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    A Father’s Goodbye at the Airport

    12. November, 2014BlogComments are off

    Recently, as I was about to board my plane for Chicago, back to Boston, I overheard a gentleman, who by all accounts, looked like he was in his mid-eighties, and his daughter were in their last forlorn moments together at the airport. They had just announced the impending departure of her plane and she knew she had to finally say her last goodbye to her aged father. Standing near the security gate, they hugged, kissed his daughter and then the father gently, but sadly said, “I love 
you, and I wish you enough.” The daughter replied, “Dad, you know our life together has always been wonderful and you have always given me more than enough… you have given freely of your love, support, kindness and you’re your blessed sweetness is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Dad.”

    The father and daughter gently kissed and the daughter sadly turned and left to go to board the plane so that she was able to go home to her family and the life that awaited her in California. The father slowly walked over to the window where I was seated and tried to locate the plane that his daughter boarded, to no avail. Standing there I could see his head slightly bowed low as I knew that he wanted and needed to cry. At first, I saw just one tear fall, then another, and another, until the flood- gates were opened and the tears just filled his face, and he, trying very hard not to let those close by see quietly took out his handkerchief and dried his eyes and cheek.

    I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he really surprised me by openly welcoming me into his world by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?”

’Well, I replied, indeed, I have. My particular kind of work requires me to come into contact with some pretty wonderful kids and their families. I work with them for months and months on end, sometimes I see them two or three times a week, and we develop close and very warm friendships. But then they reach the magic age of thirteen and after the kids have their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the family no longer needs my services and all of us have to get on with our lives. For me, it’s bitter-sweet; seeing these beautiful kids and their happy parents reach this wonderful milestone in their lives, but for the kids (my students), and their family, it’s a happy time; but our good-bye is sometimes not necessarily a forever thing.”

    From time to time, I do come across them, but the relationship is totally changed and there is a tinge of sadness mixed in with the joy of once again meeting them, even for just a few moments; but for most of the kids and their families, it is the very last time that I will see them, and that is truly sad.” Forgive me for asking, “But why is this a forever good-bye, she is your daughter, that much is obvious. What is also obvious is that you both love one another.” He replied,
 ”I am pretty old, and she lives so far away? The old man replied, “I have many challenges ahead, among them is that I am not very well and the reality is her next trip back here will probably be for my funeral.”

    My daughter has three fabulous children, a wonderful husband, a full time job, friends and a life of her own. Bringing up three children is very expensive, what with doctor bills, school, Bar and Bat mitzvahs and clothing them makes it difficult for her to travel to see me more often. “When you were saying good-bye,” I replied, you said, “I wish you enough.” May I ask what that means?’

    He began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused a moment 
and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and then he smiled even more. He continued, “When we said, I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them, with maybe, just an extra or two.” Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory. I said to my baby, “I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright, no matter how gray the day may appear. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more so that when you see it, it immediately brings a smile to your face. I wish you enough happiness to 
keep your spirit alive and everlasting, and yes, happy. I wish you enough pain, however, not too much, so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear larger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your 
wanting so that there is nothing that you need that is not available to you.

    I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess so that you value all you have… And I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-byes of life.”

He then began to cry and walked away.I then thought to myself that they say it takes just a minute to find a special person, and an hour to really learn to appreciate them, a day to truly love, respect and admire them, but then it takes an entire life to forget them.

    To all of my family members, my dear friends, the thousands of children and parents who have touched my life and heart, to all those who I will never forget, and even to all those that I have never met but who have good, caring hearts, I WISH YOU ALL ENOUGH.

    May all the days of your lives be filled with serenity, may the sun always shine on you during daytime, may the rain come gently down during the late evening and nurture the soil so that there is always plenty for all and that their needs are met, may the seasons always be gentle (especially the winter and summer), and may you always revel in the delight of your children, your children’s children and even, your great grandchildren’s children.

    Shame on You

    7. November, 2014UncategorizedComments are off

    The world remains incredibly quiet (even the United States), as more and more acts of violence are perpetrated against Israel and its citizens. Why are the politicians of most nations so quiet? Why are there no complaints to Hamas or their leadership for these acts of violence to stop? Is Israel doing something wrong that these nations continue to ignore these acts of murder? Where is the United Nations while all of this continues to occur? Where is the condemnation by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of South Korea? Does he know only to condemn Israel and not murders of innocent civilians who are Jewish? Does this make him anti-Semitic or is his country, South Korea so dependent on imported oil that he, in his opinion, has to turn a blind eye to any acts of violence against people in the Jewish State? I am willing to wager a bet that if Israel retaliates against Hamas for these actions that the Secretary General will have some very harsh words for Israel to stop the aggression. Are the lives of innocent Israeli citizens less worth less than their Arab counterparts to him? Below is an article (with a few changes by me), by Jspace describing the most recent attack.

