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Israel Column

100th Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration

November 2 marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration. The landmark Declaration expressed the British government’s recognition of and support for the inalienable right of the Jewish people for self-determination in their historical homeland, the Land of Israel. The following month, the British captured Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu will take part in events in London celebrating the anniversary.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a summary of the importance of the Declaration and its aftermath.

Mosaic Magazine published an essay in June about the history and importance of Declaration, and its role in changing the international status of the Jewish people. An author for Tablet magazine takes a different viewpoint, writing “The century-old document is a testament to colonialist double-dealing that left many Jews dead. Israel was reclaimed as the Jewish homeland in spite of it, not because of it.”


Yiddish Book Center Multimedia Library

A collection of over 1,400 audio books, short stories and recorded programs in English and Yiddish from the Yiddish Book Center is available on the Internet Archive. You can listen online or download the recordings to your phone or tablet for later listening.


IMF raises growth forecast for Israel's economy

The International Monetary Fund has raised its growth forecast for Israel's economy to 3.1% GDP growth in 2017 and 3.4% GDP growth in 2018. In its prior report, the IMF predicted 3% GDP growth in both 2017 and 2018.


Israel elected to help lead UN Space Committee

Keren Shahar the Director of the Treaties Department at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was chosen by the United Nations to serve on the Steering Bureau of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. 124 countries including the United States, Canada, France, and Germany voted in favor of the appointment. In addition to Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, South Africa and Indonesia were also elected to lead the 84 member organization.


Annual assessment of the Jewish People

The Jewish People Policy Institute has released its 2017 Annual Assessment of the state of the Jewish People. The assessment reviews how Israel and the Diaspora fared in the preceding year as well as recommendations for maximizing opportunities and mitigating risks. The first recommendation is this years assessment is that “Israel be committed to strictly maintaining bi-partisan support in North America” and building ties “in the general society and the Jewish community even if they have a  critical view of its policies.” You can read the entire assessment online or download it as a PDF.


Peoplehood Education

The Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education released the 20th installment of the Peoplehood Papers, titled The JCCs as Gateways to Jewish Peoplehood. From the summary: “Figuring out the nature and appeal of Jewish communal institutions in the current paradigm, and their connection to the larger Jewish story, is anything but simple. It requires creativity and innovation as well as persistence. The good news is that the above are all manifested in the stories shared here, including a realistic sense of the complexity of the challenges, the courage and stamina required for addressing them and a deep belief in the cause.”


The Scroll of Hanukkah

Why don’t we read a scroll on Hanukkah to publicize and remember the miracles which God wrought for our ancestors in the days of Matisyahu and his sons the Maccabees? Here’s a case for reading the First Book of Maccabees every year on the Shabbat of Hanukkah.  There are a few copies of the book that’s recommended, The Scroll of Hanukkah, available online.

A Different Light: The Hanukkah Book of Celebration, is a larger book that is a how-to guide for a creative celebration at home of candle lighting, blessings, songs, stories, games and readings for adults, teenagers and children. It also includes sections from the Book of Maccabees.


A Zionist Chanukah

Chanukah is a joyous time. It is also a time to keep in mind all that we have to be thankful for, and to reflect upon the many miracles, big and small, which we are fortunate enough to experience every day. Read the eight candles for a Zionist Chanukah.

~Andrew Blumberg