“No to Zionists, no to Israel” is what French Jews found graffitied on the walls outside their synagogue in the coastal city of Le Havre, 100 miles northwest of Paris. They also found stickers displaying the Palestinian, Lebanese, and French flags at the building’s entrance. This was not the first vandalism incident at the synagogue. In 2016, bullet holes were found in the synagogue’s mailbox. The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, asked authorities to “do everything in their power” to bring the culprits to justice. There are no suspects in custody for either incident, “Anti-Zionist rhetoric targeting Israel that is placed on a synagogue confirms that anti-Zionists are notorious anti-Semites,” BNVCA wrote.
Professor Mona Khoury-Kassabri has been appointed dean of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s School of Social Work, making her the first Arab woman to be appointed to the position at this institute of higher learning, and probably any Israeli university. A Christian Arab, she has risen above her humble upbringing and achieved much success. Khoury-Kassabri was raised in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Haifa by poor, illiterate parents.
Ukraine is gearing up for another busy tourist season as Rosh Hashana approaches and thousands of Jews flock to Uman to pray at the grave of Rabbi Nachman, founder of the Breslov movement. This year prices for flights will be reduced due to an agreement reached by the Civil Aviation Authority with the Ukrainian aviation authorities, according to Antitrust Commissioner Michal Halperin. Halperin had accused the aviation authority of price hiking after noting a significant increase in fares before the Jewish holidays. Approximately 30,000 Israelis travel to Uman for Rosh Hashanah. The event is defined by the Foreign Ministry as the largest event involving Israelis abroad. In an effort to prepare for the influx of tourists, officers of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine have already set up safety measures consisting of 110 security personnel and 22 rescue units of firefighting and diving equipment. In addition, a bomb and chemical squad will be deployed to Jewish tourist sites, and rescuers and a medical helicopter will patrol heavily populated areas around the clock.
The Chief Rabbi of Morocco, Rabbi Aharon Monsonego, zt”l, passed away at the age of 90 recently at the Shaarei Tzedek hospital in Israel. Rabbi Monsonego moved to Israel four years ago to be closer to his children citing his age and poor health as key factors for leaving Morocco. Rabbi Monsonego served as the head of the rabbinical court in Morocco following in the footsteps of his father, Rabbi Yedidya Monsonego, zt”l, who was also the Rabbi of Fes. Rabbi Monsonego returned to his homeland in 1952 after studying abroad at the request of Itshak Chalom, president of the Jewish community of Casablanca. It was then that he oversaw the Talmud Torah school in Casablanca, which at the time had more than 1,500 students. He has been head of Morocco’s chief rabbinate since 1998. During his tenure, Rabbi Monsonego collaborated with religious authorities in Israel, including former Sephardic Chief Rabbi, the late Rav Ovadia Yosef, zt”l and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zt”l.
A war memorial to honor the hundreds of Jewish soldiers who fought and died in the line of duty defending Australia was unveiled at the National Jewish Memorial Centre in Canberra. The dedication, in the form a cenotaph, coincided with the centenary of the knighting of Sir John Monash, Australia’s most famous Jewish soldier and one of the most-decorated commanders of the World War I. The Jewish community sacrificed much to protect Australia: of the 341 names inscribed on the memorial, 156 of them share 48 surnames, indicating the dozens of cousins and at least 13 pairs of brothers gave up their lives for the country. Australian Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Defense Force Chief General Angus Campbell were among those at the ceremony. The memorial will be supplemented by educational resources that include a touch screen using an Australian Jewish Military Database. According to the Times, a British daily newspaper, around 9,000 Australian Jews have served in their country’s armed forces since the late 19th century.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be coming to Israel this month in an effort to mend relations after the outrage he caused by likening his anti-drug crackdown to Hitler and the Holocaust. Several accords will be signed as Duterte will also discuss cooperation in labor, tourism, trade, agriculture, counterterrorism, and law enforcement with Prime Minister Netanyahu. This visit will be the first by a Philippine president since diplomatic ties were established in 1957. Israel has helped the Philippines in their fight against drugs by supplying them with arms such as Galil assault rifles and pistols.
Israeli hospitals throughout the country have reported a baby boom this past summer, with a record-breaking number of deliveries, 10% more than last year. Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva had the highest amount of newborns with 1,518 deliveries recorded in July. Ichilov Hospital came in second with 1,014 births. Maternity wards were filled to capacity so much so that expecting mothers had to give birth in hallways, or were referred to other departments with vacancies. In 2016, Israel had 181,405 deliveries and a fertility rate of 3.11 children per mother. This figure is by far the highest fertility rate among the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a club of 34 industrialized nations. Israel had a fertility rate of four children per mother in 1970, but it had plummeted to 2.9 by 1999 before reaching its current level. The average fertility rate within the OECD is 1.7 children per mother.