TURKISH POLICE FIND, SEIZE 2,000-YEAR-OLD TORAH SCROLL: Police in Turkey says they have seized a 2,000-year-old Torah scroll in a coastal city 300 miles east of Istanbul. Separately, remnants of an abandoned synagogue in Istanbul caught fire in what police say may have been arson.
The scroll was seized on Friday when police, acting on intelligence, stopped two cars for an inspection in Samsun, Sputnik reported. In one of the cars, police said, they found 19 pages of an ornate Torah with golden letters with pages framed by an engraved leather passe-partout. Five people detained in connection with the find are suspected of illegally dealing in archaeological finds. The Sputnik report did not contain further details about the document, which would be one of the world’s oldest if the information reported is accurate. (TOI / VFI News)
SUPER-SPEEDY ISRAELI COVID TEST GETS EUROPEAN APPROVAL: An Israeli company said Wednesday that it received European approval for its rapid coronavirus test and it was poised to help kickstart international travel.
The handheld SpectraLIT machine eliminates the need for complex lab equipment by shining light through samples and giving immediate results using the spectral signature. This means that staff in airport booths who are currently tasked with collecting test samples and dispatching them to labs will simply have a machine at hand and be able to give passengers results after just 20 seconds of analysis. (TOI / VFI News)
CHINA & IRAN: BAD NEWS, BUT COULD BE WORSE FOR ISRAEL: When the details of a multibillion-dollar, 25-year economic and security agreement between Iran and China leaked last summer, the headline was: “Proposed China-Iran deal is bad news for Israel.”
Now that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi signed an agreement in Tehran on Saturday, it still means nothing good as far as Israel is concerned. What’s more important than the content of the agreement at this point is the message being sent in the timing – and that message is that Beijing and Tehran are thumbing their noses at the US. As Carice Witte, executive director of SIGNAL, a think tank dealing with China-Israel relations, said on Monday, “this is 100% a statement to the US.” (JPost / VFI News)
COMMAND BATTALIONS DRILL BEHIND-ENEMY-LINES RESCUE: An improvised explosive device is detonated in a building where a commando unit is gathering, deep inside enemy territories. Several elite unit soldiers are trapped, and there’s a need to join forces with a Home Front Command Search and Rescue company, racing against the clock in order to save those who are under the rubble.
This is the scenario that was exercised in the first-ever joint commando brigade and Home Front Command battalion drill, which was held in the Rotem training center in southern Israel. Participating were the elite Egoz unit – one of three battalions comprising the Commando Brigade – and the Ram Home Front Command Battalion, which is currently holding a series of exercises. (JPost / VFI News)
BAHRAIN APPOINTS FIRST-EVER AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi approved Bahrain’s first-ever ambassador to Israel on Tuesday, ahead of the Gulf state’s opening of its embassy in the coming weeks.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani appointed Khaled Yousif al-Jalahama to the position on Sunday. Jalahama is the Director of Operations at Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry and was deputy chief of mission at Bahrain’s Embassy to the US in 2009-2013. A Bahraini team is expected to arrive in Israel in the coming weeks to set up an embassy in the Tel Aviv area. (JPost / VFI News)
THOUSANDS ATTEND TRADITIONAL PASSOVER PRIESTLY BLESSING CEREMONY AT WESTERN WALL: For the first time in a year and a half, thousands of people were able to attend the traditional priestly blessing event at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday, made possible by the rolling back of coronavirus restrictions ahead of the Passover festival.
Traditionally, tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims make their way twice a year to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, on the intermediate days of the Passover and Sukkot festivals, with crowds of men and women spilling out from the Wall’s plaza to surrounding areas. As the COVID-19 pandemic reached Israel and the virus spread, mass public events were canceled, and last year, just a symbolic 10 people were permitted to gather at the Western Wall to perform the ceremony, part of the special holiday prayers. (TOI / VFI News)
ALMOST ALL REMAINING JEWS IN YEMEN DEPORTED: The last three Jewish families in Yemen were deported by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, leaving only four elderly Jews in the country, the London-based Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported over the weekend.
The move marks the virtual end of a 2,600-year-old Jewish community in Yemen. The families, totaling 13 people, told Asharq Al-Awsat that they were now searching for a new home. The families had resisted leaving but finally agreed after the Houthis made their departure a condition for the release of Levi Salem Marhabi, a Jew who was captured by the rebels about six years ago. (JPost / VFI News)
25% OF US JEWS PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED ANTI-SEMITISM SINCE 2016: An annual survey from the Anti-Defamation League found that a quarter of American Jews have personally experienced anti-Semitism in the past five years and that most American Jews have witnessed anti-Semitic comments targeting others.
In that same time period, 9% of Jewish respondents said they have been the victim of an anti-Semitic physical attack. In total, 63% of Jewish respondents reported that they had either witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism in the years since 2016, an increase from 54% last year. The survey was taken in early January and includes responses from 503 Jewish-American adults. The margin of error is 4.4%. (TOI / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff