Israel weighs barring Americans, quarantine for Israelis coming back from US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel weighs barring Americans, quarantine for Israelis coming back from US

Official says government blocking move thus far over fears it could harm economic, political ties with United States; National Security Council to take over coronavirus decisions

An illustrative photo of a United Airlines plane takes off from Ben Gurion International Airport on June 18, 2013. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

An illustrative photo of a United Airlines plane takes off from Ben Gurion International Airport on June 18, 2013. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Israel on Friday was reportedly considering barring entry to citizens of a number of additional countries and forcing returning Israelis to self-quarantine, including from the United States, amid fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

The Health Ministry has been pushing to add the US to a list of destinations from where travelers entering Israel must be quarantined for 14 days, but other unspecified ministries were blocking the move over concerns it could harm political and economic ties with Washington, an unnamed senior government official told Hebrew media.

Amid tensions between various branches of government over how to handle the crisis, Economy Minister Eli Cohen told Channel 12 that Israel’s National Security Council would begin coordinating the response to the virus from Friday.

Cohen noted there were tensions between the Health Ministry’s desire for very strict measures and concerns by others that the moves could deeply impact Israel’s economy and political situation.

Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen attends a party faction meeting in Tel Aviv on April 1, 2019. (Flash90)

In the case of restrictions on travel from the US, there were fears over how the Trump administration would react to such a decision, according to the Ynet news site.

A diplomatic official said a decision on the matter would be made next week.

“There are so many countries under discussion. The implications are being weighed, but above all it is important to protect the health of Israeli citizens,” the official said.

On Tuesday, Director General of the Health Ministry Moshe Bar Siman-Tov told Channel 12 that Israel is getting “close to the point where we’ll have to do something” about people coming from the US.

There are fears that the US is not taking adequate steps to contain the spread, with not enough testing kits immediately available and doubts over the ability of the uninsured to be able to afford tests and treatment.

US President Donald Trump on Friday signed an $8.3 billion measure to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than a dozen people in the US and infected more than 200.

It was possible that if the US was added to the list, Americans would not be banned like citizens of other countries, but would also be asked to self-quarantine, Friday’s reports said.

According to Channel 13 news, Israel is expected to announce Sunday that foreigners coming from Britain and the Netherlands would be denied entry to the country.

Israelis returning from there would be required to quarantine at home for two weeks, the report said.

A man walks past a screen displaying arriving flights at Ben Gurion Airport on March 4, 2020. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)

Beginning Friday morning, Israel banned non-nationals from Germany, Austria, France, Spain and Switzerland. Israelis returning from those countries were instructed Wednesday to enter self-quarantine for a period of 14 days after their last day in those nations. The decision applied retroactively to all who have come from those countries in the last 14 days.

Israel had already banned entry to foreigners who were in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy in the 14 days prior to arriving, and compelled all Israelis recently in those areas to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Israel was the first country to urge its citizens to refrain from international travel entirely because of the outbreak, which started in China in December and has since infected nearly 100,000 in about 85 nations and claimed over 3,200 lives, almost all of them in China.

There have been 21 confirmed cases of the virus in Israel, including a bus driver whose condition on Friday was deteriorating.

Between 50,000 and 80,000 Israelis are under self-quarantine and large events such as concerts and sporting matches have been canceled due to directives issued by the Health Ministry.

Over 100,000 people have been infected worldwide and nearly 3,400 killed by the virus since it emerged in central China in December.

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Israel: El Al cancels flights to San Francisco, Europe amid ‘unprecedented’ virus crisis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

El Al cancels flights to San Francisco, Europe amid ‘unprecedented’ virus crisis

Israeli airline, hit hard by spread of coronavirus, combines flights, will use smaller planes as global travel slumps

El Al planes at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, March 16, 2018. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

El Al planes at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, March 16, 2018. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

El Al on Friday cancelled a flight to San Francisco and several others to a number of European cities amid a global drop in travel over fears about the new coronavirus, with a senior company official calling it “an unprecedented crisis.”

Flights that left for San Francisco Friday morning were combined, according to El Al, due to the low number of passengers on each plane.

In Europe, the Israeli airline was cancelling some flights to Berlin, Barcelona and Zurich. All three cities are located in countries which Israel began restricting the entry of non-nationals to on Friday as part of efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

“This is an unprecedented crisis,” a senior El Al official told the Ynet news site.

“The consequences of this crisis are huge and we are trying to do everything we can [to handle it],” he said.

El Al was also expected to cancel flights on Sunday to Munich, Budapest, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bucharest, Vienna and Marseille.

The official at the airline told the website that El Al was working to combine flights and use smaller planes.

