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From Liora Minka's Desk

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As a result if the worrying fires in the Haifa area. The children in the Freund Emunah DCC in Haifa was evacuated this morning with a police escort. The children where taken to safety in the city center. Tirat Hacarmel were told to prepare for evacuation. An information call center for Emunah parents has been established in the event of further emergencies. Although there have been fires in Modiin and Ashkelon they are located in safe areas. There is never a dull moment. 

This has been an exciting start to the week for me and want to share a few interesting and moving updates. I have only just returned from a very encouraging trip to visit our Emunah affiliates in Montreal and New York and to participate in wonderful events and important meetings all on behalf of the children, families and women of Emunah in Israel. It's so gratifying to take part and experience the dedication of so many wonderful hard working people. The following posts are aimed at showing you how your work around is making such a difference.

Over the past few days Emunah has taken a very active role in marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Our chapters in Israel have held numerous events over the weekend drawing in crowds from all over the country.

20161212daycare1This morning Emunah opened yet another day care centre, this time in Pardes Hanna. This spiffing new complex was awarded to Emunah, who was chosen by the local council from amongst many other organizations who competed in the tender. This now joins our other fabulous projects in Pardes Hanna: Emunah Neve Michael Children's Village, Emunah Elisheva High School and our wonderful and active chapter in the town. The opening was attended by Liora Minka and David Hadari, Maya Vazana, head of all Day Care Centres who also MC'd and local leadership.

Every year on the day before Rosh Chodesh Kislev,  the Ethiopian community celebrate the holiday of Sigd.  Sigd was the festival which marked their yearning for Jerusalem for so many years in Ethiopia.  Now that most are in Israel,  on this date they gather in Jerusalem en masse,  on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade, overlooking the old city and celebrate their Aliya. Not all can go and at Emunah homes and day care centers the children and families are encouraged to celebrate their heritage.

Bnei and Bnot Mitzvah from Emunah Achuzat Sarah have begun this year's hiking program on the Israel National Trail. Every year, the boys and girls celebrating hike together almost every Rosh Chodesh on a different segment of the beautiful trail. This fabulous tradition really creates a special camaraderie and  boosts their self esteem and sense of achievement. This will continue every month until our Bar/Bat Mitzvah communal celebrations in June.

20161212dinner1Last Thursday the Emunah Children's Centre in Afula hosted a wonderful delegation from Macabbi UK Football (soccer). The visitors met the children, toured the home and learned about the wonderful work being done by Emunah. The visit including a delicious lunch, during which the guests were treated to a performance of the "Emunotes" performing choir, and of course , the culmination was a football match between the boys of Afula and Macabbi UK. In the interests of international diplomacy we will keep the result a secret........

On a recent Thursday evening the running team at Emunah Neve Michael Children's Village participated in the "staircase race" at the Azrieli Shopping Mall in Tel Aviv. Led by village educational director Yechiam Sherlo, the boys and girls ran up 54 floors, covering 1144 stairs.......whew! I'm tired just thinking about it. This is a fabulous achievement and again, another step in our goal of building the children's self esteem and creating opportunities to experience success. At the end of the race the children were on the top of the world, in all senses of the words.

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marathonI was just moved to tears - 14 girls and boys from the children's Emunah Bet Saba in Netanya came to visit me with their counselors and director Yehuda Cohen.

We talked about the special nature of running a marathon. Running requires perseverance, determination, hard work and systematic, ups and downs even allegiance towards the running and running itself.

Just like dealing with in life in general.

They told me their stories and how Emunah and the children home have changed their lives.

I have experienced many emotional situations in my life and yet I shed a tear especially when I heard the words spoken (attached) by one of the runners....

The Children are running in honor of their personal achievements and in special memory of the fallen from Battalion 13 of the Golani Brigade who were killed during Operation Protective Edge and for their families with whom they are    in contact.

They left with our blessings and a book of Psalms to guard them well and successful both in their  running as well as in their lives in general.

Letter from one of the marathon runners:

I wanted to say a few words on behalf of all my fellow runners. In 10 days I am going to fulfill a dream, a dream that will turn into a reality - I will run a half marathon on a course that is very far from here - in Miami, Florida. It will be the run of my life.

I am running together with another nine children and four instructors from the Emunah Children’s Home Bet Saba in Netanya.  We will also be running with an additional 30 volunteers and instructors from the USA who guided us during the summer during camp.

Anyone watching us on this marathon will see us on track, and everyone will know how we got here.  From the support of the staff and volunteers in Emunah who ran with us, and many friends and supporters who believe in me and my friends.

I'm not a professional athlete, nor are my friends, but we are all kind of marathon runners from the day we were born.

