25 June 2018 - 12 Tammuz 5778 - י"ב תמוז ה' אלפים תשע"ח
Pockets of Judaism as new Torah scrolls arrive in Indonesia E-mail

Several new Torah scrolls have finally arrived at their unlikely new home in Indonesia. In January, Rabbi David Kunin of the Progressive Jewish Synagogue in Tokyo, Japan, took the Hadar Israel scrolls from New Castle, Pennsylvania, US, to Japan, and then to Indonesia.

Rabbi David Kunin, his wife Shelley, and Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky of Beit Shalom Adelaide in Australia, presented two Torahs to Rabbi Benjamin Meijer Verbrugge of the United Indonesian Jewish Community (UIJC) in Jakarta. UIJC is comprised of 200 members of Jewish descent, but only 50 people embrace Judaism.

An elaborate ceremony was held at the UIJC’s synagogue to receive the Torahs. It was performed under a chuppah sewn by Shelley, Rabbi Kunin’s wife.

Four representatives from Jakarta, North Sulawesi, Mollucas and Papua held a pole to form a tent for the tradition of passing the Torah from the older generation to the younger generation, this time representing the submission of the Torah from one synagogue in one country to another synagogue in another country.

The scrolls were received with joy and happiness. Rabbi Benjamin Meijer Verbrugge commented: “We needed three years under Rabbi Kunin and Kaminsky’s supervision to establish the synagogue and embrace Judaism. Now we have our own scrolls and to put in our Ark in the synagogue and it is no longer empty.”

Other Torahs named Beth Tzeddek were given to the Jewish community in Timika, Papua, after a ceremony was held in Jakarta.

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Israel’s Technion officially opens its campus in China E-mail

An important milestone has now officially been achieved with the inauguration on 18 December of the first Israeli university to set up in Shantou, China: The Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT).

The project, which brings together Israeli spirit coupled with Chinese strength, is the result of an historic partnership between the Li Ka-shing Foundation, the Guangdong Provincial Government, the Shantou Municipal Government and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

The ceremony was held on the GTIIT campus, in the presence of Mr Li Ka-shing, who conceived the idea; Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie; Shantou Mayor Zheng Jiange; Mayor of Haifa Yona Yahav; Nadav Cohen, Israeli Consul General to Guangzhou; Ahuva Spieler, Israeli Consul General to Hong Kong.

Also in attendance at the inauguration was Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, Chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Israel Council for Higher Education; Nobel Laureate and Technion Prof. Aaron Ciechanover; Lawrence Jackier, Chairman Technion Board of Governors. In addition many representatives of the Chinese government and guests from around the world.

In his speech, Technion President Lavie pointed out the great similarity between Jewish tradition and Chinese culture: the Jewish and Chinese cultures both have long histories of written tradition, they emphasise ethics at the centre of their traditions, and they hold learning as a core value. President Lavie thanked philanthropist Mr Li Ka-shing, whose profound vision, legendary generosity and deep devotion were instrumental in the realisation of the project, and blessed the inauguration of GTIIT that took place during the Chanukah holiday.

GTIIT aims to train an elite brand of scientists and engineers who will influence China and the world, primarily on issues concerning the environment. It will also promote co-operation between Shantou University and Technion. Such partnerships are already underway in the field of medical sciences. The new university is headed by GTIIT Chancellor Li Jiange, who said: “China offers Technion a broad platform to realise its academic excellence. We in turn must learn from Technion and Israel as to what innovative thinking is.”

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Marker recognising President Quezon’s role in saving Jews to be installed at QMC E-mail

Mayor Herbert Bautista, the Mayor of Quezon City in Manila, the Philippines, joined Israel’s Ambassador to the Philippines Ephraim Ben Matityau on 14 December for the ground-breaking ceremony of the planned Philippine-Israel Friendship Marker to be built inside the Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC).

The event was attended by Lina Laigo, President of the Manuel A. Roxas Foundation; Cory Quirino, granddaughter of former President Elpidio Quirino, and Atty. Manuel R. Roxas, grandson of former President Manuel A. Roxas.

The warm relations between Israel and the Philippines date back to the time of the Philippine Commonwealth Government, when President Manuel L. Quezon offered safe haven to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi regime during WWII. He issued visas to about 1,200 to 1,500 Jewish refugees, and also provided houses and set up housing communities for the refugees on government-owned land in Marikina.

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Embassy in the Philippines teams up with Wing of Hope Foundation Print E-mail

Israel’s Embassy in the Philippines teamed up with the Wings of Hope Foundation in January to bring messages of hope and empowerment to around 300 kids from orphan care centres in Angeles City, Pampanga.

Pilot and entrepreneur Captain Irene Mora of the Wings of Hope Foundation and Israel’s Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau led a gift-giving programme at the Quest Hotel, Clark Freeport Zone, while a group of children performed their traditional dance.

The Wings of Hope Foundation consists of female pilots headed by Captain Irene Mora, who herself has a unique story of helping girls in need. “As a pilot and entrepreneur, I have been working to build a career. This time, our main goal is to be a message of hope to the less fortunate kids and to highlight gender equality,” said Irene, who is joined by her daughter, Captain Ira Mora.

(Issue Feb 2018)

Japan’s Foreign Minister visits Israel E-mail

Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono met Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 25 December at the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament.

During their exchanges they discussed their expanding bilateral relationships and also security and peace initiatives. “This is my first trip as Foreign Minister to Israel, although this is my fourth trip to Israel. I think the bilateral relationship is expanding. Especially, the number of Japanese companies in Israel has doubled in the last three years, and Japanese investment into Israel has increased 20 times in the last three years. So I think the relationship, bilaterally, is going very well, and we would like to continue this momentum,” commented Foreign Minister Kono.

Another development that was discussed was the proposal by Japan to initiate for fourparty talks. Israeli officials say Japan has proposed four-party talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as well as a US official to try to restart the stalled Middle East peace negotiations.

Kono is the first cabinet member of a major nation to visit Jerusalem since US President Donald Trump announced that his country would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israeli officials say Kono proposed the talks in Tokyo at the initiative of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The talks would also include Trump senior advisor Jared Kushner. The timing of the talks and other details of Japan’s proposal are unknown.

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