Panel Discusses New UIWU Center

img_7890Exciting things are happening within United Israel World Union. One of the many recent developments was announced via a live webcast from Saint Francisville, Louisiana, where an assembled panel announced the opening of a new United Israel Center in this historic town. This new center, in keeping with the original objects and purposes of UIWU, will be a place of study, devotion and spiritual guidance for all members of United Israel. President James Tabor phoned in to join the panel discussion about this exciting new UI center, opening in Louisiana. Listen to the discussion, and then stay tuned for more information about the grand opening, tentatively scheduled for October 29th in Saint Francisville, Louisiana.

 

Remembering David Horowitz (19): The Strange Saga of “Eddie” Abrams

When the West Olive, Michigan congregation of United Israel World Union dedicated their new Community Center on the 7th day of Sukkoth, October 17, 1965, the group received a most treasured gift. A rare Indian Torah Scroll encased in a beautifully ornamented silver container was consecrated. The Torah was of Sephardic style and dated 1898-Calcutta, India.

The ancient scroll was one of several Torahs held in the custody of The Brotherhood Synagogue of New York under the care of Rabbi Irving J. Block, spiritual leader of the Greenwich Village congregation. Presenting the Torah to the Michigan community, however, was a modest, unassuming Sephardic individual by the name of Edward S. Abrahams. Mr. Abrahams’ full Hebrew name was Ezra-Shalom ben Abraham Khazzam. His many friends and acquaintances knew him simply as “Eddie.”

Edward Abrahams was born on July 7, 1901 in Basra, Mesopotamia (Iraq). As the Jews of Europe in the early 20th century looked upon the United States as the golden land of opportunity, so did the Jews living under the rule of the Turkish Ottoman Empire look upon India as their refuge and a place where their lives could be improved.

When he was three years old, his widowed mother took Eddie along with his two brothers to British-ruled India. This was done in compliance with the expressed wishes of his father before Arabs murdered him when the boy was only six months old. Growing up in Calcutta, Eddie was raised in the strong Hebraic tradition of the Bagdadian Jews who formed the bulk of the city’s Jewish population.

A nice cross-section of Jewish life in Calcutta from an Jewish songbook of the period
A nice cross-section of Jewish life in Calcutta from an Jewish songbook of the period

The strange saga of Eddie’s life began when he left home at an early age to become a seaman. Because of his fluent knowledge of his native Arabic, he posed as an Egyptian to attain employment on a Danish vessel. Arriving in Seattle, he abandoned ship. A stranger in that great Pacific port city, he made his way to HIAS (The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) who graciously took him in. He soon found a little synagogue where he was able to observe the Passover celebration. He didn’t miss the symbolism in his experience.

Following that Passover in the spring of 1917, Eddie took a job on an American sailing vessel, an old wooden windjammer whose destination was Alaska. A benevolent Captain shared the ship calendar and changes of the moon with Eddie, enabling the young Jewish sailor to keep all the holidays subsequent to the Passover by the guidance of the moon, “that faithful witness in the sky,” as the Bible describes it.

On his return to Seattle, Eddie lost all of his belongings. He tried to join the Army. Too young to enlist in the American Army, Eddie decided to go to the Canadian recruiting station. There he saw a poster inviting men to join the Jewish Legion, a group of volunteers formed after the Balfour Declaration to enable young Jewish men who so desired, to serve in Palestine in a regularly constituted unit of the British army. This, Eddie decided to do.

He enlisted and was sent to Nova Scotia in 1918. Here came Eddie’s first real contact with Jews other than those of his own Levantine tradition. At first his fellow Jews looked upon him with suspicion. Many did not believe that he was Jewish, and later some even ridiculed him for saying his morning prayers and donning the phylacteries according to the custom of pious Orthodox Jews. Eddie was extremely hurt by this behavior as previously, he had been met with respect from Gentile seaman for so openly observing his religion.

After training in England, the Jewish Legion unit to which he had been attached was sent to Palestine. After fulfilling his service there in 1919, Eddie chose to return to the United States. He arrived during the Thanksgiving season in late November 1919.

Again, the temptation of the sea took Eddie back to American ships. But some three years later came an abrupt change of plans. Desiring to see more of America, Eddie decided to turn to a “hobo life” for a period. Thus, in 1922, starting out from New Orleans, La., he joined a group of vagabonds and followed the harvest wheat belt arriving finally in New York City in 1923.

At this time, Eddie had to make a vital decision. Either he would have to go back to sea or settle down to a job on land. He decided on the latter.

He took a job at a garage on the Lower East Side. The foreman was so impressed by Eddie’s work that he persuaded the still very young Calcutta Jewish seaman to remain. Eddie remained at this job for fourteen years, working his way up from odd-job laborer to manager of the station.

Striving to start out on his own, Eddie moved to Northern Westchester in 1937 and went into the gas station business for himself. In 1959, after his three daughters had been married, Eddie decided to give up active management of his business and to travel once again.

Intending to go to Israel for a reunion of the Jewish Legion, by a strange coincidence, Eddie met two Pakistani merchant officers in the lobby of a New York theater. So impressed were they by his Indian command of the Urdu language, they invited Eddie and his wife to visit them on their ship. A fast friendship resulted and at dinner on board the ship of his newly made friends, the Abrahams were invited to come to Pakistan as guests of the ship’s captain.

After a visit to Karachi, the Abrahams left by air for Calcutta, India. Eddie was finally returning to the place he grew up, but he wasn’t prepared for what he would find.

To his amazement, he discovered that most of his friends were either dead or had left India. The old Jewish community had dwindled as a result of emigration to Israel and elsewhere. Synagogues stood almost empty and the priceless Torah Scrolls within the Arks unused.

When Eddie asked friends what had become of the once flourishing Bagdadian Jewish community in Calcutta, he was told that since partition the Jews had lost their former privileged European status and had left the country. Many opted to emigrate to the UK, US, Canada and Australia, and some to Israel. This rapid movement of people destabilized the tight-knit religiously conservative community.

Three of the grand old synagogues in Calcutta
Three of the grand old synagogues in Calcutta

Eddie became greatly concerned about the large number of Sefer Torahs that had adorned the onetime flourishing synagogues. He was told that a few of the ancient and beautiful scrolls had been sent to various communities in Israel and other countries where congregations of Calcutta Jews had been formed. Eddie decided to approach the Jewish community officials about bringing some of the unused Torahs to the United States where they would be placed in synagogues in this country that were in need of Torah scrolls.

