Tag Archives: Zionism

Jew of the Week: Rabbi Zecharia Barashi

World’s Oldest Jew

Rabbi Barashi (Credit: Lazar Berman)

Zecharia Barashi (1900-2017) was born in Kurdistan, the last of ten children in an observant Jewish family. His father was a rabbi who traveled from village to village, serving the needs of small Jewish communities in Iraq. Unfortunately, this job did not come with a salary, and the poor family made a meager living by sowing clothes and selling nuts and dates. Several years of harsh poverty, disease, and the difficulties of the First World War left six of the ten children dead. Barashi himself nearly died when he was 11 years old. He would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a rabbi as well. Inspired by Zionism, Barashi struggled to move the family to Israel. In 1936, he finally got a chance by working as a Hebrew interpreter for the Jewish Agency. After a long and arduous journey, the family settled in Jerusalem. Throughout World War II and Israel’s ensuing War of Independence, Barashi supported the war effort by digging trenches, and paving roads and runways. In 1950, the Jews of Iraq and Kurdistan made a mass aliyah to Israel, and Barashi soon became their spiritual leader. He would go on to earn the esteemed title of Chacham, “Sage”. He also published four important books on Judaism. He was in the midst of writing his fifth book when, at the age of 111, his eyesight became too poor. Deeply respected as one of Israel’s greatest rabbis, Barashi was known for his incredible memory, humility, and great sense of humour. Sadly, he passed away earlier this week. Until that moment, he was the world’s oldest living Jew. He was also Israel’s oldest living resident, having spent over 80 years in Jerusalem. Although he outlived two of his own children and his beloved wife, he is survived by five more children, 29 grandchildren, 72 great-grandchildren, and 24 great-great-grandchildren. His advice for a long life: “Always be happy, never jealous. Stay active. And never overeat, always leave the table a little hungry.”

Chag Purim Sameach!

Words of the Week

“My brain is the key that sets my mind free.”
Harry Houdini

Rabbi Barashi with Shimon Peres (Credit: Mark Neyman/Flash90)

Jew of the Week: Rabbi Yehuda Glick

Israel’s Newest Member of Knesset

Yehuda Glick (Credit: Amitay Salomon)

Yehuda Glick (Credit: Amitay Salomon)

Yehuda Joshua Glick (b. 1965) was born in Brooklyn to an Orthodox Jewish family which made aliyah to Israel when he was nine years old. After completing his rabbinical studies, Glick began working for the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. In 2005, after some ten years, he quit the job to protest Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. He then served as executive director of The Temple Institute, an organization working to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem through peaceful means. Glick is most famous for his activism with regards to permitting Jews to ascend the Temple Mount. This area is the holiest site in the world for the Jewish people, yet entrance to it is severely limited for Jews, and prayer there is currently forbidden to all but Muslims. As chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation and leader of the HaLiba group, Glick has worked tirelessly to end this racist policy, and to open the Temple Mount for visitation and prayer to people of all faiths. He envisions rebuilding a temple – “a house of prayer for all nations” – next to the Dome of the Rock. For leading prayer groups to the Temple Mount, Glick has been arrested multiple times. In 2013, he went on a hunger strike to protest a ban that forbid him to go to the Temple Mount. After twelve days without food, Glick was permitted to return to the Mount. In 2014, after giving a speech at a Jerusalem conference, an Arab man approached Glick and shot him four times in the chest before driving off on a motorcycle. Glick underwent multiple surgeries, and was unable to communicate or breathe on his own for a couple of weeks. Amazingly, he survived the assassination attempt. Shortly after, he joined the Likud political party, and was placed 33rd on its list. The party won 30 seats, making Glick third in line to become a parliamentarian. Over the past year, three Likud MKs resigned, including Moshe Ya’alon earlier this month. This opened the door for Glick to enter Knesset, which he did two days ago. His calls for peace, prayer, and human rights are truly universal, as he has stood by not only Orthodox Jews, but also Christian groups and Reform Jews (including the Women of the Wall) who aim to pray freely at Jerusalem’s holy sites. He has also spoken frequently about ending the plight of the Palestinians, and bridging gaps between Jews and Muslims. In addition to his own six kids, Glick is the legal guardian of six more children, and two foster children. He has been compared to Gandhi, and described as “earthly, wise, thoughtful, nonviolent, and compassionate.” Last year, he was awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism by the Jewish National Fund.

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Words of the Week

If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.
– Ellen Johnson Sirleaf