TEL AVIV, October 11th, 2018 - Last night, over 250 olim from France, Russia, United States, Germany and other countries from around the world came together to celebrate the launch of  Olim Beyachad, the only municipal party consisting almost entirely of new immigrants and dedicated to serve as their voice. Entrepreneurs, engineers, lawyers, doctors, retirees, artists, musicians and students flooded the venue in support of this new initiative. It was an evening filled with emotion, inspiration, humor and passion.


The party’s mission is to bring more municipal services and support to the olim. With thousands of immigrants moving to Tel Aviv on a yearly basis, the party aims to tackle the city’s integration system by serving the newcomers from a business, social and individual perspective.


The event featured the 13 party candidates, new and veteran immigrants made up of Anglophones, French, Russians, Germans and others from around the world, including those born to immigrant parents. It has also been attended by locals that came to support the vision of an inclusive Tel Aviv.

Among the speakers was French-born Olivier Rafowicz, head of the list and former colonel of the IDF. “This list is pretty much sums up the history of israel. We are just a few meters from the place where Israel was declared a state. For the first time, Jews of Russian and South American origin, Belgian, Swiss, and Israel come together to build and help the whole community of Tel Aviv. We live in a divided society. With Olim Beyachad, we speak to all the israelis, old and new. We believe there should be a voice...a voice of the Olim. We need to show other olim that we’re there for them.”


Russian-born, social and political activist and number 2 on the list, Boris Shindler, spoke in Hebrew and in Russian. “I’ve been dreaming of this moment for 2 years now. It’s time to represent us in all the languages and in this city that we all love!”


Vika Kanar, an entrepreneur of German-Russian origin, and number 3 on the list, spoke to the crowd, saying:  “When I look at other campaigns, I don’t see the faces the that I see here tonight. I don’t see families, kids, the elderly. I don’t see religious people with non-religious people together. I see lists that divide. We need to get together in teams; we have all come together in order for us to represent you, the Olim, in this city!”


Liami Lawrence, number 4 on the list, originally from Los Angeles, addressed the audience, saying “so many people come here with huge dreams. If we all stick together and stand together, we will succeed at creating programs and services to help each other overcome difficulties associated with immigrating to this country. “


The guest speakers included Avi Pazner, Jessica Katz, Elena Kavurskaya and Rabbi Serror.


Avi Pazner, a retired Israeli diplomat and World Chairman of Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal. “We need the new immigrants to have a voice in the municipal council because until now, there isn't a voice for the olim. They have particular needs, such as education, adaptation, cultural integration, and until now - nothing. No one is speaking on their behalf. But today, you the olim have the possibility to have a voice within the municipal council. “

Jessica Katz, an American entertainer and singer/ songwriter that moved to Israel from New York and participated in "The Voice Israel, said, “this (the olim) is a giant community of people, and this (Olim Beyachad) is an important platform for people to come together.” Jessica, Steven Spielberg’s niece, then shared her story: “when I moved here, it took me 4 years to break in and develop the right connection - 4 years! It would be really great to help the new olim and help them explore their passions.”


Elena Kaluzhskaya, a recent Russian immigrant and founder of the popular Russian restaurant Vatrushka, said “I’m very happy to have a party like this. I hope that your party helps us succeed - i’m glad you exist!”

Local elections will be held on October 30th, 2018


About Olim Beyachad:

Founded in 2018, Olim Beyachad is a municipal party committed to provide the immigrants voters in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area with a voice in City Council.

Olim Beyachad has understood the needs of recent immigrants and the complex challenges they experience when settling in Tel Aviv, whether navigating the overly complicated bureaucracy, finding a meaningful job, securing affordable housing, and lacking access to vital information.


Photo Edward Stern






Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center commemorates its 130th anniversary of serving pilgrims in the Holy Land, probably the richest land on Earth

“Terra Sancta,” a photo-book honoring the Holy Sites of pilgrimages was launched on this celebration

Jerusalem, September 13th, 2018. The historical guesthouse, Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, commemorated 130 years of serving and welcoming pilgrims to the Holy Land. A book titled “Terra Sancta,” which honors the beauty and magnificence of the “Fifth Gospel” as St. Jerome called the Holy Land, was released before the diplomatic corps, religious authorities, media, and friends.


