From the Press

201620152014

A Recreation Area in the Jerusalem Hills for Stephen Wolnek


Published in KKL – JNF
Tuesday, November 08, 2016

This lovely recreation area in Shoresh Forest commemorates the life, work and values of Dr. Stephen (“Steve”) Wolnek.



Family members and colleges gathering at the memorial stone

On November 3rd 2016 the family, colleagues and friends of the late Dr. Stephen (Steve) Wolnek gathered in Shoresh Forest to inaugurate a new recreation area that KKL-JNF has dedicated to his memory. The recreation area is situated on a site once occupied by a fortified military post that commanded a view of the Burma Road and provided a lifeline for Jerusalem when it was under siege during Israel’s War of Independence. Apart from its wonderful view of the Jerusalem Hills, the site symbolizes both Israel’s enduring strength and the quality of life it offers, two issues of prime importance for Steve.

Uganda’s Jews dream of recognition from Israel

Published in YNet news.com
July 5, 2016

The Abayudaya, a small isolated community of African Jews from Uganda are hoping that when prime minister Natanyahu visits Uganda later this month he will lift visa restrictions on them so that they can come to study and pray in Israel.

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A Mid-Summer’s Night Dream: Voices of the Hattan and Kallah Ring out in Ukraine

Published in Jewish Philanthropy
By Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow
25 Sivan, 5776
July 1, 2016

“In the summer of 1998, I was blessed to witness a pivotal moment in Jewish history in the Former Soviet Union. I was present at the first Conservative wedding in the independent Ukraine, one of the first traditional huppot in the post-Soviet period. Tomorrow night (Motzei-Shabbat– July 2) I am scheduled to travel to the Ukraine for my ninth visit, God willing”.

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Bottom-up approach suggested for pluralism in Israel

Published in Canadian Jewish News
By Paul Lungen, Staff Reporter
May 20, 2016

“It’s long been suspected that most Israelis have a poor knowledge of Jewish religious practice and Jewish heritage, but Rabbi David Golinkin has the data to back it up – as well as a prescription for how to address it.

Eighty per cent of secular Israelis lack knowledge of their own religious faith, Rabbi Golinkin told the annual general meeting of Mercaz-Canada, Conservative Judaism’s Zionist advocacy organization”.

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Why Has “The Occupation” Lasted For 49 Years?

by Rabbi Alan Silverstein
President of Mercaz Olami

“Israelis long for a comprehensive and final agreement negotiated directly by the parties to the conflict and resulting in A Jewish State and Arab State living side-by-side in peace. In the absence of success, frustration continues to mount on all sides. For example, last Spring, Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff, addressed J Street and affirmed the administration’s dismay with “nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation.” Regrettably, he placed all of the blame for the stalemate upon the Jewish state’s alleged unwillingness to compromise. He threatened that the Administration would “need to re-evaluate our position” when it comes to Israel. Omitted was the assigning of any fault within the diplomatic shortfall to the Palestinian side. Such an omission is contradicted by the facts revealed during the past half-century of diplomacy.”.

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In Israel This Passover, non-Orthodox Converts Won’t Be Left Behind


Published in Haaretz
by Judy Maltz
Apr 21, 2016

A rabbi has crafted a special passage remembering the Reform and Conservative converts prohibited from using state-run ritual baths.

As millions of Jews around the world dip their vegetables into saltwater during the Passover seder Friday night, the Conservative movement wants them to remember those who cannot dip – into the mikveh, that is.
An Israeli-based rabbi affiliated with the movement has written a special passage, to be read before the traditional saltwater dipping, that addresses the plight of all those non-Orthodox converts in Israel prohibited from using state-run mikvehs, or ritual baths.

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Abayudaya Jewish Community in Uganda Recognized as a Masorti Olami Community


Published in Haaretz
by Judy Maltz
Apr 13, 2016

Ugandan Jews Make Stride in Gaining Formal Recognition From Israel

A community of Jewish converts in Africa has won an important concession in its struggle to gain formal recognition from the State of Israel.In an official letter sent to a leader of the Conservative Movement in Israel, the Jewish Agency has ruled that the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda are a “recognized” community. Only converts from officially recognized communities are eligible for citizenship in Israel under the Law of Return.