    A Palestinian vehicle rammed into a group of Israeli soldiers today, just hours after a similar terror attack earlier today and left one soldier dead.

    Three other Israeli soldiers were injured in this afternoon’s attack on a West Bank road. The soldiers have been evacuated to Jerusalem hospitals for treatment, and one is listed in critical condition.

    The driver fled the scene, and a search is currently underway. Roadblocks in the area have already been set up to catch the man responsible for the murder.

    “The IDF is conducting a widespread search in the region to locate the vehicle and its driver,” an Israeli military spokesman said in a statement.

    This morning, a Palestinian man drove his car into the light rail station at Shimon HaTzadik street in Jerusalem, killing at least one victim.

    Ten individuals were struck in the Jerusalem collision. The terrorist, after plowing into the rail station and hitting the commuters waiting for the train there, also rammed his car into other cars driving along the street. Once his car was no longer able to be driven, he exited the car with a crowbar and attacked pedestrians with it. He was then shot by police and border guards who were in the area. The terrorist died of his gunshot wound at the scene soon afterwards.

    This attack followed a similarly executed attack using a car or some other vehicle and driving it into a crowded rail station. This is not the first time this method of attach has been used. The first attack killed two innocent victums; 20 year old Karen Muscara, and three month old infant Chaya Zissel Braun.

    After having read this article, I came to the conclusion that the Jews of 2014 must change the way they react when confronted with their children being murdered. They must list to the Secretary General of the United Nations and be like the Jews that lived in the shtetls of the early 1800’s; fearful that more attacks would happen if the Jewish people retaliated. Or the Jews (many of whom) went to the crematoria.

    Well, Mr. Secretary General of the United Nations, the Jews of today fight back and take care of their own, because as Rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?” The United Nations does not ever look upon Israel in a kind light, or for that matter neither does most of the free world’s nations. This time I don’t even hear an outcry from Israel’s greatest ally, the United States. Shame on all of those nations.

    I am a Jew

    28. October, 2014UncategorizedComments are off

    I read an interesting article a few months ago and during the summer I was so wrapped up in the mid-east war, I forgot all about it. It is a rather eye-opening article about having faith in our people, here, in Israel and around the world. We can do this if we understand that we have to continue helping Israel to be the strongest and best equipped country in that region of the world. We can’t be number two. If we’re number two we will cease to exist.

    Help Israel and other Jewish causes because in the end, you are truly helping yourselves. Be proud of our accomplishments and if you can, help fund them even more. Remember YOU are a Jew and the world thinks of you that way, and in the end, that’s not so bad at all … in fact, it’s great! Please read the article with changes made to it by me. It is worthwhile.

    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. 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. 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 !!.

    Only 41 years ago, we fought three of the strongest countries In the Middle East, and we crushed them in the Six Day War. Over the years we fought different coalitions of Arab countries With modern armies and with huge amounts of Russian-Soviet ammunition, and we still won.

    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 here. Our doctors have won important prizes in the medical developement field. We turned the desert into a prosperous land. We sell oranges, flowers, and vegetables around the world. We launched our own satellite! Three satellites at once! We are in good company; together with the USA (335 million Residents), Russia (220 million residents), China (1.3 billion residents) and Europe ( France , England and Germany with over 100 million residents), we are one of the only countries in the world that have launched something into space!

    Israel today is among the few powerful countries that have nuclear technology & capabilities. ( We will never admit it, But everyone knows.) To think that only 65 years ago we were disgraced and hopeless. We crawled out from the burning crematoriums of Europe. We won in all our wars. With a little bit of nothing we built a beautiful democratic country.

    Who are Khaled Meshal (leader of Hamas) or Hassan Nasrallah (leader of Hezbollah), trying to frighten us? They are amusing us. As we celebrate our Independence Day every Mat, let’s not forget what this holliday is all about; we overcame everything. We overcame the Greeks, we overcame the Romans,
    we overcame the Spanish Inquisition, we overcame the Russians pogrom, we overcame Hitler, we overcame Germany and overcame the Holocaust, We overcame the armies of seven countries.

    Relax chevray, (friends), we will overcome our current enemies. Never mind where you look in human history. Think about it.The Jewish nation, our condition has never been better than now. So let’s lift our heads up 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 Macedon? The Romans? Is anyone speaking Latin Today? The Third Reich? Did anyone hear news from them lately?

    And look at us, the Bible nation – from slavery in Egypt, we are still here, still speaking the same language. Exactly here, exactly now. 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. So, sorry that we are not worrying, complaining, crying, or fearing…

    Business here is kol b’seder (very or just fine). It can definitely be much better, but it is still fine. Don’t pay attention to the nonsense in the media, as they will not tell you about our festivals in Israel or about the people that continue living, going out. 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.

