JTA NEWS
21 August 2017 - 30 Av 5777 - ל' אב ה' אלפים תשע"ז
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Imam apologises to Jewish and Christian groups in Singapore E-mail

An Indian religious cleric in Singapore has been ordered to be deported from the country after speaking out against Jews and Christians during a sermon.

Because of his remarks made at a mosque in January, Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel pleaded guilty in a state court to a charge of promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion or race. He was fined $2,860 Singapore dollars, which he paid, and was ordered to be deported.

During a prayer session, the imam had said in Arabic: “Grant us help against the Jews and Christians,” citing the Quran as his source, according to court documents.

In February, a video of the Imam reciting the prayer in Arabic surfaced online. The Imam explained that the verse “God help us against Jews and Christians” came from an old Arabic text he had learned in his village in India, not from the Quran.

“Recent events abroad have highlighted how the build-up of anger and resentment among different religious groups can lead to social friction and violence,” the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs statement said. “The government has the responsibility to act quickly and firmly to repudiate divisive speech, even if the course of action is sometimes difficult.”

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Therapeutic football workshop in Bangalore E-mail

During a five-day workshop in Bangalore, India, in April, teachers and coaches received professional training in how to use sports in general, and football in particular, as a means of rehabilitating people with disabilities.

Entitled “Game of Life”, the workshop was organised by the Israeli Consulate in Bangalore and MASHAV in co-operation with Israeli NGO Mifalot and the Rotary Club. Mifalot is an organisation whose mission is to lead social change and development through sports.

The Game of Life methodology uses sports as a platform for promoting self-confidence, trust and mutual engagement. It involves activities on the field, using football drills and other sports that require interaction between the players. The idea is to connect exercise to life itself. The training reinforces the importance of communication and why it is important for people to work together as a team to achieve certain goals that will enhance the overall performance of individuals.

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“Lost tribe” couples remarry E-mail

Ten Indian-Jewish couples from the B’nei Menashe “lost tribe” were married in a Jewish ceremony in April at an absorption centre in northern Israel.

The group remarriage ceremony in the Kfar Hasidim community was part of the couples’ formal conversion to Judaism. The couples ranged in age from their 20s to their 70s.

The couples were among 102 new immigrants who emigrated from Mizoram, India, in late February. Their aliyah was facilitated by the Shavei Israel organisation, which tries to find lost Jews throughout the world.

“After realising their dream of making aliyah and returning to the Jewish people, the 10 B’ nei Menashe couples now have an additional reason to celebrate,” said Shavei Israel founder and chairman Michael Freund in a statement. “They have now been remarried in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony which symbolises the new lives they are building here in the Jewish state.”

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JWA marks 70 years of service to Hong Kong E-mail

One of the earliest established Jewish charitable organisations in Asia, the Jewish Women’s Association of Hong Kong (JWA) will mark 70 years this year.

Its roots can be traced back to 1947. Hong Kong was then flooded with refugees, many of whom were Jews who fled WWII in Europe, and found safe haven in China, mainly in Shanghai. These refugees arrived in Hong Kong needing shelter, medical care, food, education and work.

A group of Jewish women led by Richie Raymond, Charlotte Gotkin and Anne Frenkel joined forces with the Red Cross and the Joint Distribution Committee to help those in need. They assisted anywhere possible, from completing visa applications to providing milk for babies and shelter for the refugees.

This group became a charitable organisation, now known as the JWA, which has since played a major role in the Jewish Community, raising funds through charitable events to cover the increasing needs of the expanding community, and organising communal activities such as the JWA Purim Party, the JWA Israel Independence Day Ball and the JWA Charity Bazaar.

In its early years, the JWA assisted refugees to make aliyah to Israel, via the organisation Igud Yotzeii Sin (Association of Former Residents of China). Later, it aided causes outside the Jewish community, sponsoring a drug rehabilitation programme for local women and funding a prison women’s ward.

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Top commander dies while on vacation in Thailand E-mail

A former head of the Israeli Navy’s special operations unit died in Thailand in April after suffering an apparent heart attack while on vacation.

The body of Gadi Shefi, 76, was discovered in a hotel room in the southern resort city of Pattaya after he went missing a week earlier. His family was notified.

“At this hard and painful time, we want to thank everyone for the help in finding our father,” his son Ari Shefi wrote on Facebook.

Shefi headed the Flotilla13 special operations unit from 1976 to 1978, during which time he oversaw a number of then-secret operations into Lebanon.

Writing on Twitter, former Israeli prime minister and IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak described Shefi as “a courageous warrior, a man of truth and an outstanding symbol of leading by personal example.”

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