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Letter from Israel – October 8

Rabbi Yosef Benarroch

We received this email the morning of October 8, from Rabbi Yosef Benarroch, of the Herzlia-Adas Yeshurun Congregation:

I am writing these words from my home in Efrat the morning after the terrible events that took place on Simchat Torah. It was a Simchat Torah like no other.
My wife and I travelled to the settlement of Elazar just across the way from our home in Efrat in Gush Etzion. We spent the holiday with our daughter and her family. My son-in-law prays in an outdoor minyan in the courtyard of a neighbour. The setting is pastoral, at the edge of the settlement, perched atop the mountains of Gush Etzion. The view is short of spectacular offering vistas that reach all the way to the coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, and further south to Gaza.
Friday night we danced and celebrated unaware of what was in store for us the next day. I woke up to a sunny Shabbat morning looking forward to a second round of Hakafot and celebration. Some twenty minutes into the morning service the first round of sirens began to sound. At first, we thought it was a mistake or perhaps a test. But there was no mistaking the explosions that followed. We quickly ran indoors to take cover. The explosions were relentless, many landing in our area of Gush Etzion. We were determined to conclude our prayers, recite the traditional prayer for rain, and perform the Hakafot. It was a subdued Simchat Torah like no other. I was struck by the thought that as we prayed for rain to fall from the skies our enemies were raining down destruction. A little seven-year-old boy was called to the Torah, as is the tradition in Sephardic synagogues on Simchat Torah. He recited the blessings and read flawlessly. I wondered what seven-year-old boys in Gaza were thinking.
It was hard to know the full extent of what was happening. As the day progressed, we knew it was serious as more and more men from the settlement were dressed in full army gear. Cellphones and walkie talkies were becoming more and more visible as the day progressed -an unusual sight in an Orthodox settlement on Yom Tov. The head of security in the settlement is a friend of mine. I asked him what was happening and he responded with “not good.”
It was a tense rest of the holiday. Our imaginations ran wild thinking the worse. It was only after we recited Havdalah on Saturday night that we ran to our cellphones and understood the full extent of what had happened. We were stunned. Our hearts broken at the extent of the carnage. The horror of terrorists infiltrating into our cities and homes, and no less on a holy Jewish day. Apparently, nothing is holy in the eyes of loathsome terrorists.
Shortly after the holiday we received news that our youngest son Yoni was called into duty to Gaza. Our daughter-in-law and her little baby boy spent the night with us as her husband made his way to Gaza. I think of him every moment and pray for his safety and the safety of all our soldiers.
We are now hunkered down in our home and plan to go out only as necessary. I just returned from delivering sandwiches to soldiers stationed in our area. It took a cowardly terrorist attack to unite a country, but I can say that today the Jewish nation feels united. We pray for the safety of our soldiers, the recovery of all the wounded, and the return of all the hostages. The consensus is that a decisive victory is necessary against a cruel enemy who seeks our destruction. The days ahead will not be easy. We are resolute, we are united, and we have full confidence in the IDF. Am Yisrael Chai.

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New website for Israelis interested in moving to Canada

By BERNIE BELLAN (May 21, 2024) A new website, titled “Orvrim to Canada” ( has been receiving hundreds of thousands of visits, according to Michal Harel, operator of the website.
In an email sent to Michal explained the reasons for her having started the website:
“In response to the October 7th events, a group of friends and I, all Israeli-Canadian immigrants, came together to launch a new website supporting Israelis relocating to Canada. “Our website,, offers a comprehensive platform featuring:

  • Step-by-step guides for starting the immigration process
  • Settlement support and guidance
  • Community connections and networking opportunities
  • Business relocation assistance and expert advice
  • Personal blog sharing immigrants’ experiences and insights

“With over 200,000 visitors and media coverage from prominent Israeli TV channels and newspapers, our website has already made a significant impact in many lives.”
A quick look at the website shows that it contains a wealth of information, almost all in Hebrew, but with an English version that gives an overview of what the website is all about.
The English version also contains a link to a Jerusalem Post story, published this past February, titled “Tired of war? Canada grants multi-year visas to Israelis” ( That story not only explains the requirements involved for anyone interested in moving to Canada from Israel, it gives a detailed breakdown of the costs one should expect to encounter.