    Please tell all of your Jewish friends everywhere in the world. You are all part of our force to keep our existence.

    Reading this blog may help some of us lift our heads up and be proud to say:

    “I AM A JEW”

    Anti Any Religion is Anti Semitism

    15. October, 2014BlogComments are off

    As a Jewish American, I find it incredibly abhorrent that any minority, and in fact, if anyone is persecuted for any reason, especially because of race, color, religion and sexual orientation. This article by an American Muslim was reported by CNN and this is the man’s and CNN’s story.

    As a Muslim American, I didn’t think anything could shock me when it comes to anti-Muslim bigotry. But I have to give it up for Oklahoma State Rep. John Bennett, a Republican, who has set a record for the vilest anti-Muslim comments yet. What makes Bennett’s comments so alarming is that they weren’t directed against Islamic terrorists such as ISIS, but rather against Muslim Americans, people like my family, friends and me.

    A few weeks ago, Bennett posted on Facebook using his account “State Representative John Bennett” that Christians should be “wary” of Muslim Americans: “The Quran clearly states that non-Muslims should be killed. Arab is the ethnicity, not Muslim or Islam. Be wary of the individuals who claim to be ‘Muslim American.’ Be especially wary if you are Christian.”

    Despite calls for Bennett to apologize for inciting hate against Muslim Americans, he instead escalated his campaign of bigotry.

    On Monday, Bennett held a public forum with more than 100 constituents in a Western Sizzlin’ steakhouse in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. There, Bennett provided his supporters with something other than steak — a big helping of hate.
    According to the Sequoyah County Times, Bennett told the audience that Muslims are a “cancer that must be cut out of the American society.” He added that the goal of Muslims is “the destruction of Western civilization from within.”

    But here’s where Bennett’s comments truly become bone chilling. Bennett, a military veteran, issued what some could interpret as a call to arms: “I’m not advocating violence against anyone … but I am not going to stand back and allow them to let Islam take over this nation.” So how did the audience at the Western Sizzlin’ respond to Bennett’s speech? With a standing ovation. How do you explain to a Muslim American child growing up in Oklahoma that a room full of people cheered when an elected official called you a cancer who must be cut out of America?

    On Tuesday, Bennett appeared on a local news program to answer questions about his comments. Did he apologize? Nope, instead he doubled down with the remark, “Muslim Americans who subscribe to Islam are just as bad as ISIS.”
    In reality, Muslim American organizations across the nation, including one in Bennett’s own state, have publicly denounced ISIS and condemned their actions as not only being horrific but as also being un-Islamic.

    Could Bennett’s comments lead to violence against Muslim Americans? I think so. Also sharing my concern is Adam Soltani, the head of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Soltani explained to me that Bennett’s remarks had crossed the line “from inflammatory rhetoric to a call to violence that might incite people who might not know any better.”

    In fact, Soltani’s CAIR chapter has urged the Muslim American community in Oklahoma to take precautions after recent hate crimes were committed against Muslims in New York City. Now, saying Bennett is simply an anti-Muslim bigot wouldn’t be fair. He’s so much more.

    For example, last month when the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer was in the news, Bennett took to Facebook to express his anger. Was he upset the police shot an unarmed black teenager? Nope, he was livid that the Obama administration had sent representatives to “this thug’s funeral” (referring to Michael Brown) and to Nelson Mandela’s, but didn’t do the same when certain famous white people had died.

    Bennett also wrote sarcastically that the police officer who shot Brown could never be innocent because he’s a “WHITE COP!” (His capitalization.) And in July, after a federal appeals court struck down Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment barring gay marriage, Bennett stated that he was “angry” with the decision and vowed to fight, “to retake our freedoms from this overreaching federal government.” To Bennett, gay Americans having the freedom to marry is somehow depriving him of his own freedom.

    The real story though isn’t a hateful elected official. We have all seen that before. The bigger development was the reaction of Oklahoma’s religious and social justice groups to Bennett. Instead of dividing the community, Bennett had brought together Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups as well as organizations like the NAACP and the ACLU to stand together at a press conference to denounce Bennett and demand an apology.

    Rabbi Vered Harris of Oklahoma City’s Temple B’nai Israel told me, “I respect people of all religions, or no religions, who abide by America’s core values of tolerance and respect. It’s unfortunate that Rep. Bennett does not.” I also spoke with the president of the Oklahoma Chapter of the NAACP, Anthony Douglas, who said it was too late for Bennett to apologize, it was time for him to resign. Douglas, a Vietnam veteran, commented that Bennett is “promoting hatred and possibly even violence against Muslim Americans with his comments and there’s simply no place for that from our elected officials.”