The book, prepared in collaboration between renowned Franciscan Scholar Fr. Eugenio Alliata, OFM, and Enrico Formica, one of Europe´s pioneers in the field of 360-degree photography, attributes the Holy Land to most likely be the richest land on Earth due to its history, people, geography, and climate. Through its 215 pages, readers are captivated by photographs that capture views that sweep across 360° and allow the beholder to appreciate the beauty and magnificence of this sacred and ageless land. The photo book is available at the boutique gift shop of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center and costs $90 USD. Revenues will support local projects in the Holy Land.

“To be part of a Center that commemorate 130 years of serving pilgrims in this part of the world is amazing. Not only because of the richness and history that are housed within this place and its grounds, but also because serving God where everything began is priceless. It is for this reason that we are releasing this photo-book today honoring the history of the people, cultures, and sites that have received pilgrims in this beautiful land. I think some pictures tell a small piece of a story, but some others also capture memories forever.” said the Chargé of the Holy See for Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, Fr. Juan Solana, LC.


Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is part of this land´s history and dates to 1882 when under the direction of a French religious order called the Augustinians of the Assumption (short form Assumptionist) the property on which Notre Dame sits on today was purchased. The building only partially built by 1888 received its first group of pilgrims that year. Approximately 500 French pilgrims adventured in each pilgrimage group from then on to be lodged in Notre Dame de France as it was known at the time. The building was heavily damaged in the war of 1947 and subsequently suffered drop-in pilgrimages due to the situation in the area. On March 2nd, 1972, the site was turned over to the Holy See and the restoration of the building was completed in 1978 becoming once more a center to host pilgrims on their journey to the Holy Land.

On November 26th, 2004 the Pope John Paul II entrusted the Pontifical Institute, Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center to the Legionaries of Christ, assigning Fr. Juan María Solana, L.C., as the new Chargé.


“It has been an honor to be appointed by Pope St. John Paull II to lead this significant place for the Catholic Church in the Holy Land. We will continue improving our mission of serving and welcoming pilgrims, ministering the local Christian community, training local youth in hospitality and tourism in hopes to offer them opportunities for a better future, fostering peace and dialogue among cultures and peoples, as was entrusted to us by the Pope.” concluded the Mexican priest.

Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center consists of a Guesthouse, Chapel, Auditorium, the Hospitality and Education Training Section (HETS), an educational center dedicated to training local youth in the Culinary Arts and the Tourism industry, as well as a permanent exhibition titled, “Who is the man of the Shroud?” displaying a replica of the Shroud of Turin. The guesthouse offers comfortable rooms and suites with magnificent views of the Old City; restaurants to serve every taste but most important of all, the services needed to live a profound spiritual experience in the Holy Land. Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is uniquely located in the heart of the City, a few steps away from the Old City’s New Gate and a short walk away from the Holy Sepulcher and most of Jerusalem´s major tourist attractions.

