Some interesting information about some interesting people -c ----- Original Message ----- From: Union for Reform Judaism To: 10 Minutes of Torah - Israel Connections Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 4:09 PM Subject: 10 Minutes of Torah - Israel Connections December 8, 2004 Week 55, Day 3 25 Kislev 5765 CHANUKAH by Rabbi Janise Poticha Chanukah, the Festival of Lights is a time for dedication and re-dedication. We have much to celebrate, not just the miracle of a tiny cruse of oil but the miracle of the existence of the Jewish people and the Jewish State. The song we sing each night of Chanukah: Ma'oz Tzur, actually consists of six stanzas, written by the poet Mordechai, whose name appears as an acrostic in the first letter of each of the first five stanzas. These first stanzas were written during the mid-thirteenth century. There is discussion surrounding the sixth stanza, whether it is original to the text or added three centuries later. The poet, inspired by the glow of the chanukah candles, recalls the redemption of Israel from Egypt, the Babylonian Exile following the destruction of the First Temple , Haman's threat of extermination in Persia and the terror of Antiochus, the Greek . Because of the vengeful nature of the sixth stanza, it was subject to much censorship by Christian authorities. It calls for Divine retribution, which to the modern ear may sound foreign. When we look back at our history as well as look closely at much of the world's response to Israel and Jews today, it is no wonder that a song focusing on redemption, focusing upon illumination, lights our way. It is song that brightens the time of the winter solstice and strengthens our resolve to continue living and celebrating through our values. As we reflect on Jewish history how precarious has been our minority existence, we are strengthened by our collective memory of heroes and heroines past and present. Although there are many in our history, ARZA and ISRAEL MATTERS: Our Commitment to Israel has selected eight heroes/heroines. We ask that, each night, when you light your chanukiah, sing/say the blessings, sing several zemirot, you also read about one of our heroes/heroines. Save this information as you build your library of information. It will help you better connect with the Land of Israel! Theodore (Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl Theodore Herzl, the Father of Zionism, was born in 1860 in Budapest. He moved to Vienna in 1878 and studied law. After exposure to acts of anti-Semitism, in particular, the Dreyfus Affair, Herzl began to believe that the only way to ensure the survival of the Jewish people was to create a Jewish state. To spread his thoughts and to dissipate information about Zionism, Herzl wrote two books: Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) and Altneuland (Old New Land). In 1897, Herzl arranged the First Zionist Congress, where he was elected president of the Zionist Movement. Although Herzl died in 1904, over forty years before the creation of the State of Israel, the active role that he played in forming the Zionist Movement and his determination to spread the message of Zionism, set the movement upon a path towards a realization of its goals. "If you will it, it is not a tale." Herzl stated. 100 years later, we understand how right he was. For more information on Theodore Herzl, click here. David Ben-Gurion David Ben-Gurion was born in Polonsk, Poland on October 16, 1886. From an early age, Ben-Gurion was active in the Zionist-Socialist movement in Poland. In 1906, he came to Palestine, where he continued to be active in these areas. However, due to his participation, Ben-Gurion was expelled from Palestine in 1918. Known today as a statesman and orator, Ben-Gurion became the first Prime Minister of Israel in 1948. The early growth of the state occurred largely because of his persistence. He founded trade unions, oversaw construction of the water carrier, and encouraged individuals to settle through out the Negev, thus securing more land for Israel. Ben-Gurion lived by the values that he taught. Therefore, in 1953, he settled in Sde Boker in order to help perpetuate the growth of the Negev region. In 1973, he died in this area. Ben-Gurion's inspiring words and his incredible accomplishments still stand as an example for us today. As he stated, "We must make Jerusalem the center of the entire Jewish people. Jerusalem has always been and must remain the heart of the Jewish people." For more information on David Ben-Gurion, click here. Hanna Rovina Hanna Rovina was born in 1889 in Warsaw, Poland. In 1917, she joined a Hebrew speaking acting company called Habimah. During the time that she participated in this group, Hanna acted one of her most famous roles, the part of Leah in "The Dybbuk." In 1928, she immigrated to Palestine with the entire Habimah company. There, she