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Shana Tovah 5772 Happy New Year to our readers from Jewish Times Asia

Established 2006

September 2011 • Volume 6 • Issue 5 • Elul / Tishrei 5771– 5772

First Israel Studies Programme to be launched in China By staff writer The first ever Israel Studies Programme to be instituted in a Chinese university will begin in Spring, 2012, at the Sichuan International Studies University (SISU) in Chongqing, China. The university will be offering undergraduate and graduate coursework, extra-curricular activities, and Israel study abroad opportunities. The first Israel studies professors will be trained at Bar Ilan University beginning in October, 2011.

SIGNAL, was formed for the purpose of enhancing China’s and Israel’s strategic, diplomatic, cultural and economic relationship through academia. The first semester will have a projected enrollment of 60 students. Through joint SIGNAL-SISU efforts, a master’s degree programme in Israel studies is expected to open in 2015. Thanks to a grant that SIGNAL has arranged from the Diane & Guilford Glazer Foun-

Carice Witte

Ambassador Nadai, fourth from the left with representatives including professors and deans from Sichuan International Studies University

dation, two SISU lecturers will study for a full semester at Bar Ilan University, to prepare them for teaching Israeli history, culture and politics upon their return to China. “As China emerges as an increasingly important player in Middle East politics, an academic course of study such as an Israeli Studies Programme, where Chinese academics can learn about Israeli history, culture and life, will help strengthen Israeli’s image and position throughout the broader international arena,” commented Carice Witte, founder of SIGNAL . In April, Israel’s ambassador to China, Amos Nadai, travelled to Chongqing to officiate SISU’s launch of the Israel Studies Programme with the first student essay competition

on Israel. The final submissions will be made in September and awards will be presented at a ceremony to take place in October. In its aim to expose the student body to Israel, SISU has invited lecturers from Israel, the US and Australia to give introductory seminars, lectures and workshops on Israeli history, culture and literature. SISU will also organise a series of forums to discuss Israel-related topics, including an overview of the Israeli governance system and analysis of different societal sectors within Israel today. Professors from Israel will lecture at SISU as part of a SIGNALsponsored academic speaking tour. American Jewish Committee’s Asia Pacific Institute has recently pledged to donate over

Jewish NY Greetings


Regional News China’s top Military General visits Israel 9-12

Business News Israel signs cooperation agreement with China’s NDRC 13-14

100 new and used books on Israel and the Middle East to SISU’s fledgling Israel Studies library.

Art and Culture

Witte expects that more SISU lecturers will study in Israel to prepare as teachers, professors from Israel will come to lecture at SISU and that the programme will grow and expand creating new jobs.

Israel’s Chinese Medicine Man 18

Witte, is a graduate of Yale University in East Asian Studies with a focus on China. After a 20 year entrepreneurial career in Israeli high tech and international real estate, she decided to merge her commitment to Israel and her respect for China.

Israel-based Sino-Israel Global Network and Academic Leadership (SIGNAL), a non profit organisation, has partnered with the university.

In this issue

Korean fever hits Israel


Feature Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur High Holidays 21-22 Feature Rabbinic leaders gather for Tzohar Conference


Jewish communities in Asia Candle-lighting and the months Parshas



Jewish Times Asia September 2011









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China’s top military general visits Israel

According to local reports his visit was seen as historic and a sign of growing ties between the two countries. Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak was recently in China for an official visit in June.

Barak spoke about the principles China and Israel share despite their differences: “We are two ancient peoples with history and tremendous impact

Jewish Times Asia Limited Suite 2207-2209, Tower 2, Lippo Centre, Admiralty, Hong Kong General Line: Tel: (852) 2530 8177 Fax: (852) 2530 8100 Representative Singapore: Andrew Lim Mobile Tel: (65) 9631 7112 Email: Jewish Times Asia is registered as a Hong Kong newspaper with the Government of the HKSAR. Material in the newspaper may not be used or reproduced in any form or in any way without permission from the editor. While every effort has been made that the content is true and accurate, the publisher is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the printed text. Jewish Times Asia is distributed on a controlled circulation, complimentary to resident addresses and business’s in the region. In addition extra copies are available at synagogues, Jewish community centres, kosher restaurants, clubs and associations. The newspaper is also on EL AL flights between Israel & Asia.

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

General Chen Bingde

on world civilisation. China is a continent [but] Israel hardly appears on the world map,” Barak said to General Bingde, according to the statement.

tries, particularly as the Middle East becomes enveloped by the Arab Spring and China may be reexamining its foreign policies towards the region.

Barak made a rare visit to Beijing for talks with Chinese leaders “at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie,” It was the first visit of an Israeli defense minister to China in a decade.

Bilateral trade between China and Israel reached US$6.7 billion in 2010. China is interested in oil export and possible transport routes to Europe – a role Israel can fulfill because of its location on the Mediterranean Sea.

Israeli-Sino relations have occasionally been strained in recent years. Israel is concerned about China’s ties to Iran and its possible selling of arms to Arab states. On the other hand, Israeli companies are forbidden to sell weaponry to China’s military and defense ties between the two were downgraded due to American pressure. Yet the visit ushers in a sense of cooperation and economic opportunity between the two coun-

Israel, for its part, is interested in China’s seat on the United Nations Security Council, the independent body that passes sanctions against Iran for its nuclear programme. Israel is also trying to show China and other countries that the Palestinian bid for a unilateral declaration of independence at the U.N. in September is counterproductive to peace and harmful to direct negotiations.

Swastikas waved in demonstration Swastikas were on prominent display in Tokyo, during a march and demonstration in July, by a few dozen members of xenophobic groups in the trendy Shibuya neighbourhood of Japan’s capital city. “While the language and targets of racism may be different than those of Nazis in Europe, the hatred and dehumanisation of ‘the enemy’ fits the ideology behind the Nazi Swastika,” commented Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The demonstration was organised by Haigaisha, a rightwing group that openly opposes social welfare for foreigners residing legally in Japan and

Timna chosen for international airport A second international airport in Israel will be built at Timna, approximately 18 km north of Eilat on the Red Sea, according to a decision by the Israeli Cabinet on 24 July.

Army General Chen Bingde, made an official visit to Israel this 14 August, his first trip to Israel.

General Chen Bingde, met with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and other military leaders. They discussed their mutual struggle against global terrorism, geopolitics in Pakistan and Iran and their shared connections with the Palestinians, a media statement announced.


joined by another right wing group called Zaitoku-kai. Last August, members of this group terrorised five-year olds outside of a Japanese kindergarten that includes children from families with Korean background.

advocates their expulsion from the country. The group targets ethnic Chinese and Koreans, many of whom were forcibly brought to Japan as labourers before World War II, and their descendants. The demonstration was also

“Freedom of Speech may be a foundation of any democracy, and these groups may have the legal right to be heard. However, Japanese citizens and NGOs should not stand idly by when such extremists take to the streets,” said Rabbi Cooper. “The good people of Japan must also exercise their right of free speech by publicly speaking out against such bigotry,” Rabbi Cooper concluded.

Construction of the new airport, which is expected to be completed within three years and replace the airports in Eilat and Ovda, and encourage the growth of incoming international tourism traffic. The total cost of the project is estimated at 1.5 billion NIS, and passenger traffic is expected to be over 1.5 million a year, from both international and domestic flights. The new airport is expected to bring in at least three times the amount of traffic than the current airport in Eilat. According to the Ministry of Transportation, an amount of passengers passing through Ben-Gurion International Airport, increases between 3-5% annually. In 2010, 11,485,509 passengers flew internationally, in addition to 674,830 domestic travelers. The new airport in Timna will be named after the late Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon and his son Assaf.

Raft accident kills woman An Israeli woman was killed in a water rafting accident in Northern Thailand in July. Miriam Shafek, 58, fell out of the raft and the body was found shortly after. Israel’s Embassy in Thailand arranged for the body to be flown back to Israel. Shafek was travelling down the river with six of her friends, no one else was hurt in the accident which occurred 60 kilometres north of Chang Mai. Shafek was on a tour with other Israeli tourists when the accident occurred.


Jewish Times Asia September 2011

Regional News

Ambassador Vapni’s farewell

KH-UIA Annual Appeal Dinner unites the community

A farewell party for Ambassador Zvi Vapni and his wife Limor, was held in July at the Philippine Jewish Community Center in Makati. The event was co-sponsored by the Gilan Family and the Israeli Chamber of Commerce.

On 26 May, over 175 guests from throughout the Singapore Jewish community gathered in support of Keren Hayesod – UIA. According to Singapore UIA Chairman Frank Benjamin the event expected to raise around US$165,000 in support of Scholarships for Ethiopian New Immigrants Students.

