Sunday, May 08, 2005

Israeli Sephardic Chief Rabbi's son is in jail, his daughter and wife are under house arrest. Why doesn't he cut trip to Thailand short and return?


At 10:13 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Incredibly, this appears to have been what Rabbi Shlomo Amar was up to today:


120 Communities Participate in Chabad of Thailand's Toy Drive
PHUKET, THAILAND — Sunday, May 08, 2005

yelet Hematian and Chantal Keypour of Port Washington, NY, did not understand a word of the Thai pop tunes that pulsated through the air at Chabad of Thailand’s “World of Good” fun fair in Phuket today, May 8. But they did understand that the more than 700 children from Thailand’s Phang Nga and Khao Lak regions who bebopped in the fair’s roving karaoke vans had suffered horribly in the December tsunami disaster. Thanks to Chabad of Thailand’s efforts, Ayelet and Chantal were there as part of the effort to help

While Thai children clambered aboard a ferris wheel, screamed with delight on the mini-coasters, and had tiny flowers painted on their faces, the girls from New York assisted volunteers as they handed out games, balls, and dolls from 150 crates of toys donated by Jewish children from around the world. Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar and other local government officials were on hand for the festivities.

“We wanted to highlight the aspect of unbound care and concern that the world displayed after the tsunami. If we work together and increase in acts of kindness - inspired by Divine morality - we can each make a difference and change the world for the better,” said Rabbi Levi Shmotkin, a Chabad representative who helped organize the fair. “An event such as the fun fair where the kids can have a great time and receive their toys, as opposed to isolated handouts in their villages, is the perfect opportunity to showcase that idea to the world.”

Ayelet and Chantal, students at Chabad Academy of Science and the Humanities, Max and Ruth Schwartz Elementary School, were chosen to make the 17-hour journey from New York to Saphin Hin, a sunny seaside area near Phuket City Hall, because they exemplified the drive behind the toy-collection effort.

Aside from their status as top students, the girls display “sensitivity to recognizing and helping those in need and a warm and friendly personality,” according to school officials. Port Washington is also where Rabbi Shalom Paltiel, spiritual leader of Chabad of Port Washington, hosts the center for the American Friends of Thailand.

Port Washington was but one outpost for the outpouring of enthusiasm for Chabad of Thailand’s toy drive. Among the 120 communities who participated in the drive was one Daniella Seidl who opted to use her bat mitzvah celebration as an opportunity to collect toys. Fifth graders at Menachem Mendel Cheder in Seattle, WA, sold three types of cookies and collected $145 as their gift.

“The toy drive is a microcosm of the macrocosm we witnessed after the tsunami. The world came together to help one another proving that the human family is one,” said Rabbi Shmotkin. “Naturally, children wanted to help in a way they can relate to and therefore were very excited about the toy drive.”

To qualify to receive toys, Thai children had to have been affected by the tsunami. “Those who were displaced from their homes, lost a loved one, suffered physical or psychological harm, lost some of their possessions or any other type of loss were eligible,” said Rabbi Shmotkin. According to World Health Organization figures, Thailand suffered some 5,300 deaths, 8,400 injuries so it wasn’t hard to find kids deserving toys.

The plight of children in the aftermath of the tsunami was what ignited the toy drive in the first place, said Chabad’s representative in Thailand Rabbi Yosef C. Kantor. Shortly after the tsunami devastated Thailand’s coast, Rabbi Kantor walked along a Thai beach “What struck me most were the broken toys,” said Rabbi Kantor, a father of six children. You can give somebody back a house, but there is an accumulation that is lost. A wave came and took it all. I figured at the time, World Vision and Save the Children, the Red Cross and maybe the Thai government are going to give them a house. But what about those little toys for the kids that are lost? A little human touch.”

Aside from the toy drive, Chabad of Thailand has been tirelessly helping Thais recover from the disaster. They have offered micro-credit to locals who need funds but have no collateral. Chabad has sponsored fresh food relief, carpentry skill workshops, free transportation to relief centers for villagers affected by the tsunami. In the immediate aftermath of the tidal wave, Chabad even built bathroom facilities at a camp for displaced Thais.
Reported by Rivka Chaya Berman


Family of Israeli Chief Rabbi Abduct, Beat Up Daughter's Suitor
(Jerusalem-AP, May 8, 2005) — Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi has denied involvement in the alleged abduction and assault of his daughter's suitor, Israeli media reported Sunday.