was given the title, the "First Lady of the Hebrew Theater." While acting in Palestine, she played a number of different roles. In 1956, she received the Israel Prize for The Theatrical Arts. Hanna Rovina passed away in 1980. For more information on Hanna Rovina, click here. Yael Arad Yael Arad, the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal, was born in 1967. At a young age, Arad began to participate in Judo. Her success increased over the years, culminating in her win of the Silver Medal at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992. As a model for women and all Israelis, Arad is now a member of the Israeli Olympic Committee. For more information on Yael Arad, click here. Golda Meir Israel's first female Prime Minister, Golda Meir, was born in Kiev in 1898. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1906 and settled in Wisconsin. Active in a Zionist group as early as high school, Golda decided to make aliyah to Palestine in 1921. After holding several governmental positions, including working as an emissary in the United States, Meir became the head of the Jewish Agency's Political Department. During the War of Independence, she was responsible for much of the fundraising that occurred in the United States. Golda Meir continued, after the war, to serve in the government, working alongside top political leaders like David Ben-Gurion. In 1969, after the sudden death of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir became the new Prime Minister. During her administration, she faced the challenges of the Yom Kippur War. In 1974, Golda Meir resigned her position. Then, in 1978, she passed away and was buried on Mt. Herzl. To find out more information about Golda Meir, or click here. Chaim Weizmann Chaim Weizmann was born in 1874 in Russia. Before immigrating to Palestine, Weizmann lived in Great Britain, where, due largely to his work, the British signed the Balfour Declaration. In 1948, with the founding of the State of Israel, Weizmann became the first President of the new country. Through out his life and political career, Weizmann raised awareness of the Zionist cause and was a key fundraiser. Although elected a second time to Presidency in 1951, Weizmann was unable to complete his term, due to illness. On November 9, 1952, Chaim Weizmann passed away. For more information on Chaim Weizmann, click here. Judah Leon Magnes Judah Leon Magnes was born in 1877 in California. He studied to be a Rabbi at Hebrew Union College, and served in several congregations in the United States before coming to Palestine in 1922. He was one of the founding members of Hebrew University in Jerusalem and became its President in 1935. Magnes was a strong proponent of the establishment of the State of Israel. But, instead of supporting the creation of a solely Jewish state, Magnes believed a bi-national Arab-Israeli state should be founded. He also proved to be a humanitarian, by assisting Jews who had escaped to Turkey during World War II. To find out more information about Judah Leon Magnes, click here. Dr. Helena Kagan Helena Kagan, named the "First Lady of Israel," was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 1899. At the young age of twenty-one, Helena became a doctor. Determined to make a difference in the world, she decided to come to Palestine in 1914 to help build the Jewish state. Since women were limited in the extent that they could practice medicine in the Ottoman Empire, Dr. Kagan opened a small clinic. Although many doubted her abilities as a doctor because she was a woman, she soon proved her talent. During World War I, Dr. Kagan worked as one of the head doctors at Hadassah nursing clinic. She later became director of the pediatric division, first at Bikkur Holim Hospital, and in 1918 at Hadassah Hospital. Additionally, she performed research, created welfare centers for Jews and Arabs, and published scientific papers. In 1958, she became the first woman to receive the Freedom of the City of Jerusalem Award, and in 1975, she received the Israel Prize. She died in 1978, just prior to her 90th birthday. For more information on Dr. Helena Kagan, click here Rabbi Janise Poticha is ARZA's director of Israel Matters: Our Commitment to Israel and AZRA's Rabbinic COuncil. She is also the rabbi of Temple Sinai of Massapequa, NY. For more Israel-related material: ARZA Web site SAVE THE DATE!! Union for Reform Judaism Summer Kallah 2005 Tuesday, July 19 through Sunday July 24 Franklin Pierce College Rindge, NH For more information. URJ Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning E-mail: educate@xxxxxxx Or Phone: 212.650.4087 For more information and recommended reading go to: URJ Press. 10 Minutes of Torah is produced by the Union for Reform Judaism - Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning. 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