Empty departure halls at Ben Gurion Airport. on March 4, 2020. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

On Wednesday, El Al fired some 600 permanent workers as it grapples with ongoing financial losses caused by the virus outbreak.

Other employees in high paying roles are likely to have their salaries cut.

The airline also axed hundreds of temporary workers, who are employed by the company for under five years. The fired staff include air crews, flight attendants, ground crews and others.

The company appears to be one of the hardest hit in Israel by the virus. On Wednesday, the Bank of Israel said the country’s economy was weathering the crisis, but was ready to step in to help if necessary.

On Tuesday El Al cut salaries of its senior staff by 20 percent. The salary reduction includes the company’s board of directors and chairman, and retroactively takes effect from March 1, Channel 12 reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the head of the union, Sharon Ben Itzhak, that he had assigned a ministerial committee to help El Al and other Israeli airlines.

Besides cutting back flights, El Al has also suspended flights to Italy and Thailand and and said it would delay its planned launch of direct flights to Tokyo until April. The airline extended its halt of flights to Beijing and Hong Kong until May.

A pilgrim wearing a protective mask visis the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City in Jerusalem on February 27, 2020. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)

Despite the damage to the aviation industry, the Tourism Ministry said Wednesday that the usual number of tourists entered Israel in February, with some 344,000 arrivals and an estimated tourist revenue of $486 million.

Israel has thus far taken far-reaching measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, forcing thousands of Israelis into self-quarantine, barring foreigners from countries hit hard by the virus, banning large gatherings, and advising against personal contact and travel abroad.

It was the first country to urge its citizens to refrain from international travel entirely because of the outbreak, which started in China in December and has since infected over 100,000 in about 85 nations and claimed nearly 3,400 lives, almost all of them in China.

There have been 19 confirmed cases of the virus in Israel and no deaths.

Luke Tress contributed to this report.

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Israel and Palestinian militants exchange rocket fire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel and Palestinian militants exchange fire as graphic video of Israeli bulldozer carrying a body goes viral

Israel said it launched a series of strikes on Islamic Jihad targets, and Palestinian militants fired more than 20 rockets at Israel by early Sunday evening, according to the Israeli army.

(CNN)The Israeli military and Palestinian militants in Gaza exchanged fire on Sunday, hours after a graphic video showing an Israeli army bulldozer scraping the body of a dead man off the ground went viral.

Militants fired more than 20 rockets at Israel by early Sunday evening, according to the Israeli army, making it the largest single assault by militants on Israel in several months.
The army said its Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted more than half of the launches, with many others landing in open areas. There are no reports of any Israeli injuries from the rockets.
Israel said it launched a series of strikes on targets belonging to Islamic Jihad, the smaller of the two main militant groups in Gaza. Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told CNN it was the army’s assessment that Islamic Jihad was responsible for the rocket fire.
Islamic Jihad took responsibility in a statement on its official website, saying its military wing, Saraya al-Quds, is responsible for the shelling. It promised to retaliate against any future “aggression.”
Among the strikes, Israel says it succeeded in hitting a group of Islamic Jihad operatives preparing to launch a fresh barrage of rockets.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said four people were being treated in Gaza’s Shifa hospital for injuries, though it was not clear whether they were involved in the rocket attacks.

Graphic viral video

The escalation began Sunday morning when the Israeli army says it spotted two men trying to lay an explosive device close to the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. The army — which released a video it said showed the two men carrying out their operation — opened fire, killing one of them.
The dead man was identified as 27-year-old Mohammed Al-Naim. The Quds Brigade, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said he was one of their fighters.
Gaza sources tell CNN the other man is being treated in a Gaza hospital for severe wounds.
It was the second time in several days that members of Islamic Jihad tried to place an explosive device close to the fence, according to the Israeli army.
As the dead man lay on the ground, a local journalist captured the scene on video, which was subsequently shared widely on social media.
In the video, a group of four men is seen moving toward the body in an apparent attempt to retrieve it. A bulldozer from the Israeli army approached from the opposite direction.
Gunshots could be heard as the bulldozer moved up to the group, which was forced to abandon its effort to carry the body away. Other men nearby could be seen throwing rocks at the vehicle.
The bulldozer’s front scoop then appears to come down on top of the dead body as the driver makes several unsuccessful attempts to pick it up.
Eventually the body is seen hanging from the scoop before the bulldozer drives back to the Israeli side of the fence, protected by a tank.