The Jewish community leaders of the city, agreeing that it was almost tantamount to sacrilege to allow Torahs to remain unused, agreed to the request. The great task was arranged through Mr. Isaac S. Abraham, an influential and well-respected member of the Jewish community of Calcutta. Eddie agreed to cover all expenses for repair and transportation.

Back in America with his priceless cargo, a dozen Torahs, Mr. Abrahams was providentially led to Rabbi Irving J. Block, spiritual leader of The Brotherhood Synagogue in Greenwich Village, New York, who consented to have his congregation act as custodian of the treasured objects. They would remain there until worthy beneficiaries could be decided.

Over time, the ancient Torahs have found new homes. Two were given to an Orthodox Synagogue in Brooklyn whose Ark had been destroyed by vandals after a break-in. Several went to newly established congregations from Ethiopian (Falasha) Jews to Japanese Israelites. It was announced that one would be donated to a new kind of house of worship officially opening in February 1966: the International Synagogue at John F. Kennedy Airport, bringing the message of the Hebraic faith to all mankind.

And one, of course, to a Michigan congregation of United Israel World Union.

Rabbi Dennis Jones reads from the precious Calcutta Torah with James Tabor alongside. Photo taken in August 2014 at the West Olives UIWU Center
Rabbi Dennis Jones reads from the precious Calcutta Torah with James Tabor alongside. Photo taken in August 2014 at the West Olives UIWU Center

Eddie Abrahams was present at all the ceremonies. As a messenger of the Faith, he always presented the ancient Torahs as a gift of the Jewish community of Calcutta, India.

Thanks to a Baghdad born Jew, Edward Abrahams, who had spent his childhood days in Calcutta, India, and then roamed the world as a modern day “Jack London” only to settle finally in the United States as a successful businessman, the richly-ornamented, antique Indian Torah Scrolls, symbols of the quickly dying Jewish community of Calcutta, would now live on in the Arks of new houses of worship.

The United Israel Scroll resides today at the United Israel Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Calcutta Torah now in Charlotte at the United Israel Center where it is used regularly for Bar Mitzvah's and other special occasions
The Calcutta Torah now in Charlotte at the United Israel Center where it is used regularly for Bar Mitzvah’s and other special occasions

On the occasion of its use, one is left to wonder about a past congregation in Calcutta, India who faithfully read from it so many years ago and to also remember the incredible journey of “Eddie” Abrahams who personally placed it in our care.

Today, less than fifty Jews remain in Calcutta.

Bio Picture

Ralph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

This post is the nineteenth in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.

Rare Nero Coin Found at Mt Zion Excavation in Jerusalem

A Roman gold coin depicting the Emperor Nero, dated to 56 CE was discovered in summer, 2016 at UNC Charlotte's archaeological excavation at Jerusalem's Mt. Zion. Credit: Shimon Gibson
A Roman gold coin depicting the Emperor Nero, dated to 56 CE was discovered in summer, 2016 at UNC Charlotte’s archaeological excavation at Jerusalem’s Mt. Zion.
Credit: Shimon Gibson

The discovery of a rare gold coin bearing the image of the Roman Emperor Nero at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s archaeological excavations on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, has just been announced by the archaeologists in charge of the project, Drs. Shimon Gibson, James Tabor, and Rafael Lewis.

“The coin is exceptional,” said Gibson, “because this is the first time that a coin of this kind has turned up in Jerusalem in a scientific dig. Coins of this type are usually only found in private collections, where we don’t have clear evidence as to place of origin.”

The gold coin (aureus) bears the bare-headed portrait of the young Nero as Caesar. The lettering around the edge of the coin reads: NERO CAESAR AVG IMP. On the reverse of the coin is a depiction of an oak wreath containing the letters “EX S C,” with the surrounding inscription “PONTIF MAX TR P III.” Importantly, these inscriptions help to work out the date when the coin was struck as 56/57 AD. Identification of the coin was made by the historian and numismatist, Dr. David Jacobson from London.

The coin dates to a little more than a decade before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, and was found in rubble material outside the ruins of the 1st Century Jewish villas the team has been excavating. The team has hypothesized that the large houses may have belonged to wealthy members of the priestly caste, and it may have come from one of their stores of wealth.

“The coin probably came from one of the rich 2000-year old Jewish dwellings which the UNC Charlotte team have been uncovering at the site,” said Gibson. “These belonged to the priestly and aristocratic quarter located in the Upper City of Jerusalem. Finds include the well-preserved rooms of a very large mansion, a Jewish ritual pool (mikveh) and a bathroom, both with their ceilings intact.”

This mansion and other like it, were utterly destroyed by Titus and the Roman legions, when Jerusalem was razed to the ground. It is likely, owing to the intrinsic value of the gold coin, it was hidden away ahead of the destruction of the city, and was missed by the marauding and looting Roman soldiers.

“It’s a valuable piece of personal property and wouldn’t have been cast away like rubbish or casually dropped. It’s conceivable that it ended up outside these structures in the chaos that happened as this area was destroyed.”

The image of Nero is significant in that it shows the presence of the Roman occupation and provides a clear late date for the occupation of the residences. There is no historical evidence that Nero ever visited Jerusalem. Tabor pointed out that the coin is dated “to the same year of St. Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem, which resulted in his arrest (on the charge of taking Gentiles into the Temple) and incarceration in Caesarea.” Last of the Julio-Claudian line, Nero was Roman emperor for fourteen years (54-68 AD). He had the reputation for being a tyrant, and some believed he was responsible for the devastating fire of 64 AD, which resulted in the burning of much of Rome.

The archaeological project has brought to light many other significant finds during the 2016 summer season, and work at the site will be resumed next year.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160913150507.htm


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

It’s Not in Heaven!

lobashamyim““For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11–14 ESV)

A simple reading of this text is not difficult to understand. Moses is telling the people of Israel that the commandments are not too difficult. Further making it clear that one need not wait for someone to ascend into heaven, or travel beyond the sea in order to bring them to the people. Very plainly, the word is very near, in their mouth and in their heart so that they can do it.

Judaism and Christianity obviously know this passage. In fact, in this episode, Ross suggests that both took the plain meaning of this passage and arrived at far reaching interpretations. Working through a story known as the oven of Akhnai contained in the Babylonian Talmud (Baba Metzia 59b), and Paul’s interpretation of these words contained in Romans 10:5-10, he shows how the word declared near can easily be missed.

Should possession of the written Torah allow one to ignore the voice of God? Would God rejoice if His children ignored His voice? Should the majority rule in a decision so long as no harm was intended? Is it acceptable to take a passage out of context and add to the words, providing an interpretation that at best stretches the intended meaning?

