Ep 396 Mon. July 25, 2022
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Music: Synesthesia; Erika Krall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaCoxmYfW6o
- Russian officials have called for the “dissolution” of the Jewish Agency’s offices in Russia. If dissolved, this would effectively bar Russian Jews from immigrating to Israel. The Jewish Agency is considered a seemingly Israeli government agency as it oversees the Aliyah Process, but isn’t 100% government run. At the end of last month, Russian authorities informed the Jewish Agency in a letter that they were going to take legal action against the group as a result of alleged Israeli infringement of local laws. A Jewish Agency official told the Times of Israel on Sunday that after they received the letter they “tried to keep things low-key and sort it out…Now that [Russia] took it to court, it is clear that they are not looking for compromise or negotiations. It is clear that this is a political move.” Russian officials have not made it clear why they are attacking the organization, and have also not indicated any steps Israel could take to cancel the move. It is suspected, however, that Israel’s support of Ukraine throughout the Russian invasion as well as Israel’s campaign against Iran in Syria have upset the Kremlin. Syria is a Russian ally. Prime Minister Lapid issued a clear statement in support of the Jewish Agency and threatened Russia with diplomatic repercussions in the event the agency is, in fact, shut down. Lapid also announced the formation of a task force that will travel to Moscow this week in an effort to negotiate with Russian authorities. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 10,000 Russian Jews have immigrated to Israel, with tens of thousands more initiating their immigration policy prior to the invasion.
- The Education Ministry revealed Sunday 5,600 teaching positions are unfilled ahead of the upcoming school year. This comes following nationwide protests run by the teachers union, who are demanding higher salaries. The teacher shortage is most significant in Tel Aviv, where nearly 3,500 more teachers are needed to properly run schools. Data published by Haaretz shows that more teachers left the field after last year compared to previous years, and the number of college students pursuing teaching degrees dropped from 13,500 to 11,400 this past year. Also on Sunday, subsidized daycare centers in Israel threatened not to open this upcoming school year, citing the state’s neglect for preschool education support. State-regulated daycare services are operated by non-profits and subsidized by the state, with parents contributing a monthly sum determined by their income to cover the rest. The Finance Ministry has also recently recommended reducing government subsidies, which would force parents to pay more in order to send their children to preschool. This along with staffing shortages has threatened the opening of these schools at all. With a little over a month left of summer, negotiations between teachers and the government have largely subsided due to the caretaker government’s avoidance of passing major legislation. A caretaker government is the government that operates while waiting for the next election.
- The IDF sank a boat on Sunday. The army said the boat was filled with equipment from Egypt that Hamas was trying to smuggle into the Gaza strip. The ship entered a prohibited area off the coast of Gaza, prompting Israeli naval forces to instruct the vessel to halt. When they received no response, soldiers fired toward the ship in accordance with the open-fire policy. Two crew members swam to the safety of the Gaza shores before the IDF fired at the vessel. In a statement, the IDF said, “The supplies onboard the vessel were intended for the Hamas terrorist organization,” but they did not elaborate on what the supplies were. The chairman of the Palestinian Fishermen Union described the two crewmen as fishermen, not terrorists, and many videos circulating on Twitter also describe the vessel as a simple fishing boat. We’ll update you if we get more details as to what was on that boat.
- A 32-year-old man from Tel Aviv is dead after getting sucked into a sinkhole which opened up in the center of a private swimming pool on Thursday in Karmei Yosef in the north of Israel. There had been video footage from the incident which shows people from the small company party in the pool when a sinkhole suddenly opened up in the middle and quickly sucked all of the water, inflatables, and one man, Klil Kimhi, inside of it. After hours of excavation and helicopters to see there weren’t other sinkholes nearby, rescue teams pulled out Kimhi’s body that was at the end of a 15-meter tunnel beneath the ground. A 34-year-old man also fell into the pit, but was able to pull himself out quickly and was only minorly injured. The couple that owned the villa where the pool is located was placed under house arrest on Thursday due to suspicion of “causing death by negligence,” according to Israeli police. The couple did not apply for a permit before building the pool, and officials are working to determine whether the pool had been constructed with proper licensing.
- Major French supermarket chain Carrefour is arriving in Israel at the end of this year and Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he expects it to significantly decrease the cost of living in the country. In his weekly cabinet meeting, Lapid said, “It can’t be that in a rich country there are citizens who can’t make ends meet,” referring to the increasing cost of living in Israel that he, along with other lawmakers, is trying to curtail. In his remarks at the meeting, he said Carrefour would bring “great reductions” in prices for basic items, and he expects other large supermarket chains to follow. Lapid said the government backs competition in the market. Carrefour products will appear in stores in Israel this summer, and the first official Carrefour supermarkets will open at the end of the year.
- The first female rabbi is being honored in a new graphic novel called “Like A Burning Fire: Following Regina Jonas.” The author is an Israeli graduate student named Noa Mishkin who came across Regina Jonas’ story while doing research for an art project. Jonas made history in 1935 when she was ordained as the first woman rabbi in Berlin after fighting her way into the school and doing a dissertation titled “Can a Woman Serve as a Rabbi?” Though the faculty would not grant her a certificate of ordination, four years after graduation, the congregation’s liberal rabbi gave her an exam and ordained her as a rabbi. She spent her time as a rabbi visiting congregations throughout Germany and delivering sermons. She also collected food and clothing for those in need, and raised funds for charity. In 1944, Jonas was sent to Auschwitz and was likely murdered that same day. The novel features quotes from Jonas. The author said “she felt she had to tell her story so that people would know she existed and know what she did.” That’s inspiring.