- Written by Office of the President
Welcome to the President's Residence, to the traditional reception held on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
I'm very pleased to have this special opportunity to welcome you here and to open up this house, to you all, members of the diplomatic corps based in Israel.
We do not celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, with street parties or with dancing late into the night.
The Jewish People celebrates the New Year as a "family holiday" and a time for "soul searching".
Following the events of recent months here in Israel, this period leading up to Rosh Hashana – a period traditionally devoted to looking deep into our souls –
takes on a special meaning this year.
In consideration of the fighting in the south, the people and leaders of Israel had to make difficult decisions:
On one hand we had to protect our citizens, our homes and our land, while on the other hand, we faced the responsibility to avoid harming the innocent, as far as possible;
Inside Israel, the Israeli society faced also a big challenge. We had to maintain our responsibility to enable free speech
While supporting the people who were fighting to bring security to the people of Israel.
* * * * *
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the past, wars took place between countries, but in recent decades, we have had to confront a new form of warfare:
warfare waged between countries and terrorist organizations.
We all know that in war, there are no winners. There is always harm and death.
However, in war between a terror organization and a sovereign state, the terror organization is always in a "win-win situation."
When the terrorist organization succeeds, in causing harm to the country that is fighting against it,
Then according to its own point of view, it has gained a victory.
And if, in response to its actions, it succeeds in drawing the country
into aggressive military action where innocent women and children are killed, then here again,according to its own point of view, it has gained a victory
that will also bring with it the sympathy of public opinion.
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
Israel is a country governed by the Rule of Law.
Furthermore, Israel recognizes the enormous importance of International Law, and the importance of strictly obeying the Laws of War.
Today, however, the international legal system is facing a new type of challenges, a new type of war that is taking place throughout the World.
It now, needs to provide a comprehensive and relevant judicial response to these new wars.
The international Laws of War can no longer ignore this new situation, that is so very different from traditional forms of warfare.
Those, Laws of War, must be adapted so as to become more appropriate for the new reality, that now exists.
* * * * *
Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies,
The State of Israel is not at war with Islam.
By the same token, the State of Israel is not at war with the Palestinian people.
I believe that the great majority of Palestinians, who live in Gaza, are innocent.
If the choice was theirs, they would choose to live in a flourishing country with a blooming economy and peaceful relations.
The citizens of Gaza are no different from the citizens of Berlin, Paris, Mexico City, New Delhi, Bucharest or Brussels, they too want to live in peace and security.
The fact, that one and a half million Palestinians are being held hostage by thirty thousand Hamas terrorists is a human tragedy.
Today, sixty-five years from its establishment, Israel is a social and economic miracle.
The State of Israel, is not found only in the heart of the Middle East.
Israel holds out its hand, everywhere, to friendly nations who need assistance during times of disaster.
The State of Israel is found in the heart of the dry lands of African deserts, in Latin America, in Europe and in Asia.
Israel can be found in the heart of computer processors and in the hi-tech industry throughout the world.
You can find Israeli inventions and developments in hospitals in your countries, in the computers you use,
in aid programs to fight drought, to desalinate sea water and to advance agriculture.
You, the ambassadors who are living here, in our country, who are familiar with what is going on here, know this very well.
As ambassadors serving here and also as our ambassadors, it is important that you bring the message of Israel to your own.
When you talk about the State of Israel, please bring the diverse character of Israeli society.
Present Israel in all its true complexity.
Israel is not just a place of conflict, it is a place of life, of a strong economy,
It is a place not trapped in the past, but looking forward towards a promising future.
* * * * *
I recently celebrated my seventy-fifth birthday.
I was born here, and my grandchildren are the ninth generation of my family in this country.
I myself, like my father, my grandfather and my great, great grandfather before me, grew up in Jerusalem.
For all of that long period we shared our lives with the other residents of this land, with all the many communities and beliefs.
There have always been ups and downs, in relations between Jews and Arabs and there will continue to be.
There will be a real change for the better in relations between Arabs and Jews only when both parties accept that we are not been doomed to live here together,
rather, it is our destiny to live here together.
As President, one of my most important tasks is to make the members of Israeli society truly listen to each other, to be more open, more tolerant, more liberal.
This, mainly in relations, with the Arabs who live among us, the Arab population of Israel.