    Bennett is running unopposed in this November’s election. However, maybe the good people of his district will write in another candidate to replace him.

    Bigotry is a “cancer that must be cut out of the American society.” A step towards achieving that dream would be defeating John Bennett on November 4.

    Yom Kippur

    12. October, 2014BlogComments are off

    Yom Kippur is almost upon us (it arrives sundown, Friday, October 3rd at sundown and continues until sundown Saturday, October 4th (Tishri 9th and 10th), and is the most solemn (serious) day in the Jewish calendar. It is also known as the Day of Atonement (atonement means to ask for forgiveness and to make amends ((to replace or to pay for property that we have damaged or destroyed—when it comes to feelings, it means to truly and meaningfully apologize for the wrongs and hurts on all people we have come into contact with, but especially the people closest to us)). Yom Kippur always comes ten days after Rosh Hashanah, on the tenth of Tishrei.

    The purpose of Yom Kippur is to bring about reconciliation, (reunion—getting back together, to smooth out troubled feelings between people), between us and other people and between God and us. Again, reconciliation is a word, which means bringing together, and this is accomplished by asking for forgiveness and forgiving those we touch in our lives. We also ask for God’s mercy for the sins that we have committed against God.

    According to our tradition, it is also the day when God decides the fate of each human being, Jewish and non Jewish. In a very real way, WE are the ones that decide our fate because in Judaism we have something called free will. Free will means that we are totally responsible for our actions and cannot blame anyone else. By the way, that is what Bar and Bat Mitzvah means, Son and Daughter of Responsibility. Are we to choose reconciliation or do we choose to harden our hearts? In Judaism, the choice is ours.

    Another one of the traditions associated with Yom Kippur is a prayer called, Kol Nidre, which means “All Prayers.” What this hauntingly, beautiful prayer does is to ask God to forgive us for any vows or promises that we were unable to keep. This does NOT include broken promises, just those for whatever reason we couldn’t keep. Our tradition says that the most important thing that we can give is our word and our religion takes this very seriously and separates broken promises from those we were unable to keep. To us, there is a big difference and I’d like to know what you think these differences are.

    In Reform Judaism, we seek to forgive ourselves for the promises we were unable to keep. One may ask why this is so? The answer may lie in the fact that when we do something wrong, especially to those we love most, we are more critical of ourselves than anyone else and we rarely, if ever, forgive ourselves. Have you done something that you are and were embarrassed about and have not forgiven yourself? I know that I have done things that fall into that category and I would guess that most adults have done things that fall into that category.

    Yom Kippur also gives us the strength to look in the mirror and say, “We’re sorry, and we forgive ourselves,” and try desperately hard not to repeat the wrong we have committed.

    Along the line of traditions in Judaism is to “fast” (not eat or drink anything for twenty four hours), on this holiest of holy days. There are a few explanations as to why we are supposed to do this. What do you think are the reasons we are supposed to “fast” on Yom Kippur?

    Ten Days of Awe

    1. October, 2014BlogComments are off

    To the Jewish people, the two most important holy days of the year are Rosh Hashanah (literally, the Head of the Year), and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, or forgiveness).

    There is one web site that in my opinion, that stand above all others when it comes to explaining Jewish Life Cycle events, holidays, hoy days, Shabbat, blessings and anything dealing with the Jewish people. That web site is Judaism 101. Much of my information has been taken from that site and they should be commended on doing such a superb job of disseminating information about the Jewish people and Judaism.

    Rosh Hashanah

    …In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a Shabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

    Once again, I would like to thank the beautiful web site, Judaism 101, from which I borrowed extensively much of my material. It was an invaluable and well explained resource.

    Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “Head of the Year” or “First of the Year.” Rosh Hashanah, to most Jewish people is known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive (misleading), because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight on December 31st where people seem to find an excuse for having a drinking bash (party and do things to excess (more than usual), and daytime football games. There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year
    and the American one: many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making “resolutions” (promises).

    Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, (which means) looking at ourselves and the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. Here is some more on these words, The Days of Awe. We call Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the Days of Awe because these are
    the most important holy days in our religion and most Jewish people believe that this is when God is deciding who shall live and who shall pass away and we are in awe or wonderment and perhaps a little fearful of God.

    The name “Rosh Hashanah” is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (The Day of Remembrance) or Yom Teruah (The Day of the Sounding of the Shofar). The holiday is in the Book of Leviticus, chapter 23:, paragraphs 24-25.

    The Shofar is a ram’s horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue or somewhere else. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day of the holy day (two outside Israel and one in Israel). There are four
    different types of shofar notes: Tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; Shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, Teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and Tekiah Gedolah (literally, “big Tekiah”), the final blast in a set, which lasts (10 seconds minimum or as long as the person blowing the shofar can last.

