Millions of Israelis will mark Remembrance Day on Sunday evening, and pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the country’s defense.
A minute-long siren will ring out across the country at 8 p.m. on Sunday, and a two minute siren will be heard on Monday at 11 a.m.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz will join President Shimon Peres for a candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall on Sunday evening.
On Monday, the official state memorial ceremony will commence at 11 a.m. at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Peres and Gantz will be in attendance.
At the same time, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will attend a memorial ceremony at the military cemetery at Kiryat Shaul.
Israel, including the pre-state yishuv, has lost 25,578 casualties to war and terrorism since 1860, according to figures released by the Defense Ministry.
Over the past year, 43 disabled IDF veterans died of their disabilities, and have been recognized as fallen soldiers.
Also on Monday, more than 1.5 million Israelis are expected to visit military cemeteries, and the Defense Ministry has organized hundreds of buses to transport people.
The ministry has also prepared 1 million water bottles to hand out to bereaved families and the general public at the entrance to cemeteries. It expects some 23,000 candles to be lit at grave sites.
There are 10,245 bereaved parents, 4,964 widows, and 2,324 people orphaned by war or terrorist attacks – a total of 17,533.
On Thursday night, Ya’alon emphasized the IDF’s role in keeping Israelis safe.
“Despite everything, despite so many elements that wanted to prevent this country’s founding, and who continue to invest so much everyday to destroy us – they arise here in our intelligence assessments, Iran, Hezbollah – nevertheless, there is no doubt, that what stands between independence and a lack of independence is the shield of the IDF.”
Most of these immigrants had very particular lives growing up in Tel Aviv; their youth wasn’t all about being carefree, their adulthood was punctuated by continuous wars and they were constantly adapting to new cultural environments. They speak the common language – Hebrew – with different accents, but although they identify as Israelis, the strains of German, Yemeni, Slovak and Hungarian heritage are still hugely important to them.
The “Tel Aviv Grannies” photo serial shows this elderly segment of the Israeli society. During a six-month stay in Israel, I decided to seek them out and follow them as they went about their everyday lives. I walked the streets, visited the beaches and joined them in their play and sports activities, in order to capture them on film.
Most Christian Arabs live in the northern Israel, and the cities with the largest Christian populations are Nazareth, with 22,400; Haifa with 14,400; Jerusalem with 11,700; and Shfaram with 9,400.
The Christian population is also growing at a rate of 1.3%
The level of Christian education is notable, with 64% of Christian high school students earning a high school diploma, compared to 59% for Jewish Israelis and 48% for Muslims.
The average number of children for a Christian woman is 2.2, the lowest in the country among the different population sectors.
For the full list of 65@65 facts click here
In her first move as Israel’s new health minister, Yael German (Yesh Atid) instructed the ministry staff to reconsider the ban on accepting blood donations from gay men.
The form filled out by every blood donor in Israel states that gay men who have had sex with other men are prohibited from donating blood.
People who have tested positive for HIV, used drugs or been exposed to mad-cow disease, among other constraints, are also prohibited from donating blood.
After the Passover holiday, a Health Ministry advisory committee on intravenous medicine headed by Professor Noga Mani, formerly the head of the Hadassah blood bank, will convene to discuss the issue revisited by German, formerly the mayor of Herzliya.
“The committee will call on relevant professionals as well as the leaders of the gay-lesbian community, hear their opinions and examine the possibility of changing the clause,” the ministry stated yesterday.
Magen David Adom, the emergency-services organization responsible for Israel’s blood banks, began to monitor and limit gay donors in the 1980s following the discovery and spread of AIDS. In the questionnaire given to donors, any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, the year HIV was first discovered in humans, is disqualified.
Many other countries also limit blood donations from gay man. The U.S. Red Cross disqualifies would-be donors who had sex with another man even before 1977, while New Zealand does not accept blood from men who have had sex with other men during the previous five years.
In many countries, including the UK, Sweden, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, a one-year time frame is enforced. In South Africa the time limit is six months, while several countries including Italy, Spain and Mexico have no limitation whatsoever.
Israel’s LGBT community raised the issue back in 2004. The last debate on it was held a year ago, at the behest of Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich and gay activists in the Labor party, but the staff at the Health Ministry opted to leave the clause unchanged.
Health Ministry and MDA officials continue to define gays as a high-risk group for HIV infection, especially since the rise in recent years in HIV infection in the local gay community.
In recent years, an average of four blood samples out of a total of 300,000 donations per year have been found to be infected with HIV. Last year, 13 blood samples were found to be HIV-positive.
The Labor party’s gay organization welcomed the move, calling it a positive step, while noting that a number of Health Ministry committees had already examined the subject in the past, and that they had all eventually decided to leave the clause untouched.