Defense minister: ‘That’s how we must act’

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett defended the army’s actions in robust terms.
“I’m tired of the tainted left-wing criticism against the ‘inhumanity’ of using a bulldozer to bring to us the body of a terrorist who tried to murder Israelis. Hamas is holding the bodies of Hadar and Goldin,” he said in a statement, referring to the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during the Gaza war of 2014.
The statement went on, “I stand behind the IDF that killed the terrorists and collected the body. That’s how we must act and that’s how we will act. In the face of terrorists, we will act with strength.”
An Israeli military official told CNN that using bulldozers to clear the area after a militant attack was standard practice and said they had been used previously to remove bodies, though he admitted it was not the preferred way to do it.
Sunday’s escalation came on the final day of the latest visit to Gaza by Qatar’s ambassador to the territory, Mohammed Al-Emadi, who discussed a further tranche of Qatari financial assistance for Gazans worth millions.
Aid from Qatar is a key part of multilateral efforts, which also include Egypt and the United Nations, to broker a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Gaza militants, which would see Israel loosen its restrictions on Gaza in exchange for a cessation of violence.
Islamic Jihad is widely seen as opposed to those negotiations, putting it at odds with Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Israel advances housing plan in Jerusalem area Trump plan marks for Palestinians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel advances housing plan in Jerusalem area Trump plan marks for Palestinians

Project for 9,000 homes at inoperative Atarot airport would take over last open area in East Jerusalem neighborhood that US envisions will house tourism center for Muslims

The Qalandiya checkpoint near the Atarot industrial zone, between East Jerusalem and the West Bank, seen on April 7, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Qalandiya checkpoint near the Atarot industrial zone, between East Jerusalem and the West Bank, seen on April 7, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Housing Ministry has begun advancing a plan to build a massive Jewish neighborhood in an East Jerusalem area that appears to be earmarked in the Trump administration’s peace plan for a Palestinian tourism center.

On February 9, the ministry submitted a building plan that would see some 9,000 housing units constructed at the site of the Atarot Airport, which has been inoperative since the breakout of the Second Intifada in 2000.

While the Trump plan does not specify where exactly in Atarot the Palestinian tourism center would be located, the airport is the only open area in the East Jerusalem neighborhood where such a site could be built.

The new neighborhood in Atarot would break a long stretch of Palestinian urban areas extending from the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Shuafat north to Kfar Aqab, Qalandiya and Ramallah on the other side of the security barrier.

Map of building plan in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Atarot advanced by Israel in February 2020. (Peace Now)

The project will still need to be authorized in several other planning stages that can take several years, but the submission of the building plan marks a significant step toward construction after several years of delays due to lack of funds.

The site designated for construction is mostly on state land but parts of the new neighborhood would sit on parcels currently privately owned by Palestinians, requiring the demolition of at least 15 families’ homes, the Haaretz daily reported.

In a statement blasting the Atarot building plan, the Peace Now settlement watchdog said the construction would prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

“Netanyahu is dragging Israel into a reality of a bi-national apartheid state and is putting the Zionist enterprise in jeopardy,” the left-wing group added.

According to the Trump plan, Israel will maintain control over Atarot and all other East Jerusalem neighborhoods west of the security barrier. However, the Jewish state “should allow for the development by the State of Palestine of a special tourism zone in Atarot, in a specific area to be agreed upon by the parties.”

“We envision that this area should be a world class tourist zone that should support Muslim tourism to Jerusalem and its holy sites. We envision that this zone will become a thriving and vibrant tourism center that includes state-of-the-art public transportation that provides easy access to and from the holy sites,” the plan states.

The Palestinians have rejected the US peace plan, which envisions the creation of a Palestinian state in about 70 percent of the West Bank, a small handful of neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, most of Gaza and some areas of southern Israel — if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, disarm Hamas and other terror groups in the coastal enclave, and fulfill other conditions.

The plan also allows Israel to annex settlements, grants the Jewish state sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and overriding security control west of the Jordan River, and bars Palestinian refugees from settling in Israel.

Israel has welcomed the proposal.

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Ten Quick King Solomon Proverbs To Lighten Our Day

Ten Quick King Solomon Proverbs To Lighten Our Day

(PERSONALLY I BELIEVE THAT ALL PEOPLE NEED TO SERIOUSLY CONSIDER THESE WORDS EACH DAY) (OLDPOET56)

This is ten of King Solomon’s proverbs and shouldn’t take more than about two moments of your time. The dictionary says a proverb is a profound saying, maxim, or oracular utterance requiring interpretation.

