PM Netanyahu – Memorial Day Address (Opening Ceremony)

yom-hashoah-candlesFollowing is the address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening ceremony of the Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers:

Honorable Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein,

Distinuished guests, first and foremost my brothers and sisters, members of the bereaved families,

As the son of a bereaved family, I, like you, carry the weight of despair. I know the depths of sadness and the agonizing pain of loss. They are relentless. When I received the news of my brother and later had to break it to my parents, my whole world collapsed. The same thing happened to you. We spend the remainder of our lives struggling to emerge from the ruins. It never fully happens, but there is new life. Today I spoke with the mother of Ben Vanunu, a remarkable young boy who fell in Operation Protective Edge. Sarit and Ilan welcomed a daughter into the world today, and tears of sadness and joy mix together.

Twenty three thousand, four hundred and forty seven – this is the number of Israel’s fallen soldiers, in honor of whom we bow our heads today – in grief, silence, admiration and gratitude. The day bereavement first enters our doorstep is the day our loved ones become no longer just ours. While they fundamentally belong to us, a part of our flesh that has been cut off, they also belong to the nation, a nation that pays tribute to them today and acknowledges the enormity of their sacrifice. Jews, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Bedouins, Circassians, men and women – we all share one fate. Continue reading

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Wave of Terror Continues


Wave of terror – 13 Sept 2015 up to today

Below is a review of major terror attacks against Israeli civilians that have occurred since the Jewish New Year (13 September 2015). This is a partial list that does not include most of the daily instances of riots, rock throwing (1307), roadside/pipe bombs (48) and petrol bombs/grenades (296) since October.

Terror by numbers

  • Since 13 September 2015, 34 innocent people have been killed in terrorist attacks (including a Palestinian, two Americans and an Eritrean), and 452 wounded.
  • There have been: 148 stabbing attacks; 87 shootings; 43 vehicular (ramming) attacks; and one vehicle (bus) bombing

By the month:

  • In April, there were 203 terrorist attacks: 7 stabbings or stabbing attempts, 3 shootings, no ramming attacks, 136 stone-throwing attacks, and 37 petrol bombs
  • March: 240 total – 19 stabbings/attempted stabbings, 7 shootings, 3 rammings, 163 stone-throwing attacks, 35 petrol bombs

Continue reading

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2016 Connecticut-Israel Innovations Showcase

CT Israel Showcase CC Flyer (6)

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Terror Attack on Jerusalem Bus

18 Apr 2016

 In the Emergency workers at the scene of the terrorist attack on the bus in Jerusalemearly evening, an explosion on a Jerusalem bus and a subsequent fire led to the injury of 21 people, including passengers on a passing bus and in a nearby car. (At left, Emergency workers at the scene of the terrorist attack on the bus in Jerusalem). In the early evening (Monday, April 18 2016), an explosion on a Jerusalem bus and a subsequent fire led to the injury of 21 people, including passengers on a passing bus and in a nearby car. Two of the injured are in serious condition, 7 were moderately injured and 12 were lightly injured. After an extensive examination by police experts, it was determined that an explosive devise caused the incident and that this was a terrorist attack.

President Rivlin’s statement following terror attack on Jerusalem bus
(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)

President Reuven Rivlin made the following statement regarding the terror attack which took place on a bus in Jerusalem this afternoon (Monday, April 18 2016):

“Our prayers for a speedy recovery go out to those injured in the terror attack, being treated as we speak in hospitals across Jerusalem. On such a day – when thanks to the dedicated work of the security services, this morning the discovery was revealed of a terror tunnel in the south, and in the evening frightened citizens returning from their daily routine are being rushed to hospital – it is clear to us all, that the struggle against terrorism is ceaseless. We will pursue and we will reach all those who wish us harm, until quiet is assured.”

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gala1Join Charter Oak as we celebrate four outstanding members of the community in the areas of Social Justice, Arts and Education, and Jewish Heritage.

Enjoy good food, great company, music and performances – and all to support the work of Charter Oak.

 Bob Fishman copy   susan_fishman2 BW   Alves copy  Dr Saud Anwar BW 

Charter Oak Cultural Center ’s 15 Annual Vision Awards Gala honoring:

Robert J. Fishman – Vision Award in Jewish Heritage
Susan Hoffman Fishman – Vision Award in Jewish Heritage
John Alves – Vision Award in Arts and Education
Dr. Saud Anwar – Vision Award in Social Justice

Join us Monday, May 9th, 2016
at the Hartford Marriott Downtown (200 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford.)

Show your support!

Your sponsorship, journal ad purchase or ticket purchase makes it possible for Charter Oak to continue its important work.