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Greek President Plants a Tree together with Rabbi Tzvi Graetz


Published in KKL – JNF
Monday, April 04, 2016

The President of Greece, HE Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulus, planted an olive tree in the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem at a ceremony on March 31, 2016.

The ceremony was held in honor of his visit marking twenty-five years of excellent diplomatic relations between Israel and Greece, and was attended by HE Spyridon Lampridis, the Greek Ambassador to Israel, and HE Irit Ben Abba, the Israeli Ambassador to Greece.

Silverstein again heads Conservative group


Published in New Jersey Jewish News
by NJJN Staff
March 16, 2016

Rabbi Alan Silverstein of Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell has been elected president of MERCAZ Olami, the Zionist arm of the Conservative movement. He is serving a four-year term that began in February.

He succeeds Dr. Stephen Wolnek z”l, who died on Jan. 5.

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MERCAZ forces public rebuke of Swedish FM over anti-Israel remarks


by David Breakstone

We really do make a difference. Immediately following the Swedish Foreign Minister’s blatantly prejudicial accusations of extrajudicial killings of Palestinian terrorists by Israel, I reached out to the local Jewish community in my capacity as vice chairman of the WZO responsible for hasbara to see if there were something we could do. The end result was a special briefing held for legislators in the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament.

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Zionism Today: My Experience At The World Zionist Congress


Published in The Jewish Week
by Rabbi Rachel Ain
October 28, 2015

“Go forth from your land, from your family home, to the land that I will show you, and you shall be a blessing.”

With these words from the book of Genesis, the life of Abraham was changed and Zionism — the commitment and belief that the Jewish people have a right to live in Israel, as a sovereign nation, with the ability to control their destiny, and be a blessing to others — is born.
I recently journeyed to Jerusalem, to explore the land, as I attended the 37th meeting of the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, which raised three questions.
First, what does the land look like?

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Jerusalem and Zionism on Edge


Published in the CJ Blog – On my Mind
by Arnie Eisen
October 27, 2015


chancelor-eisen

Jerusalem was on edge this week, its Jews fearful of the next knifing or shooting that would come soon and without warning; its Arabs subject to added inspections and fearful of police and Jewish popular anger alike.

Fewer people than usual were on the sidewalks; busses had fewer riders, with soldiers prominent among them. Security around the prime minister’s residence, located directly across the street from JTS’s Schocken Library, where our students in Israel meet for classes, was even more rigorous than usual. One friend told me his kids were afraid to go to school. Reassured by their parents, they went nonetheless. No one to whom I spoke had panicked; no one cowered at home, even if no one was taking needless chances. Cafes and restaurants had lots of patrons and had not posted guards at the door. My friends agreed, as they prepared to mark the 20th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, that this latest and worrisome chapter of the matsav might go on for some time and would not lead to anything positive.

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Pope Francis makes surprise stop to bless sculpture
symbolizing Catholic unity with Jews


Published in The Forward
by Dotty Brown
September 28, 2015

Nearly 50 years after the Vatican officially proclaimed Jews free of guilt in the killing of Jesus, Pope Francis made a surprise change to his schedule on the final day of his U.S. tour to convey his own message of respect for the Jewish people.

In an unannounced event, the pontiff stopped Sunday to bless a sculpture commissioned by the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia that repudiates a centuries-old anti-Semitic image. At his side, was Rabbi Abraham Skorka, his good friend and literary collaborator, who had flown in from Buenos Aires, to be the keynote speaker at the dedication of the work, which took place on Friday.

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Zacharias Frankel College Newsletter No. 1


Zacharias Frankel College Newsletter No. 1,
April, 2015,
Nissan, 5775

zfc-newsletter-hdr

Click here to: Read/Download the PDF.

Raising Festival Funds for Ukraine


Published in The Jewish Chronicle
March 5, 2015

Masorti Judaism has launched an appeal to raise funds for Ukrainian Jews affected by war, poverty and homelessness.
The Emergency Purim Campaign – part of a worldwide Masorti Olami appeal – will generate cash towards food, medicine, clothing, education, security and scholarships to send children to camp.
Masorti chief executive Matt Plen hoped the funds raised would “meet the immediate needs” of the beneficiaries.

