• Appointments and Inquiry Requests: 1-855-432–7391 | 1-855-Hebrew1
    Serving the Nation with Offices in:

    New York | Massachusetts | Florida

  • Blog

    Where Does Our Faith Lie?

    5. November, 2015BlogComments are off

    The hour of Kol Nidre has passed some months ago. Its strains of sadness filled our hearts and has passed from us. Its haunting melody that created a setting and a mood that nearly overwhelmed the night is also gone. Where are we now that the time has elapsed from sadness and remembrance to … now? That is a question that haunts most rabbis and people and people of strong religious beliefs.

    It was the hour of truth; a time for probing honestly, and perhaps we have done just that. I myself have struggled with my heart and head, longer than I’d care to admit, to find ways that were worthy of this night. For being Jewish is a heritage so vast, a treasure so enormous, that we must reach beyond our grasp merely to comprehend it.

    We are the heirs to words once spoken, dreams, and thoughts conceived by men and women to change the world. Not to be forgotten or ignored. These words and dreams and thoughts were bequeathed to us to worship God. It is the challenge of our inheritance to find and lead the way in our own time.

    Today, I find that people are on a search for something in which to believe, weather drawn from our heritage or elsewhere. It need not be confined to the rational. In fact, the simplistic and irrational are gaining strength and momentum every day in this beautiful land of ours.

    All people everywhere have a need to believe in something that transcends themselves, that somehow helps them make sense of their lives. While this is hardly unique to our time, I think the events that transpired on a subsequent to September 11th have perhaps, made the need a more urgent one. The constant bloodletting in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan along with the unrest in the Middle East, to say nothing of what is occurring in Africa and other parts of the world, color our lives in ways that are both overt and insidious, impacting on the way we think on any given day.

    In such a state of vulnerability, people are often ready and willing to accept ideas and belief systems that offer simplistic answers, ones that can be found in irrational, pseudo-religions that usually impose cult-like environment. The prospective convert is welcomed openly and enthusiastically with the promise of safe haven, but in truth, one gains admission only if one is willing to check one’s mind at the door. The individual gives up the freedom to make personal decisions in exchange for the sense of security that comes of belonging; and the leader of the cult group is now the decision maker for all.

    This is true of Jews for Jesus, Scientologists, Children of God, and others. It is also the case among all fundamentalist groups that do away with independent thinking, almost as if thinking for yourself is a sin. It can be said of the Charismatic Churches that speak in many tongues, the Pentecostal groups in which they reverence glossolalia. This means, people stand up and sound words that are not words, just gibberish, sometimes in a tongue that makes absolutely no sense, and everyone listening nods their approval. And let’s not forget the guru groups like the Moonies, or Jewish groups like Aish Hatorah, that takes the most fearful, fragile, fearful young people on college campuses and offers them love and security in the in schools in Jerusalem, insisting that they sever all ties with family and friends.

    Still, these religious people offer the young a chance to believe in something and for those in need, this trumps the blatant drawbacks, the out and out brainwashing and unhealthy dependence that is fostered by the requirements for membership.

    What is offered up for belief, I think is nonsense, and the way in which these people are manipulated may be tragic if not criminal, but it feeds that fierce hunger to believe in something Never mind that the something is the snake trapped Eve in the Garden of Eden; that Jesus failed the Jews killed him before he had a chance to marry the perfect mate (despite the fact that rumors abound that he married Mary). Never mind the pernicious nonsense coupled with the admonition that one must hate, or turn one’s back on their parents.

    Another variation on the theme would be those who find their religious expression in uttering God’s name. Their godliness resides in the name, God as if just saying the name makes them religious people. We take the name of God and we place it in our choicest of possessions…money. “In God We Trust.” Billy Graham once remarked that just uttering the name is impressive. He said, “A Bible-reading shepherd in the desert of Mesopotamia, who had never heard of the United States, would say upon seeing our coins that speak of trusting in God: ‘Surely these are God’s people.’” What’s in a name? To these “believers,” it is all the same.

    Today, American policy not only urges, but some insist for the name of God to be heard in schools, in prayers approved by someone in authority. No matter that the deed itself divides the class; no matter that it embarrasses, and even may humiliate some children; no matter that it violates the Constitution of our land; no matter all these things so long as the sound of the word is herd.

    One can reject the propositions I’ve described, offering examples of a faith consisting of hollow gestures, mindless, a mere “going through the motions,” in an effort to meet an emotional need.

    Then there is the Orthodox, Conservative and to some extent the Reform movements of Judaism that focus on defining one’s Jewishness through ritual (though there is plenty of room for ritual, it should not be exclusively the defining measure of one’s Jewishness). The beliefs of the Orthodox and Conservative movements rely heavily upon the work of Moses
    Maimonides, a leading and honored figure of his time as well as ours, who spoke for a Judaism that our ancestors believed in and found sustaining, although some of his beliefs then are questionable today.

    Take for example, Maimonides, who wrote out what were for him the articles of faith, which is still a guideline for our Orthodox brethren. It was by these, he said, that one could tell who was a religious Jew and who was not. Here are some of his views and you decide for yourselves. Please understand that these viewpoints a thousand years ago.

    1. I believe with perfect faith that the Torah will not be changed and that there will never be any other law from the Creator, blessed be His name.
    2. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, knows every deed of the children, of men and all their thoughts.
    3. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, rewards those who keep His Commandments and punishes those that transgress them.
    4. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though he may tarry, I will wait for his coming.
    5. I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead at the time when it shall please the Creator.

    We have moved away from those beliefs simply because we cannot associate with a God that we can affirm. We know what we do not believe; yet the need to believe is overpowering. Unless we believe in something—something more enduring than ourselves—-it is going to be hard to find meaning in life.

    We may dabble temporarily—sampling, tasting, always searching—that is not so terrible. But we will find, for the most part that we remain empty. The question is, can we turn somewhere to find that which is an enduring faith?

    We will not accept the irrational; we will not sacrifice our minds. We will not lose ourselves in rituals that lead to an ideology that is no longer believable, although there are many rituals in Judaism that hallow, respect and bless God. Today we have our own articles of faith that we can cherish and that we can keep without apology.

    Today, we have something to say that links with the best of what we inherited from the past. In a world that tells us God, the word sounds like is it not time for us to know and be able to say what God’s word is; what God’s word means?

    We, who are called the chosen people, are, in fact, the choosing people, because WE chose God.

    We were the ones who searched for ways to worship Him and a long time ago the prophets told us how. They told us what it means to be Godly and what it means to be Godless.

    Who are the Godless people? “They that sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes.” Amos, the prophet said (1:6); “Who are they? They that turn aside for the needy, and take away the rights of the poor.” Isaiah, the prophet, said (10:2); “These are the Godless people, however much they utter the name of God.”

    Who are the Godly people? They that “hate evil and love the good, and establish justice within the gate,” Amos said (5:15) who are they? “They who seek justice, relieve the oppressed, support the fatherless and plead for the widow,” Isaiah said (1:17).

    What could be clearer? The prophets stood on street corners and spelled the message out. Wherever hate and hurt are, God is not they said, however much His name be seen or heard.

    Wherever intolerance, prejudice, jealousy, greed is prevalent, God is absent: whether it be in schools, or streets, or homes; in our hearts, or even in a house of God. Where hate and hurting are, there God is not, however much his name be seen or heard.

    How do we reduce this view of God to a doxology or to articles of faith? Can we? I believe we can. And perhaps the articles should be listed one by one. The ones that I list now are the ones that I believe; they are my core beliefs. I did not create them, but found them in the books of prophets, in my heritage and in my dreams. I found them in my life and in my faith. And I try to practice them in the life (although, to my dismay, too often I slip up) I live.

    1. I believe that change is an ongoing process, which prevents fossilization and keeps a belief system alive.
    2. I believe that openness to all truth from every source including philosophy, science, art and literature must be embraced.
    3. I believe that the way to curse God is to hurt another human being, and the way to worship Him is to hold out a helping and loving hand.
    4. I believe that God may be experienced when we lift ourselves above the pettiness and selfishness of life.
    5. I believe that justice, mercy, humility, kindness, compassion, friendship, integrity, courage, hope and love are valid and vibrant virtues and the attributes of God.
    6. I believe that one has one life to lead and when it goes, it goes, so that one dare not waste it or misuse it, for it will not come again.
    7. I believe that the life of every person, however humble, touches the entire world and the world is different because one has lived it.
    8. I believe that our people first dreamed the dream of God, that their God became a symbol of the kind of world our world could be, and our heritage still points the way and lights the path.
    9. I believe that all humankind is interrelated, bound by a common fate and a common future; that there is a value in our religious traditions and in finding with them the grounds for creating a better world.
    10. I believe that peace is realizable and that a just society on earth is possible; when we find the will, we shall find the way.

