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The Week In News

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home



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The Week In News

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Dear readers,

We are living in a time of seeming uncertainty: Intolerance and outright hatred being shown right here in America. A militant Islamic government has promised revenge for U.S. military action, with Israel as one of the targets. And, in general, there’s an underlying feeling we’re in unknown territory. We are coming out of Asarah B’Teves, the day the Babylonian army encircled the walls of Yerushalayim. Interestingly, it’s symbolic of future hatred shown the Jewish people; the encirclement of outsiders forces a reality of the Jewish people as one nation. Although created by a negative force, we need to use this opportunity to enhance our ahavas Yisrael towards our families, our neighbors, shul members, and non-shul members. Each of us is an irreplaceable part of the Jewish people. Indeed, we’re taught that if even one person was missing at the giving of the Torah, we wouldn’t have received it! Practically, we each need to support each other, creating strong communities. A kind word, help finding a job, supporting community institutions, being vigilant, or even carrying a weapon… We need less I and more we. Wouldn’t it be grand if we genuinely respected and loved each other? Replacing the natural instinct of finding fault in those different than us with appreciation for each community, and each member of each community? Our history shows us that when we are in something together, Hashem grants us success in a miraculous way, if needed. Think of what a parent would give to have their children get along! That’s only a hint of how Hashem feels about us. It’s been a good few decades our leaders have told us we can finally hear the footsteps of Mashiach. Let us use this newfound energy of collectivism to be ready when he arrives. May the next Jewish fast day already be “…joy, celebration, and holidays for the house of Judah, and they will love truth and peace.” (Zechariah 8:19) 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

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The Week In News



Celebrating Torah Learning at the Los Angeles Siyum HaShas Yehudis Litvak In an atmosphere simultaneously festive and solemn, hundreds of local Daf Yomi learners completed Shas and began learning it anew at last Sunday’s Siyum HaShas here in Los Angeles. Held at Royce Hall at UCLA and attended by close to 1800 Jewish men and women of all ages, the siyum celebrated the learners’ monumental accomplishment while at the same time inspiring and encouraging everyone to learn Torah daily, on whatever level and in whatever amount works for them. The event began with a moving video presentation about the history of Daf Yomi, followed by recitation of tehillim for the local cholim, led by Rabbi Jason Weiner, senior chaplain at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Then Rabbi Shlomo Gottesman, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta of Greater Los Angeles and Chairman of Torah Projects of Agudath Israel of America, read a letter of brachah and chizzuk from the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of America, written especially for the Los Angeles event. “How beautiful is the sight and how the heart is gladdened to see the simchah, … the connection of all the talmidim and their wonderful wives and children to the Torah—the wellspring and source of all life... [L]earning Daf HaYomi … also serves to unite various groups in Klal Yisrael.” Rabbi Berish Goldenberg, Menahel of

Yeshiva Rav Isaacson Toras Emes, read a letter from Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, shlit”a, Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, who congratulated our community and encouraged increased Torah learning. Rabbi Jonathan Rosenberg, Rav of Congregation Shaarei Tzedek and chairman of the event, welcomed all the attendees on behalf of Agudath Israel of California. He spoke about the continuity of Torah. “The siyum haShas is just another rung on an endless ladder,” he said. While the world around us experienced significant changes since previous siyumim, the Torah we learn remains constant. “A siyum is not an official end, but a moment to reflect on what’s important,” he continued, urging everyone to claim their own chelek in the Torah. Next, Rabbi Dovid Ozeri, Rav of Yad Yosef Torah Center in Brooklyn, gave an inspirational talk about the power of Torah SheBaal Peh. Rabbi Ozeri also participated in the siyum haShas at the Metlife stadium in New York, which was attended by more than 90,000 people. He marveled at the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy that there would come a day when arenas and circuses would turn into batei midrash. “Take this inspiration with you,” he said. After a video presentation of the highlights of the national siyum haShas, Rabbi Dovid Revah, Rav of Congregation Adas

