31 January 2015 - 11 Shevat 5775 - י"א שבט ה' אלפים תשע"ה
Torah book fetches record US$3.87 million at auction E-mail

A 15th century printed book of the Torah fetched a record US$3.87 million at a Christies auction in Paris on 30 April.

Christies listed the buyer as anonymous but said the sale broke two records. The item was the world’s most expensive Hebrew-language book and fetched a higher price than any printed book known to ever have been sold in France. The book was printed in Hebrew in Bologna in January 1482, according to Christies.

“The volume represents the very first appearance in print of all five books of the Pentateuch as well as the first to which vocalization and cantillation marks have been added,” according Christies.

Prior to the auction, Christies estimated the items worth at up to 1.5 million euros, or US$2.08 million. The back of the copy bears the signature of three 16th and 17th century censors, testifying to its presence in an Italian library until at least the mid 17th century.

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Israel’s President Shimon Peres made an official state visit to China last month at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Peres arrived on 8 April for a three day visit with a state welcome reception and a diplomatic meeting with President Xi Jinping.

Peres was welcomed by a guard of honour and a choir of children waving Israeli and Chinese flags. His visit to China was the first by a president of Israel in more than a decade. Although Peres did travel to Beijing in August 2008 to attend the opening events of the Beijing Olympics.

In his welcoming address to Peres, Chinese President said: “Mr president, welcome to China. It is indeed a great pleasure to meet with you, you are a senior statesman of Israel and an old friend of the Chinese people. Over the years you have made important contributions to China-Israel bilateral relations.”

President Peres thanked the Chinese president and said: “Thank you so much for your words, thank you for your invitation. I came on behalf of the people of Israel to express our admiration for China and her important role in the world.”

President Peres and President Xi Jinping during their two hour meeting discussed several topics. Most notably the ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear programme and cooperative ventures. Top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress also met Peres. Zhang reviewed the steady and sound development of China-Israel relations since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1992. He called on the two countries to carry forward tradition and work more closely to bring bilateral friendship to a new high.

Cooperative ventures in science and technology was also major focus of discussions. China is aware that Israel excels in these fields and are extremely interested in joining forces in different areas of research especially medicinal, agriculture and neuroscience. President Peres also called for direct flights by Chinese airlines from China to Israel to increase tourism of the two countries.

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First ever community Seder held in Kaifeng E-mail

The Jewish community in Kaifeng held its first-ever community Seder this Passover. Nearly 100 members of this ancient Chinese Jewish community attended the Seder, which was sponsored by Shavei Israel a non profit organisation that tries to find lost Jews throughout the world.

The Seder was conducted by 28-year-old Tzuri (Heng) Shi, one of the seven young Chinese Jewish men who Shavei Israel helped make aliyah and return to Judaism over the past several years.

Tzuri arrived with Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund, Shavei’s Educational Director Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum and Rabbi Hanoch Avitzedek, Shavei Israel’s director for the Kaifeng Jewish community. They were also joined by Eran Barzilay, Shavei Israel’s-based coordinator for outreach to Kaifeng and Aviona HakarmiWeinberg, who is serving as Shavei Israel’s emissary in Kaifeng.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit Japan E-mail

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Japan from 11-15 May, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

Netanyahu plans to hold talks on 12 May with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss Middle East affairs. In addition Netanyahu will have an audience with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. He will be accompanied by his wife Sara and is also scheduled to visit Kyoto.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that it would be “very significant to exchange views on ways to stabilise the Middle East with Mr Netanyahu, who is one of the most important persons in efforts to bring about peace” in the region.

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Chinese media centre launched in Israel E-mail

A college in Israel has launched a Chinese media centre the first of its kind in the Middle East.

The Chinese Media Centre at the College of ManagementAcademic Studies in Rishon Lezion is part of the School of Media Studies.

According to the college, the centre will maintain a “proactive dialogue” with the Chinese media and conduct research of the media systems in greater China. The centre will be in regular contact with Chinese media to facilitate a greater understanding of Israel by the Chinese media. It also expects to have scholarly and professional exchanges of students and journalists.

“Chinese media is highly interested in Israel, particularly in non-political content,” according to Alex Pevzner, the center’s founding director. “Stories about Israel, which focus on Israel’s strengths in fields of high importance to the Chinese, such as food security and agri-tech, high-tech, med-tech and clean energy, can help cement both economic and political ties between the two nations.”

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