    The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice, but many of our people believe that it is done to remind us to have a spiritual reawakening.
    Another idea about the blowing of the Shofar is that it has been suggested that the shofar’s sound is a call to us to repentance (to repent or feel sorry for the wrongs we did in the past year and to ask God and those who we wronged and ask for forgiveness). We cannot ask God to forgive us because we did wrong to a person. In the Jewish religion (unlike Christianity), the Jewish people have to go to the person we wronged and ask them for forgiveness. When we commit a sin against God, we ask God for forgiveness. The Shofar is not blown in Orthodox and Conservative temples if the holiday falls on Shabbat, but is in most Reform temples. No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent with family or in temple where the regular daily service is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special Prayer book called the achzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the added reading and songs for these holidays.

    Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples or challah dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet New Year. I highly recommend it. It’s yummy. Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh (“casting off”). We walk to a flowing body of water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets of crumbs into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing ( a custom for hundreds if not thousands of years. Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services.

    The common (usual) greeting at this time is L’shanah tovah (“for a good year”). This is a shortening of “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem” (or to women,” L’shanah tovahtikatevi v’taihatemi”), which means “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

    You may notice that the Bible speaks of Rosh Hashanah as occurring on the first day of the seventh month. The first month on the Jewish calendar is Nissan, occurring in March and April. Why, then, does the Jewish “New Year” occur in Tishri, the seventh month? Judaism has several different “New Years,”
    a concept which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American “New Year” starts in January, but the new “school year” starts in
    September, and many businesses have “fiscal years” that start at various times of the year. In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the New Year for the purpose of counting the reign (rule) of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the New Year for the tithing (giving ten percent of our wealth),
    Shevat 15 (in February) is the New Year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the New Year
    for years (when we increase the year number.

    Only two questions:

    You should write down 15 facts that you learned from reading about Rosh Hashanah. How do and your family expect to spend Rosh Hashanah. (There are no right or wrong answers to this question, just was is and every answer is respected))

    Yom Kippur

    “..In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work … for on that day He shall provide
    atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the LORD.”
    – Leviticus 16:29-30

    Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish holiday custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri. The holiday is instituted at Leviticus 23:26.
    The name “Yom Kippur” means “Day of Atonement,” and that pretty much explains what the holiday is about. It is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,”
    to atone for the sins of the past year. In Days of Awe, it mentioned the “books” in which God inscribes all of our names. On Yom Kippur, the judgment
    entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and
    make amends to God and those closest to you…your loved ones. As is noted in Days of Awe, Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible. That must all be done before Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that day. It is
    well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset
    on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions that are
    less well-known: washing and bathing, anointing one’s body (with cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather shoes (Orthodox Jews routinely wear canvas sneakers under their dress clothes on Yom Kippur), and engaging in sports are all prohibited on Yom Kippur. As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labor begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with other illnesses should consult a physician and advice and use common sense.

    For many people, most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer. In Orthodox synagogues, services begin early in the morning (8 or 9 AM)
    and continue until about 3 PM. People then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 5 or 6 PM for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at nightfall with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, which is a long blast on the shofar. For the orthodox, it is customary to wear white on this holy day, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1:18).
    Some people wear a kittel, the white robe in which the dead are traditionally buried.

    Yom Kippur Liturgy

    The liturgy for Yom Kippur is much more extensive than for any other day of the year. Liturgical changes are so far-reaching that a separate, special
    prayer book for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah has been made. This prayer book is called the machzor.

    The liturgy for Yom Kippur is much more extensive than for any other day of the year. Liturgical changes are so far-reaching that a separate, special
    prayer book for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah has been made. This prayer book is called the machzor. The evening service that begins Yom Kippur is commonly known as Kol Nidre, named for the prayer that begins the service. “Kol nidre” means “all vows,” and in this prayer, we ask God to annul all personal vows we may make in the next year. It refers only to vows between the person making them and God, such as “If I pass this test, I’ll pray every day for the next 6 months! This prayer has often been held up by anti-Semites as proof that Jews are untrustworthy (they say we do not keep our vows), and for this reason the Reform movement removed it from the liturgy for a while. In fact, the reverse is true: we make this prayer because we take vows so seriously that we consider ourselves bound even if we make the vows under duress or in times of stress when we are not thinking straight. This prayer gave comfort to those who were converted to Christianity by torture in various inquisitions, yet felt unable to break their vow to follow Christianity. In recognition of this history, the Reform movement restored this prayer to its liturgy.There are many additions to the regular liturgy (there would have to be, to get such a long service ). Perhaps the most important addition is the confession of the sins of the community, which is inserted into the Shemoneh Esrei (Amidah) prayer. Note that all sins are confessed in the plural (we have done this, we have done that), emphasizing communal responsibility for sins.