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The Week In News





Torah, completed the Shas on behalf of hundreds of the local mesaymim. He spoke about the meaning of Hadran, the text traditionally recited at a siyum, and encouraged everyone to use every opportunity to learn Torah. It was an emotional moment when Rabbi Revah recited the Hadran, followed by kaddish said by Mr. Raphy Nissel. The crowd erupted into joyous song, and despite the tight space, many attendees joined hands and danced around the hall with a palpable simchah. With everyone back in their seats, Mr. Yonatan Weiss began the next cycle of Daf Yomi with the first words of Masechta Brachos. He congratulated his fellow mesaymim, thanked the local maggidei shiur who teach Daf Yomi day in and day out, as well as the encouraging and supportive spouses of the learners. “This accomplishment is as much yours as it is ours,” he said. Mr. Weiss spoke about his own experience with learning Daf Yomi and the

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

tremendous impact it has had on him as a person. He described the new cycle as “an opportunity for a fresh new start,” saying that the siyum itself, with its large number of attendees, was reminiscent of kabbalas haTorah, where we can reconnect both to the Torah and to each other, as Torah binds us together. Then the attendees watched a video by Salvador Litvak, the “Accidental Talmudist,” where he told his own story of getting involved in Daf Yomi and how it affected his life. The video was followed by a special azkora for Rabbi Dovid Grossman, ztz”l, a beloved local rebbi and Rosh Yeshiva, as well as Keil Malei Rachamim and a dedication to the kedoshim murdered in the Holocaust. The final speaker, Rabbi Binyomin Eisenberger, Rav of Khal Heichal Hatefillah of Boro Park, emphasized that we celebrate not only a specific accomplishment, but the emotional connection with HaKadosh Baruch Hu and His Torah. He spoke about the challenge of being involved in the physical world, busy making a living, while at the same time maintaining that connection. We learn from Yaakov Avinu’s dream of a ladder. “You have your two feet on the ground, and maybe even below the ground, and you can still have [your head reaching the Heavens]… Yaakov Avinu set the tone for Klal Yisrael.” The event, beautifully organized by Tali Merewitz of Events Enchanted, concluded with a powerful minchah, inspiring the attendees to learn and grow.






L'ilui Nishmat Malka Esther Bat Tzvi Yoseph

Photos: Shaya Cohen Photo


Torah Musings The Week In News

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

S.M.A.R.T. Goals Sarah Pachter

I have always believed in the concept of growth charts. I don’t mean the kind that you find at the pediatrician’s office—I’m talking about measuring our self-improvement. Usually, we approach January 1st and think, Oh, man! I’m just about where I was last year. Nothing has changed! I always had the feeling I was working on some of the same things year after year, but this year was special. I compared my list to last year’s and—I am interjecting zero poetic license here—it was exactly the same list. Pretty depressing. At this point, I had one of two choices: either give up, or get up for another round. I got up. The silver lining was that at least I knew what my priorities were, and I had the tenacity to keep trying. But this year, I didn’t want tenacity. I wanted results. So, here is what happened when this year’s January 1st came around: Throughout my research—and through trial and error—I discovered that all change can essentially be broken down to three micro-steps that anyone can accomplish. Even before goal-setting, creating a chart—or any form of accountability—is essential. Why? It provides subconscious feedback that what you are doing is worthwhile. You may think a growth chart is excessive. However, Rav Eliyahu Dessler, and other mussar masters, extolled the benefits of a cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of the soul, and would review their actions daily. In fact, the entire infrastructure of Torah study is based on chavruta learning and having a rav, both of which revolve around this precept of accountability.1 Once you have committed to a system of responsibility, you can determine your goal. Ask yourself, Is my goal a S.M.A.R.T. one? Smart goals are: S- specific M- measurable A- attainable R- relevant T- time-bound Specific My student, Angela, and I were reviewing her Rosh Hashanah goals. She desperately wanted a better relationship with her mother and wanted to commit to stop yelling at her. She was entrenched in a vicious cycle of getting angry, showing disrespect, and then feeling guilty, which led to more shouting. Even though her goal was specific, I felt that it was still too broad, given the consistency of her behavior. I suggested she sharpen it further. She decided to focus on a specific positive action: texting her mother a loving message twice weekly. This goal was more specific and measurable. Which leads me to... Measurable I was enjoying a day at the beach with my family when I set a ten-minute timer to edit this