(Updated May 28)

We contacted Ms. Harel to ask whether she’s aware whether there has been an increase in the number of Israelis deciding to emigrate from Israel since October 7. (We want to make clear that we’re not advocating for Israelis to emigrate; we’re simply wanting to learn more about emigration figures – and whether there has been a change in the number of Israelis wanting to leave the country.)
Ms. Harel referred us to a website titled “Globes”:
The website is in Hebrew, but we were able to translate it into English. There is a graph on the website showing both numbers of immigrants to Israel and emigrants.
The graph shows a fairly steady rate of emigration from 2015-2022, hovering in the 40,000 range, then in 2023 there’s a sudden increase in the number of emigrants to 60,000.
According to the website, the increase in emigrants is due more to a change in the methodology that Israel has been using to count immigrants and emigrants than it is to any sudden upsurge in emigration. (Apparently individuals who had formerly been living in Israel but who may have returned to Israel just once a year were being counted as having immigrated back to Israel. Now that they are no longer being counted as immigrants and instead are being treated as emigrants, the numbers have shifted radically.)
Yet, the website adds this warning: “The figures do not take into account the effects of the war, since it is still not possible to identify those who chose to emigrate following it. It is also difficult to estimate what Yalad Yom will produce – on the one hand, anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews and Israelis around the world reminds everyone where the Jewish home is. On the other hand, the bitter truth we discovered in October is that it was precisely in Israel, the safe fortress of the Jewish people, that a massacre took place reminding us of the horrors of the Holocaust. And if that’s not enough, the explosive social atmosphere and the difference in the state budget deficit, which will inevitably lead to a heavy burden of taxes and a reduction in public services, may convince Zionist Israelis that they don’t belong here.”
Thus, as much as many of us would be disappointed to learn that there is now an upsurge in Israelis wanting to move out of the country, once reliable figures begin to be produced for 2024, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that is the case – which helps to explain the tremendous popularity of Ms. Harel’s website.

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Message from a Palestinian in Gaza to protesters: “You’re hurting the Palestinian cause”

Protesters at McGill University

A very brave Palestinian who was willing to put his name to paper and write an article for Newsweek Magazine has exposed the utter hypocrisy of all those students – and others, who have been setting up encampments across the U.S. – and now Canada, too.

You can read the article at

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The Most Expensive Israeli Soccer Transfers

Eran Zahavi

Even if Israel isn’t known as a world soccer power, it has produced plenty of talented players who have made a living in top European leagues. On more than one occasion, an Israeli international has commanded a rather large transfer fee. But who are the most expensive players in Israel’s history? The answer could be a little surprising. We took a look back to find the most expensive Israeli soccer transfers of all time.

Tai Baribo

In 2023, Baribo made the move to MLS, signing with the Philadelphia Union. The reported fee was around $1.5 million, which is one of the highest transfer fees the Union has ever paid for a player.

Omer Atzili

Throughout his career, Atzili has played for a variety of clubs, including stops in Spain and Greece. In 2023, he joined Al Ain in the UAE for a transfer fee of $2.1 million.

Maor Buzaglo

Now retired, Buzaglo was briefly the holder of the richest transfer deal for an Israeli player. After a couple of successful seasons on loan, Maccabi Tel Aviv paid $2.7 million to rival Maccabi Haifa for Buzaglo in 2008.

Dia Saba

Saba made history in 2020 when he joined Al-Nasr, making him the first Israeli player to play for a club in the UAE. At the time, it was a big deal for relations between the two countries. Al-Nasr also paid an impressive $2.9 million transfer fee for the midfielder.

Tal Ben Haim

On multiple occasions, Ben Haim has been sold for more than $1 million. First, there was his move from Hapoel Tel Aviv to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2023 for close to $1.2 million. A few years later, Sparta Prague came calling for him, spending $3.1 million as a transfer fee for the winger.

Itay Shechter

During the prime of his career, Shechter was the type of player who warranted a seven-figure transfer fee. German club Kaiserslautern paid a little over $2.6 million in 2011 to bring Shechter to the Bundesliga from Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Daniel Peretz

When Peretz was sold to Bayern Munich, it wasn’t the most expensive deal involving an Israeli player, although it was arguably the most important. He became the first Israeli Jew to play at Bayern, which is one of the biggest clubs in the world. The transfer fee for Peretz paid by Bayern Munich to Maccabi Tel Aviv was around $5.4 million.

Oscar Gloukh

Gloukh is one of the best young Israeli players right now. He already has three international goals in a dozen appearances to his name. Somehow, Gloukh is already one of the most expensive players in Israel’s history. After coming up with Maccabi Tel Aviv, he moved to Austrian giant Red Bull Salzburg in 2023 for a transfer fee of close to $7.5 million. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him top that number one day.

Liel Abada

Abada has been a part of two huge transfer deals in his young career. In 2021, Scottish club Celtic paid $4.8 million to acquire him from Maccabi Petah Tikva. However, that number was topped in 2024 when Charlotte FC of MLS paid a fee of $8 million for Abada.

With Charlotte FC, Abada competes in North America’s top league, facing teams from both Mexico and Canada. Throughout North America, sports betting has taken off in recent years. That includes betting in Canada, where there is a large collection of trusted sports betting platforms.

Eran Zahavi

To date, Zahavi holds the record for the most expensive transfer fee paid for an Israeli player. It’s fitting for Israel’s former captain and all-time leading scorer. In 2016, Chinese club Guangzhou City paid $12.5 million to get Zahavi from Maccabi Tel Aviv. That record was nearly broken later that year when another Chinese club offered $20 million for Zahavi, who turned it down and stayed with Guangzhou City.

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