Perhaps the Bible means what it says.

What’s New with United Israel? Our September 2016 Newsletter

September 7, 2016

Dear Friends of United Israel–Shalom!

I wanted to send out this newsletter to all our United Israel associates to catch you up on some of the things that have been going on as we head into the Fall and the Holy Days just less than a month away. There is a lot to report and I look forward to sharing with you all.

The New United Israel Calendars Have Arrived
We will be mailing out our special United Israel calendars to our entire surface mailing list next week. If you received one last year you are already on our mailing list but if you are not sure, or you have a change of address, please reply via email to this message and give us your current postal mailing address. There is no charge for these calendars, they are made possible by the generous donation of Doris Trinker, widow of long term UIWU board member Jack Trinker, who died in 2014. The Trinkers have been providing us these calendars for many years and they have been truly enjoyed by all. They include the Torah and Haftarah weekly readings as well as all the standard New Moons and Jewish Holidays with both Gregorian and Hebrew Calendar months and days.

A United Israel “Room with A View” in Israel at Biblical Tamar Park
United Israel has formed an agreement with Blossoming Rose in the Negev Desert in Israel to have our own space reserved there on a permanent basis. This has been arranged through our close association with DeWayne Coxon, President of Blossoming Rose, and his associates. DeWayne has spoken at our United Israel April Conference many times over the past few years and he and I, along with Ross Nichols, have organized several successful tours to Israel together since 2010. Biblical Tamar has many attractions, not the least of which is the spectacular archaeological excavation over which Blossoming Rose has caretaking responsibilities in co-operation with the Israel Antiquities Authority. This historic biblical site, known as Ir ‘Ovot in the Torah, and Tamar, in the Hebrew Bible, was one of the encampments of Israel in the days of Moses and marked the southernmost border of the ancient land of Israel (Number 21:10; 1 Kings 9:18; Ezekiel 47:19).

Although our little room represents only a tiny “foothold” in the Land of Israel it represents a significant presence for us both literally and symbolically. I stayed there this summer and began to furnish the room according to to our “blue and white” theme as designed by my wife Lori Woodall, who also did the design for our office here in Charlotte. It is really a lovely place. It reminds me of the verse in Jeremiah 9:1 where the prophet prayed with longing, “Oh that I were in the desert, in a lodging place for wayfaring men.”

The historic work of David Horowitz and United Israel has also been recognized now in the Hall of the History of Israel’s Founders at Tamar right next to other pioneers of Zionism such as Theodor Herzl, Orde Wingate, President Harry Truman, Golda Meir, and David Ben Gurion. Blossoming Rose features seven historic periods as part of Biblical Tamar Park: Abrahamic, Mosaic, Israelite, Roman/Christian, Islamic, British, and modern Israeli.

An additional emerging involvement with Blossoming Rose and Biblical Tamar that has us very excited is through two of our United Israel leaders, Lloyd Willard and Lance Cantley (who is an ordained United Israel minister). They have recently have formed a non-profit organization called The Good Land. The mission of The Good Land is pioneer innovative agricultural practices for restoring the Land and producing nutritious food without the use of artificial fertilizers or pestisides. Willard and Cantley, in consultation with our United Israel officers and board, have now formed a relationship with Dr. Coxon that involves establishing some soil testing plots at Tamar with the goal of discovering what is needed to see the “desert bloom” in the natural way spoken of by the Prophets (Isaiah 35:1).

Let’s Travel to Israel Together in March 2017!
I wanted to invite all of you receiving this newsletter to consider traveling to Israel with us in March of next year. Ross Nichols has put together a fantastic tour for March 3-14, 2017, along with Dr. DeWayne Coxon of Blossoming Rose. I will join the tour as a guest teacher and Lori and I both are very much looking forward to the time together in the Land of Israel with those who go with us. The price is really reasonable–if you compare other tours there is nothing out there with this value, including the quality of hotels and the selection of the sites we will visit. Collectively the three of us have many many decades of experience with traveling to Israel and we simply know how to do it right! Whether you have never been to Israel or have gone before, this is a tour you will not want to miss. Pictured here is one of my favorite places in the world–the “Sukkah” gathering place at Tamar. Imagine sitting with us under the stars, around the fire, and talking over the adventure of a lifetime–yards away from the Biblical city of Tamar. Also, if you come with us you can also visit firsthand out new United Israel “Room No. 10” sanctuary and be part of this little piece of history.

Check out the itinerary here, watch the video, and I think you will agree this is the tour for you! There are still spaces though we want to limit the tour to one bus so we can all spend maximum time together–from Dan to Beersheva!

Flood Relief in Lousiana

I am sure all of you are well aware of the terribly devastation that hit the Baton Rouge, LA area the weekend of August 13th with the record rainful and horrible flooding. This is right in the neighborhood of Ross Nichols and our Roots of Faith folks who immediately went into high gear in helping those who had been damaged by the flooding. Ross, Dave Cole, and others have been involved in these relief efforts for nearly a month now and they have set up a Storm Relief Fund. 100% of funds contributed go directly to individuals needing help from storm damage with no overhead costs removed as with most funding efforts. We hope you will give generously if you have not yet.

Ross Nichols, United Israel Vice President

Some of you may have heard that Ross Nichols, United Israel Vice President, was abrubtly let go from his job at Georgia Pacific after nearly 25 years. For anyone this would be quite a shock but Ross has taken time out to think about his future and for now has decided to devote himself full time to his work through Roots of Faith, an outreach effort of United Israel World Union. He has thrown himself totally into this new direction with great enthusiasm and energy. His efforts so far involve teaching on-line via YouTube each Sabbath, producing podcasts, developing our web sites, teaching Hebrew classes, writing and publishing, and leading tours to Israel. And all of this has been in the midst of the devastation of the flooding in his area–to which he has devoted so much time. If you have not checked his web site lately you will be impressed–Ross moves fast and gets a lot accomplished, even when he was working 40+ hours a week for Georgia Pacific. I can’t even begin to imagine what he will be able to do now. He has also begun a new social media oriented Facebook Group I would encourage you to join if you use Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rootsoffaith/. Last count it already had 333 members and growing.

A New and Improved United Israel Web Site!

As most of you know our previous United Israel web site was hacked by a Muslim group in Algeria and totally destroyed. We have now rebuilt it from scratch and it is emerging as steadly with more content and features than the old one had. We are adding updates each week and have plans for much more more. Be sure and bookmark unitedisrael.org and visit us often–and be sure to check out Ralph Buntyn’s amazing new series: “Remembering David Horowitz.” You can find the archive of all his past posts here.

