British Plutocrats from Baghdad  
Presentation by 
Lyn  Julius



Friday, January 6, 2017   at 11:00The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center
83 Mordechai  Ben Porat  Ave. , Or Yehuda

Reservations required, limited seating
Tel: 03-5339278     ext. 8


Free admission For BJHC members


20 NIS  for guests


Members of the Sassoon dynasty, the 'Rothschilds of the East', and their business associates settled in England at the turn of the last century where they aspired to become part of the establishment, spending their wealth on grand homes and valuable collections. 


Lyn  Julius will talk about  such personalities as Sir Philip Sassoon, who hobnobbed with kings, ministers and artists; Hannah Gubbay,  Sir Percival David, Rachel Beer and others.  Are the Saatchis and the Reuben brothers today's plutocrats from Baghdad?


The Event will be held in English


The Center 


The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center was founded in 1973 as a non-profit organisation to preserve the heritage of the Babylonian Jewish exile which no longer exists today.


Located in Or-Yehuda, it is the largest institute in the world dedicated to documenting, researching, collecting and preserving the spiritual treasures and art created by Babylonian Jewry. Babylonia was the location of the most significant works of the Jewish nation, including: the Babylonian Talmud, the writings of the Geonim, the Responsa works, and more.


In order to preserve this heritage, collect the textual and visual materials and make them accessible to the general public, various branches of the Center were established: the museum, the research institute, the library and the treasures and guidance department.








On December 26th, the Hebrew University’s weekly Monday Afternoon Concert Series featured Ensemble Divina Insania, a Baroque chamber music group consisting of Israeli musicians living in Europe or in Israel and performing on period instruments. Guest artist was violinist Shunske Sato (Holland). Joining him were Doret Florentin (recorder), Tali Goldberg (violin) Benny Aghassi (bassoon, Hen Goldsobel (contrabass) and Yizhar Karshon (harpsichord). The Monday Afternoon Series series is directed and introduced by Dr. Sara Pavlov.


The concert opened with all players in an eloquent reading of the Overture to G.F.Händel’s  opera “Giustino” (Justin), which was premiered at Covent Garden in 1737, its formal, homophonic opening evocative of the pomp of the coronation ceremony with which the plot begins. The allegro section offered some charming duets. Händel had a splendid oboist/recorder player in his orchestra, hence the challenging soprano recorder part, managed well by Florentin.


Then to Neapolitan composer Francesco Mancini’s (1672-1737) Recorder Concerto in A-minor, one of 12 of his appearing in a collection of concertos by Alessandro Scarlatti, Domenico Sarro, Francesco Barbella, Giovanni Batista Mele and Roberto Valentini (the English Robert Valentine) in a Naples conservatory. Enjoying a solid and vibrant basso continuo section, the ensemble’s reading of the piece, with much lively interaction between Florentin and Sato, was alive and spontaneous, its textures alternating between utterances of only violins and recorder and tutti moments, with some silver-tongued harpsichord spreads adding sparkle to calmer moments. Rich in well-crafted melodies and a sprinkling of surprises, the work, indeed demanding to play, made for fine entertainment. Primarily an opera composer, the list of Mancini’s instrumental works is small. Divina Insania’s colourful performance of the concerto emphasized how unjust it is that this leading figure of Naples’ cultural life and education (he was a rival to Alessandro Scarlatti) should have fallen into oblivion.


Of his more than 550 concertos, Antonio Vivaldi composed 39 bassoon concertos, for whom we can only guess, and the plot thickens if one considers that the bassoon had not yet been used as a solo instrument in Venice. It is thought that these Vivaldi concertos were written between 1728 and 1737. Vivaldi, though not a bassoonist, shows a thorough understanding of the instrument’s expressive and technical possibilities, taking the player on a journey through the bass and tenor registers, however, also through the concept of a string-player, with demanding arpeggios, rapid scales and register leaps. Benny Aghassi had listeners perched at the edge of their seats right from the first notes of the work’s wild unison opening, as he scurried up and down the bassoon range with articulate agility, warmth of timbre and pizzazz, with the violins adding comments and accents to complete the joie-de-vivre of the outer movements. In the Largo movement, with the bassoon’s languorous agenda set against held chords in the strings, Aghassi created small pauses between sections, as if each time searching anew for suitable inspiration for each gesture.  Throughout the work, he communicated closely with his fellow players and with the audience. Benny Aghassi’s virtuosity and musicality left the listener wishing for more!