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Rabbi Skorka: Pope Francis keeps people close, even those disagreeing


Published in The Georgia Bulletin
by Andrew Nelson, staff writer
February 5, 2015

ATLANTA—Affectionately dubbed the pope’s rabbi, an Argentinian Jewish leader shared stories and insights in Atlanta recently into their unlikely friendship that started with needling about soccer teams and led to an embrace at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the holiest place Jews can pray.

“God blessed us to materialize a common dream,” said Rabbi Abraham Skorka about the historic moment of prayer during the 2014 spring trip to the Holy Land with Pope Francis.
The rabbi was part of the pope’s official entourage during the pilgrimage. At the Western Wall the pope simultaneously embraced the rabbi and Omar Abboud, a Muslim leader from Buenos Aires.

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‘Pope’s rabbi’ urges calm after Jewish prosecutor dies in Argentina


Published in The Huffington Post
by Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service
January 21, 2015

WASHINGTON (RNS) Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Argentina’s most famous Jewish citizen and a close friend of Pope Francis, was on the road this week when news from Buenos Aires shocked his nation and made headlines around the world.

Given Argentina’s large Jewish community — 250,000 people — the news hit too close to home for Skorka.
On Sunday (Jan. 18), the Jewish prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires’ Jewish center — an attack that killed 85 people, including friends of Skorka — was found dead in his apartment with a bullet in his head.

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The pope’s rabbi calls on Argentina to resolve AMIA


Published in JTA – Jewish Telegraphic Agency
by Ron Kampeas,
January 20, 2015

Rabbi Abraham Skorka traveled from Buenos Aires to Washington to wax lyrical about his passion – interfaith dialogue – and intimate about his well-known pal, Pope Francis. Also to plug his movement, the Masorti movement, and its strides in Latin America.

Timing dictated that he also issue a plea to his government: Press ahead with the AMIA case in the wake of the suspicious death of its prosecutor.
Skorka’s appearance at the Argentinean embassy in Washington came Tuesday just hours after the news of the death by gunshot of Alberto Nisman, the lead prosecutor collecting evidence of culpability in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people.

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Young Hungarian Jews angle for slice of communal pie


Published in The Times of Israel
by Cnaan Lipshiz,
July 6, 2014

Hungary’s Jewish leadership provides little support for the country’s vibrant Jewish youth scene, while maintaining rarely used edifices and cemeteries.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) — Peering through dusty apartment widows isn’t an uncommon pastime in this capital city’s crime-infested 8th District, with its many drug addicts and alcoholics seeking for a fix.
But Adam Schoenberger wasn’t scouting for a place to rob on his peeping tour of the district earlier this month.
An activist who recently moved his Jewish organization’s headquarters into the neighborhood to save on rent, Schoenberger was looking for the small apartment synagogues that persist in the area despite its few Jewish residents.

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Rabbi Skorka: Pope didn’t take sides in Mid East conflict


Published in The Jerusalem Post
by Jeremy Sharon,
May 28, 2014

The longtime friend and confidant of Pope Francis insists that the pontiff’s much-debated stop at security barrier should not be seen in a political light.

Rabbi Avraham Skorka, a longtime friend and confidant of Pope Francis, insisted on Tuesday that the pontiff’s much-debated stop at the West Bank security barrier on Sunday should not be seen in a political light or as the pope taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Skorka described Francis as an intensely spiritual figure who places great value on the power of prayer, and that his visit to the walled section of the barrier and his prayer there was an expression of this approach.

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Rabbi Who Accompanied Pope Says Jews Too Focused on Past Tragedies


Published in Haaretz
by Ariel David,
May 28, 2014

Rabbi Avraham Skorka, longtime friend of Pope Francis, says Jewish leaders should look beyond the past and accept offers of closer dialogue with the Church.

During a recent dinner at the Vatican, Pope Francis went around the table offering cake to his guests. But when he reached his old friend from Argentina, Rabbi Avraham Skorka, the pope excused himself by saying he would not offer him a slice — because he was not sure whether the pastry contained animal fat, which would render it not kosher.
It is through this anecdote that Skorka, who has known and worked with Francis for two decades, describes the pope as a man with a deep knowledge and respect of Jewish tradition and law

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Pope Francis embraces rabbi and Muslim leader at Western Wall


Published in Catholic Herald
by a staff reporter,
May 26, 2014

On his last day in the Holy Land, Pope Francis prayed at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, before an emotional hug with two old friends – a Muslim leader and a rabbi.