“We hope that this time the committee will decide to set a time limit for [the clause], if not to cancel it altogether, similar to the trend in enlightened states,” the group said.
A Canadian Christian teaching English to children in Africa hears that someone in Israel is in desperate need of a kidney; he packs his bags, gets on a plane and without thinking twice donates of his own kidney. This is no fairy tale, but the true story of Trevor Brown.
Brown, 24, teaches English to Kenyan children. Two years ago his friend told him he had donated his kidney in Israel. Any other person would have felt a few words of praise were enough, but not Brown, he decided to follow in his friend’s footsteps. “I desperately wanted to do something for someone,” he said. “A large part of that is connected to my faith.”
Following his request, the friend put him in contact with a volunteer in Israel, and she in turn connected him to Haifa resident Piaz Abu-Samra, 53, a father of seven, in desperate need of a kidney transplant, after being on dialysis for more than a year because of terminal kidney failure.
“I underwent preliminary tests abroad, and it turned out my kidney was a match,” Brown said. A month later he arrived in Israel and moved in to Abu-Samra’s house.
“He is a splendid man, and he has such great kids. I felt I was doing the right thing,” Brown explains. “My family didn’t like the idea, but at the end of the day they respected my decision and did not fight the donation.”
“I met an amazing person who came to save me,” Abu-Samra emotionally recants. “At first we wrote each other through the internet. When I saw that he was serious, I sent him a flight ticket, and he came. He is an amazing man, a real idealist.”
While Abu-Samra was waiting for his surgery at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Zehava Pelach, 46, a supermarket cashier, was also awaiting for a kidney transplant after suffering renal failure for more than eight years.
Her husband David quickly volunteered to give her one his own kidneys, but sadly he wasn’t a match.
At the beginning of the week, the head of the hospital’s Transplant Unit, Prof. Eitan Mor, came up with the idea of orchestrating a cross-transplant – the Canadian will donate his kidney to Zehava, and her husband will donate his kidney to Abu-Samra.
“I didn’t hesitate for a second,” David, 48, said, “I was up for donating my kidney to Zehava from the get go, but our blood types don’t match. We have been married for 25 years, and it was clear to me that I needed to relieve her of the pain of dialysis. I was very concerned, but the moment the idea came up, I agreed.”
Wednesday, all three went under the knife and the transplant went ahead successfully.
In the interview, following the operation, the three joined each other in an emotional meeting, and they are currently recuperating in adjacent rooms.
“Trevor is an amazing person, I have no words to describe what he has done for us,” Zehava said. “When we get out of here, we will all go out together to celebrate this miracle.
“It is important people know there it is possible to donate a kidney. That is the reason god gave us two,” she concludes.
Prof. Mor summarizes: “Undoubtedly, a donation from a live person is preferred to a donation from someone who is deceased. The matching is mostly based on the blood-types of the patient and benefactor, but today we know how to successfully complete transplants even between those that do not share a blood type by inducing an anti-body neutralizer.”
Ever wondered if there was a Hebrew word for ‘Playboy Bunny’? Well there is – ‘Shfanfana’. Hugh Heffner just loves this and now thanks to Dan Pomerantz, Israel’s very own Hugh Heffner, the Jewish state will be getting not just some (kosher!) Bunnies, but a Hebrew-language Israeli version of the revered magazine too.
Pomerantz, who exudes charisma and confidence, as you would expect from a Heffneresque entrepreneur, is a 37-year old new immigrant from Chicago, who only moved to Israel in December 2011. In fact, he still goes to regular ulpan classes, and jokes that perhaps one day they’ll be reading Playboy in ulpan … to help with the Hebrew of course!
First time he saw Playboy, Pomerantz was, like pretty much every other boy, in his pubescent teens. “It was like an adventure going through a maze,” he says. For Pomerantz, who is the CEO and Publisher of Playboy Israel, there was always “something magical” about the Playboy “name and brand”, both as a kid and now as an adult.
A corporate attorney before moving to Israel, it was during late 2010 that Pomerantz first really started to know Playboy “the business”. At the time, Playboy’s headquarters were in Chicago, close to his law office, and Pomerantz befriended Playboy’s lawyers through the Chicago legal community.
It was also around the same time, during one of his frequent trips to Israel, that Pomerantz noticed even though the Playboy ‘brand’ was known and popular there, there was no Playboy Israel magazine.
When he returned to Chicago, he asked the Playboy people why that was the case, and was referred to Playboy’s international group. At first, there was “idle curiosity”, but then discussions became more detailed and in turn those discussions became meetings, which led to research and plans, until finally the Playboy people asked him “a life-changing question” – why don’t you take these ideas and bring Playboy to Israel?
