Israel Briefs: Holocaust Survivor and 400 Kin Gather at Western Wall and More

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the 400 descendants of Holocaust survivor Shoshana Ovitz at Western Wall
The 400 descendants of Holocaust survivor Shoshana Ovitz, 104, who gathered together at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to fulfill her birthday wish, July 2019. (Source: Twitter via JNS.org)

Centenarian Survivor and 400 of Her Kin Gather at Western Wall

A 104-year-old Holocaust survivor and 400 descendants gathered Aug. 8 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, JNS.org reported.

The family of Shoshana Ovitz was brought together after she made a birthday wish that the whole family convene by the Kotel. During the day, she got up on a platform in her wheelchair to view her descendants and prayed that “everyone gets everything they need.”

“We do not have an exact number, but there are probably 400 grandchildren and descendants,” Shoshana’s oldest granddaughter, Panini Friedman, told Israeli news site Walla.

Friedman said about 10 percent of Ovitz’s descendants were unable to attend.

Ovitz is an Auschwitz survivor and saw her mother handed over to Nazi doctor and war criminal Josef Mengele, JNS.org reported. After her liberation, she met and married fellow survivor Dov Ovitz. They married and lived in Austria before moving to Haifa.

Seventy Years Later, Herzl’s Parochet Found in Tel Aviv Warehouse

The parochet placed over Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl’s coffin was found in a Jewish National Fund warehouse in Tel Aviv after a disappearance of 70 years, JNS.org reported.

The ornamental curtain disappeared in 1949 after Herzl was reinterred in Israel.

The gray cloth, which will go on permanent display at JNF headquarters, was found folded underneath a closet in the warehouse.

“We have the great privilege of finding this important historical item that links us to the father of Zionism, and reminds us of the fact that without Zionism, there would be no JNF, and without the JNF there would be no Zionism,” JNF Chairman Danny Atar said.

Scientists Working to Save Prickly Pear Cactus From Destructive Insect

A team of Israeli scientists has introduced predatory beetles and flies to eat a destructive insect called Dactylopius opuntiae that is destroying prickly pear cactus in northern Israel, The Times of Israel reported.

Israelis have adopted the Indian fig prickly pear (Hebrew name sabra) “as the symbol of the typical local persona of the Jewish tribe — tough on the outside, but sweet inside,” the Times said.

The Dactylopius opuntiae live in the pads of the prickly pear, removing juices and nutrients from the plant’s tissue. Infested pads turn yellow before collapsing.

But a team under entomologist Zvika Mendel at the Volcani Center Agricultural Research Organization imported from Mexico two insect predators known to feed exclusively on the damaging bug — trident lady beetles and aphid flies. The beetles and flies were tested on the target and other insects before being dispatched.

Gun Planted During Reality Show Leads Arab Resident to File Lawsuit

Eastern Jerusalem Arab resident Samer Sleiman filed suit against Israeli police, claiming they planted a gun at his home while filming an episode of Jerusalem District, JTA reported.

The episode showed officers finding a rifle, which surprised Sleiman, who had been told nothing was found.

It was later determined police planted the weapon after nothing was found during a search — an idea suggested by the production staff and approved by a senior police officer.

The police have since apologized.

Haaretz reported that someone claiming to be a police officer called Sleiman and threatened him if he spoke with the media.

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Andy Gotlieb is the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent. He holds 31 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too. Prior newspaper stops include the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Tampa Tribune and the Philadelphia Business Journal. The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various times, business, politics, crime and government, among other beats. The final 2.5 years in that stretch was an editor at the Philadelphia Business Journal, where my responsibilities included complete control over a weekly section and working with both staff writers and freelancers. In late 2005, I switched gears and began working in public relations for the next decade. I learned the ins and outs of public relations -- including being on the other side of the media-PR equation -- and made numerous contacts. I rejoined the ranks of journalism in March 2016, starting as the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent.

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