Tag Archives: Israeli

Jew of the Week: Eytan Stibbe

Second Israeli in Space

Eytan Meir Stibbe (b. 1958) was born in Haifa to Jewish parents who had made aliyah from the Netherlands. He grew up partly in the United States. Stibbe joined the Israeli Air Force and became an F-16 fighter pilot. He served under the command of Ilan Ramon, who would go on to become Israel’s first astronaut. Stibbe served with distinction, and once tied a record by shooting down four enemy aircraft in a single battle over Lebanon in 1982. In another mission, he downed a total of five Syrian aircraft! Stibbe was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, and went on to teach at the IAF Flight Academy. Altogether, he served with the Israeli Air Force for some 43 years. Meanwhile, in 1984 he joined Israel Aircraft Industries to help modify and improve Israel’s own Lavi fighter jet. The following year, he co-founded Elar, a new Israeli military tech developer. When he left the company in 2011 and sold all of his shares, he had become a millionaire. Stibbe then turned his attention to his new Vital Capital Fund, which invests specifically in projects designed to alleviate poverty and clean up the environment. The Fund has helped bring sanitation, electricity, and healthcare to millions of people around the world, and has won numerous awards for its philanthropic work. Stibbe has always dreamed of following his mentor Ilan Ramon to space. He purchased a $55 million ticket on board a SpaceX craft, in collaboration with Axiom Space, which took off on April 8th for a ten-day mission. This is the first ever privately-funded human mission to space, and Stibbe is now only the second Israeli ever to go to space. He is not only a passenger, but also doing important scientific work, carrying out a total of 35 experiments, including on space radiation, optics, and quantum communications. Because of several delays, the Rakia mission (from the Biblical Hebrew word for outer space) ended up overlapping with Passover. And so, Stibbe took with him a Pesach seder kit prepared by Chabad, with shmurah matzah and four mini-cartons of grape juice (wine is prohibited on the ISS!) The return trip has also been delayed due to poor weather, and is expected to finally return to Earth this Sunday.

Passover: Fighting for Freedom

Words of the Week

Moses spoke not about freedom but about education. He fixed his vision not on the immediate but on the distant future, and not on adults but children. In so doing he was making a fundamental point: It may be hard to escape from tyranny but it is harder still to build and sustain a free society. In the long run there is only one way of doing so – to defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Jew of the Week: Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon

Ariel “Arik” Scheinermann (1928-2014) was born on a moshav in Israel during the British Mandate, to Belorussian parents that immigrated there in 1922. He joined a youth battalion when he was just 14, and soon made a name for himself in the War of Independence, commanding a platoon that fended off the Iraqi invasion. His unit was often sent into the toughest conditions (in a single battle, they once lost 139 soldiers). Scheinermann himself was shot twice in the abdomen and once in the foot. Now a war hero, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion renamed him ‘Sharon’. After serving as an intelligence officer and studying in university, he was ordered back to the military to command 50 of Israel’s greatest soldiers in the new special forces Unit 101. In the 1956 war, he commanded a paratroopers brigade. In ’67, he was put in charge of the largest force in Sinai. He broke orders to come up with his own battle strategies, a major reason for Israel’s six-day victory. Later, his tactics were investigated by the US Army and credited with being unique military innovations. In August of 1973, Sharon finally retired to his farm. Unfortunately, just a few months later, the Arabs launched a surprise invasion of Israel on Yom Kippur. Unprepared, the State appeared to be doomed when Sharon was summoned out of retirement. When asked by his reserve commander, “How are we going to get out of this?” Sharon replied (like a boss): “You don’t know? We will cross the Suez Canal and the war will end over there.” Sharon drove to the war front in his own civilian car (!) and again broke his orders and did things his own way. His maneuvers were credited with turning the tide of the war and ending it in Israel’s favour. He became a national hero, and this led him to easily win a Knesset seat the following year. He would go on to serve as minister of defense, industry, housing, energy, foreign affairs, and finally, prime minister of Israel, while establishing and leading two political parties: Likud and Kadima. His most controversial act would be the pull-out from the Gaza Strip. Shortly after, he fell into a coma that lasted for 8 years, capping a difficult life that included the loss of a son and two wives. Sharon passed away last Saturday, on a special Jewish calendar date known as “Shabbat Shira”, the Sabbath of Song.

Tu B’Shvat Begins Tonight!

Words of the Week

A single action is better than a thousand groans.
– Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber of Lubavitch (1860-1920)

Jew of the Week: David Copperfield

Most Successful Entertainer in History

David Copperfield

‘Magician of the Century’ David Copperfield

David Seth Kotkin was born in New Jersey to a Ukrainian-Jewish father and Israeli mother. At age 10 David started putting on magic shows in his neighbourhood. He was so amazing that by age 12 he was already admitted into the Society of American Magicians, the youngest person ever to do so. At 16, he taught magic at New York University. At 18, he was cast in the musical The Magic Man and there adopted his stage name ‘David Copperfield’ – taken from the Charles Dickens novel. At 21 he starred in his first TV special for ABC. Copperfield went on to make 19 more incredible TV specials, as well as several movies and Broadway performances, winning a total of 21 Emmy Awards during that time (with 38 nominations), and setting 11 Guinness World Records. He has sold over 40 million tickets to his shows, grossing more than $3 billion – making him the most successful solo entertainer of all time. This wealth allowed him to purchase a chain of islands in the Bahamas, known as the Islands of Copperfield Bay, where people can vacation with magical thrills (and where Google founder Sergey Brin got married). He has also built the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts. Though not open to the public, it contains the world’s largest collection of magical texts and artifacts. Since 1982, Copperfield has been running ‘Project Magic’, a charitable organization that helps disabled people regain dexterity through practicing fun magic techniques. The program quickly became popular and now runs in over 1100 hospitals in 30 countries around the world. Copperfield has been knighted by the French government, and the Library of Congress has titled him a ‘Living Legend’. His shows continue to amaze people worldwide.

Words of the Week

The frog said to King David: “I have a mitzvah greater than any of yours, for there is a bird that lives by the swamp and hungers, and I sacrifice my life to feed it.”
– Perek Shira