Francis stood at the Wall for more than a minute and a half, most of the time in silent prayer, before reciting the Our Father. Then he followed custom by leaving a written message inside a crack between two blocks.
He was accompanied by his two friends Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Omar Abboud.
Rabbi Skorka said the Pope’s message contained the text of the Our Father and of the 122nd Psalm, traditionally prayed by Jewish pilgrims who travel to Jerusalem.
He said he told the Pope and Mr Abboud when they embraced: “We did it.”

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El rabino Abraham Skorka condena el tiroteo en el museo judío de Bruselas


Published in EcoDiario.es
by Laura Ramírez,
May 24, 2014

El rabino amigo del Papa Francisco Abraham Skorka ha condenado el tiroteo ocurrido este sábado en el museo judío de Bruselas, en el que han muerto al menos tres personas.

“Lo condeno en los términos más fuertes, es un acto de cobardía, que va en detrimento de la condición humana, me faltan los vocablos tanto para condenarlo como para describirlo”, ha señalado a Europa Press durante un acto organizado por el Club de Prensa de Jerusalén y Fuente Latina.
El rabino, que mañana se une al Papa Francisco para visitar Belén y Jerusalén, ha indicado que es “el odio por el odio mismo, la destrucción, el vandalismo por el vandalismo mismo”. “Es tratar de sembrar más oscuridad en un mundo sediento de una luz de cariño, de amor”, ha remarcado.

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Abraham Skorka: ‘El Papa es un genio desarmando el protocolo


Published in El Mundo
by IRENE HDEZ. VELASCO (Roma) | SAL EMERGUI (Jerusalén),
May 25, 2014

Francisco continúa poniendo patas arriba el modo de hacer las cosas en el Vaticano. La prueba es el viaje a Tierra Santa que ayer comenzó, y que ha decidido realizar junto a un amigo judío y a un amigo musulmán, a los que conoce de su época de arzobispo de Buenos Aires y quienes ahora forman parte del séquito papal. El compañero de fatigas judío, que lo acompañará esta tarde a la visita a Jerusalén, es el rabino argentino Abraham Skorka, de 63 años, uno de los arquitectos espirituales de este viaje y quien ya hace 20 años, en una de sus largas conversaciones con su amigo el cardenal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, le dio vueltas a la idea de viajar juntos a Tierra Santa.

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Pope Francis’s Rabbi No. 2


Published in the Jewish daily Forward
by Diego Melamed,
May 25, 2014

Pope Francis is bringing along not one but two Argentinean rabbis on his trip to the Holy Land.

The pope’s close friendship with Rabbi Abraham Skorka is well known. Skorka even wrote a book with the then archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Skorka told JTA that he would be with the pope “all the time except, of course, at the private meetings he will hold with the different dignitaries.”
But he will be joining the trip a bit late.
“Since the departure of the Pope from Rome will be close to Shabbat, I will only meet with him on his arrival to Bet Lehem,” Skorka wrote to JTA in an email.
But the other Argentinean rabbi traveling with the pope — Rabbi Alejandro Avruj — will accompany the entire trip, starting in Jordan and then going to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and to Israel, though he won’t be as close a papal traveling companion as Skorka.
Avruj will be making the journey with a Catholic priest, Jose Maria “Pepe” di Paola, with whom he has worked closely since the 2001 Argentinean economic crisis. The rabbi and the priest together manage the Shalom charity project, which brings daily meals to hungry children in Buenos Aires.

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The pope’s rabbinic travel buddies


Published in the Times of Israel
by JTA
May 24, 2014

Pope Francis is bringing along not one but two Argentinean rabbis on his trip to the Holy Land.

The pope’s close friendship with Rabbi Abraham Skorka is well known. Skorka even wrote a book with the then archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Skorka told JTA that he would be with the pope “all the time except, of course, at the private meetings he will hold with the different dignitaries.”
But he will be joining the trip a bit late.
“Since the departure of the Pope from Rome will be close to Shabbat, I will only meet with him on his arrival to Bet Lehem,” Skorka wrote to JTA in an email.
But the other Argentinean rabbi traveling with the pope — Rabbi Alejandro Avruj — will accompany the entire trip, starting in Jordan and then going to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and to Israel, though he won’t be as close a papal traveling companion as Skorka.

Click here to: Read the full article.