Learn more here


About the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
Notre Dame received its first pilgrims in 1888. The cornerstone of the chapel was laid during the Eucharistic World Congress of 1893. The chapel was consecrated the following year. Ever since it has been open for guests. From daily masses, weddings, baptisms, confirmations, and holy feasts among other celebrations the Center has been a symbolic place for Catholics from all over the world. In 1904, after twenty years of ongoing construction, the guesthouse was completed and crowned with the great statue of the Virgin Mary, a replica of Our Lady of Salvation in Paris. The complex was completed according to Abbé Brisacier’s original plan, harmoniously, combining architectural sobriety, a contemporary style, and an arabesque influence.
Until the First World War, the building also served as a seminary for future Assumptionists. After the Second World War, the building was heavily damaged during the Israeli-Arab conflict of 1948. The south wing became unsuitable as a result of the explosion of two bombs and became an Israeli guard post. The north wing and the small houses in the garden were occupied by numerous refugees. The Assumptionists lived in the central wing next to the chapel and continued their mission, offering hospitality to a greatly reduced number of faithful pilgrims. With the situation has become untenable, the center was eventually turned over to the Holy See on March 2nd, 1972 and restored to its original status as a pilgrim center.
The reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Notre Dame center became a project very dear to Pope Paul VI. Starting in 1973, Notre Dame of Jerusalem was gradually resurrected as the Holy See’s international pilgrim center. On December 27th, 1978 His Eminence Cardinal Terence J. Cooke, Archbishop of New York, officially promulgated the decree signed by Saint John Paul II
 which established the center as a Pontifical Institute and an ecumenical holy place. On November 26th, 2004 Saint John Paul II entrusted the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center to the Legionaries of Christ with a Motu Proprio. Fr. Juan María Solana, L.C., was assigned as the new Chargé of the Holy See for Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.
At present, the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is committed to fulfilling every aspect entrusted by Saint John Paul II to promote and facilitate the fruitful spiritual development of local and international Christians by providing: Hospitality to pilgrims coming from all over the world to visit the Holy Land, and in a special way to clergy and consecrated people, fostering initiatives to promote places of meeting and dialogue among religions, cultures, and peoples and providing formation activities for local youth to improve their socio-economic future.
Moreover, several ecclesiastical offices and bureaus are accommodated in the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, its ecumenical character is assured by its establishment as a Praelatura Nullius.

 Photos by Enrico Formica





Celebrating the New Year with Travel Industry VIPs...And not only VIPs from Israel’s travel Industry!

The Grand Ballroom at Tel Aviv’s Hilton Hotel was the scene last night when some 40 Ambassadors and other senior diplomatic representatives also gathered to meet and celebrate the upcoming Jewish New Year with hoteliers, airline representatives, tourism ministry staffers, tour guides and other industry members. A glittering gathering of the movers and shakers of Israel’s booming tourism industry, and the diplomats who serve here as representatives of their respective countries.

As one of the speakers, referring to the many ambassadors present, pointed out: “You are the ambassadors to Israel of your countries. We look upon each of you also as the ambassador of Israel to your home country. A win-win situation”.



The event was the annual New Year gathering hosted by the Israel Hotel Association. Michael (Mickey) Federman, chairperson of the Association was, unfortunately, unable to attend (for personal reasons). The introductory welcome address was therefore given in his place by Moni Bar, who is also the CEO of Budget in Israel and Honorary Consul of Bulgaria There were several other speakers. It was refreshing to hear reviews of the theme of “power and potential” of the successes that Israeli tourism – incoming as well as outgoing – is experiencing. Speakers stressed the numbers from his or her point of view: incoming tourism (booming!), outgoing numbers, airline passengers, hotel-room occupancies, tour guides, travel agencies and more.  

The guest of honor and keynote speaker was MK Yariv Levin, Israel’s Minister of Tourism. His inspiring talk included some interesting statistics, such as the fact that August 2018’s incoming arrivals numbers were even better than September 2017’s figures – which were then best ever in Israel’s history. Or that tourism pumps something like 20 billion shekels per year into the Israeli economy. Mr. Levin mentioned that starting soon there will be no less than four routes (by differing airlines) between Tel Aviv and China, and revealed that from December there will be non-stop flights by a Brazilian airline to and from Tel Aviv. “Tourism is so important to so many economic sectors. All our efforts – and all your efforts – make this happen”.

Among the guests were: Amir Hayek President of the Israel Hotel Association, Amir Halevi Director General of the Ministry of Tourism, Ephraim Fortis, Founder, President and CEO of Open Sky, Eyal Kashdan CEO of Flying Carpet, Ronen Nissenbaum Dan Hotels’ new President & CEO,  Yossi Fattal (CEO) and Miki Poleg Commercial General Manager, Fattal Hotels, Lior Gelfand CEO ORTRA, Anat Shihor-Aharonson, spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, Nir David Naimy General Manager Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach, Lior Haimovitz  General Manager Dan Panorama Tel Aviv,  Daniel Siegreich General Manager Millenium-Arcosteel, Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu, Former IDF Spokesperson, Louisa Varaclas Director Israel Cyprus Tourism Organization, Avi Rosenthal former Director Israel Hotel Association and many more.

