Zvika Levy, Israel Prize-winning ‘father of lone soldiers,’ dies aged 70
Zvika (Zvi) Levy, an Israel Prize-winning social activist known as “the father of lone soldiers” in Israel, passed away on Saturday at age 70 after years of suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a muscular disease.
Levy founded the Lone Soldiers organization in 1997, which supports some 3,500 young people annually who leave their families, usually abroad, to volunteer for Israeli army service. The organization also serves more than 1,500 Israeli soldiers who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or are estranged from their parents.
After a long career in the paratroopers unit, he has looked after lone soldiers from more than 40 countries, with most coming from the former Soviet Union, the US, Europe, Ethiopia, and South America.
In the ceremony for the Israel Prize in 2017, Levy accepted his award from a wheelchair, to a standing ovation.
This sweet, tough, and charmingly amateurish memoir is the story of a tenacious woman. Sylvia Fishbaum grew up in Slovakia after World War II. Her parents braved anti-Semitism and maintained a traditional Jewish lifestyle in a country where Jews were nearly extinct.
After the rise of Communism, life became harder both materially and emotionally, but Fishbaum’s irrepressible confidence served her well. As a young woman, she sewed clothes and sold them on the black market in the Ukraine to finance her escape to the United States.
A chance meeting with a Jewish family on its way to Israel alerted Sylvia to the existence of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in Rome. After careful, clandestine planning, Fishbaum left behind an apartment and a job,made her way to Rome, and eventually moved to New York. There she married a co-owner of an iconic kosher pizzeria in Manhattan, raised two sons, and lived the American dream.
After her husband’s early death from heart disease, Sylvia dedicated herself to reviving Jewish life in Slovakia. Fishbaum’s wellsprings of willpower and self-deprecating humor make for a compelling read.
SCHARFSTEIN–Bernard, passed away peacefully at home in the loving embrace of his family on October 4, 2018 at age 92. Bernie devoted his professional life to Jewish scholarship and education. In close collaboration with his late brother, Sol, he published Jewish scholarly books and educational material at KTAV Publishing House, which was founded by his parents, Asher and Fannie in the 1940s. He was recognized for his impact on Jewish scholarship and learning with an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University in 1997.
Born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Bernie attended Yeshiva College, where he starred on the basketball team, which in its day competed against leading college teams. He graduated from New York University and received a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He was an avid reader of The New York Times, where many of his letters to the editor were published. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, to whom he was devoted for 59 years and their three sons, David (Sarah), Jonathan (Suzanne) and Daniel (Julie). He is also survived by nine loving grandchildren (Allison, Rebecca, Michelle, Benjamin, Julia, Kayla, Eliza, Ava and Nadia). It gave him great joy that all of his children and grandchildren were educated at Jewish day schools, where they learned from many KTAV books, and that they continue to have a deep appreciation for Judaism.
Contributions may be made to the Fannie and Asher Gemilus Chessed Fund at Yeshiva University c/o Rabbi Dr. Herbert Dobrinsky, 500 W. 185th St., BH312, NY, NY 10033.
Author Silvia Fishbaum translated and adapted her memoir to English language from its original version Židovka, a platinum bestseller in Slovakia. Both authors, Silvia and Andrea, will be happy to answer all your questions and sign your copies.
In the mid-20th century, the great American Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel credibly wrote “Judaism today is the least known religion.” But recent decades have seen Christians making impressive efforts to fill in the knowledge gap. For many years, I have had the privilege of teaching groups of Christians who come to Jerusalem from throughout the world. Many of them are priests, pastors and nuns on sabbatical; some are lay people. They come from anywhere from a week to a year and my involvement varies, depending on the length and depth of the program. The programs are held at Christian institutions in and around Jerusalem.
I teach them about Judaism and about Israel. I give introductions to the Christians who visit our synagogue on Friday nights for prayers, and we sometimes also provide them with home hospitality for Shabbat dinners. It is fascinating to note what questions they ask. In one case, a young woman was surprised that our sanctuary was not decorated with pictures of Moses. Once, I told a group of seminarians that they were imposing Christian questions on Judaism; what interested them almost exclusively were Read the rest of this entry »
“Reading Debbie Weissman’s memoir leaves us with some hope… whose teaching and writing in Israel and the Diaspora and commitment to dialogue between people of different faiths have had a world-wide impact…. An insight into the principles by which Debbie guides her own behavior can be seen as she adopts a modified version of Levinas’ teaching that we should see the “face of God in the Other.” “It would be enough,” she says, “if we could just look at the Other and see a face no less human than our own.”