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Tales of Ten Scrolls

As Jews fled from one land to another to escape persecution, they have tried to bring sacred objects—especially Torah scrolls—with them, if not always successfully. The Jerusalem Post recounts the stories of ten historic Torahs that either were transported by Jewish exiles or left behind and later rescued. This is one of them:

Last year, [Israel’s] foreign ministry dedicated a Torah for use at its office synagogue in Jerusalem that was smuggled out of Baghdad.

The scroll, estimated to be 150 to 200 years old, is believed to be from Kurdistan. When most of the country’s Jews fled to Israel after 1948, the scroll was left behind, as the Iraqi government had banned [departing Jews] from taking their property with them, and seized assets from those who left.

The ministry would not say just how the scroll arrived in Israel, but in 2006 or 2007 it ended up in the Israeli embassy in Jordan. When, in September 2011, the Israeli embassy in Cairo was attacked by a huge mob, the ministry decided to remove all extraneous items from its embassy in Amman in case of similar incidents. Among those items was the Iraqi Torah scroll, which was brought to the ministry in Jerusalem.

In November 2013, Amnon Israel, the new manager of storage and supplies for the ministry, noticed the scroll in a storage room on his first day. He sought out an expert in Torah restoration, and after six months of work it was ready for use.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Iraqi Jewry, Israel, Jewish World

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC