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The Week In News

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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Dear readers, The Jewish nation has often been compared to a symphony. All types of instruments—which on their own may make opposite, clashing sounds—blend together to offer a melody full of body and character. While attending the annual HASC concert last week it dawned on me just how good a parable this is: 1. All are playing one tune, 2. …but with different ways of expressing it. 3. At times the focus is on one instrument having a solo. 4. Instead of negative feelings, the other members either play low background music or are ready pick up the song at with even more enthusiasm once the solo is done. 5. The beauty of the orchestra is because it’s a blend of so many different sounds. 6. The more cohesion there is between members of the orchestra, the better the result. 7. They all have their eye on one person; the conductor of the orchestra. He knows all the instruments, knows their strengths and weaknesses. And he knows when to call on a given instrument to lead the rest. The teachings of kabbalah tell us that we all originate from one soul. This soul was split and resplit through the generations and became the Jewish people. We may have very different talents. Some are great learners, some great organizers. Some pray with all their heart, and others have a burning Ahavas Yisrael. At times a specific way is highlighted for its beauty, at other times a different one is. And yet at other times, we focus on the entire orchestra together. Our beauty is that we play an ancient tune. This tune is the heart of civilization. Yet our orchestra is missing a main ingredient; the conductor. Without one, the band is in disarray at times. The wrong instrument may take the limelight, or the wrong song may be played altogether. We long for our Moshe Rabbeinu, a leader who knows each of us and knows how to lead us, when to defend and when to demand. We yearn for the descendant of David HaMelech who will lead the world out of darkness and confusion and into a world of light and revelation. We yearn for Mashiach Tzidkeinu. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,


T H E P R E M I E R J E W I S H N E W S PA P E R H I G H L I G H T I N G L A’ S O R T H O D OX C O M M U N I T Y The Jewish Home is an independent bi-weekly newspaper. Opinions expressed by writers are not neces­sarily the opinions of the publisher or editor. The Jewish Home is not responsible for typographical errors, or for the kashrus of any product or business advertised within. The Jewish Home contains words of Torah. Please treat accordingly. FOR HOME DELIVERY, OR TO HAVE THE LATEST ISSUE EMAILED TO YOU FREE OF CHARGE, SEND A MESSAGE TO EDITOR@JEWISHHOMELA.COM

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home

LINK Kollel Holds “Yeshiva for a Half-Day” Program on Halachic Medical Ethics By Rabbi Eli Stern

The LINK Kollel in Los Angeles held a very successful half-day, yeshiva-style learning program on the legal holiday of December 25th. The packed house spent three and a half hours delving into various halachic issues on the cutting edge of medical technology. The first half of the program dealt with very important “end of life” issues as they pertain to contemporary medical procedures. The baal habatim first prepared for the shiurim by learning the sugyos inside the Gemara, the Rambam, and the Shulchan Aruch with members of the LINK Kollel. Then, Rabbi Mordechai Lebhar, LINK’s Rosh Kollel, gave a masterful halachic presentation delineating the views of contemporary poskim in the delicate issues of withdrawing life support (respirators and DNI orders), resuscitation of critically ill patients (DNR orders), pain management with morphine (which bear a risk of passive euthanasia), organ transplants, artificial hearts, and other subjects. Rabbi Lebhar was followed by Rabbi Jason Weiner, the director of Pastoral Care at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in L.A. Rabbi Weiner related many stories that highlighted the dangers and risks of the medical establishment’s guidelines in these areas. He included several inspiring stories of how people who were given up for dead by the doctors survived and even become completely healthy again. The last part of the program featured a fascinating shiur by the renowned philanthropist and m’chaber sefarim, Reb Zvika Ryzman. The topic was related to the recent medical “discovery” of a few women who actually have two wombs. Before turning to Jewish texts, renowned L.A. urologist, Dr. Ernest Agatstein—himself a well-known maggid shiur for Daf Yomi—offered a medical introduction. Next, Reb Zvika discussed the halachic ramifications of this discovery, in particular in relationship to the mitzvah of pidyon haben (which is applicable to the first male child that comes out of the womb). He brought a number of brilliant proofs from other areas of Shas for both sides of the argument. It was indeed a most productive way of spending a day off from work, as well as educating people on the myriad of challenges confronting frum Jews in today’s medical climate.

