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An Orthodox congregation in Manhattan launches a matchmaking initiative as a response to the Oct. 7 attack in Israel

(New York Jewish Week) — Since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, there has been an outpouring of fundraisers and activism from New York synagogues and Jewish institutions. Some shuls are holding fundraisers, others are packing medical kits, still more are writing letters to IDF soldiers. 

But at one Upper East Side congregation, a new form of activism is emerging in response to the gruesome attack, ongoing war and rising antisemitism: matchmaking. 

The Altneu Synagogue — the innovative, two-year-old Orthodox congregation on the Upper East Side that began after its rabbi, Benjamin Goldschmidt, was fired from Park East Synagogue — has launched a matchmaking initiative for singles in their congregation and their immediate friends. 

According to Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, who founded the synagogue with her husband, making Jewish couples is one way to ensure a Jewish future at a time when so many are worried the idea is in danger. 

“Everyone’s trying to figure out what to do from here,” Chizhik-Goldschmidt told the New York Jewish Week. “I felt very much that the best way to respond to darkness and death is to bring in more light and more love and to bring people joy. Traditionally, that is the Jewish response to catastrophe.”

On the evening of Nov. 11, the Altneu sent an email to their congregants announcing the matchmaking initiative; the Goldschmidts also spoke about it after services on Shabbat and posted it on their social media. “The reception has been amazing,” Chizhik-Goldschmidt said, adding that in less than two weeks, almost 200 people have signed up. About half are members of the Altneu. 

Chizhik-Goldschmidt said that the idea for a matchmaking program had come up organically among several members over the last few months — interest in Jewish matchmaking was given a pop culture boost when Netflix released their hit series “Jewish Matchmaking” earlier this spring. But as a busy rebbetzin and mother of three young children, Chizhik-Goldschmidt felt she lacked the bandwidth to launch something new. 

The events of Oct. 7, however, changed all of that. 

“It’s a moment where a lot of people were like, ‘Wow, it’s on me to find someone to continue our Jewish peoplehood,’” said Chizhik-Goldschmidt, who herself was set up with her husband a decade ago at the insistence of community members and mutual friends. 

“It has been ringing in my head since Oct. 7 that I need to help,” she added. “We, as a community, need to help those who are looking for love and those who want to start families. This moment shook us awake and I think it sort of forced us to shed a lot of our pretenses, the artifice, all the games that I often see, especially in Manhattan around dating.”

The Altneu approach to matchmaking is, like the synagogue’s name, a combination of old and new: Interested parties fill out a Google form that asks about family upbringing, education, hobbies, passions and religious observance, as well as what they are looking for in a partner. The forms are collected by a group of “connectors,” five women ranging in age from their late 20s through 50s, who will parse the answers and suggest matches. The program is open to singles of any age — the only requirement is that the candidate must have a reference from an Altneu member. 

“We did not want to be launching a new version of another dating website — that wasn’t the goal,” Chizhik-Goldschmidt said. “The goal is just to sort of leverage our network.”

Joe Piroozian, who has been attending Altneu Shabbat services and its daily minyan for about 10 months, said that because of the congregation’s strong sense of community, he feels he has a better chance of meeting his future spouse there than on dating apps. 

“The best way to do it is to be set up by people who understand your lifestyle, understand where you like to spend your weekends, where you spend your days,” the 29-year-old told the New York Jewish Week. “What better group of people to get set up by than the people that you spend most of your time with?”

A 25-year-old woman in the community, who asked to remain anonymous, said that finding a Jewish partner is “the most important piece of my life,” adding that she chose to participate because of the care the congregation is putting into the process. “Especially with the state of the world, I’m hoping to find my life partner and build a beautiful Jewish home.”

“In a city like New York, there are a lot of ways to meet people. But going to big fundraisers and events and meeting hundreds of people at a time is not always the best, most conducive place to really meet your match,” said another Altneu member, Alexa Sokol, 30, who has been attending services at The Altneu since last spring. “I’m looking forward to having a little bit more of an infrastructure for dating and having an intermediary to feel like there’s more support to the dating process rather than just meeting someone and you’re on your own,” she added.

The Altneu community gathered for a celebration of Purim, March 6, 2021. (Eli Weintraub)

Synagogue matchmaking is not a completely unheard-of practice — as the rebbetzin pointed out, many couples meet at the kiddush buffet that follows services, say, or are introduced by friends and family. But Chizhik-Goldschmidt says the Altneu initiative puts  matchmaking on the communal agenda. “We’ll talk about assimilation, but what are we actually doing to fight assimilation?” she said.  

Eden Schonfeld Fischman, one of the matchmakers, said that the program felt different to her because it emphasizes community involvement and intergenerational connections, without feeling stuffy or formal. 

“It’s not like your grandmother’s shadchan,” said Fischman, using the Hebrew word for matchmaker. She joined the congregation since it launched in October 2021. “At the Altneu, this is something that’s very organic. We have so many young professionals that are as committed to a community and their religion as they are to their careers here.”