Members of the Philippine Jewish community attended, as well with many from the business sector and diplomats. An opening address was given by Isidor Gilan, president of the Israel Chamber of Commerce. A plaque of appreciation was also awarded to Ambassador Vapni during the reception.

Ambassador Vipni with Paul Rosenberg, President of the Jewish Association of the Philippines

Ambassador Vapni came to the Philippines with his family four years ago. “The wonderful people opened their hearts, opened their arms and just accepted us with their beautiful smiles,” Ambassador Vapni recalls. “ It was our first encounter with the Filipino character. We felt so much love.”

Zvi and Limor Vapni

“We will miss the landscape and wonderful islands and especially the smiles and we enjoyed every moment,” he added. “We have to come back,” Vapni concluded.

Menashe Bar-On is now the new ambassador and has taken up office since August.

Ambassador Vipni plaque

The event was an opportunity for the many faceted Jewish community to gather in support of a worthy cause. “With all of the hues and nationalities in the Singaporean Jewish community, it’s good to see that here we are, all united in support of Israel,” said Rabbi Mordechai Abergel, spiritual leader of Singapore’s Jewish community.

US Ambassador to Singapore, David Adelman

Israel,” said Sandberg. Newly arrived US Ambassador to Singapore, David Adelman attended the event. “My wife and my three children and I have been welcomed to Singapore by the Jewish community as family.” Ambassador Edelman said, “one of my priorities is to bring together the American Jewish community and the Singaporean Jewish community.”

Leah Biteolin shared her story about emigrating to Israel and the work done by the Jewish Agency Youth Futures Programme. KH-UIA World Chairman, Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg impressed the community with KH-UIA’s activities. “I am thrilled, to feel the warmth of the The UIA delegation held a Singaporean Jewish community. | ‫לירן‬/‫אורי‬/‫צבי‬/‫ שלומית‬:‫ מודעת ראש השנה לנציגויות | מבצע‬:‫ | שם העבודה‬9100-01-5834 :‫ אל על | בריף‬:‫לקוח‬ I am impressed by the unique similar event in Hong Kong the receiving | the ‫ גוני‬:‫ סקיצות שלומית | תקציבאי‬:‫ | תיק‬3.8.10 :‫ | תאריך‬----- :‫ סקיצה | עיתון‬:‫ | סוג‬21/29.7 :‫גודל‬ local history and commitment to same week. 4 :‫צבי | חזרות‬/‫ שלומית‬: ‫מעצב‬


Wishing you a Peaceful and Happy New Year

Wherever you are celebrating Rosh Hashana, EL AL wishes you Shana Tova - Happy New Year 9100-01-5834.indd 1

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Jewish Times Asia September 2011


Regional News

Chinese language exams held in Israel

AJC Leadership Delegation visits Singapore

Four Israeli 12th grader students were the first to take matriculation exams in the Chinese language. These were for the bagrut test, commonly known in Israel, which is similar to the UK A-level standard.

An American Jewish Committee (AJC) leadership delegation concluded a three-day trip to Singapore in July. The visiting group met with senior officials at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including the Permanent Secretary and Minister of State, as well as the US, Australian and Israeli ambassadors to Singapore, prominent intellectuals and the Jewish community.

Three of the four candidates took the test at the minimum three-unit level. The fourth, Lee Lavi, who was born in China and came to live in Israel four years ago, took the exam at the maximum five-unit level. “It was really easy; I saw the exam the Ministry of Education posted on the Internet and realized I didn’t have to study; I speak Chinese with my mother,” Lavi, a 12th-grader at Tel Aviv’s Ironi Dalet school, said. Gaya Givon, a 12th-grader at Jerusalem’s High School of Sciences and Art, said that four

years ago, she didn’t know a word of Chinese. “I decided to study it because of my mother, who said it would give me an advantage in the future. It’s important to know Chinese because of China’s political and economic importance,” Givon said. There are currently about 100 Chinese-language students in 12 elementary and high schools, with 20 more expected to begin learning the language next year. Teachers are trained in Chinese language instruction at Levinsky College of Education and Tel Aviv University. Chinese-language studies were initiated by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who appointed a committee of experts to put the programme together, incorporating written Chinese and ancient Chinese culture.

Israeli ambassador made honorary citizen of Chengdu Israel’s Ambassador to China, Amos Nadai, has a soft spot for Chengdu, and is a regular visitor; it was no surprise that he was officially awarded the title of “honorary citizen of Chengdu city” in July. Nadai is the only foreign ambassador to China among the 29 honorary citizens of Chengdu city. An official ceremony was held to award the Israeli Ambassador. Mayor Ge Honglin conferred the certificate and the badge to Amos Nadai. “I am honoured to be an ‘honorary citizen of Chengdu city’. I represent more than myself. I stand for the Israeli embassy in China. We see Chengdu as a representative Chinese city focused on sustainable development. We have deeply felt the significance of our bilateral relations. We have much work to do. I will do my best to continue deepening our mutual relations for sustainable development,” he said. “China is so big. In the four years as ambassador to China, I’ve been to other provinces and cities, two times at most. Chengdu is an exception, I’ve been there scores of times. Therefore, I am very ‘partial’ to Chengdu” he said. “Chengdu and Israel started exchanges a long time ago. In the beginning, we focused only on the agricultural sector. However, the devastating Wenchuan earthquake was the turning point in terms of expanding cooperation,” said Nadai. Chengdu spared no effort in rescuing two

Amos Nadai

trapped Israeli students in the Wenchuan earthquake. Israeli media followed up the story, enabling Israelis to build on their own relationship with Chengdu. Nadai has exerted all efforts to promote friendly exchanges between Israel and Chengdu. In September 2009, he led an Israeli enterprise delegation to attend the China (Chengdu) New Energy International Forum. In January 2010, he gathered a group of renowned Israeli enterprises to hold an ChengduIsrael Enterprise Exchange in Chengdu. In November 2010, he made round trips to secure the success of Chengdu - Israel Week. The event was the largest ever activity organised by the Israeli embassy in China and the first large-scale exchange activity between Chengdu’s municipal government and a foreign embassy in China. Israel is also looking to set up a consulate in Chengdu, which will enable closer relations.

Topics of discussion with senior government officials covered developments in the region, the growing role of Asia in global affairs, Singapore-US and Sin-

gapore-Israel bilateral relations. This was the first official AJC diplomatic mission to Singapore, but comes after many years of engagement with Singapore’s permanent mission at the United Nations and its embassy in Washington, D.C. “Our time in Singapore left an indelible impression,” said AJC Exec Director David Harris, who led the 12 member delegation. “To fully appreciate the success and lessons to be learned from Singapore’s multi-ethnic society, economic dynamism, and strategic thinking, one has to see

it first-hand. We were also struck and gratified by the breadth and depth of relations between Singapore and the US, as well as the mutually beneficial links between Israel and Singapore, which date back to the country’s independence in 1965.” AJC, was established in 1906 by a small group of American Jews at that time deeply concerned about pogroms aimed at Russian Jews, determined that the best way to protect Jewish populations in danger would be to work towards a world in which all peoples were accorded respect and dignity.

Successful 42nd International Physics Olympiad The Embassy of Israel in Thailand congratulated the Israeli physics team for its achievements at the 2011 International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), which took place in

Bangkok, Thailand. The team won two gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze medal at the competiton. Their performances considered to be best in many years, in which

makes Israel 13th in the world, four places up from last year. The IPhO is an annual competition for high school students. This year contestants from 84 countries around the world participated.


Jewish Times Asia September 2011

Regional News

Nazi uniform photo appears on Taiwan website

Naval visit in Shanghai

Staff from Israel’s representative office stated that they would like to work with the Taiwanese government on education programmes about the Holocaust, following the release by a military news agency of a photo featuring three students wearing Nazi army uniforms.

As reported in the last issue of Jewish Times Asia, Defense Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak made an official visit to Shanghai in June.

how important is the inclusion of the Holocaust studies as part of the curriculum for all highschool students [here in Taiwan], as is done in more and more countries throughout the world following UN General Assembly Resolution 2005.”

The caption says the three students, who had arrived at the ministry’s Armor Training Command and Armor School, were to register for a summer camp organised by the ministry. It described the students as “diehard military enthusiasts” and avid players of survival games. “We were shocked and saddened to see the photo as published and regret very much the publication and the fact it was not stopped by the Ministry of National Defense Press Office,”

Military News Agency

The photo, taken by the Ministry of National Defense’s Military News Agency, showed three students in World War II German Waffen SS uniforms with a person in a military camouflage uniform standing next to them doing a “V” sign.

