O Dia , a Brazilian newspaper is being sued by the Jewish Brazilian community after the publication printed an offensive cartoon that was widely circulated on social media. The carton depicted an image of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, in an embrace with their arms interlocked to resemble a swastika. The suit was filed by the Rio Jewish federation who said, “Art can never be used to offend the memory of millions of people who died in World War II.” Netanyahu and Bolsonaro recently committed to strengthening Brazil’s ties with Israel starting with moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Netanyahu attended Mr. Bolsonaro’s inauguration back in January becoming the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Latin America’s largest nation.
Lithuania has rejected a request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move the remains of Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman, better known as the Vilna Gaon, from Vilnius to Israel so he can be reburied in the Holy Land. Lithuania refused stating that the famed 18th-century rabbi is an inseparable part of their history and Lithuania’s Jewish community. The Vilna Gaon spent most of his life in Vilnius, which prior to World War II was also known as the “Jerusalem of the North” due to its once flourishing Jewish community, which numbered about 200,000. He died in 1797 at the age of 77 and was buried in the Snipiskes cemetery in Vilnius. His remains were later moved to a new cemetery on the capital’s outskirts in the 1950s.
For the first time in 332 years, a bar mitzvah was celebrated at the Buda Castle Synagogue, a shul in Hungary that was recently returned to Hungarian Jews following centuries of disuse. The synagogue used to be a Jewish museum until government authorities signed it over to EMIH, the Chabad-affiliated federation of Jewish communities in Hungary. The synagogue was destroyed in 1686 when Christian fighters conquered what is now Budapest from the Ottoman Empire. The remains of the building were discovered in 1964. The ancient synagogue joins four other synagogues run by Chabad in the Pest side of the Danube and is the second to be reopened by Chabad on the Buda side. The congregation has been steadily growing and next on the calendar for the Buda Synagogue is hosting its first Jewish wedding since the Ottoman era.
In an effort to stop terrorist from unleashing attacks by infiltrating the country through underground tunnels, Israel has begun construction on an over-ground wall which will be a barrier between them and the Gaza border. The wall will be 65 kilometers (40 miles) long and six meters (20 feet) high and comprised of galvanized steel. The barrier will include a concrete wall fitted with sensors and modern security components. It will also connect to the barrier system constructed out into the Mediterranean Sea aimed at thwarting sea attacks. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 and will cost an estimated $833 million dollars.
The first Jewish funeral in the history of Puerto Vallarta took place recently and reflects the resurgence of Jewish life in Mexico’s Pacific coast region. Rabbi Shneur and Mushkie Hecht founded a Chabad center in Puerto Vallarta and have been working for over a year on establishing a Jewish cemetery in the area since the closest one until now was in Guadalajara- a five-hour drive way. This caused many from the community- which is mostly comprised of American and Jewish retirees- to prefer cremation since it is a relatively cheap and easy process in Mexico. Rabbi Hecht have been diligently trying to educate the community on this major Jewish transgression and he hopes that many will opt for a proper Jewish burial now that he has secured land from a section within the local Paradise Memorial Park. Since purchasing this lot of land, Rabbi Hecht reported that several couples have already purchased plots.
ISRAELIsrael is going further than putting a man on the moon, they have now put a Torah on the moon. Last month, Israeli moon lander Beresheet, was launched with a SpaceXFalcon rocket from United States’ Cape Canaveral in Florida carrying a USB flash drive with the Old Testament on it. The government initiative dubbed “Shalom, Moon” is hoping to gather data on intel on magnetic anomalies of the moon which will then help them gather intel on how they can create a lunar magnetic field profile. The 400-pound dishwasher sized lander is carrying a high-resolution video camera system, a magnetometer, and a time capsule that contains digitalized files of Israeli children’s drawings, photographs and information on Israeli culture. “Shalom Moon” is the country’s first privately funded moon mission and its launch marks the beginning of Israel’s space era. Israel will join only a few other countries- United States, Russia, and China – who have made successful soft landings on the moon.