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    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.”

    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.

    Let’s Look To Ourselves

    1. June, 2014BlogComments are off

    There is a story told of a new comer to a town who went to local rabbi and asked, “What kind of people live here”. The rabbi replied by asking the newcomer his own question. The rabbi said, “What kind of people were there in the town from which you just arrived?” The newcomer caustically replied, “The people there were mean, inhospitable and the rabbi and the administrators of the synagogue were really not much better.” The rabbi sadly smiled as he replied, “Then you will find the same kind of people here in our town.”

    The following day another newcomer entered the town and immediately went to the local rabbi and asked him the exact same questions. The rabbi responded with the same question that he had asked the prior newcomer. He asked, “What kind of people lived in the town from which you just came?” The newcomer replied, “The people in the town were gracious, kind and honest. In addition to the people being wonderful, the rabbi was very helpful if my family had any kind of problems.” The rabbi replied, “Sir you will find kind hearted, gracious and sympathetic people here and you will also find that I, as your rabbi, will be pleased to welcome you into our town and if I can be of assistance to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.”

    Perhaps some of you have realized that the town from which the angry person had come, and the town from which the outgoing and upbeat person came from the same town (not that it mattered). In other words, we get out of people that which we invest in them or ourselves. If we are constantly complaining and unsociable, if we are always destructive, critical and fault finding, we should not be surprised if we lack comradeship. However, if we are honest, decent, kind, sympathetic, sweet to others then our lives will be filled with companionship and happiness. What we ought to realize is that what we see in others often times mirrors what is in us.

    Anti-Semitism Rears Its Ugly Head Again

    4. May, 2014BlogComments are off

    Is anti-Semitism dead; after all we’re in the year 2014? Don’t bet your life on it, because if you do, you’re liable to just lose it.

    Although I am of the opinion that most people in the world just want to make enough money to survive and live their lives comfortably, there are individuals and organized groups of people out there who seem to have a very different agenda. For whatever reason or reasons, they seem to blame the Jewish people for many of the world’s perceived ills.

    As a matter of fact, my friend Michael (who is Jewish and was willing to let me list his last name, but I won’t, in the interest of prudence), truly believes (unlike me), that there are basically two groups of people in the world, those who are Jewish, and those who hate the Jews. Believe me when I say that there are those of the Jewish faith who truly believe that to be the case. After all, they say, “Being paranoid that someone hates you is oftentimes based upon the reality that they actually do hate you.” These people add with a knowing look upon their faces, that one just has to look at the millions upon millions of people that live in Arab countries. If not all Arab and or Moslem people, then certainly a huge plurality of the people residing in those nations simply do not allow Jews from any country in the world to even vacation or to do business there. Why, simply because of their Jewish religion. If you believe that you’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous, please read my following sentences. As an American Jew I am not allowed in many countries ruled by Arabs or Moslems. I am Jewish, and that means I am forbidden to enter their countries. If I am in anyway mistaken, please, please, someone inform me of all those Arab and Moslem nations that welcome Jews as visitors or even citizens, allows them to live in peace, openly practice their religion, do not persecute them and also allow Jews from foreign nations to visit and do business in those nations, openly as Jews. It is also a fact of life that Israel has trade relations with just a handful of Arab nations, the vast majority of them refusing to do any business or even recognize Israel’s right to exist as a nation.

    The number of groups that are considered anti-Semitic and actually want to harm us, are unfortunately, not as small as we’d like to believe (even if one factors out all of the Arab and Moslem lands). The groups number in the thousands and the number of people that despise us and want us gone by any means numbers in the hundreds of millions, if not billions. Just take a look at what’s happening in the Ukraine, Russia, Syria and even the France government is well known to be anti-Israeli. It is a well known fact as well that every single country in the world that is controlled by the Arabs and or Moslems, or those that have such a strong Moslem influence are decidedly anti Israeli and anti Semitic. Of course there does exist a few of Arab and or Moslem nations that are doing business with Jewish people, as well as the Israeli’s, but sadly, the numbers are relatively minuscule.