  1. A just man walks in his integrity and his children that come after him shall be blessed because of his actions.
  2. Even a child is known by their actions whether they are pure and whether they are correct.
  3. The spirit of a man is like a candle to the Lord who searches all our inner thoughts.
  4. It is better to live on the corner of a house-top than to live in a mansion with a hate filled woman.
  5. He that keeps his mouth shut and his tongue from wagging keeps their own soul from trouble.
  6. If you see a person who is wise in their own deceit there is more hope for a fool than for that person.
  7. Evil men do not understand judgement but they that seek the Lord understand all things.
  8. He that turns away their ears from the Word of God even his prayers are an abomination.
  9. Give wine to those who are of heavy hearts. Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember their misery no more.
  10. A wise person will listen and will obtain learning and a person of understanding will listen to wise counsels. To fear the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but a fool despises wisdom and instruction.

Kushner says Abbas responsible for spike in violence since release of peace plan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Kushner says Abbas responsible for spike in violence since release of peace plan

After briefing UN Security Council members on proposal, Trump’s son-in-law says Palestinian leadership has long history of ‘inciting intifadas when they don’t get their way’

US presidential adviser Jared Kushner meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on June 21, 2017 (PA press office)

US presidential adviser Jared Kushner meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on June 21, 2017 (PA press office)

NEW YORK — US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the architect of the US peace plan for the Middle East, on Thursday blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for a recent spike in violence in Israel and the West Bank.

“He does have a responsibility for it,” Kushner told reporters after briefing UN Security Council members on the plan that has been rejected by the Palestinians.

“He calls for days of rage in response and he said that even before he saw the plan,” Kushner added.

Three Palestinian attacks on Israeli soldiers and police officers took place within 12 hours on Thursday, leaving 14 service members wounded.

Two members of the Palestinian security services were also killed, at least one who was apparently mistaken for a terrorist by an Israeli sniper, as violence soared amid Palestinian anger at the US administration’s peace plan announced last week.

Rescuers at the scene of an attack near the Lions Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City in which a police officer was lightly injured and the assailant was killed, February 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Palestinian leaders said the violence was an inevitable result of the plan’s pro-Israel bias, while Israeli officials accused the Palestinian Authority of encouraging the attacks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a direct appeal to Abbas: “This won’t help you. Not the stabbings, not the ramming attacks, not the sniping attacks, and not the incitement… We will do everything necessary to guard our security, secure our borders, and guarantee our future. We will do this with you or without you.”

Kushner said Abbas had “rejected the plan before he even saw it.”

“I think that he was surprised with how good the plan was for the Palestinian people but he locked himself into a position before it came out and I don’t know why he did that,” he added.

“There is a long history of the Palestinian leadership paying the families of terrorists, inciting intifadas (uprisings) when they don’t get their way,” said Kushner.

“I just think the international community has grown very tired of that behavior,” he added.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas holds a placard showing maps of (L to R) historical Palestine, the 1947 United Nations partition plan on Palestine, the 1948-1967 borders between the Palestinian territories and Israel, and a current map of the Palestinian territories without Israeli-annexed areas and settlements, as he attends an Arab League emergency meeting discussing the US-brokered proposal for a settlement of the Middle East conflict at the league headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo on February 1, 2020 (Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Kushner presented the plan to Security Council members at a private lunch Thursday hosted by the US Mission to the United Nations.

Kushner described the two-hour-long talks with the Council’s 14 other members as “very constructive.”

Last chance for the Palestinians

Kushner warned that his plan “may be the last chance to resolve the situation,” because the rate of expansion of Israeli settlements may preclude a contiguous Palestinian state.

Right now, Kushner said, “it’s very, very difficult to have a contiguous state where you can drive from the top to the bottom,” but it is still possible.

He said the most constructive thing the Palestinians can do is to sit down with the Israelis and go over the plan “line by line.”

“If they would like to meet, we’re happy to do it, but we’re not going to chase them,” Kushner said.

His briefing comes as Palestinian supporters have circulated a draft UN resolution that would reject the plan, saying it violates international law and Security Council demands for a two-state solution based on borders before the 1967 Six Day War.

The resolution, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, could be put to a vote on Feb. 11 when Abbas is expected to address the Security Council and deliver his government’s objections to the Israeli-backed US peace plan. If a vote is held, the resolution is virtually certain to be vetoed by the United States.

The US plan, unveiled by Trump on Jan. 28, envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel, siding with Israel on key contentious issues including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements.

The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem — areas captured by Israel in 1967  — for an independent state and the removal of many of the more than 700,000 Israelis from these areas.

But under terms of the “peace vision” that Kushner worked on for nearly three years, all Israeli settlers would remain in place, and Israel would retain sovereignty over all of its settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley.

Dismissing the plan as “nonsense,” Abbas declared: “We say 1,000 no’s to the ‘Deal of the Century,’” using a nickname for Trump’s proposal.

Netanyahu, who stood beside Trump when the plan was announced, called it a “historic breakthrough” equal in significance to the country’s declaration of independence in 1948. He said it provided a green light for annexation of large parts of the occupied West Bank.