Pirkei Avot 1:6

article. The boys began digging a hole, and soon after my daughters decided to copy them. I watched them for a few moments and realized this activity would quickly lead to boredom and frustration. Trying to lengthen this project for as long as possible, I asked, “Okay, kids! Want to set a timer and see whose hole is bigger when it goes off?” The children shot up with electric energy and raced to dig faster. (All they needed was a timer!) I watched them run and shriek, “How much time is left?” The kids were happy, and I was able to reach my own editing goal. Mission accomplished. The timer created a measurable, timebound goal, both for myself and the children. When digging an endless hole—metaphorical or literal—we easily lose interest and stamina. However, when we incorporate a boundary, such as a timer, we are pushed to accomplish much more. This holds true even in the most mundane of subjects: advertising. When advertisers place a time limit on a sale, such as “today only,” they are far more successful than just adding the word “sale” by itself. It seems silly, but putting a measured limitation on the size or duration of the goal ensures that we can rise to the challenge. Attainable Incremental change is better than ambitious failure…success feeds on itself. Tony Schwartz When my daughter spent a weekend in the hospital with pneumonia, we were blown away by the staff’s kindness and propensity to understand the needs of children. In fact, they showered her with so many gifts and so much attention that when we left, she said, “Mommy, I want to go to the hospital next Shabbos, too!” The gift that made the greatest impression was an enormous Lego set, complete with Frozen figurines and a three-tiered ice castle. Step by step, page by page, we built the entire structure together. My daughter’s face was radiating happiness, despite her illness. One look at the thick booklet of instructions made me want to give up before we began, but Lego has the magical gift of breaking down the process into simple parts. Each small step is crucial to completion. Lego sets serve as a great analogy for how attainable steps leads to success. Rav Dessler writes in Strive for Truth, “We can set about increasing the number of positive acts that we do each day. They need not be ‘big’ acts, on the contrary, many small acts are more effective than one ‘big’ one.”2 In his bestselling book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor writes about our circle of control. “When our stresses and workloads seem to mount faster than our ability to keep up, feelings of control are often the first things to go, especially when we try to tackle too much at once. If we first concentrate our efforts on small manageable goals, we regain the feeling of control so crucial to performance.”3

2 Dressler, Eliyahu, Strive for Truth, pg 76 (touching on Rambam who comments on the Mishnah Avot 3:15) 3

Achor, Shawn, The Happiness Advantage, pg. 129

Achor goes on to explain that there is another important element to make goals attainable. Placing our goals on the path of least resistance makes reaching them almost “unavoidable.” He calls this concept the Twenty-Second Rule. He claims that activation energy, the initial energy we expend when moving from inertia to action, is one of the most difficult aspects of completing a task. Therefore, if we decrease activation time to less than twenty seconds, the likelihood of completion rises greatly.4 I discovered this concept in action at a friend’s home. When helping in the kitchen, I noticed several toothbrushes in a cup next to the sink. The hostess explained that the kids were brushing their teeth before breakfast, but never afterwards. Getting them back upstairs required too much energy, so she started keeping a set downstairs. Although a simple change, she was on to something genius. Just moving the toothbrushes downstairs decreased the activation energy time—and voila—no more cavities! Relevant If the goal does not feel relevant, and you are not passionate about achieving it, it will fall flat from setbacks. Nothing is more powerful than our ratzon,


our will, and this requires that our goals feel intensely relevant. Only you have the power to determine what your goals are, which requires honest assessment. Time-bound As I type, I am preparing this article to present at a writers’ meeting with fellow authors. Before the deadline of the meeting, I was casually editing (by the beach, for example) when time permitted. When notified of the looming meeting, the motivation to present more polished material skyrocketed, and I suddenly found more time. Although counterintuitive, deadlines and other boundaries actually increase our creativity and productivity by providing much-needed structure to our limitless flow of ideas. No one has the stamina to work forever. Therefore, by putting a stopping point to our goals, we feel in control and capable of achievement. External motivation, such as charts, deadlines, and chavrusas can affect change. They are the pre-step to reaching our goals. I challenge you to consider your S.M.A.R.T. goal as you stay tuned for next issue’s article, where I will elucidate the three micro-steps to achieving any S.M.A.R.T. goals we have committed to.

