Miss Israel 2013 visits FIU Hillel

     It is poetic that a few weeks ago, Jewish communities from Jerusalem and around the world were all celebrating Purim, the holiday that celebrates the life of a beautiful young Jewish orphan girl who rose from obscurity and became the savior of her people and the queen of an entire empire. But that’s a story that happened a long time ago, and I’m here today to tell you about a modern day Queen Esther, or Queen of Sheba, however you want to describe the sexy phenomenon that is Yityish Aynaw. Yityish, who is lovingly referred to as “Titi”by those who know her, visited the Hillel center in Florida International University this week and gave me the honor of speaking with her directly. Did I mention she signed my army hat? I guess this gives me bragging rights ; ) 

     Titi was born just twenty five years ago in the small village of Chahawit near the city of Gondar in Ethiopia. She was born into a culture of Ethiopian Jewry that kept very much to themselves for fear of on going persecution. She remembers from a young age walking bear foot and as she personally described to me, sometimes having to light Shabbat candles in secret and “having practically nothing,” as far as material possessions. After eventually having lost both her father and mother, along with many other hardships endured, Titi took her brother Yellek and immigrated to Israel where they would be raised by their Jewish grandparents in the city of Netanyah just north of Tel Aviv.

     At just twelve years old, this brave young woman faced new challenges of assimilation into a new culture, but she quickly learned to adapt and master the Hebrew language. She excelled in school as she grew up and eventually  did what almost every young Israeli is obligated to do after high school, she joined and bravely served the Israel Defense Forces when she was nineteen years old, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant. Those were the three most defining years for Yityish, as she describes them having given her much needed direction in her life.

     After having completed her army service, Titi found her way into a clothing store where she worked as a simple sales clerk, but her stunning beauty would not go unnoticed. It was one of her close friends who actually took the liberty to register Titi for the Miss Universe competition. In February of 2013, , she not only won the title of Miss Israel but instantly received fame world wide for being the first Black and Ethiopian Jewish Miss Israel. Her fame and beauty quickly spread like wildfire around the world, even reaching as far as the White House in Washington D.C. Upon visiting Israel, former President Barak Obama insisted on personally meeting the breathtaking and inspiring Yityish Aynaw, and it was a dream come true for her as well as she was always greatly inspired by the first Black U.S. President and his rise to success, so much that Titi considers Obama to be a mentor to her. She was invited to the gala dinner where she had the chance to speak with both Obama and the late Israeli President, Shimon Peres z”l.

     Titi told us how she was later interviewed by a number of news media outlets including the Jerusalem Post and CNN. It was a dream she did not expect to ever come true, said the young supermodel, as she had absolutely no experience modeling prior to the Miss Universe competition. Her story is both compelling and inspiring, the stuff you only hear about from the Bible, but here she was a living example to countless people around the world. I could not help but ask her, as she had inspired so many, what it is that inspires her and kept her going all those years from Ethiopia to Israel today. She smiled and said, “It was my faith, I’m a fighter,”expressing to us how she refused to give up or give in until she got herself out of Ethiopia and on to the life that was her vision and dream.

     Yityish Aynaw’s current projects include her own personal touch to the fashion industry, and serving as a beacon of hope for other youth and minorities both in Israel and around the globe. She says her biggest dream however, is to have her own big beautiful family and give them the kind of life she says she never had growing up. She’s the kind of person you want your children to learn from and emulate. She has now become an iconic figure of a legendary nation and culture whose very theme is based on “Tikvah,”HOPE, and that’s exactly what Miss Aynaw has given us and continues to give to so many like her both at home and abroad. I myself have been big fan of Titi since she was first crowned in 2013; to meet her and speak to her was, well, heart melting, to say the least. On behalf of the Hillel of Florida International University, I would like to thank Yityish Aynaw for taking the time to come and speak with us and would like her to know that we too will carry her message of hope and perseverance as we apply it to both our growth on college campuses and the preservation of Jewish life and pride in all its rich diversity. I also want her to know that she’ll always have a loyal admirer in me ; ) 

– by Uzi Darwiche

A MOTHER’S PLIGHT…

It is written in the Talmud, “He who saves one life saves the world entire.” So what can be said about he or she who destroys one life? Or countless lives? Is that individual responsible for the destruction of one or several whole worlds? Yes! 