    These are my ten core beliefs. They may lack mythology, but they are not without passion. They are valid for me. They spring from the fountains of our faith.

    Judaism is no pool of stagnant water, a mirror of reflecting only the past. Ours is a living stream. It flows from yesterday into tomorrow, and we, who love our heritage, can drink of it, interpret it, and be refreshed.

    Now, that the high holidays are long over, may we continue to find our faith again and again and find ourselves once again as well in the challenge of that better world. This, I believe with all my heart. This I shall continue to teach; and this I shall seek in my life—-and yours.

    THE ISRAELIS ARE AT IT AGAIN: Inventing Things To Help Humanity

    21. October, 2015BlogComments are off

    This year, things in Israel started out quietly and there was even word that perhaps negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians would start up again to discuss the two-sate solution. Sadly, this was not to be the case. Mr. Abbas decided to say things that triggered off a rash of attacks by Palestinian people against civilians living in Israel. In response, the Israelis are making it more difficult for the Palestinian people to make their way into Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other parts of Israel. Besides that, the Arab world is spearheading a boycott of products made by Israelis and putting pressure on countries that need their oil to take measures that are blatantly considered anti-Semitic. As an example of this, both England and France have decided to eliminate from their textbooks any word on the holocaust because it “offends” Moslems. Other actions taken by countries such as Norway and Denmark is to reduce greatly their purchase of products made in Israel. Even here in the United States, college campuses are organizing groups that are pushing for the boycott of Israeli goods.

    The reason for this article is to show just some of the recent accomplishments that the Israelis have made to the world. At the same time, I challenge the Arab world to show what they have given to the world in the last five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years. What contributions have they made to the world to help irrigation, science or anything that benefits humankind? Israel is a tiny nation, albeit, militarily the most powerful nation in the Middle East…because they have to be. Just think how much more the people of Israel could contribute to the world if they would be able to take their military budget and use it for scientific research? The idea is so exciting and intriguing, but sadly for Israel and the world, that doesn’t look like a possibility.

    Below, are just some of the most recent contributions, both large and small, to the world. Again, I challenge the Arabs to list their contributions.

    1. Scientists in Israel found that the brackish water, drilled from underground desert aquifers hundreds of feet deep,could be used to raise warm-water fish. The geothermal water, less than one-tenth as saline as sea water, free of pollutants, and a toasty 98 degrees on average, proves an ideal environment.
    2. Israeli-developed designer-eyeglasses, promise mobile phone and iPod users, a personalized, high-tech video display. Available to US consumers next year,Lumus-Optical’s lightweight and fashionable video eyeglasses, feature a large transparent screen, floating in front of the viewer’s face that projects their choice of movie, TV show, or video game.
    3. When Stephen Hawkins recently visited Israel, he shared his wisdom with scientists, students, and even the Prime Minister. But the world’s most renowned victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, also learned something, due to the Israeli Association for ALS’ advanced work in both embryonic and adult stem cell research, as well as its proven track record with neurodegenerative diseases. The Israeli research community is well on its way to finding a treatment for this fatal disease, which affects 30,000 Americans.
    4. Israeli start -up, Veterix, has developed an innovative new electronic capsule that sits in the stomach of a cow, sheep, or goat, sending out real-time information on the health of the herd, to the farmer via email or cell phone. The e-capsule, which also sends out alerts if animals are distressed, injured, or lost is now being tested on a herd of cows, in the hopes that the device will lead to tastier and healthier meat and milk supplies.
    5. The millions of Skype users worldwide will soon have access to the newly developed KishKish lie-detector. This free Internet service, based on voice stress analysis (a technique, commonly used in criminal investigations) will be able to measure just how truthful that person on the other end of the line, really is.
    6. Beating cardiac tissue has been created in a lab from human embryonic stem cells by researchers at the Rappaport Medical Faculty and the Technion – Israeli institute of Technology’s biomedical Engineering acility. The work of Dr. Shulamit Levenberg and Prof. Lior Gepstein, has also led to the creation of tiny blood vessels within the tissue, making possible its implantation in a human heart.
    7. Israel’s Magal Security Systems, is a worldwide leader in computerized security systems, with products used in more than 70 countries around the world, protecting anything from national borders, to nuclear facilities, refineries, and airports. The company’s latest Product, DreamBox, a state-of-the-art security system that includes Intelligent video, audio and sensor management, is now being used by a major water authority on the US east coast tosafeguard the utility’s sites.
    8. It is common knowledge that dogs have better night vision than humans and a vastly superior sense of smell and hearing. Israel’s Bio-Sense Technologies recently delved further and electronically analyzed 350 different barks. Finding that dogs of all breeds and sizes, bark the same alarm when they sense a threat, the firm has designed the dog bark-reader, a sensor that can pick up a dog’s alarm bark, and alert the human operators. This is just one of a batch of innovative security systems to emerge from Israel which Forbes calls ‘the go-to country for anti-terrorism technologies.’
    9. Israeli company, BioControl Medical, sold its first electrical stimulator to treat urinary incontinence to a US company for $50 Million. Now, it is working on CardioFit, which uses electrical nerve stimulation to treat congestive heart failure. With nearly five million Americans presently affected by heart failure, and more than 400,000 new cases diagnosed yearly, the CardioFit is already generating a great deal of excitement as the first device with the potential to halt this deadly disease.
    10. One year after Norway’s Socialist Left Party launched its Boycott Israel campaign, the importing of Israeli goods has increased by 15%, the strongest increase in many years, statistics in Norway reports.

    In contrast to the efforts of tiny Israel to make contributions to the world so as to better mankind, one has to ask what have those who have strived to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth done other than to create hate and bloodshed?

    THOSE DARN ISRAELIS ARE AT IT AGAIN

    15. October, 2015BlogComments are off

    1. Scientists in Israel found that the brackish water, drilled from underground desert aquifers hundreds of feet deep,could be used to raise warm-water fish. The geothermal water, less than one-tenth as saline as sea water, free of pollutants, and a toasty 98 degrees on average, proves an ideal environment.
    2. Israeli-developed designer-eyeglasses, promise mobile phone and iPod users, a personalized, high-tech video display. Available to US consumers next year,Lumus-Optical’s lightweight and fashionable video eyeglasses, feature a large transparent screen, floating in front of the viewer’s face that projects their choice of movie, TV show, or video game.
    3. When Stephen Hawkins recently visited Israel, he shared his wisdom with scientists, students, and even the Prime Minister. But the world’s most renowned victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, also learned something, due to the Israeli Association for ALS’ advanced work in both embryonic and adult stem cell research, as well as its proven track record with neurodegenerative diseases. The Israeli research community is well on its way to finding a treatment for this fatal disease, which affects 30,000 Americans.
    4. Israeli start -up, Veterix, has developed an innovative new electronic capsule that sits in the stomach of a cow, sheep, or goat, sending out real-time information on the health of the herd, to the farmer via email or cell phone. The e-capsule, which also sends out alerts if animals are distressed, injured, or lost is now being tested on a herd of cows, in the hopes that the device will lead to tastier and healthier meat and milk supplies.
    5. The millions of Skype users worldwide will soon have access to the newly developed KishKish lie-detector. This free Internet service, based on voice stress analysis (a technique, commonly used in criminal investigations) will be able to measure just how truthful that person on the other end of the line, really is.
    6. Beating cardiac tissue has been created in a lab from human embryonic stem cells by researchers at the Rappaport Medical Faculty and the Technion – Israeli institute of Technology’s biomedical Engineering acility. The work of Dr. Shulamit Levenberg and Prof. Lior Gepstein, has also led to the creation of tiny blood vessels within the tissue, making possible its implantation in a human heart.
    7. Israel’s Magal Security Systems, is a worldwide leader in computerized security systems, with products used in more than 70 countries around the world, protecting anything from national borders, to nuclear facilities, refineries, and airports. The company’s latest
      Product, DreamBox, a state-of-the-art security system that includes Intelligent video, audio and sensor management, is now being used by a major water authority on the US east coast tosafeguard the utility’s sites.
    8. It is common knowledge that dogs have better night vision than humans and a vastly superior sense of smell and hearing. Israel’s Bio-Sense Technologies recently delved further and electronically analyzed 350 different barks. Finding that dogs of all breeds and sizes, bark the same alarm when they sense a threat, the firm has designed the dog bark-reader, a sensor that can pick up a dog’s alarm bark, and alert the human operators. This is just one of a batch of innovative security systems to emerge from Israel which Forbes calls ‘the go-to country for anti-terrorism technologies.’
    9. Israeli company, BioControl Medical, sold its first electrical stimulator to treat urinary incontinence to a US company for $50 Million. Now, it is working on CardioFit, which uses electrical nerve stimulation to treat congestive heart failure. With nearly five million Americans presently affected by heart failure, and more than 400,000 new cases diagnosed yearly, the CardioFit is already generating a great deal of excitement as the first device with the potential to halt this deadly disease.
    10. One year after Norway’s Socialist Left Party launched its Boycott Israel campaign, the importing of Israeli goods has increased by 15%, the strongest increase in many years, statistics Norway reports.

