Rami Levy and Rabbinical Centre of Europe in Beautiful Tefillin Project

June 12, 2020

Multi-faceted Jerusalem businessman Rami Levy, best known for his chain of discount supermarkets, is helping to provide tefillin (phylacteries) and prayer shawls for needy European Jews.

Multi-faceted Jerusalem businessman Rami Levy, best known for his chain of discount supermarkets, is helping to provide tefillin (phylacteries) and prayer shawls for needy European Jews who do not possess these essential religious accoutrements and cannot afford to purchase them. Levy has made a very handsome contribution to the Rabbinical Center of Europe at the request of the organization’s CEO Rabbi Arye Goldberg, who initiated the tefillin project in memory of the late Rabbi Benjamin Wolf, the
spiritual leader of the Jewish community of Hanover, who fell victim to coronavirus two months ago. This is not the first time that Levy has been involved with the RCE. He continues to donate to another of its projects, which is to bring European bar mitzvah boys to Israel.

■ FOR THE past 38 years, Jeff Seidel has been running student information centers in Jerusalem as well as Shabbat and Jewish home hospitality for lone soldiers, students and tourists. It was very tough during lockdown, because there were tourists and students who had not left the country and there were plenty of lone soldiers. Things are a little easier now that restrictions have been relaxed and greater social interaction has been permitted. A lot of people are still wary of going to restaurants, weddings and bar mitzvahs, and there are some who are also very cautious about admitting guests to their homes. For those who want to get back into the swing of hosting guests on Shabbat and showing them the brighter side of Israel, Seidel can be contacted at (02) 638-2634 or 052-286-7795. Last Friday, Seidel managed at the last minute, to find Shabbat hospitality for a group of gap year students.
TRAGEDY IS one of the most unifying factors in Israeli society. Political and religious differences are put on the back burner as the nation comes together to help to hope, and too often, to grieve. That was the case six years ago when three teenage yeshiva boys Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel unknowingly hitched a ride with Hamas terrorists, who kidnapped and murdered them.

The boys were standing outside Alon Shvut in the Etzion Bloc, waiting for a car that might be going their way.

For 18 agonizing days, the nation came together and joined the three families in praying for the safe return of the three boys.

Only after the discovery of their bodies was it learned that they had been killed soon after their capture. The nationwide outpouring of solidarity with the families during the waiting period, at the funeral and after the tragedy, prompted the creation of the annual Jerusalem Unity Prize.

Nir Barkat, who was then the mayor of Jerusalem, during a condolence visit to the families suggested that something be done to commemorate the three teenagers, and together with the Gesher organization and the three sets of parents – Iris and Uri Yifrah; Bat-Galim and Ofir Shaer; and Rachel and Avraham Fraenkel – in September, 2014, decided to establish the Jerusalem Unity Prize, with an official announcement to that effect at the President’s Residence in January, 2015.
Since then, the prize has awarded annually in June to individuals, organizations and initiatives in Israel and the Jewish world at large whose activities are instrumental in promoting mutual respect amongst Jews in times of crisis and in everyday life.

This year’s awards ceremony was broadcast on video with only President Rieuven Rivlin and his closest aides, Barkat and his wife Beverly, the prize winners and the Yifrah, Shaer and Fraenkel couples in attendance.

The ceremony was held against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis and national political divisiveness over the possibility of proposed annexation or application of Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley.

The prize ceremony, said Rivlin, sends a message of conciliation.

Speaking on behalf of the families, Uri Yifrah said that when the boys were still missing, before their fate was known Rabbi Haim Druckman told them: “We are looking for the boys and we have found ourselves.” Yifrah said: “That sense of looking inward finds what brings us closer together, an understanding of who we are, why we are here and how close we truly are.” He emphasized, “Alongside the disagreements and the differences of opinion, we must pause as individuals and examine whether, in the heat of the moment, we are not losing the great and true path we seek, which includes those with whom we do not agree. For he, too, seeks the good of our people. We go on together because that is our duty and that is how we will continue to build our country. The winners of the Unity Prize are those who know how to look inward, to bridge the gaps and to put what is important to the fore.”

The winners this year were: In the “local” category, the Center for Community Mediation and Dialogue in Rehovot for creating a space for respectful dialogue between the various elements of Israeli society and for leading the conversation on tolerance and acceptance of the other.

In the “national” category, the Joint Council of Pre-Military Academies (Mechinot) for their work to bring together different views and building trust between the member institutions for the good of the national mission of educating the next generation.

In the “international” category, Hakhel, the incubator for Jewish intentional communities for opening a door and building communities for every Jew, whoever and wherever they are, and for strengthening Jewish identity.
The article was published on the JPost

Additional Articles

European Rabbis Gather for Annual Conference of Largest Rabbinical Organisation

A memorial for the victims of the October 7th tragedy was inaugurated in Oporto, Portugal, with the presence of 150 European and Israeli Rabbis. Organised by various Jewish associations, including the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, the ceremony was marked by speeches from prominent figures, including Rabbi Netanel Lev, whose son was among the casualties. Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs reflected on the mixed emotions surrounding the event, highlighting the global condemnation of antisemitism and the acceptance of Israel’s condemnation. Rabbi Eli Rosenfeld emphasised the resilience of the Jewish people. The cemetery, named “Isaac Aboab Field of Equality,” symbolises Jewish life in Oporto, rising from the ashes of past persecution. Rabbi Yoel Zekri underscored its significance in honoring both past and present Jewish generations. The ceremony concluded with gratitude towards the Oporto Jewish Community for commemorating the victims and hoping for the safe return of abducted individuals.

The Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria jointly with the European Jewish Association are organizing an International Conference on STOP HATE SPEECH, which will be held on 5thand 6th December, 2022 in Sofia.

Such an event is being held for the first time in our country and it will be attended by Prosecutors General and supreme prosecutors from states of the European Union and the region, senior clerics of various religions, representatives of state institutions, non-governmental organizations, academic society, human rights defenders and civil activists. The main goal of the conference is to create a platform for the exchange of experience and good practices, which will help to effectively and timely counter xenophobic, anti-Semitic and discriminatory acts, as well as against the incitement and commitment of hate crimes.

The international conference will be opened by Prosecutor General of the Republic of Bulgaria Ivan Geshev. Welcome speech will be addressed to the participants by the Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria Iliana Yotova, the Interim Minister of Justice Krum Zarkov, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association and representatives of the executive and judicial authorities.

Video message to the participants will be addressed by Manfred Weber – Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Ilhan Kyuchuk, MEP from the “Renew Europe” Group in the EP and co-chairman of the European Liberals, Adrian Vázquez Lazara – Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee in the EP.

At the invitation of the Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, the Prosecutor General of Romania Gabriela Scutea, the Prosecutor General of Lithuania Nida Grunskiene, the Prosecutor General of Slovenia Drago Šketa, the Chief Prosecutor of the State of North Rhine Westphalia – Germany Markus Hartmann, the Deputy Republic Public Prosecutor of Serbia Tamara Mirovic, the Deputy Prosecutor General of Albania Thoma Jano, the Head of Odesa Regional Prosecutor’s Office – Ukraine Sergiy Kostenko, chief prosecutors from the Republic of Slovak, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Estonia, experts from Eurojust and the Council of Europe, the leadership of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria, etc. will take part in the International Conference.

The international conference STOP HATE SPEECH will gather in one place clerics from four religions. Guests at the event will be Bishop Polycarp, Vicar of His Holiness the Bulgarian Patriarch and Metropolitan Neophyte of Sofia, Alexander Moshev- representative of the Apostolic Nuncio in our country, Grand Mufti Mustafa Hadji. The chief rabbi of the Netherlands, Benjamin Jacob is arriving for the forum in Sofia.

A lecturer at the event will be the photojournalist Marissa Roth, Pulitzer Prize-winner for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots sparked by police brutality against a black biker.

An example of the increasing risk of hate crime these days, related to killing a defenseless person because of his ethnicity, will be presented by Keren Knoll. She is one of the heirs of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old French woman of Jewish descent who survived the Holocaust in World War II and was murdered in her Paris home in 2018 because of her ethnicity.

Within the framework of the two-day conference, a discussion will be held on protection of human rights and respect for ethnicity and gender and speakers on the topic will be representatives of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the Bilitis Foundation, activists for the rights of the LGBT community, the Center for Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and tolerance “Amalipe” and others.

Representatives of the academic society will take part in the separate discussions, as Prof. Dr. Vili Lilkov will present a historical overview of the rescue of Bulgarian Jews during the Second World War, and Assoc. Prof. Simeon Groisman will present an analysis of the topic: “The religious – source and object of hatred in the age of “Online Crowds”. Among the participants of the International Conference are Assoc. Prof. Iva Pushkarova, Assoc. Prof. Rumyana Hristidi, Milena Kotseva, Director of the Directorate “Procedural Representation before the ECHR” in the Ministry of Justice, Yulia Dandolova, executive director of the organization of Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” and others.

The program of the event is divided into three thematic panels:

“Countering Crimes Against Religions” with moderator Alexander Benjamin from the European Jewish Association; “Protecting the citizens’- rule of law – way to guarantee the fundamental human rights” with moderator Vladimir Nikolov – Chairman of the Association of Prosecutors in Bulgaria; “Crimes with a discriminatory motive – the needs of measures guaranteeing the rights of minority groups” with moderator Liliya Dragoeva, BILITIS FOUNDATION.

Nearly 70 media representatives are accredited for the event.

Annual conference for European Jewish Leadership FIGHTING BACK FOR OUR FUTURE

We are delighted to announce the commencement of our yearly conference in Amsterdam. This significant event focuses on tackling the concerning and increasing surge of antisemitism within our community.

Through impactful keynote speeches and dynamic panel discussions, we will explore solutions and responses to this troubling trend. The conference serves as a vital rallying call for all those committed to combating discrimination and halting its further advancement.

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The European Jewish Association is a prominent and influential organisation dedicated to representing, advocating for, and fostering the interests of the Jewish community across Europe. Founded on unity, tolerance, and inclusivity principles, the EJA bridges diverse Jewish communities and European societies.

#BringThemHomeNow #NeverAgainIsNow #NotOnMyWatch

Linkedin: @european-jewish-association

Instagram: @ejassociation

Facebook: @ejassociation

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We hope you all had the chance to light the candles yesterday with your loved ones and maybe have a Sufganiya or two…
Many have joind us yesterday to spread the light on social media as well under the #LightingEurope campaign…
There are still 7 days to go and much light to bring all across Europe.
Join us today and the days after! all you have to do is post a pictue with your menorah and use the hashtag #LightingEurope.
Happy Chanukah!
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