially, our last appeal and our last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate our repentance and make amends so we may be sealed in the book of life.

Yom Kippur atones not only for sins between man and G-d, but also for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, one must first seek reconciliation with that person and righting the wrongs committed against them if possible. This is best done before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur appears in the following verses in the Torah. “In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work... For on that day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the L-rd.” Leviticus 16:29-30.

Observance to Fast

We refrain from eating any food or drink on Yom Kippur. The 25-hour fast begins before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ends after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions such as: washing and bathing, anointing one’s body (with cosmetics, deodorants), wearing leather shoes, and engaging in sexual relations.

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Jews are the world’s most-educated religious group, research reveals E-mail

Jews are the world’s most-educated religious group, with an average of more than 13 years of formal schooling, according to a new study published in December.

The study, undertaken by the Pew Research Center, a USbased non-partisan “fact tank”, found that Jews worldwide have four years more of schooling on average than the next-most-educated group, Christians, who average about nine years of schooling.

One important note in the research relates to both religion and region matter for educational attainment. Within the world’s major religious groups, there are often large variations in educational attainment depending on the country or region of the world in which adherents live.

Muslims in Europe, for example, have more years of schooling, on average, than Muslims in the Middle East. This is because education levels are affected by many factors other than religion, including socioeconomic conditions, government resources and migration policies, the presence or absence of armed conflict and the prevalence of child labor and marriage. At the same time, this study finds that even under the same regional or national conditions, there often are differences in education attainment among those within religious groups.

Muslims and Hindus are the least-educated religious groups, each with about 5 1/2 years of formal schooling. The global average is less than eight years.

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Crackdown in Kaifeng E-mail

By the time that New York Times correspondent Chris Buckley had alerted the world to the crackdown against the Jewish descendants in Kaifeng in September 2016, members of that community had already been living with it for over a year.

The reason for the delay in reportage was that members of the community had advised the two Jewish organisations working with them not to go public with the news. They hoped that if they remained silent, the previous status quo would return. But 16 months on, the only Chinese-language exhibit on the Jewish community was missing.

This author reluctantly broke the silence when an Israeli reporter asked to be put in contact with some Kaifeng Jews so that she could include them in a story about how Pesach is observed around the world.

For over a year, the Sino-Judaic Institute had heard reports that Jewish life in Kaifeng was being curtailed. Then the author received independent confirmation from Mark Ellison of Hong Kong, who had visited Kaifeng in March 2016.

Ellison reported that indeed Shavei Israel’s school had been closed down and community gatherings were prohibited; that the revered well on the ancient synagogue site had been filled in and closed off; that the historical plaques marking the old Jewish street had been removed; that the stelae (inscribed memorial stones) and other artifacts in the Municipal Museum were off-limits; that the only Chinese language exhibit on the Jewish community, housed in the Merchant Guildhall Museum, had been taken down; and that Jewish tour groups (although not individuals) were prohibited from visiting Kaifeng.

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