TheHappenings Week In News



TheHappenings Week In News

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Israel’s First English-Language Computer Science Degree for Women is Now in Session Advertorial Last year, the Jerusalem College of Technology made a groundbreaking announcement. After much consideration and planning, it was launching Israel’s first English-language computer science degree for women, responding to a strong demand by non-Hebrew-speaking religious women to study computer science in Israel in a religious-friendly environment. Fast forward one year later, and the program is off to a terrific start in its inaugural semester. As part of JCT’s Machon Tal School,

where over 2500 women study in undergraduate and graduate tracks, the computer science degree for women is a three-year degree, opening this year with just under 20 students. The degree is fully recognized by Israel’s Council of Higher Education, making all credits fully transferrable. “The first year of our women’s computer science program in English has gone incredibly well, and we can’t wait to see the program grow and develop,” said Siona Margrett, director of the program. “It’s so inspiring to see these strong, religious

women move to Israel and pursue a college degree in a STEM field. There is a feeling of community among our first class, where they really help and support each other. And because it’s only the first year, and the student body is relatively small, it provides a great opportunity for friendship and mentorship.” The program was built off the existing success of JCT’s International Program in English for men, which allows students to continue learning with their rabbis in yeshivot in Israel while simultaneously ob-

taining strong professional training in the areas of business or computers. The wellknown beit midrash on campus, headed by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, also offers a place to study Torah while the students complete their academic courses. Following three critically formative and intensive years of study in both men’s and women’s programs, students emerge prepared not only to embark on successful career paths, but also to forge life paths that maintain an abiding fidelity to Torah and Israel.

“Elevating” Education for Jews with Autism: Meromim Israel Rebecca Klempner A new residential school, Meromim Israel, opens this month to serve a long-neglected segment of Jewish students: adolescent boys aged 13-17 on the autism spectrum. Under the direction of Netanel Goldstein, Meromim will combine individualized academic and therapeutic programs, recreation, and a nurturing residential environment to provide specialized therapy in an Israeli setting. “High functioning” teens with autism have often fallen through the cracks in the day school system. Many face social and emotional difficulties which mainstream teachers find challenging to cope with, yet most will succeed (or even excel) at academic tasks. This makes most Jewish special needs programs unsuitable for them. As a result, many Orthodox children with autism end up in public schools or non-public, non-Jewish schools which specialize in maximizing the potential of the autistic student. Some of these children will thrive physically and intellectually in such settings, but flounder spiritually. Originally from L.A., Meromim’s founders, Adam and Chani Rosenberg, sent one of their children to a secular residential program of this description in Utah. Upon their child’s return to Israel, the Rosenbergs dreamed of creating a non-profit, Jewish residential therapeutic center for teenagers with high-functioning autism. While their child is now too old for such a program, they knew many other families could benefit. They chose the name “Meromim,” alluding to “elevation.” When the Rosenbergs sought an executive director who could help make this dream a reality, a friend connected them

with Netanel Goldstein. A recent oleh, Goldstein has a BA in Psychology from YU and an MA in Adolescent Special Education from Hunter College. More importantly, he has extensive experience in special ed—at Camp HASC—and several years of teaching and school administration under his belt. He has worked in the past with autistic individuals across the spectrum. Goldstein has seen abundant hashgachah pratis since his hire. “I have to say, from finding the right site, to finding staff members, it’s been a direct hand from Hashem.” That’s not to say there haven’t been bumps. “The greatest challenge has been bureaucratically, defining under whose auspices we fall under. Being that we are the first of its kind, we are paving the way both in terms of standards and bureaucratically.” Meromim is more than a school: it offers room and board, multiple types of therapy, job training, Shabbat observance, and more. A program like Meromim is something for which Orthodox parents of kids with autism have yearned for a long time. “What has given me the most pleasure,” explains Goldstein, “has been hearing from families and therapists both in Israel and abroad how much this will help Jewish families around the world.” He acknowledges that sending a child away to school can be hard on the parents, not just the student, even when the school is a Jewish one. Yet, the school’s location in Moshav Luzit, just 20 minutes from Beit Shemesh, will connect students with the Land of Israel and allow them to receive specialized services without forgoing daily prayer, Shabbat obser-

vance, and the like. Running the program in Israel also makes it less expensive than secular residential programs in the U.S. One of the significant challenges of students who have high-functioning autism is that they are often twice exceptional, having certain deficits, but also abundant talent and skills in other areas, even to the point of giftedness. Goldstein says, “Whether a student comes in with a specific skill or talent or not, our goal is to prepare the student and to give each student skill sets needed to succeed in the world. A recent article published on Wired UK discussed people with autism. In the article it mentioned how detail-oriented people with autism are. “Our goal is to harness each student’s gift and use it for good, to show the student how much he can accomplish and all the options that are available to him.” While planning and preparation began in the middle of last year, Meromim prepared to host students at the residence as of January 1st. Goldstein explains, “Our staff is in place, the rooms are furnished, the kitchen is available and ready to be used.” They are aiming to start with 10 students but will take students even before they meet that target. The school offers both secular and Judaic studies, with a focus on project-based learning. Goldstein offers an example: “While the students learn math concepts, they will then use those concepts and apply it to designing and building a picnic table that sits at least three people comfortably. We will incorporate halachos of meals/ bentching in that unit… Practicality leads to mastery and the students get attached to

