Rachel’s Tomb, Bethlehem, Judea.

In the Parasha Vayichla’h (Genesis 32:4-36:43) Ya’akov struggles with an angel, comes out injured but victorious, and is given the name Israel (1). At Beth-El, G-d appears to him and blesses him. Then, Ya’akov heads towards Ephrata (Bethlehem) where Rachel dies in childbirth after giving birth to Benjamin. The haftara drawn from Obadiah speaks of divine anger towards the kingdom of Edom and its fall due to its arrogance and violent actions against the people of Israel.

Obadiah 1:19 (2)
יָרְשׁוּ הַנֶּגֶב אֶת-הַר עֵשָׂו, וְהַשְּׁפֵלָה אֶת-פְּלִשְׁתִּים, וְיָרְשׁוּ אֶת-שְׂדֵה אֶפְרַיִם, וְאֵת שְׂדֵה שֹׁמְרוֹן; וּבִנְיָמִן, אֶת-הַגִּלְעָד
And they will possess the Negev, the mountain of Esau, the plain of the Philistines, they will possess the field of Ephraim, the field of Samaria and Benjamin will possess Gilead.

Rachel’s tomb is located in Bethlehem in Judea. According to the prophet Jeremiah (31:14-16) “A voice is heard in Ramah, a plaintive voice, bitter sobs. It is Rachel who weeps for her children, who does not want to be comforted for her sons for they are no more. Thus says the Lord: let your voice cease from moaning and your eyes from crying, for there will be a compensation for your efforts, says the Lord, they will return from the enemy’s land. And there is hope for your future, says the Lord, your children will return to their domain”.

(1) ישראל, Yisra’él , G-d prevails.
(2) The verse refers to several geographical regions encompassing the entire state of Israel, the south of Lebanon and Syria, the ridge line to the east of the Jordan, up to Akaba and the Gaza Strip.

Qa Al-Yahud, Sanaa, Yemen

2500 years of history

Parashah Vayetze (וַיֵּצֵא – And he went out), Genesis 28:10–32:3.
Ya’akov flees from Esau’s anger and stops in Luz. There, God promises him a great offspring and the possession of the land of Israel. Acknowledging the divine presence in this place, Ya’akov consecrates it and names it Bethel. He then travels to Haran to Laban’s house. Ya’akov works there for fourteen years, marries Leah and Rachel, and invests six more years to build up his livestock. Fleeing from his father-in-law’s tricks, Ya’akov leaves Haran with his family and all his possessions. Finally, he prepares for the reunion with Esau, his brother.

Genesis 28:15
וְהִנֵּה אָנֹכִי עִמָּךְ, וּשְׁמַרְתִּיךָ בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר-תֵּלֵךְ, וַהֲשִׁבֹתִיךָ, אֶל-הָאֲדָמָה הַזֹּאת: כִּי, לֹא אֶעֱזָבְךָ, עַד אֲשֶׁר אִם-עָשִׂיתִי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-דִּבַּרְתִּי לָךְ.
Behold, I am with you, and I will keep you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

Operation “Magic Carpet” (1949-1950)
At the creation of Israel, Jewish communities in predominantly Muslim countries faced significant threats. Israel responded to these challenges by organizing Operation “Magic Carpet,” aimed at evacuating around 45,000 Yemenite Jews.

In the Jewish quarter of Sanaa, Qa Al-Yahud, with its narrow streets and two or three-story mudbrick houses(1), the Jewish presence has vanished, with the Houthis driving out the last ones in 2016(2). Nowadays, most Yemenite Jews reside in Israel.

(1) The Old City of Sanaa, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986, is an architectural treasure with a Jewish history of over 2,000 years. It exceptionally illustrates ancient urban planning. Its ten-story mudbrick buildings adorned with intricate geometric and floral sculptures provide a unique aesthetic. This old city bears witness to Yemen’s historical and cultural richness but faces preservation challenges due to the turmoil caused by the Houthis.

(2) According to a United Nations report released in March 2022, only one Jew remains in Yemen out of the 2,000 who were still there in 2016. This individual is likely Levi Salem Musa Marhabi, who has been illegally imprisoned and tortured multiple times by the Houthis. He lives in inhumane prison conditions, and his health is deteriorating. In November 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for his immediate release.