This is by no means a fund-raising letter but one of the new features of our site is a Donate button on the Home Page so that you can make donations on-line via Paypal either with a Paypal account or using a credit card. We encourage you to use it. All donations are carefully spent and 100% goes for the many good efforts we are involved in with nothing wasted.

Finally I wanted to highlight one of the many “good works” our United Israel people are doing all over the country and throughout the world–including our ministers. Here is David Tyler performing a Biblically centered Hebraic wedding ceremony in up State New York this past weekend for some friends, Edwin Oakes and Kelly Sexton. By all accounts David did a marvelous job. I know our founder David Horowitz would be most proud.

Warmest best wishes and Shalom to all!
Dr. James D. Tabor
President, United Israel World Union

Flood Relief Fund Launched by United Israel World Union Vice President Ross Nichols

relief-fund-800x352

United Israel’s Vice President, Ross Nichols, director of our outreach arm “Roots of Faith,” lives in St Francisville, LA right in the heart of the recent Louisiana flooding in Baton Rouge and environs. Ross and his colleagues in the area have spend the last week personally working in flood relief. The damage is massive and the amount of work to be done is staggering. Please donate to our “Roots of Faith” Flood Relief Fund by clicking on the highlighted link. Unlike many such relief efforts 100% of funds collected go to direct relief of those in crisis with no overhead costs removed.

Ross Nichols and Dave Cole take a water break
Ross Nichols and Dave Cole take a water break

Southern Louisiana is reeling from the storm that struck the state in the recent days. Rivers surpassed record level flood stages producing unprecedented flooding, which displaced thousands, destroying homes and vehicles across the state. An estimated 20,000 people and their pets have been rescued from flooded areas, and yet some have not yet been reached. Some 10,000 are currently in shelters, and these numbers do not reflect the many who have been taken in by family and friends. Several parishes have been declared National Disasters and more are pending. The damage and suffering is inestimable and this is not going to end anytime soon. State and Federal authorities are working tirelessly to mobilize resources, but much of the help is coming from caring resources, neighbors, church and synagogue groups.
There are many reputable organizations through which one can give. We encourage giving in any way that one feels led. A simple Internet search will yield thousands of options to contribute towards helping the victims. The Roots of Faith Storm Relief Fund is one such effort among the many. It was set up to directly assist the family and friends of this organization primarily. Over the past few days, many of our online friends have asked how they can help.

100% of all contributions will go directly to those affected by the storm. The congregation is already deploying to the area, working to bring relief to those in need. Within our own congregation, we have family members who have lost their homes and who fled with only the clothes on their backs. There is need for food, clothing, diapers, baby formula, toiletries, water and many other basic necessities. In the coming weeks and months there will be needs that arise for home repairs that simply cannot wait until Federal Relief monies are made available. Your prompt assistance is the only way to meet these needs. Please give generously and help us share this Roots of Faith Relief Fund via social media links. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Remembering David Horowitz (18): Among Jethro’s People

               

In January 1965, David Horowitz was elected First Vice President of the Foreign Press Association, a 48-year-old organization of over 300 correspondents representing every region of the world. Mr. Horowitz also moderates the UN Correspondents Round Table bi-weekly radio program heard over station WEVD in New York. Prior to his election to this new post, he served as General Secretary of the association for the past three years.

On March 8, some 3,500 United States Marines arrive in South Vietnam, becoming the first American combat troops in Vietnam.

Also in early March, David Horowitz left New York bound for Sweden and Israel. It would become an extended trip lasting over six weeks. Landing in Stockholm, this was an exciting and much anticipated time for Horowitz. It was his native country and having been born in Malmo, this was his first return since his family left Malmo at the outbreak of World War I in October 1914.

During his stay, “Arbetet,” the leading daily newspaper in Malmo, ran a long article in its March 19th issue with a headline calling Horowitz a “Malmo-born World-Citizen.” The article by noted Swedish writer Nils Anderson featured a three-column photo showing Mr. Horowitz standing by the house at Parkgatan number 21, where he had lived as a young boy.

The Malmö Synagogue where Aaron Horowitz, David's father served as Cantor and David attended as a young boy
The Malmö Synagogue where Aaron Horowitz, David’s father served as Cantor and David attended as a young boy

“Dagens Nyheter,” Stockholm’s leading daily, which is circulated throughout Sweden and whose U.S. and UN correspondent is Sven Ahman, also carried two stories on Horowitz’s visit.

While in South Sweden, Mr. Horowitz also visited Backakra, the farmstead of the late Secretary General of the UN, Dag Hammarskjold. The mutual friendship between the two and the strange, tragic death of Hammarskjold was recounted in a previous episode titled US and UN: Under New Management.

Following two weeks in Sweden, it was on to Israel where David would spend another four weeks, from March 21 to April 20. This was his seventh visit to the land of Israel. It would be a busy and agenda-driven schedule with his days filled with interviews, meetings, talks and visits in various parts of the State.

One of the scheduled events, however, stood out as special and something David Horowitz had waited a long time to experience.

For many years, David had looked forward to finding some way of coming into closer contact with the heroic Druze communities of Israel who had played such a vital role in aiding the outnumbered Palestinian Jews to win their life and death struggle during the 1948 War of Independence. Druze soldiers also fought side by side with Israeli troops during the Sinai campaign against Egypt.

The Druze are an Arabic speaking religious minority rooted in Ismailism, a branch of Shia Islam. Jethro of Midian is considered an ancestor of all Druze and revered as their spiritual founder as well as chief prophet. In the book of Exodus, Jethro is called a priest of Midian and became father-in-law of Moses after he gave his daughter, Zipporah, in marriage to Moses, thus making the Druze related to the Jews through marriage.

This view has been used to represent an element of the special relationship between Israeli Jews and Druze.

The opportunity for Horowitz finally arose thanks to a colleague in the Foreign Press Association of New York, Salman Falah, the son of a Druze Sheikh. Falah agreed to write several letters of introduction for David, among which was one to his father, Sheikh Hammoud Falah of Kfar Samia in Galilee, and another to Sheikh Lavib Abu Rukum of Isfiyah, a former member of the Knesset.

Salman Falah was a correspondent in the U.S. and the UN for the Israeli Arabic daily “Al Yam” while at the same time, a student at Princeton University majoring in Oriental studies. He was the first in Israeli Druze history to go abroad to complete his studies. Salman received his M. A. at Hebrew University.

