27 May 2019 - 22 Iyyar 5779 - כ"ב אייר ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Arab and Muslim students share archeology online E-mail

Israel has no diplomatic relations with most Arab and Muslim countries, but this minor detail didn’t stop students from Oman, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates from signing up for an online course being offered by an Israeli university.

The eight-week course, “Biblical Archaeology: The Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Judah”, which ended in January, was taught by an Israeli professor from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University. It included short video lectures, virtual “handling” of archaeological finds and on-site discussions at archaeological locations.

More than 1,000 students learned about the complex relationship between archaeology, history and the Bible, how modern research can connect these often-conflicting sources, and how archaeology can be used to understand biblical texts – and vice versa.

Prof. Aren Maeir, the teacher of the English-language course, has directed excavations at Tel es-Safi/Gath, the biblical Gath of the Philistines and home of Goliath, for almost 30 years.

“The format of the course is very different from most standard teaching methods around the world. Today, courses such as this one demonstrate the reform that is taking place in teaching and in learning at universities in Israel and around the world,” he said.

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Kosher inspectors meet in Shanghai E-mail

Kosher inspectors, more commonly known as Mashgichim, from kosher certification agency Star-K met for a weekend Shabbaton in Shanghai from 9 to 14 January.

This was the first time a weekend retreat was organised for training and co-ordination with nine of the 12 supervisors posted to the region, two regional administrators and two department heads from the home office in Baltimore, US.

Star-K maintains a regional office in Shanghai and an apartment for the supervisors.

In the Pan-Asia Kosher Training Seminar, kosher inspectors of Star-K Kosher Certification participated in a series of training sessions especially related to plants and vegetables, covering such topics as the Rabbinical prohibitions in kosher law and the correct process for removing insects from vegetables.

The Rabbinical head of StarK, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, also delivered a lively interactive video address.

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Innovation seminar strengthens Israel-Myanmar relations Print E-mail

A seminar on “Innovation in Israel – Strengthening Israel-Myanmar Economic and Technological Relations” was held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on 4 December.

The seminar, organised by Israel’s Embassy in Myanmar, was conducted by Professor Jacob Bortman of Ben-Gurion University, Israel. As the event coincided with the Festival of Chanukah, candles were lit before the seminar.

The Speaker of Pyithu Hlutaw (Myanmar’s parliament) U T Khun Myat honoured the event with his welcome remarks. Among other honorable guests attending were U Set Aung, Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance; members of parliament, and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries.

(Issue Feb 2019)

International Holocaust Remembrance Day marked in Hong Kong – providing education to local and international communities E-mail

The United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day is the annual international memorial day designated by the United Nations to commemorate the tragedy of the Holocaust. The actual official date is 27 January, chosen because it is the date the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated in 1945.

A special programme in Hong Kong to mark this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day was held on 23 January. It was organised by the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Resource Centre (HKHTC), with generous support from the Fok Ying Tung Foundation. The theme for this year was “Being a Woman in the Holocaust”. As in previous years, the event was held at the Sai Ying Pun Community Complex.

Attendees included members of the Jewish community, religious leaders from many faiths in Hong Kong, local residents, students from international schools (including Merchiston International School from Shenzhen), consulate representatives, rabbis and government officials.

In special attendance were Tung Chee-hwa, the first and former Chief Executive of Hong Kong; Ingrid Yeung Ho Poi-yan, Permanent Secretary for Education of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR; Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, GBS, JP and a member of the Executive Council and Legislative Council of Hong Kong, and Ahuva Spieler, Consul General of Israel to Hong Kong.

Glen Steinman, Co-Chair of the HKHTC, gave an opening address, and Permanent Secretary Yeung gave an address on behalf of the HKSAR Government. Reto Renggli, Consul General of Switzerland, introduced the keynote speaker, Holocaust survivor Eva Koralnik, who shared her incredible story of survival as a young girl witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust, and how she, her sister and her mother managed to escape to safety.

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US Navy says Haifa port arrangements may change with new management from China E-mail

The US Navy has acknowledged that its longstanding operations in Haifa, Israel’s largest port, may change once a Chinese firm takes over the civilian port in 2021, prompting Israel’s national security cabinet to revisit the arrangement, The Jerusalem Post has reported.

Haifa regularly hosts joint US-Israeli naval drills and visits from American vessels. However, a 2015 agreement between Israel’s Transportation Ministry and Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) – a company in which the Chinese Government has a majority stake – has raised intelligence and security concerns that are only now prompting an interagency review.

That agreement granted SIPG control over the port for 25 years. The Chinese company has committed US$2 billion to the project and, according to state-run media, plans to transform the port’s bay terminal into the largest harbour in the country.

A representative of the Sixth Fleet said the navy’s partnership with Israel remains “steadfast”. “Our US Navy ships frequently visit Haifa, Israel, for both USIsrael bilateral military activity and port calls,” Commander Kyle Raines told the Post, when asked whether China’s coming presence might affect fleet operations in the Mediterranean city.

“For now, there are no changes to our operations in Israel,” the commander continued. “I can’t speculate on what might or might not occur in 2021.” Three sources familiar with the matter said that due to concerns that US defence officials shared privately with their Israeli counterparts, the Israeli government has launched “a review of the agreement at a high level”, specifically among members of the inner cabinet.

According to one source, several members expressed worry that sensitive infrastructure matters were not properly vetted by Israel’s full national security cabinet prior to approval. “You don’t want a decision that was made ostensibly for business reasons to have an impact on Israel’s relationship with the American navy,” the source said.

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