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint statement in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images/AFP)

The proposed resolution, drafted by Indonesia and Tunisia, condemns recent Israeli statements calling for annexation “of areas of the occupied Palestinian territory” and stresses “the illegality” of any annexation.

It also reaffirms that all Israeli settlements and other measures “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including east Jerusalem, are illegal and imperil the viability of a two-state solution.”

The draft emphasizes the need to preserve “the territorial integrity, contiguity and unity of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

It reiterates the call to achieve lasting peace “without delay” based on UN resolutions dating back to 1967. It would also give the Security Council’s “unwavering support” to a two-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace based on pre-1967 borders.

The proposed resolution calls on all 193 UN member nations to comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions — and “not to render aid or assistance to illegal settlement activities” or recognize any actions or measures that might imply Israeli sovereignty over occupied Palestinian territories.

It would also express the council’s determination “to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions, including enforcement measures under Chapter 7 of the (UN) Charter.”

Chapter 7 provides for both military and non-military enforcement measures.

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Food: Eight tasty nights of Hanukkah

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SONOMA INDEX-TRIBUNE)

 

Food: Eight tasty nights of Hanukkah

The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah is a delicious, festive holiday celebrating the miracle of a drop of lamp oil that burned brightly for eight days. Let’s put Hanukkah in a modern context. It’s the first night of an eight-night holiday. Your phone charge is down to 10 percent and you don’t have access to a charger for the next week. Miraculously, the charge lasts for all eight days. That’s Hanukkah.

This year the first night of Hanukkah is Sunday, Dec. 22. The word Hanukkah means re-dedication.

It commemorates a miraculous victory to preserve the ancient temple in which a brave family called the Maccabees prevailed over a much stronger opponent. In rededicating the temple they found only one day’s holy oil, yet the holy lamp miraculously burned for eight days.

To recall this miracle each year, Jews celebrate for eight nights by gathering together to light candles on an eight branch Menorah and indulge in rich and fried foods.

This decidedly decadent tradition of eating rich and fried foods makes the holiday special. Traditional Hanukkah foods are jelly donuts, potato pancakes and rich puddings called kugels. In celebration, children play a gambling game with a top called a dreidel. Winning spins are rewarded with “gelt,” delicious gold-foil-wrapped chocolate coins. Modest gifts may be exchanged each night.

My family delights in this ultra-rich and easy to prepare Noodle Kugel. It can be easily scaled up or down, may be made ahead and freezes well. Just don’t substitute lower-fat ingredients. After all, it’s Hanukkah.

Ultra-Rich & Creamy Noodle Kugel

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

8 ounce package cream cheese

4 eggs

½ cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounce package wide egg noodles cook according to package directions

Topping:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Prepare the filling: In a food processor blend the melted butter, cream cheese and eggs. Add sugar, milk and vanilla and blend well. Gently stir in sour cream to keep the body of the sour cream so it doesn’t get liquefied. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the cooked noodles. Stir gently to combine. Pour into a greased 9-by-13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

3. Prepare the topping: Stir the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter together and mix well. Sprinkle over the uncooked kugel. Don’t worry if it seems to sink a bit, it should rise to the top as it bakes.

4. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until set. If the top browns too soon cover with foil.

Mara Kahn is a local real estate agent, co-owner of Jacob’s Kitchen, the Eighth Street East culinary outlet. Mara throws a great party.

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A guide to celebrating Hanukkah for the non-Jewish

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPECTRUM, A DIVISION OF USA TODAY)

 

A guide to celebrating Hanukkah for the non-Jewish

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Amidst the sounds, sights and smells of Christmas, some Utah residents are preparing for another holiday: the Jewish tradition of Hanukkah.

And it’s not, contrary to what some may think, the “Jewish Christmas,” said Rabbi Helene Ainbinder of Beit Chaverim Jewish Community of Greater Zion.

“I don’t compare it to Christmas at all,” she said. “There’s no such thing as a ‘Hanukkah bush’ or a ‘Hanukkah tree.’”

Ainbinder said Hanukkah is celebrated during the Hebrew month of Kislev and commemorates the Jewish people’s battle for religious freedom against Greek and Syrian armies more than 2,000 years ago. When the Greeks destroyed the holy temple in Jerusalem, a small army that became known as the Maccabees used guerrilla warfare tactics to fight back.

Eventually, the Maccabees won the war. While cleaning the temple, they found only one small jar of pure oil for kindling the menorah, but it miraculously burned for eight days instead of one. That’s why Jewish people light candles for eight days during Hanukkah, a Hebrew word that means “dedication.”