Achor, Shawn, The Happiness

Advantage, pg. 160-161

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The Week In News Living with the Times

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman We just experienced the 13th Siyum Hashas of Daf Yomi. For many people, it is not the speeches that will remain etched in their memories, but the images. Images of old Holocaust survivors displaying their numbers and proclaiming that they have triumphed and survived against all odds. We are all survivors, though we don’t all have those awful numbers on our arms. We have persevered through golus, remaining loyal to Hashem, His people and His Torah. Despite all the various pressures and demands we face, we study Torah every day, for it is the essence of our life. Some learn a daf a day, and for others it’s a daf a week, and others don’t even count how long it takes them to do the daf, for in each daf they see layers of understanding and Torah. Some learn halacha and Shulchan Aruch, while others learn nistar and Zohar. Everyone who learns something celebrated with those who learn Daf Yomi. It was a celebration of all who hold Torah dear. You don’t have to have those numbers scratched into your arm to appreciate that decades after we were beaten to a pulp, we are back with a vengeance. Decades after we were shot and gassed, we flourish and multiply. There are more communities, more people, more yeshivos, more schools and kosher supermarkets than anyone could have imagined a little while ago. People attended the siyum and were overwhelmed by the site of so many people - old people, young people, and people of all ages. They were overwhelmed with emotion because they saw that the Torah remains our base and core. It is not only our religion and culture. It is our nationality, and we are proud of that. We haven’t been intimidated by the incidents of today or yesterday. We stood there and felt the past and saw the future. So many young people, so many children, so much life and happiness and fulfillment. Who could not shed a tear or two? Who could not dance in celebration? It was a kiddush Hashem, yes it was, and for that reason. It was nice that outsiders got a nice impression of us, but that was not the story. We don’t do what we do

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The Greatest Siyum because of what others will say. We have enough pride in what we do that we do it for ourselves, for our neshamos, for our families, and to benefit other Yidden. We do it for nitzchiyus. We do it because we follow the path of the avos, as set out in the parshiyos of Bereishis we have been studying since Sukkos. This week’s parsha of Vayechi bears many lessons for us in golus. Referring to the impending passing of Yaakov Avinu, the posuk states, “Vayikrivu yemei Yisroel lomus vayikra levno leYosef” (Bereishis 47:29). As Yaakov’s final moments of life approached, he called for his son Yosef. He urged Yosef not to bury him in Mitzrayim, but in Eretz Yisroel: “Al na sikbereini beMitzrayim. Veshochavti im avosai…” He asks Yosef to swear that he will bury him amongst the avos, repeating the request by stating, “Veshochavti im avosai.” The Torah generally refers to our forefather as Yaakov when denoting something that is in the present, while the name Yisroel connotes eternity. We must understand why in this instance the Torah refers to him as Yisroel while he was discussing matters relating to the present. Additionally, why did Yaakov feel it necessary to repeat the request a second time? Why did he only make the request of Yosef? Why didn’t he speak to the rest of his children and notify them where he wanted to be buried? Regarding this final question, Rashi explains that Yaakov made the request of Yosef because “hayah beyado la’asos,” he was the one who was able to carry it out. However, since the Torah refers to him as Yisroel, this meeting, the conversations, and the request are apparently matters of eternal value and not just temporal. Thus, these favors Yaakov asked of Yosef can be understood as matters of longstanding impact. Perhaps we can understand the request being made of Yosef on a deeper level bearing in mind the exposition of the Baal Haturim, in Parshas Vayishlach when the posuk recounts that Yaakov said to Eisov, “Vayehi li shor vachamor” (Bereishis 32:6). He writes that Yaakov wasn’t only referring to his ownership of cows

