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>Israel Faxx
>JN Jan. 26, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 14

Red Heifer Becomes Unfit

By Arutz-7 News Service

Residents of the northern community of Kfar Hasidim announced recently that the red heifer that they had been raising had become unfit for ritual use. Hairs on its tail were found to be whitening, rendering it not totally red, and therefore unfit to be used in the purification process for service in a future Holy Temple. The residents are hopeful that the cow will bear red calves that will be able to be used for this purpose.

Arafat: Israel Offers "Peanuts"

By IINS News Service

Following last week's meetings with President Bill Clinton, PLO Authority Chief Yasir Arafat has rejected a proposal put forward by the White House concerning future Israeli withdrawals from areas throughout Judea and Samaria. Clinton's plan called for a three-phase Israeli withdrawal from about 10 percent of areas under Israeli control.

Arafat said during a news conference: "What he's offering is peanuts, and it can't be accepted. He has to accept the agreements," referring to Netanyahu.

Arafat said in a Washington press conference that he signed the Oslo Accords with former Prime Ministers Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin and he signed the Hebron Agreement with Netanyahu. He was now calling on the Israeli administration for compliance.

Farrakhan will be Blocked from Temple Mount

By IINS News Service

Acting on reports that Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan was scheduled to again visit the region, the Chai Vekaiyam organization has taken steps to block his visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.

During his last visit to the region, Farrakhan canceled his planned trip to Jerusalem, for what his security chiefs called "security considerations." The visit of the controversial figure, who is know for openly anti-Semitic rhetoric, was a subject of controversy in the past.

Yehuda Etzion of the Chai Vekaiyam organization has called upon the state attorney general to bar Farrakhan from the Temple Mount. During his last visit, Israeli leaders stated that no government officials would meet with him unless he issued a retraction for his anti-Semitic remarks of the past.

Kosher Chicken Turns Havana Shabbat into feast

By Lubavitch News Service (Havana)

The Shabbat tasted just a little bit better for Rebecca Meshulam and her family. The kosher chickens delivered by Lubavitch rabbis this month brought a taste of the old world to the Meshulams' Shabbat table in the Havana neighborhood of Nuevo Vedado.

"It's not very often that we are able to get kosher poultry," said Senora Meshulam, 53, whose husband, Alberto, is a neurologist and a Jewish community leader here.

Last month, the Chabad Friends of Cuban Jewry sent two rabbis to Cuba as part of a project to provide religious and humanitarian services to the Jews living under one of the world's last remaining communist regimes.

Pairs of Lubavitch rabbis and rabbinical students make more than a dozen visits a year to help the island's Jews celebrate Jewish holidays, to deliver humanitarian aid, and to run a Jewish summer camp in a Havana city park.

This time, the arrivals, Rabbis Yechiel Chanzin and Yehuda Leib Cohen, were also trained shochtim, or ritual slaughterers.

Prior to the visit, Chabad-Lubavitch representatives persuaded Cuban officials to set aside 300 chickens, a scarce commodity on the island, for the Jewish community. The chickens were then paid for by Canadian businessmen. The visitors honed their sharp blades and recited the benedictions for the "shechita" ritual, an integral part of the Jewish dietary code.

During the last five years, Chabad-Lubavitch volunteers delivered seven tons of basic food staples, including oil, flour and pastas; 3,500 bars of soap; 1,800 packages of laundry detergent; 450 pairs of shoes, as well as medicine, clothes, treats for children, canned foods and candles.

The aid program operates out of Adath Israel, one of three synagogues still functioning in Havana. Adath Israel is the only synagogue where morning and afternoon services are held daily. Local Jewish teenagers are recruited to divide the supplies into individual packages that are then distributed among community members.

One endeavor that requires physical action and spiritual commitment is the Brit Milah, or ritual circumcision according to Jewish law. Since 1991, Lubavitch volunteers have conducted 20 circumcisions of Jewish children and adults, flying in "mohelim," ritual circumcisors, from abroad.
The island's Jewish population has dwindled from an estimated 15,000 in 1959 to less than 1,500 today.

When Fidel Castro officially allowed free religious practice in 1991, the act spawned a free-for-all among foreign religious groups eager to promote religion on the island. Since then, Jewish life here has also slowly begun to come back. Lubavitch rabbis are dispatched primarily from South and Central American countries, because of U.S. travel restrictions.

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