     Recently I had the honor of meeting a courageous woman and mother, fighting for the basic right of dignity for her son. Yet her cries continue to be largely ignored by members and leaders of the United Nations. Her name is Leah Goldin and her son’s name, was Hadar. Most of us are familiar with the story of David and Goliath; the young warrior poet who slew the mighty giant with a rock and sling and managed to inspire his people, uniting all the tribes of Israel into a powerful Kingdom of legend. Yet few today know about modern Davids; they live and die among us yet remain unseen or unnoticed by the world. One such youth was twenty three year old Lieutenant Hadar Goldin of the Givati Brigade in the Israeli Defense Forces. He was senselessly murdered, his body dragged through underground tunnels and held for ransom by Gaza based terror group Hamas till this day.

     Now before you quickly justify this case as an act of war and not of terrorism, let the facts be presented for the world to see. The facts how Hadar’s own mother told me herself and not some biased news media outlet:

  • First, Hadar was killed on August 1st, 2014.

  • Two hours AFTER a CEASE – FIRE WAS DECLARED.

  • Israel did not violate the cease-fire.

  • Hamas quickly broke the cease-fire just two hours after it was issued.

  • After the Protective Edge War with Gaza.

  • HIS BODY CONTINUES TO BE HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS TODAY.

  • THE UNITED NATIONS AND WORLD COMMUNITY REMAIN SILENT!

     A cease-fire implies that neither side of a conflict will attack the other so long as the order remains in effect. Hamas terrorists blatantly violated the agreement while Israel kept to their end of bargain. Hamas operatives invaded Israeli territory via underground tunnels, savagely attacked and murdered Hadar, and dragged his body back through the tunnel into Gaza. You may ask why anyone in their right mind would do such a thing. You may also be wondering why any terrorist or criminal would kidnap anyone just to kill them instead of holding them alive for ransom. I find myself asking the same questions but I’m afraid I already know the answer.

     You see, in most Jewish, Christian or even Muslim homes, children are taught to love God by loving and respecting the dignity of your fellow human being. Sadly, however, this is far from the case in many Palestinian homes. While some genuinely seek a peaceful solution, many are still falling prey to the vicious onslaught of Hamas’ version of a solid Palestinian “education” where children are taught to hate Israelis and are even trained to attack civilians from a very young and impressionable age. Their education remains that Israelis are “evil devils” and should be killed to “liberate Palestine.” How can any peace even be remotely possible with such brain-washing going on? But I digress… My point… Hamas believes that Israel will exchange hundreds of terrorists for the release of the bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers, as has been the case in previous wars. Whatever the intent, however, I think we can all agree, the action is not only cruel but is inhumane.  Whichever side you are on, I believe that even enemies can show some measure of respect to one another. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!

   But allow me to scratch the surface to you about the incredible young man that Hadar was. Only 23 years old, Hadar Goldin was a patriot; he loved his country and people to no end. He was a gifted artist and writer having completed various creative works before his passing. Hadar was a happy person, and he loved humanity, often placing others’ needs before his own. Everyone that met him loved him because he was that kind of man, kind to all with a positive personality. He believed in peaceful coexistence and friendship among all people. “Strength and humility were the words he and his twin brother Tzur would engrave onto their rifles, describing the balance between knowing when to use their weapon and when not to.

   Nearly three years later, Leah Goldin is still fighting for the release of Hadar’s body. She has even gone directly to the United Nations and confronted key leaders, who have shamefully turned their backs to ignore her plight. Leah is one of many Jewish mothers and parents whose cries have gone unanswered and completely ignored for several years. Why is the world silent? Why do they not pay attention? Why are Jewish mothers treated differently from others? What if it were you? What if it were your child? You may cite “Israeli aggression” to justify Hadar’s death, but in most Israeli-Arab wars, including Protective Edge, Islamic extremists were the aggressors, not Israelis. Hamas clearly violated a cease fire agreement brokered by the United Nations. It was during this time of “peace,” that they kidnapped and murdered Hadar. Let the facts be clearly set forth: Hamas operatives commit dastardly crimes against their own people in Gaza on a daily basis, and the murder of Hadar Goldin is among the latest acts of terrorism perpetrated by Hamas and they must be held accountable not only by the Israeli government, but by international courts.

            A Jewish mother is no different from a Muslim or Christian Mother, each deserves dignity and respect. Leah Goldin and her family deserve honor and dignity for their son, who must also be honored with a proper burial and memorial for his bravery. In the face of global indifference, what will you do? Will you be among the millions of people who remain silent? Or will you take action by raising awareness of Hadar Goldin’s cause and the cases of other young men like him? The choice is yours, but please, have a heart and join us! Let this mother’s plight and that of others never be ignored again! The time is NOW!