these learning experiences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.” In addition to offering individual and group therapy, the school expects to include gardening, small animal care, equine-assisted therapy, and canine therapy. I asked about a student who might want to attend college. “The students are not required to take the GED. [However,] our curriculum is aligned with the GED so when students return to their homes they will not have fallen behind in their secular studies requirements.” When asked what part of his new job gives him the most pleasure, Goldstein says, “I personally enjoy broadening the world to individuals who see the world in a very concrete way. It’s like taking a blank water coloring book page and brushing water onto it to reveal the colors. The colors they begin to see; the improvements and jumps they make are incredible for them; the joy and nachas I get knowing I’m helping a student become more social or giving him the tools that he’ll use in the future to advocate for himself or solve a problem—there are no words to describe it. Additionally, it’s a tremendous feeling knowing that after a student finishes at Meromim, he can successfully reintegrate into his family, and the family—through our family therapy session—now will have the tools they need to live as one unit.” Any family or professional who wants to learn more about Meromim can visit their website,, or they can email Mr. Goldstein directly at

The Week In News

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home




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OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News Torah

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home


in 4

Parshas Va’eira By Eytan Kobre

Weekly Aggada And Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aharon, and he commanded them about the Jewish people and about Pharaoh, King of Egypt, to bring out the Jewish people from the land of Egypt (Shemos 6:13) Hashem equated His command with respect to the Jewish people and with respect to Pharoah to demonstrate that the redemption of the Jewish people and the punish-

ment of Pharaoh shared a common objective. R’ Levi likened it to a king who had a sprawling orchard, covered with both fruit-bearing trees and non-fruit-bearing trees. The king’s subjects asked him, “What benefit do you derive from the non-fruit-bearing trees?” “I need the non-fruit-bearing trees every bit as much as I need the fruit-bearing ones,” replied the king. “For if I had only fruit-bearing trees, what would I use for construction and what would I use for firewood?”

That is the reason Hashem equated His treatment of the Jewish people and Pharaoh: just as His (Hashem’s) praise ascends from Gan Eden from the mouths of the righteous, so too does it ascend from Gehinnom from the mouths of the wicked. And what is it that the wicked say about Hashem? You have said well, You have judged well, You have purified well, You have defiled well, You have obligated well, You have taught well, You have shown well (Shemos Rabba 7:4).

Weekly Mussar And I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov, as G-d Almighty, but My name Hashem I have not made known to them (Shemos 6:3) On the words, “And I appeared,” Rashi explains that Hashem was saying that He had appeared “to the Forefathers” (Rashi, Shemos 6:3). But that does not seem to add anything to the plain words of the Torah – appearing to “the “Forefathers” is the same as appearing “to Avraham, to Yitzchok, and to Yaakov.” So what is Rashi adding? R’ Shammai Zahn (1920-2001), rosh yeshiva of the Netzach Yisroel yeshiva in Sunderland, England, answers this question by asking another one: How could Hashem have criticized Moshe Rabbeinu for not comporting himself like Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, who never questioned Hashem’s ways and simply believed in Him wholeheartedly and unquestioningly? Perhaps Moshe Rabbeinu never quite reached the level of Avraham, Yitzchok, and

Yaakov; why, then, should he be held accountable for not comporting himself as they did? Rashi therefore emphasizes that Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov were not mere exemplars for Moshe Rabbeinu – they were his “forefathers.” Their DNA was his DNA. He was held to their standards not merely because they came before him and served as a role model for him but because they made him and were part of him. An illustrious pedigree can be a source of strength, pride, and inspiration. But it is also a challenge; inasmuch as we are made of the same stuff as those who came before us, we may be held to their lofty standards and taken to task if we fall short of them.

Weekly Anecdote And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them; just as Hashem had spoken (Shemos 7:13) R’ Yitzchok Isaac Eichenstein of Ziditchov (1805-1873), author of the Likutei Maharya, was widely known as a “ba’al mofes” – a rebbe who performed miraculous and seemingly supernatural feats. But as his legend grew amongst the G-d fearing Jews of Galicia, so did his perceived infamy grow among Galicia’s sizeable and expanding “enlightened” population. These latter Jews were disbelievers in the truest sense of the word. And their cynical skepticism about R’ Yitzchok Isaac and his wonders was no exception. They downplayed and outright denied and mocked the rebbe’s so-called “miracles” and “feats” as nothing but the stuff of fable and fantasy.