    Unfortunately, there is even a large increase in anti-Semitism right here in our own country. And the infinitesimally small number of Jewish people like Bernard Madoff who single handedly helped to cause a recession in our country by stealing billions from friends and family alike, and Donald Sterling who disgustingly and unfairly disparaged many minorities, especially African Americans, and is known by many to be openly bigoted, only stand to incite even more anti Semitism in our country because of their specious actions. Just go on the internet and you will find an incredibly large number of hate mongers regurgitating their putrid venom about all of our people because of the conduct of these two “gentlemen,” (a term I am using rather loosely in this situation).

    Throughout our history there have been men and women in positions of power who have accused us of heinous crimes that, although totally false and ridiculous, do manage to have large numbers of followers that want to believe that these stories are true, and have used these lies to stoke the fires of, and perpetuate anti-Semitism. Just go back to the Spanish Inquisition, which started in 1491 and didn’t officially end until the 1960’s.

    Besides the Spanish Inquisition, one has only to look at the history of our people to see that what I am saying is unfortunately true and accurate. We have been persecuted by the leaders of virtually every country in the world;(as well, by Popes who also spewed their hate against Jews) charged special taxes because of our religious beliefs, been made to wear special clothing, walk in the middle of street, not on the sidewalks and bow our heads as we passed our non Jewish neighbors; and of course, millions have died at the hands of the Ukrainians, Russians, Romanians, Bulgarians, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Germans, Polish people and have been kicked out just about every other country in the world, save one; the United States. And even New Amsterdam’s first governor, Peter Stuyvesant, tried unsuccessfully to bar our people from entering the new colony of New Amsterdam, but was stopped from doing so by his board of directors, which contained a number of Jewish people on the board and thankfully they were influential enough to thwart his plan of excluding Jewish faith from living in the new colony, although our people were not granted all of the rights and privileges of other people living in New Amsterdam.

    Also, as a result of rampant anti-Semitism that has continued throughout history, and as a result, all of the lies that have distorted our history, hundreds of millions of our people have been lost to us and to the world…to the world’s shame, but most of all, to it’s detriment. If anyone would like to question my last statement, they just have to look at the contributions the Jewish people have made to science, medicine, the arts, business and sports.

    For probably well over fifteen hundred years, we Jews have been known as the people of the Book (both the Torah/Haftarah—our Bible, and of insisting that our children read, study and work hard to become successful and give back to the community. Ideals that most of the civilized world has finally adopted.

    While these traits are looked upon philosophically as a positive, many people throughout history have turned it into a negative for us. These people (the anti-Semites of the world), by and large are not well educated and are traditionally at the bottom of the economic scale, (with the false belief that Jews are to blame for this); also believing the scurrilous lies that our people are so smart that we are attempting to take over the world… all 18,000,000 of us. They believe this lie and others because their leaders have diverted them from providing them the opportunity for an economy that would help lift them out of poverty. We have been the scapegoat of just about every nation and religion on the planet since the beginning of time as the cause of everything from floods, depressions, recessions, the Black Death, earthquakes, aids, trying to take over the world, for Communism, Capitalism, Socialism, to the killing of Jesus and anything else that is perceived to be a negative. And there are those bigots, seemingly of low intellect (because of all the empirical data that exists), that deny the Holocaust deniers with the loss of over six million of our people ever happened.

    If one tries to look objectively at the ridiculousness of those accusations, it would almost be funny if it weren’t so terribly tragic for all concerned. Not just for the Jewish people who lose their loved ones, which of course is heartbreaking, but for the world as well because of the disproportionate number of contributions our people have made in medicine, science, literature and in all walks of life. As you shall see below, these insidious attacks on our people have not abated, not one iota! The situation in the Ukraine and how the French Ambassador to England, Daniel Bernard, described Israel in 2001, while speaking to a reporter, Conrad Black are, in reality, not different. Being anti-Israeli is akin to being anti-Semitic. In his conversation, Bernard is quoted as saying, as, “All the current troubles in the world are because of that (expletive) little country, Israel” The diplomat added, “Why should the world be in danger of causing World War III because of those people?”