Performing Vivaldi’s Concerto for Recorder, Violin and Bassoon in D-major RV92, Florentin, Sato and Aghassi interacted vigilantly, the opening Allegro giving each artist much to say, as Sato signed out of it, tugging a little at the heart strings as he leaned into a dissonant penultimate note. Following the second movement, in which Florentin and Sato engaged in a moving dialogue, with Aghassi weaving long lines of gently inégal notes throughout, the artists’ technical command was displayed in the final, somewhat witty, abundantly imitative Allegro movement.


Most of us had no idea of what was in store when Shunske Sato and Yizhar Karshon launched into little-known Italian composer Giovanni Pandolfi Mealli’s Sonata for Violin and Continuo in D-minor opus 4 No.4 “La Biancuccia”. The opus 4 violin sonatas were published in 1660. Here was a vivid example of the “stylus phantasticus”, referred to in 1650 by Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher as being “especially suited to instruments…the most free and unrestrained method of composition…bound neither to any words or to a melodic subject… instituted to display genius and teach the hidden design of harmony…”. In this highly representative piece of the style, bristling with unpredictability and acrobatics, the artists juxtaposed its extreme moods in a continuum of sections expressing frenzy and lyricism (even moderation), coloured with accelerandi and audacious harmonic changes, rumbling harpsichord textures and the profuse ornamentation that emanated from under Sato’s fingers as he quizzically eyed the mesmerized audience. Karshon was with Sato all the way, as they introduced the audience to an uninhibited and totally delectable 17th century musical version of a Hitchcock movie. A musician at the court of Ferdinand Charles, Archduke of Austria, Pandolfi Mealli dedicated this sonata to a castrato.  In 1669, when a violinist in the Messina Cathedral, he fled Sicily after murdering a castrato singer, then working as a violinist in the Capilla Real of Madrid. Who said music history was boring?


Appropriately timed (December 26th) the last work on the program was Arcangelo Corelli’s Christmas Concerto in G-minor Opus 6 No.8, with the Divina Insania artists lending supple and graceful expression to its lush, melodic beauty and undulating suspensions, its tempo contrasts and its dance movements, ending with the wonderful lilting pastoral movement, with its folk-like tunes, bagpipe drone effect and sense of wonder.


This was Shunske Sato’s first Israeli visit.


Photo of Shunske Sato: Yat Ho Tsang









Rabbi Lau to open conference by lighting a menorah from Krakow


(26 December 2016 – Jerusalem) The Hanukah story is one that is centered on Jewish identity and symbolizes Jewish resilience and strength. Therefore, it is especially befitting that during the first-ever International Conference for Jewish Educators at Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies, entitled "The Shoah and Jewish Identity: Challenges in Jewish Education," there will be special Hanukah candle-lighting ceremonies using authentic Hanukiot (menorahs) from the Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection that survived the horrors of the Holocaust. "Each menorah has a unique story similar to those of Holocaust survivors themselves," says conference organizer Ephraim Kaye, Director of the Jewish World and International Seminars Department at the International School for Holocaust Studies. "Just as we use artifacts and testimonies to tell the story of the Holocaust, so, too, are these Menorahs examples of how Jews put themselves at risk to maintain their Jewish identities."


The International Conference, taking place 26-29 December 2016 (third-sixth days of Hanukah) will be kicked off with a special candle-lighting ceremony by world-renowned Holocaust survivor and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. Rabbi Lau, whose mother was from Krakow, will light the special "Krakow Menorah" a rare menorah crafted in Bruges (Brussels) which dates back to the late 18th or early 19th century. The menorah represents a façade of a wooden synagogue which was common in Lithuania and Poland up until the Shoah. Many of these synagogues were burned and destroyed during World War II. This multi-purpose menorah was also used to light the Sabbath candles on a weekly basis. At the end of the war, the returning Jews found the menorah with other items from this once thriving epicenter of Jewish life, and it was given to Yad Vashem for preservation and commemoration.



Other menorah being used at the conference is the world-famous Hanukah Menorah from Kiel, Germany. This menorah belonged to Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, who served as the last Rabbi of the community of Kiel, Germany from 1924-1933. With the rise of the Nazi Party to power, Rabbi Posner began protesting the insurgence of antisemitic sentiment in the city. Despite his efforts, tension and violence continued to rise in Kiel, forcing Rabbi Posner and his family to flee.  In 1933, he, his wife Rachel and their three children left for Eretz IsraelYehuda Mansbach, grandson of Rabbi Akiva and Rachel Posner, will light the menorah for the fourth night of Hanukkah.


