Newsletter : 3fax1211.txt
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Israelis Win Oud Competition in Egypt
A panel of musicians from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and other states
awarded two Israelis first and second prizes in an international music competition in
Cairo for their performances on the oud (al-'oud), a traditional Middle Eastern stringed
instrument, from which the European lute was derived. The competition draws musicians from
across the Arab world. This year's winners, a student and a graduate, respectively, of the
Eastern Music Department of the Jerusalem Music Academy, were the first Israelis to have
won the competition. They were competing against 14 other 'oud artists.
Jewish Cemetery Desecrated at Auschwitz
Vandals have wrecked tombs at a Jewish cemetery at Auschwitz, southern Poland, the site
of the biggest Nazi German concentration camp, the local Jewish cultural center said on
It said 16 tombstones had been knocked down, probably early this week. Days before,
someone painted two large swastikas on the cemetery's wall, which municipal police quickly
removed. "It's difficult to say who did it. This cemetery is frequented usually once or
twice a day. We noticed the desecration on Wednesday," said Artur Szyndler of the Jewish
Center in Oswiecim, known as Auschwitz in German. The then-vibrant Jewish community in the
Polish town established the cemetery more than two centuries ago.
Most of the town's Jews were killed during World War II by Nazi German occupiers, who
built the world's largest concentration camp at Auschwitz and nearby Birkenau. The Nazis
killed 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, in Auschwitz. Poland had the largest Jewish
population in Europe until the war when Nazis murdered all but 300,000 of the country's
3.5 million Jews. About 10,000 Jews remain in Poland.
Court Sets Precedent Obligating Alimony in Civil Marriages
By Yuval Yoaz, Ha'aretz
The Supreme Court Wednesday in a precedential decision ruled that couples married in a
civil marriage, as well as couples who have not formally wed but have lived together and
shared a common household, would be required to bear mutual alimony obligations.
Religious law rules the field of alimony for Jews married by the rabbinate in Israel.
In cases of civil marriages, there has been no clear precedent so far concerning the
rights of the spouses towards one another once the marriage is terminated.
Wednesday's ruling was given in the case of two Jewish Israeli-born citizens, who met
eight years ago and decided to get married outside of the rabbinate. They consulted their
lawyer and at his recommendation, opted for a "Paraguay wedding," named after the
procedure that entails sending wedding requests via mail to a foreign country, thus
obtaining civil marriage documentation, which is recognized by authorities in Israel.
The couple decided to separate a year and a half later, and before the divorce
procedure was completed another man impregnated the woman, and the Rabbinical Court
decided to annul the marriage instead of ruling on the question of the divorce.
Some time later, the woman decided to file for alimony payments not only for the period
during which the couple were considered married, but also for the period when they were
separated. The Family Court before which the matter was brought ruled that the marriage
was not valid for alimony purposes, and that the husband was therefore under no obligation
to pay his former spouse. The Tel Aviv District Court upheld the ruling, and the case was
brought before the Supreme Court on appeal.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday set a precedent for the right to alimony, arising from
contract law, even in the absence of a written prenuptial agreement. "Couples are not
bystanders that a traffic accident brings together. They asked to share their lives.
Considerations of fairness and a sense of justice lead to the conclusion that there exists
a right for alimony," Justice Aharon Barak wrote.
The court further stated that the right to alimony, arising from contract law and the
principle of equality, exists mutually for each of the spouses. This means that in certain
cases the woman could be obligated to pay alimony to her husband, in contradiction to
Rabbinical Court precedents under which a woman is never obligated to pay alimony to her
Israel's First Eskimo Soldier
By Raffi Berg (BBC News Online)
The Israeli army has inducted into its ranks one of the most unique recruits in its
history - an Eskimo girl from Alaska.
Eighteen-year-old Eva Ben Sira is training to become a squad commander in the Negev desert
- a far cry from the frozen wastes of her homeland. She was born to a Yupik Eskimo mother
and a Cherokee American father before being adopted by an Israeli couple. Her twin
brother, Jimmy, will become the army's second serving Eskimo, when he joins the force next
The twins' remarkable journey to Israel began when their mother, Minnie, found herself
unable to support Eva and Jimmy after their father walked out. Alaskan social services
stepped in and, at the age of two, the twins were sent to live with their grandmother, who
struggled to raise the children herself.
Their plight came to light when an Orthodox Jewish couple, Meir and Dafna Ben Sira,
came to visit Minnie's neighbor - Dafna's mother - a Swiss Catholic woman, who had
immigrated to Alaska from Israel in 1989. The Ben Siras offered to adopt Eva and Jimmy,
but had to overcome a welter of religious and cultural obstacles to get the adoption
approved by both the Inuit tribe and an Alaskan Orthodox rabbi.
They remained in Alaska for five years until the adoption process was completed. Eva
and Jimmy were brought to Israel (they learned to speak Hebrew in three months), converted
to Judaism and integrated into Israeli society among the Orthodox community of Nir Etzion,
a village near Haifa.
The twins attended religious schools and had bar- and bat mitzvahs. After nearly a
decade in Israel, Eva has forgotten the smattering of Yupik she spoke as a child, but with
her long black hair and almond-shaped eyes, she has retained her ethnic looks.
Dafna said Eva has no wish to delve too deeply into her past and is very happy living
in Israel. Jimmy, however, is more intrigued and wants to go back to Alaska, if for only a
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