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Israeli soldier Amichai Oster, son of former JTA writer and editor, is killed in Gaza

(JTA) — Amichai Oster, 24, an Israeli-American touring the United States after his service in an Israeli combat unit, was observing Shabbat and Shemini Atzeret at a Salt Lake City Chabad when Hamas attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7. 

Of all the terrified faces on the morning of October 7th, I remember Amichai’s anguished features distinctly,” Chabad’s Rabbi Avremi Zippel recalled in an Instagram post. “He needed to go back.”

Oster received an official draft notice while in Salt Lake City and returned to Israel to join the army’s 7020 reserve battalion. On Monday, Oster, a sergeant in the reserves and the son of a former writer and editor for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, died fighting in the northern Gaza Strip, killed by an explosive device that also injured two other soldiers. 

“Amichai did indeed rush here to fight for his country and for all of us,” his mother, Marcy Oster, said at his funeral Tuesday. “He was here doing exactly what he wanted to be doing. He died doing what he came home to do.” 

Marcy Oster, who wrote breaking news stories for JTA for more than a decade, and her husband Howard, deputy director of the internal medicine division at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, moved to Israel from Cleveland when Amichai was 1. The family lives in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron, in a neighborhood Marcy once described as “overwhelmingly American.”

“Marcy always spoke, and sometimes wrote, so proudly and movingly about her five children and the lives she and her family had made in Israel,” said Ami Eden, CEO of 70 Faces Media, JTA’s parent company. “Through her work managing JTA’s news briefs, she helped our readers feel connected to Jewish communities worldwide. Amichai’s death is a tragic example — and a deeply personal one for all of us at 70 Faces Media who worked with Marcy — of the way hearts are breaking in Israel and around the world since Oct. 7.”

Friends and family described Amichai as soft-spoken, charming, ever-smiling and eager to volunteer for those needing his help, including people with special needs.

After his initial army service he spent time traveling in Asia and the United States, a rite of passage for many Israelis post-army. On the road he would frequently sleep in an old Ford Crown Victoria that he bought in Florida. He was slightly embarrassed by the police equipment it retained, including a riot-busting bumper, recalled Ron Kampeas, JTA’s Washington bureau chief, who hosted Oster at his Northern Virginia home last year. Oster also described stopping in a Virginia forest on the fast day of Tisha B’av. His prayers were interrupted by a rattlesnake, a video of which he was proud to share with friends and acquaintances. 

“He was interested in everything. If he was curious about something, he searched the internet and read everything he could,” his mother, currently news editor at Ynetnews, recalled in her eulogy. His interests included “music, art, science, photography, animals, plants [and] decorating cakes. He loved his travels both far and near and he loved this land, all of it.” He planned to complete the Israel National Trail, a 683-mile route that traverses the country from north to south. After the war, he also planned to return to the United States and continue his travels, she said, before starting university.

In addition to his parents, Oster is survived by three sisters, Sarah, Emunah and Tova, and a younger brother, Jonathan, a soldier who is serving in southern Israel.

According to the IDF, 175 Israeli soldiers have been killed in combat during the army’s operations in Gaza following the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7.

Among those eulogizing Oster was Igal Lahav, head of the Karnei Shomron Council. “When we speak of incredible, Zionist and value-driven youth who would leave everything behind and rush into the fire to defend the country, we are talking about young people like Amichai,” Lahav wrote on Facebook.

In an essay she wrote on the 10th anniversary of their decision to move to Israel, Marcy Oster wrote that “we knew Israel would be the best place to raise our Jewish children, where they would learn about their Jewish past, participate in their Jewish present and prepare for their Jewish future, and where we would have a front-row seat to Jewish history.”

At Amichai’s funeral, she spoke about a conversation with her oldest son when he was home on a recent two-day leave from Gaza. 

“I told them that I felt responsible for the fact that he was fighting in a war and he didn’t make the decision to come on aliyah —  that we made it for him,” she said. “He thought about it for a moment and replied, ‘Ima, what makes you think that if you never made aliyah that I would not have come here to fight for our country?’”

The post Israeli soldier Amichai Oster, son of former JTA writer and editor, is killed in Gaza appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community

The Jewish community in Toronto lost a towering leader when Rabbi Dovid Schochet, the president of the Toronto Rabbinical Council and the senior rabbi of the Chabad community in Toronto, passed away at the age of 91 on Jan. 28. He was born in 1932 in Basel, Switzerland, the second of 10 children, to Rabbi […]

The post Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison

Joseph Borgen, victim of an antisemitic attack, addressing a rally in Long Island. Photo: courtesy

The final criminal proceeding for the case of Joseph “Joey” Borgen, a Jewish man whom a gang of antisemites mauled and pepper-sprayed in broad daylight during protests and counter-protests over Israel’s 2021 war with Hamas, resulted in another conviction Wednesday.

Mohammed Said Othman, 29, was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to a press release issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.

Borgen, who is Jewish, was wearing a kippah while walking in Manhattan when Said Othman, along with several other men, ambushed him without being provoked. They shouted antisemitic slurs at the pro-Israel advocate, who suffered a concussion, wrist injury, black eye, and bruises all over his body.

Since then, three other sentences have been handed down in the Borgen case. Waseem Awawdeh, who continuously struck Borgen with a crutch while allegedly joining the others in shouting antisemitic epithets at him, pleaded guilty to attempted assault as a hate crime and received 18 months in jail, as part of a plea bargain negotiated with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathon Junig.

In November, Mahmoud Musa received seven years in prison for his role in the attack. In December, Mohammed Othman was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in state prison and five additional years of post-release supervision.

As seen in footage of the incident, Othman kicked and repeatedly struck Borgen in the face while sitting on his chest to weigh him down. In court, he pleaded guilty to gang assault and third-degree hate crime assault.

“These defendants violently targeted and assaulted another individual simply because he is Jewish,” District Attorney Bragg said in a statement. “While this office always supports the right to peacefully protest and engage in open dialogue, these multi-year prison sentences makes clear that physically attacking someone because of their religion is never acceptable. I thank our hate crimes unit for its diligent work in this case.”

Throughout the criminal proceedings in his case, Joey Borgen called on New York City lawmakers to do more to eradicate antisemitic hatred in the five boroughs.

In December, he told The Algemeiner that while he is pleased with the outcome of the case he is worried that the group with which his attackers were allegedly affiliated, the extreme anti-Zionist organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL), is still engaging in antisemitic activity that could lead to more hate crimes.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, WOL has posted (and deleted) a map, titled “Know Your Enemies,” showing the addresses of Jewish organizations in New York City, and staged numerous disruptive protests. The group is led by Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York (CUNY) student who once threatened to set on fire someone’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hoodie while he was wearing it.

“They’re still causing havoc; they’re forcing Jewish attendees of a fundraiser to speak at the backdoor of a police van, and they’re bombarding the mother of a hostage with horrible antisemitic chants,” Borgen said. “While I’m happy that I got a positive result in my case, I’m still disturbed that this same group is still going around causing issues for Jewish people, attacking restaurants, and putting people in danger.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison first appeared on

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See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui

A special live taping of our podcast ‘Not That Kind of Rabbi’.

The post See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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