“The holiday enhances our connection (with our faith) and we realize how lucky we are that we have religious freedom and that we survived all these atrocities against us over the centuries,” Ainbinder said. “If we didn’t fight for our freedom to practice our faith, we’d all be Greeks.”

She also said it’s a smaller holiday than other Jewish holidays like Yom Kippur, but it tends to be more well-known because it’s a holiday that the whole family enjoys, with games, gifts and singing.

And while other Jewish holidays focus on the inner spirit and being guided by God, during Hanukkah, “we’re just rejoicing that we survived again,” she said.

You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the traditions of this holiday. Here are some ways non-Jewish people can celebrate Hanukkah, which falls this year from Dec. 22 through Dec. 29.

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Play with dreidels

Ainbinder said during the Greek occupation of Judea, Jews were killed if they were caught practicing their faith. That’s why they used a game of dreidels (tops) to pretend they were gambling in order to fool the soldiers. The Hebrew letters on the dreidel represent the phrase “A Great Miracle Happened Over There.”

“It was really how we preserved our heritage through these images and symbols,” Ainbinder said.

According to the website My Jewish Learning, any number of people can take part. Each player begins with an equal number of game pieces such as pennies, nuts or chocolate chips.

At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center “pot.” In addition, every time the pot is empty or has only one game piece left, every player should put one in the pot.

Every time it’s your turn, spin the dreidel once. Depending on the side it lands on, you give or get game pieces from the pot.

  • Nun means “nisht” or “nothing.” The player does nothing.
  • Gimel means “gantz” or “everything.” The player gets everything in the pot.
  • Hey means “halb” or “half.” The player gets half of the pot. (If there is an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes half of the total plus one).
  • Shin (outside of Israel) means “shtel” or “put in.” Peh (in Israel) also means “put in.” The player adds a game piece to the pot.

If you find that you have no game pieces left, you are either “out” or may ask a fellow player for a “loan.” The game ends when one person has won everything.

Give chocolate gelt

Hanukkah gelt is money given as a gift or as a coin-shaped piece of chocolate, according to website Learn Religions. Gelt can be given every night of Hanukkah or only once, and chocolate gelt pieces can be used in the dreidel game.

Ainbinder said this tradition stems from the Jewish people minting their own coins when they became a free nation.

Chocolate coins are available from multiple online retailers, including Amazon, Just Candy and See’s Candies.

Attend a menorah lighting

Rabbi Mendy Cohen of Chabad of Southern Utah said that during a menorah lighting, candles are put in right to left, but lit left to right so that the newest candle is lit first.

Ainbinder added that the candles burn themselves down each night.

“The warmth of a candle brings that much more warmth to our spirit,” she said.

She also said a menorah, which means “light,” has places for nine candles; the ninth candle, shamash, is the “helper” candle that lights the others and has to be separated higher or away from the other candles.

Menorahs should be seen by the outside world, she said, which is why they’re put in windows.

During the first night of Hanukkah, Ainbinder said an extra prayer is offered to thank God that they’ve reached that moment in time. The next two prayers praise and thank God, and are repeated during every subsequent night of Hanukkah while lighting the candles.

If you’re interested in seeing a menorah lighting, Chabad of Southern Utah is holding a menorah celebration at Town Square Park (50 S. Main St.) on the first night of Hanukkah, Dec. 22, at 5 p.m. Admission is free, and Cohen said people of all backgrounds are welcome to attend.

“The message (of Hanukkah) applies to everybody,” he said. “Light over darkness. Just one small little flame, a match in a big dark room, can dispel a lot of darkness.”

In addition to lighting the first candle, the celebration will include music, dreidels, chocolate gelt, latkes and jelly doughnuts.

A new candle will be lit for the rest of Hanukkah at 8:30 p.m., Cohen said, except for Friday night because that is the start of the Jewish sabbath.

Additionally, he said a menorah is currently on display at the Red Cliffs Mall (1770 Red Cliffs Dr.).

Eat fried foods

Cohen said traditional Hanukkah foods include latkas (potato patties) and doughnuts, which are both fried in oil to remind people of the miracle of the oil.

A latka recipe in The New York Times calls for:

  • Two large Russet potatoes (about one pound), scrubbed and cut lengthwise into quarters
  • One large onion (eight ounces), peeled and cut into quarters
  • Two large eggs
  • Half cup all-purpose flour
  • Two teaspoons coarse kosher salt (or one teaspoon fine sea salt), plus more for sprinkling
  • One teaspoon baking powder
  • Half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Safflower or other oil, for frying

Grate the potatoes and onion with a food processor. Transfer the mixture to a clean dishtowel and squeeze and wring out as much of the liquid as possible.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder and pepper, and mix until the flour is absorbed.