Each of us ran his own route, embraced every obstacle and overcame numerous difficulties.

Each of us is very close to the goal - the goal of success.

Each of us is a winner of the marathon.

I decided to run with my friends to prove that we can overcome all difficulties, and to address every challenge – both on the track and on the course of life.

We are an example to all our brothers and sisters in the children’s home to show how will be able to reach our goal - independence, success and a future full of hope and promise.

We run to say thank you to all those who accompanied us from our lowest starting point from where we began – To Emunah, the staff, the children and to our friends from Israel and overseas.  Anyone who believed in us all along, encouraged us and gave us strength to continue and to bring change in our lives. Anyone who has proven to us human love, giving and faith can knock down all the physical and emotional hurdles, even if they seem insurmountable.

And now we give back.  We are running in the memory of the eight fighters from Battalion 13 of the Golani Brigade paratroopers, who defended our lives and gave their lives as they fought during “Operation Protective Edge”.  It's the least we can do for their families.

In ten days I and my friends are going to fulfill a dream. This will be the first time to fly to the United States, and most of us it is also the first professional marathon. This will be an unforgettable experience in our lives and we thank everyone who helped us reach this moment.

 

The recent case appears to be a first of its kind: The Chief Rabbi of Israel, in his role as president of the High Rabbinical Court, is attempting to bring about the revoking of a get issued three years ago based on halakhic prescriptions. In simple and painful words: A state-sanctioned court might turn back the wheels of time against their natural course, and thus be partner to a disturbing tragedy in which a divorced woman will suddenly resume her status as a married woman or agunah, without her having done a thing. Simply unbelievable.

At this stage, at least, the intervention of the Supreme Court, an opinion given by the Attorney General, and public pressure have had an impact; the planned action has been temporarily put on hold and this shameful course of affairs has ground to a halt.

Some facts are in order: A man was injured in a traffic accident and has been in a coma for many years. His wife appealed to the court, requesting that she be released from her marriage, and the Rabbinical Court found a creative halakhic solution based on sound halakhic foundations. The detailed and reasoned judgment of a sensitive and brave judge, Rabbi Uriel Lavie, acting as the husband's proxy, awarded her an absolute divorce and released her from her "chained" status. Nearly three years passed. The divorced woman, trusting the court's decree, began a new life and entered into a relationship with a man she had met, when she suddenly found herself in a terrible and illogical situation. Someone had submitted a legal appeal in an attempt to undermine her very home and life.

The legal appellant is an unknown messenger, a type of "fake front" completely unrelated to the family who has no connection to the case. The halakhic issue taken is ascribed to the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who objects to the reasoning of the Safed Court. By virtue of his position, he sought to convene a special court to discuss the sensitive and substantial issue. This is a precedence that might have far reaching implications. There is of course no room to disallow a fundamental debate by an extended court of law, but at the same time it is necessary to emphasize that this can in no way include the retroactive revoking of a court ruling. Any first-year law student is familiar with the basic concept whereby litigation must come to an end.

Notably, in recent generations Jewish Rabbinical leaders have made an effort to find solutions, even when these are strained, to complicated issues of aginut. Rabbi Akiva Eiger, an influential scholar and posek considered among the greatest of his generation in the late 18th century, found a way of releasing an agunah and explained that "the times demand that a daughter of Israel be released from the binds of igun, and that the daughters of Israel not remain unclaimed." One of the most conspicuous in the recent generation was no other than the late Rabbi Ovadya Yosef, who throughout his entire life followed the rule that gives precedence to the permissive position. Indeed. The father and teacher of the current Chief Rabbi was known for preferring permissive halakhic solutions to unnecessary strictness and restrictions, as evident in his writings and teachings.

The current issue, although it may momentarily seem purely halakhic and a private matter, surpasses its immediate circumstances and raises tough questions – both legal and halakhic, as well as moral and precedent-setting. Is a person who receives a court ruling to live under constant fear that the case will be reopened and the ruling reversed? Are judges who make every effort to rule leniently to live in fear? Is it appropriate that a judge who voiced his opinion in public on a matter under legal consideration, heads a court of law convened to revisit the same issue? Do legal and logical considerations have no place with regard to issues of personal status?

And the most important question: Is it not obvious by now why the Rabbinical courts arouse such a sense of repugnance? I see myself, as well as the significant movement I represent, as guardians of halakha and of halakhically sanctioned personal status as upheld by the state-religious establishment. Regretfully we find ourselves, time and again, in a defensive position - due to improper conduct, deficient considerations, and the loss of any connection to real life.

For all these reasons, an innocent woman and her family are now beset by a formidable threat of destruction and tragedy.

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