In addition to the letters of introduction, Salman had also written to his family and friends regarding Horowitz’s visit. One of the letters was sent to his brother Faris, a well-known Druze attorney with headquarters in the historic city of Acre.

Druze Scouts March to Jetho's Tomb Showing Loyalty to Israel
Druze March to Jetho’s Tomb

David Horowitz spent two eventful days with the chieftains of the remarkable Druze communities and left us with the following first-hand account of his meetings in his own words:

Salman had thus opened the door for me to visit those people in Israel’s midst whom I had so long yearned to meet and commune with. The very people whose noble modes of life and mighty exploits I had previously only read and heard about. The people whose prophet of veneration, Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, was a true partner of the “great legislator” in both deed and word. He had given both succor and haven to the youthful son of Amram and Yocheved (Moses) during his most trying years as a “refugee” from Egypt and who later, after the exodus in the wilderness, also acted as the wise counselor to the over-burdened Hebraic leader.

These were the people of Jethro, whose faithfulness to Moses’ people to this very day had remained steadfast and unshaken, as was evidenced by the pro-Jewish stand they had taken when the children of Esau and Ishmael sought once again to destroy Jacob’s seed.

And now, at last, I was to find myself the honored guest of an entire Druze village, Kfar Samia, situated on the heights of the Western Galilean Mountains.”

Horowitz continued,

Upon my arrival, I was met by Faris in Acre and driven to the village where all the village fathers, headed by Sheikh Falah were congregated at the Falah homestead waiting to greet me. The royal welcome took me by complete surprise. No head of state could have received a warmer reception. The dramatic scene was reminiscent of Bible days. In spirit, in demeanor, even in attire, these Druze had not changed, and this is what fascinated me. Despite this, they all possessed a keen perception of modern life.

Sheikh Falah, the epitome of nobility and kindness, escorted me into the spacious living room as the village fathers followed, taking seats around the room. After having conveyed the greetings of the village’s favorite son, that of my friend Salman, and after reporting on his fine progress in America, Sheikh Falah, in a prayerful mood, said: “when I beheld you as you arrived at the threshold of our home, it was like seeing my own son coming back, praised be Allah.

There was continuous serving of the famous Druze coffee, possibly the best in the world, during the ensuing hour preceding the feast, which had been prepared in my honor.

As I sat here in the presence of these people, all highly intelligent, fiercely righteous appearing, with sharply penetrating glances, proud, yet imbued with a spirit of humility and exuding warmth of love and affection, I had the absolute feeling of kindred affinity.

I expressed my heartfelt gratitude: “I am greatly honored to find myself in your midst as one of you, and I thank the Almighty for having blessed me with this visit and for your acceptance of me as a brother in the Family. I am familiar with your great history, your veneration of Jethro, and the valiant part you played in aiding the descendants of Moses in their most critical moment in modern times. I bless Allah-YHVH for this privilege.”

One of the schoolteachers translated. There were happy nods of approval all around and expressions of thanks to God.

Following this “communion,” Sheikh Falah escorted me into the dining room where a huge table was fabulously set up to a king’s delight. Before seating ourselves, mother Falah came out to greet me heartily along with other members of the family.

The sumptuous meal was followed by a tour through the village. There were signs of prosperous activity all around. A new school was being erected and the road to the village was being widened and paved. All signs pointed to the fact that the emergence of the State of Israel was to the Druze as happy an occasion as it had been to their Jewish brethren, both of whom had suffered a similar bitter fate under the British and the Arabs.

My next meeting with the Druze took place about a week later in the autonomous Druze Religious Court in Haifa where Faris Falah had set a date for me with the three chiefs (Judges), Sheikhs Salman Tarif, Labib Abu Rukun, and Hussian Elayan. Here too, I was received royally. A later visit to the Isfiyah village on the Carmel left me once again, feeling perfectly at home.”

Mr. Horowitz summarized his thoughts about his experience by saying:

“My meeting with the Druze was indeed a highlight of this my seventh visit to the Holy Land. I took leave of these, Jethro’s beloved people with the feeling of profound peace and contentment, a feeling of having been reunited with brothers and sisters long separated from the Family. Surely, Moses and Jethro must be smiling in their places of holy repose in the face of the 20th century reunion of their offspring.”

2015 Meeting of Israeli Prime Minister with Druze Leaders
2015 Meeting of Israeli Prime Minister with Druze Leaders

The number of Druze people today exceeds over one million worldwide. They reside primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. Other communities, however, live outside the Middle East, in Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the United States.

In Israel today, the Druze form a religious minority of about 140,000. They are Arabic-speaking citizens of Israel and serve in the Israel Defense Forces just as most citizens do. Members of the community also serve in leadership roles in the military, law enforcement and medicine.

Just last November 2015, a Druze delegation toured the United States to promote Israel, speaking at schools, organizations, and with various media outlets to spread understanding and awareness of their community’s place in Israel’s multicultural society.

Bio PictureRalph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

This post is the eighteenth in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Politics and Religion

With both Republican and Democratic conventions concluding this month and three months to go until the Presidential elections here are some thoughts from United Israel VP Ross Nichols on the perennial challenge of dealing with “religion and politics” in our free and open society. Visit Ross at rootsoffaith.org.

On Politics and Religion

400px-Mark_Twain,_Brady-Handy_photo_portrait,_Feb_7,_1871,_croppedMark Twain once said, “In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” I tend to agree.

Somewhere along the way I was instructed that one should avoid discussing Politics and Religion in polite company. Since I have chosen to openly speak my mind on Religious matters, I choose to remain out of political discussions. I often joke that I make enough enemies with my religious views, and don’t need any more as a result of my political views. I have purposely stayed away from political commentary for many reasons. People within the “religious community” have so much that already divides us that this seems to me to be just one more point that can and will cause people of faith to lose focus on things of great importance. I sense that it will only get worse in the coming weeks and months. For this reason I have felt led to focus people not on the political scene but on the clear and pure message found within the Hebrew Scriptures. A message that does not change regardless of who holds or will hold political office.

ConventionPopular media personalities will have you believe that our world is headed to hell and that this course is being charted by our politicians. They further suggest that placing other more capable people at the helm will remedy the dire straights we find ourselves in. And this has been the view preceding every election in our history. Will religious folk be able to fix their world at the polls? Will we finally vote in the long awaited herald of good tidings who will bring peace, harmony, justice and righteousness to our burdened land? Is there now or will there ever be such a candidate from which to choose? Does an elected official who does not meet this criteria prevent us from working on the things that promote decent society? How will our land be healed? What must we do to fix our world? Is it in the hands of present or future politicians? God, I hope not!