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The Week In News Torah

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Once, a member of this so-called “enlightened” movement managed to secrete himself in the rebbe’s court, where he lurked for a week, tracking the rebbe’s every movement. At the conclusion of his mission, this reformer published a screed in a weekly Jewish circular, in which he sought to debunk the rebbe’s acts as mere hypnosis, suggestion, and subterfuge – it was all just a hoax, he wrote. When word of this reformer’s rant reached the rebbe’s camp, one follower of the rebbe belittled the article as the mere drivel it was. “The Torah tells us of Moshe Rabbeinu and the wondrous ‘signs’ he performed,” the rebbe’s follower began. “But think about it: why is it that when Moshe Rabbeinu performed these wondrous ‘signs’ for the Jewish people, ‘the people believed’ (Shemos 4:30-31), yet when the same wondrous ‘signs’ were performed before Pharaoh, Pharaoh was unmoved and remained a skeptic (Shemos 7:13)?


Same Moshe Rabbeinu and same wondrous ‘signs’ to such different effect? How could that be? “It must be,” continued the rebbe’s follower, “that the difference lies in the eyes gazing upon the wondrous signs – whether they are Jewish eyes or the eyes of the cynical Pharaoh…”

Weekly Halacha And Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aharon, and he commanded them about the Jewish people and about Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to bring out the Jewish people from the land of Egypt (Shemos 6:13) Hashem commanded Moshe and Aharon to accord some honor to Pharaoh (Rashi). Upon seeing a non-Jewish ruler, we are to recite a special blessing: “...that He has given of His honor to flesh and blood” (Brachos 58a; Shul-


chan Aruch, Orach Chaim 224:8). Generally, the blessing is recited (with Hashem’s name) upon seeing a ruler who wields enough power to execute or pardon from execution (Yechaveh Daas 2:28; Radvaz 1:296). The blessing is recited (with Hashem’s name) even upon seeing a democratically-elected leader, provided there is no superior figure or body with the ability to nullify the ruler’s decision, or if the ruler has the power to declare war against another country (see e.g. Mishna Berura 224:12; Halacha Berura, Orach Chaim 224:14). According to some, however, if the ruler does not wear special royal clothing, the blessing is recited without Hashem’s name (Responsa Yabia Omer 8:22(25)). Indeed, Rav Ovadyah Yosef notes that when President Nixon visited Israel, the blessing was recited without Hashem’s name because he was not wearing special clothing of royalty. Most authorities hold that even a

The Weekly Halacha is not meant for practical purposes and is for discussion purposes only. Please consult your own rav for guidance.

Eytan Kobre is a writer, speaker, and attorney living in Kew Gardens Hills. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail

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blind person should recite the blessing (with Hashem’s name) if he or she knows the ruler is present, while one who is congenitally blind should recite the blessing without Hashem’s name (Mishna Berura 224:11 [citing the Pri Megadim]). One who sees a ruler through glass (e.g., window) should recite the blessing with Hashem’s name (Shaarei Teshuva, Orach Chaim 224:3), but Hashem’s name should not be recited when seeing the ruler through some form of media transmission (e.g., livestream over the internet) (Yechaveh Daas 2:28).

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Torah Musings The Week In News

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home

SMART REWARDS Part II Sarah Pachter

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and could indeed have changed the world. - Unknown Monk, 1100 A.D. Ideal goal setting reflects a worldview similar to the one illustrated by this quote. We often have lofty ideas of achievement and possibility, but when we begin the process, our motivation and capacity can quickly dwindle. Utilizing microsteps can have a more profound impact on our overall growth. The three steps include making smaller goals, forgiving our errors, and rewarding success. These simple steps can be applied to any type of goal we desire, whether spiritual, financial, or health-related. After years of failure, this year microsteps enables me to succeed in reaching my last New Year’s resolution, instead of simply wishing for change and not seeing it. Start Small You may have already chosen a S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goal, but I suggest cutting that goal in half. Our eyes are usually larger than our bodies can handle

when it comes to goal setting, and what we initially assume is small and insignificant quickly becomes too burdensome for us to achieve consistently. Scaling down is impactful because bite-size steps are the way we achieve any larger goal. My first book, Small Choices, Big Changes, explains the premise behind why small goals actually work. If you try to make a huge change, you are subconsciously messaging that your intention to succeed is minimal. Our inner selves review large resolutions and respond with, There she goes again, swearing off X forever. Yeah, I’d like to see that happen. Counterintuitively, your lofty goal may actually be assisting failure. Rather, pick something small, break it into several mini-steps, and begin only with the first one. For example, imagine that a person would like to begin an exercise regimen. Rather than vowing to run five miles daily for the rest of your life, just commit to running for one mile on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next month. Of course, this can be applied in the spiritual arena as well. Suppose someone is attempting to begin reciting blessings over food for the first time. Perhaps one could only say brachot over yogurt—and possibly tighten the goal further by only reciting this brachah on Monday afternoons. Whatever your goal, it needs to be small enough that no matter what, rain or shine, you stick to it. Once it becomes habitual, you are then ready to add layers to your mini-goal, such as doing it more often or for longer periods of time. You may think that minuscule goals such as these are too small to have a real impact, but that’s simply not true. When