    In contrast to the efforts of tiny Israel to make contributions to the world so as to better mankind, one has to ask what have those who have strived to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth done other than to create hate and bloodshed?

    A Traitor To Egypt?

    6. October, 2015BlogComments are off

    Just recently, a young Egyptian man was declared the valedictorian of his graduating class. What makes this particular event different is that the young man was Egyptian, not an Israeli. It seems that Israel does not have the same problems as do Arab nations and so this very bright young man gladly accepted the honor and gave his speech. Well, the outcry from the Arab world, especially Egypt was incredible. If you read the following article by this Muslim young man you will be amazed at the anger directed towards him. Last month I delivered the valedictory address for international masters students at Tel Aviv University. In it, I expressed a true genuine reflection of my ten-month stay in Israel, where I interacted with all different kinds of people—Jews, Arabs, Druze, and Bedouins among them. And I talked about my first-hand observations of the day-to-day co-existence between different segments of people in Israeli society despite their conflicting histories and identities.

    After the video went viral, I was gratified to see that the speech had been received positively not only by my classmates, but also by my friends in Israel and the United States, and most importantly, ordinary people around the world. The Egyptian media, however, reacted quite differently—not by simply taking issue with the address, but often straying from constructive criticism and instead misquoting me and taking my words out of context.

    Early articles, here and here, portrayed as paradoxical the very notion that an Egyptian could speak positively about his experience in Israel. Following this, many news outlets started to mention the speech; shortly thereafter its manipulation began. Many newspaper headlines stated, “an Egyptian student speaking at TAU graduation says Israel is God’s paradise on earth,” which, in fact, I never said. Another newspaper accused me of saying “I found warmth in Israel,” implying that my experience here in Israel consisted of having intimate relationships with Israeli women. They were apparently unaware that I am a moderate Muslim raised to respect my Islamic traditions.

    On television, an Islamist TV host, claimed I was sent by Egyptian President Sisi to study in Israel:

    “This is what Abdel Fattah Sisi is doing to Egypt now! This Haisam Hassanein will come back so he becomes a minister or head of a university or governor. You will find him something big in Egypt. He and a group of others that Abdel Fattah Sisi sent to the Zionist entity. Those who will come back to rule and dominate Egyptian people.” In the same vein, a prominent Egyptian TV host famous for his character assassination methods went as far as fabricating the past to impugn my speech, claiming Israel was the first state to commit genocidal acts in human history—an assertion clearly and publicly displaying his deep-seated anti-Semitism.

    “I did not go and I will never go; but all that he said is not related to the Zionist entity at all. First, this is a murderous entity. We cannot forget the crimes of this entity that took place and continues to… [Israel] was the first entity in the world that commits massacres. I am surprised that a citizen of my country says such things about the enemy that will continue to be an enemy. All the time, don’t go left or right. You have an enemy called the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and another enemy the rest of our lives like the Muslim Brotherhood is Israel which will be forever.”

    In addition to these absurd statements, he added: “Frankly, we don’t need these people. We are not honored to have people like you among us. He who speaks this way about the enemy should not be among us. It is not an honor to have our citizenship.” I fully reject the notion that I betrayed Egypt simply by going to a country it made peace with 36 years ago in order to better understand it. To clarify, I did not make a political speech. I simply and honestly related the experience I had in Israel. Are we not allowed, as human beings, to have some measure of complexity? Can’t our curiosities carry us to places we never imagined? Are we strictly forbidden to learn about the other on our own terms?

    As I said in the speech: We must always question our assumptions. I hope it is time for members of the Egyptian media to stop promoting blind hatred and anti-Semitic views of Israel, and that one day they can grow to see the reality that I experienced, and learn from it.

    This story by the young man shows not only anger at him, but also a tremendous amount of anti-Semitism. If he had graduated from the University in Saudi Arabia (if there is even one), the Egyptian people would have been pounding this young man on the back as being brilliant and of just how proud they are of him. But because Jews were involved in his education the opposite seems to be happening. He has vilified and called “traitor” by so many groups of people that it is apparent that they are son angry because he received his education in Israel. This vilification is coming from a country that is supposedly at peace with Israel and the two countries have a good relationship.

    It’s a really good thing that this young man didn’t convert to Judaism because they would have gone after him to kill him. It’s absolutely incredible that a country of over fifty-five million people can stoop to such levels of despair because one of their young people had the nerve to go for his advanced degree in Israel. Perhaps if the universities and colleges in Egypt were of the same caliber as those in Israel, the young man might have chosen to go to school in Egypt. If Egypt wants to really do something they ought to upgrade their own universities to match those of Israel. That’s the real problem; the fact that a country of over fifty million cannot match intellectually, a country of only seven million. Shame on those Egyptian politicians and the rest of the embarrassed Arab world for striking out at him and not looking inward to see how they improve their own higher education system.

    I am a Jew

    1. October, 2015BlogComments are off

    נכתב ע ” י ישראלי בשם דן ספורן

    Our condition, in Israel, has never been better than it is now! Only the television and the media make people think that the end of the
    world is near. Only 65 years ago, Jews were brought to death like sheep to slaughter. NO country, NO army. Only 60 years ago, seven Arab countries declared war on little Israel , the Jewish State, just a few hours after it was established.

    המצב שלנו, בישראל, מעולם לא היה טוב יותר מאשר עכשיו!
    רק הטלוויזיה והתקשורת גורמים לאנשים לחשוב שסוף העולם קרב.
    רק לפני 65 שנים, יהודים הובאו למוות כצאן לטבח. ללא מדינה, ללא צבא.
    רק לפני 60 שנים, 7 מדינות ערב הכריזו מלחמה על ישראל הקטנה, מדינת היהודים, רק כמה שעות לאחר היווסדה.

    We were 650,000 Jews against the rest of the Arab world. No IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) or Air Force. We were only a small group of stubborn people with nowhere to go.

    היינו 650,000 יהודים כנגד שאר העולם הערבי.
    ללא צה ” ל (צבא הגנה לישראל) או חיל אוויר. היינו רק קבוצה קטנה של אנשים עקשנים עם שום מקום לאן ללכת.

    Remember: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Libya , and Saudi Arabia ? They all attacked at once. The state that the United Nations “gave” us was 65% desert. We started it from zero.

    זכרו: לבנון, סוריה, עירק, ירדן, מצרים, לוב וערב הסעודית, כולם תקפו בעת ובעונה אחת.
    המדינה שהאומות המאוחדות ” נתנו ” לנו הייתה 65% מדבר.
    התחלנו את זה מאפס.

    Only 43 years ago, we fought three of the strongest countries in the Middle East, and we crushed them in the Six Day War.

    רק לפני 41 שנים, נלחמנו נגד שלוש המדינות החזקות ביותר במזרח התיכון, וריסקנו אותם במלחמת ששת הימים.

    Over the years we fought different coalitions of 20Arab countries with modern armies and with huge amounts of Russian-Soviet ammunition, and we still won.

    במהלך השנים נלחמנו בקואליציות שונות של 20 מדינות ערב עם צבאות חדשניים וכמות עצומה של תחמושת רוסית – סובייטית, ועדיין ניצחנו.

    Today we have a beautiful country, a powerful Army, a strong Air Force, an adequate Navy and a thriving high tech industry. Intel, Microsoft, and IBM have all developed their businesses there.

    היום יש לנו מדינה יפיפייה, צבא רב עוצמה, חיל אוויר חזק, חיל ים הולם ותעשיית הי-טק משגשגת.
    אינטל, מיקרוסופט, ו- ‪I.B.M‬ ‫‫ פיתחו כולם את עסקיהם כאן.‬‬

    Our doctors have won important prizes in the medical development field.

    הרופאים שלנו זכו בפרסים חשובים בתחום הפיתוח הרפואי.

    We turned the desert into a prosperous land.

    הפכנו את המדבר לאדמה פורחת ומשגשגת.

