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Yeshiva Loses its Ninth Student in War in Gaza

Fallen Israeli soldier Maj. Gen. Ziv Chen. Source: Twitter/X

Israelis on Monday woke up to bittersweet news: the good was the successful rescue of two hostages from the Gaza Strip. The bad, that three soldiers, Maj. Gen. Ziv Chen, Lt. Col. Nathaniel Elkoubi, and Maj. Yair Cohen were killed in separate fighting in the Strip.

Chen, 27, from Kfar Saba, was a graduate of a religious Zionist yeshiva in southern Israel which has now lost nine students in the war against Hamas in Gaza.

“We wanted to believe that we had finished paying the heavy price,” the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Wolfson, told Hebrew media.

The yeshiva, Yeruham Hesder, is a program for observant Israelis who wish to combine regular military service with Torah study. A longer program than regular enlistments – five years total – there are thousands of students every year participating.

“We have lost a mainstay of the Beit Midrash (study hall). Ziv, as his name is, was all light,” Rabbi Wolfson added. “A loving and beloved man, I will bless you, everything he did was with infinite love. He loved people, loved the Torah, and everything he was involved in was done wholeheartedly.”

Chen was set to celebrate his wedding anniversary this upcoming Sunday with his wife Hillel, his family said.

At the funeral, held on Tuesday in his hometown, accompanied by hundreds of Israelis paying their respects, his uncle, Danny Chen, said about the fallen soldier: “He was a salt of the earth, a brilliant yeshiva student who loved the Land of Israel. He was a walking encyclopedia, very knowledgeable. Saturday night, two weeks ago, I saw him for the last time, always hugging and kissing. An exemplary child, a great loss. We are all shocked and hurt.”

The organization overseeing the Hesder yeshivot, the Hesder Yeshiva Association, released a statement that said, “We bitterly mourn the death of the soldier Maj. Gen. Ziv Chen, a fighter in the Givati ​​Brigade, student of the Hesder Yeshiva Yeruham, who fell in the war. On behalf of the leaders of the Hesder Yeshivas and all the rabbis and students, we embrace the family, the the rabbis of the yeshiva, its students and graduates, and pray for an overwhelming victory of our heroic soldiers over our vile and cruel enemies. May his soul be wrapped in the bundle of life.”

The three soldiers who perished on Monday were the victims of an IED explosion in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, where the IDF has been concentrating its fighting for the last few weeks.

As mentioned, Chen is the ninth soldier to fall during the war from the Yeroham Yeshiva. The other eight are: Sergeant Ariel Eliyahu, 19, Staff Sergeant Yanon Fleishman, 31, First Sergeant Eitan Dov Rosenzweig, 21, Captain Eitan Fish, 23, Sergeant Yakir Yedidia Shankolevsky, 21, Advanced Sergeant Gideon Ilani, 35, First Sergeant Elisha Levinstern, 38, and First Sergeant Ephraim Yachman, 21.


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A Mother Pleads for the Return of Her Son From Hamas; Will the World Listen?

Israeli hostage Matan Angrest.

As an Israeli living abroad, advocating for Israel has always been my passion.

At a recent event organized by a Jewish organization in Florida, I met the mother of Matan Angrest, who was abducted by Hamas on October 7.

Anat, a mother of four from Kiryat Bialik, has been dealing with the uncertainty of her 21-year-old son’s kidnapping. It wasn’t until two weeks after October 7 that his phone was tracked in Gaza; he was listed as “kidnapped,” leaving the family in limbo.

Anat told me, “We didn’t know if he was alive or dead. I spent most of the day [of the Hamas attack] on the balcony, watching every military vehicle and every knock on my neighbors’ doors announcing the loss of their loved ones. I was fearful that I would be next to receive tragic news.”

More than a month later, during the ceasefire hostage deal with Hamas, one of the hostages who was freed confirmed with the family that he had seen Matan and had spent a day with him in the Gaza terror tunnels. For the first time, they knew that he was alive but badly injured from the fighting on October 7.

My heart goes out to Anat’s struggle, and I wonder how she manages to balance caring for her family, advocating for her son in rallies to bring him back home, and traveling to the United States. She expressed her appreciation for the moral support and compassion from American Jews living abroad, which has been a source of emotional and financial strength for Anat during this challenging time.

Anat shared, “It’s hard for me to take care of my three children now and stay calm while imagining my son hungry and injured in a tunnel; I see him sitting in front of me.”

“My husband and I have stopped working since October 7. We don’t have a day or night. We are focusing on maintaining a sense of normalcy for our three other children during this challenging time. They are experiencing nightmares and tears, while two of our kids find it difficult to cope with school and are only receiving home tutoring, they are traumatized by their brother’s kidnapping … the last six months have been a complete cycle of hell,” Anat told me.

Amid the war in Gaza, the world has completely forgotten about the plight of the Israeli hostages, let alone the 1,200 people murdered on October 7. As advocates for Israel, it is our job to keep telling both sides of the story — and make sure that the world cannot forget.

We stand united with Anat’s family in her prayers for the safe return of her son, Matan, and the release of all the hostages — and we must work to make this a reality.

Ayelet Raymond is an Israel activist, and the creative force behind the @Kosher_Barbie character and social media personality.

