Here’s the latest installment of my Good News Friday series.
A Jewish rabbinical college in Germany has warned its students against wearing kippot, or yarmulkes, after a rabbi was attacked by four Arab youths in Berlin last week.
Rabbi Daniel Alter, 53, was attacked in front of his 6 year-old daughter last Tuesday after picking her up from a piano lesson.
The rabbi was identified by assailants as being Jewish due to his traditional head covering, police said. The perpetrators also directed death threats at his daughter, according to authorities.
“I am not sure whether we will be able to walk the streets of Berlin without fear again,” Alter told the Bild daily newspaper following the attack.
As a result, the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam, which currently trains 28 rabbis, said it had increased security on school grounds.
“If you are no longer seen as a Jewish person, you are safer,” the rector of college, Walter Homolka, told the Berliner Morgenpost daily.
“We have also given guidelines to our students on how to behave so that they do not become victims of such attacks,” he said. “We have advised them not to wear their skullcaps on the street, but to choose something inconspicuous to cover their head with.”
The good news associated with this is that Berlin demonstrators formed a “Yarmulke flash mob” to protest the rising antisemitism and to show solidarity with the Jewish community.
They numbered in the hundreds and many wore yarmulkes, the traditional Jewish skull cap. At two different events over the weekend, demonstrators turned out in Berlin to protest against an anti-Semitic crime in the German capital that occurred on Tuesday, when unidentified youths attacked a 53-year-old rabbi in the German capital who had been wearing a yarmulke.
“We are not going to accept that people will be attacked on our streets because they can be visibly recognized as being Jewish,” organizers of a flash mob protest on Saturday that attracted over 100 people wrote on their web page.
A second solidarity demonstration on Sunday attracted more than 1,000 people, according to organizers, including rabbi Daniel Alter, the man who had been attacked and only recently released from the hospital. “My cheekbone was broken,” he told the crowd, “But these people did not break my will to promote interfaith dialog.” He said Berlin remained a cosmopolitan and open city. “They can’t take that away from us.”
Thank you to the German protestors who stood in such solidarity with their Jewish fellow-citizens. What a stark contrast to events 70+ years ago. Read more at the link.
The next piece of good news comes via Britain: A high-tech bridge between Israel and the UK has been created to encourage mutual entrepreneurship and investment in the high-tech industries of both countries.
Israel’s got the technology, and Britain has the markets — or at least access to them. Why not bring the two together, letting British companies get access to Israeli start-up technology, to bring new products and services to existing and new markets?
That’s the logic behind a new effort launched by the UK Israel Tech Hub and UK Trade and Investment group at the British Embassy Israel, together with London-based Tech City Investment Organization. The project, called TexChange, will bring Israeli entrepreneurs to London (and other UK locations) to meet with entrepreneurs, investors, and other tech people.
The first group of 15 companies is set to be selected in the coming days, said Naomi Krieger, director of the UK Israel Tech Hub, and the first event will take place in November. Later on, she said, the program will bring British business and tech people to Israel to meet with entrepreneurs and start-ups, she added, with exchanges taking place three to four times a year.
“The idea is to create an ongoing flow of Israeli entrepreneurs to the UK and vice versa,” said Krieger. “It will create a platform for collaboration of entrepreneurs and companies, giving British corporations a route to benefit from Israeli technological innovation, and tying Israeli companies to the UK’s leading companies, markets and service providers.”
The proof that Britain is a worthwhile place for Israeli entrepreneurs to invest their time and energy in cultivating ties with — as opposed to the US, or even the up and coming countries of the Far East — is in the numbers, Krieger said. A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group ranks the UK tops worldwide in size of its Internet Economy, with online retail nearly three times as strong as in the US, and online advertising penetration nearly double that in America.
“Also we have the advantage of language – most Israelis know –English — making it much easier to do business here than in China or other Far Eastern countries.
What a great idea! I wish all the people involved lots of luck and success.
And from the material to the divine, in our last piece of good news for this week we learn that a water cistern dating back to First Temple days has been uncovered in Jerusalem.
Archaeologists have discovered a large public cistern from the time of the First Temple in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Thursday, offering new insight into the city’s water supply more than 2,500 years ago.
The cistern, which held 250 cubic meters of water, was discovered adjacent to the western side of the Temple Mount during an ongoing excavation at the site, the IAA said in a statement.
The discovery shows that the city’s water supply at the time did not rely solely on the Gihon Spring, Jerusalem’s only natural water source, but rather included large man-made reservoirs of the kind now uncovered, according to the IAA.
The unique size of the cistern — the largest of its time to be discovered in the city — and its location suggest the possibility that it played a part in the ritual activities at the Temple, according to archaeologist Tsvika Tsuk of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
“It is possible that the large cistern found next to the Temple Mount was used in the daily operation of the Temple itself, and also served the pilgrims who came to the Temple and needed water for washing and drinking,” Tsuk said, according to the IAA statement.
The cistern was waterproofed with a yellowish plaster typical of the period, with handprints still visible on the walls, Tsuk said.
The First Temple was built around 950 BCE, according to the biblical record, and destroyed by a Babylonian army in 586 CE.
Arutz Sheva adds:
The excavation, during the course of which the reservoir was discovered, is part of an archaeological project, in which the entire drainage channel of Jerusalem dating to the Second Temple period is being exposed.
The channel runs from the Shiloach (Siloam Pool) to a point beneath Robinson’s Arch. The route of the channel was fixed in the center of the main valley that extends from north to south over the length of the ancient city, parallel to the Temple Mount. In his description of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, Josephus refers to the valley by its Greek name “Tyropoeon,” which scholars believe means “Valley of the Cheese-makers.” Another interpretation identifies the valley with the “Valley of the Decision,” mentioned in the Book of Joel.
It became apparent while excavating the channel that during the construction of this enormous engineering enterprise, its builders had to remove earlier structures that were situated along the route of the channel and “pass through” existing rock-hewn installations that were located along it. An extraordinary installation that was exposed in recent weeks is a large water reservoir treated with several layers of plaster, which probably dates to the First Temple period.
No doubt Israel will be accused of Judaising Jerusalem, as it periodically is by the Palestinians, but Jerusalem cannot be Judaised simply because it is already Jewish – in the same way that the Vatican cannot be Catholicised or the Kaaba Muslimised.
Never mind, we shall enjoy this extraordinary archaeological discovery and look forward to being able to visit it.
Shabbat shalom everyone!