    We sell oranges, flowers, and vegetables around the world.

    אנחנו מוכרים תפוזים, פרחים וירקות בכל רחבי העולם.

    We launched our own satellite! Three satellites at once! We are in good company: together with the USA (280 million residents), Russia (220 million residents), China (1.3 billion residents) and Europe ( France , England and Germany 35 million residents), we are one of the few countries in the world that have launched something into space!

    שיגרנו את הלווין שלנו! שלושה לווינים בעת ובעונה אחת! אנחנו בחברה טובה: יחד עם ארה ” ב (280 מיליון תושבים), רוסיה (220 מיליון תושבים), סין (1.2 ביליון תושבים) ואירופה (צרפת, אנגליה וגרמניה 35 מיליון תושבים), אנחנו אחת מהמדינות הבודדות בעולם ששיגרו משהו לחלל!

    Israel today is among the few powerful countries that have nuclear technology & capabilities. (We will never admit it, but everyone knows).

    ישראל היום היא בין המדינות הבודדות החזקות, שהיא בעלת טכנולוגיה ויכולות גרעיניות. (אנחנו לעולם לא נודה בזה, אבל כולם יודעים).

    To think that only 65 years ago we were disgraced and hopeless.

    לחשוב שרק לפני 65 שנים היינו מבוישים וחסרי תקווה.

    We crawled out from the burning crematoriums of Europe. We won in all our wars. With a little bit of nothing we built an empire. Who are Khaled Mashal (leader of Hamas) or Hassan Nasrallah (leader of Hezbollah) trying to frighten us? They are amusing us.

    זחלנו החוצה מהמשרפות הבוערות של אירופה.
    ניצחנו בכל המלחמות שלנו. עם מעט מכלום בנינו אימפריה.
    מי אלו חלאד משעל (מנהיג החמאס) או חסאן נסראללה (מנהיג החיזבאללה) המנסים להפחיד אותנו? הם משעשעים אותנו.

    As we celebrate Independence Day, let’s not forget what this holiday is all about; we overcame everything.

    בזמן שאנחנו חוגגים את יום העצמאות, בואו לא נשכח מהי המהות של היום הקדוש הזה: התגברנו על הכל.

    We overcame the Greeks,

    התגברנו על היוונים,

    We overcame the Romans,

    התגברנו על הרומאים,

    We overcame the Spanish Inquisition,

    התגברנו על האינקוויזיציה הספרדית,

    We overcame the Russians pogrom,

    התגברנו על הפוגרום הרוסי,

    We overcame Hitler , we overcame Germany and overcame the Holocaust,

    התגברנו על היטלר, התגברנו על גרמניה והתגברנו על השואה,

    We overcame the armies of seven countries.

    התגברנו על הצבאות של 7 מדינות

    Relax friends, we will overcome our current enemies.

    הירגעו חבר ‘ ה, אנחנו נתגבר גם על האויבים הנוכחים

    Never mind where you look in human history. Think about it, Jewish nation, our condition has never been better than now. So let’s lift our heads up and remember:

    לא משנה לאן שנביט בהיסטוריה האנושית. תחשבו על זה, העם היהודי, מצבנו מעולם לא היה טוב יותר מאשר עכשיו.
    אז בואו נישא ראשנו מעלה וזכרו:

    Never mind which country or culture tries to harm us or erase us from the world. We will still exist and persevere. Egypt ? Anyone know where the Egyptian empire disappeared to? The Greeks? Alexander the Great? The Romans? Is anyone speaking Latin today? The Third Reich? Did anyone hear news from them lately?

    לא משנה איזו מדינה או תרבות מנסה לפגוע בנו או למחוק אותנו מהעולם. אנחנו עדיין קיימים ושמורים.
    מצריים? מישהו יודע לאן האימפריה המצרית נעלמה? היוונים? אלכסנדר מוקדון? הרומאים? האם מישהו מדבר לטינית היום? הרייך השלישי? האם מישהו שמע חדשות מהם לאחרונה?

    And look at us, the Bible nation – from slavery in Egypt , we are‬ still here, still speaking the same language ‬‫‫.‬‬‪‬ Exactly here, exactly now.

    והסתכלו עלינו, העם התנ ” כי – מעבדות במצרים, אנחנו עדיין כאן, עדיין מדברים את אותה השפה.
    בדיוק כאן, בדיוק עכשיו.

    Maybe The Arabs don’t know it yet, but we are an eternal nation. All the time that we will keep our identity, we will stay eternal.

    אולי הערבים עדיין לא יודעים את זה, אבל אנחנו עם נצחי.
    כל זמן שנשמור על זהותנו, נשאר נצחיים.

    So, sorry that we are not worrying, complaining, crying, or fearing…

    אז סליחה שאנחנו לא דואגים, מתלוננים, בוכים או פוחדים…..

    Business here is “beseder” (fine). It can definitely be much better, but it is still fine. Don’t pay attention to the nonsense in the media, they will not tell you about our festivals here in Israel or about the people that continue living, going out, meeting friends.

    העסקים כאן בסדר. זה בהחלט יכול להיות טוב יותר, אבל זה עדיין בסדר. אל תשימו לב לשטויות בתקשורת, הם לא יספרו לכם על החגיגות שלנו כאן בישראל או על האנשים שממשיכים לחיות, לצאת ולפגוש חברים.

    Yes, sometimes morale is down, so what? This is only because we are mourning the dead while they are celebrating spilled blood. And
    this is the reason we will win after all.

    נכון, לפעמים המורל נמוך, אז מה? זה רק בגלל שאנו מבכים את המתים בזמן שהם חוגגים על דם שנשפך. וזו הסיבה לכך שאנו ננצח למרות הכל.

    Please forward this e-mail to all of your Jewish friends everywhere in the world. You are all part of our force to keep our existence.

    בבקשה העבירו מייל זה לכל חבריכם היהודים, בכל מקום בעולם. כולכם חלק במאמץ שלנו לשמור את קיומנו.

    This e-mail may help some of us lift our heads up and be proud to say:

    מייל זה עשוי לעזור לחלק מאיתנו לשאת את ראשינו מעלה ולהיות גאים לומר:

    I AM A JEW‬‬‬

    Some Trivia Facts About Famous And Not So Famous Jewish People

    15. September, 2015BlogComments are off

    Q: Who was the first Jewish star?
    A: Maxwell Henry Aronson, aka Bronco Billy Anderson had three minor roles in one of the first movies, the 10 minute 1903, The Great Train Robbery. Soon, Max began to write, direct, act in his own westerns. Founding his own studio in 1907, Anderson acted in over 300 short films, but gained huge popularity as Bronco Billy in 148 silent western shorts.


    Q: Why did Jack benny write his autobiography in the 1960’s then buy the rights back from his publisher and hide the book?
    A: His daughter, Joan says she found the manuscript after her mother died in 1983…the story that she heard was that Jack’s wife (Sadye Marks), “Mary Livingstone,” objected because Jack included so many stories of his old girlfriends in it! Joan published it.


    Q: What Jewish major league baseball player spoke 7 languages and was a spy for the OSS (Renamed the CIA)?
    A: Moe Berg played 15 seasons in the majors, mostly as a back-up catcher. In the off seasons he traveled extensively around the world, including two trips to Japan. He had been working for the OSS as a spy for the U.S. on his trips. In 1943/44, and speaking German like a native he toured Nazi occupied Europe on a spy mission. He was asked to determine whether the Germans were close to building an A-bomb, in which case he was charged with murdering the Nazi scientists who were developing it.


    Q: What Jewish performer was the best ventriloquist of his time, and helped create t he first artificial heart?
    A: At the time, the most famous ventriloquist was Edgar Bergen (he was also the worst). The best was Paul Wilchinsky, who, as Paul Winchell with his wooden partner, Jerry Mahoney, had their own TV show in the 1950’s and made many appearances on all the popular variety shows of the time…Paul never moved his lips! Paul was also an inventor and held many medical patents, including the device which was the basis of the Jarvik heart.


    Q: What Jewish actor was the first bad boy method actor, and at the same time, had the largest funeral of any celebrity since Valentino?
    A: Jacob Julius Garfinkle, aka John Garfield, grew up in poverty on the Lower East Side, and later said, “If I hadn’t been an actor I might have become Public Enemy #1. On Broadway, and in the movies, Garfield was an early proponent of the “Method” which was later adopted by Montgomery Cliff, Marlon Brando and James Dean. With a bad heart and the stress of possibly losing his career due to being named to the Black List John Garfield died of a massive heart attack at the age of 39. Over 10,000 people crowed outside the cemetery at his funeral.