Students in uniforms pose during a summer camp programme

Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei chief Simona Halperin said in a statement. “I am sure it was out of ignorance and not support or identification with the atrocities committed during the Holocaust by the Nazis,” she said. Halperin said the incident was “a sad demonstration of

Accompanied by a delegation including Major General Amos Gilad and Brigadier Gen-

eral Michele Ben Baruch, from the Ministry of Defence. One of the highlights was the visit to the navel base on 15 June and a tour of the missile ship. This was the first visit by an Israeli Minister of Defence to China in more than a decade.

The photo, which had appeared on the Yahoo News Web site, was removed after the Chinese-language United Evening News ran an article on the matter. It has also been removed from the news agency website. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huangliang accused the ministry of being ignorant about Nazi history, saying it should apologize to Israel for “damaging friendship” between the countries and punish those responsible for negligence. A ministry spokesman apologized on behalf of the military over the publication of the photograph. Major General Lo Shao-ho said he was disappointed by the “botched” decision by the Military News Agency to publish the photo.

Ehud Barak visiting the Naval Base accompanied by commander-in-chief of Shanghai Garrison Command Peng Shuigen and Consul General of Israel in Shanghai Jackie Eldan

Ehud Barak visiting the Missile Ship

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Jewish Times Asia September 2011


Business News

Israel signs cooperation 15th Clean-Tech Exhibition delivering global agreement with China’s NDRC environmental initiatives Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) during NDRC Vice Chairman Zhang Xiaoqiang’s visit to Israel in July. Vice Chairman Zhang was also accompanied by a delegation of high level officials from China’s highest strategic planning body . The agreement aims to enhance cooperation between China’s economic strategic planners and Israel while the long-term goal is to implement Israeli technologies in China’s strategic development. Eliran Elimelech, Israel’s

commercial attache in Beijing, said in the statement that in the short term, the agreement is expected to deepen ties between Israeli and Chinese businessmen, and in the medium-to-long term, to improve trade conditions between the countries. Elimelech noted that the agreement would “raise Israel’s profile among the decisionmakers and those who are in key positions in the competitive and difficult trade with China.” According to Israeli statistics, the country’s exports to Asia increased by 45% last year, double the growth of its exports to Europe and quadruple that to the US. Exports to China grew 95% in 2010 and reached a value of US$2 billion.

Israel raises US$400m from Asian government fund According to Globes newswires, the government of Israel announced that the Accountant General’s Office implemented a US$400 million, one-year, private offering to one of the world’s largest Asian government funds. The offering was made as part of the Israeli government’s European Medium Term Note shelf prospectus plan. Goldman Sachs, which is currently serving as the head market maker for Israel government bonds, was the underwriter. “The current offering was implemented at the request of the Asian investor, who is considered a strategic global investor in capital markets. This will be its first investment in Israeli government bonds,” the Ministry of Finance’s announcement said. China’s sovereign invest-

ment fund, CIC, and Singapore’s sovereign investment fund, Temasek, are among Asia’s leading government funds. The fund raising was implemented at a one-year dollar interest rate of 1.599%. In shekel terms, this is very low for fund raising costs. The government’s financing cost in shekels is lower than the short term securities’ yield for the same period by about 0.3%. Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz said, “The ministry of finance views the penetration of new markets as extremely important, and in particular the Asian market that is developing so quickly. Israel’s exposure to Asian financial markets opens the door for Israeli companies interested in conducting commercial activity with Asian countries.”

Ybrant acquires stake in Web 3.0 Hyderabad-based Ybrant Digital, a digital marketing solutions company, has acquired a minority stake in digital media company Web 3.0 for an undisclosed sum. “We expect to complete the acquisition in a couple of months, Web 3.0 is a market leader in Israel. By acquisition of a minority stake we want to build a joint venture so that we can take their marketing methodology to the global market,’’ said Suresh Reddy, Chairman & CEO, Ybrant Digital.

Estimates suggest that worldwide spend on mobile marketing, advertising and messaging will exceed US$3.3 billion in 2011, and reach US$20.6 billion by 2015. Shahaf Bar-Geffen, CEO, Web 3.0, commented “With Ybrant’s massive global team and a solid growth strategy, Web 3.0 will be able to jointly expand our mobile advertising efforts at a faster pace and to subsequent markets. In 2008, Ybrant acquired another Israel-based company Oridian for US$13.5 million.

The 15th Clean-Tech exhibition of clean technologies and the environment took place from 5-6 July 2011 at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds. The exhibition was attended by industry professionals from Israel and overseas. Leading Israeli and international companies, government agencies, environmental organisations, technological start-ups, venture capitalists and educational institutions all exhibited in the exhibition hall.

High activity at the fair

This year’s event also included a special conference on the environment and clean technologies. Over 20,000 attended the event. Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan was in attendance and gave an address at the opening ceremony. The exhibition focused on priority issues. Israel’s transition to energy independence based on renewable energy de-

velopment. Global water problems due to population growth and pollution of groundwater reservoirs. Solutions and innovations in the field of energy conservation and greater energy efficiency in order to encourage green building, use of “grey” water. And innovations in recycling water (in the context of groundwater pollution) paper products, glass, plastic and Nylon in Israel and throughout the world.


Jewish Times Asia September 2011

Business News

IDI gets new representative and a new India desk

Golan Heights Winery earns trophy at Citadelles du Vin

The Israel Diamond Institute Group’s (IDI) representative office in Hong Kong, IDI – Asia Pacific Ltd., has appointed a new Managing Director, Michal Gordon-Keret who replaces Orly Yaffe.

Golan Heights Winery recently earned a Citadelles Trophy (the equivalent of a gold medal), for the 2009 Yarden Chardonnay Odem Organic Vineyard at the Citadelles du Vin 2011 wine competition in Bordeaux, held in May.

The Hong Kong office was opened in 2007 and is responsible for promoting trade with the major and rapidly growing markets of Hong Kong, China and other parts of Asia. The office primarily serves Israeli companies doing business in the region, providing marketing information and facilitating business contacts for both Asian and Israeli companies, and serves as a hub for Israeli diamantaires in Hong Kong. Gordon-Keret has had a long career in management and administration in major companies, educational institutions and non-profits in Israel and abroad. For the past six years, she has lived in the Far East in Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong.  IDI’s chairman, Moti Ganz, said, “The Hong Kong office is an essential element in IDI’s business strategy and plays an important role in our marketing and business development activities. Our foothold here has enabled the Israeli diamond industry to significantly expand business connections and trade with the region. I am sure that Michal will continue the excellent work that Orly began and I wish her great success.”  IDI has also announced it will open an office in the Bharat Diamond Exchange, reaffirming its ties with the Indian diamond

Michal Gordon-Keret

industry. It hosted an information booth at the India International Jewelry Show held in August. “The Israeli Diamond Industry is very interested in the Indian market and IDI supports the expansion of ties between the two diamond industries. We believe the new office will be an important factor in promoting these business ties,” Avidar said.

The winning wines receiving recognition at an awards ceremony on 18 June, just prior to the Vinexpo trade fair in Bordeaux. Citadelles du Vin is considered one of the world’s most prestigious international wine competitions. At the 2011 event, thousands of wines from dozens of countries were judged by a panel of international wine experts. Yarden Chardonnay Odem

The 2009 Yarden Chardon-

nay Odem Organic Vineyard has earned top honours over the course of two months at two leading international competitions. At Vinitaly in April, the wine earned a Grand Gold Medal, the highest award for individual wines, as did the 2008 Yarden Heights Wine. “Following in the footsteps of our historic achievement at Vinitaly, this award from the Citadelles du Vin is that much more gratifying,” said Victor Schoenfeld, Head Winemaker of Golan Heights Winery. “As Israel’s leading winery, we are proud to represent the Israeli wine industry with honor yet again. This recognition from prominent wine competitions worldwide further validates our intensive efforts to continue our long-running tradition of producing outstanding high-quality wines.”

IDI Chairman Moti Ganz has pointed out the similarities between the countries. Ganz said in a statement, “Both countries are ancient civilizations and young democracies, and both have had to deal with the horror of terror. We are also two of the world’s leading diamond centers. “Israel and India can complement each other in both manufacturing and trading and we are dedicated to intensifying our business ties,” he concluded.

Singapore-Israel invests US$2.3M in R&D projects As reported by ZDNet Asia, Singapore and Israel are stepping up efforts and forking out US$2.3 million to kickstart four new research and development projects between high-tech companies in both countries. The Singapore-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD) said the projects were selected to “solve existing real-world problems with innovative breakthroughs” by tapping relevant expertise from both countries. SIIRD was jointly set up by Singapore’s Economic Development Board and Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist to promote and facilitate industrial R&D initiatives between organisations from the two nations.

One of the four projects is a “scents” chip, built on microelectromechanical systems (Mems), which will enable devices such as handsets, home theater systems and mobile game systems to emit scents, providing an “immersive 4D entertainment experience” for gamers and other users. The other projects include a chipset for portable computers to boost Wi-Fi networking speed, a newly developed business intelligence software, and skin cream to reduce skin inflammations and ulcerations from radiation therapy. Some 60 research scientists and engineers from Singapore and Israel will be involved in the projects.