    There are two basic parts of this confession: Ashamnu, a shorter, more general list (we have been treasonable, we have been aggressive, we have been slanderous…), and Al Cheit, a longer and more specific list (for the sin we sinned before you forcibly or willingly, and for the sin we sinned before
    you by acting callously…) Frequent petitions for forgiveness are interspersed in these prayers. There’s also a catch-all confession: “Forgive us the breach of positive commands and negative commands, whether or not they involve an act, whether or not they are known to us.”

    It is interesting to note that these confessions do not specifically address the kinds of ritual sins that some people think are the be-all-and-end-all of Judaism. There is no “for the sin we have sinned before you by eating pork, and for the sin we have sinned against you by driving on Shabbat” (though
    obviously these are implicitly included in the catch-all). The vast majority of the sins enumerated involve mistreatment of other people, most of them by speech (offensive speech, scoffing, slander, tale-bearing, and swearing falsely, to name a few). These all come into the category of sin known as “lashon ha-ra” (the evil tongue), which is considered a very serious sin in Judaism. The concluding service of Yom Kippur, known as Ne’ilah, is one unique to the
    day. It usually runs about 1 hour long. The Ark (a cabinet where the scrolls of the Torah are kept) is kept open throughout this service, thus you must stand throughout the service. There is a tone of desperation in the prayers of this service. The service is sometimes referred to as the closing of the gates; think of it as the “last chance” to get in a good word before the holiday ends. The service ends with a very long blast of the shofar.

    After Yom Kippur, one should begin preparing for the next holiday Sukkot which begins five days later.

    Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Or More Artistic Contributions of Jews

    23. September, 2014BlogComments are off

    This was an article forwarded to me by my friend Paul Rosenthal without comment, probably because the article speaks for itself.
    I have taken the liberty to add some of my words throughout the article, but the gist of it remains steadfast.

    At the 2014 Oscars, they celebrated the 75th anniversary of the release of the “Wizard of Oz” by having Pink (Who’s mother is Jewish), sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” with highlights from the film in the background. But what few people realized, while listening to that incredible performer singing that unforgettable song, is that the music is deeply embedded in the Jewish experience.

    In fact, other renowned songwriters and lyricists contributed greatly to the plethora of beautiful songs we Americans and people of all nations hold dear to our hearts. It is no accident, for example, that the greatest Christmas songs of all time were written by Jews. For example: Johnny Marks wrote “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “White Christmas” was penned by a Jewish liturgical singer’s (a cantor’s son), Irving Berlin.

    But perhaps the most poignant song emerging out of the mass exodus from Europe was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” A man named, Yip Harburg, wrote the lyrics of this fabulous song. He was the youngest of four children, born to Russian Jewish immigrants. His real name was Isidore Hochberg and he grew up in a Yiddish speaking, Orthodox Jewish home in New York. The music was written by Harold Arlen, a cantor’s son. His real name was Hyman Arluck and his parents were from Lithuania. Together, Hochberg and Arluck wrote “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, which was voted the 20th century’s number one song by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In writing it, the two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish consciousness; framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust that was about to happen and wrote an unforgettable melody set to near prophetic words.

    If one reads the lyrics in their Jewish context; one of persecution and isolation in Eastern Europe as well as Western Europe (think of the roots of the word “ghetto.” It comes from the Italian word Ghetto which was a special section in Rome where the Jews were forced to live—long before the Holocaust) and the rampant anti-Semitism here in the United States, suddenly the words are no longer about wizards and Oz, but about Jewish hopes of survival in a place where there is beauty, peace and acceptance. Somewhere Over the Rainbow way up high, there’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the Rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops that’s where you’ll find me. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, bluebirds fly, birds fly over the rainbow why then, oh why can’t I? If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why, oh why can’t I?

    The Jews of Europe could not fly. They could not escape beyond the rainbow. Harburg was almost prescient when he talked about wanting to fly like a bluebird away from the “chimney tops”. In the post-Auschwitz era, chimney tops have taken on a whole different meaning than the one they had at the beginning of 1939.

    Pink’s mom is Judith Kugel. She’s Jewish of Lithuanian background. As Pink was belting the Harburg/Arlen song from the stage at the Academy Awards, I wasn’t thinking about the movie. I was thinking about Europe’s lost Jews and the remnant of the immigrants who fled to America and to a land then called Palestine.