In 1940, Zelig Scheinowitz crafted a simple wooden menorah from plywood while interned in the Westerbork detention camp. Scheinowitz worked in the clothing factory sorting and fixing cloths. Due to his profession, he managed to survive and together with his family and menorah, he was liberated in April 1945 by the Canadian Army. The menorah was eventually donated to Yad Vashem by Nachman Scheinowitz. Thirty-eight members of Scheinowitz family, including one survivor, will be present at the candle-lighting ceremony on 28 December 2016.


The stories of these Menorah and other artifacts can be found in an online exhibition, entitled "Hanukkah – The Festival of Lights."  In this moving exhibition, Yad Vashem shares with the public images, testimonies and artifacts of some of the ways this holiday was observed throughout Europe before, during and immediately after the Holocaust. 


About the conference: For the first time, over 200 Jewish day-school principals, headmasters and senior Jewish Studies educators, from 34 countries and six continents around the world, will be gathering at the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies for the conference. The international conference will be the largest and most prestigious gathering of leaders in Jewish education from Jewish day schools and centers for informal Jewish education worldwide. Throughout the course of the conference, leading experts from Yad Vashem will present its unique and cutting-edge pedagogical approaches relating to Holocaust education.


Over the years, the Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection has amassed one of the world's largest collection, containing some 30,000 items.  For more information about these Hanukiot and the Yad Vashem Archives and Artifacts Collection, please contact Simmy Allen, Head, International Media Section in Yad Vashem's Communications Division.



Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust commemoration, documentation, research and education.


Image Captions: All photos should be credited to Yad Vashem Photo Archives


Mansbach Menorah Image - A photograph taken in 1932 by Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva Posner, of their candle-lit Hanukkah menorah against the backdrop of the Nazi flags flying from the building across from their home in Kiel Germany

Krakow Menorah Image - Krakow Poland - Hanukkah Menorah in the shape of a synagogue. 


Westerbrook Menorah Image – In 1940, Zelig Scheinowitz crafted a simple Hanukkah menorah in the camp from plywood for the use of his family.


DP Camp Menorah Image - The truncated tree and a sprouting leaf on this Hannukah menorah are the symbol of She’arit Hapleta (The Surviving Remnant).


 Photo provided by 

Communications Division  Yad Vashem














About 500 people attended Ronit Farm on Saturday night (24.12) to take part in the traditional event in honor of wounded IDF soldiers and members of security forces who have been rehabilitated at the Loewenstein hospital. The event was organized by Ora and Yair Shani, together with the Organization of Disabled IDF Veterans and the Association of Friends of the Loewenstein Hospital. Participating in the event were hospital management, therapeutic staff, and members of the Friends Association.



The event opened with a political speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, followed by the Prime Minister lighting the first Hanukkah candle with Amazia Fensterheim, fighter in the engineering company of the paratroopers. Amazia was wounded during the Tzuk Eitan operation, in a battle in which four of his comrades were killed by a roadside bomb in Khan Younis. Amazia was the first fighter in the Tzuk Eitan operation to come for rehabilitation to Loewenstein Hospital, to the Orthopedic Rehabilitation Department. The Prime Minister was joined for the menorah lighting by: Eli Defes, the CEO of Clalit, Prof. Amiram Catz, Director of Loewenstein Hospital, and Dr. Dudu Dagan, Chief Medical Officer.



Prof. Amiram Catz, Director of Loewenstein Hospital, addressed the audience and said: "Hanukkah symbolizes the triumph of spirit and sophistication over the material, however strong or numerous it might be. It is a wonderful occasion to celebrate the victory over the severe wounds to body and soul. The success of our patients, who felt and were considered to be struggling against all odds, but received help from our doctors and therapists, which produced new opportunities and brought them to realization. On behalf of all Loewenstein staff, I salute the wounded soldiers and members of our security forces, those who returned to be part of Israeli society, which embraces them, and who contribute their talents to society; those who returned to independence and high-quality life; those who realized their latent capabilities after they had been wounded; and also those who still have a long way ahead of them toward improvement and realization of their capabilities."