and donkeys, but, more significantly, Yaakov was alluding to his two sons who had the ability to confront Eisov. Yosef, who the posuk refers to as shor, is the alternate power to Eisov. Yissochor, who is referred to as a chamor, has the power of Torah, because of his diligence in its study. The Ramban at the beginning of the parsha (47:28) writes, “Yaakov’s descent to Mitzrayim is similar to our present exile in the hands of the chaya harviis, Romi harasha… The golus is extending for a long time, and unlike previous exiles, we do not know when it will end.” From the words of the Ramban, we see that golus Mitzrayim contains lessons for us in golus Edom. Thus, even Yaakov’s discussions with Yosef pertaining to golus Mitzrayim have relevance to us in our day. These pesukim tell of cosmic events. Yaakov was laying the groundwork for survival for his children, and their children, in golus. He was joining with Yosef to craft a code of endurance and triumph, igniting that lehavah, the flame that will ultimately consume Eisov. Thus, we can understand the seemingly repetitious request, “Vayikra levno leYosef vayomer al na sikbereini beMitzrayim. Veshochavti im avosai…” Yaakov said, “Do not bury me in Mitzrayim. I wish to lay with my fathers.” Then he said, “Unesosani miMitzrayim ukevartani bekevurosom - Carry me from Mitzrayim and bury me in their burial place.” We can understand that Yaakov was making two distinct requests. Yisroel, the sheim hanetzach, the name that denotes eternity, was requesting, “Although I am now in Mitzrayim, the most tomei of all the lands, with wicked people and a wicked king, please do not bury me, Yisroel, here. Do not bury the netzach Yisroel, the traditions and beliefs that I received from my fathers, in this impure place. Remain separate from these profane people. Don’t permit yourself and your children to be influenced by them. Veshochavti im avosai. I wish to be like my fathers, Avrohom and Yitzchok, and be a link in a holy chain, with offspring who follow in my path.” How will that be accomplished? Yaakov makes it clear: Not just by asking to

be buried on holy soil, but by emphasizing, “Veshochavti im avosai. I want to rest with my fathers. I want to be connected to them and attached to their sacred mesorah.” Yaakov tells Yosef, “You will be able to do that if unesosani miMitzrayim.” While the simple translation of unesosani is to carry, the word also means to uplift and raise (like the meforshim explain on the posuk, “Naso es rosh Bnei Yisroel”). Thus, Yaakov was telling Yosef, “In order to accomplish my wish to be an av, with sons and grandsons following in my path, you must raise me and what I stand for over the Mitzri culture. Raise me higher than Mitzrayim. You, Yosef, my son, have to remain elevated. Remain above your surroundings. Raise your children to live on a different level. That is how they will remain connected to the avos.” When Yaakov said, “Unesosani miMitzrayim,” he was referring to the need to remain above the prevailing tumah of Mitzrayim and other goluyos of the future. Hence the use of the name Yisroel. Then, after he expressed his wish for the future, he made his request for the present: “Ukevartani bekevurosom.” Yaakov pleaded with his son, “Al na sikbereini beMitzrayim, don’t bury me, my middah and my hard work, in Mitzrayim.” Yaakov appealed to Yosef and not to the other brothers, because the matter he was attending to was not simply with respect to where to bury him, but how to stand up to Eisov and Edom throughout the ages. Yosef was the antithesis of Eisov. He was the one who had the ability to carry out Yaakov’s request of transmitting to future generations the secret to surviving and thriving in the hostile setting of golus. Additionally, Yaakov perceived that Yosef, the kadosh, who perfected the middah of yesod through personal purity and strength, had mastered the ability to transcend the lures of Mitzrayim, the ervas ha’aretz, the capital of permissiveness and hedonism. That, combined with his inherent ability to battle the forces of Eisov, is why Yaakov requested this of Yosef and not his brothers. The posuk continues: “Vayishova lo vayishtachu Yisroel al rosh hamittah - And Yosef swore that he would do as his father asked. Yisroel bowed to him in appreciation towards the head of his bed.” Once again, the posuk refers to Yaakov as Yisroel, because he wasn’t just bowing in appreciation of the fact that he would be buried near his father and grandfather in Eretz Yisroel. The eternal Yisroel of netzach was bowing to the eternal middah of Yosef. Yaakov was comfortable in the assurance that his avodah would continue. Therefore, the parsha continues with the narrative of the brachos that Yaakov gave to the sons of Yosef. Yosef brought his two sons, the guarantors of the derech of the avos, the fusion of Bais Yaakov and Bais Yosef that can negate the koach of Eisov. Yaakov saw nitzchiyus. He saw these children of golus, born in impure Mitzrayim but committed to derech Yisroel saba. He responded by giving them brachos, the blessings that have echoed