    Mr. Bernard never repudiated that statement and was supported in his position by the French government. As a matter of fact, the French government said that Mr. Bernard was involved in a private conversation and the people that released his position should be the ones punished, not Mr. Bernard. These are just recent examples of those who desire to destroy the Jewish people. Mr. Bernard has since walked back some of what he said, but until his death in 2205 never apologized.

    Please read the article below that I have gleaned from the recent newspaper articles and other print media as well as from radio and CNN about what is going on in the Ukraine.

    In a chilling example of how the Holocaust began, rekindling fear, pain, anger and distress of all people of goodwill all over the world, especially amongst Jews, a group of Ukrainian soldiers ordered all Jews over sixteen to ‘register their property, bank accounts and other assets’ in east Ukraine after pro-Russian militants took over government buildings. Jews have been told to register with pro-Russian forces in the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk because the “favored the central government,” or else will face deportation if the don’t.

    A pamphlet was handed out in Donetsk, by men in ski masks outside a synagogue after Passover services, ordering, “Citizens of Jewish nationality” over the age of 16 to pay $50 to register and be issued special passports ‘marking the confession of faith’. Jews living in the area of the self-declared ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ were ordered to register at a government building operated by pro-Russian forces or face the threat of deportation.

    Today, the Donetsk People’s Republic said they would only leave the occupied government buildings in the area if the interim government in Kiev resigns. Leader Denis Pushilin, who earlier today spoke to MailOnline denying any involvement in the anti-Semitic handout, said his organization does not recognize the Ukrainian government as legitimate. Does anyone think that this couldn’t happen here? Read below and you’ll be amazed, saddened and angered.

    (Headline in newspaper)
    KKK Forms Neighborhood Watch Group In Pennsylvania

    In response to a string of recent break-ins, the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has given a local Pennsylvania chapter the go-ahead to form a neighborhood watch group. “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!” read fliers promoting the neighborhood watch group in Fairview Township. The leaflets appeared on the doorsteps of homes along Ridge Road on April 18th.

    “It’s just like any neighborhood watch program. It’s not targeting any specific ethnicity. We would report anything we see to law enforcement,” Frank Ancona, the organization’s imperial wizard and president, told a local television network. “We don’t hate people. We are an organization who looks out for our race. We believe in racial separation. God created each species after its kind and saw that it was good.”

    According to its website, the organization — headquartered in Park Hills, Mo., with local chapters in every state but Hawaii — is a “non-violent” and “law abiding group” composed entirely of white Christians. The group claims to have “been misunderstood for years.” A call to the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was not immediately returned.

    “We picked ours up out of our driveway and threw it in the trash, “Virginia resident, Sarah Peachee told a local NBC station, “We weren’t interested in even reading about it.” The television network called to the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the call was not immediately returned. Similar fliers promoting KKK neighborhood watch programs appeared in other states across the country this past year. In July 2013, recruitment fliers with the same slogan as the Pennsylvania leaflets appeared on doorsteps in Springfield, Mo. In January 2014, the same flyer was spotted in driveways in Virginia.

    This is the press release sent out and handed out by the local KKK. “The Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a White Patriotic Christian organization that bases its roots back to the Ku Klux Klan of the early 20th century. We are a non-violent organization that believes in the preservation of the White race and the United States Constitution as it was originally written and will stand to protect those rights against all foreign invaders. We believe in the right to bear arms against all that threaten our home and family.”

    Below, on the next two pages are pictures of the fliers which were handed out: the first a black and white flier about security and the second is the burning of a cross (which is the symbol of the KKK) which is part of their recruitment tactics.

