For the first time in the country’s history, Rwanda has a synagogue with a full-time rabbi. Rabbi Chaim Bar Sella has opened a Chabad-Lubavitch center in Kigali, Rwanda, together with his wife Dina. The center plans on hosting Torah classes for men and women as well as programming for children. The new Jewish center will be the ninth Chabad House in central Africa, and Bar Sella will become the country’s first permanent rabbi, reports Chabad.org. Rwanda, one of the smallest countries on the African mainland, was able to have a minyan the first week Rabbi Bar Sella was there. The couple has already established a relationship with community leaders like Ron Adam, Israel’s ambassador to Rwanda, and has been busy hosting Jewish youth groups who are touring the country. In addition to bringing Judaism to the locals, Rabbi Bar Sella also hopes to reach out to humanitarian workers helping out in Rwanda and businesspeople taking part in the country’s developing economy.
Knesset Israel Boca Barracas, one of Argentina’s oldest synagogues, located in the La Boca area of Buenos Aires and founded in 1907, has been returned to the Jewish community after more than two decades of neglect, vandalism, and squander. Ever since the synagogue’s rabbi died 20 years ago, the building has been taken over by squatters who used the holy place as a gathering ground for alcohol, drugs, and punk rock parties. The property has been desecrated with anti-Semitic graffiti depicting images of Hitler and swastikas. The Jewish community tried to evict the delinquents but were met with threats of violence and calls to the police and local prosecutors were ignored. With the help of Rabbi Shneur Mizrahi, the synagogue was restored to its intended use after he managed to get Carolina Romero, president of La Boca’s communal board, to visit the location. She was horrified by the condition and pressed members of the city government to intervene. Now that Knesset Israel Boca Barracas is back in the control of the Jewish community, the hard work of restoring the 200-meter building back to its original state, which will cost $300,000, is underway. Rabbi Mizrahi says, “We are working 18 hours a day to clean and repair. It is cheaper to tear it down and rebuild, but we want to fix what we have.” Mizrahi intends to hold daily services and to create a hostel for Israeli tourists on the site as well as a museum to celebrate the Jewish community’s local history.
Journalists from student newspapers at Brandeis University and Yeshiva University contacted the FBI after seeing a cache of photos (21 pages) of hundreds of Jewish students and faculty members appear on Vanguard News Network, a white nationalist website. On the site’s active message board, members referred to Jews as “greasy, corrupt, filthy, rat-like, and pure evil.” One user commented, “Jews are the children of Satan!” while another referred to the international Hillel organization as a “ group of Jewish supremacist thugs.” The founder of the website, Alex Linder, openly encourages the killing of Jewish people and even praised the Tree of Life massacre shooter for his actions. One of the site’s senior members killed three people when he attacked a Jewish community center near Kansas City five years ago. A spokesperson for Yeshiva University said the school was aware of the situation but had “found no direct threat” to staff or students.
Hurricane Dorian decimated many parts of the Bahamas last month and caused several deaths to the Caribbean island. Israel-based humanitarian group IsraAID, B’nai B’rith International and Chabad have been on the island trying to assist the locals so they may repair and recover. IsraAID sent emergency support in the form of supplies, psychological and first aid care, and water filters so that locals may have access to safe drinking water. Rabbi Sholom and Sheera Bluming, directors of Chabad of the Bahamas in Nassau, are working with the official government relief effort and have organized a shipment of supplies that will be transported from South Florida to the Bahamas. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) promised to provide emergency medical supplies and is raising funds for the supplies as well as for recovery and reconstruction initiatives. To tailor its response to the evolving situation on the ground, JDC said it has activated its network of partners and is assessing the situation in consultation with these local and international agencies.
Moving up eight slots in just one year, Israel is now listed as the 14th-most attractive location for expats, according to results from The Expat Insider 2019, a major annual survey conducted by InterNations, the largest international community for people who live and work abroad. The results were determined after surveying and analyzing the satisfaction levels of over 20,000 foreigners in regard to living and working abroad in 64 countries across the globe. The report revealed that new immigrants to Israel are very happy with their quality of life and their working conditions with particular satisfaction noted in the areas of availability to leisure activities, affordability of healthcare, and the quality of medical care. The only issue they complained about is the high cost of living. Recently, Israel for the first time, was ranked by the UN to be among the top 10 countries in the Global Initiative Index (GII) of the World Intellectual Property Organization. The GII chooses and ranks the most innovative countries in the world out of 129 countries using a complex algorithm and measuring 80 indicators, which examine the overall creative environment within the country. In case you’re wondering, Kuwait was ranked as the least desirable destination for relocation, followed by Italy and Nigeria.