China solar panels for Israel China based Suntech Holdings Company Ltd, the world’s largest producer of solar panels, has unveiled a new generation of high-efficiency solar module called the Suntech 300W Vd series to target the Israeli market. “The new module delivers 10% more power than conventional products leading to lower balance-of-system and installation costs per watt,” said James Hu, Suntech’s president for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa . ‘Israel’s solar resources make the solar panels a viable and highly cost competitive energy solution that can help the country’s energy independence,” he added. The product is ideally suited to rooftop installations where weight, power, and aesthetics are key customer considerations. The new solar module is available immediately for Israeli customers.

Jewish Times Asia September 2011


Art and Culture

Korean fever hots up in Israel

According to officials of the Korean Embassy in Israel, Ma was treated like a celebrity. The officials said this seemed to surprise the ambassador, even though he is already recognisable in the Israeli media, having made occasional appearances on local television programs to promote Korea. After the meeting, three of the fans met with the Korean JoongAng Daily newspaper in Tel Aviv to talk about their love for Korean culture and its appeal in Israel.

The three fans - Limor Lechniak, 39, Nomi Poraty, 43, and Nomi Adi, 45 - seemed to have a particular affinity for Korean dramas, which they said had taught them about everything from culture and food to language and geography. “Although I’ve never been to Mount Halla, Jeju or Busan, I have learned more about them through the dramas,” Poraty said. “It’s very nice.” This small group is not alone in their love for K-pop. They reported that more than 1,000 Israeli people share Korean dramas and music through the Internet almost in real time and said that some of the content is posted to the sites only a few hours after its aired in Korea. The three fans seemed especially impressed that Koreans in the dramas still maintain a respect for the elderly, a value they said they thought Israelis are losing. “When I was young, we behaved like that with our grandfathers and grandmothers, but

Korea Joongang Daily

As the Korean culture wave known as the Hallyu moves outside of its sphere of influence in Asia, it is becoming increasingly popular in ever more far-flung regions of the world. Proof of its popularity outside Asia was evident during a meeting between more than 130 Israeli fans of Korean culture and Korean Ambassador to Israel Ma Young-sam. The meeting had been organised by a core group of K-pop fans. The event was staged in July.

Three Israeli fans talk about Korean culture in Tel Aviv, (from left) Limor Lechniak, Nomi Poraty and Nomi Adi

today, it’s not the same,” Poraty said. “Respect, it’s nice. We shouldn’t be too strict about it, but we should keep it.” They also talked about the sense of sweetness in the romantic relationships depicted in Korean dramas. Poraty said it is different from Israeli or Western dramas, where the main characters seem to head to bed so quickly. “It’s so nice to see how love develops in Korean dramas,” Poraty said. It’s a different kind of intimacy, Lechniak said. “I was watching one Korean drama, and waited until the last

episode, when I thought they would kiss, but there wasn’t one,” Lechniak said with a laugh. It’s not that all Korean dramas are so sweet, they said. Many Korean dramas or films are dark, gloomy and violent, something they said many Israelis find it difficult to relate to. And sometimes, they said, a dark aspect in fiction turns into reality with some Korean celebrities suddenly committing suicide. The three fans mourned the death of the celebrities, including actor Park Yong-ha, who had committed suicide last year. Poraty remembered the date.

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“Actually, it was one week of crying and being angry,” she said, recalling that time. “I still talk about him a lot with friends, but I still don’t understand it. I know his father was sick and he had depression, but everything is still - why?” Aside from Korean dramas, all three said they are also avid fans of K-pop. Adi said she had even travelled to Paris in May for the first K-pop concert in Europe with her daughter, who is a fan of SHINee, a fivemember boy band. In this way, culture is becoming a window to Korea for Israelis, officials of the Korean Embassy in Israel said. Building on this connection, the embassy, in conjunction with the Korean Ministry if Foreign Affairs and Trade, is planning to host a series of cultural events in cooperation with the Israeli government in April 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Additional information supplied by Korea JoongAng Daily


Jewish Times Asia September 2011

Art and Culture

Itzhak Perlman to perform in Macau

Thomas Cook India launches ‘Unexplored Israel’ packages

The 25th Macau International Music Festival (MIMF) will be held from 7 October to 5 November. One of the highlights this year will be violinist Itzhak Perlman in a special appearance for its Silver Jubilee.

In a bid to promote Israel as a honeymoon, adventure and wildlife destination in the Indian market, Thomas Cook India has tied up with Israel Tourism to launch the ‘Unexplored Israel’ packages.

after hearing a classical music performance on the radio. He studied with Rivka Goldgart at the Shulamit Conservatory and at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv before moving to the US to study at the Juilliard School with the great violin pedagogue, Ivan Galamian, and his assistant Dorothy DeLay. He currently resides in New York.

According to the organisers, this year’s festival boasts a diverse schedule embracing Western and Chinese opera, symphonic, choral and chamber music and performances in the contemporary, folk, pop, fusion and jazz genres. Perlman, generally regarded as one of the pre-eminent violinists of the 20th century, will play on 20 October at the Macau Cultural Center Grand Auditorium.

Itzhak Perlman

The Macau festival will present a total of 20 high quality programmes and passionate performances by leading troupes and musical artists from around the world .

gust, 1945 in Tel Aviv. He first became interested in the violin

For more information visit the website of the Cultural Affairs Bureau at: www.icm.

Known for his brilliant technique, direct interpretation and precision, he enjoys a superstar status rarely afforded to a classical musician, and he has appeared with every major orchestra in the world, showcasing his talent at music festivals, recitals, and concerts on six continents. He is also a conductor and instructor of master classes. Perlman was born on 31 Au-

Festival Strings Lucerne (Switzerland) will also be performing

Keen to move beyond the perception of Israel as a religious destination and market it as a honeymoon destination, Thomas Cook will offer several Israel honeymoon packages including accommodation, sightseeing tours and transportation. Apart from this, Thomas Cook will also offer world-class wellness and spa services and cater to the needs of adventure and wildlife tourists. Speaking about the new packages, Rakshit Desai, Executive Director, Thomas Cook (India) Limited said, “Conventionally, Israel has always been known for being the birthplace of three major religions of the world. Travellers seldom know that Israel can offer a great variety of travel experiences ranging from adventure, nature and wildlife, history, culture, spa indulgence, wine trails to shop-


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ping, partying and fun.” Commenting on the partnership, Naama Oryan-Kaplan, Marketing Administration, Ministry of Tourism, Israel said, “We believe that there is huge business potential in the Indian market. Indian travellers are well informed about the latest travel options and are willing to spend. Together with Thomas Cook we have created special packages that offer the Indian traveller an opportunity to discover the unexplored and fun side of Israel apart from the religious one.”

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Jewish Times Asia September 2011


Art and Culture

Jazz singer delights Vietnam

The Tanabata festival was held on 7 July at the Holon Mediatheque; Japanese Ambassador to Israel, Haruhisa Takeuchi was the guest of honour.

International Jazz artist, Marina Maximilian Blumin, performed at the French Cultural Centre L’Espace, in Hanoi on 31 August, organised by Israel’s Embassy in Vietnam. The concert included a series of songs with piano accompaniment. Blumin has regularly performed at the Red Sea International Jazz Festival in Israel and at the Bolzano Jazz Festival in Italy. She also collaborated with many famous international composers and artists such as Avishai Cohen, Avi Leibovich and Jason Lindner. A classically trained pianist, musician and virtuoso singer, she is one of Israel’s most notable talents, and regarded by some as a “once in a generation” phenomenon. Blumin released her debut album in the spring of 2011, produced by Tamir Muskat of the internationally acclaimed band Balkan Beat Box. The album includes originals, which she wrote and composed, next to songs she composed to lyrics

Tanabata festival celebrated in Israel

Marina Maximilian Blumin

by renowned Israeli poets. Blumin was born in 1987 in the Ukraine, her family moved to Israel when she was 3 years old, and she soon began her musical training playing piano, singing opera and classical music. At the age of 10, she began performing in festivals, including a classical duet with singer Charlotte Church at Israel’s Millennium celebrations, accompanied by a symphonic orchestra. At the age of 14 she began performing in jazz clubs with original jazz. She also began performing in the theatre and participated in the Israeli production of the Mel Brooks musical The Producers.

Tanabata is a Japanese tradition, the festival takes place all over Japan during the summer months. One of the customs is for individuals to write their wishes on tanzaku papers (colourful, small strips of papers) and hang them on

Ambassador Takeuchi greeting Mayor Sasson of Holon City

bamboo branches. People also decorate bamboo branches with various kinds of paper decorations and place them outside their houses. Its origin dates back more than 2,000 years. The festival was co sponsored by Mediatheque, Israel Japan Friendship Society, and Israel’s embassy in Japan.