The answer to the question of what we must do to “heal our land” in my opinion is clearly communicated in II Chronicles 7:14.

2Chr. 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Notice the steps involved:

  1. Humble themselves
  2. Pray
  3. Seek My face
  4. Turn from their wicked ways

God says that if “My people who are called by My name” do this, He will (1) hear from heaven, (2) forgive their sin and (3) heal their land. No one seems to want to go through the trouble of following the biblical pattern. It is much easier to point the finger and shake the head at those “in charge.” If history is any indicator of the future, the next group of politicians will be blamed for whatever problems the world faces under their watch. But at what point do religious people ever take responsibility for fixing the world? Is this something that we believe is the job of politicians?

If religious people are waiting on any government system to repair the world, I say that they have not understood the servant mission to which the Bible calls them. It is, and always has been the task of “Holy” people to fix their world. Very few are up for the challenge of fixing the world. The task seems too daunting. But what if people actually began to work on fixing themselves and then on helping their neighbors? If enough people actually did this, we would make good progress towards making the world a better place.

I do not want to join a secular choir that sings a song of blame. A choir whose members are not directing people to the faith defined by the Hebrew Scriptures, but who place their hope in a particular person or political party. In many ways they are distracting us from what we should focus on. Some would argue that leadership is affecting our ability to live according to Scriptures by their actions. Here, I would have to disagree. Even if laws are imposed that attempt to prevent our freedom of worship, perhaps we should read Daniel, or the story of the Maccabees. How did they deal with it? Did they stop praying to their God when ordered to and cry about the “current administration?” Did they violate the commandments because the law of the land forbade their religious practices? Do we find them whining about the fact that their rulers are from a different denomination or religion? I think that the answers to these questions are obvious.

As for me, I want to focus my teachings on the Scriptures. I pray that the words I speak will lead people to take a hard look at their own lives and cause them to make corrections when they discover fault or failure in their own walk. Our message must remain unique. We need to consider that the responsibility to choose God’s ways are inalienable. This does not mean that following God will always be easy, or that it will always be legal.

If we ever begin to truly believe that God is in control we might just take to heart the message of the Scriptures. We might just appreciate a place where we are free to worship according to our beliefs, regardless of the beliefs of the past or future leaders of our land.

If people want to speak or hear political arguments for one or the other side of any election there are plenty of places to go. If people are interested in what the Bible says about fixing the world in which they live, they should shake the dust off of their Bible, turn off the television and begin to thumb through the pages. I also recommend keeping a mirror handy as you might be looking harder at yourself than you have in the past. Put the binoculars away. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

Pray that current and future political leaders do nothing which opposes our freedom of religion. I am here reminded of a scene from my favorite movie, “Fiddler on a Roof.” The rabbi is asked if there is a blessing for the Czar. The rabbi responds, “A blessing for the Czar…..May the Lord bless and keep the Czar….far away from us!” This might seem funny but while searching for the quote for this article I discovered that there actually is a blessing for the Czar. It is contained within a Jewish prayer book for the High Holy Days from Lithuania in 1914. The blessing reads as follows:

May He Who grants salvation to kings and dominion to rulers,
Whose kingdom is a kingdom spanning all eternity,

Who releases David, his servant, from the evil sword,

Who places a road in the sea and a path in the mighty waters –

May He bless, protect, guard, assist, elevate, exalt, and lift upwards

Our master CZAR NIKOLAI ALEXANDROVICH,

With his wife, the honorable CZARINA ALEXANDRA FEODOROVNA

Their son, the crown prince ALEXI NIKOLAIOVICH

And his mother, the honorable CZARINA MARIA FEODORAVNA

And the entire house of our king, may their glory be exalted.

May the King of kings in His mercy give him life, and protect him,

And save him from every trouble, woe and injury.

May nations submit under his feet, and may his enemies fall before him,

And may he succeed in whatever he endeavors.

May the King of kings, in His mercy, grant compassion in his heart

and the heart of all his advisors

To do favors for us and for all Israel, our brethren.

In his days and in our days, may Judah be saved, and may Israel dwell securely,

And may the Redeemer come to Zion.
So may it be His will – and we say:  AMEN.

Regardless of your political views, don’t lose sight of your religious responsibility. How about praying for those in positions of leadership, if not for their well being, for your own.

RossNicholsRoss is a student and teacher of the Bible – ordained through United Israel World Union. He is the founder of Roots of Faith and the Synagogue Without Walls in Saint Francisville, Louisiana. His teachings advocate a return to the Core Biblical Faith (Abrahamic Faith) and seek to promote Biblical literacy for all humankind.

Remembering David Horowitz (17): The Change in Spain–An Extraordinary Connection

Around 12:30 p.m. as President John F. Kennedy’s uncovered 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible limousine entered Dealey Plaza, Nellie Connally, then the first lady of Texas, turned around to President Kennedy, who was sitting behind her, and commented “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you,” which President Kennedy acknowledged by saying “No, you certainly can’t.” Those were the last words ever spoken by John F. Kennedy.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. CST on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. He was fatally shot by Lee Harvey Oswald while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally’s wife Nellie, in a presidential motorcade.

Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as our 36th President on the Air Force One plane in Dallas just 2 hours and 8 minutes after the assassination took place. He took the oath of office administered by U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes, with Jacqueline Kennedy at his side.

LBJ Swearing In

The new President quickly inherited pressing problems including the War in Vietnam and the Middle East juggling act. Kennedy’s effort to balance conflicting interests in the Middle East, already faltering by late 1963, collapsed altogether under Lyndon Johnson. Johnson gave up on even attempting a balanced approach. He instead, assumed a frankly partisan stance. He sided openly with the Shah of Iran against his internal opposition, with the conservative Arab regimes against Nasser’s Egypt, and with Israel against the Arab states as a whole.

With the dawn of 1964, United Israel World Union, established two years before the rise of the United Nations in 1945 and five years before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, entered its twenty-first year of global activities. Links on behalf of a universal Torah faith had been established on five continents and a sure foundation had been laid in re-born Israel.

UIWU held its 21st Annual meeting on Sunday, April 26. The highlight of the meeting was the announcement by Rabbi Irving J. Block, spiritual leader of The Brotherhood Synagogue in Greenwich Village, New York, of the gift of an antique Indian (Calcutta) Torah scroll to the West Olive, Michigan unit of United Israel.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded on May 28, 1964 with the purpose of the ”liberation of Palestine” through armed struggle. The Arab League had found a way to introduce a new weapon in its war against Israel.