In a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, pour in about a quarter inch of the oil.

When the oil is hot, use a heaping tablespoon to drop the batter into the hot pan, cooking in batches. Use a spatula to flatten and shape the drops into discs. Flip when the edges of the latkes are brown and crispy. Cook until the second side is deeply browned. Transfer the latkes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with salt while still warm.

A sufganiyot (Hanukkah jelly doughnuts) recipe from website My Jewish Learning calls for:

  • Apricot, red-currant or raspberry jam
  • Oil for deep frying
  • One and two-third cups flour, plus a little more if necessary
  • Two or three drops of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • One whole egg
  • Three tablespoons sour cream or vegetable oil
  • Two tablespoons sugar
  • One egg yolk
  • Confectioners’ sugar to sprinkle on
  • Quarter cup lukewarm milk or water
  • One teaspoon dried yeast

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk or water with one teaspoon of sugar and leave for 10 minutes, until it froths.

Beat the rest of the sugar with the egg and the yolk. Add the sour cream or oil, the salt, vanilla, and yeast mixture, and beat very well. Fold in the flour gradually, and continue beating until you have a soft, smooth, and elastic dough, adding more flour if necessary. Then knead for five minutes, sprinkling with a little flour if it is too sticky. Coat the dough with oil by pouring a drop in the bowl and turning the dough in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for about two hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Knead the dough again for a few minutes, then roll out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin to quarter-inch thickness. With a pastry cutter, cut into two-inch rounds. Put a teaspoon of jam in the center of a round of dough, brush the rim with a little water to make it sticky, and cover with another round. Press the edges together to seal. Continue with the rest of the rounds and arrange them on a floured tray. Leave them to rise for about 30 minutes.

Heat one and a half inches of oil in a saucepan to medium hot. Drop in the doughnuts, a few at a time. Fry in medium-hot oil for three to four minutes with the lid on until brown, then turn and fry the other side for one minute more. Drain on paper towels. Serve sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.

Kaitlyn Bancroft reports on faith, health, education and under-served communities for The Spectrum & Daily News, a USA TODAY Network newsroom in St. George, Utah. She’s a graduate of Brigham Young University’s journalism program, and has previously written for The Denver Post, The Daily Universe, Deseret News and the Davis Clipper. You can reach her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @katbancroft.

Vandals in Berlin dig up grave of Reinhard Heydrich, who helped plan Holocaust

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Vandals in Berlin dig up grave of Reinhard Heydrich, who helped plan Holocaust

German police say it appears nothing was removed from burial site of Nazi Gestapo head, who hosted Wannsee Conference and was regarded as cruel even within the Third Reich

The grave of Reinhard Heydrich, powerful head of Hitler's Reich Security Office during World War II, in Berlin on December 16, 2019.  (Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

The grave of Reinhard Heydrich, powerful head of Hitler’s Reich Security Office during World War II, in Berlin on December 16, 2019. (Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

BERLIN — The grave of a top Nazi who helped plan the Holocaust and was assassinated by British-trained agents during World War II has been dug up in Berlin, German police said on Monday.

The grave of Reinhard Heydrich was “dug up in the night between Wednesday and Thursday” and an investigation has been opened on charges of disturbing a burial site, a police spokeswoman told AFP.

German media said it appeared nothing was removed.

Heydrich was the powerful head of Hitler’s Reich Security Office, which included the Gestapo.

Less well known than other Nazi leaders, he was nevertheless highly influential and was marked out for his cruelty even within the Third Reich elite.

The grave of Reinhard Heydrich, powerful head of Hitler’s Reich Security Office during the World War II, is pictured in Berlin on December 16, 2019. (Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

Adolf Hitler admiringly used to refer to him as “the man with the iron heart,” according to the biography “Heydrich: The Face of Evil” by Mario Dederichs.

Heydrich hosted the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, when leading Nazis discussed the extermination of the Jews in German-occupied Europe.

During the Nazi occupation of what is now the Czech capital, he became known as “the Butcher of Prague.”

His car was attacked with an anti-tank mine in the city on May 27, 1942, by Czechoslovak agents trained by Britain’s secret Special Operations Executive.

Gestapo head Heinrich Muller, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, head of German criminal police Arthur Nebe and chief of state police and Gestapo in Vienna, Franz Joseph Huber, meet in Munich, Germany, in November 1939. (photo credit: German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

Heydrich died of his injuries a few days later.

His body was brought back to Berlin and buried in the city’s Invalidenfriedhof, a military cemetery.

Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in an unknown location sometime in 1942. (AP Photo)

During the Cold War, the cemetery became a no-man’s land along the Berlin Wall and his tomb — along with the ones of other top Nazis — was dismantled.