Tempting our appetites was a grand buffet (luxury Hilton Style). Orchestrating the success of the culinary part of the evening were Hilton Executive Chef Rafik Jabarin, and Kutubi, Hilton Hotel Events Manager. Nobody went hungry (or thirsty) while guests mingled and chatted amiably. Toasting the success of the tourism industry and to a happy new year for all, has never been tastier.


The Manager and staff of join in wishing all tourism industry members a joyous and successful New Year.


Fotos by Silvia G. Golan 














Several Jewish holidays – some of which are full legal holidays in Israel – will take place this year between 9 September-1 October. The Government Press Office would like to provide the following brief summary.


  Preparations for the Jewish New Year

The period preceding the Jewish New Year is marked by special penitential prayers, recited before the regular morning prayers, and the blowing of the ram’s horn (shofar in Hebrew) after the morning prayer service. Jews of North African and Middle Eastern origin began to recite these special prayers on 12 August; Jews of European origin began to recite them on 2 September. These special prayers are said daily (except on the New Year holiday itself and the Sabbath) until the day before Yom Kippur (18 September).


 Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah (the two-day Jewish new year), the observance of which is mandated by Leviticus 23:23-25, will begin at sunset on Sunday, 9 September and conclude at nightfall on Tuesday, 11 September. Both days are marked by special prayers and scriptural readings.

The centerpiece of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the shofar during morning prayers. (The shofar is not sounded on the Sabbath should either of the two days fall on Saturday.) Both days are full public holidays and, as on the Sabbath, there will be no public transportation or newspapers. In addition, many businesses, museums and other institutions, which are normally open on the Sabbath, will be closed over the holiday. The GPO will be closed on Sunday-Tuesday, 9-11 September.

Rosh Hashanah is also characterized by two special customs. The first is the eating of apple slices dipped in honey, symbolizing the hope that the coming year will be “sweet.” The second involves going to a natural source of flowing water (such as an ocean, river, or spring), reading a selection of scriptural verses and casting pieces of bread into the water – to symbolize the “casting off” of the previous year’s sins; this practice derives from Micah 7:19 (“…and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”) This ceremony takes place on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (or on the second, if the first day falls on the Sabbath).


 The Period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

The ten days between New Year and Yom Kippur (inclusive) are known as “The Ten Days of Repentance”. Jewish tradition maintains that this is a time of judgment when all people and nations are called to account for their deeds of the past year, and when their particular fates for the coming year are decided.

The day after the New Year holiday is a day of fasting known as the Fast of Gedaliah, and commemorates the murder of Gedaliah, the Jewish governor of Judea, who was appointed by the Babylonians after they captured Jerusalem in 586 BCE; the episode is recounted in II Kings 25:22-25. (When the day after Rosh Hashanah is a Saturday, the fast is postponed by one day.) The fast will extend from sunrise on Wednesday, 12 September until nightfall the same day. Special scriptural readings are recited; the day is not a public holiday.

A single Sabbath, known as the “Sabbath of Repentance”, always occurs between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This Sabbath (15 September this year) is marked by a special reading from Hosea 14:2-10, beginning with, “Return, Israel, to the Lord your G-d.”


Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur (Hebrew for “The Day of Atonement”) begins at sunset on Tuesday, 18 September, and concludes at nightfall on Wednesday, 19 September. Its observance is mandated by Leviticus 16:29-31 and 23:27-32. The holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur is the day on which, according to Jewish tradition, our fates for the coming year are sealed. Synagogue services – centering on the penitential prayers – will continue for most of the day and include special scriptural readings (including the Book of Jonah in the afternoon). Memorial prayers for the deceased, said four times a year, are recited on Yom Kippur. At nightfall, the shofar is sounded once to mark the end of Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is a full public holiday in Israel and almost all establishments (including the GPO, on Tuesday-Wednesday, 18-19 September) will be closed. There will be no radio or television broadcasts. Since Yom Kippur is a day of introspection, completely separate from the normal course of daily life – the physical aspects of our lives are sublimated while we concentrate on our spiritual concerns – the day is marked by a full (sunset to nightfall) fast. The wearing of leather, the use of cosmetics, bathing and marital relations are likewise forbidden.