At the event, a moving documentary was screened about the rehabilitation journey of Ophir Cohen, a paramedic in the 53rd battalion of Armored Brigade 188, who sustained a critical head injury from a mortar shell during the Tzuk Eitan operation. Ophir still continues the process of his rehabilitation at Loewenstein, and his physicians and therapists are confident that significant achievements await him in the future.



The second part of the evening consisted of a gala dinner accompanied by performances of Si Heiman, Moran Mazuz, Tal Sondak, and others.


Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital of the Clalit Group has been rehabilitating wounded soldiers since the Six Day War to the present, and has many years of experience treating soldiers. Over the years it developed a close relationship with the IDF and the Defense Ministry. Since its establishment, the hospital has rehabilitated hundreds of soldiers in active and reserve service, who were injured in battles, accidents, and terrorist attacks.


Photo credit: Oren Jezreel / Silvia G. Golan .













About Chanukah

Unlike most of the major Jewish holidays, Chanukah’s origin is not in the Bible, but rather in events that happened later. This is a holiday that lasts eight days and begins on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev (usually in December). There are no completely holy days, so businesses are open as usual.


Chanukah marks a historic event that took place in the Seleucid period, in the 2nd century BCE. A few of the Seleucid kings (the dynasty that followed Alexander the Great, and which was based in Syria) tried to force the Jews in the Land of Israel to adopt certain customs that were against the laws of Judaism. The worst decree was when King Antiochus IV ordered the installation of a statue in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.


In 167 BCE, the Jews revolted against the Greek Seleucid regime. A few of the leaders of the revolt, the Hasmoneans, or Maccabees, were the sons of Mattathias, the high priest. In 164 BCE, under the leadership of Judah Maccabee, the revolt reached its climax with the liberation of Jerusalem from foreign rule, including the Holy Temple. The events are documented in a few historical sources written at the end of the 2nd century CE, a few decades after the revolt. According to Jewish tradition, the holiday of Chanukah was instituted by Judah Maccabee.


The holiday lasts eight days, commemorating the celebrations marking the purification and rededication of the Holy Temple, and a miracle recorded in the traditions: When the Maccabees looked for holy oil to light the candelabrum in the Temple, they found only one small flask whose seal had not been broken and was therefore still pure. The oil in the flask was enough for only one day, but a miracle occurred and the oil burned of eight days. In addition to the element of heroism marked by this holiday, Chanukah also has a motif of light against darkness, so Chanukah is also called the holiday of Lights.


In modern times, Chanukah has been adopted as a symbol of the Jews’ struggle against their enemies on both the religious and national level. Today some people emphasize the religious, miraculous side of the holiday, while others focus on the national victory aspect. In any event, this is a holiday full of joy and is a special favorite among children.


Holiday Customs



Candle lighting - Throughout the eight days of Chanukah candles are lit in a Chanukiah, a candelabrum with eight branches in a row and an extra candle holder, called the shamash, from which the other candles are lit. On each night of Chanukah an additional candle is lit, starting with one on the first night, two on the second, etc. The shamash is always lit, too, such that in practice two candles are lit the first night, three on the second, etc. The Chanukiah is placed on the window sill or in some other visible place, and it is forbidden to use the light for any purpose. There is a custom to light the Chanukiah with olive oil, although most people today use colorful wax candles. A short blessing is recited over the lighting of the candles, a ceremony in which children are included, and which is followed by the singing of Chanukah songs.


Jelly donuts (sufganiot) and potato fritters - Another Chanukah custom is the eating of special foods, mainly those fried in oil, such as donuts and fritters.


Spinning tops - children play with four-sided spinning tops, marked with the Hebrew initials of a Great Miracle Happened Here. It is also customary to give children “Chanukah gelt” money for buying candies or toys.




Important Information

dreidl (spinning top)
Chanukah, which is not a Torah-ordained holiday, is relatively minor from the perspective of its sanctity, so most businesses are open as usual. In order to experience a bit of the spirit of this holiday, try tasting the traditional foods, particularly the sufganiot - a kind of donut without a hole in the middle, usually filled with jam, but also made with other sweet fillings. If you happen to be in Jerusalem during Chanukah, it is worth taking a walk through the ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood in the early evening, to enjoy the sight of hundreds of Chanukiahs lit in the windows of the homes.



 Photos provided by