    Q: What movie of 1942 cast 4 Jews, an Irishman and a German as California Mexicans?
    A: “Tortilla Flat,” from the book by John Steinbeck, was a movie about a bunch of poor Monterrey, CA. Mexicans who just sit around and kvetch (complain) all day. The cast consisted of 4 Jews, Hedy Lamarr, a Viennese Jew with a strong German ancient, John Garfield and Sheldon Leonard, both Jews with strong New York accents and Akim Tamiroff, a Russian Jew with a strong Russian accent. In addition, they cast the very Irish Spencer Tracy and the German American Frank Morgaan. Not a decent Mexican accent in the bunch.


    Q: What film played in NYC neighborhood theater in the early 1950’s whose marquee read: starring Bernard Schwartz and Rosetta Jacobs?
    A: The name of the film was “The Prince Who Was a Thief,” starred Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie. Both were local Jews, born on the lower eastside of NY and well known in that neighborhood by their real names.


    Q: What nice Jewish girl left Darren Arononfsky, also Jewish, to marry James Bond?
    A: Rachel Weisz, who is now married to Daniel Craig.


    Q: What 19 year old Jewish girl hung out with Hitler and Mussolini, married a semi-Nazi munitions dealer, made a semi-porno film that got world wide release, then ran off to Paris and London where she met Louis B. Mayer, eventually becoming one of MGM’s biggest stars? She was known as the most beautiful woman in the world and helped invent a process called Frequency Hopping which was used in military code breaking machines and later in cell phones?
    A: Eva Maria Kiesler, aka, Hedy Lamarr, born November 9, 1914 in Austria.


    Q: What famous Jewish stand-up comic saw his first movie as a little kid sitting in the lap of singer Billie Holiday at the Lowes Commodore, NYC.
    A: Billy Crystal


    Q: What Jewish man was the first and greatest swashbuckling movie hero, know as the First King of Hollywood?
    A: Thomas Ullman aka, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.


    Q: What two Jewish stars of the Yiddish stage became movie super stars playing Italian gangsters?
    A: Emanuel Goldenberg, aka Edward G. Robinson with Little Caesar in 1931 and Muni Weisenfreund aka Paul Muni with Scarface in 1932.


    Q: Who was the first Jewish professional baseball player?
    A: Emanuel Lipman Pike, in 1866. He was paid $20.00 a week to play.


    Q: What Jewish superstar, as a kid in the 1930”s would pee off the roof of his tenement building onto the parading American Nazis?
    A: Bernie Schwartz, aka Tony Curtis.


    Q: What Jewish leading lady missed out on playing Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind because of an affair with Charlie Chapman?
    A: Marion Pauline Levy, aka Paulette Goddard. Producer David O. Selznick was afraid Paulette’s affair might affect the number of people going to see her play the part, so he decided against casting her.


    Q: What Jewish TV star, a comedian, hung one of his young writers out of an 18th floor window until he agreed that a joke was funny?
    A: Sid Caesar hung writer Melvin Kaminsky (Mel Brooks) out of the window until other writers pulled Mel Brooks back inside.


    Q: What Jewish comedian asked Frank Sinatra to stop by his table at a Las Vegas restaurant to help the comic impress a girl? Later, when Sinatra was leaving, he stopped to say, “Hello,” and the comic answered him by saying, “Not now, Frank, can’t you see I’m with somebody”?
    A: The impish, Don Rickles.


    Q: What Jewish silent film star was the movies’ first “Femme Fatale”?
    A: Known as the Vamp, it was Theodosia Burr Goodman, aka Theda Bara.


    Q: What Jewish movie star had two of the world’s largest and finest privately owned art collections?
    A: Edward G. Robonson.


    Q: What Jewish movie star he man wore dresses as a kid?
    A: Issur Danielovitch, aka Kirk Douglas. He was the only by among 5 older sisters. His parents couldn’t afford to buy toys for the girls so they dressed him up in girls’ clothes, treating him like their little doll.


    Q: What famous Jewish symphony orchestra conductor is the grandson of the King and Queen of the Yiddish theater (Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky?
    A: Michael Tilson Thomas.


    Q: What Jewish comedian was TV’s first superstar and was so popular that NBC gave him a 30 year contract?
    A:”Mr, Television,” Mendel Berlinger, aka Milton Berle.

    Ebb Tide in the Golden Country All is not as it was for Jews in America

    3. September, 2015BlogComments are off

    Probably the scariest sentence in the Bible, and maybe in all of Western literature, comes early in Exodus. “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” It suggests how era changes to era, way leads to way, evening darkens to night and home turns ominous and mean. Of course, in our age, it’s not the pharaoh who sits on the throne but mood, trend, fashion. And the computer is its sword, social media its scepter. All to say, it’s not as it was to be a Jew in America.

    Jews began arriving in numbers here in the 1880s. There had been Sephardic Jews in the country since the beginning, German Jews since the early 19th century, but these were the shtetl masses of Poland and Russia, our grandparents with their dark eyes and longing. By 1910, there were close to a million in New York alone, crowded into tenements, filling streets and schools, enough to remake the town. The New York of Benny Leonard and Al Jolson was a Jewish metropolis where everything was possible, and in many ways, America as we know it—the dream and promise—was imagined by Jews in the city’s vaudeville houses. “Ol’ Man River” and “High Hopes.” Abraham Cahan and Benny Goodman. Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” with its mountains and prairies and oceans white with foam.

    There was prejudice, of course, snide remarks and closed gates, quotas at Ivy League schools and white-shoe firms. But in the end, there was something useful even in the hatred. It forced you to think and adapt, stay smart, sober, sane.

    By the 1930s, Jews had re-imagined the nation. It’s the gift of the outsider—to see with new eyes. Their children were driven by ambition, optimism, glee. Jews had escaped not only ghettos and poverty, but history itself. That first generation had the freedom to work and to pray but also to stop being Jews. Unlike Germany or England, there is no host population in America, no single race that can be threatened. America is a nation of nations, a nation of mutts. The Constitution was set up as a series of checks against any such majority forming. The liberty found here did not depend on Joseph’s charm or special relationship with what my father would call “the key guys.” It was built into the founding documents of the country. The importance of the written word echoed the Jewish mind. On red-letter days, you stand as the rabbi opens the ark inside which you find … a book! In this way, American history and Jewish history rhyme. Which is why, for many of our grandparents, Zionism held little sway. Like the best bagels, theater, and Chinese food, the holy land was not in the godforsaken sands of the Ottoman empire. It was here.

    The golden moment came after WWII, when the Jewish population of America crested—the population as a percentage of the whole. Maybe five in 100 Americans were Jews, which might not sound like a lot but was like a bumper crop to us, a remnant of a remnant. There were more Jews in the world before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. than there are today. If the Jewish population, polled at the time of Jesus, had kept pace with the rest, there would be 100 million of us. Instead, we’ve got 13 and we’re happy for each and every one.

    After the destruction of European Jewry, American Jews were really what remained of the Diaspora. It made our life seem precious, important. Survival became triumph, quotidian life a thumb in the eye of Hitler. Before the rise of modern Israel, the philosophy of American Jews came to characterize the Jew by default. Hence the age of the New Deal Jew, the Women’s Lib and Freedom Riding Jew. This Jew had chosen New York over Jerusalem. His dream was secular. His prophets were Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. His moniker was “Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.” His peak moment was the Broadway premiere of Fiddler on the Roof, which refashioned suffering into song and turned a pogrom into a high-kicking dance.

    The horror of the Holocaust purchased us a 70-year vacation from history, though we didn’t know it. We believed the world had changed, as had human nature.

    The unimaginable evil of the Holocaust seemed to kill anti-Semitism, even the polite country-club variety that shows up in the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. After the war, Hemingway disavowed Jewish jokes, which, he seemed to realize, were connected, in some way, to what happened. It created a bubble, a zone of safety not only for Jews but for other minorities. It’s no coincidence that the civil right movements came in the wake of WWII. Anti-Semitism still existed of course, but, in America, it became socially unacceptable. It retreated to the bedrooms and parlors, where it was expressed in the way of certain mystery religions, in secret, behind closed doors, so quietly you might think it had vanished.

    This is my childhood, the world where I grew up. The horror of the Holocaust purchased us a 70-year vacation from history, though we didn’t know it. We believed the world had changed, as had human nature. Jews remained distinct in the new dispensation, but in a good way—a near-at-hand exotic, a symbol of exile, which we were told was the natural state of modern man. For perhaps the only time in history, you might actually want to be a Jew. Because of the close families and good husbands and yada yada. Saul Bellow, Phillip Roth, Mel Brooks. To those of us who came of age in these years, the future seemed like it would be more of the same, the present carried on forever.We were wrong.

