4 September 2015 - 20 Elul 5775 - כ' אלול ה' אלפים תשע"ה
Holocaust victims remembered E-mail

A day to remember the victims of the Holocaust, Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Memorial Day, is observed every year. The official day was established in 1959 and takes place on 27 Nisan (Hebrew month), a week before Yom Ha’ Atzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day.

In Israel, flags are flown at half mast and there is a state ceremony held at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Authority. At 10 am, air-raid sirens are sounded for two minutes and all activity comes to a halt.

Outside of Israel, the day is marked with ceremonies and programmes that include the lighting of memorial candles. Jewish communities get together and solemnly observe this day and remember the six million Jews who were murdered.

Hong Kong’s Jewish community held their Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony on 15 April at the Jewish Community Centre. The event was organised by the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre (HKHTC). The theme of this year’s ceremony was Who Will Carry the Word?

As in previous events, members from all of Hong Kong’s Jewish congregations were represented. In attendance was Sagi Karni, Consul General of Israel to Hong Kong.

The evening programme included an opening address by Simon Goldberg, Director of Education, HKHTC. This was followed by Elsa high-school students displaying several placards depicting numbers of lost communities in Europe that had been wiped out the tens of thousands and the numbers that had survived in the few hundreds.

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China to host Commemoration of 70th anniversary of shanghai ghetto liberation E-mail

China and the World Jewish Congress (WJC) will, for the first time, be hosting an event in September in Shanghai to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Shanghai Ghetto and the end of WWII in China in September 1945.

The event was announced following a meeting in London between WJC CEO Robert Singer and PRC Minister of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office Qiu Yuanpin.

“Shanghai was the only city that opened its gates for Jewish refugees. We will never forget what this city has done for us,” Singer said during the meeting.

Jewish refugees fled Europe for China during WWII. The Shanghai Ghetto, formerly known as the Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees, was home to about 23,000 Jewish refugees in Japanese-occupied Shanghai until its liberation by the Chinese on 3 September 1945 at the end of the war.

“We will commemorate, for the first time, part of the Holocaust that tends to get less attention,” commented Ronald S. Lauder, president of the WJC. “This historic event also marks another step towards strengthening the bonds between the Chinese and Jewish people.” Lauder will chair the event, which will include 100 WJC representatives from Jewish communities around the world, representatives of China and survivors of the Shanghai Ghetto.

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Red Beret given to Japanese IDF soldier E-mail

Sol Kikuchi, 21, finished his gruelling Israel Defense Forces (IDF) combat training and received the coveted red beret of the Paratroopers Brigade. His thrilled parents, whom he had not seen in a year and a half, flew from Japan to attend the ceremony.

Tokyo-raised Sol has a Japanese Buddhist mother and an American Jewish father, and went to Israel to serve in the IDF last year.

Sol joined the IDF and served in a combat unit. As the only soldier from Japan, his enlistment and training process was complicated, but he was determined and never gave up.

Kikuchi’s touching story was first reported by Israel’s Hayom some 10 months ago. Speaking from his adopted home of Kibbutz Hazorea, Kikuchi told the newspaper he was preparing to enlist and begin the IDF’s three-month Hebrew language course, and vowed he would then volunteer to serve in a combat unit. “If I am serving, I might as well go all the way and serve in a combat unit like the Paratroopers Brigade,” he said. Now he is happy to be realising his dream.

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President Rivlin hosts ambassadors to Asian-Pacific countries E-mail

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin hosted at his residence around 20 Israeli ambassadors and diplomatic mission heads to Asian-Pacific countries. The gathering took place on 12 March.

Rivlin welcomed them and thanked them for their work in representing the State of Israel. “The friendly relationship between Israel and the rising powers in Asia represents an economic and strategic opportunity for both sides.” Rivlin said.

“As a state which seeks new markets for trade, the connection with Asia is more important than ever to Israel. Israel is more and more turning to face the East, we are witnessing cross-fertilization in the fields of education, industry, tourism, and security.

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Netanyahu re-elected Prime Minister E-mail

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party won Israel’s March election. The final results showed a stunning turnaround after a close race that had put his lengthy rule in jeopardy.

Netanyahu surged ahead after some last-minute debating in which he opposed Palestinian statehood and vowed continued settlement construction. Netanyahu has been prime minister for the past six years. Opinion polls indicated he was in trouble, giving chief rival Isaac Herzog’s centre-left Zionist Union a slight lead. Exit polls showed the two sides deadlocked.

“Against all odds, we achieved a great victory for the Likud,” Netanyahu told supporters at his election night headquarters, declaring victory even before final results were known.

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