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we succeed with smaller goals, we build our confidence to add more. That’s the first secret to sustainable growth. It does not matter how small your goal is as long as you keep moving in a positive direction. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “You have to fly towards your dreams; but if you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Forgive Errors Forgiving ourselves when we make a misstep is not just about displaying compassion. Rather, it is essential in our ability to move forward with our goals. When we are too harsh, we can create guilt that is paralyzing to growth. Regret, however, can be motivating. Guilt whispers, I AM bad. Regret says, I did something bad, but that does not make me bad. Sporadic success (aka “intermittent failure”) is actually something to be proud of. Sarah Yocheved Rigler writes1 that sometimes failure creates dejection, but in the world of baseball, even if you strike out two out of three times, it’s considered very good. A batting average of .333 percent makes you a rockstar. There is no shame in making mistakes, for it is part of human nature. She continues, “Forgive mistakes. We must treat ourselves the way we would a small child, after all, we are all children of Hashem.” Reward Success The most important step in solidifying change is the reward. Assume you reach your first mini-goal, and it has become a habit. Before adding layers to that goal it is essential to reward the body for collaborating with the soul. I only recently realized the impact of reward. Regardless of age, our bodies are childlike and understand the language of gratification. Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen, a world-renowned Torah scholar and author, explains that if we don’t provide reward specific for the body, then our neshamah, only capable of growth through the vehicle of the body, is going to have a harder time making changes. A physical reward that is meant to appease the body gives a fighting chance for cooperating with the desires of the soul. The promise of reward does not just motivate us to change; the real benefit happens after we administer the reward. Sarah Yocheved Rigler writes2 about an

1 theme/Neuroplasticity-Yom-Kippur-and-Real-Change.html?s=ss1&mobile=yes 2

idea that has transformed my relationship to reward. Dr. Norman Doidge explains that a second basic principle of neuroplasticity is: “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Dr. Doidge tells about experiments done with children with major language processing problems. They worked on a computer program to actually change their brains. When the child achieved a goal, something funny would happen: the character in the animation would eat the answer, get a funny look on his face, etc. Dr. Doidge writes: “This reward is a crucial feature of the program, because each time the child is rewarded, his brain secretes such neurotransmitters as dopamine and acetylcholine, which help consolidate the map changes he has just made. (Dopamine reinforces the reward, and acetylcholine helps the brain ‘tune in’ and sharpen memories.)” In other words, rewards for positive achievement and behavior actually sharpen our brains to enable us to perform the action more easily. If you then map changes and make those pathways stronger, not only is there a decreased likelihood of mistakes, our chance of automatically trying again after failing increases. Neuropathways that are rewarded fire together in the future. Then, future autopilot behavior becomes more likely. I started an initiative with my family to complete Sefer Tehillim in honor of our beloved aunt who passed away. Upon finishing, we celebrated with physical rewards for all! It was the first time I had rewarded myself for completing tehillim. I can’t say that I actually felt the dopamine solidifying my synapses, but sure enough, I started again with more zerizut (alacrity)! We see rewards administered frequently in Torah study. After completing the Torah on Simchat Torah, we dance, sing and share sweets to mark the occasion. We throw candy at bar mitzvahs. The reward of dance, song, and of course candy may seem trivial, but it actually strengthens the neurons that we used to learn Torah. In order to make changes, we need micro-steps to help follow through. These steps include starting small, forgiving ourselves, and rewarding success. May we all reach our goals, so that by this time next year, we too can celebrate and create a (slightly) greater list for self-improvement.



The Week In News Feature

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The |Jewish HomeHome OCTOBER 29, 2015 The Jewish

just Another Protest or the Beginning of a

Revolution? By Tzvi Dear

Population unrest and mass protests are nothing new in Iran. They normally have a “jack in the box” quality to them – although they pop up with great force, they are smothered with greater power. Whether or not this current iteration of mass protests will suffer the same fate remains to be seen.


he Islamic Republic of Iran is a hybrid of religious dictatorship and competitive elections. According to Akbar Ganji, a dissident Iranian journalist, “The regime generates its own opposition, see-sawing back and forth between conservatives and reformists.” Why would a repressive regime generate its own opposition? Perhaps to control and manipulate protests. Revolutions and protests have historically been a recurring theme in Iran and have often been used by those in power to achieve their desired outcomes in a roundabout way. In 1963, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi started the White Revolution which pitted the peasant class against the middle class. The revolution’s platform was to