In early February 1965, a most unusual and little-known story began to unfold.

An article written by Shlomo Nakdimon entitled “Sequence of events favoring Jewry marks change in Spain” appeared in the February 1965 issue of the UI Bulletin. In the article, Nakdimon indicated that reports from Spain during the past six months all indicate that the nation of the infamous Inquisition was moving quickly ahead to rectify the great wrongs inflicted upon the Jews on the eve of Columbus’ discovery of the New World. Wrongs which up to our own modern times have still led to restrictions against their descendants.

Nakdimon went on to mention an article recently written by the noted Yiddish writer and radio commentator, Shelomo ben-Israel earlier in the month. The featured article appeared in The Jewish Daily Forward on February 1, 1965. Nakdimon called it “an unusual and intriguing development which may well have led to a reawakening and a stirring of Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s “Jewish spirit” and to the realization of a true universal faith applicable to all mankind.”

In his article, Mr. Shelomo ben-Israel recounted how a Spanish correspondent at the United Nations one day last summer discussed Franco with his colleague, David Horowitz, editor of the Bulletin and World Union Press, and stressed the fact that the Generalissimo was most probably a descendant of the Marranos, and thus a Jew by origin. Moreover, he reiterated the fact, already widely known, that Franco aided hundreds of Jews fleeing from Hitler’s pursuit during World War II.

A thought immediately flashed through David Horowitz’s mind: Why not try to stir the dormant little “Jewish spark” resident deep in Franco’s bosom by sending him a copy of the book “Thirty-Three Candles,” an autobiography Horowitz had first published in 1949, covering the first thirty years of his life from 1914 to 1944.

Original Cover of the Horowitz biography, Thirty Three Candles
Original Cover of the Horowitz biography, Thirty Three Candles

The decision made, David autographed the volume and dispatched it in May of 1964 to Madrid. The autograph, in effect, read: “Your Excellency, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, in appreciation of what I have learned from a Spanish colleague here at the UN, namely, of the great aid you gave many fleeing Jewish refugees entering Spain from Nazi persecution during World War II, and in the knowledge that we may share a common heritage, I am happy to send you this, my book, which I trust will bring you many hours of pleasant and contemplative reading.”

Some six weeks after the book was mailed, Mr. ben-Israel points out, Mr. Horowitz received a telephone call from the office of the Spanish delegation to the UN informing him that an official letter had arrived for him from Madrid. Would he please come and pick it up.

Believing possibly that some secretary or official may have formally acknowledged the book, Mr. Horowitz went to pick up the letter. When he opened it, he noted to his amazement that Franco himself had signed the letter. The Generalissimo expressed his gratitude for the volume and especially for the sympathetic autograph.

When the Spanish correspondent at the UN was shown the letter he, too, thought it incredible that Franco himself should have found it important enough personally to acknowledge receipt of “Thirty-Three Candles.”

“Franco’s letter was dated July 4, 1964,” ben-Israel notes. “And two months later, in September, the Spanish Cortes (Parliament) suddenly took up a bill which called for the elimination of a law which had restricted the religious rights of both Jews and Protestants in Spain.”

“The news of this development,” ben-Israel continues, “created a great sensation. But, as it happened, the influence of the Catholic Church in Spain being so deeply rooted, that, despite all efforts of some liberals, the proposed bill was relegated to the sidelines.”

However, on the eve of the New Year, when Franco delivered his “State of the Union” message, “the Generalissimo dropped a small bombshell,” as the New York Times commented on the event editorially. “He came out in favor of the exercise of freedom of conscience. But in clearer language, this could only mean that he favors passage of the bill, which has been stalled in the Cortes since September. Since the Spanish Cortes is like a rubber stamp for General Franco, it must be presumed that a statute on religious rights will be enacted this year.”

FrancoTIME

But this was not to mark the end of the new turn of events in Spain under the new Franco.

“Last month,” ben-Israel observes, “something happened in Spain that has not occurred since the Inquisition. Namely, no Spanish head of state had received Spanish Jewish representatives in 473 years.”

But in January 1965, Franco broke the precedent. He received in a friendly audience the heads of the Jewish communities of Madrid and Barcelona, Max Mazin and Alberto Levi, discussing with them the status of the Jews.

The only previous meeting recorded in history took place between King Ferdinand and the great Jewish sage Isaac de Abravanel, who served as the King’s aide. Abravanel had vainly tried to have the King and Queen Isabelle rescind the decree expelling Jews from Spain.

Concluding his article, Shelomo ben-Israel asks: “Does Franco in truth feel proud of his Marrano descent? Did a mystic book bearing the title “Thirty-Three Candles” really influence him? Did the foregoing acts and reforms and new bills come about as a result of this influence? Possibly. One day, perhaps, a historian will come forth and give us the answers…”

Generalissimo Francisco Franco died just after midnight on November 20, 1975 at the age of 82, just two weeks before his 83rd birthday. In Spain and abroad, the legacy of Franco remains controversial. The length of his rule, the suppression of opposition, and the effective propaganda sustained through the years has made a detached evaluation almost impossible.

The reasons behind Franco’s late actions that moved to rectify wrongs of the Inquisition remain somewhat mystifying and unknown. We are indeed left to speculate but one of the forgotten pieces of the story might well be these efforts of our late President, David Horowitz.

Bio PictureRalph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

This post is the seventeenth in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.

Remembering David Horowitz (16): Remember Amalak–Justice in Ramala

On the 15th of December, as the turbulent year of 1961 moved to a close, an Israeli war crimes tribunal sentenced Adolf Eichmann to die after being found guilty on all counts of crimes against humanity during the holocaust.

Eichmann

U Thant, a Burmese diplomat, was appointed new Secretary-General of the United Nations after his predecessor, Dag Hammarskjold died in a tragic plane crash.

In January 1962, the Foreign Press Association, consisting of some 200 foreign correspondents from all regions in the world, unanimously elected David Horowitz as General Secretary succeeding Zivko Milic of Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Horowitz at the time represented a number of foreign papers in Canada, Italy, South Africa and Israel and had been an active member and officer of the association for the past eight years.

Also in January, Horowitz delivered two lectures; one before a Manhattan branch of the American Jewish Congress, and another at Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck, New Jersey, on the universality of the Hebraic faith.