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Rabbi Mordechai Weider, a Holocaust survivor, saying the Kaddish for the Kedoshim killed in the Holocaust Photo credit: Hillel Lichtenstein & Avrumi Blum

ever since in every Jewish home. After reporting on the entire conversation and incident, the Torah states, “Vayevorech es Yosef vayomar haElokim asher hishalchu avosai lefonov Avrohom v’Yitzchok haElokim haroeh osi mei’odi ad hayom hazeh. Hamalach hagoel osi mikol ra yevoreich es haneorim veyikorei vohem shemi vesheim avosai Avrohom v’Yitzchok veyidgu larov bekerev ha’aretz” (48:1516). This brocha is the culmination of the parsha as we have understood it. When Yaakov saw Menashe and Efraim, the sons of Yosef, he perceived that his offspring would succeed in remaining loyal to his heritage in the exile. Thus, he said, “… haElokim asher hishalchu avosai lefonov Avrohom v’Yitzchok haElokim haroeh osi mei’odi ad hayom hazeh. That same derech that Avrohom, Yitzchok and I have walked on will continue throughout golus.” “Hamalach hagoel osi mikol ra yevoreich es haneorim.” Yaakov appreciated that davka Efraim and Menashe carried a strength that others did not have. The malach who protected Yaakov as he went into exile from his father’s home protected his grandchildren in their golus. Yaakov prayed that they would have the tenacity and determination in golus Mitzrayim and golus Romi to remain loyal to the precepts of Avrohom and Yitzchok: “veyikorei vohem shemi vesheim avosai Avrohom v’Yitzchok.” The posuk in Chagai (2:9) relates the prophecy that the second Bais Hamikdosh would be more glorious than the first: “Gadol yihiyeh kevod habayis hazeh ha’acharon min harishon.” Rav Tzadok Hakohein of Lublin asks that this prophecy is apparently refuted by the fact that many of the revealed nissim of the first Bais Hamikdosh, such as ruach hakodesh and the Heavenly fire, were absent in the second Bayis. How, then, can the novi say that the splendor of the second Bais Hamikdosh would exceed that of the first? Rav Tzadok quotes the Sefer Heichalos, which explains that in the absence of those open miracles and being removed from the tangible presence of the Shechinah, more glory was present, because the people had to toil and work hard on their own to create the kedusha. The glory that arises from hard work and struggle is superior to that which is brought about as a gift from Heaven. People who work hard for their income appreciate what they have much more than those who live lives of dependency. Yaakov perceived that a new era was

Photo: Agudath Israel of America Archives

beginning. He delighted in seeing that Efraim and Menashe, children of golus, were determined to live as their avos did. He determined that they would serve as the paradigm for generations to come, portraying that it is possible to rise to high and exalted levels even when trapped in a place one doesn’t want to be in. After learning that his beloved son, whom he had not seen in twenty-two years, was alive, Yaakov Avinu hurried down to Mitzrayim. On the way, he stopped in Be’er Sheva (46:1). The Medrash states that he stopped there in order to cut cedar trees for use in the construction of the Mishkon when his grandchildren would eventually be redeemed from golus Mitzrayim. In the midst of the commotion and excitement, Yaakov Avinu remained focused on his mission of leading his progeny into golus. He maintained his equanimity, ensuring that his children would have the supplies they would need to exist in golus and when they would be redeemed. Perhaps there is a deeper significance here as well. Yaakov brought cedar trees, because, tall and proud, they are a symbol of steadfastness and strength. He was hinting to his children that if they would stand like arozim, unyielding and proud, they would survive the golus. Golus is grueling, dangerous and long, but with the firmness of the erez, it is possible to emerge whole and pure. As we endure this period, it behooves us to remain resolute, resisting temptation to sin and sink. We must remain united in our drive and determination not to splinter and divide. Division has caused so many of our problems, historically and presently. Success and sometimes our very existence in golus is tenuous. We must count and appreciate our blessings while we have them. Imagine the sight when Moshiach arrives very soon. Thousands of Jews will line up to dance around him. Many will be bearing the scars of daunting nisyonos and tragedies of golus. They will stand there dancing, the children of Efraim and Menashe, with those of Reuvein and Yehuda. The weak will be strong, the wobbly will be tough, and the persecuted resilient. They will celebrate the great siyum, the greatest siyum ever. Everyone will participate as brothers and sisters. Nobody will be left out. The Torah (49:1 and Rashi inter loc) relates that after he blessed his grandchildren, Yaakov gathered the family together and said that he would tell them what would happen at the End of Days. Yaakov