    If you go online and read the comments on any story about Israel or George Soros or search certain terms on Twitter, you begin to feel the golden age of the American Jews was just a moment in time. Perhaps the old paranoia stirs in me, but I see ominous signs everywhere: In an article about stubborn, black-hatted Jews who refuse to sit next to women on airplanes—a phenomenon I don’t believe is happening in a statistically significant way—which echoes depictions of Russian Ostjuden, strangers from the East condemned for making the rest of us look bad; in a review of an Ezra Pound bio, which makes the poet’s diatribes sound like quaint digressions. (“The poet’s vitriolic attacks on the banking system … have a particular resonance for twenty-first century readers: and however unworkable the solutions [emphasis added] Pound offered, his volcanic anger at the pain caused to ordinary men and women during the Depression by the greed and malfeasance of financial institutions allows us, Moody contends, to see the raging poet as a ‘flawed idealist’ whose quest to bring about more equitable systems of government [read: Fascism] was, at bottom, principled and decent, however tarnished by anti-Semitism.”) In imbroglios at UCLA and Stanford, where students have been asked to explain their affiliation with Jewish groups. According to a Trinity College study, 54 percent of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing ant-Semitism on campus.

    President Obama? I don’t blame him, but I do think his disgust with Benjamin Netanyahu, which seems almost physical, as if repelled by the stink of the man, has given certain practitioners the sense that it’s safe to come into the open. It’s a frequent topic of conversation among my friends: Do you feel that chill? That sudden drop of barometric pressure? “That UCLA girl, the Orthodox airplane Jew … the message is slowly getting out, we are now post post-holocaust,” a friend emails. “It’s like leaves budding or animals leaving warrens or girls without coats; all these signs of it being OK, coming tentatively back into season again.” It’s as if Jews are bell-bottoms or fringed coats. Once upon a time, we’d been in fashion, but not anymore. What you have now is a return to the green-screen hatred, which, like malaria, spikes and remits but never goes away.

    What changed? Well, for starters, there are just fewer of us in proportion to the whole. Whereas Jews once constituted five percent of America, and as much as forty percent of New York, those numbers have shrunk. We’re perhaps thirteen percent of New York and around two percent of the nation. In this sense, American Jews are living with the results of their success. This is indeed the promised land. It’s where Jews fulfilled the dream which, for many, has been to stop being Jews and become part of the imagined whole. Like the caboose of a train, we’re getting smaller as we go away.

    Which brings up the second point—the Holocaust, which is one reason there are so few Jews. We lost almost half our population not long ago. “Never Forget” is one of the admonitions we heard in Sunday School. But people do forget. Everything, all the time. As the events exit living memory, as the people who survived it as well as those who liberated the camps, die, tragedy shifts from memory to history. As memory fades, the old thing returns, filling the subterranean cisterns.

    Then there’s the Iran deal: To get the papers signed, the president must separate from Israel. To do that, he muddies the brand. That’s how he’s always campaigned, on health care, free-trade deals, against the right and the left alike: demonize the opponent and frame the issue. You’re for this deal, or you’re for war. In the process, President Obama has unintentionally, or thoughtlessly, given cover to the normalization of the old tropes of Jewish dual loyalty and war-mongering.

    It’s painful for those of us who love Obama. We voted for him and voted for him again. At best, the Iran deal seems misguided. Meant to avoid conflict, it will, by putting Iranian proxies on the northern and southern borders of Israel, make war inevitable.
    For me, who remains just as Jewish as ever, who is so Jewish it’s absurd, the question haunts: What does it mean, this return of the old hatred? First and foremost, it means losing the ability to define yourself. It means being defined by those who believe they know you before you’ve even met. Your name tells them everything important about you.

    This outwardly imposed identity is shaped by a particular depiction of Israel, which, conveniently, matches the antediluvian image of the Jew as pushy and aggressive, if not wildly committed to poisonous rituals. It always puzzled me when some fanatic kills a Jew in, say, Paris. I mean, what does this fanatic want? The destruction of the State of Israel? So, what does he do? Kill a Jew who, having chosen Paris over Tel Aviv, is living just where the fanatic wants him to live. But increasingly, no distinction is made between Israel and Exile. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew.

    Some attribute the hatred to the policies of Israel. (“Bibi is to blame.”) But this confuses cause and effect. Israel is not the source of anti-Semitism, but a result. Before the Holocaust, it was said that the Jews in their statelessness were the cause of wars and disturbance, the burr under the saddle of mankind, the ghost in the machinery of statecraft. After the Holocaust, it’s said that Israel, the Jewish State, is the burr under that saddle. Though the condition has changed—no state v. state—the conclusion remains the same: It’s the Jews. To me, this is the world settling back into the Jew-loving and Jew-hating equilibrium that was unsettled, for a time, by the Shoah. After, all, the dream of the early Zionists was neither to be hated, nor loved—it was to be normal, treated as individuals, like everyone else.

    For a long time, I dreamed of being free. Of making a separate peace and standing on my balcony and watching the sun set on my city with no greater thought than “this is my city in the dark.” But I can’t stop caring and worrying. I can’t stop arguing. I know that I’m an individual free to make my own decisions and choose my own path, but I feel I’m being defined by something bigger than myself. I know a little of what my grandparents knew. My worries are older than I am—ancient, the old history closing in. Ebb tide. In the afternoon, you swim above the sand in the clear water, but in the evening the sharks come in to feed in the oceans, white with foam.

    The 2014 Israeli – Hamas Conflict Revisited

    5. August, 2015BlogComments are off

    Chronicled below is the most recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas. In my humble opinion, Hamas deserves most of the blame. Perhaps it is because I am Jewish and an ardent Zionist. Perhaps it is also because I believe that like most intelligent people that after firing thousands of rockets into Israel and then, at the behest of Hamas’ leadership, two young Israeli men were kidnapped and murdered, that Netanyahu, with whom I differ on some major issues, decided that enough was enough. For example: I believe that the settlements must stop and that a piece of Jerusalem should be the capital of the Palestinian people. I also believe that both peoples should sit down and iron out a peace agreement because it would work to both Israel and the Palestinians advantage. Wikipedia seems to differ from my opinion in some important ways. I have taken the liberty of borrowing much of their accurate facts and figures and used them to frame and articulate my own opinion.

    The 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, also known as Operation Protective Edge (Hebrew: ‫מִבְצָע צוּק אֵיתָן‬, Miv’tza Tzuk Eitan, “Operation Strong Cliff”) was a military operation launched by on July 8, 2014 in the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip.‪ Israel.

    After absorbing hundreds and hundreds of terror rockets sent into Israel, the Israelis launched seven weeks of bombardment, Palestinian rocket attacks, and ground fighting resulted in the deaths of over 2,100 people, the vast majority of them Gazans.

    The stated aim of the Israeli operation was to stop rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, which increased after an Israeli crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank was launched following the June 12th kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by two Hamas members. Conversely, Hamas’s goal was to bring international pressure to bear to lift Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, end Israel’s offensive, obtain a third party to monitor and guarantee compliance with a ceasefire,‪ release Palestinian prisoners and overcome its political isolation. Some claim Israel was the first, on June 13th to break the ceasefire agreement with Hamas that had been in place since November 2012.However, Israel argues its air raids on Gaza are responses to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. To me, Hamas’ continuing attack by launched rockets by their soldiers and complaining that Israel attacked first is like me punching someone bigger in the face 10 or 12 times and then complaining that he should not have hit me so hard. If Hamas doesn’t want war then don’t shoot rockets into Israel. One would think that the sane members of the world’s leaders would understand this simple rule, but the truth is that much of the world is still dependent on oil from the Middle East and so they humble themselves and grovel at the feet of the oil producing countries by backing Hamas. Of course this doesn’t discount the fact that many of the world’s leaders are anti Israel, which is a euphemism for being anti-Semitic. But that’s another article for my blog at a future date.

    On July 7, after seven Hamas militants died in a tunnel explosion in Khan Yunis which was caused by an Israeli airstrike (which Hamas, Nathan Thrall and the BBC claimed—-although, if you ask me, who can blame one country from bombing a tunnel from an enemy into your country that is being used to kill civilians—a sort of hollow claim, but a claim nonetheless), or an accidental explosion of their own munitions (according to the IDF), Hamas assumed responsibility for rockets they fired into Israel and launched 40 rockets towards Israel.

