24 May 2017 - 28 Iyyar 5777 - כ"ח אייר ה' אלפים תשע"ז
Taiwan “Nazi rally” school principal resigns E-mail

The principal of a Taiwanese school whose students held a mock Nazi rally for a Christmas parade has resigned. Cheng Hsiao-ming, head of the Kuang Fu High School in Hsinchu, said he took “full responsibility” and apologised for the “rally”, which featured a parade of swastika banners and a cardboard tank carrying one student performing a Nazi salute.

Israel’s representative called the event “deplorable”, and Taiwan’s presidential office apologised, saying it showed an extreme lack of respect for Jewish people and a profound ignorance of history.

Announcing his resignation, Mr Cheng said: “As educators, we should have taught students to have the right values. We will learn from the mistakes we made and have asked students to do so too.” He said the school would hold a series of educational programmes, including showing films about the Holocaust such as Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful. The Israel Economic and Cultural Office would also be invited to address students, he said.

The Taipei Times reported that one of the school’s teachers, Liu Hsi-cheng, had suggested Arabic culture as the theme for the parade, but the students decided to go with an Adolf Hitler theme after two rounds of voting.

The paper said some students opted for the Nazis for the Christmas and Thanksgiving Costume Parade because they could easily convert their school uniforms.

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Celebrating 25 years of Jewish education in Hong Kong E-mail

On a warm winter’s evening last December in Hong Kong, Carmel School welcomed parents, teachers and community members to celebrate an incredible milestone: 25 years of providing children in Hong Kong with a stellar Jewish and secular education.

Carmel’s Elsa High School auditorium was transformed into a beautiful ballroom for an epic evening of fun, togetherness and an appreciation for our heritage.

Carmel School is the only Jewish school in Asia that offers a full pre-school through to high-school education. The school’s remarkable 25-year story had very humble beginnings: the school was founded by a small group of dedicated parents wanting to provide a good Jewish education for their children.

Carmel School started with 11 children, and now, a quarter of a century later, it is stronger than ever, with nearly 400 students over three campuses, serving the community and having a well-deserved reputation for academic excellence.

Months of planning by a dedicated team of parent volunteers culminated in a truly special night to honour the Carmel family past and present. Gala Dinner chairperson Anya Apelbaum worked tirelessly with many other volunteers to ensure the success of the evening, alongside Natalie Ricklow from The Plan, who managed to turn the school auditorium into a spectacularly elegant venue.

Rachel Friedmann, Principal of Carmel School, welcomed the assembled company at the reception. She likened the school’s journey to that of our patriarchs and matriarchs in terms of overcoming obstacles and sustaining the vision. She paid tribute to the Ohel Leah Synagogue Trustees for their on-going support.

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Holly Rofé Early Learning Centre dedicated E-mail

On 15 December, Carmel School Association dedicated The Holly Rofé Early Learning Centre in memory of Holly Rofé OBM.

The dedication of Carmel’s Ganeynu pre-school was a bittersweet occasion for her husband Andre Rofé and their daughters, Rachel and Sarina, as well as many friends of the family and Carmel School and Hong Kong community leaders. There were many beautiful words said, champagne toasts and, of course, talk of Holly’s signature red lipstick.

Those who were privileged to have been acquainted with Holly know that she would be so proud of the new Centre. The spaces and classrooms have been beautifully renovated, with new flooring, storage and furniture. The new rooms and common areas are bright and welcoming to all the students and staff.

Imparting Jewish values in her daughters was important to Holly, and she was not at all daunted by the lack of facilities or small class sizes when the school first opened; in fact, it invigorated her and compelled her to put her amazing positive energy in to it.

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Mark Ejlenberg shares his insights on shaping Hong Kong Jewish community life E-mail

On 11 December, the Hong Kong Jewish Historical Society (JHS) hosted a special Fireside Chat with guest speaker Mark Ejlenberg, who was visiting from Israel with his wife Vera.

Mark, Vera and their two small children first arrived in Hong Kong in the 1980s. At that time, Mark was a young banker from Holland, and he and his family immersed themselves in all aspects of Jewish life.

At the Fireside Chat, Mark shared his interesting and entertaining insights about his efforts as one of the key catalysts bringing about a transformation of the Jewish Recreation Club (JRC) into a Jewish centre with purpose.

He recalled that, as a young Jewish boy growing up in the Netherlands, he came from an orthodox home. He was disappointed with the limited community services and felt an obligation to change things. At that time there were many strong religious families providing a host of important services such as kosher meat and together pushed the infrastructure to a new greater level.

He felt that his timeframe of Jewish life in Hong Kong was “meant to be – Beshert (Yiddish),” as he recalls. “Every chance meeting with a Jewish resident gave me the desire and impetus to improve the quality of Jewish life in Hong Kong.”

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The small crowd that kept growing E-mail

Over 3,000 years ago, the Jews witnessed the miracle of a small flask of oil in the story of Chanukah. As we all know, something much bigger and grander than their expectations took place.

Something similar took place in Hong Kong this Chanukah. This year’s celebrations were forecast to be smaller than usual, as Chanukah coincided with the winter holidays, when many families were expected to be travelling. The organisers of Chabad’s Chanukah events therefore planned for a much smaller attendance than usual.

So everyone was pleasantly surprised when the expected crowd of 100-200 people quickly grew to over 400. Adults and children alike all enjoyed the exciting carnival (featuring the world’s only latke-producing bicycle!) and the fire-and-light show that preceded the ceremony.

The giant Menorah in Hong Kong is one of thousands lit around the world to bring the message of Chanukah and light to the world. Rising high above the crowd in a crane were Dr Perkin, Antony Greenstein and his son Benjamin – three generations of Jewish men who proudly lit the Menorah this year. For the 31st consecutive year, these flames stood out against the backdrop of the “city of lights” as they shone the message of religious freedom for all to see.

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