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.