The Space Torah


The Torah portion Toldot (Genesis 25:19 to 28:9) recounts the birth of Esau and Jacob, Jacob’s acquisition of the birthright, and the blessings bestowed upon him by his father Isaac. The portion consists of 106 verses, a number corresponding to the gematria of the word “עלו” which translates to “they have risen” (1).

Genesis 26:4
וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת-זַרְעֲךָ, כְּכוֹכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְנָתַתִּי לְזַרְעֲךָ, אֵת כָּל-הָאֲרָצֹת הָאֵל; וְהִתְבָּרְכוּ בְזַרְעֲךָ, כֹּל גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ.

I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; I will give your descendants all these lands, and by your descendants, all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves.

Jeffrey Hoffman’s (2) last space mission took place aboard the space shuttle Columbia(3). During this mission, he brought various Jewish items, including a spinning top and a small Sefer Torah. While in orbit, he read the book of Genesis. The documentary “Space Torah” (click), aired in 2023, recounts this significant event in his career. Concurrently with the documentary, a traveling exhibition, “The Space Torah Project,” dedicated to celebrating the Jewish legacy in space, toured Israel.

(1) According to Rabbi David Feinstein Zt”l, this alludes to the elevation of Isaac after his time in Gerar (Genesis 26:13), Jacob’s elevation through the purchase of the birthright (Genesis 25:33), and the blessings bestowed by his father (Genesis 27:27-29 and 28:1-4).
(2) Jeffrey Hoffman is an American astronaut born in 1944. He participated in five space missions with NASA, including spacewalks to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
(3) The STS-75 mission took place from February 22 to March 9, 1996. That year, Purim fell on February 25.

Yad Sarah Be’er Sheva Israel


The parasha Haye Sarah, Genesis 23:1 – 25:18, begins with the recounting of Sarah’s years of life. Then, Abraham purchases a suitable burial place in Hebron (מערת המכפלה). Afterwards, Abraham sends his faithful servant Eliezer on a mission, guided by divine providence.

Genesis 24:27
וַיֹּאמֶר בָּרוּךְ ה’ אֱלֹקי אֲדֹנִי אַבְרָהָם אֲשֶׁר לֹא עָזַב חַסְדּוֹ וַאֲמִתּוֹ מֵעִם אֲדֹנִי אֲנֹכִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ נָתַנִי ה’ בֵּית אֲחַי אֲדֹנִי.
And he said, “Blessed be the Lord, the Gd of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His steadfast love and His faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”

The NGO Yad Sarah engages in numerous missions. It is a providential Israeli humanitarian institution for individuals who have experienced hospital stays or other life challenges. Currently, it focuses on assisting countless wounded and traumatized individuals affected by mourning, terror, indescribable violence, attacks, missile strikes, war, and hostage situations. It brings hope and aid to the wounded and troubled minds.

Eliezer Armon, the architect of the Yad Sarah building in Beer-Sheva, explained that the pyramid constructed at the front of the building is intentionally cracked. “Yad Sarah supports people who have had a crack in their lives,” he added. “But a crack also lets in the light.”

Tall El-Hammam, Jordan

18th century BCE

Parashah Vayera (וירא), Genesis 18 to 22:
Abraham receives a visit from three angels disguised as travelers and offers them hospitality. They announce to Abraham the future birth of Isaac. Two angels go to Sodom, where they meet Lot, Abraham’s nephew. They save him from the imminent destruction of the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim. These cities are destined for destruction due to the corruption, wickedness, evil, and moral depravity of their inhabitants. Sarah gives birth to Isaac and asks Abraham to separate from Ishmael.

Genesis 19:24
וַה’, הִמְטִיר עַל-סְדֹם וְעַל-עֲמֹרָה–גָּפְרִית וָאֵשׁ:  מֵאֵת ה’, מִן-הַשָּׁמָיִם.
Then the Lord rained down sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of the heavens.

Tall el-Hammam, an ancient Bronze Age city (1) located in Jordan near the Dead Sea, has piqued the interest of archaeologists due to its possible identification with Sodom. The city was destroyed, presumably, by a cosmic explosion, reminiscent of the Tunguska event in Siberia (2). The devastating heat from this explosion burned the surrounding land, much like what is observed at Tall El-Hammam.

(1) Dating back to the time of Abraham, around 1900 BCE.
(2) In 1908, a fireball was observed in the skies of central Siberia, exploding at an altitude of 5 to 10 kilometers. This explosion, equivalent to 1,000 times the Hiroshima bomb, caused a blast that burned 2,000 square kilometers of forest, generating temperatures estimated at 2,000 degrees Celsius. The damage extended over 100 kilometers, and the explosion was audible within a radius of 1,500 kilometers, triggering numerous fires that ravaged forested areas for several weeks.