    Klu Klux Klan

    The picture on the second page after this one represents the symbol of the KKK (Ku Klux Klan), which started in Tennessee, but spread to many parts of our country, especially the south. It first began as a secret fraternity of army veterans right after the Civil War. Its goal was to stop any political progress that African Americans finally received which came about as a result of the consequences of the south losing the war. The main tactics that were used were violence and intimidation against any people (Whites and Blacks) that opposed them. This organization was responsible for the deaths of many Americans.

    Eventually, the KKK widened its hate to include Jews, Catholics, immigrants, and any other group that they felt threatened them. Many people felt that with the passing of civil rights voting laws and giving political power to minorities that the power of the KKK would recede. Unfortunately, this has not happened and the fliers above and below (which have been printed up and distributed within the last few weeks) are just two examples of how hatred has raised its ugly head yet once again in our great country. We, as Americans and Jews must fight these groups with every ounce of energy that we have so that our great and wonderful country can reach its goal of opening its heart and doors to all Americans, no matter their color, religion or where they came from.

    Klu Klux Klan

    In another incident that happened right here in our country, in the state of Missouri, just before Passover (and also just before Hitler’s birthday), a man calling himself Frazier Glenn Cross, but who also calls himself Frazier Glenn Miller killed three people believing they were Jewish. The Missouri man has a long history of spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric has shot to death a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center in Kansas City, MO and a woman at a Jewish assisted living facility nearby.

    While police in Overland Park, Kansas, said they would have to investigate further to label the violence a hate crime, they said Frazier Glenn Miller is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party. This crime was later labeled a hate crime. Both organizations operated as paramilitary groups in the 1980s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. People were able to see a video from station KMBC, which showed the suspect sitting in the back of a patrol car and shouting, “Heil Hitler” after the Sunday shootings.

    The shootings took place at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park and at the Village Shalom Retirement Community in Leawood, MO — a day before the start of Passover, the major Jewish spring holiday and festival.

    “The timing is terrible. The timing is awful,” said Rabbi Herbert Mandl, a chaplain for the Overland Park police. In all, the gunman shot at five people, none of whom he knew. Three people died; the other two were not injured. Shortly afterward, authorities arrested the suspect at a nearby elementary school. The Anti-Defamation League said it warned last week of the increased possibility of violent attacks against community centers in the coming weeks, “which coincide both with the Passover holiday and Hitler’s birthday on April 20, a day around which in the United States has historically been marked by extremist acts of violence and terrorism.”

    The shooting began just after 1 p.m. Sunday in the Jewish community center’s parking lot.
    Inside, the center was filled with youngsters trying out for a part in the play, To Kill a Mockingbird. The performance of was about to begin, and auditions were under way for “KC Superstar,” an “American Idol”-style contest for the best high school singer in the Kansas City area.

    Outside, the gunman, Mr. Miller opened fire. Police said he was armed with a shotgun and shot Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, as he was coming to audition for the singing competition. His grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, was driving him. The bullets struck them in their car and both died.

    Corporon was a beloved doctor who practiced family medicine in Oklahoma for many years before moving to Kansas City to be closer to his grandchildren and family. “He cherished his family,” the family said in a statement. His grandson, Reat, was a high school freshman who was active in debate, theater and had “a beautiful voice,” his family said.

    It was later reported in the newspapers that the grandfather and his grandson were Methodists, which was validated by their pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton. Since the shooting, the reverend has tried to comfort Mindy Corporon, who is William Lewis Corporon’s daughter and Reat’s mother. “They are devastated but they have a real deep faith and strength of conviction,” Hamilton said. “They are overwhelmed with grief. They don’t believe that this was God’s will. This person was doing something evil and not keeping with God’s will. They do believe that their loved ones are safe in the arms of God.”

    At a vigil Sunday night at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Mindy Corporon walked up to the podium and introduced herself as the mother and daughter of the community center victims. Those gathered gasped. “I know that they’re in heaven together,” she said.

