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by SA JEWISH REPORT STAFF | May 04, 2016

White House prepared for major defence commitment to Israel



WASHINGTON -The White House says it is prepared to commit to the “largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in US history” in its defence assistance talks with Israel.

A White House official made the statement in response to a letter on Monday by 83 US senators to President Barack Obama, urging him to substantially increase defence assistance to Israel.

“We have been holding intensive discussions with Israel aimed at concluding a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance to follow the current MOU worth $30 billion, which will conclude at the end of FY 2018,” the official said.

“We are prepared to sign an MOU with Israel that would constitute the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in US history,” the official said. “And we are ready to do this even though we are operating in a particularly challenging budget environment that has necessitated cuts on federal spending across a wide array of programmes.”

The official said discussions are continuing and “we remain hopeful” the sides can reach agreement.

It’s not clear what is obstructing the conclusion of talks over the memorandum. Reports have said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government wants as much as $5 billion per year over a 10 year period, while the Obama administration reportedly is prepared to reach close to that amount if it includes missile defence co-operation, which is now considered separately and amounts to nearly $500 million. - Los Angeles Jewish Journal


Feminist Elana Sztokman to visit Australia


MELBOURNE - Throughout this month and June, internationally renowned Orthodox Jewish feminist Dr Elana Maryles Sztokman will be touring Australia as part of the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia’s (NCJWA) 2016 National Scholar-in-Residence programme.

New York born and bred, Sztokman is the founding director of the Centre for Jewish Feminism, an online learning forum for Jewish feminists around the world.

She has also worked as executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, a global organisation which aims to bring a range of opportunities to women within the bounds of Orthodox halacha in their communities and beyond.

Now living in Israel, Sztokman is the award-winning author of The Men’s Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World, Educating in the Divine Image: Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools, and The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women fighting for Freedom.

As part of the NCJWA programme, which aims to bring high-profile women to Australia from Israel to share their experience and be a role model for Australian Jewish women, Sztokman will be speaking at various events.

“Elana is an international leader on issues on gender equity in the Jewish world,” NCJWA National President Rysia Rozen told The AJN. “We are very excited to give her the opportunity to speak to Jewish communities around Australia. - Australian Jewish News


Thousands of Israelis receive priestly blessing      


JERUSALEM - Thousands of Israelis flocked to the Western Wall for the semi-annual priestly blessing - the Birkat Kohanim - filling the Western Wall Plaza to overflowing. Moses’ brother Aaron first pronounced this blessing over the Children of Israel recorded in the Book of Numbers.

“The L-rd bless you and keep you; the L-rd make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the L-rd lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:22-26)

The Kotel is the last remains of the retaining wall of the Second Jewish Temple, which was built on the plateau above, known as the Temple Mount to Jews. Today, two Muslim shrines - the al- Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock - occupy the Temple Mount, known in Arabic as the Haram al Sharif.

Israel police beefed up security forces during the week-long holiday, with some 3 500 officers patrolling the city. - Kehilla News Israel


Pesach marathon runners criticised by rabbi


LONDON- A United Synagogue rabbi has criticised communal charities which fielded runners in the London Marathon, held on the second day of Pesach, for "weakening our community".

At least half a dozen Jewish organisations were represented in the race. Others decided against involvement, hoping that the loss of revenue would be offset by the promise of extra places for 2017.

Ilford Synagogue's Rabbi Geoffrey Hyman had hoped for a united stand against participation. In his view "we lose out if the likes of the Board of Deputies make a noise about the London Marathon falling on second-day Pesach because Jews aren't able to participate and then Jews do participate.

"I believe Yomtov is a time to celebrate, not to exercise. It's sad, but that's the way Jewish identity is these days. I put my Judaism first and not everyone is going to hold that view." - Jewish Chronicle, London


Bomb victim awakens from coma


JERUSALEM - The young Israeli girl who has been in a coma for the past two weeks after sustaining serious wounds as a result of a suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus last month, has woken up, hospital officials said on Monday.

Eden Levy Dadon, one of 20 people wounded in the blast, was placed on a respirator during her convalescence at the intensive care unit of Hadassah University Medical Centre in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem.  – The Jerusalem Post


Underage marriages revealed in report


JERUSALEM - From 2014 to 2015, 729 underage couples registered for marriage, according to a report by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee released on Monday.

According to the report out of the 729 cases reported, 466 of the marriages were performed illegally.

The Age of Marriage Law in Israel stipulates that any child, male or female, under the age of 18 may not marry without special permission that is granted by a family court in exceptional cases. Any person involved in the facilitation of an illegal marriage between two minors could be subjected to up to two years in prison.

According to the report, 716 underage couples registered for marriage between March of 2014 and December of 2015 with 517 of the juvenile marriages being performed in sharia court. Some 466 of the cases were performed illegally. Among Jews, the majority of underage couples registered for marriage in the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem.

Government offices and police have turned a blind eye to this issue, charged the committee. 

There is an extreme inconsistency in the cases being reported by the various government institutions, according to the committee.

In 2012, there were 90 cases of underage marriage reported, but police opened an investigation into only one case.

In 2014, the Interior Ministry reported 416 cases of underage marriage, but only 37 of those cases were investigated. Police officials recommended six indictments be filed, but ultimately all of the cases were dropped by the state prosecutor.

The committee expressed concern over a growing phenomenon wherein many underage couples get married in private, illegal ceremonies, registering for marriage only once the couple reaches the age of 18 or following the birth of a child.

Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) said that the continued issue of underage marriage is not based in the law itself, but in the enforcement of the law.

"In the past, some 4 000 mostly Muslim women under the age of 18 got married each year. Most of these marriages ended in violence or divorce. Part of the problem is not the law, but the enforcement of it," she said to the committee.

Joint List MK Aida Touma-Suleiman demanded that the parties responsible for conducting these marriages be punished and pay the price and stand as an example for others. - The Jerusalem Post


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