The State of Israel, the Jewish and Democratic State of Israel, is the home, of all that were born here, All those for whom this country is their homeland.
The Arab citizens of Israel must also find in the State of Israel a home, as their right, not as a favor; they must share full and equal rights and recognition,
and must also play a true role in advancing and developing this country.
I pray that during this coming year, the gateways of all our hearts will be open to listening, to cooperation and to mutual commitment.
I pray that during this coming year we shall listen to a symphony of the many voices that shape us, as a state, as a society and as human beings.
I wish you all a very happy and blessed year.
- Written by GPO News Department
Several Jewish holidays – some of which are full legal holidays in Israel – will take place this year between 24 September and 16 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 28 August; Jews of European origin began to recite them very early this morning (21 September). These special prayers are said daily (except on the New Year holiday itself and the Sabbath) until the day before Yom Kippur (3 October).
Rosh Hashanah (the two-day Jewish new year), the observance of which is mandated by Leviticus 23:23-25, will begin at sunset on Wednesday, 24 September and conclude at nightfall on Friday, 26 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 Wednesday-Thursday, 24-25 September, inclusive.
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.
A single Sabbath, known as the "Sabbath of Repentance", always occurs between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This Sabbath (27 September this year) is marked by a special reading from Hosea 14:2-10, beginning with, "Return, Israel, to the Lord your God."
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, as it is this year, the fast is postponed by one day. Accordingly, the fast will extend from sunrise on Sunday, 28 September until nightfall the same day. Special scriptural readings are recited, but the day is not a public holiday.
Yom Kippur (Hebrew for "The Day of Atonement") begins at sunset on Friday, 3 October, and concludes at nightfall on Saturday, 4 October. 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) 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 Wednesday, 8 October and concludes at nightfall on Wednesday, 15 October. The first day, from sunset on Wednesday, 8 October, until nightfall on Thursday, 9 October, 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, 11 October. 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 8-16 October, inclusive, and will reopen on Sunday, 19 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 Wednesday, 15 October and concluding at nightfall on Thursday, 16 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).
Photo by: Moshe Milner, GPO
- Written by Sima Lahat & Silvia Golan
Mr. Patrick Maisonnave, Ambassador of France to Israel, granted, on June 18, Decorations of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur to the Israeli sculptor and artist Dani Karavan and to Odile Senouf, Director of the Association of Foreign Banks in Israel and President of the non-profit organizationישראל מארחת" ", for her activity in the development of the economic relations between France and Israel, and for her contribution to the promotion of the French language in Israel.
The impressive ceremony took place in the garden of the French Embassy in Jaffa, with the presence of the newly elected President of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Members of the Knesset, Diplomats, Consuls, University Officials and Artists.
French Ambassador told the artist :
"Dear Dani Karavan ... today we honor you and celebrate your impressive international career, as an artist of outstanding position in the Israeli cultural scene.
We want to express the great honor we feel due to the fact that you figure among the outstanding individuals, French-speaking Israelis, that have contributed so much to France, with such a talent, and that did this on the service of humanity and universality, the values of France, which are so inter-wined with your name and creations."
About Dani Karavan:
Dani Karavan, Israeli plastic artist and sculptor, is undoubtedly one of the most-talked-about contemporary Israeli artists, owing to his long-lasting work, its wide scope and timelessness. His monumental creations are surprising in their dimensions and originality, and the choice of materials – sand, concrete, steel, water, etc.
His relationship with France, since he started his career as a student in the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, in Paris, was never severed. Dani Karavan built in the city of Cergy a monumental creation, called "l'Axe Majeur", which started in 1980. This creation includes 12 elements - among them, an observation tower, a plaza with columns, a park, a terrace, gardens, and more. The project is still unfinished, 34 years after its launching. In 1983 he developed a laser installation between the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Eiffel tower and the La Défense business center. Between 1993-1998, he built the Square of Tolerance in homage to Yitzhak Rabin, and the UNESCO Gardens in Paris. In 1994 he built an environmental statue in the city of Gurs, in remembrance of the refugees imprisoned in the Gurs camp in this city.
About Odile Senouf:
Odile Senouf directs, since 2004, the Association of Foreign Banks in Israel. She is also the President of the non-profit organizationישראל מארחת" ", the local branch of the International Federation for the absorption of French citizens and French-speaking people in the world. She is a member of the administrative board of the French learning institutions in Israel, and volunteers in the France-Israel Bureau of Commerce and Industry.
