The weeks seem to roll round faster than ever, and here we are, time for another Good News Friday post.
My first item is a brilliant, outspoken, very politically incorrect defence of Israel, spoken by British journalist Katie Hopkins on LBC radio. I couldn’t have put it better myself (besides her occasional hyperbole on the terrorists “chucking rockets for centuries, but I’ll allow her poetic licence):
Kol hakavod Katie! Thank you for your wonderful warm words! I wish you could be the British Ambassador to the UN!
On the subject of supporting Israel, here is one of the most unlikely stories you’ll ever hear. A former member of the Neo-Nazi Hungarian Jobbik Party discovered he was Jewish a couple of years ago, abandoned his antisemitic career and returned to his Jewish roots.. And now he and his family are making Aliya!
A one-time MP for Hungary’s extremist right-wing and antisemitic Jobbik party, who quit when he discovered he was Jewish, is now making aliya to Israel.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew language sister newspaper, Ma’ariv, Csanad Szegedi said that he is waiting with bated breath for the moment that he becomes an Israeli citizen and can contribute from his wide experience to the fight against international antisemitism.
Szegedi, 34, revealed his intention to make aliya with his wife and two children at a World Zionist Organization conference that took place in Budapest over the weekend.
Prior to discovering his Jewish roots, Szegedi was known for his extremist positions and antisemitic statements as a member of Jobbik. He was one of the founders of the Hungarian Guard, an extreme nationalist group whose members don black uniforms and see themselves as the descendants of the Hungary’s fascist Arrow Cross Party, which collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. Szegedi rose in the ranks of Jobbik through the years, becoming a senior member and even serving as the party’s vice president until 2012, and as the party’s representative to the European Parliament.
In June 2012, Szegedi stunned Hungary, particularly his fellow Jobbik members, when he revealed that his grandparents on his mother’s side were Jewish. His grandmother survived Auschwitz and his grandfather was in forced-labor camps. Szegedi began to learn about Judaism, to observe the Sabbath, to keep kosher and to go to synagogue. He has since had the opportunity to visit Israel.
After discovering his roots, he quit all of his posts in Jobbik, which distanced itself from him, claiming that the reason for his leaving was not his Jewishness, but rather a corruption scandal. Since undergoing the transformation, he has become an activist against antisemitism in Europe as a whole, and in Hungary in particular. He is now completing the transformation by making aliya to Israel with his family.
Read his fascinating interview at the Jerusalem Post. What an extraordinarily courageous man, to expose himself and his family to great danger by admitting his Jewish roots, and then taking the next step to come to Israel. Kol hakavod Mr. Szegedi! May your aliya be a success, and may you continue on your path to deepening your Jewish roots in Israel.
My next item is closer to home for a few reasons. It talks about Emunah, of which i am a proud member, and British Emunah in particular, of which my mother was a life-long member (till she made Aliya and became a life member here instead!). This story is about Neve Landy, an Emunah-run children’s home for mentally disabled religious children:
Almost two decades ago, one Shabbat afternoon, a social worker named Chana Greenberg approached the then Chairperson of Emunah Israel who had just given a lecture on the weekly portion to the women in her neighborhood and said: “I was in charge of the children and teens department in the Jerusalem office of the Welfare Ministry and I want to convince Emunah to fill a lack in Israel’s aid to children.”
Greenberg explained that there was nowhere to send mentally disturbed elementary school-aged youngsters from religious homes who had been hospitalized and were not able to live at home. These children were being sent to non-religious institutions or to places that were not suited for youngsters.
That conversation was the catalyst. Neve Lande Children’s Home was the result, because the caring social worker had turned to the right address. Emunah, the Religious Zionist Women’s Organization which celebrated the 80th anniversary since its founding this year, has always looked at Israeli society from a practical vantage point – that is, it looks for what is not being done to help those in need and simply buckles down to filling the gap.
Within weeks, Emunah and Israel’s Welfare Department set up a professional committee to plan the establishment of the children’s home and Emunah’s then chairperson set about finding the funding, convincing British Emunah to take on the project and turn to the Lande family and other donors.
Neve Lande is a religious post-hospitalization dormitory for children, the only one in Israel. The children are referred to the facility by the Welfare Ministry and all are considered high risk: they have complex personality problems, have been in psychiatric hospitals before coming to the dormitory and some have been abandoned, neglected or molested at home.
Emunah’s dedicated and professional staff creates a home for them, a physical as well as an emotional one. They number 74 youngsters today, aged 6-16.
Read the rest of the article to learn about the extraordinary work the dedicated staff perform to bring these children to their full potential. Kol hakavod to Chana Greenberg, to the Landy family who provided the funding, and of course to British Emunah and Emunah as a whole for this wonderful project, one of many.
Next is an incredible story that combines Israel’s amazing medical advances with a feel-good factor. Israel doctors have cured a paralyzed 6-year old girl! (via Suzanne):
Six-year-old Ruthie Rosenthal, who suffered from paralysis after she fell and injured her neck, has managed to get back up and walking.
Ruthie, a smiling, happy, Down’s Syndrome child, fell about a year ago and as a result, her hands and legs were paralyzed and she was forced to use a wheelchair, according to a report in Israel Hayom.