was inspired to reveal the time of Acharis Hayomim, as he saw the unity, the shared mission, and the special kochos of his descendants. He saw that although they were born in the exile, Efraim and Menashe possessed the strengths of Yosef. He was comforted that his offspring would be able to withstand golus and would merit redemption at the End of Days. Alas, the very nature of golus is that it is enveloped in a film of darkness and its end remains hidden. We do not understand the ways of Hashem, but through it all, we

maintain our emunah and bitachon that the end, the keitz that Yaakov visualized, is approaching. Through smiles and tears, good years and bad, generous hosts and disdainful ones, we follow the example of Yaakov Avinu’s cedar trees, of Yosef’s strength, of the glory of Efraim and Menashe. We remain strong, honest, incorruptible, united, and committed to each other and our goals, knowing that if we continue to persevere, we will soon be in a better place.



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On Performing, Living, Writing and Serving with Joy: An Interview with L.A.’s Own Sam Glaser Devorah Talia Gordon Singer, songwriter, teacher, and now author Sam Glaser has touched the lives of thousands of Jews worldwide. He has been performing for over 30 years in the Jewish world, typically in synagogues and Jewish Community Centers, but has appeared at venues such as Dodger Stadium, on Broadway, and at the White House. Named one of the top ten Jewish performers in the United States by Moment Magazine, Sam has fans who run the gamut of the Jewish world, from Reform to Yeshivishe, from Conservative to Chassidishe. The Jewish Home caught up with Sam to talk about Judaism, teaching, performing, and his first book, entitled, The Joy of Judaism: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Living using Judaism’s Timeless Teachings (Shefa Press 2019, 420 pages). This epic undertaking contains ten sections, and each section has anywhere from six to twelve chapters. We’re talking more than 360 pages, before the appendices. Glaser’s book covers the gamut, from life cycle events, holidays, parenting, marriage, Jewish institutions, bitachon, prayer, etc. And of course: music. DTG: Where did the idea of this book come from? And how long did it take to write? SG: Nine years ago, at CAJE [Coalition for Advancement in Jewish Educators conference] the publisher of Moment Magazine, Michael Monheit, was next to me on the elliptical trainer. He said he’d been watching me relate to Jewish educators and rabbis of all denominations and asked me to write things that the rabbis could use in their sermons. I thought about what I want to say; I feel that it is a tremendous time of urgency. I think as a Jewish community we are asleep to the degree of assimilation and intermarriage. People aren’t feeling it or seeing it in our frum neighborhoods. But

I am on the road every other week, to Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox communities. It is not just theoretical. When I got into observant Judaism in my 20s, I wanted my peers to share in my excitement. We don’t need to go elsewhere to Buddhism, yoga, and all that—we have it all, 3000 years of it. In The Joy of Judaism, I wanted to express this enthusiasm in an exciting overview of Jewish spiritual living. This “whole megillah” is from my perspective as I encountered Yiddishkeit. I made a decision to work on it one day a month, writing a 2500-word chapter. The first draft took nine years, then another year of editing. DTG: Who were your first musical inspirations? SG: Music was my most profound influence in the first 20 years of my life. I was raised with continuous music in my household: the L.A. Philharmonic, jazz, and Motown. I was a Camp Ramah kid— with Debbie Friedman and Shlomo Carlebach songs and chazzanut at Sinai Temple. I was inspired by the greats of rock-n-roll, Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder. DTG: It was a great idea to add a link at the beginning of each chapter to your music online connected to each chapter. SG: It is all part of the plan—to encourage people to grow, to learn. Many connect spiritually to music. I have 25 albums out, and that is how I interact with the world: through music. So, each chapter starts with a free download of a relevant song. Another great feature of the book is “The Four Questions,” at the close of each chapter. These questions are a tool for the reader to think deeper about the chapter, to take the ideas presented and apply them to his life. DTG: The book is filled with inspir-