    Jacob Schreiber, president of the community center, remembered the family fondly. “This is one of the nicest, kindest, most supportive families that we have here,” he said. “This has left us all breathless.” The gunman then drove to the retirement home, where he shot his third victim in the parking lot, Terri LaMommo. The third victim was also not Jewish. A visitor to the facility, Amy Rasmussen was helping with her grandmother’s laundry when the residents of the facility were warned by a staff member to move away from all windows. People were told by one of the staff that it was a tornado warning … and to stay away from the windows, because it was decided that telling the people would only cause panic Rasmussen reported.

    Miller, the shooter, is a “raging anti-Semite” who has posted extensively in online forums that advocate exterminating Jews, the Southern Poverty Law Center said. Miller has called Jews “swarthy, hairy, bow-legged, beady-eyed, parasitic midgets.” According to the SPLC, Miller founded and ran the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in the 1980s. He was forced to shut down after the SPLC sued him for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and intimidating African-Americans. He then formed another group, the White Patriot Party.

    In the late 1980s, Miller spent three years in prison on weapons charges and for plotting the assassination of SPLC founder Morris Dees. The short sentence was a result of a plea bargain he struck with federal prosecutors. In exchange, he testified against 14 white supremacists in a sedition trial in Arkansas in 1988.

    “He was reviled in white supremacist circles as a ‘race traitor,’ and, for a while, kept a low profile,” according to an SPLC profile of him. “Now he’s making a comeback with The Aryan Alternative, a racist tabloid he’s been printing since 2005.” The District Attorney labeled the crime, a hate crime that carries extra penalties for Miller, if convicted. Even though Miller did not kill any Jews he still faces hate crime penalties because he specifically went about shooting people because he thought they were Jews.

    Miller is being held in ten million dollars bond on two counts of capital murder and one on premeditated murder and will be given a court appointed attorney as he claims that he cannot afford one. If he is convicted of the premeditated murder he can be given the death penalty.

    These are just a few examples of anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head yet once again. If you’re willing to go online and Google anti-Semitic groups you will encounter numerous groups that fall into that category; and if you keep on searching you will come across blogs and an infinite number of people hating us for only being Jewish. It is truly sad that these groups do exist just as it is truly sad that in today’s America, Jewish people like Donald Sterling walk this planet spewing his hatred of immigrants, the elderly (of which he is one), women and African Americans. (It seems that among our very own people there is bigotry and hatred. It absolutely boggles my mind how our people could possibly act in this disgusting manner. We, who have endured slavery, pogrom after pogrom, the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust and who have always faced every form of discrimination, and who have fought so hard to help not only ourselves, and every other minority as well (who even helped finance and establish the NAACP—Henry Moskowitz, was one of its co-founders), could bring into this world people like Sterling and Madoff is beyond comprehension). His thoughts and actions are reprehensible and he should be forced to sell his team and should also be ostracized from society. But he is not the only one to blame for his ugly and disgusting views; the entire NBA ownership knew of his views for years and did absolutely nothing. Why?

    It’s probability the old boys club mentality. Mr. Sterling has paid millions in fines for his discriminatory actions against most minorities and every NBA owner knew of his actions. And why did the local chapter of the NAACP (the civil rights group fighting for the rights of all people, but especially African Americans), present Sterling with awards not once, but twice? The local chapter has decided in their infinite wisdom, to return his contribution, but why did they accept the money when they also knew of his racist attitudes and activities? Perhaps the best answer can be summed up in one word; money. And if the truth be told there are many more charities that have accepted this man’s donations because they chose to turn a blind eye to his actions.

    We, as Americans and Jews must do something about the hate that is all around us. We must help educate the populace that our religion is one of acceptance, peace, help and inclusion and prosecute as well as educate the world as to the contributions our people have and will continue to make in terms of making the world a better pace, pass more anti hate laws, help raise the financial opportunity for those on the lower economic part of the latter, and cling to the hope that someday hatred and bigotry will finally be erased from not only our country, but the world as well. That has always been our dream.