And so he did.
Though the excitement of launching Playboy in Israel was just one of the reasons for Pomerantz’s decision to make aliyah, it was not the primary one. That came as a result of his own personal Zionist journey.
When he was younger, the State of Israel played a role only “as an idea”. It was “a home to cousins I’d never met, ancient artifacts, and that impossible language from my bar mitzvah.”
Israel only became a “reality” as a “real place with real people” when he started visiting more frequently a few years ago. Whether it was being invited for Shabbat dinner, the familiarity of hearing a Hebrew word from childhood or seeing a prominent site, Pomerantz says “it’s just a million little things that add to feeling totally at home here.”
Ultimately, he “started finding excuses to come back” more and more, until around mid 2011, a friend in Israel asked: “you make all these visits? Don’t you feel homesick for Chicago?” But when he thought about it, the only time he felt homesick was when he was away from Israel. Three months later, Pomerantz was on an Aliyah flight ‘home’.
Once in Israel, Pomerantz went to work on establishing Playboy Israel, including meeting with investors, trips back and forth to Playboy headquarters in Chicago (yes, including the Playboy mansion too, “a little retro” he says, but “still very cool”) and a lot of hours putting together a team and company from scratch. In other words, living the very ‘Start-Up’ dream that has become synonymous with the State of Israel.
Fast forward a little over a year to March 2013 and Pomerantz has just launched Playboy Israel at a press conference standing next to their very first centerfold, replete with the trademark ears and Playboy bunny tail.
The magazine, which will be in Hebrew (and yes, that means also the very first Playboy magazine to be from right-to-left), will have a balance of local and international material.
Contrary to some perceptions though, the magazine will not be about “sex” or “just another lad’s mag.” Pomerantz says it will be a mixture of “seriousness and depth combined with fun and beauty”, stressing it will be “sexy but not about sex.”
So, what is “sexy” to him? Beauty. Depth. Knowledge. Confidence. And all this says Pomerantz will be reflected in the magazine, that will include everything from commentary on current affairs, political issues and international relationships, to finance, fashion, romance, gadgets and Playboy Bunnies of course.
The target audience however will not be only men. It will be “Israeli men and anyone curious about the Israeli man”, and yes, that includes Israeli women too.
Asked to define a ‘typical Israeli man’, Pomerantz notes there are many different kinds, but that Israeli men are increasingly becoming more internationally aware and curious, confident and outgoing, with “aspirations about living a good life and finding romance”, values he says fit perfectly with the Playboy brand.
And Israeli women? What are they like? They’re “gorgeous” he says, but also confident, know what they want and make decisions with strength. They’re also “a little harif” adds Pomerantz, with a cheeky smile that even the Heff would be proud off.
One of the first questions that immediately comes to mind is how far will Playboy Israel push the boundaries and are they concerned about possible backlash from the religious community? Noting “we live in a world characterised by freedom of expression and choice”, Pomerantz says the magazine will nonetheless “respect every community around us” and “will not push it in a way or a place it’s not welcome.”
Pomerantz also brushes off concerns about generally declining sales numbers of print magazines, as readers increasingly turn to the internet. “We see this as a content business, not magazine business” he says, adding that print will be just one of a number of platforms the magazine will use to connect with readers, in addition to a website, Facebook and other forms of social media.
Playboy Israel’s first issue has certainly lived up to the initial hype. The cover features the stunning Israeli celebrity fashion model Natalie Dadon, while Israeli dancer Marin Teremets is their maiden Playmate centerfold.
The magazine also features an in-depth personal interview with Avi Dichter, Israel’s Minister of Internal Security and former head of the Shin Bet, as well as a piece on the day that Steve Jobs met Andy Warhol and showed him the world’s first Macintosh computer (oh, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono were at the dinner too).
Pomerantz is also acutely mindful of the fact that through the magazine, he will have the opportunity to showcase Israel to the rest of the world. “It’s a responsibility we are aware off and take very seriously,” he says.
So, what kind of Israel will Playboy convey?
First and foremost, that Israel is a normal place, part of a modern world, a place where you can and do have something like Playboy. But also, Israel is a beautiful place with beautiful people, a place that is thoughtful with a lot of different ideas and topics and arguments and serious discussion, a place with freedom of speech, expression and ideas.
Pomerantz is “very excited to have this new forum of sharing this concept of Israel to the world” and sees a “perfect cultural connection between the beauty and complexity of Playboy and the beauty and complexity of Israel as a country.”
Just as Dan Pomerantz has decided to make Israel his home, so too has Playboy now made aliyah!