Click here — Vision Awards Evite w ReplyCard attachedFInal — to download the 2016 Vision Awards Gala electronic invitation, save it and send it back to, fax it to 860-524-8014 or mail it to Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Avenue, Hartford 06106.

Housed in Connecticut’s first synagogue, Charter Oak Cultural Center provides completely free out-of-school time youth arts offerings, social justice offerings and also presents multi-cultural performances and exhibits that we make accessible to our community for free or at a very low cost. The Vision Awards Gala directly supports this work. Join us for exciting live performances, dancing, great food and drink and great fun. Tickets are $175. Space is limited. Click here, fill in the form, save and email to or call 860-310-2586 to reserve your tickets.

The Vision Awards Gala is our largest fundraiser of the year. The money we raise is essential to our vital work. Please join us!



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JFACT Dvar Torah

matzaBy Polokoff, Rabbi Eric

Everyone here been to a Passover Seder? So let me ask: what’s an Afikoman? Some kids make Afikoman bags.  We still have the one my daughter made in religious school.

 The Afikoman is really important in the Passover Seder.  It’s what we teach the wise children… I quote the Hagaddah:

 These children should be taught all the laws of Passover from beginning to end – ein maftirin achar haPesach afikoman – including the reference to conclude our Passover meal with the Afikoman.

 So clearly, if the Afikoman was of no or little consequence, it wouldn’t have been singled-out for attention by our rabbis.

 Only – what is an Afikoman? It’s likely from the Greek word Epikomios or Epikomion, meaning “after dinner entertainment” but more literally “that which comes after.” In fact our ancient Rabbis debated what it was… consider this teaching from the Jerusalem Talmud:

 What is the Afikoman? Rabbi shimon said in the name of R. Inanini bar R. Sisi: it is a kind of music.  Rav Ami says: it’s a kind of sweet. Shmuel said: It’s like the mushrooms and pigeons of Hananiah bar Shilat. (Y. Pesachim 10)

 Music? Sweets? Mushrooms? Pigeons?  Haniniah saw them as delicacies, mushrooms or pigeons – like caviar or pate. The one thing it isn’t is a piece of matzah.

 The Afikoman represents a sort of finality, the end of the ceremony. But ending with matzah, felt the Rabbis in Babylonia, was precisely how the eating part should end – the taste of matzah the last morsel in our mouth. Why? I suspect because matzah flatness reminds us not to be too puffed up – to see ourselves and god as siding with those in need, overcoming hardship.

 So notice that Jewish tradition evolves. Were you to say to Rabbi Shimon in the 4th century, “Let’s hide the Afikoman” – he’d have no idea what you were saying. He’d be forced to assume there will be no singing. But as we know, the Afikoman came to mean – end dessert with matzah.

 There are other such changes in other parts of the Seder – Many of us now put an orange on the Seder plate – representing our embrace of equality and inclusion, amongst other rituals.

So with all this change, what’s the same? In all of this, the constant is the desire to observe Passover in the first place. And to relate to the ideas of liberation and being rescued.

So, knowing what you now know about the evolution of the Afikoman…  From being something not known about… to now being one of the most identifiable elements, the finding of a lost half of a broken matzah, ideally by a child… Consider how it actually makes an excellent symbol for Judaism and Jewish community. We search in our lives and our world to create wholeness, bringing shattered parts together. Hopefully, with a sense of modesty. And definitely with an eye to the future, towards the next generation. And that act can be more meaningful than savoring truffles or caviar.

 JFACT exists so that our community can promote those very values discussed on Passover – respect and freedom. May we appreciatereminders that bring us closer to the source of liberation, and of wholeness.

 Cain yehi ratzon.  Be this God’s Will.

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House Bill 5433, Kosher Question Answered

HenryHenry Zachs (pictured at right) testified before the General Law committee on House Bill 5433.  The committee is co-chaired by Rep. David Baram and Senator Carlo Leone.  The bill is designed to have Kosher establishments cite that they sell Kosher food, as well as signage if they also sell non-Kosher food.  Henry urged the committee to understand that members of the Jewish community who keep Kosher know what specific labels to look for and such signage would cause a problem to the consumers.

After deliberations, the committee decided it was appropriate to allow the Jewish community, through its stores, camps and nursing homes, etc., to police itself in regards to the laws of Kashrut.  Therefore, the bill will not have any language involving the State in determining what is and what is not Kosher.

Chairman Baram responded to Henry when asked if Muslim Halal stores have signage that initially a Muslim organization came to him requesting the state assist with enforcement but then the idea was dropped.

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