I missed last week’s Good News Friday post so there’s a bit of catching up to do.
I’ll start this week’s post with Israel’s widening diplomatic relations in the Far east. The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, arrived in Israel on a historic official visit:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for greater bilateral economic cooperation during a meeting in Jerusalem.
Abe arrived in Israel as part of a six-day tour in the Middle East. He was accompanied by an entourage of some 100 people, including government officials and 30 Japanese company executives arriving to discuss investment opportunities in the country.
“Japan and Israel are both countries that don’t have much of the natural resources but what we have is human resources,” Abe said, adding that ties are growing “in every field.”
It was the first visit to Israel by a Japanese premier since 2006.
Earlier this month, the government approved a plan to strengthen economic ties and cooperation with Japan.
“I hope to send a message that Japan will offer support in non-military fields to contribute to regional peace and stability,” Abe told reporters ahead of his departure.
Netanyahu said on Sunday a wave of anti-Semitism and what he called “Islamisation” in Western Europe are factors in a Jewish state push to expand trade with Asia.
Besides the trade and economic benefits to stronger ties with Japan, there might be diplomatic benefits as Arutz Sheva reports:
Abe’s arrival comes just two days after the International Criminal Court said it would open a preliminary probe into possible Israeli war crimes following a complaint filed by the Palestinians.
The move was roundly denounced by both Israel and Washington and Netanyahu is reportedly planning to discuss the move with Abe.
Japan is a party to the court and also one of its biggest financial backers.
Israel is also lobbying Canada over the ICC move in talks with visiting Foreign Minister John Baird.
“Netanyahu is expected to ask both Abe and Baird to take every measure possible to convey to the ICC the message that it is unacceptable to continue to single Israel out,” said NRG.
Strengthening Israel’s ties to the Far East can only be a good thing, whether our ties to Europe are suffering or not. May our trade and diplomatic ties grow ever stronger throughout the Far East for the benefit of both parties.
My next item for this week takes off on a completely different tangent. It concerns an ancient Torah scroll rescued from Iraq and its mysterious journey to Israel:
A 200-year-old Torah scroll has taken an unusual and mysterious journey from Baghdad to Jerusalem, where it was greeted with candies and song in a jubilant dedication ceremony Thursday.
Israeli experts in Jewish scribal tradition who restored the Hebrew parchment say it was written two centuries ago by two different scribes in northern Iraq using pomegranate ink, a rarely used writing material.
The scroll is a remnant of Iraq’s 2,500-year-old Jewish community, one of the world’s oldest, which all but disappeared when large numbers of Jews left for Israel following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. After decades of war and instability, only a handful of Jews remain in Iraq today.
Like other ancient Jewish texts from Arab lands, the scroll’s path to Israel remains unclear, with Israeli officials offering different theories.
Since we’re on the subject of the Jewish people, I’ll conclude this week’s post with a wonderfully heart-warming story of survival and thriving against all the odds. A Kibbutznik couple who fled the Holocaust recently celebrated the birth of their 100th great-grandchild!
Despite the recent stormy and cold weather, a piece of joyous news warmed the hearts of the residents of Kibbutz Lavi in the Lower Galilee this week. The Mittwochs, Michael, 92, and Marion, 90, two of the founders of the kibbutz, celebrated the birth of a new great-grandchild – their 100th.
The couple had five children – Hadassah, the widow of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman of Tekoa; a second daughter who lives in Kiryat Shmona; a son, Eli Ori, who lives in Shilo and is the grandfather of the 100th great-grandson; a second son, a professor of astrophysics at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology who lives in Mitzpe Netofa in the Galilee; and a third daughter, who is the principal of a school in Gush Etzion for children with special needs.
On Tuesday, Eli and his wife, Ofra, arrived at the kibbutz with their son, Gadi, his wife, Noa, and their five children to present the 100th great-grandchild to great-grandfather Michael and great-grandmother Marion. The boy was given the name Dagan Raz, after the late Major Dr. Dagan Wertman, 32, a Golani Brigade doctor who was at officers’ school with Gadi and was killed during Operation Cast Lead.
“This is our answer to Hitler, damn him,” said Michael, the great-grandfather. “He tried to wipe us out and here we have brought the 100th great-grandchild into the Covenant of Abraham.”
“It’s not just the number,” added great-grandmother Marion. “All the children and grandchildren live in Israel and everyone wants to contribute to the country. We feel we have established a really big tribe.”
“This is the essence of Zionism,” concluded their son, Eli. “Mom and Dad underwent severe hardships early on in their lives. They established a kibbutz and today we are all proud of their 100th great-grandchild.”
And we are all proud of the Mittwoch’s, their fortitude in the face of hardship, and their determination to live positively and grow; and of course their amazing family. A hearty mazal tov to the family, to Kibbutz Lavi ad to all of the Jewish people. May our nation continue to grow and thrive just like the Mittwoch’s.
Am Yisrael Chai!
And on that heart-warming note I bid you all Shabbat Shalom!