    Let’s Blame the Jews

    2. April, 2014BlogComments are off

    At the end of the 14th century (1349), in Europe, scores were dying from the Black Plague and nobody knew why. That is, until a scapegoat was found. On January 9, 1349, nearly the entire Jewish population of Basel, Switzerland, was massacred by the townspeople. Ignorant to the causes of the plague, the people and local leaders of Switzerland, France and Germany accused Jews of poisoning wells. Most were burnt alive.



    9. March, 2014BlogComments are off

    As a Hebrew teacher as well as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah mentor, I am often confronted with parent’s pleas of somehow instilling within their child a greater love of everything Jewish, while preparing them for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah within a year. Oh yes, and also teach them about the holidays, customs and traditions as well.

    While I welcome these challenges, I get to spend perhaps 30-40 hours a year with my students with maybe 20 hours of homework (at the most); while elementary school teachers spend somewhere in the area of 750 hours a year in with their students, plus at least 125-150 additional hours of homework to teach their subject areas. In essence, elementary school teachers spend about 15 times more time with their students than do their Bar/Bat Mitzvah teachers and yet many parents hold us responsible for the same amount of subject areas. Of course, we usually work one on one and to a certain extent that levels the “playing field” somewhat.

    The issues discussed above are something that parents and Hebrew tutors, such as myself, have struggled with for hundreds of years, and the solution to this perplexing problem can best be summed up with the following words; It’s truly the responsibility of parents to instill values such as love of Judaism, holidays, etc., unless of course, the parents are willing to allow tutors approximately ten hours a week working with their children (most certainly unrealistic), to accomplish these goals.

    Over the years, I have read a tremendous amount of articles, attended meetings and classes, heard countless sermons and read books concerning this dilemma. While there have been some differences among the different groups, all seem to have drawn the same conclusion and I have borrowed much from these sources because I respect and agree with them.

    To illustrate this conclusion, there is a story that I read in one of the journals that is germane to our subject. Adults as well as children take for granted, the material or spiritual benefits if we have had them for a good portion of our lives. This is especially true of our youngsters when often times crave for what they don’t have, leaving parents and grandparents truly perplexed.

    I recently read a story that intrigued me and to my minds eye, illustrates my point. Here’s how the story goes; a family spent their summers in a small town (probably in the Catskills) with close friends, far away from the city. When one particular father came up to the facility early Fridays he brought with him little plastic trinkets for the youngsters. The girls especially loved them. Among the youngsters was a little girl whose family was in the jewelry business and were quite successful. Every Friday evening this young girl dressed beautifully for Shabbat topped off with diamond earrings sparkling in her pretty little ears. One Friday, the gentleman brought up cute little stick on earrings and the girl with the diamond earrings went running to her parents demanding that she wanted the stick on earrings and not the “ugly diamonds.”

    Many of our Jewish children are sometimes in that place. How many of our kids want a Christmas tree instead of celebrating the miracle of the victory of the Maccabees over the Assyrians and of the beauty of lighting the menorah? Or the beauty of the Passover (Pesach) Seder compared to an Easter egg hunt? We have these and many more beautiful diamonds in our possession, yet many of our children seem to want to celebrate these other holidays as well.The question is often asked; “how do we get our children to recognize the beauty of our Jewish diamonds over the stick on gentile diamonds?”

    The answer must begin in the home with the celebration of Shabbat every Friday evening with everyone in the family present. The beauty of singing lih-cha-doe-dee which welcomes into our homes the Sabbath Queen; the lighting of Shabbat Candles by the mother and all females in our family. We should do all of that plus celebrate together the holidays; and so important; living by the rules of the Ten Commandments. The parents should bring “Yiddishkite” into the house and sometimes even discuss the importance of Torah, Israel and holding on to as many of the customs and traditions of our people that we can logically do.