Shlomo Amar's wife, daughter and a son were arrested last week on suspicion they were involved in the incident, reportedly because they objected to the boy's relationship with the girl. The relationship violates the family's strict religious codes.

Amar issued a statement Saturday night denying involvement, Israeli radio stations reported. The rabbi expressed regret for the incident and said he would cooperate with police, the reports said.

The report said police have no evidence the rabbi was involved or knew of the alleged beating. Amar, who is on an official visit to Thailand, is scheduled to return Tuesday.

In Phuket, Thailand, Amar attended a fair for child victims of last December's tsunami, where he declined to discuss the charges against his family.

"Since he's a totally kind man, he wants this event to continue as planned ... and the other personal things he will deal with when he gets back home," said Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor, who also took part in the event.

According to Israeli police, the 17-year-old, ultra-Orthodox youth met the rabbi's 18-year-old daughter, Ayala, in an Internet chat room, then went out on several dates. In ultra-Orthodox Jewish society, contact between unmarried men and women is frowned upon.

The main suspect in the case is the rabbi's estranged son, Meir, 31, who abandoned his religious upbringing and has been living a secular life with little contact with his family.

Police said Ayala lured the youth, who was not identified, to a car where Meir grabbed him at knifepoint and took him to the nearby Arab town of Kalansua, to a house belonging to two Arab-Israelis suspected in the case.

Police say he was beaten at the home for several hours, then taken to Rabbi Amar's house in Jerusalem, where he was beaten again.

Amar serves as chief rabbi for Sephardic Jews, who originated in North Africa and Spain. Israel also has an Ashkenazi chief rabbi who guides Jews of European extraction. Chief rabbis are state officials.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

At 10:20 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Here's a press photo from earlier today.

Photo 4 of 181
Reuters - Sun May 8, 6:29 AM ET

Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Shlomo Amar (R) hands a Thai boy a present during the Tsunami Toy Drive, a programme established by the Chabad of Thailand, a Jewish educational organisation, to assist children affected by the December 26 tsunami on the Thai resort island of Phuket May 8, 2005. Nearly 700 children from Thailands south Andaman regions Phang Nga and Khao Lak, who lost their homes and possessions, were invited to take part in the one-day fun fair entitled A World of Good. REUTERS/Boonrat Apiwantanakorn

At 11:29 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

GENERAL NEWS - Monday 09 May 2005

Children turn out for fair

Jewish group donates toys to wave victims


Phuket _ Toys donated by a Jewish educational organisation have brought smiles to the faces of Thai children affected by the Dec 26 tsunami.

More than 100 children from tsunami-affected areas, such as the villages of Ban Nam Khem, Bang Muang and Khuek Khak in Phang-nga province's Takua Pa district and Phuket province yesterday took part in a fun fair at the Saphan Hin site in Phuket. The event, entitled, ``Tsunami Toy Drive'', was organised by Chabad of Thailand, a Jewish educational organisation based in Bangkok to enable children from over 120 schools and communities around the world to help their tsunami-victim peers in Thailand by collecting and donating toys. Mini roller coasters and other rides, such as a Ferris Wheel, Climb the Mountain and a carousel were erected at Saphan Hin to entertain the children. Free food and drinks were provided to all participants.

Chantal Keypour, 11, and Ayelet Hematian, 12, two students selected to represent the 120 participating schools, from the Chabad School of Science and Humanities in Port Washington, New York participated in the event as guest presenters.

Chief rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar said he was saddened by the deaths and injuries of the many people hit by the tsunami. He deeply appreciated the help of Jewish people from Israel and other countries who had played a role in alleviating the hardship of those affected by the tsunami.

He praised Chabad of Thailand for holding the event for children.

Rabbi Amar yesterday declined to discuss alleged abduction charges against his family. His wife, daughter and a son were arrested last week on suspicion they were involved in the alleged abduction and assault of his daughter's suitor, reportedly because they objected to the boy's relationship with the girl.

The relationship violates the family's strict religious codes.

On Saturday night Rabbi Amar denied involvement, Israeli radio stations reported. He regretted the incident and would cooperate with police, the report said.

Rabbi Yosef Kantor, Chabad of Thailand's executive director, said inspiration for the event came from the idea of universal good.

Supachai Yuwabun, deputy Phuket governor, thanked Chabad of Thailand for collecting and donating toys to local children as part of the rehabilitation efforts.


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