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Post Purim musings

By SIMONE COHEN SCOTT Jerusalem, March 9th, 2023 Purim in Jerusalem was different this year. Before Kovid the festival was exciting and fun; costumed people would be everywhere. Children, of course, coming from their school Purim parties are a given, but adults too would carry on normally at their jobs, dressed like Darth Vador, Pocahontas, King Kong, Queen Esther, Davy Crockett, and others. A tangible excitement would be in the air, beginning almost a week before the reading of the Megillah. Isolation during the plague dampened all that down as it did everything else, but this year it’s the general distress, dissatisfaction, dissent, and disruption, that has placed a pall over the celebrations. That, and the intense terrorism, with parents losing not only sons but pairs of sons..
So this favourite holiday of mine had a different tone. Actually, my whole stay in the Holy City this time around has had a different tone. I was away for a year. The moment I returned to my apartment, I spotted trouble. The tenants had taken away all my stuff, leaving only the heavy furniture! Most of it has since been returned, but I was devastated. Friends advised me to go to the police, and perhaps I would have if the police weren’t busy enough handling everything else that’s going on. Crowds of people are creating mayhem pushing against the government, snagging up traffic, seriously inconveniencing people who just want to live their lives. The police, monitoring these mob-like efforts to halt the government and so forth, pretty much have their hands full. At the same time, there’s the incessant terrorism danger. As many terrorism fatalities as there have been, many more have been intercepted. I feel guilty kvetching about my losses, when there are so many people grieving. Here’s where you see the other Israelis, the ones who reach out to the families of the murdered. There are so many stories circulating of empathy and compassion; everybody has one. My friend’s grandson’s entire class made Mishloach Manot (Purim gift baskets) and took them to the bereaving families, with their condolences.
We wonder where all these people come from who gather and act badly around locations like the president’s house, the prime minister’s house, even his wife’s hairdresser’s establishment. Don’t they have jobs? Don’t they go to work? Don’t they have commitments elsewhere? I heard somewhere that they are bused in and get paid. I wouldn’t be surprised. Funny thing, Canadian truckers wanted to meet and talk to Prime Minister Trudeau; he wouldn’t. Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to meet and talk to the leader of the opposition Yair Lapid; he won’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I have had some wonderful treats during this visit.. The weather has been nice, occasionally quite warm, like over 20. The country still needs rain, but the period in which to pray for and expect rain isn’t over yet, so there’s still hope. One really nice thing I did was go to Efrat with a friend and visit Rabbi Benarroch and his wife Elana. The rabbi very kindly gave us a tour of Efrat, explaining the area as we drove along. We went back to their condo for tea. It is indeed a very beautiful setting. I spoke to the Rabbi a bit about the unusual choice he and his wife have made. They live in Israel, but he is home only one-quarter of the time, apportioned generally as nine weeks in Winnipeg, three in Efrat. He told me that in Jerusalem, because there are so many synagogues (and there are, trust me), rabbis cannot function the way they do in North America. He wanted to have a congregation that he could bond with, build rapport, and always support its members as needed. He said Jerusalem doesn’t have that; congregations shift and their rabbis mostly are part time, working also at something else. I guess being jet-lagged more than average is a price he’s willing to pay . I’m sure there are other costs too.
I asked Elana how she felt about her husband being away so much on a regular basis. Apparently, her friends ask the same question. It’s quite satisfying, she tells them, because the time spent together is very rewarding. I thought about our conversation, short as it was. I likened the situation, not to a military husband, but to a merchant sailor, and thought of the wives in old novels, watching the horizon and waiting at the seashore. Quite romantic when you think of it. No time for petty bickering; make every moment count.
Efrat (Efrata) is much, much bigger than I had envisioned, with seven neighbourhood clusters, each named after one of the seven species spoken of in the Tanach as being special to the land of Israel. In fact, Efrat is mentioned several places in the Tanach: Genesis; Ruth; Chronicles; Psalms; Micah. Our matriarch Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin on the way to Efrat, and was buried in nearby Bet Lechem. Actually, the materials used in this latest reincarnation of the town blend in well with the spirituality of the surrounding landscape. The stone structures are repetitive, red roofs, all very new, although the town is very old, as is also borne out by recent archaeological finds.
Bus drivers in Jerusalem are in a class by themselves. Back in early television, Bob Newhart did a skit about bus driver school, where they teach drivers how to maximize the jerks and wobbles of the vehicle, as an old woman tries to get into her seat. I am now that woman, except I think the drivers here are trained in the IDF tank unit. Usually I say thank you in Hebrew as I’m getting off the bus. I never get an answer. The other day the driver gave me such a rock and roll he had me swinging back and forth from the overhead straps. I decided to skip the Canadian politeness. To my surprise, he spoke to me instead. I didn’t understand, so I just gave him a look and got off the bus. Then “Have a nice day,” he said loudly, and flashed me a beautiful smile. Probably it meant that he (or I) had just passed the exam. I blew him a kiss; what else could I do? I was pretty shaken, but I won’t stop taking the bus regardless of the risk. You see, I’ve hit the level where I no longer need to pay the fare.

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Features

New website for Israelis interested in moving to Canada

By BERNIE BELLAN A new website, titled “Orvrim to Canada” (https://www.ovrimtocanada.com/ovrim-en) has been receiving hundreds of thousands of visits, according to Michal Harel, operator of the website.
In an email sent to jewishpostandnews.ca 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, https://www.ovrimtocanada.com/, 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” (https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/article-787914#google_vignette) 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.

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Features

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 https://www.newsweek.com/message-gazan-campus-protesters-youre-hurting-palestinian-cause-opinion-1894313

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Features

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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