create more fairness through creating more liberal social and economic policies which would advantage the peasant class. However, the consensus is that the Shah created this revolution in order to make the working class an ally and to thwart the threat to his power from the middle class. Although the Shah’s plan worked for several years, he was eventually ousted from power himself sixteen years later during the 1979 Revolution. It was the 1979 Revolution which created the two-headed monster that is now the Iranian government. Under the Shah, Iran was socially liberal and a secular state. Religious clerics were largely banned from serving in government roles, and there were numerous restrictions on public religious observance. In 1979, Iran’s secular intellectuals – who were fed up with the Shah’s economic policies – joined forces with the Islamists to rid the country of the Shah. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an exiled Islamic cleric, became the face of the revolution and triumphantly returned to Iran two weeks after the Shah and his family had fled the country, deeming the revolution a success. But then a natural schism arose – the secular intellectuals wished to create a western democracy; Kho-

meini and his throngs of religionists wanted a theocracy based on Islamic religious laws. Political compromises were made. But in an effort to establish himself as the undisputed leader of Iran, Khomeini pulled a move that has been repeated ever since in Iran: he turned the masses against America. He whipped up anger at the United States for its refusal to extradite of the Shah, who at that time was undergoing medical treatment in the United States. Eventually, protesters loyal to Khomeini stormed the U.S. Embassy and took all of the embassy’s personnel hostages. This allowed Khomeini to establish himself as an “anti-imperialist” and brought him further support. Within a short time, Khomeini succeeded at forming an Islamic republic, which was a religious government based on Khomeini’s vision of Islam and which heralded him as the supreme leader.


ince that time, although the Iranian government has played homage to elections, the government has remained broadly authoritarian. However, perhaps due to the crumbs of democratic government that exist and the fading memories of what Iran

was like as a secular state before 1979, not all Iranians are on board with the current totalitarian theocracy. There is a strong movement of people, known as “seditionists,” who believe in the predominance of elected institutions over unelected religionists. The seditionists are not merely a small minority in Iran. In 2009, millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest the fraudulent results of the presidential elections which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “won.” The protests came to be known as the Green Movement or the Persian Awakening. They reached their apex when up to 3 million peaceful demonstrators turned out on Tehran’s streets with the simple slogan: “Where is my vote?” Although the election results were the catalyst for the protests, on a more fundamental level, the demonstrations were aimed at the repressive regime’s rampant violation of human rights. The protestors were fed up with restrictions on freedom of expression and association, religious and gender-based discrimination, and the frequent use of the death penalty, including on juvenile offenders and those with alternative lifestyles. The Green Movement’s protesters gave up Iran’s traditional chant of “death to Israel” and “death to Amer-



The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015 JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News Feature

ica,” preferring to engage in chants such as “death to no one.” For a moment, it seemed like the Green Movement was the precursor of the Arab Spring, which took place a year later and eventually toppled numerous repressive Islamic regimes. The protesters turned to the world for support. Specifically, they wanted the backing of the United States’ new internationally popular president, Barack Obama. Their chants included calls for Obama to support them, such as “Obama, you are either with us or with them.” Obama publicly downplayed the prospect of real change and posited that the leaders that the protesters supported did not represent fundamental change. Rather than lend support to the grievance of the election having been fraudulent, Obama made a tepid and counterintuitive statement. “The world is watching and inspired by their participation,” he said, “regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was.” His limp statement of support was seen as a slap in the face to the protesters who made the election being fraudulent their main selling point on the international stage. As to why Obama broke with American precedent of supporting democracy seekers and failed to support the protesters, in his book, The Iran Wars, Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon details how Obama avoided helping the Green Movement because he feared the demonstrations would sabotage his secret outreach to Iran and his goal of reaching a nuclear deal with the repressive regime. Solomon discloses that, behind the scenes, Obama overruled advisers who implored him to show support for the protesters in order to facilitate a transition from dictatorship to democracy in Iran. “Obama from the beginning of his presidency tried to turn the country’s ruling clerics from foes to friends,” writes Solomon. Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time, has since expressed her regret about the U.S. failing to back the Green Movement. By early 2010, the regime had quashed all public displays of opposition. Iranian police systematically arrested leaders of the movement and

subjecting them to torture and kangaroo courts. The government killed at least 30 people and zealously detained thousands, including dozens of leading government critics and human rights lawyers, whom the government held without charge, many of them in solitary confinement.


lthough the Green Movement was crushed, protests in Iran have sprung up from time to time and have increased in recent months. Each time such protests erupt, the question becomes whether this protest will snowball into Iran’s Arab Spring and lead to a regime change or whether the demonstrations will once again

is efforting to stoke protests, in the hopes of ‘getting the big one going.’” Feeling squeezed because of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, the Iranian regime raised gasoline prices fifty-percent last November. That, and other economic hardships, led to demonstrations across Iran. The regime responded by killing hundreds of people and detaining thousands, according to international rights organizations, opposition groups, and local journalists. Protests such as that recent one and the ensuing human rights violations by the Iranian government have been viewed as little skirmishes in that grand scheme of things that won’t lead to change in the dynamics on the ground. But the events of last week – Iran