Odile Senouf contributes to the promotion of the French language in Israel. She helped to publish a guide in French on the Tel Aviv Art Museum, and teaches French to endangered youngsters.
Her deep knowledge of France, as well as Morocco, turns her into an important personality in the Mediterranean region, in the economic, cultural and human aspects.
The two decorated personalities gained the esteem and honor of the French Ambassador, the elected President of Israel, and all the invited guests. The impressive ceremony represented for us a model of achievements in artistic and social works, and the approach of love deeds that cross countries, cultures, fields of work and people from the whole social range.
Photo Silvia Golan
- Written by Jonathan Danilowitz
Judging by the atmosphere around the pool of Tel Aviv's Sheraton Hotel on Monday evening, the answer is a resounding "yes". Anat Shilon, head of the sales & marketing department, together with her excellent team pulled off an unusual and very successful event to celebrate the Jewish New Year which begins in two weeks, with a nod of thanks too, to the Sheraton's customers, agents and guests, not to mention the Diplomatic Corps.
The Greek-themed party was a grand success. It began with each arriving guest receiving an appropriate hat (panamas for the ladies, sun hats for the gentlemen) to add to the casual atmosphere. The music was Greek, the food was Greek, the atmosphere was Greek, the decorative ice-statues were Greek and even the "frozen" human statues wore Greek costumes. Live entertainment (Greek of course) interspersed the background music that entertained the guests while they mingled and ate.
Among other delicacies, we enjoyed the best Greek salad we've ever has this side of Θεσσαλονίκη (better known as Thessaloniki, or Salonica), freshly prepared by expert chefs on the spot for each guest. We expected nothing less from the Sheraton's Executive Chef Charlie Fadida and his team.
The open bar added to the joyous atmosphere. We were impressed to see that there was a life guard on pool duty, even though no one was swimming. Better safe than sorry – after one too many glasses of ouzo or retsina, someone might have tumbled into the water.
The Sheraton is shortly to open new Executive Club Rooms. Party guests were invited to choose an electronic key and to see if theirs was the "lucky" key to open one of the rooms on the Executive Floor on the 18th floor. An exciting twist to an exciting party, with prizes for the winners.
It seems that the "key" to success at any party is planning, planning, and planning. That's an art they have learned well at the Tel Aviv Sheraton. Our suggestion to you: make sure you are invited to next year's party.
- Written by Sima Lahat
Hundreds of people arrived last night to Rafi and Ofra Elul's house in Mazkeret- Batya, for the "Grand Finale'" of the Mimouna celebrations. This event is taking place at the Elul's house for the last 29 years.
On the house's lawn, balconies and living room, gathered for a toast, hundreds of men and women. Among them came to honor the President, Shimon Peres, the candidates for presidency Fuad Ben Eliezer and Rubi Rivlin, Minister for Aliya Sofa Landver, The Mayor of Holon Motti Sason, Rani and Hila Rahav and many others from the political, business and society fields. The gathering - which was accompanied with good music with Einat Saruf , Moti, Kaya Schwartz and other musicians, good food and drinks – was heart warming.
President Peres said:
This is a holiday of love among all tribes of Israel, who gathered here in spite of their differences. A Jew is a man or woman who holds a child in one hand and the holy Tora in the other... a symbol for continuity and dedication to our moral faith. In my last visit to China, their leaders wanted to know the reason for the large percentage of Jews among Nobel Prize winners. I said that it all depends on the Jewish mother, who devotes her life to her children, which are our most precious treasure. Even though we left Egypt from slavery to freedom, our exodus is not finished until there is no hungry child left in our country, and peace will prevail.
About the holiday source...
The Mimouna was brought by the immigrants from Morocco during the 50's. It was celebrated in Morocco for hundreds of years. Mimouna – luck in Arabic – was the spring celebrations in the Atlas Mountains. The holiday was identified with nature and scenery celebrations and people used to visit holy man graves. The essence of the holiday is peace, friendship and good neighborhood between Jews and Muslims. The Muslims used to bring the Jews the first bread after the Passover, and the Jews used to prepare pastries and Mufletas – food that symbols the transfer from the holy to regular times. From Matzo to bread.
Photos Silvia G Golan