Inscribing seasonal poems

The event was filled with a

The opera troupe Taiwan Gua-a-hi Ban, will stage Joseph and the New Coat, enacting the complexities between Israel and Egypt in a context involving Han Chinese and ethnic minorities in Yunnan province of mainland China. “Our group has been staging pieces based on biblical stories since 2002,” said Liu Nan-fang, composer. According to Liu, who

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“Zubin Mehta has become an Ambassador of Good Will representing the State of Israel and has improved Israel’s image throughout the world as a result,” Peres said, extending the invitation. The IPO performed works

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wrote all five pieces, the drama of Joseph is especially suited for adaptation into Taiwanese opera. “While English composer Andrew Lloyd Weber has composed a musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream coat,the Taiwanese version replaces it with “new coat” for easier pronunciation and rhythm in Holo Taiwanese,” Liu said.

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She added that all the names and characters remain unchanged, but a few female roles have been added to fit into the traditional character arrangement of a Taiwanese opera work.

Mehta conducts for Israeli President India born music conductor Zubin Mehta was invited in July, by Israel President Shimon Peres, to perform at his official residence to celebrate the musician’s 50 years of involvement with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO).

The pleasant night ended with a film show of Dolls, a movie edited and directed by a Japanese director Takeshi Kitano.

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Taiwanese opera enacts biblical story A Taiwanese opera adaptation of the biblical story of Joseph premiered in Taipei on 30 July. The show will be staged throughout Taiwan during August .

variety of Japanese cultural activities including calligraphy art, tea ceremony, Karate demonstration, Origami and other Japan-related workshops. Approximately 800 visitors attended.

by Strauss, Beethoven and Puccini. The concert took place in the garden of Beit HaNassi (President’s House) and included all musicians of the IPO, conducted by Mehta. “I have been friendly with President Peres for decades as one of his great admirers. I am very moved by this great honour. The IPO would have never achieved such worldwide success without the assistance of the State of Israel. After so many years Israel is also a home for me,” Mehta said.

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Jewish Times Asia September 2011

Israel’s Chinese Medicine Man


aifa native Roni Sapir was studying geography and computers in the university and the Polytechnic when a segment of the Israeli TV program Innovations and Inventions caught his interest. It showed a Chinese man having open-chest surgery with no anesthetic, completely awake and some Chinese doctors stimulating needles in specific points all over his body.

Forging connections in China Sapir later became medical adviser to a complementary medicine settlement at the northern tip of the Dead Sea. He started a class there as well, but when this area was promised by the Israeli government to the Palestinian Authority they had to leave. This group of students formed the nucleus of EastWest, which Sapir established in 1999 in Tel Aviv. In the intervening years, Sapir was spending a lot of time in Beijing, forming connections with the Chinese Health Ministry facilitated by the Chinese embassy in Israel. CCM was by then regaining favour in the land of its origin.

“The patient was completely awake and conversing calmly while the doctors dug in his chest,” he recalls. He was feeling no pain because of the Chinese needle technique called acupuncture. And his recovery time was much faster, too.

“They got me meetings with the directors of all Chinese medicine programmes there, and we started working together to help me open the best school for Classical Chinese Medicine,” says Sapir.

“Wow, this is really amazing,” Sapir recalls thinking as he watched. Sapir started his first journey on this long path in 1982 in Israel studying Chinese Medicine at the Israeli College of Complementary Medicine.  In 1984 he decided that Chinese medicine must be studied on the basis of the Chinese Classics and  started looking for the best school that teaches classic Chinese medicine around the world. A year later he found a school and started his eight years studies, at the International College of Oriental Medicine in East Grinstead, England.  Roni came back to Israel in 1993,with a dream and vision that he accomplishes every day, ‘spreading out the beauty and the way of health and living of Chinese medicine’. The effort involved paying a high price of total loyalty, determination, responsibility and humanity. The action involved parallel ways. One is introducing the medicine around the population and the other is to teach and train therapists, clinicians and researchers to the highest possible standard. Today, the 50-year-old Sapir is founder and dean of the Israeli Centre of Classic Chinese Medicine, named East-West. Founded in 1997, Sapir works with a number of hospitals in Israel and around China. He teaches practitioners in Israel and China, sees patients internationally and is director at the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies

Roni Sapir

– a body that oversees 174 associations in about 80 countries. Roni is the sole Westerner at some committees at the federation like the Academic and the Cancer research committees. He is vice president of the new International Red Cross Hospital in Hunan, China as well. Marine photographer or acupuncturist? The man who is now one of the world’s foremost authorities on the ancient medical art didn’t change gears the very night he saw that TV show. He was still hoping to be a marine photographer with a backup in computer science. It wasn’t until two years later that Sapir was standing near a bus stop newspaper kiosk and saw a headline announcing the opening of a Chinese medicine school in Tel Aviv. When he called to inquire, he learned that it was started by two Israelis who had studied in California. The classes were to be given on Tuesdays – the one free day in Sapir’s schedule. Over three years of Tuesday classes, he learned the basics of what is known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), whose practices include herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage therapy and dietary therapy.

Sapir was drawn to learn more about Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM), grounded in the original spiritual underpinnings of the practice - such as the yin and yang forces, the five elements of earth, fire, wood, metal and water and the practical application of the I Ching and the Stems and Branches. CCM and its practitioners were banned from China after the 1949 Communist revolution, which is why Sapir discovered that the best school for CCM was in England. “I didn’t know a word of English, but they took me on trial,” Sapir says in his now excellent English. He studied there for 1984 to 1992, earning an advanced degree and becoming a clinician and teacher at the school. Eventually, he was running five clinics in England. And then, a little voice told him to go home. Taking it as a sign from God, Sapir packed enough things for a week and waited at his parents’ house for the next “sign.” It came when he went to the TCM school in Tel Aviv to meet a friend for lunch, and ran into the director of the school, who asked him to be the director of studies of the Chinese medicine school in Israel. A month later, he was back to stay.

The four-year East-West curriculum, which will also be given in English starting in the fall of 2011, provides 5,000 academic hours of instruction in areas such as Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Tui-na – Chinese physiotherapy, Chi Kong, Lifestyle, Chinese Diet, Breathing exercise and Meditation. Sapir takes fourth-year students for a month of training at a Chinese Medicine hospital in China. The main idea behind Chinese medicine in the west is to support, not supplant, traditional medical approaches to everything from oncology to pediatrics, to pain, he stresses. No countries outside Asia regulate Chinese medicine – Sapir and others brought this to the attention of the Knesset in 1997, without any concrete results – so potential patients are advised to find out where the practitioners studied and what insurance they hold. “It’s better to go to clinics at schools or institutions, where you know there is a group and academics behind it,” Sapir advises. While TCM “talks more to the Western mentality” by translating knowledge into action, he explains, “in CCM you ‘forget’ your knowledge and absorb the patient at a point of emptiness, and then only later bring your knowledge into it.” CCM practitioners treat the

patient rather than the disease, taking into account factors such as the climate in which the patient lives, the time of day at which the patient arrives for treatment, the patients temperament, his mental and emotional state, traumas that he had and his ability to contain the surroundings that he lives in. Differences in the proportion of humidity and dryness, light and darkness are believed to affect how the body reacts. The main diagnosis tool beside the initial conversation is based on the Pulse and the tongue of the patient. Bringing Chinese medicine to Israel’s masses Sapir’s wife, Keren, also a CCM practitioner, directs EastWest since Sapir is often traveling. “I trust her completely to run the whole show,” he says. Two years ago, he took their two children, now 14 and 10½, on a month-long tour of China. In an effort to bring CCM to the attention of a larger population as a mode for complementary medical treatment, the Sapirs recently moved East-West into the leading organisation in Israel which combines a school and clinics in psychology and 20 geriatrics homes and hospitals as well as 20 medical care centres around Israel. “This cooperation will make us more available and accessible to everyone who needs us, and we can work in all of its centres throughout Israel,” says Sapir. He continues to lecture widely and teach in China – “Beijing is like my second home,” he says. One of his greatest accomplishments was helping to standardise the language of the discipline. Before the International Standard of Chinese-English Terminology of Chinese Medicine came out in 2009, “everyone translated the Chinese terms differently and this caused a lot of confusion. I couldn’t talk to a practitioner in New York because we spoke a different language.” Not that languages are a hurdle for Sapir, whose leisuretime reading is mostly in Chinese, on the country’s culture and philosophy. To keep in shape, he enjoys swimming and tennis. If you would like any further information contact Roni Sapir, email: roni@east-west.