She had undergone lumbar spinal fusion surgery which used screws to connect her skull and chest but the resulting pressure on her spine caused her to stop walking and she also lost the function of her hands. The doctor said that “It was clear that she required immediate surgery. I contacted the head of the spinal surgery unit at Hadassah, Dr. Leon Kaplan, in order to draw up a plan for the complicated operation.”
The group of specialists decided on surgery in stages on the anterior and posterior areas of Ruthy’s neck, performed by Dr. Schroder, Dr. Leon Kaplan, Dr. Moni Benifla, a pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Menahem Gross, a pediatric ENT specialist and a group of senior anesthesiologists.
“The last time an operation like this was performed was by Prof. Kaplan himself, the only person who does such surgery in Israel,” said Dr. Schroder. “During the surgery we cut away the upper part of the spine and released the previous fusion in order to free the posterior vertebrae. We then performed a new fusion. Spinal surgery on such a narrow spine is very dangerous and sensitive and requires precise and meticulous work.”
Kol hakavod to all the doctors involved in this very complicated surgery. What a miracle! May little Ruthie go on to have a complete refuah shlema.
Another heart-warming story is the continuation of one I wrote about before. Yisrael Kristal, who was declared the world’s oldest man, is now planning to celebrate his Barmitzvah – only 100 years late!
The world’s oldest man, 113-year-old Yisrael Kristal, a Holocaust survivor living in Israel, will celebrate his bar mitzvah.
Kristal’s daughter, Shulimath Kristal Kuperstoch, told the DPA news agency that about 100 family members will gather in Kristal’s home city of Haifa in the coming weeks to mark the rite.
“We will bless him, we will dance with him, we will be happy,” she said.
Kristal had his birthday last week. He was recognized as the world’s oldest man in March.
He missed his bar mitzvah due to World War I. His father was in the Russian army and his mother had died three years earlier, Kuperstoch said.
Heartiest Mazal Tov Mr. Kristal! May you have many more happy and healthy years with your family until long after 120!
And to conclude, talking of old, this story is seriously old. 3D technology has proven that the Hebrew Bible has remained unchanged for thousands of years (via Brian Goldfarb). The discovery was reported by Real JStreets at Israellycool last year, but this latest report adds to the original discovery itself. From the ToI link:
JERUSALEM (AP) — The charred lump of a 2,000-year-old scroll sat in an Israeli archaeologist’s storeroom for decades, too brittle to open. Now, new imaging technology has revealed what was written inside: the earliest evidence of a biblical text in its standardized form.
The passages from the Book of Leviticus, scholars say, offer the first physical evidence of what has long been believed: that the version of the Hebrew Bible used today goes back 2,000 years.
The discovery, announced in a Science Advances journal article by researchers in Kentucky and Jerusalem on Wednesday, was made using “virtual unwrapping,” a 3D digital analysis of an X-ray scan. Researchers say it is the first time they have been able to read the text of an ancient scroll without having to physically open it.
“You can’t imagine the joy in the lab,” said Pnina Shor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who participated in the study.
The biblical scroll examined in the study was first discovered by archaeologists in 1970 at Ein Gedi, the site of an ancient Jewish community near the Dead Sea. Inside the ancient synagogue’s ark, archaeologists found lumps of scroll fragments.
The synagogue was destroyed in an ancient fire, charring the scrolls. The dry climate of the area kept them preserved, but when archaeologists touched them, the scrolls would begin to disintegrate. So the charred logs were shelved for nearly half a century, with no one knowing what was written inside.
Last year, Yosef Porath, the archaeologist who excavated at Ein Gedi in 1970, walked into the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls preservation lab in Jerusalem with boxes of the charcoal chunks. The lab has been creating hi-resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest copies of biblical texts ever discovered, and he asked researchers to scan the burned scrolls.
“I looked at him and said, ‘you must be joking,’” said Shor, who heads the lab.
She agreed, and a number of burned scrolls were scanned using X-ray-based micro-computed tomography, a 3D version of the CT scans hospitals use to create images of internal body parts. The images were then sent to William Brent Seales, a researcher in the computer science department of the University of Kentucky. Only one of the scrolls could be deciphered.
The researchers say it is the first time a biblical scroll has been discovered in an ancient synagogue’s holy ark, where it would have been stored for prayers, and not in desert caves like the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The discovery holds great significance for scholars’ understanding of the development of the Hebrew Bible, researchers say.
In ancient times, many versions of the Hebrew Bible circulated. The Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to as early as the 3rd century B.C., featured versions of the text that are radically different than today’s Hebrew Bible.
Scholars have believed the Hebrew Bible in its standard form first came about some 2,000 years ago, but never had physical proof, until now, according to the study. Previously the oldest known fragments of the modern biblical text dated back to the 8th century.
The text discovered in the charred Ein Gedi scroll is “100 percent identical” to the version of the Book of Leviticus that has been in use for centuries, said Dead Sea Scroll scholar Emmanuel Tov from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who participated in the study.
“This is quite amazing for us,” he said. “In 2,000 years, this text has not changed.”
For us believing Jews, this news is not really news. We know that the Torah has remained unchanged all these thousands of years. However it is indeed a wonderful feeling to have our beliefs scientifically corroborated. Kol hakavod to all the researchers and archaeologists involved in this amazing discovery.
And with these thoughts in mind I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!