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May 18, 1990 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-05-18

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ready happening; this year,
for the first time in more
than a decade, the popula-
tion of the cities in the
Galilee rose slightly, but
there are few available
apartments left.
Some government officials,
mindful of the failures of the
'50s, and eager to avoid po-
litical pressures, have called
for a free market approach to
the housing issue.
"Our goal should be to be
involved as little as possi-
ble," said acting Finance
Minister Dan Meridor. This
means providing immi-
grants with financial aid, in
the form of loans and grants,
and allowing them to find
their own accomodations.
The problem with such an
approach is that it could well
lead to a concentration of
immigrants on the already
overcrowded coastal plain.
"The government of Israel
shouldn't finance any 'Little

Odessas' on the beach bet-
ween Rishon Le'Zion and
Ashdod, which will turn into
one big slum," warns Sever
Plotzker.
Thus, despite the adoption
of the government's housing
plan, the specifics of immi-
grant settlement remain
very much an open question.
Ultimately the issue is like-
ly to be decided less by the
bureaucrats in Jerusalem
than by events.
The bad — and good —
news is that, according to
Aliyah activists, the current
150,000 figure is a small
fraction of the Jews expected
to arrive in the next few
years. If they are correct, the
government will have to go
back to the drawingboard,
and this week's decision to
build 70,000 apartments
may well be little more than
a first step in a program of
prolonged, national con-
struction that will radically
alter the face of Israel.

I NEWS I

A Seder, But No Seger,
For Jews In Katmandu

New York (JTA) — It
wasn't the parting of the Red
Sea or the 10 plagues that
swept Egypt (and rock star
Bob Seger wasn't there to
sing about going there), but
a Passover seder attended by
700 young Israelis in Nepal
was nothing short of a
miracle, said a bearded
Chabadnik who helped
organize it.
Music fans may recall
Detroiter Seger's song of a
few years back,
"Katmandu", in which he
sang: "If I ever get out of
here, I tell you what I'm go-
ing to do, I'm going to Kat-
mandu."
Nepal, it turns out, is a
popular destination for
Israelis traveling in Asia, so
it was only natural to plan a
seder for those who were
visiting during the holiday.
But with the Himalayan
kingdom's capital of Kat-
mandu in the throes of
sometimes violent pro-
democracy demonstrations,
the holiday meal almost
didn't happen.
Cartons of matzah, wine,
kipot, haggadot and "500
nice portions" of chicken had
already been shipped to
Nepal, said Chaim Alevsky,
who organized the seder
along with Asi Spiegel and
David Bisk. All are students
at the Lubavitch yeshiva in
Brooklyn.
"We were at a total loss,"
Alevsky said, so they faxed

the Lubavitcher rebbe,
Menachem Schneerson, for a
prayer. "There were so
many people there and it
looked like we couldn't have
a seder."
For several days, masses of
protesters and heavily arm-
ed troops filled the streets of
Katmandu's tourist district,
where the Israelis and the
Chabadniks were staying
and a strict curfew was in
force.
"We were walking at gun-
point many times," Alevsky
said. "We just did what we
had to, there were so many
things to do."
By the day before
Passover, the demonstra-
tions were so heated, the
security chief of the Israeli
embassy, where the seder
was to be held, suggested it
be canceled because
Nepalese military au-
thorities might mistake the
large group of people for a
demonstration.
Sunday night, the eve
before the seder, the streets
of Katmandu rang out with
what seemed to be con-
tinuous. shooting.
"Monday morning we
found out those were
firecrackers of joy because
the king had proclaimed a
democracy," he said.
The seder was the second
held by Lubavitch in Nepal.
The first, held last year by
Lubavitch of Sydney,
Australia, attracted 350 par-

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