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21 April 2014 - 21 Nisan 5774 - כ"א ניסן ה' אלפים תשע"ד
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Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual and political leader dies at 93 E-mail

An estimated turnout of more than 800,000 filled the streets of Jerusalem on 7 October for the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the Sephardic sage and political leader.

Many of the main streets in Jerusalem were closed for the funeral, which local media called the largest in Israeli history.

The funeral for Yosef, the former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, began several hours after his death in a Jerusalem hospital. A van carrying his body could barely inch forward due to the swarms of mourners while bringing him to the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in the Geula neighborhood and then to the Sanhedria cemetery, where he was buried next to his wife, who died two decades ago.

Yosef was eulogized by a string of leading haredi Orthodox rabbis, including his son, the current Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Yitzchak Yosef, as well as former Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. Aryeh Deri, head of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party also delivered a eulogy. “Who will unite us all?” Deri said, crying. “Who will lead us, rabbi? You left us in our hardest hour.”

Yosef, a native of Baghdad, served as Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi from 1973 to 1983, subsequently founding the Shas political party. He was revered among Sephardi andharedi Orthodox Israelis as a sage of Jewish law and more broadly for his sometimes controversial political stances.

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THAI COURT HANDS SENTENCES TO IRANIAN SUSPECTS ON ATTACK ON ISRAELI DIPLOMATS E-mail

A Bangkok court last month found an Iranian man guilty of attempted murder in a botched plot to target Israeli diplomats. Saeid Moradi, 29, was sentenced to life in prison. His accomplice was also jailed and another has been detained.

This follows the arrests in Thailand of the suspects last year after Israeli intelligence had been in contact with Thai authorities. Thailand’s top policeman revealed that alleged Iranian bombers were detained in Bangkok on 14 February 2012 after they accidentally set off their explosives. The group was in the process of planning an attack on Israeli diplomats.

The Bangkok blasts came just a day after two bomb attacks targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia. A car bomb in the Indian capital New Delhi exploded and injured the wife of an Israeli official and two bystanders.

The plot in Bangkok was discovered only by chance, when explosives stored in a house occupied by several Iranian men blew up by mistake. The bombers were armed with professional-grade explosives hidden in portable radios rigged with a pin and detonator.

During his attempt to set off the explosions, Moradi blew off his own legs when a bomb he was carrying exploded as he tried to throw it at Thai police officer. He was arrested at the scene of the bombing.

A second defendant, Mohammad Khazaei, 43, was given 15 years in jail for possession of explosive devices. Khazaei was arrested at Bangkok’s main international airport while trying to catch a flight to Malaysia. A third suspect, Masoud Sedaghat Zadeh, was held in Malaysia after fleeing Thailand shortly after the explosions.

Mark Regev, Israel’s senior spokesperson said that the Thai convictions “are yet another clear demonstration of the Iranian global involvement in terrorism.” Earlier this year a Lebanese national with ties to Hezbollah was convicted of involvement in a planned attack against Israeli targets in Cyprus.

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Israel finishes in second place in solar competition E-mail

Israel’s recent participation at the Solar Decathlon China design competition was a success. The Israel house took second place in the architecture category. It was the first time that a team from Israel participated in a solar decathlon.

Originally founded by the US Department of Energy, the solar decathlon competition encourages architecture, design, and engineering students to build a small, transportable solar powered home using the most current technology available.

Israel’s innovative design was based on pre-industrial ingenuity without the benefit of “smart systems” other than their own. It draws much of its inspiration from the Mediterranean “4 Room Israelite House,” an ancient building archetype found in archaeological remains in the region from 3500 years ago, with rooms built around a central courtyard. Windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject excessive heat in the summer.

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Israel and China look to expand air traffic Print E-mail

Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced the signing of an agreement in August between Israel and China that will significantly increase the frequency of flights between the two countries.

The agreement also included provisions for additional airlines in the two countries to operate regular flights. In addition, the airlines of each country will be able to operate 14 passenger flights and 7 cargo flights a week.

Direct government involvement over recent years partly fueled by inward China tourism to Israel and increase trade has led to increase demand for more frequency of flights. This has been a major stumbling block to implement by the two countries.

(Issue October 2013)

 
New Chief Rabbi announced for UK and Commonwealth E-mail

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has been installed as the new Chief Rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth in a special ceremony held in August at St Johns Wood Synagogue.

The former Chief Rabbi of Ireland succeeds Lord Jonathan Sacks, who has held the post since 1991. The Prince of Wales and other faith leaders attended the event.

Rabbi Mirvis becomes the 11th Chief Rabbi. He was chosen after a two-year search. The son and grandson of rabbis, he was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1956 he became Chief Rabbi of Ireland at the age of 28. Rabbi Mirvis was a rabbi in Dublin before his appointment in 1985, a post he held until 1992.

Since 1996, Rabbi Mirvis, was the rabbi at Finchley Kinloss Synagogue in north London one of the biggest congregations in London. There, he created the Kinloss Learning Centre, a successful community education programme which served as a model for other Jewish communities. He also founded the Morasha Jewish Primary School, of which he is honorary principal, and the Kinloss Community Kollel, an institute for advanced study of the Talmud.

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