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The 100 years’ ‘Guernica’: Phoebe Maltz Bovy with the latest updates on an antizionist literary implosion

Remember Guernica? The highfalutin, U.S.-based, volunteer-run literary magazine that published then unpublished an essay by an Israeli writer, promised a “fulsome explanation” for what that was all about. I’m sure that, in lieu of following Iranian missile news, you’ve been on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear what was new at Guernica. Well, […]

The post The 100 years’ ‘Guernica’: Phoebe Maltz Bovy with the latest updates on an antizionist literary implosion appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Antisemitism at Michigan Colleges Has Reached Frightening Levels

Michigan State University sign. Photo: Ken Lund.

In the past six months, violent antisemitic attacks have grown more common in higher education.

Jewish students at Columbia were attacked by individuals “wielding sticks” outside of their library; students at UC Berkeley were berated for attending an on-campus speaker event; and at Tulane, a student’s nose was broken while he was trying to stop protesters from burning an Israeli flag. Universities across the United States have found themselves in a serious predicament, and if they don’t figure out how to stop this blatant Jew hatred on campus, they will soon find their Jewish student populations dwindling.

A study published by the ADL at the end of November 2023, found that of the 700 college campuses and more than 3,000 students surveyed, students from nearly half of these schools reported at least one antisemitic incident on campus — and seven out of every 10 Jewish students had either experienced or witnessed antisemitism since the beginning of the Fall semester. And the numbers have only grown worse since.

This is a dramatic leap from before the atrocities of October 7, but antisemitism had been rising on campus before that. Jewish students feel scared, abandoned, and unwelcome on campus — and the problem is not getting better.

Perhaps no higher education system has been more affected by this problem than public universities in Michigan, a fact recently highlighted on the national television show Dr. Phil, where a senior at the University of Michigan blamed Israel for Hamas’ actions on October 7, and accused Dr. Phil of Islamophobia for asking whether they condemn the mass murder of Jews.

Just this past week, a student leader at Michigan posted to his Instagram story, “Until my last breath, I will utter death to every single individual who supports the Zionist state. Death and more. Death and worse.”

A few days prior to that, anti-Israel protesters brought the annual Honors Convocation ceremony to an unexpected end, and, in the last few months, these protesters have continuously entered university buildings, spewing hate and disrupting classes. None of these actions have elicited meaningful responses from the administration, even though these all clearly violate the University’s code of conduct.

To determine how Jewish students feel, I interviewed multiple high school seniors and college freshmen in Michigan on this topic. These individuals shared one clear message: Jewish students are worried that they will be victimized by antisemitism, and do not feel supported by their peers or universities.

Julia Feber, a senior at Wylie E. Groves High School in Birmingham, stated that she actually “turned down an acceptance from the University of Michigan” because of the “anti-Israel rhetoric on campus.” Instead, she chose to attend Elon University, which is “publicly pro-Israel” and has a large Jewish population. Julia isn’t alone: one in every 15 Jewish college students (7%) has considered transferring schools because of the anti-Israel climate on campus.

My next interviewee, first-year Michigan State University (MSU) student Minaleah Koffron, has felt a dramatic shift on campus in the wake of Hamas’ attack.

“Post-October 7, [there has been a] completely different climate [on campus] … there’s this narrative that Israel is committing heinous acts under the Zionist agenda, and [because] many college students are morally and fundamentally against atrocities like genocide, they turn the conflict in the Middle East into a highly personal issue … thus, the campus culture is divisive, where some promote a hostile environment toward Zionists and, by extension, Jews.”

Minaleah has experienced antisemitism on campus. “The bathroom next to my Hebrew class had the words ‘F*** off Zionists, you genocidal freaks’ and ‘Children’s blood is on your hands’ written on its wall. In that same building, a sticker was put up that equated Zionism with terrorism.”

Minaleah concluded by saying that “students on campus internalize the messages they see. As anti-Israel messages are increasingly shared by my peers and strewn throughout campus, students’ hate for Israel increases. With it, feelings of safety on campus diminish.”

Andrew Klein, another freshman at Michigan State University, has similar feelings about the culture on campus. He states that “after October 7, campus culture has taken a turn for the worse. It has been disheartening to see students who, a few months ago, could not locate Israel on the map become foreign policy experts, putting anti-Zionist legislation through our student government.”

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire: anti-Zionism and antisemitism are two sides of the same coin. Andrew’s friends have had their mezuzot ripped from their doorposts, and are now afraid to wear kippot or their Star of David necklaces openly on campus. “These anti-Israel groups are fueled off of victories, and sadly, right now, they are getting a lot of them.”

There have been countless “victories” for these anti-Zionist individuals on Michigan State’s campus. The Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) passed two bills, 60-65 and 60-30, riddled with antisemitic rhetoric. The Faculty Senate also passed a resolution calling on the university to divest from Israel. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement inspires antisemitic rhetoric and has no place on campus.

In response to Israel’s defensive war against Hamas, American Jews are being harmed all over the country in the name of “Palestine.” Verbal attacks, forced censorship, and dehumanizing language have evolved into public threats, which have led to assaults. We are seeing this play out every day in front of our eyes. When we say “never again,” it falls on deaf ears. The general public needs to wake up and see that Jews don’t feel safe because they are actually under attack. Something must be done before it is too late.

Laela Saulson is a senior at Michigan State University. She is currently a CAMERA fellow, working to combat anti-Israel misinformation on campus.

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