20 August 2019 - 20 Av 5779 - כ' אב ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Taipei mayor attends 33rd International Mayors Conference in Israel Print E-mail

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je was invited to participate in and attended the 33rd International Mayors Conference, held from 24 to 28 February in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Around 25 international mayors from across the world joined the four-day conference. Topics and themes are related to urban development, cyber security and safe cities. Prior to his visit, the mayor praised Israel’s achievements in water management, information security and industrial innovation, and said he was looking forward to the visit: “I want to see how a small country thrives in a difficult environment.” During his visit, Ko visited Mobileye, an Israeli company that develops visionsafety technology for vehicles.

Former Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te and former Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung attended the conference in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

(Issue Mar 2019)

Jewish philanthropist receives Australia’s highest honour Print E-mail

Australian Jewish philanthropist Pauline Gandel received the country’s top honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia, in January.

The award is equivalent to a knighthood in the UK, and honours Gandel’s support for the arts, education and Jewish causes. Gandel’s husband John received the same award in 2017. The Melbourne-based couple is one of Australia’s most prolific benefactors to both the secular and Jewish communities. Gandel Philanthropy has distributed over US$100 million to charitable causes since 1978. Beneficiary organisations have included Keren Hayesod, Yad Vashem and Tel Aviv University. Among the few other married couples who have received the award have been opera singer Joan Sutherland and her husband, the conductor Richard Bonynge.

The annual honours are announced on 26 January, which marks Australia Day.

(Issue Mar 2019)

Much-loved Israeli-born giraffe at Singapore Zoo dies while giving birth E-mail

One of the Singapore Zoo’s resident giraffes died while giving birth on 5 February, despite the efforts of the zoo’s veterinarians to save her. The calf also died.

Lucy, a 14-year-old giraffe originally from The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Israel, was confirmed to be pregnant with her first calf in April 2018. A giraffe’s gestation period is about 15 months, and Lucy had been expected to give birth in January.

However a Facebook post by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) on 4 February said: “Lucy went into labour over the weekend. We were hoping to share some joyful baby news, but things are not going smoothly for our firsttime mum. Lucy’s care team, consisting of keepers and vets, are monitoring her around the clock and assisting her with medication to help her deliver.”

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Chiune Sugihara honoured as a saviour of Yeshiva students E-mail

During an event commemorating International Remembrance Day in January at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Chiune Sugihara was posthumously honoured at a ceremony in a joint initiative of the IsraelClaims Conference and Limmud FSU, an international Jewish education organisation.

The event honoured the man who saved so many – close to 6,000 Jews – an act that has been officially recognised and honoured. In an attendance was his son Nabuki Sugihara, who said: “He saw human beings in danger and he decided to help them.”

Chiune Sugihara was the Japanese vice consul in Lithuania during WWII, issued visas to Lithuanian Jews for transit through Japan, saving thousands in the process. Then an independent state, Lithuania was overtaken by the Nazis, who began their policy of transferring Jews to the death camps.

Sugihara, who, according to his son, knew practically nothing about the Jews and their history, felt he couldn’t just ignore what he saw. “He saw on the first day 20 people, Jews, standing in front of his office, waiting for a sign to get some help,” recalled the son. “On the following day, they were 30, and then 40 and so on. He just couldn’t stay there and do nothing.”

Nabuki revealed that his father, who died in 1986, never spoke about what happened when he was consul, but that “today it is known in Japan, his action is told, more people know and learn about it.”

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French national rail company to build a Holocaust museum at station E-mail

The French national rail company SNCF has announced that it has allocated US$2.3 million towards the creation of a Holocaust museum at one of its abandoned train stations.

The museum is scheduled to open in 2020 at the former Pithiviers station in eastern France. The first concentration camp in Nazi-occupied France, Pithiviers station predated the most infamous deportations of French Jews and the murder of Jews en masse in Auschwitz. CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, will be a partner in designing the museum, the France Info news website reported.

With SNCF’s logistical support, some 16,000 Jews were sent to be murdered in death camps from Pithiviers station and the neighbouring camp of Beaune-la-Rolande in eight transports between 1941 and 1943.

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