“We are not citizens. We never were. We are captives.” be stamped out by heavy boots. In a 2018 opinion article in Newsweek, an Iran expert declared, “Obama abandoned the Iranians when they fought for freedom – Trump must not do the same. One tenet of Trump’s foreign policy can certainly be said to be: do the opposite of whatever Obama did. As such, given the chance, Trump would certainly back the protesters. In fact, indications are that through his economic sanctions on Iran, Trump

shooting down a plane departing from Tehran Airport while attempting to lob missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq – have reignited the protests and have given them a different shade and feeling. According to IranWire, a site for Iranian citizen journalists in exile, “The shooting down of the passenger plane is already being billed as Iran’s Chernobyl moment, the 1986 disaster in the Soviet Ukraine which exposed all the incompetence, state deception,


and rot in that regime. The plane crash saga has done the same for the Islamic Republic.” Truthfully, the protests and the aftermath of Tehran’s downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 possess eerie similarities to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986: denials from the regime, attempted cover-ups, evidence from foreign powers, and then a reluctant admission from the government. What’s missing here, though, is someone from within making a decision to enact change. The only person with the power in Tehran to do so is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Past experience has seen that he’d prefer to deal with protests with an iron fist as opposed to a willingness to bend to the people’s will.


t a candlelight vigil on Saturday to commemorate victims, protesters called for Supreme Leader Khamenei to step down. Familiar chants of “death to America” were traded for “death to the dictator” and “death to the liar.” In one video, demonstrators chanted, “Khamenei have shame. Leave the country.” Without providing details, Iran’s judiciary said on Tuesday that it had arrested an undisclosed number of suspects involved in the accidental downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane that killed all 176 aboard. However, the protests have since expanded into a wider call for democratic reforms. For now, Tehran has turned to its usual method of quelling protests: violence and manipulation. A video circulated on Monday of anti-regime protesters helping a woman bleeding profusely after being shot by Iranian police. One witness told the UK Guardian that “groups, many led by women, gathered in Tehran’s central Azadi Square on Sunday evening wearing masks and scarves to hide their identities, confronting riot police and officers in plain cloths,” and chanting, “down with this wilayat [Iran’s theocratic system of government]!” In another video, which has since gone viral around the globe, crowds of people outside Beheshti University


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The Week In News Feature

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home

refused to trample over giant U.S. and Israeli flags that had been painted on the ground, possibly indicating that the Iran regime’s normal “change the target” tactic won’t work this time. In the past, Iranians had been happy to burn Israeli and American flags as a distraction for their woes and as a way to channel their anger. “They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” one group of protesters chanted outside a university in Tehran, according to a video posted on Twitter. President Trump, in Twitter messages written in both Farsi and English on Saturday, called on Tehran to allow human rights groups to report facts from the ground and warned the Iranian regime that the “world is watching.” He added, speaking directly to the Iranian people: “To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely

and are inspired by your courage.” Whether these protests will mushroom into a revolution remains to be seen. For now, what’s blatantly missing is a leader and an organized effort by the demonstrators. Most of the protests so far have been spontaneous and a grassroots effort of many

groups drawn together under a common cause – but without a declared common ideology. Without a single leader or a unified, clear message, it would be almost impossible to topple the 40-year-old Islamic regime. One thing that protesters have on their side is a possible turning of

conservatives from within the country who had previously supported the government. For example, the editor-in-chief of right-wing Tasnim news agency – which is tied to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps – recently criticized Iran’s leaders for attempting to lie to the public. “Officials who misled the media are guilty too,” Kian Abdollahi said on Twitter. “We are all ashamed before the people.” In that same vein, Iran’s most popular female actor criticized the government on Sunday, telling millions of Instagram followers that Iranians were “not citizens,” but “captives.” “I fought this dream for a long time and didn’t want to accept it. We are not citizens. We never were. We are captives,” Taraneh Alidoosti wrote. With raging protests, a disappointed people, and former supporters willing to vocally admonish the regime, it’s possible that Khamenei and his cohorts may have a harder time stuffing the jack back into the box this time around.