But Heydrich’s remains were never disinterred and the location of the grave was an open secret.

In 2000, a group of anti-fascists said they had opened up the grave of Nazi stormtrooper Horst Wessel in Berlin, taken his skull and thrown it into the Spree River, according to the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Police at the time said no remains were stolen.

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Israel: Likud hopeful Sa’ar says two-state solution with Palestinians is an ‘illusion’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Likud hopeful Sa’ar says two-state solution with Palestinians is an ‘illusion’

Attacking PM from the right, challenger blames Netanyahu’s ‘endless concessions’ for helping perpetuate the idea that a Palestinian state is the only way to achieve a peace deal

Likud MK Gideon Sa'ar speaks at a conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, December 15, 2019. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar speaks at a conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, December 15, 2019. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Gideon Sa’ar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sole challenger in the upcoming Likud party leadership race, said Sunday that a two-state solution with the Palestinians is an “illusion,” and attacked the premier for giving the notion credibility over the last decade.

“Throughout the world they say that a two-state solution remains the path to an agreement,” Sa’ar said, speaking at a conference.”I have to say to you, this is not a position that helps anyone. Two-states in an illusion.”

Sa’ar said this had been shown through decades of negotiations based around two-states that had failed to bring peace. He also blamed the Palestinians for “never being able to agree to a compromise, despite very generous offers.”

Sa’ar castigated Netanyahu for perpetuating the idea that two-states was the only solution, accusing him of making “endless concessions” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the last decade, including settlement building freezes in the West Bank.

He also referred to Netanyahu’s famous speech at Bar-Ilan University in 2009, in which the prime minister expressed support for the creation of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has since said conditions for statehood no longer exist in the current reality in the Middle East.

Sa’ar said that the solution needs to be an autonomous Palestinian entity linked together in a federation with Jordan. “Between the Jordan River and the (Mediterranean) Sea there cannot be another state,” he said.

Sa’ar appeared to be trying to outflank Netanyahu from the right ahead of the Likud party leadership vote, set for December 26. However, Netanyahu has in recent years also moved away from tacit support for a two-state solution and has, over the last few months, been promising to annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank if reelected.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a map of the Jordan Valley, vowing to extend Israeli sovereignty there if reelected, during a speech in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Likud MK Sharren Haskel on Sunday said she would back Sa’ar, becoming the fourth lawmaker to publicly endorse him. Most Likud MKs have announced support for Netanyahu, with a few notable lawmakers keeping mum. Despite the defections, Netanyahu is expected to defeat Sa’ar handily.

The vote marks the first real challenge to Netanyahu’s leadership of the party in 14 years. He and Sa’ar are the only contenders who have announced they will run in the primary.

Sa’ar argues that Netanyahu is divisive and has proved he cannot put together a coalition, after failing to muster a governing majority following two national elections in April and September. Israel will go to polls again on March 2.

Sa’ar has expressed his opposition to a two-state solution in the past. Earlier this year he was one of a group of right-wing lawmakers who sent a letter to US lawmakers warning that calls for a two-state solution are “far more dangerous to Israel” than efforts to boycott the Jewish state, and urging them to refrain from such appeals in the future.

“We believe (the proposed resolution) contains a grave error because it expresses, among other things, support for a so-called ‘Two-State Solution,’ meaning the establishment of a ‘Palestinian state’ in the heart of tiny Israel… We would like to make our position clear that the establishment of a Palestinian state would be far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” they wrote.

A crane is used at the construction site in the West Bank settlement of Amichai on September 7, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

The letter was sent to the offices of the four congressmen who co-sponsored a resolution that condemned BDS but also called for a two-state solution — Brad Schneider, Lee Zeldin, Jerry Nadler and Ann Wagner. It was written and sent at the initiative of Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, the Land of Israel caucus in the Knesset and the National Conference of Likud, an informal group of hawks within the ruling party.

Creating a Palestinian state in the region would “severely damage” both Israel’s and America’s national security, the Israeli legislators wrote.

In recent years the Trump administration has moved away from its support for a two-state solution.

Last month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Pompeo repudiated a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”

US moves that have weakened Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood have included President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the moving of the US embassy to that city and the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington. These moves have been widely, though not universally, welcomed in Israel.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and his point man for the Middle East peace process, has said that the administration’s as-yet-unreleased peace plan would avoid speaking about the two-state solution.

“I realize that means different things to different people,” he said earlier this year. “If you say ‘two states’ to the Israelis it means one thing, and if you say ‘two states’ to the Palestinians it means another thing. So we said, ‘let’s just not say it.’ Let’s just work on the details of what this means.”

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