The seven-day Sukkot festival, mandated by Leviticus 23:34-35 and 23:39-43, begins at sunset on Sunday, 23 September and concludes at nightfall on Sunday, 30 October. The first day, from sunset on Sunday, 23 September, until nightfall on Monday, 24 September, is a full public holiday. All seven days of the holiday are marked by special prayers and scriptural readings – including the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is read on Saturday, 29 September. Sukkot is a joyful, family-oriented holiday, which follows – and provides a contrast to – the somber, introspective and private character of Yom Kippur. Many businesses and institutions will either close or operate on a reduced basis. The GPO will be closed from Sunday, 23 September, through Monday, 1 October, and will reopen on Tuesday, 2 October.

Sukkot is characterized by two main practices. Jews are enjoined to build, take all of their meals in, and (if possible) sleep in, temporary huts topped with thatch or palm fronds during the festival. These huts (Sukkot in Hebrew) commemorate the temporary, portable dwellings in which the Jewish people lived during their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness that followed their liberation from slavery in Egypt. The second main Sukkot observance is the special bouquet – consisting of a closed palm frond, a citron, a myrtle branch and a willow branch – that is held during morning prayers on each of the seven days (except the Sabbath); its origins derive from Leviticus 23:40, many traditional explanations of its symbolism have been cited.


Shemini Atzeret (Simhat Torah)

The Shemini Atzeret (literally “The Eighth Day of Assembly” in Hebrew) holiday immediately follows the last day of Sukkot, beginning at sunset on Sunday, 30 September and concluding at nightfall on Monday, 1 October. Its observance is mandated by Leviticus 23:36. It is a full public holiday. (Even though it follows the seven-day Sukkot festival and is often considered part of Sukkot, it is, in fact, a separate holiday. The special bouquet is not used and the obligation to sit in the sukkot no longer applies.) The day’s prayer services include the memorial prayers for the deceased, as well as the prayer for plentiful rainfall during the coming winter.

Shemini Atzeret, however, centers around its special scriptural readings. On Shemini Atzeret, the yearly cycle of Torah (the first five books of the Bible, i.e. Genesis to Deuteronomy, one section of which is read on each Sabbath during the year) readings is both completed and begun anew. This event is accompanied by dancing and singing, sometimes continuing for several hours; in religious neighborhoods, these celebrations often spill out into the streets. Thus, the holiday is also referred to as Simhat Torah (“Rejoicing of the Torah” in Hebrew).


 Happy New Year from

Silvia G Golan and Diplomacy Staff







Today, the Delegation of the European Union, representatives from the Italian and Israeli Ministries of Education gathered with multiple government stakeholders and the academic community to launch the largest Twinning project to have been undertaken in Israel, and the first benefitting the Ministry of Education. The 2 year, 1.8 million Euro project, is aimed at establishing an Israeli National Qualification Framework. 


The Israeli national qualification framework (NQF) will bring the various existing education and training sectors, formal and informal, together in a single framework. It will encourage greater matching of curricula and qualifications with the needs and opportunities of the Israeli labour market. One of the objectives of the project is to ensure the  Israeli NQF is aligned to the European Qualification framework. The development of an Israeli NQF compatible with the European system will also facilitate international mobility. Since 2008, the European Qualifications Framework has allowed Member States to compare qualifications across EU countries, thus enabling learning and work mobility.


EU Ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret said:  "Twinning projects are part of deep official relations between the EU and Israeli government ministries and agencies. They reflect the desire to bring Israel's standards and procedures closer to those of the EU, and encourage important sharing of experience. This is the first Twinning project with the Ministry of Education, one which has great benefits for young citizens choosing their career pathways and will help Israel prepare for its future labour and economic needs".   


"Twinning" provides the legal and financial framework for institutional cooperation between public administrations of EU Member States and those of partner countries. Since 2007, Israel has already benefitted from about 14 Twinning projects in areas such as telecommunications, agriculture, consumer protection, energy, environment and justice, as well as about 120+ TAIEX activities delivering European expertise on specific topics.