    The operation officially began the following day, and on July 17, the operation was expanded to an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza with the stated aim of destroying Gaza’s tunnel system;‪[ Israeli ground forces withdrew on August 5th .‬ On August 26th, an open-ended ceasefire was announced.‪ By that date, the IDF reported that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups had fired 4,564 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, with over 735 intercepted in flight and shot down by Iron Dome. Most Gazan mortar and rocket fire hit open land, more than 280 fell on areas in Gaza, and 224 struck residential areas. Militant rocketry also killed 13 Gazan civilians, 11 of them children. The IDF attacked 5,263 targets in Gaza; at least 34 known tunnels were destroyed‪ and two-thirds of Hamas’s 10,000-rocket arsenal was used up or destroyed. Make no mistake, Hamas has been spending billions of dollars replacing those rockets and even trying to build their own instead of helping their own people by building schools, hospitals and roads which would provide employment for thousands of Palestinians.‪

    Between 2,142‪ and 2,310]‬ Gazans were killed and between 10,626‪ and 10,895‪ were wounded (including 3,374 children, of whom over 1,000 were left permanently disabled‪[. 66 Israeli soldiers, 5 Israeli civilians (including one child)‪‬ and one Thai civilian were killed‪ and 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were injured.‪ The Gaza Health Ministry, UN and some human rights groups reported that 69–75% of the Palestinian casualties were civilians;‪ Israeli officials estimated that around 50% of those killed were civilians.‪

    On 5 August, OCHA stated that 520,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (approximately 30% of its population) might have been displaced, of whom 485,000 needed emergency food assistance‪ and 273,000 were taking shelter in 90 UN-run schools.‪ The UN calculated that more than 7,000 homes for 10,000 families were razed, together with an additional 89,000 homes damaged, of which roughly 10,000 were severely affected by the bombing.‪ Rebuilding costs were calculated to run from 4-6 billions dollars, over 20 years.‪ In Israel, an estimated 5,000‪ to 8,000‪ citizens temporarily fled their homes due to the threat of rocketry from Gaza.‪The economic cost of the operation is estimated at NIS 8.5 billion (approximately 2.5 billion USD) and GDP loss of 0.4%.‪ At the conclusion of hostilities 3,000-3,700 claims for damages had been submitted by Israelis, and $41 million paid out for property damage and missed work days.‪ Reconstruction costs were estimated at approximately $11 million.

    The UN has continued to blame Israel for the war. In fact, the UN stated that Israel “over responded” to Hamas’” firing of 4,564 into Israel. If Taiwan fired over 4,500 into mainland China would the UN have the courage to say that China has to respond in a responsible way, or would China launch an all out attack and invasion of Taiwan? It seems that the United Nations has two sets of rules for the world. One set of rules for Israel and one for the rest of the world.

    In 2005, Israel voluntarily withdrew from Gaza (yet, the UN, under the finger of the Arabs has stated that Israel is the de facto ruling or occupying force there), and since that time, Hamas has ruled there. What has Hamas done to advance their people’s living and working conditions? Let us see the growth that Hamas has made since the end of hostilities. Let us see how many schools Hamas has built with the aid that it is receiving compared to how many new tunnels they are building so as to kill as many civilians as possible.

    Alaska Airlines and the Jews of Yemen

    6. July, 2015BlogComments are off

    In an article in the San Diego Jewish World e-newspaper, Mr. Joe Spier wrote an account of how the Jews of Yemen were able to get out of Yemen to Israel. His account is breathtaking, harrowing and accurate. He deserves credit for his research and courage to publically show the trials and tribulations of Jews living in unfriendly countries. I thank him for this wonderful story that, thank God, has a happy ending. Not only am I going to list this on my blog, I am going to have my students read this exciting story of what happens in history that not too many people ever get to learn about.

    CALGARY, Alberta, Canada — The story of the modern exodus of “Beta Israel” the Jews of Ethiopia during Operations Moses and Solomon, which together airlifted some 22,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, is well known. Less well known is the dramatic exodus of over 48,000 Jews from Yemen. Almost unknown is the role played by Alaska Airlines.

    No one knows for certain when the first Jews came to Yemen. Local legend has them being sent as traders by King Solomon. In any event, Jews have lived in Yemen for many centuries. In that backward and poverty-stricken country, the Jews were the poorest and lowest of citizens living in contempt and on sufferance as dhimmis. However, in their synagogues and schools, they taught their male children to learn and write Hebrew. They never forgot their faith, protected the traditions, observed the Sabbath and passed the Torah and Talmud to each succeeding generation. Following World War I, when Yemen became independent, life in that Muslim country for the Jews became intolerable. Anti-Semitic laws were revived; Jews were not permitted to walk on pavements; in court a Jew’s evidence was not accepted against a Muslim’s; Jewish orphans had to be converted to Islam. Some Jews were able to escape to Palestine but most were trapped.

    In 1947, following the United Nations vote to partition Palestine, the situation of the Jews in Yemen turned from despair to physical danger. Arab rioters in the adjacent port of Aden, then a British Crown colony and now part of Yemen, killed 82 Jews and torched the Jewish quarter. The establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 and Israel’s War of Independence increasingly endangered the Yemeni Jews as it did in all Arab countries. It was not, however, until May 1949, when the Imam of Yemen unexpectedly agreed to permit all Jews to leave his country that they were able to flee. They longed to return to Zion if only they had the means. At that time, slightly over 49,000 Jews lived in Yemen.

    As the War of Independence ended in early 1949, Israel was devastated and virtually bankrupt. Notwithstanding, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, defying logic and the advise of his economic advisors, ordered the immediate and rapid “Ingathering of the Exiles”. Where would Israel get the money? “Go to the Jews in the Diaspora and ask them for the money”, Ben-Gurion answered the skeptics.

    For the Jews of Yemen, Egypt had closed the Suez Canal to them and therefore they would have to be transported by air to Israel. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the international Jewish humanitarian aid organization, agreed to fund the Yemenite exodus and organize the airlift, but they needed aircraft.

    Alaska Airlines was founded in 1932, when Mac McGee purchased a used three passenger Stinson and started an air charter business in Alaska. With the arrival of James Wooten as president in 1947, the airline began to purchase surplus planes from the U.S. Government and within a year became the world’s largest charter airline.

    The JDC approached Wooten and asked if Alaska Airlines would agree to accept the Yemen airlift. Wooten wanted Alaska Air to take on the mission of mercy but Ray Marshall, Chairman of the Board, was cool. Marshall felt the deal was a waste of the Airline’s time and money. It would take at least $50,000 to set up the charter, cash that the Airline did not have. Marshall insisted that Wooten front the funds himself. Wooten raised the $50,000 by borrowing it from a travel agency associated with the JDC. The contract was signed and Operation On Wings of Eagles, more popularly known by its nickname, Operation Magic Carpet commenced.

    As Yemen would not permit the Jewish refugees to be flown out of their country, Britain had agreed to the establishment of a transit camp in the adjoining Crown Colony of Aden from which the airlift could commence. Alaska Airlines set up its base in Asmara, Eritrea with their ground crew, pilots and aircraft, – DC-4s and C-46s. The arrangement was to fly from their base in Asmara to Aden each morning, pick up their passengers in Aden and refuel. Thence fly up the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba to the airport in Tel Aviv, unload the refugees, fly to the safety of Cyprus for the night and return to their base in Asmara at dawn, before starting all over again. The round trip would take about 20 hours.

    The aircraft as configured could not carry enough passengers or sufficient fuel. So, the planes were modified by replacing the regular airline seats with rows of benches and fitting extra fuel tanks down the length of the fuselages between the benches. Aircraft intended to carry 50 passengers could now carry 120 and fuel would last a skinny extra one hour.

    Meanwhile the transit camp in Aden, called “Camp Geula” (Redemption) was organized by the JDC and staffed by Israeli doctors and social workers under the directorship of Max Lapides, an American Jew. Also headquartered at the camp were emissaries responsible for paying various Yemeni tribal chiefs a “head tax” which would permit the Jewish refugees to pass through their territory.

    As news of the evacuation reached the Jews of Yemen, they left their few possessions behind (except their prayer books and Torahs) and like the biblical exodus began to walk out of slavery into freedom. They traveled in family groups, some hundreds of miles, through wind and sandstorm, vulnerable to robbers and a hostile local population, until half-starved and destitute they reached the border with Aden where Israeli aid workers met them and transported them to the transit camp. There they encountered electricity, medicines, running water, toilets and personal hygiene for the first time. During the entire operation, the Jews of Yemen arrived at Camp Geula in a steady stream, newer ones arriving as an earlier group was airlifted out.