After Oct. 7, “people have a little bit different take and feel about hopefully being with another Jewish person,” she added. “The Jewish community is clutching to our identity. We realize what’s at stake here now, so I think we’re in the right place at the right time.” 

Piroozian said that actively looking for a partner has become a much bigger priority for him since the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7. “Specifically during this time, I feel the need to strengthen our community. The best way to strengthen our community and to fight antisemitism is by building strong families with religious and moral values,” he said. 

“There’s been a mass awakening with Jews around the world on consciously and unconsciously that their identity matters,” Sokol said. “Having places where your Jewish growth is considered and encouraged — including marriage — helps people who are on the fence push themselves to the next step.”

The first round of forms will close in a few weeks, Chizhik-Goldschmidt said. 

“We have limited energy, we have limited time, we have limited resources,” she said. “If this whole initiative only results in just one pair finding one another, it’s worth it.”


The post An Orthodox congregation in Manhattan launches a matchmaking initiative as a response to the Oct. 7 attack in Israel appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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To Understand the IDF and Hamas, Look at Their Military Texts

The bodies of people, some of them elderly, lie on a street after they were killed during a mass-infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 7, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Studying battles, territorial gains and losses, or the impact on those directly affected by the violence in a war is not enough for a full understanding of a conflict. It’s also necessary to examine the belligerents’ ideological roots, and their founding documents and doctrines, in order to weigh the justice (or injustice) of each side’s cause.

For example, when studying the American Civil War, a comparative analysis of the United States of America and the Confederate States of America’s constitutions and declarations of independence/secession clearly shows the values that each side held and how it influenced their war aims and conduct.

So, too, with the current war between Israel and Hamas, to fully understand the conflict, it is important to examine the differences in both the ideological underpinnings and battle ethics of the Israeli military and the Gaza-based terror group.

It becomes clear that this war is an asymmetric battle between a military force that places a premium on life and human dignity, and an organization that finds all human lives expendable in its eternal fight against the Jewish state.

Purity of Arms: The Israeli Battle Ethic

The IDF’s battle ethic, commonly referred to as “purity of arms,” traces back to before the creation of the State of Israel, when the Jewish community took up arms against marauding insurgents during the Great Arab Revolt in the late 1930s.

Following the creation of the state and the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces, Israel’s military ethic integrated the purity of arms doctrine (the use of arms in order to fulfill the mission and to use only when necessary) with the norms established by international law.

In the 1990s, this ethic became enshrined in The Spirit of the IDF, which explicitly laid out the Israeli army’s guiding moral principles and values.

According to this code, one of the core values espoused by the IDF is human dignity, which holds that “every individual is of inherent value, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender or status.”

Arising from this core value is the value of purity of arms, which states, in part, that “The soldier will not use their weapon or power to harm uninvolved civilians and prisoners and will do everything in their power to prevent harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property.”

Commensurate with these values is one of the IDF’s chief principles: “The IDF serviceman will treat enemy troops and civilians in areas controlled by the IDF in accordance with the letter and spirit of the laws of war and will not exceed the limits of his authority.”

These basic moral values and principles have been upheld by the IDF’s leadership and have served as the basis for reprimands by the army’s command when soldiers have acted outside the parameters set by the code of ethics.

Even today, as Israel battles Hamas terrorists who have embedded themselves among Gaza’s civilian population, the IDF’s code of ethics guides it as it aims to damage Hamas’ terror network while also trying to reduce the number of civilian casualties.

As John Spencer, an American military veteran and the chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, recently wrote, “Israel has taken more measures to avoid needless civilian harm than virtually any other nation that’s fought an urban war.”

Hamas’ Doctrine of Indiscriminate Cruelty & Barbarism

To understand Hamas’ battle ethics, one of the key documents is The Warrior’s Guide: Jihadi Version, an eight-page booklet that was recovered from the body of a dead terrorist following Hamas’ barbaric October 7 invasion of southern Israel.

This manual, which was first brought to light by Israeli President Isaac Herzog during a CNN interview, contained a detailed chart on the IDF’s hierarchy, in-depth analysis of the Israeli military’s arms and technology, as well as step-by-step instructions for taking Israeli hostages.

Included in the nine-step process were directions on how to assert control over the captives using threats, electric shocks, gunfire, and incapacitating grenades, the killing of hostages when necessary, and the use of hostages as human shields, regardless of their gender, age, or ethnic identity.

This barbaric guide is rooted in Hamas’ chief ideological documents, its 1988 charter which calls for a “struggle against the Jews,” and its 2017 declaration of General Principles and Policies, which asserts that resistance against Israel “with all means and methods is a legitimate right guaranteed by divine laws and by international norms and laws” (emphasis added).