    I was then struck by the irony that for two thousand years the land that the Jews heard of “once in a lullaby” was not America, but Israel. The
    remarkable thing would be that less than ten years after “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” was first published, the exile was over and the State of Israel was reborn. Perhaps the “dreams that you dare to dream really can come true.”

    Rosh Hashanah

    13. September, 2014UncategorizedComments are off

    rosh-hashanah

    …In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a Shabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

    I would like to thank the beautiful web site, Judaism 101, from which I borrowed Extensively much of my material. It was an invaluable and well explained resource.

    Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “Head of the Year” or “First of the Year.” Rosh Hashanah, to most Jewish people is known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive (misleading), because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight on December 31st where people seem to find an excuse for having a drinking bash (party and do things to excess (more than usual), and daytime football games.There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year
    and the American one: many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making “resolutions” (promises).

    Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, (which means) looking at ourselves and the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. Here is some more on these words, The Days of Awe. We call Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the Days of Awe because these are
    the most important holy days in our religion and most Jewish people believe that this is when God is deciding who shall live and who shall pass away and we are in awe or wonderment of God.

    The name “Rosh Hashanah” is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (The Day of Remembrance) or Yom Teruah (The Day of the Sounding of the Shofar). The holiday is in the Book of Leviticus, chapter 23:, paragraphs 24-25.

    The Shofar is a ram’s horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue or somewhere else. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day of the holy day (two outside Israel and one in Israel). There are four different types of shofar notes: Tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; Shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, Teruah, a series of short, staccato notes
    extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and Tekiah Gedolah (literally, “big Tekiah”), the final blast in a set, which lasts (10 seconds minimum or as
    long as the person blowing the shofar can last.

    The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice, but many of our people believe that it is done to remind us to have a spiritual reawakening.
    Another idea about the blowing of the Shofar is that has been suggested is that the shofar’s sound is a call us to repentance (to repent or feel sorry for the wrongs we did in the past year and to ask God and those who we wronged and ask for forgiveness). We cannot ask God to forgive us because we did wrong
    to a person. In the Jewish religion (unlike Christianity), the Jewish people have to go to the person we wronged and ask them for forgiveness. When we commit a sin against God, we ask God for forgiveness. The Shofar is not blown in Orthodox and Conservative temples if the holiday falls on Shabbat, but is in most Reform temples. No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah.

    Much of the day is spent with family or in temple where the regular daily service is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special Prayer book called the Machzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the added reading and songs for these holidays.

    Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples or challah dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet New Year. I highly
    recommend it. It’s yummy. Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh (“casting off”). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets of crumbs into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing ( a custom for hundreds if not thousands of years custom. Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services.

    The common (usual) greeting at this time is L’shanah tovah (“for a good year”). This is a shortening of “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem” (or to women, ” L’shanah tovahtikatevi v’taihatemi”), which means “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

    You may notice that the Bible speaks of Rosh Hashanah as occurring on the first day of the seventh month. The first month on the Jewish calendar is Nissan, occurring in March and April. Why, then, does the Jewish “New Year” occur in Tishri, the seventh month? Judaism has several different “New Years,”
    a concept which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American “New Year” starts in January, but the new “school year” starts in
    September, and many businesses have “fiscal years” that start at various times of the year. In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the New Year for the purpose of counting the reign (rule) of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the New Year for the tithing (giving ten percent of them), of animals,
    Shevat 15 (in February) is the New Year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the New Year for years (when we increase the year number.

    The Challenge of the New Year

    7. September, 2014UncategorizedComments are off

    To most Jewish people around the world, on the evening of Wednesday, September 24th another new year will emerge. Jewish people of all persuasions will celebrate Rosh Hashanah in many different ways. After two days of worship, blessings and celebration it will sadly glide into limbo as the days, weeks and months have pursued one another down the stairway of our lives.

    What will this New Year bring? What must the New Year bring? Hopefully, it is to renew our faith in the human species and to remind us that we are bound together far beyond any divisiveness, by a more fundamental unity than any mere agreement in thought or doctrine can create.

    Is it possible that people will yet learn that they all possess the same primordial desires and tendencies and that is the domination of one person over another can no longer be justified by any appeal to nationhood (did you hear that Mr. Putin?), or nature, or even to God? Is it not our purpose to clear the way for the foundation of a world history, not in terms of nation or race or culture alone, but in terms of each person’s respect for self and others that reaches beyond immediate self-interest? The unsettling experiences of our time on earth leaves the question open as to whether mankind shall annihilate nothingness or whether nothingness shall annihilate mankind.