    This cannot happen in a vacuum. This has to be planned and executed over a period of years daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. In a word, it’s a process that will create in your child as well as everyone in your sphere of influence a love of everything Jewish and your progeny will grow up not only loving what is Jewish, but respecting it as well. As stated earlier, this is the responsibility of the family unit, not the obligation of the Hebrew or Bar/Bat Mitzvah teacher. We just don’t have the time to do the impossible…and impossible it is. What we professionals can and should do is impart to your children the beauty of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service; the respect and pride that their parents and grandparents will feel at the success that they achieve at completing this significant goal in their lives and the pride that the Bar or Bat Mitzvah will feel having accomplished this important task.

    Those are the real “diamonds” that we Jews should give our children and with much mazal (because that too is an essential ingredient in the continuity of our people), they will continue on the traditions and customs of our people.

    A Righteous Individual?

    3. February, 2014BlogComments are off

    For many years, Francis Albert Sinatra (1915-1998), was regarded with mixed feelings by many who knew him as well as the public. On one hand, he had this fabulous voice that sold millions of records and had countless thousands of young women, called “bobby soxers” swooning over him. On the other hand, he led what some would call, a life of wine, women; and song and there were countless rumors of involvement with the Mafia (never proven). Of this, all are certain; Frank Sinatra was one tough character!

    So why am I writing about this complex person who led a life that many believe was always close to being on the edge? Because there was a side to this man that few knew. From the time of his early childhood until his death in 1998, he was very good to the Jewish people and to Israel!

    Few non Jews, but many Jewish people are aware that Frank Sinatra gave two concerts and helped raise $3,000,000.00 for Temple Sinai in Palm Springs, Cal., so that it could get started. He then showed up for Yom Kippur services when it opened. In addition to that, Frank Sinatra lived on the grounds of a Jewish country club at a time when Jews were not welcome in or at the non-Jewish country clubs.

    Although Frank Sinatra was born a Catholic he always held the state of Israel and the Jewish people very close to his heart. He also was a very strong proponent of civil rights for all people and opposed segregation and any other form of discrimination.

    In the early 1940’s, Frank Sinatra stepped up and helped raise over $1,000,000.00 at an Action for Palestine rally so that those Jews who survived the grip of the German war machine and the Holocaust could go to their ancient homeland, then called Palestine. He sat on the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and donated money to Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. As a result of his hard work for the Jewish people and Israel, Sinatra’s records and movies were banned in some Arab countries.

    Sinatra was a good friend of Teddy Kollek, a member of the Haganah (the secret Jewish army in Palestine before it became Israel), and eventually the long serving mayor of Jerusalem, ferret money to the Haganah so that they could purchase arms to defend themselves against the much larger and better equipped Arab armies. In fact, one time, Frank Sinatra himself carried over a million dollars to a pier and dropped off the money himself.

    Listed below are a few more of Frank Sinatra’s exploits during different times in his life that shows how he refused to tolerate anti-Semitism: Sinatra had many Jewish friends and as a youngster growing up in New Jersey, his neighbor, Mrs. Golden cared for him, and honored her by purchasing $250,000.00 in Israeli bonds. For many years he even wore a small mezuzah, which was a gift from Mrs. Golden. It was reported in Time magazine that at his own son’s christening, Sinatra walked out when the priest refused to let a Jewish friend be the godfather of his son. He once punched a guy at a party for making an anti-Semitic remark. He starred in the ten-minute film, The House I Live In, a movie opposing anti-Semitism. Sinatra won an honorary Oscar for the movie.

    I could continue to write about the positive exploits of Frank Sinatra and his attitude towards discrimination of any kind, but especially against the Jewish people, but I’m sure you get my point: Frank Sinatra went out of his way on numerous occasions to help Israel, the Jewish people and others as well; sometimes at great cost to himself.

    Despite the various rumors of his involvement with the Mafia and his ruckus leadership of the “Rat Pack,” Albert Francis Sinatra, deserves the Jewish people’s thanks and gratitude for helping us during his entire life. May his memory always be for a blessing.

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