    Getting the Yemenite Jews to Aden was one problem, getting them on the aircraft was another problem. Nomads who had never seen an airplane before and never lived anywhere but in a tent, many of the immigrants were frightened and refused to board. Once reminded that their deliverance to Israel by air was prophesized in the Book of Isaiah, “They shall mount up with wings like eagles”, reinforced by the painting of an eagle with outstretched wings over the door of each aircraft, induced them to board the planes. Once inside many preferred sitting on the floor to unaccustomed soft seats. Keeping them from lighting fires to cook their food was a task. During the flight, about half would get sick vomiting over the extra inside fuel tanks. Notwithstanding those minor setbacks, the Yemenites upon landing in Israel chanted blessings and burst into song.

    To start up Operation Magic Carpet, Alaska Airlines sent Portland native Bob Maguire, a pilot with management experience, to the Middle East. Maguire flew between 270 and 300 hours a month. Had he been in the U.S., the limit under its aviation rules was 90 hours. Ben-Gurion called Maguire the “Irish Moses”. The work cost Maguire his career. He contracted a parasite that affected his heart and as a result lost his commercial pilot’s license in the early 1950’s. Another pilot was Warren Metzger, born in Lethbridge who found time between flights to marry his flight attendant. At least one pilot, Stanley Epstein, was Jewish.

    The airlift that began in June 1948 was hard on the pilots who were flying 16-hour days and hard on the planes that flew well beyond their scheduled service intervals. Fuel was difficult to come by, the desert sand wreaked havoc on the engines and flying was seat-of-the-pants with navigation by dead reckoning and eyesight.

    The work was dangerous. Many airplanes were shot at. One pilot, getting a little close to Arab territory while approaching Israel, watched tracer bullets arching up towards his airplane. Another plane had a tire blown out during a bombing raid in Tel Aviv. On one occasion, Maguire was forced to land his aircraft in Egypt when it ran out of gas. The Israelis had warned all pilots that if they had to land in Arab territory, the Jewish refugees and perhaps even the crew would likely be shot. The quick-witted Maguire told airport officials he needed ambulances to take his passengers to hospital. When they asked why, he replied that his passengers had smallpox. The frightened Egyptians wanted him out of there right away. Maguire received his fuel and flew on to Tel Aviv.

    Partway through the operation, the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board forced Alaska Airlines to shut down its international charter business and a company called Near East Air Transport, whose president was James Wooten and whose pilots, and aircraft were all Alaska Air’s, completed the Operation Magic Carpet airlift. Near East Air Transport was just Alaska Airlines operating under another name.

    By the time Operation Magic Carpet ended in September 1950, 28 Alaska Airlines pilots had made some 380 flights and airlifted 48,818 refugees, almost Yemen’s entire Jewish population, to Israel. Miraculously not one death or injury occurred.

    Operation Magic Carpet was kept secret for reasons of security and to prevent sabotage. It would be many months later before the public or the press would become aware of the remarkable operation.

    Later, Israel would once again call upon Alaska Airlines to aid in the rescue of Jews, this time from Iraq. El Al and Alaska Air, in a secret partnership, formed a new airline, again using the name Near East Air Transport for that purpose. Israeli ownership was hidden so that the airline appeared to be strictly an Alaska Airlines venture.

    Today, Alaska Airlines is an international carrier serving 60 cities and 3 countries. Passengers flying Alaska Airlines do not realize that they are flying with the airline that saved the Jews of Yemen.

    The Use of Immoral Power On Local School Boards

    4. June, 2015BlogComments are off

    For hundreds and hundreds of years, if not thousands, the Jewish people have been trying desperately to be included in the social, economic and political fiber of every community we have ever lived in. It has been a frustrating and oftentimes impossible battle to win. However, in this great country of ours we have been given the privilege of inclusion rather than exclusion; of course with many battle scars. But that’s is not the point. The point is that everywhere where we are a minority we have struggled and failed to be an integral part of the greater majority. Only here in the United States have we succeeded! And now groups of ultra Orthodox Jews in certain communities around New York State have taken control of local school boards and are using their new-found power to fund their private schools, while decimating the local public school systems. Do these ultra-Orthodox Jews not understand that the pendulum will start to swing the other way? Do they not know or care about the consequences of their actions? Don’t they understand the bad taste they are leaving in the mouths of more secular Jews and all non-Jews? There has even been complaints within the ultra-Orthodox closed community as well. Below is an article by Ari Hart who is a founder of Uri L’Tzedek: Orthodox Social Justice and a founding member of Rockland Clergy for Social Justice. His article speaks to the problems that have reared their ugly heads and speaks of its consequences. The ultra-Orthodox should pay attention to the rising tide of outrage that will effectively ruin their plans to destroy public schools while helping private schools. In one district in Brooklyn the community has taken back control by passing a law that says in order to be a member of the local school board, you must have children in the public schools. Below is his article and it brings the warning to light that change is coming, albeit slowly; but coming nevertheless.

    “New York State’s legislative session is in full swing and thousands of Jews from across denominational lines are expressing their support for two bills that, on the face of it, don’t seem to have anything to do with typical Jewish issues like Israel or liberal social causes. But these bills — A.5355 and S.3821, as they’re known in Albany — are the test case for the moral future of Jewish life in New York, perhaps even the whole country.

    For the past several years, a local, then statewide, and now national drama has been playing out in a school district of Rockland County, located just northwest of New York City. At one level, the issue at hand is about school control. The East Ramapo school system is governed by a supermajority of ultra-Orthodox Jews who live in the district but did not attend public schools and send their children to private yeshivas. While this fact alone might raise some eyebrows, what they’ve done with this control has raised alarm.

    The board has drastically increased the funding going to yeshivas, but it has cut public school classes and extracurricular activities, attempting to sell public school assets at below market prices to private yeshivas, and more. These ethically and at times legally dubious actions have been documented by everyone from newspapers like this one to the New York City Bar Association to the New York State Supreme Court.

    Frustrated by the school board’s intransigence, local students, parents, teachers, religious leaders and activists appealed to the state for help. Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed an independent fiscal monitor, Hank Greenberg, last year to investigate the district. From a removed, balanced perspective, Greenberg confirmed what thousands of public school students and parents had known for years: The board is responsible for “recklessly depleting the district’s reserves” and favoring “the private school community over the East Ramapo public schools.”

    Greenberg’s report called for several fixes to be made, the most significant one being long-term oversight of the board. Oversight and the transparency it brings are a key component to fixing the broken school district, and they are central to the new bills. Secrecy and obfuscation have been tools of the board, using procedural tricks like keeping school board meetings in executive session until past midnight, away from parents and children who wish to participate; not releasing financial statements, and more. The monitor would put a stop to that. Further, an independent monitor not beholden to any community but with the best interests of all the parties involved would start building the trust, which is needed for this district to move forward. Ultimately, the monitor is the best path forward for everyone, including the ultra-Orthodox community. As Orthodox Jews grow in number, the question of how to flex our political muscle becomes more critical. The Jewish community has needs as well. We live in a golden era where we have can express those needs through the democratic process with pride. The question is not whether to use political power, but how.

    One way is to use our power to get what our community needs, even if it means skirting the rules and steamrolling over the needs of other communities. That’s been the case in the East Ramapo School District. Those who support the actions of the school board say that this is democracy, this is the American way. They are wrong. America is not an absolute, direct democracy where the will of the numerical majority is the law of the land. We live in a republic, a republic that seeks to protect the interests and welfare of all its citizens, including the minority, the disenfranchised and the vulnerable.

    As an Orthodox Jew, when I first learned about what was happening in East Ramapo and about the attitudes of the board, I was shocked and disgusted. The Talmud teaches, “The world endures only for the sake of the breath of school children.” The public actions of this school board over the years have been in flagrant violation of that and so many other Jewish values and teachings. The Torah we share demands over and over again we never trample the stranger, the immigrant and the poor — apt descriptions of many in the public school district. They have also caused a massive Chillul Hashem — desecration of God’s name. The leadership of the school board to date has grossly violated both American and Jewish values. This is not the way to use Jewish power in America.

    Instead, we need to find a way to both advance our interests and needs while taking the needs of our fellow citizens into account; rather than just grabbing more and more slices of the pie and leaving those around us hungry, we work together to grow the pie so there is enough for all. This would be a moral use of Jewish power, using it to call out those who are acting unjustly, even when they are from our own community. That is why thousands and thousands of Jewish New Yorkers are lobbying their legislators to pass these bills, which will provide needed oversight. Ultimately, this is about those school children in East Ramapo, and it’s about the very legacy that Jewish New Yorkers will leave on this great state.”

  • Event Calendar

    AEC v1.0.4
  •