Thus, between Israel’s efforts to reduce civilian casualties and Hamas’ flagrant use of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians as pawns for their own nefarious purposes,  it is clear that the values imparted by the IDF’s and Hamas’ texts are being fully expressed by each side on the battlefield.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post To Understand the IDF and Hamas, Look at Their Military Texts first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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When Will the Western Media Realize the Connection Between Al Jazeera and Hamas?

A Palestinian boy wearing the headband of Hamas’ armed wing The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza City on May 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Two incidents came to light over the past week that should be the final nail in Al Jazeera‘s credibility coffin.

The first was the unmasking of one of the network’s journalists as a Hamas commander.

The IDF revealed evidence that was obtained from a laptop found in Gaza and showed Mohammed Wishah held a senior role in the terrorist group’s anti-tank unit, including photographs of him teaching young jihadis how to fire anti-tank missiles and making incendiary devices.

Unsurprisingly, Wishah’s terrorist background did not preclude him from securing a comfortable reporting job at the Qatari-owned network, which has previously been forced to take down fake anti-Israel stories and stands accused of repeatedly promoting Hamas propaganda.

The second incident involved another Al Jazeera journalist, Ismail Abu Omar, whose leg was amputated after being injured in an Israeli air strike in Rafah.

Around the same time that Al Jazeera was describing the injuries Omar sustained as proof of a “full-fledged crime [to be] added to Israel’s crimes against journalists,” it was revealed that Omar accompanied Hamas terrorists into Israel on the day of the October 7 massacre.

In footage that Omar himself posted online on the day of the attacks, he can be seen inside Kibbutz Nir Oz and even praised the Hamas terrorists carrying out the atrocities, saying: “The friends have progressed, may God bless.”

On October 7, he also boasted that Palestinian children would “play with their heads” in reference to massacred Israeli civilians.

Ismail Abu Omar on Oct.7 filming and praising the Hamas attack from inside kibbutz Nir Oz https://t.co/x94QbJCtCS pic.twitter.com/k9tMw50pnM

— Adin – עדין (@AdinHaykin1) February 13, 2024

Despite the trend of Al Jazeera employees moonlighting as either Hamas supporters or seasoned Hamas terrorists, which included another two journalists being revealed as terror operatives after their deaths in January, the media continues to ignore the unpleasant truth about Al Jazeera.

Indeed, the very same outlets that quite rightly balk at the idea of trusting media controlled by authoritarian regimes, such as Russia Today or the New China News Agency, seem worryingly comfortable with uncritically regurgitating Al Jazeera’s lies. Worse, they seem to actively cover for the network.

Take The Guardian, for example, and its repeated criticism of Russian state-owned media, which it has accused of being “Vladimir Putin’s fake news factories” and of promoting the “Kremlin message.”

But apparently, such ethical concerns don’t extend to uncritically reprinting the claims of an outlet that is effectively owned by an Islamic regime that is headed by the all-powerful Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

The Guardian failed to do a modicum of journalistic due diligence when it came to reporting Al Jazeera’s absurd claim that Omar was “directly targeted by a missile fired by a drone.”

Did the article state that Omar accompanied terrorists who murdered and raped civilians during the October 7 massacre? No. Did it reveal that he expressed a wish to see Palestinian kids play with the severed heads of Israelis? No. Did it mention that Al Jazeera is owned by the Qatari state and closely aligned itself with Hamas? Of course not.

The Guardian journalist who wrote the piece, Peter Beaumont, even had the audacity to lament how “Al Jazeera’s Gaza team has paid a particularly heavy price during the war” while referencing the deaths of Hamza Al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya and omitting the fact that they were terror operatives.

As for Al Jazeera journalist Mohammed Wishah, whose Instagram page includes photos of him with Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh, The Guardian failed to cover his exposure as a Hamas commander at all.

Of course, The Guardian wasn’t alone in not reporting the damning revelations about Al Jazeera.

There was silence among mainstream Western news outlets — from CNN to The Washington Post — when the evidence against Mohammed Wishah emerged. It almost defies belief that not a single story was written about a journalist tasked with reporting the facts out of Gaza who was also a Hamas terrorist.

The Knesset has started advancing a bill that would give the government the power to close the offices of foreign media channels that are found to be likely to harm the security of the state, including, potentially Al Jazeera.

But the foreign press attitude toward Al Jazeera remains stubbornly positive.

How much more evidence of the network’s terror ties does the media need for that to change?

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post When Will the Western Media Realize the Connection Between Al Jazeera and Hamas? first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters

Posters slamming Israel and decrying Canada’s suspension of funding to UNRWA were found at the Thornhill, Ont., offices of Melissa Lantsman, a pro-Israel and Jewish Conservative MP who serves as deputy leader of the Official Opposition.   “Blood on Your Hands,” “Stop Arming Israel” and “Fund UNRWA Now” were among the messages found taped to […]

The post ‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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