Synagogue of Mende, Lozere, France

11th century

In Parasha Lekh Lekha (Genesis 12:1 – 17:27), God commands Abraham, who was 75 years old (1), to settle in the land of Canaan (2), a land intended for him and his descendants. Subsequently, Abraham becomes involved in a conflict to rescue his nephew Lot, who had been kidnapped.

Genesis 14:14-16
וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע אַבְרָ֔ם כִּֽי־נִשְׁבָּ֛ה אָחִ֥יו וַיָּרֶ֖ק אֶת־חֲנִיכָ֑יו יְלִידֵ֣י בֵ֔יתוֹ שְׁמֹנָ֥ה עָשָׂ֖ר וּשְׁלֹשִׁ֥ים וּמֵאָֽה׃
וַיִּרְדֹּ֗ף עַד־דָּ֛ן וַיֵּחָלֵ֥ק עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם לַיְלָֽה ה֥וּא וַעֲבָדָֽיו וַיַּכֵּ֖ם וַיִּרְדֹּ֑פם עַ֖ד־חוֹבָֽה אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִשְׂמָֽאל׃
וַיָּֽשָׁב֙ אֶת־כָּל־הָ֭רְכֻשׁ וְגַֽם־אֶת־ל֣וֹט אָחִ֑יו וְֽרְכֻשׁ֖וֹ הֵשִֽׁיב֙ וְגַם־אֶת־הַ֖נָּשִֽׁים וְאֶת־הָעָֽם׃
When Abram learned that his relative had been taken captive, he armed 318 of his bravest servants, born in his house, and pursued them as far as Dan. Then, in the night, he and his servants attacked them and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, which is to the north of Damascus. He brought back all the possessions and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions and the women and the people.

Abraham, accompanied by his men, confronts and defeats his enemies, rescuing Lot, who had been kidnapped. May Abraham’s example guide us in freeing the 224 hostages in the hands of Hamas. May the Lord turn Tsahal into a formidable iron harrow (3) to crush those who seek to destroy Israel.

The synagogue of Mende, located near the Lot River, is a medieval building dating back to the 11th century. It ranks among the oldest synagogues in France. Originally, it belonged to a prominent Jewish figure in Mende named Ferrier (4). The synagogue’s architecture reveals typical features of its era, suggesting its use both as a residence and a place of worship.

(1) 1948 + 75 = 2023
(2) Canaan is a region in the Middle East that encompasses parts of what is now Israel, the Gaza Strip, the northern Negev, western Jordan, Lebanon, and western Syria.
(3) Isaiah 41:15 (Haftara for Lekh Lekha)
הִנֵּה שַׂמְתִּיךְ, לְמוֹרַג חָרוּץ חָדָשׁ–בַּעַל, פִּיפִיּוֹת; תָּדוּשׁ הָרִים וְתָדֹק, וּגְבָעוֹת כַּמֹּץ תָּשִׂים.
Behold, I have set you as a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; you will thresh the mountains and crush them, and you will reduce the hills to fine chaff.
(4) A surname that suggests an occupation related to ironwork (blacksmith).

Soldiers’ Synagogue, Rostov-on-Don, Russia


The parasha Noa’h (Genesis 6 to 11) highlights the transgressions of humanity, tells the story of Noah and the flood, and describes the construction of the Tower of Babel and the dispersion of peoples, the origin of different nations. The haftara (Isaiah 54:1-10) brings a message of hope and renewal for Israel, emphasizing the importance of the eternal covenant between God and His people.

Isaiah 54:8
בְּשֶצֶף קֶצֶף, הִסְתַּרְתִּי פָנַי רֶגַע מִמֵּךְ, וּבְחֶסֶד עוֹלָם, רִחַמְתִּיךְ–אָמַר גֹּאֲלֵךְ, ה׳.
“In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.

During the joyful celebration of Simhat Torah, after disabling surveillance systems, approximately 2,500 Islamist terrorists invade the south of Israel and commit a murderous, heinous, and unbearable pogrom. In response, the Israeli government takes decisive measures and decides on the elimination of all terrorist organizations by the Tsahal (צה”ל).

In 1862, a community of Jewish soldiers is established in the city of Rostov-on-Don. Built (1) in 1872, the Soldiers’ Synagogue combines elements of Art Nouveau and Oriental styles. The facade adorned with a cornice rests on a bugnato-style base (2). Above the building, there are four domes, each crowned with a Star of David (3). A historically significant monument of regional importance, the Soldiers’ Synagogue has been in continuous operation since 2005.

1 The financing of the synagogue was provided by the merchant Joseph Markovitch Elister. The architect Ernst Ernestovitch von Schulmann and the builder Moïsseï Leontievitch Geronimus carried out its construction.
2 Bugnato is an external wall cladding style that uses bossages to create a pronounced relief.
3 The Stars of David on the domes, removed in the 1935s, were reinstalled in 2005.

Synagogue of Victory, Paris


Genesis 4:10:
וַיֹּאמֶר, מֶה עָשִׂיתָ; קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ, צֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן-הָאֲדָמָה.
What have you done! The cry of your brother’s blood is calling to Me from the ground.

Let us remember our brothers and sisters who were massacred during our joy. United in our faith, let us pray that Hashem grants us victory over these heinous assassins, these barbarians, these outcasts of humanity, who have sown terror. Through our unity and solidarity, we can put an end to evil, contributing to the fulfillment of the final redemption and ushering in an era of peace and light for all. Let us ask God to help us, grant us His Protection, and spread peace in Israel and throughout the world.

The Synagogue of Victory, located in the heart of Paris, is a place of prayer, gathering, a symbol of faith, resilience, and unity.

Cloud of Light (Final Project)

(Genesis 1:3) :
וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹקִים, יְהִי-אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר
And G–od said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.

A few years ago, a student presented her final project1 to build a synagogue in the suburbs of Paris. This project draws inspiration from the prayer of rain, ‘Tikkun Hageshem’ which evokes divine blessings and the light that floods the earth. This prayer is recited on Chemini Atseret, the joyous festival for the Torah, celebrating spiritual light and community unity.

The architectural design represents the cloud, a symbol of lightness, intangibility, and unreality. The synagogue is conceived as a multitude of light droplets through glass bricks, creating a spiritual space. External light, passing through the glass bricks, illuminates the prayer hall, highlighting the Torah ark and the lectern.

1 Cloud of Light:: Where to Find the Booklet?

Last minute :
The Codex Sassoon, the oldest and most complete known Bible will be permanently exhibited at the ANU Museum of the Jewish People starting from October 11th. This remarkable manuscript is over 1,100 years old. It was acquired for approximately 38 million dollars at a public auction organized by Sotheby’s in New York and donated to the collection of the ANU Museum of the Jewish People through a generous donation.

The world’s largest sukkah returns to Jerusalem.

In Chapter 23, verses 41 to 43 of the Book of Leviticus, it is written:

מא וְחַגֹּתֶם אֹתוֹ חַג לה’, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה: חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם, בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי תָּחֹגּוּ אֹתוֹ. מב בַּסֻּכֹּת תֵּשְׁבוּ, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים; כָּל-הָאֶזְרָח, בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, יֵשְׁבוּ, בַּסֻּכֹּת. לְמַעַן, יֵדְעוּ דֹרֹתֵיכֶם, כִּי בַסֻּכּוֹת הוֹשַׁבְתִּי אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּהוֹצִיאִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: אֲנִי ה אֱלֹקֵיכֶם.
You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all citizens1 in Israel shall dwell in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the children of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

These words emphasize the importance of the roots of the Jewish nation. They were liberated from slavery in Egypt. This festival is an opportunity to celebrate freedom, the importance of faith, perseverance, the long history of Israel, and Jewish culture. It is a time to bring the entire community together and to remind them of the essence of the people.

An extraordinary sukkah is erected in Safra Square, where faithful and visitors from around the world converge. This gigantic sukkah, the ‘largest in the world,’ has a capacity of 650 people and covers an area of 800 square meters. The interior of the sukkah is adorned with biblical verses related to Jerusalem and photographs of the holy city. Festivities, workshops, performances, and virtual reality activities for all ages are offered.

The seven days of the Sukkot festival are celebrated in an atmosphere of great joy and sharing.

1 The root of the Hebrew word “הָאֶזְרָח” is אזר, which is related to the concept of belonging to a people. The term is often used in a legal or administrative context to distinguish citizens from foreigners or temporary residents.