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Emotional Health The Week In News

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Are You Ready For Emotional Intimacy? Rabbi Dov Heller, LMFT

Everyone can fall in love, but not everyone can stay in love. Falling in love is easy; it doesn’t require emotional strength. Falling in love is getting high on someone else. It’s like popping a pill. Falling in love is selfish because I am using you to make me feel good. Falling in love is like fireworks that for a moment burst into exotic, colorful patterns but which quickly burn out and disintegrate in the darkness of the night sky. To stay in love, one must have the capacity to be intimate and intimacy requires great emotional strength. Intimacy is about connecting at the emotional and spiritual core of one’s being with the emotional and spiritual core of another’s being. A person with a weak emotional core will likely become overwhelmed by

the intense feelings that are evoked by this type of relational experience and feel a need to retreat and disconnect for the sake of self-preservation. Below, I’ll list 20 questions to evaluate your intimacy potential. This is not meant to be seen as a scientific test. It is meant to give you some guidelines for learning more about yourself and to help you become more aware of some of the essential elements necessary for building and maintaining a mature, intimate relationship over the long run. Score each question on a scale of 1 (this is not true about me) to 5 (this is very true about me): 1. I am not afraid to tell people how I really feel and be vulnerable. 2. I can express my needs without fear

of being rejected or shamed. 3. I am not afraid of being abandoned. 4. I am not afraid of being engulfed or smothered by another person. 5. I am not a people-pleaser, nor do I need other people’s approval to validate my self-worth. 6. I like who I am and know I am lovable. 7. I am a good listener and respect other people’s feelings. 8. I don’t have any shameful secrets to hide. 9. I am able to be myself no matter who I’m with. 10. I am not threatened by others being different than me and truly desire that others be their unique selves. 11. I am confident and can handle criticism reasonably well. 12. I accept myself with all my limitations, weaknesses, and character flaws. 13. I am a team player and a good problem solver who strives for win-win solutions. 14. I like shooting straight and don’t play games. 15. I enjoy giving pleasure to others and am not afraid of losing myself. 16. I am able to respect and love people even when I disagree with them. 17. I am not afraid of my feelings and am capable of experiencing a wide range of feelings without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down. 18. I am generally able to accept the bad along with the good aspects of people and do not split people into being all good or all bad. 19. I tend to remain pretty calm even under stress. 20. When someone disappoints or hurts me, I am open about my pain. What may be most useful is to take note of the questions you scored very low on, then use these as an opportunity to become more curious about those issues and what it says about you. I suggest that you think about how each issue may have interfered with your having satisfying relationships in the past or present. Six Ways to Strengthen your Intimacy Potential Looking for ways to improve in these areas? Here are some places to start. 1. Identify your greatest fear regarding being in a long-term, committed relationship, and get the help you need to come to terms with this fear. Until it is resolved, it is likely that this fear will prevent you from ever getting into a truly intimate re-

lationship. 2. Judaism’s definition of love is the pleasure we get when we identify someone with their virtues and accept them with their faults. Start practicing loving people you don’t particularly like. The challenge of loving someone is to be able to experience him or her as a whole person without splitting the person into being either all good or all bad. Idealizing someone as all good or demonizing someone as all bad will never lead to an authentic experience of love. 3. Practice being more emotionally open, honest, and vulnerable with people who you feel safe with, like family members and friends. Push yourself when you feel like withholding your feelings or opinions to express them. Then begin to practice with people you may not know as well and don’t feel as safe with. 4. If you tend to be a people-pleaser, practice saying “no” more often when that’s what you really want to say. Learn to tolerate the anxiety associated with saying no. 5. When on a date, make a conscious decision that you will not play games or allow the other person to play games. If you feel that the person you’re dating is not shooting straight, call him or her on it. Don’t be afraid of confrontation. Share how you feel in an assertive, not aggressive, way and try to have a conversation about your concern. You want the person to know that your goal is to get to know him or her better and that playing games will only hinder movement towards this goal. This exercise will also help to improve your communication and problem-solving skills. 6. Practice being a better listener, which means truly hearing what the other person says without reactivity, criticism, or giving your opinion on what he or she said. Just listen! Listening is a necessary skill for building true intimacy. Building emotional intimacy is the goal of every important relationship and is especially important in marriage. I believe that working on emotional intimacy is perhaps the most challenging aspect of building true shalom bayit and finding true marital happiness—but worth the effort. Rabbi Dov Heller is in private practice offering psychotherapy and personal mentoring for individuals and couples. He can be contacted at You may also visit his website at

JANUARY 23, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News


An American initiative to protect and uphold true Torah values in Eretz Yisrael




Vote in the WZO Congress Election to Protect it! *

American delegates are now being elected to: Decide the leadership positions of key national Israel organizations Create policy affecting Shmiras Shabbos, Kashrus and tradition at the Kosel Set standards of marriage, divorce and conversion Decide policy and funding affecting Jewish education in Israel and across the world Decide on the direction of the $5 billion budget (over 5 years)

Our slate represents the Yeshiva, Sephardic, Chasidic, and Israeli Torah communities of the United States.

Without our votes, the influence and decisions will be placed in the hands of those who will decide policies that are very often anti-Torah. Eretz HaKodesh is encouraged in its efforts by numerous rabbanim including HARAV YITZCHOK BERKOWITZ, HARAV ELYA BRUDNY and HARAV ASHER WEISS.

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