Jewish Times Asia September 2011

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Jewish Times Asia September 2011

Elul and Teshuvah: You Shall Return to G-d


.eshuvah’s starting point is rooted in the point of transition from the path of the past to adopting a new path for the future. Teshuvah is simply a turning, be it a total change of direction or a series of many separate turning points. Three times a day, a Jew petitions for teshuvah and asks forgiveness. The meaning of this repetition is that each petition indicates the possibility of some kind of turnabout, the more settled and tranquil a person’s life, the less sharp a turn he is likely to take. Yet, often, when a person reflects on his actions in retrospect, he realizes what the important turning points in his life were, even though he did not notice them. Feeling the need for a change of direction Two factors make this turning possible: the recognition that the past is imperfect and in need of correction; and the decision to go a different way in the future. The recognition of the need to change does not always come in the same way.

Sometimes one is overcome by a sense of sinfulness that burdens the soul, resulting in a desire to escape and to purify oneself. But the desire for a turnabout can also come in more subtle forms leading to a search for things of a different nature. The more acute the initial feeling of past inadequacy, the sharper the turnabout is likely to be, sometimes to the point of extremism and complete reversal. The inverse is also true: When the feeling of uneasiness about the past or present is more subdued, the resulting turnabout will generally be more moderate, both in pace and sharpness. Whatever the initial feelings about the past, the desire to do teshuvah always springs from a clear sense of unease about the status quo and the past. Obtuseness of the heart The greatest obstacle in the way of teshuvah is self-satisfaction. One who is pleased with himself feels that “everything is okay” as far as he is concerned, and that if reality is flawed, the

flaws are common to all human beings, to society, to the family, to God, etc. Spiritual and moral complacency has no necessary relation to one’s objective condition. A person may appear to others as a sinner, yet he may have no such awareness of his failings. Such a person will never attain teshuvah. Conversely, even if someone appears to others to be blameless, if he is aware of a personal failing, the way of teshuvah is open to him. Another obstacle in the way of teshuvah is the “obtuseness of the heart,” a condition in which a person’s emotional sense of his own deficiencies and problems is blocked. Even a person filled with wisdom and understanding, as long as he has no emotional sense of deficiency, his actual behaviour will not be affected. Commitment for the future The second component in teshuvah is called “commitment for the future” – the resolve to change one’s direction from now on. This is the natural

continuation of the first step in the turnabout, and its force, direction, and staying power largely depend on the clarity and strength of the initial feeling about the past. One who feels uneasy and characterizes his uneasiness with the words “not good” does not necessarily come to the decision to change, let alone change in practice. On the other hand, the very fact that a person regrets his actions and feels his inadequacy, does not necessarily guarantee the desired outcome either. Instead, it can lead to a deepening sense of despair, the loss of hope, and a fatalistic resignation to the status quo without any attempt to change the situation. A person may feel so sunken and lowly that he decides to delete his consciousness the source of his degradation. Such repression is usually accomplished by taking up a life of instinctual pleasures that dull the senses. The purpose of this escape is to relieve the person of his feeling of depression. Turning to alcohol, drugs, sex, or other forms

of “entertainment” is an attempt to blunt feelings of unease and dissatisfaction, but solves nothing. It only creates a false sense of relief from pain and the illusion that one can carry on without changing. Thus, remorse in itself, for all its decisive initial importance, must be accompanied by hope and belief in the possibility of change. In this sense, teshuvah is one of the foundations of man’s hope and reawakening. The awareness that the door is always open and that there is always a way to teshuvah can serve as a stimulus that creates the possibility of teshuvah. A path both long and short Teshuvah is a world unto itself, embracing two apparent opposites, not contradictory but complementary. In one respect, there is nothing more difficult than doing teshuvah, because teshuvah means transforming oneself. In another respect, there is nothing easier than teshuvah; a split second of turning is already considered teshuvah. Supplied by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

Jewish Times Asia September 2011


High Holidays

Rosh Hashanah - The Head of the Year


osh Hashanah is the first and second days of the first Jewish month of Tishrei, and marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year.

call of the shofar reminds us each of our own calling, the calling to live beautiful lives. Rosh Hashanah is considered a high-holy day, and no work is permitted. People attend synagogue and use a special prayer book called the Machzor. The book includes the regular daily prayers as well as a number of additional liturgies.

The celebration of this holiday is marked with solemnity, as it is the day on which the whole world is judged for the coming year. Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world, as it was on this day that G-d created Man on the 6th day of creation. Every year, on this day, we proclaim G-d as our one and true King.

Symbolic Foods

Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year.” In 2011 we will enter the year 5772 of the Jewish calendar. The festival of Rosh Hashanah does not appear in the Torah, instead it is referred to as Yom Ha-Zikaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar).

servances of this holiday is to hear the sound of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded on each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, “big tekiah”), a final longer blast.

The Shofar The shofar is a ram’s horn which is blown during services. One of the most important ob-

The sound of the shofar is likened to a call to repentance.

If the festival falls on Shabbat the shofar is not blown. Why do we blow the shofar? Since Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world, it follows that it is also the anniversary of God being sovereign over the world. It is a coronation of sorts, and thus we trumpet the shofar just like at a coronation ceremony. The word shofar is related to the Hebrew word, l’shaper. which means “to beautify.” The

During the festival it is customary to eat apples dipped in honey as a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. We also prepare the challah but rather than the weekly Shabbat braided bread, it is instead baked in a round shape to signify the circle of life and continuity. And dip the challah bread in honey instead of the usual practice of sprinkling it with salt. We also eat other symbolic foods based on a word game which connects the name of a certain food, to a particular hope we have for the new year. The following is the list as taken from the Talmud:

• Leek or cabbage • Beets • Dates • Gourd/Squash/Pumpkin • Pomegranate • Fish head Tashlich We are obligated to perform Tashlich (“casting off”). by walking to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and emptying our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. When the first day occurs on Shabbat, many synagogues observe Tashlich on Sunday afternoon, to avoid the carrying of the bread on Shabbat. Some common greetings used at this time include: L’shanah tovah (“for a good year”). L’shanah tovah tikatevi v’taihatemi, which means “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.” and Shanah tovah u’metukah (have a good and sweet year).


To all our friends and Jewish persons in Asia: L’Shana Tova Tikatevu V’tichatemu L’Alter Lechayim Tovim. David C. Buxbaum, Senior Counsel

“We hope and pray that the building of the third Beit Hamidrash will begin this year, and in anticipation of its building, that the Har Biat will be cleared of all impeding structures.”

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Jewish Times Asia September 2011

Yom Kippur – our fate is sealed for the new year


om Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish year. On this day, G-d seals our fate for the coming year, therefore, the entire day is spent fasting and praying to G-d for forgiveness and a good year. This holiday falls on 10 Tishrei in the Hebrew calendar, which is 10 days after Rosh Hashanah. These 10 days are meant to be days of awe and deep introspection. When we reach Yom Kippur we refrain from work, fast and attend synagogue services. The name Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement.” It is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year. This day is, essentially, our last appeal and our last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate our repentance and make amends so we may be sealed in the book of life. Yom Kippur atones not only for sins between man and G-d, but also for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, one must first


people wear a kittel, the white robe which is used by men under the wedding canopy.

seek reconciliation with that person and righting the wrongs committed against them if possible. This is best done before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur service The evening service that begins Yom Kippur is known as Kol Nidre, which means “all vows,” and in this prayer, we ask G-d to annul all personal vows we may make in the next year and to ask G-d for forgiveness for sins we have committed. All sins are confessed in the plural emphasising communal responsibility for sins.

Observance to Fast Yom Kippur appears in the following verses in the Torah. In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work ... For on that day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the L-rd. - Leviticus 16:29-30 We refrain from eating any food or drinking on Yom Kippur. The Day reminds us to focus on the spirituality rather than be distracted by earthly concerns. The 25-hour fast begins before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ends after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions: washing and bathing, anointing one’s body (with cosmetics, deodorants,), wearing leather shoes, and engaging in sexual relations. As always, any of these re-

strictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in deep prayer. The service ends at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar. It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolises purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow. Some

There are two basic parts of this confession: Ashamnu, a shorter, more general list of sins and Al Cheit, a longer and more specific list. Frequent petitions for forgiveness are interspersed in these prayers. The vast majority of the sins enumerated involve mistreatment of other people, most of them by speech (offensive speech, scoffing, slander, swearing falsely, to name a few). These all come into the category of sin known as Lashon ha-ra (lit: the evil tongue), which is considered

a very serious sin in Judaism. During the morning prayers, the Yitzkor service is recited in memory of all those who have passed away. On Yom Kippur is also the only day during the Jewish calendar year where we pray five times rather than the customary three. The concluding service known as Ne’ilah, is one very unique highlight of the day. The ark is kept open throughout this service, which means congregants must stand throughout the service if possible. There is a tone of desperation in the prayers of this service. The service is sometimes referred to as the closing of the gates of heaven; as the “last chance” to get in a good word to G-d before the day ends. On conclusion of the fast it is customary for people join with their families in a breaking of the fast meal. After Yom Kippur, one should begin preparing for the next holiday, Sukkot, which begins five days later.

