Beginning before Rosh Hashanah—the exact date varies from one community to another—observant Jews recite special penitential prayers called s’liḥot, which are properly said in the middle of the night. Last year, Rabbi Ruben Malekan sang some of these prayers to their traditional Iranian Jewish melodies at a rare concert. He was joined by Manoochehr Sadeghi, a master player of a dulcimer-like instrument known as the santur, by Cantor Michael Stein (playing the guitar and oud), and Jared Stein on the violin and shofar. More information about the performance can be found here. (Video, 66 minutes. The music begins around the 16:35 mark.)
High Holiday Prayers Set to Music—Persian Style
How the U.S. Is Financing Bashar al-Assad
Due to a long history of supporting terrorism and having waged a brutal and devastating war on its own people, the Syrian regime is subject to numerous U.S. sanctions. But that doesn’t stop American tax dollars from going to President Bashar al-Assad and his cronies, via the United Nations. David Adesnik explains:
UN agencies have spent $95.5 million over the past eight years to house their staff at the Four Seasons Damascus, including $14.2 million last year. New Yorkers know good hotel rooms don’t come cheap, but the real problem in Damascus is that the Four Seasons’ owners are the Assad regime itself and one of the war profiteers who manages the regime’s finances.
The hotel would likely go under if not for UN business; Damascus is not a tourist destination these days. The UN claims keeping its staff at the Four Seasons is about keeping them safe. Yet there has been little fighting in Damascus since 2017. A former UN diplomat with experience in the Syrian capital told me the regime tells UN agencies it can only guarantee the safety of their staff if they stay at the Four Seasons.
What makes the Four Seasons debacle especially galling is that it’s been public knowledge for seven years, and the UN has done nothing about it—or the many other ways the regime siphons off aid for its own benefit. One of the most lucrative is manipulating exchange rates. . . . One of Washington’s top experts on humanitarian aid crunched the numbers and concluded the UN lost $100 million over eighteen months to this kind of rate-fixing.
What the United States and its allies should do is make clear to the UN they will turn off the spigot if the body doesn’t get its act together.