NO APOLOGIES!

I AM A JEW! Yes, that’s right I said it! No, I won’t apologize. No, I’m not afraid of being targeted or ridiculed. It’s time for the Jewish Nation as a people to rise up world wide and unite in strength! No longer will we be silent! No longer will we sit idly by while our brothers and sisters are murdered over seas and then painted as war criminals by the very assassins and murderers who have the audacity to claim the identity of David while some how masking their Goliath-like stature from world view!

I am an American, but first and foremost I am a Jew, a Hebrew, a Son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Royalty flows in my veins, the blood of prophets and kings from Moses to David and Solomon, from Queen Esther to Golda Meir! We are the Jews, and we will no longer be silent, for Zion is our home! Yes I am a Zionist and proud, no apologies to anyone. Our journey is just beginning, Herzl’s dream is not over. It’s up to us to take the next steps. To my fellow Jews in America and all over the world! Stop apologizing for who we are! Embrace our identity! Remember Moses and David, Deborah and Esther! Rise up! Defend Zion! Defend Israel’s right! From the border of Egypt to the Lebanon! The Arab world will hate us, what else is new? But let them learn to respect us! It’s time for Jews to stop thinking of ourselves as the weak minority and start remembering Who we have on our side and believe! Assimilation will have us believe these stories are fairy tales. Tell that to our grandparents who survived countless onslaughts of the nations to destroy us, and are alive today to keep the flame of Faith burning! And to never let it go out!

The settlements are not the problem! Israel is not the problem! Israel is not the aggressor! It’s time to stop being politically correct and stand with our people! In every country we have gone throughout history, our people have prospered and flourished for generations, and then come the politics which rise against us to blame us for their woes, and I dare say, in America it will be no different. I’m proud to be American, but I am a Jew first and I have chosen Israel as my lot. I hope that day is far off, but when it comes, we must realize there is one major difference today, that is that Israel will be there to take us in! But must we wait till such a day for us to unite? To put our differences aside and hold fast to the tzitziot of our forefathers? Must it take hardship to bring us together? Or can we make a difference today?

I heard a wise rabbi once say, “Rather than being children of exile, we must be builders of redemption.” I could not agree more, and I understand these are two very different mind sets. We can either go on bowing our heads to the whims of the nations, feeling sorry for ourselves and thinking those anti-Semites are right and that we are the root of every problem of the world. Or we can stand up in their faces and scream ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  The time of exile is over! Let the redemption of Zion live with us! It began with a dream with Herzl, and Ben Yehuda gave it words. Weizmann, Ben Gurion, Meir, Dayan and Begin, they fought for it along with countless of our fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts! Did they fight for nothing? Will we now give up the dream whose price was so high? All because our enemies demand that OUR HISTORIC HOMELAND belongs to them and that we are the invaders? NO! THE ANSWER WE MUST GIVE FOR OUR FAITH, FOR OUR FALLEN BROTHERS AND SISTERS, FOR OUR MOTHERS AND FATHERS AND FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR PEOPLE, IS “NEVER AGAIN!”

Therefore it is time for Israel to rise up, and I not only speak of the physical nation, but of the people of the Book, the chosen ones scattered into every region and every tribe and tongue who have allowed the coils of assimilation to wrap themselves around us and squeeze our identities into utter oblivion, the time is now! No more will Israel call and our answer be silent judgement, let us answer her call! When she calls let every Jew from every corner of the world let their voices be heard like mighty lion roaring! That the peoples and nations would hear and tremble, not at our cry, but at the roar of the ONE Who guides and protects us from the days of Sinai to this day until Mashiach comes. Until that day let us pick up where Herzl left off, let us look to our roots! Look to Abraham our father, to Sarah our mother! To Moses our teacher, to David our king, and march on with that same zeal toward our bright and glorious future. Let us recall the words of the prophet Isaiah and may it become our battle cry: “FOR ZION’S SAKE, I WILL NOT BE SILENT! AND FOR THE CAUSE OF JERUSALEM, I WILL NOT HOLD MY PEACE, UNTIL HER RIGHTEOUSNESS SHINES LIKE THE MORNING, HER SALVATION LIKE A BURNING LAMP!”

 

 

The Spirit of Zion

I’m starting this blog with the hope of inspiring other young Jews like myself from all over the world to not be ashamed of their identity and to be proud and strong and defend the ideals of Judaism and Zionism which I strongly believe go hand in hand. Don’t like it? It’s alright with me. Just know that we are Israel and we are here to stay!