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Israel Declares Jerusalem Its Capital

On this date in 1950, Israel’s Knesset (pictured at its temporary location) declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel — defying the UN’s partition resolution of November 29, 1947, which had envisioned the city as a “corpus separatum [separated body] under a special international regime [to] be administered by the United Nations.” The Israeli declaration […]

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The Oppression of Women in Israel

by Norman Epstein Discussed in this essay: The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom, by Elana Maryles Sztokman. 2014, Sourcebooks, Inc., 352 pages. AT THE HEAD of the gigantic Charlie Hebdo march in Paris in mid-January stood German Chancellor Angela Merkel, surrounded by several male heads […]

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May 26: In Israel, Yiddish Language and Culture Day

The Israeli Knesset observed Yiddish Language and Culture Day on this date in 2009 at the behest of MK Lia Shemtov of Israel Beiteinu, a rightwing nationalist party with strong support among Jews from Russia. A Yiddish-Hebrew parliamentary lexicon was released for the occasion, with such phrases as Ordners, derveytert im fun zal! – “Ushers, […]

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The Assassination

The Murder of Rabin, the Murder of Optimism by Sarah Kreimer And I will establish my covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant. And I will give to thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land in which thou dost sojourn: all the land […]

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August 13: Israel’s Supreme Court

Aharon Barak became president of the Israeli Supreme Court on this date in 1995. He would serve until 2006, and was the principal creator of the “Constitution Revolution” (his phrase), by which Israeli courts were empowered to treat Israel’s Basic Laws as the country’s constitution and strike down laws that the courts judge to be […]

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Clearing the Threshold

A Look at Israeli Election Dynamics by Nicholas Jahr   BACK IN EARLY MARCH OF LAST YEAR, the Knesset passed an amendment to the Israeli Basic Law increasing the electoral threshold, the minimum percentage of votes a party needs to win to be allotted seats in the Knesset. The amendment was drafted in part by […]

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December 22: The Hope

Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah” (The Hope), was written as a nine-stanza poem on this date in 1878 by Naphtali Herz Imber (1856-1909). His poem celebrated the founding of Petah Tikva, one of the first Jewish settlements in Ottoman Palestine, and was published in Imber’s first book, Barkai (Morning Star), in 1886, while Imber was living […]

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Upper West Side: On Women, Water, and Walls

by Susan Reimer-Torn I am flooded with a painful memory. The trigger is a story told by Ruth Calderon, a newly elected delegate to the Israeli Knesset and a maverick teacher of Talmud as literature and as legacy to the non-religious. Speaking at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Calderon is letting us know, with a certain […]

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February 3: Ezer Weizman Quits the Knesset

Ezer Weizman, who headed Israel’s air force from 1958 to 1966 and led its surprise attack against Egypt in the Six Day War, resigned from the Knesset on this date in 1992, warning that the Israeli government under Yitzhak Shamir was leading the country toward war. The nephew of Israel’s founding President Chaim Weizmann and […]

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July 5: The Law of Return

The Israeli Knesset passed the Law of Return on this date in 1950. It guaranteed immediate citizenship to all halakhically recognized Jews who emigrate to Israel. The law was amended in 1970 to include “a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew […]

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