Jewish Times Asia September 2011


Rabbinic leaders gather for Tzohar Conference


n an effort to bring the Israeli and Diaspora rabbinate closer together in rabbinic discourse and decisions, a three day international conference was held in Jerusalem on 1 August. Put together by the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization in conjunction with the World Zionist Organization’s department for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora, the conference attracted close to 100 rabbis and community leaders from North America, Europe, Asia and Israel.     Specifically designed to help rabbis from around the world better confront the numerous dilemmas currently affecting the global Jewish community, the conference also provided a platform for women community leaders to actively participate in the panels and breakout sessions.  

Topics varied from religious human rights and equality, conversion and Jewish status

Rabbi Asher Oser from Hong Kong speaking at the conference

to if and how rabbis should use Facebook and Twitter to better engage their constituents. “Israelis look abroad for cultural inspiration, but the communities abroad look to Israel for Rabbinic creativity and insight,” said Rabbi Asher Oser from Hong Kong. “When you come to a conference like this, you truly feel that.”   “The Jewish world faces many issues that require the global rabbinic leadership be united in their approach,” said

Rabbi David Stav, Founder of Tzohar. “The discussions between Tzohar Rabbis in Israel and Rabbis from all over the world help us to better understand our different communities and work on practical solutions to common challenges,” he added.   One such common challenge – to attract and welcome people from outside the community, something that Tzohar has become known for in the past decade through their spe-

cial communal prayer services on Yom Kippur and Purim. “The general desire on the part of the Tzohar rabbis to create communities that attract people outside of their own constituency particularly the non-observant resonates very strongly for Diaspora rabbis who practice their rabbinate against the backdrop of such tremendous assimilation within the American Jewish community,” said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, Rabbi of congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, NJ and president of Rabbinical Council of America.

ing of how to reach out to Israelis in their local communities,” continued Rabbi Stav. “This open conversation between our communities can only help make this process smoother.” “Israel is not only the Jewish State,” said Avraham Duvdevani, Chairman of the World Zionist Organization. “It is the religious centre of the world, the heart of our Jewish debate and religious conversation.”  

The issue of immigration to Israel, in the context of the Israeli Rabbinate, is one of growing importance to the global Jewish community. Numerous cases have come up where immigrants are stuck in a state of religious limbo for several years making it harder for them and their children. “Israeli rabbis are learning new ways to assist olim in their aliya to Israel and Diaspora rabbis are gaining a better understand-

Rabbi David Stav

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Jewish Times Asia September 2011

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Jewish Times Asia September 2011


Education Planning

Considering alternatives to The Ivy League: Success without a ‘Golden Ticket’

families to decide whether their aspirations for their child will be satisfied only by a brand name university, or whether a reputable university outside of the Ivies will still provide a solid foundation for the student’s progression to adulthood.

Supplied by Katherine Simpson, Senior Consultant, Akademikas

At Akademikas, we seek to provide a holistic journey for the parents and students during the application process. We do our best to facilitate effective communication between parent, student, and university departments, to ensure that a complete package of information is received, transmitted and properly evaluated.

Asia’s students have a long history of success with standardized testing. High achieving students from Asia are becoming a juggernaut to elite overseas education and in turn are held to higher standards and increasingly compared to each other. The exclusive nature of the Ivy League, originally a bastion for the Caucasian upper classes, takes pride in maintaining their brand, in supporting family legacies, and in boasting career networking opportunities. It is time for the international Asian community to grasp that a designer diploma is not always worth the paper it is printed on. Many elite universities are renowned for research. How-

ever, it is good to keep in mind that professors add to their own, and to their university’s, stature by publishing - a task that though exciting, has nothing to do with undergraduate students. No academically talented student aims to spend four undergraduate years with their experience consisting of large lecture halls with a fuzzy view of a prestigiously published professor who will quickly disappear after class. Indeed, questions will most likely be directed to an overworked adjunct professor or a hapless graduate student. Another discovery might be that the famously respected professor who was the sole reason you even applied to the university is not available to be your senior thesis advisor – he or she is on sabbatical. Many parents consider their

child’s acceptance to the Ivy League as a reflection of cachet, as bragging rights or the Asian concept of “face”. The immense pressure on students to gain Ivy acceptance in particular is added to existing academic performance pressures, the weight of parental expectations, and the knowledge that when April letters arrive, their friends will join in judgement.

the student - it is the student that makes the student.

An Ivy acceptance has become idealised as the ‘golden ticket’ to future success in both career and life. In fact, this could not be further from reality. The characteristics of leadership, teamwork, hard work, perseverance and critical thinking that will help your child get ahead in life are not learned at university.

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These characteristics of success are nurtured and necessary long before your child gets to be a university applicant. It is not the university that makes

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Jewish Times Asia September 2011

Boys Town students creating a “seeing-eye dog”


o help grant the blind greater independence in life skills, three Boys Town Jerusalem students have devoted their senior project to harness technology—and the “artificial intelligence” of robots—to produce a robotic seeing-eye dog. Menashe Mondaneh, Lior Or-Hayim and Oriel Manzur, who are all 18 years of age, majored in Comprehensive Interdisciplinary Technology, combined their knowledge of electronics, computer programming and mechanics to build the autonomous robot. Equipped with a camera, distance sensors and a precision-programmed microcontroller, the lightweight motorised robot moves alongside the blind person as he or she walks. At a street crossing, the robot— much like his canine cohort— scans the area for oncoming traffic. The camera rotates to continually film objects within a 14-yard radius, as the digital data is simultaneously fed to the microcontroller.

robotic best friend. Manzur, is from the southern agricultural collective of Moshav Peduyim. He has been living and studying at Boys Town Jerusalem for the past four years. Following graduation, he will be enlisting in the IDF, where he looks forward to serving in a technological unit. “Boys Town gave me every opportunity to succeed, primarily to work with an amazing staff and to make friends for life.”

Menashe Mondaneh, Lior Or-Hayim, Oriel Manzur

Within mere seconds, the data is decoded and analysed, tracking the motion of objects identified as vehicles. When the data shows that the street is clear of moving vehicles, the robot alerts his master that they can safely cross. In addition to the camera images, the robot automatically

receives signals from its distance sensors, mapping out the physical state of the surrounding area and helping the blind person to avoid obstacles. In future, a GPS device could be added to allow the individual to set out for a target location, led smoothly by the eyes, brain and wheels of his

Mondaneh, has studied at Boys Town for six years. Menashe’s father was critically wounded in the first Lebanese War, where he lost both legs. As the oldest of six children, Menashe tries to help his family as much as possible, and in his senior year assumed the successful management of the school’s “kiosk” concession stand. “I changed tremendously during my years at Boys Town,” he admitted. “My rabbis and teachers were very patient, and helped me believe in myself.” Following graduation, Menashe also plans to continue his Jew-

ish studies, and to enlist in the IDF, and to pursue a career in engineering. Lior Or-Hayim, who is from Jerusalem has been studying at Boys Town for four years. He hopes to eventually continue studying physics and work in technology. “There’s no place like Boys Town,” he said. “The emphasis is not just on marks, but on education. The staff—all the way up to the principal— are committed to strengthening the student’s personality and self-confidence.” Boys Town campus, located in the Bayit Vegan neighbourhood, is one of Israel’s leading educational, residential developments. Approximately 800 Jewish boys and young men, ranging in age from 12 to 20, study and live on the campus. These students come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds; many come from overseas where they have been the victims of anti-Semitic attacks and/or it is difficult for them to practice their Judaism.

Jewish Times Asia September 2011


September Parashas 3 September 2011 / 4 Elul 5771: SHOFTIM

17 September 2011 / 18 Elul 5771: KI TAVO

The Torah teaches us the importance of upholding the law, both religious and civil law. It commands us to appoint judges of good standing who will dispense the law righteously and will not be intimidated. It also commands us to appoint a king who will be one of our own, who will be a person of stature, both morally and in wealth, but will not be allowed to live a life of such great opulence that he will loose sense of what his role is. Two Sifrei Torah will be written for him, one to be placed in his archives, one to be with him at all times, and also that he should always read from it. The laws of engagement in war are given and the Parasha concludes with the law of a body found near a city. The city nearest to the corpse takes responsibility for it, if its fate is unknown.