Professor Abraham S. Kotsuji, head of the Institute of Hebrew Culture in Japan arrived in the United States during the month of April and attended the 19th Annual Meeting of United Israel as an honored guest. He spoke to the group briefly about his work in Japan. Also attending were noted Israeli educator, Dr. Israel Ben Zeev and internationally renowned artist and sculptor, Dr. Rene Shapshak. It was Dr. Shapshak who designed the iconic United Israel emblem as previously covered in this series, ”

A few minutes past midnight on June 1, 1962, Otto Adolf Eichmann was executed by hanging at a prison in Ramla, Israel. The German Nazi SS lieutenant colonel was one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. He personally facilitated and managed the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German- occupied Eastern Europe during World War II.

Eichmann Trial

In his last hours, Eichmann remained defiant and unrepentant. Refusing a last meal (asking instead for a glass of red wine) and the traditional black hood, he was hanged.

The historical irony in this demonstration of poetic justice was not lost. The engineer and supervisor of Hitler’s “final solution” resulting in the systematic murder of six million Jews had met his fate at the hands of a Jewish tribunal. He stood before Jewish judges in a nation established by Jews. Within 4 hours of his death, Eichmann’s body had been cremated at a secret location, and his ashes scattered in the Mediterranean Sea, outside of Israeli territorial waters, by an Israeli Navy patrol boat.

July provided another first in the changing policy with Israel. President Kennedy agreed to the sale of HAWK anti-aircraft missiles, the first major weapons system to be supplied by the United States.

The main source of Israel’s weapons was France, whose support was critical in enabling Israel to meet its defense needs. The HAWK sale was significant not only because it was the first major direct arms transfer from the United States to Israel, but also because that system required that Israeli soldiers be given extensive training in the United States and that spare parts be supplied to Israel.

On October 22, President Kennedy delivered a nationwide televised address on all of the major networks announcing the discovery of Soviet medium range ballistic missiles in Cuba and the administration’s plan to implement a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba.

Cuba Missle Crisis NYTimes

The tense 13-day (October 16-28) political and military stand-off between the United States and the Soviet Union played out on television worldwide and was the closest the cold war ever came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war. The situation eased on October 28 when it was announced that Kennedy and Khrushchev had reached an agreement. Results of the agreement were the complete withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba, withdrawal of American nuclear missiles from Turkey (a secret part of the agreement at the time) and an agreement that the U.S. would never invade Cuba without direct provocation.

The naval blockade of Cuba was lifted on November 20th. The Cuban Missile Crisis confrontation that had brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster had ended.

In November, the first Annual Dinner of the Tarbuth Foundation, created by Dr. Emanuel Neumann with the view to advance Hebrew culture, was held at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. Some 300 of America’s outstanding Jewish leaders and educators attended the unique event. The keynote speakers were former French Ambassador to Israel, Monsieur Pierre E. Gilbert, and former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Abba Eban, who at the time was serving as Israel’s Minister of Education.

Former Ambassador Gilbert, who did more perhaps than any other person to cement Israel-French friendship during one of the most critical moments in the history of the Jewish State, the 1956 Suez crisis, was a Catholic who had been educated in a Jesuit school. It would be what the Catholic Monsieur said in his address that would hold the audience spellbound.

Declaring that the Hebrew language alone “can bring out the true meaning of the Bible,” Ambassador Gilbert remarked that the Jewish peoples “had been chosen by God to bring Monotheism to the whole world.” Mr. Gilbert further revealed that through the study of Hebrew “a new world gradually opened up before my eyes.”

“At first, as a linguist and a philologist” he told the distinguished audience, “I discovered the beauty of the Bible. In addition to its religious, historical and philosophical interest is a colossal literary monument. Now that I have read it in the Hebrew text, which is the only one able to bring out all its values, I find it to be the most captivating book I’ve ever read.”

The surprise of the evening came when Gilbert began to speak in a fluent Hebrew to the amazement of even the scholars in the audience, including Harry Orlinsky, the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation of the Torah.

The message delivered by Ambassador Gilbert was one that David Horowitz, in the audience at the time, would have heartily endorsed.

As 1962 drew to a close, it marked seven long years of U.S. entanglement in the Vietnam War. Sadly, it was to last over another decade.

On March 6, 1963, David Horowitz departed for his sixth visit to the Holy Land. His first two visits: 1924-1927 and 1932-1934 were sojourns while Britain held the Mandate over Palestine. The other three: 1951, 1953 and 1955 were pilgrimages to the re-born Third Hebrew Commonwealth.

Following a three-week visit in Israel, David was off to Turkey. It was a special occasion.

The Turkish Government had invited the United Nations correspondent to be its guest for a week. The Turkish Press Association, representing reporters of all the leading Turkish dailies and agencies, paid special tribute to David Horowitz at a reception given in his honor at the press club in Izmir, Turkey. The Association officers presented David with a certificate making him an honorary member of the Association.

Following the reception, a press conference was held at which David answered questions relating to the basic issues facing the United Nations. Among these were Vietnam, Cyprus, and the Middle East.

In Ankara, the capital of Turkey, David was feted at a special dinner given by the heads of the Ministry of Information and Press. Mr. Ben Yitzchak Yaakov, the Israeli Charge d’Affairs, was among the invited guests.

During his stay, David met with other officials, including the Governor of Istanbul State, Niyazi Aki and its Mayor, Necdet Ugur. He also visited the Jewish community leaders who spoke very highly of the Turkish Government, which has close and friendly relations with the State of Israel.

After four weeks of intense activity, that included some well-deserved recognition, both in Israel and Turkey, a tired, yet inspired David Horowitz was finally back home.

During this commemoration year of UIWU’s 20th anniversary, David Horowitz received a personal letter from an old friend. It was a friendly letter, hand-written in English, addressed to David. The envelope was also hand-written with the back flap containing only two letters: B.G. It was from David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, and the one who had declared the independence of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948.

The former Prime Minister concluded his letter to David by quoting a passage from Isaiah 62, writing it in Biblical Hebrew.

The personal hand-written letter from David Ben Gurion, dated July 27, 1963, remains on display today in the David Horowitz Memorial Library archives located at United Israel World Union’s headquarters.

David Horowitz had experienced a remarkable year. There would be yet another award as The Deadline Club, New York City Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, and America’s most outstanding professional journalism fraternity, selected him for “distinguished journalistic achievement” for United Nations reporting.

As 1963 drew to a close, a November event would shock our nation and the world. It would leave a lasting impression on many Americans who will always remember where they were when the tragedy struck.

 

Bio PictureRalph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

This post is the sixteenth in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.