27 May 2018 - 14 Sivan 5778 - י"ד סיון ה' אלפים תשע"ח
Israel’s ambassador rededicates two of India’s oldest synagogues E-mail

During the festival week of Chanukah last December, Israel’s Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon rededicated two of Calcutta’s oldest synagogues, the Beth El synagogue and the Magen David synagogue, after they were recently restored.

“Remembering and preserving the glorious past of Jewish Calcutta, contributing to the fabric of the city of Calcutta in the present and looking at the future, two synagogues were rededicated today – in the most festive atmosphere of Chanukah,” he wrote on Twitter.

Also present at the events was Tzvia Valdan, daughter of the late Israeli president Shimon Peres. “Moments of happiness,” tweeted Israeli diplomat in Delhi Adva Vilchinski, describing the event as “historic and exciting”. “The synagogues are living symbol of the special relationship between #India #Jews & #Israel,” Vilchinski tweeted.

During the event, Ambassador Carmon lit the Chanukiah and students – mostly Muslims and Christians – sang Hebrew songs.

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Record number of tourists visited the Holy Land in 2017 E-mail

An all-time record 3.6 million tourists visited Israel in 2017, 25% more than in 2016. The Ministry of Tourism estimated that incoming tourism contributed NIS 20 billion to the Israeli economy.

The largest number of tourists was from the US – over 700,000 tourists, 21% more than in 2016. Russia was in second place with 307,000 tourists, a 26% increase that was attributable to the growth in routes and flights from Russia to Israel, some of which are run by low-cost airlines, and the exclusion of Turkey from the Russian tourist map in recent years.

In third place was France, with 284,000 tourists, 8% more than in 2016, followed by Germany in fourth place with 202,000 tourists, a 34% rise over 2016, and the UK in fifth place, with 185,000 tourists, 10% more than in 2016.

Other important sources of incoming tourism included Ukraine with 137,000 tourists, China with 105,000, Italy (93,000), Poland (85,000) and Canada (75,000). Israel’s Ministry of Tourism is focusing on China due to its enormous potential as a source of tourists.

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Polish city of Krakow opens kosher hotel E-mail

Seventy-five years after the Nazis deported Krakow Jews to concentration camps, descendants of survivors have opened the Polish city’s first post-Holocaust kosher hotel.

Hotel Polin, located near John Paul II International Airport Krakow-Balice, held an official launch in December. The 38-room hotel has an inhouse synagogue and elevators for use on Shabbat, and its kosher kitchen is under the supervision of the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich.

A double room at the hotel, including breakfast, costs approximately US$45 per night. The hotel offers shuttles to the city centre, to the historically Jewish Kazimierz district, approximately six miles away.

A non-Jewish local businessman invested the US$560,000 cost to build the hotel, which may open a branch in Kazimierz. The hotel’s business model is based on growing traffic between Israel and Poland.

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To honour the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Israel, the 19th China Shanghai International Arts Festival held an event titled “Israel Culture Week” from 11 to 18 November.

Organised by the Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai and the centre for China Shanghai International Arts Festival, Israel Culture Week presented the comprehensive and classical achievements of Israeli art, providing local Chinese people with a chance to embrace Israeli traditions and culture through events.

As part of Israel Culture Week, Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower was lit up in blue and white, the colours of the Israeli flag. The building is one of the world’s most famous structures and a landmark that is synonymous with the city.

The festival included shows by some of top Israeli performers such as Inbal Pinto’s dance troupe, world renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Yaron Kohlberg and songstress Ester Rada.

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US aircraft carrier gets a Torah scroll E-mail

Jewish sailors aboard the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford now have a Torah scroll to use during their six-to-eight-month stints at sea.

The umbrella body for Jewish chaplains, the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, dedicated the scroll on 29 November aboard the ship in Norfolk, Virginia. It was dedicated to the memory Sgt. Jacob Kamaras, a veteran of the US Army Air Corps during WWII. On hand for the ceremony were his son, Philip Kamaras, a New York lawyer, and his namesake grandson, Jacob Kamaras, a journalist and publicist in Houston.

The Kamaras family helped pay for the US$36,000 scroll as part of the chaplains’ council’s “Torah for Our Troops” campaign, which equips chaplains with travel-size Torah scrolls. The scroll, slightly smaller than those used in most synagogues, is designed for use in the shipboard chapel.

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