    The New Year always beckons to brighter things for the new year. In the word, “new,” lies the hope that in spite of humanity’s finite power, in spite of nationalisms, and in spite of spiritual bereavement and moral denigration, beneath the apparent turmoil and upheaval of the present, here yet lies the great possibility which must be rooted in the unshakable faith that mankind can emerge from the abyss of meaninglessness and suffering to one of kindness, empathy, spirituality, dignity and love. Perhaps it is our need to do more than recognize, but to feel so deeply in our own viscera that the establishment of justice, freedom and peace are not only intellectual constructs or achievements, but are also spiritual and moral achievements demanding a cherishing of the wholeness of the human personality.

    May the blessings that we say aloud or whisper to ourselves during this time of renewal, when the old year breathes its last and the warmth of the infant New Year is upon our cheeks, blossom forth in the days and months ahead, bright and beautiful…and peaceful.

    Elusive Peace

    3. August, 2014BlogComments are off

    Recently, a doctor in Israel, Dr. Arieh Eldad, was called upon to help an Arab woman who was burned by her family because of their belief in the “honor” system. It is not uncommon for deeply religious Moslems to seriously harm or even kill close family members for real or perceived injustices committed against other family members. Here is his amazing story and some comments by me afterwards. If you have any comments or feeling after reading what I have had to say, please email them to me.

    “I (Dr. Eldad), was instrumental in establishing the “Israeli National Skin Bank”, which is the largest in the world. The National Skin Bank stores skin for everyday needs as well as for wartime or mass casualty situations. This skin bank is hosted at the Hadassah Ein Kerem University hospital in Jerusalem where I was the Chairman of Plastic Surgery.

    This is how I came to be asked to supply skin for an Arab woman from Gaza, who was hospitalized in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, after her family burned her. Usually, such ‘honor’ atrocities happen among Arab families when the women are suspected of having an affair.

 We supplied all the needed Homografts for her treatment. She was successfully treated by my friend and colleague, Prof. Lior Rosenberg and discharged to return to Gaza. She was invited for regular follow-up visits to the outpatient clinic in Beersheba.



    One day she was caught at a border crossing wearing a suicide belt. She meant to explode herself in the outpatient clinic of the hospital where they saved her life. It seems that her family promised her that if she did that, they would forgive her. How ironic.

    This is only one example of the war between Jews and Muslims in the Land of Israel. It is not a territorial conflict – this is a civilizational conflict, or rather a war between civilization and barbarism.”

    That was Dr. Eldad’s real life story about his interaction with an Arab woman. I don’t blame him for feeling son strongly because he tried to do something really nice and was almost killed as a result of his kindness. But not all Arabs are like that woman and we Jews and Israelis have to seek out like minded Arabs and hope that one day they will become the majority. But there is a huge amount of repairing to do.

    Many people in the world have condemned Israel for their “over reaction” to the rockets and kidnapping and killing of the three Jewish teenagers. What these complainers don’t mention are the millions of dollars Hamas spent on the tunnels and not on the people of Gaza they claim they represent. By the way, the terrorists actually use the tunnels for their protection against the IDF while not allowing regular common folk the same protection.

    All of us want peace and the killing to stop on both sides, but the government of Gaza is broken and divided and the military arm of Hamas has it’s own way of doing things. It sends children into crowds to explode bombs in stores, restaurants and hospitals. How brave. I’m not saying that everything the Israelis are doing is right. We Jews have a history of discussing and letting each other know how we feel in a given situation. It seems the Arabs never disagree with each other, even if they hate each other. For example, the political arm of Hamas has no sway over the military arm of Hamas. So, when the political arm of Hamas announced a humanitarian cease-fire for seventy-two hours, it was turned down by the military arm of Hamas.

    No mother or father likes to see children injured or worse, dying from bombs, except that the political pundits have all said that the world seeing injured and dying people, especially children enhances their political stature in the world. For the past few years, the rest of the Arab world has ostracized Hamas because they were doing such a poor job in running Gaza. Also, there was a huge amount of corruption and the leaders of Hamas actually do not even live there.

    Now, Hamas believes in practical terms that the more death and destruction the world sees, the better it is for them, and concurrently, the worse it is for Israel. It seems that it’s ok to sacrifice men, women and children for the “cause.” So, Hamas continues to fight even though they cannot possibly win the war and their own people are paying such a heavy price. How sick.

    What both the Arabs and Israelis need to do is put their people’s peace before their own needs for power and sit down and discuss and work for peace. Both sides have to make compromises in the interest of a better future for both peoples. There is no other way. Military might the Israelis have and they can kill thousands upon thousands of the Gazans and the Arabs can send rockets raining down upon Israeli citizens and force them into bunkers on a daily basis. This is not a way for two peoples to live. Gaza should be demilitarized and the borders should be opened up and both people should realize that they have more in common then differences.

    In my minds eye, this is the only road to peace. Let’s hope that there are no more “honor” killings and bombings, no more tunnels and no more rockets and bombs.

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