When Israelites bring the first fruits they make a declaration recalling the history of the Jewish people’s redemption from Egypt. This declaration forms the main part of the Pesach Seder. The blessings and curses are recorded that will be uttered at Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval as soon as they were to enter the Promised Land. If Israel will listen and obey they will be blessed. If they do not listen and obey they will be curses, and these curses (called admonitions or Tochacha) are described in much detail.

10 September 2011 / 11 Elul 5771: KI TETZE

Moses renews the covenant between G-d and the Israelites on the last day of his life. All of the people are included in the convenant. Moses goes on to remind them of some very important lessons, for example – “The hidden things are for the L-rd our G-d, but the revealed things are for us and our children forever to carry out the words of this Torah.” We should not worry about those things that are hidden from us but trust in G-d. However those matters that are revealed to us we should endeavour to learn about them. The benefits in doing Teshuva (repentance - returning) will be the fulfillment of all the blessings that G-d had promised. Moses gives the Israelites a stark choice – between life and death, between goodness and evil, and he urges them to choose life. Moses is about to die and he renews the appointment of Joshua as his successor. Moses tells them to write a song as a constant reminder of covenant between G-d and the Jewish people. From this command we learn of the Mitzvah for every Jew to write for himself a Sefer Torah.

There were cultures that utilised women to entice the soldiers of the opposing army, for which the Torah provides guidelines of how to treat such a woman. The laws of a wayward son, who rebels against his parents. The laws of respecting other people’s property. The prohibition of men wearing women’s clothing and vice a versa – included in this law is engaging in other acts that are specific for the opposite sex, e.g. dying ones hair. The Torah is specific in the types of marriages we may enter into, and those we are not. The law of fulfilling our vows and promises – including making good our charitable pledges. The law of paying wages on time and respecting workers’ rights. The Torah allows for divorce. The importance of being honest in one’s business dealings and having fair measures.

24 September 2011 / 25 Elul 5771: NITZAVIM/VAYELECH

HOLIDAYS/ FASTS/ ROSH CHODESH/ SPECIAL DAYS Selichot: 24 September 2011 (25 Elul 5771)

Fast of Gedaliah: 2 October 2011 (4 Tishrei 5772)

Rosh Hashanah Eve: 28 September 2011 ( 29 Elul 5771)

Yom Kippur Eve/Kol Nidre: 7 October 2011 (9 Tishrei 5772)

Rosh Hashanah 29 September 2011 (1 Tishrei 5772) 30 September 2011 (2 Tishrei 5772)

Yom Kippur (Shabbat): 8 October 2011 (10 Tishrei 5772)

1 October 2011 / 3 Tishrei 5772: HA’AZINU (SHABBAT SHUVAH) The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah, taken from the opening word of the Haftarah. The Parasha is the actual song mentioned in last week’s Sidra. It reminds us that the heavens and the earth are the constant witnesses as to whether we are loyal to the Torah and the Covenant. They are not only the witnesses but also provides the rewards for our loyalty – by the heavens providing the rains, and the earth providing the produce. The song stresses the importance of learning of our history and of our past.

Candle Lighting Times Countries Bangkok Beijing Guangzhou Hong Kong Katmandu Kobe Manila Mumbai Perth Shanghai Singapore Seoul Taipei Tokyo

2 September

9 September

16 September

23 September

30 September

6:11 6:28 6:27 6:22 6:07 6:08 5:50 6:35 5:42 6:00 6:51 6:44 5:55 5:51

6:06 6:17 6:20 6:16 5:59 5:58 5:45 6:29 5:46 5:51 6:48 6:33 5:48 5:41

6:01 6:06 6:13 6:09 5:51 5:49 5:40 6:23 5:51 5:42 6:45 6:22 5:40 5:31

5:56 5:54 6:06 6:02 5:42 5:39 5:34 6:17 5:55 5:33 6:43 6:12 5:33 5:20

5:51 5:42 5:58 5:55 5:34 5:29 5:29 6:11 5:59 5:24 6:40 6:01 5:25 5:10

Candlelighting times are taken from

JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN ASIA China Beijing Chabad House and Community centre: Fang Yuan Xi Lu, next to the south gate of Si De Park, Beijing, PR China Tel: (8610) 8470 8238 ext. 210, (86) 13910740109 Chabad of Ya Bao Lu: Jian Guo Men Diplomatic Bldg, Building 3, 2/F, 223 Chaoyangmennei Street, Beijing, PR China TeL: (86) 1352 2016 427 Email: Kehillat Beijing (Reform): Capital Club Athletic Center, 3/F., Ballroom, Capital Mansion, 6 Xinyuan Nanlu Chaoyang District, Beijing, PR China Tel: (86) 10 6467 2225 Guangzhou Guangzhou Chabad: 31 He Ping Lu, Overseas Village, Guangzhou, China Tel: (86) 137 1050 5049 Shanghai Shanghai Chabad (Shanghai Jewish Center): Shang-Mira Garden Villa #1, 1720 Hong Qiao Road, Shanghai, 200336, PR China Tel: (86) 21 6278 0225 Chabad of Pudong: Vila # 69, 2255 Luoshan Road, Shanghai, 200135, PR China Tel: (86) 21 5878 2008 Sephardi Shanghai Center Building B. Apt. 3 (Room 103), 1000 Gubei Road, Shanghai, PR China 201103 Tel: (86) 21 6208 8327 Mobile: (86) 15900808733 Email:, Shenzhen Shenzhen Chabad: No.4, Block A, Guishan Xiaozhu Yanshan Road, Industrial Area, Shekou Nanshan District, Shenzhen, PR China Tel: (86) 755 8207 0712 Hong Kong Jewish Community Centre: One Robinson Place, 70 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2801 5440

Chabad of Hong Kong: 1/F Hoover Court, 7-9 Macdonell Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2523 9770

Laos Chabad: Ban Pakham, Unit 03, 46 Soulignavongsa Rd, Luangprabang, Laos Tel: (856) 20 508 2014

Ohel Leah Synagogue: 70 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2589 2621

Nepal Chabad House: GHA-2-516-4 Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal Tel: (977) 980 324 1294

United Jewish Congregation (Reform): Jewish Community Centre, One Robinson Place, 70 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2523 2985 Shuva Israel (Orthodox): 2/F Fortune House, 61 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2851 6300 Kowloon Kehilat Zion (Orthodox): Unit 105, 1/F, Wing on Plaza, 62 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon Tel: (852) 2368 0061 Chabad of Kowloon: 11 Hart Avenue, 2/F, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon Tel: (852) 2366 5770 Email: India (Mumbai) Magen David Synagogue: 340 Sir J.J. Rd, Byculla, Mumbai Tel: (91) 22 23006675 Kenesseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, 43 Dr V.B. Gandhi Marg, Fort, Mumbai Tel: (91) 22 22831502 / 22839617 Kurla Bene Israel: 275 C.S.T. Rd, Jewish Colony, Kurla (W) Mumbai, India Tel: (91) 22 511-2132 Japan Kobe Ohel Shelomoh Synagogue and Community Center: 4-12-12, Kitano-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650, Japan Tel: (81) 78 221 7236

Philippines Beth Yaacov Synagogue: 110 H.V. de la Costa cnr, Tordesillas West, Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila 1227, The Philippines Tel: (632) 815 0265 Singapore Chesed-El Synagogue: 2 Oxley Rise, Singapore 238693 Jacob Ballas Community Centre & Maghain Aboth Synagogue: 24-26 Waterloo Street, Singapore 187950 Tel: (65) 6337 2189 United Hebrew Congregation (Reform): South Korea Chabad: 744-18 Hannam-Dong, Yongsan, Seoul 140-893, South Korea Tel: (82) 107 730 3770 Taiwan Taipei Jewish Community: 16 Min Tsu East Road, Second Floor, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC Tel: (886) 2 2591 3565 Thailand Jewish Association of Thailand: 121 Soi Sai Nam Thip 2, Sukhumvit Soi 22, Bangkok, Thailand Tel: (662) 663 0244 Chabad of Thailand: 96 Rambutttri St. Banglamphu, 102000 Bangkok, Thailand Tel: (662) 629 2770

Tokyo Tokyo Chabad: 1-5-23 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo Japan 108-0073 Tel: (813) 5789 2846

Bet Sefer Chabad: 221 Sukhumvit Soi 20, Bangkok, 10110 Thailand Tel: (662) 258 3434

JCC Japan (Reform): Tokyo Jewish Community Centre, 8-8 Hiroo 3-Chome, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150 0012, Japan Tel: (813) 3400 2559

Vietnam Chabad: 5A (villa) Nguyen Dinh Chieu St., Dakao ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Tel: (84) 90 9166770


Jewish Times Asia September 2011

September 2011 • Volume 6 • Issue 5 • Elul /Tishrel 5771-5772  

Jewish Times Asia, was established in 2006, and is the regions first independent community newspaper for Jewish residents, business travelle...