ing stories, which you use to illustrate each lesson. How did you keep all these stories over the years? Did you save them somehow? SG: When you travel solo you have a need to connect to people; stories were a byproduct of the writing process. I also recognize when I am doing a workshop, when I start pontificating, peoples’ eyes will start to glaze over, they get tired— you always get them back with a song or a story. Stories are crucial. Thank G-d I remember the good ones. DTG: I know you as a musician and performer, only after reading the book was I more acquainted with your role as a teacher. Can you talk about that? SG: The first time I attended the CAJE Conference was in 1992, at USC. There were 2000 educators there, and I had been trying to get people into the clubs to hear my band play. Here I was with a crowd that truly wanted to hear me, hungry for Jewish music. I had found a market. I did workshops at CAJE every year, and that spawned doing all the other major conferences. The great part of doing retreats is I can perform and teach. I love to teach, but I don’t teach about music. I want klal Yisrael to learn Torah lishmah. I talk about things like parashah, halachah, the Ten Commandments. I have great teachers in Pico, and those like Rav Noah [Weinberg], zt’l, from Aish, and that’s what I want to share. I feel that I am an “undercover agent” because in these venues, there is little rabbinic Torah. When I am brought to a community, I let the people choose what I teach. I direct them to the dozens of options on my website. Let them choose. If the community is involved, and the more the merrier, the more successful it is. Of course, teaching and performing at Chabad is one of my mainstays. DTG: Just glancing at your sample

tour schedule from the past 13 years is dizzying (check out the book’s appendix!). You were away every other weekend. How do you balance all the traveling and performing you do with your family and community life? SG: My family knew I hit the road so often because I was on a mission, there was something important I was trying to do. I was trying to answer the needs of klal Yisrael. It was my parnassah, as well. It wasn’t easy, I had those pangs of missing my family. When you are busy doing your tafkid, you are in it and time flies. You don’t ruminate. When I was home, we had guests at almost every Shabbos meal. We do our best kiruv at the Shabbos table. Hosting was something people did in Israel so we thought, We can do it in L.A. We felt we had something special to offer. My wife is an expert in creating a gourmet experience, and I could lead a table with songs and divrei Torah. People have a tendency to keep the kids at a kids’ table, but we always had the kids next to me on both sides and made sure they were part of it. DTG: You write a lot about your immediate and extended family, with great stories and pictures (check out the family portrait on page 247). You write of “our vast differences in observance,” (from Chassidic to Modern Orthodox to Reform/Conservative) yet you have an “unbreakable, loving bond.” Can you talk about this bond, and about achdut, in general? SG: I have three younger brothers. I thought Yom Tov would enjoy a little time at Aish after graduating college, so I filled out a scholarship form for him. He connected in such a fundamental way and now he touches thousands of people. Then our brother in between, Aharon got semicha, too. My mom, of course, kashered her home when we became religious. In his book, Glaser writes, “...Our family finds common ground and makes a point of expressing our love for one another… We know that together we are strong and have far more in common than those picayune details that divide us. Does this sound familiar? This is the story of the Jewish people. We are truly an extended family.” Glaser also writes about the importance of presenting a united front not

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only to gentiles, but also to unaffiliated Jews. “The world judges God by watching the Jews,” Glaser reminds us that, and we bring glory to God’s name by loving each other. DTG: You play to all walks of Jewish life and have fans in every sector. This can be challenging, I imagine. How have you managed this? SG: Of my peers who play this circuit I am on, I don’t know of others who are shomer Shabbat. I can’t go from place to place on Shabbos. I have to explain to them my davening is acapella. There are some potential clients who can’t wrap their brains around it, these synagogues don’t feel they can reach people without the live music [which is so common now]. There are Saturday night challenges also, of course. And I need kosher food. It’s interesting what some people consider kosher! I try to make it as easy as possible. A lot of time I am buying what I need, like tuna and bagels in a supermarket. When there are no homes or hotels close to the synagogue, I have stayed on air mattresses in rabbis’ studies. Like Shlomo Carlebach, who would be out there wherever he needed to go, my motto is “Wherever there are Jews you’ll find me.” There are still some connecting today in this “velvet genocide.” Let’s get in there and do what we can. DTG: What is your goal?

SG: Our beautiful brothers and sisters tend to farm out the heavy lifting to clergy, thinking the rabbi will pray for them, the cantor will sing for them. I teach that we don’t have to rewrite the manual. We have incredible instructions for living. We just need to reread our notes! I encourage growth through mitzvot. Taking baby steps is the best way to go. Take it on and it will lead to more, mitzvot gererot mitzovt. Also, you can’t tear yourself away from community. Everyone has challenges where they live but that doesn’t mean they are off the hook; they have to learn

how to connect on their own, to learn and daven. I say: Take a chance with Hashem, act as if this G-d thing is real. Try it! I believe the chukkim are “emunah pellets” we can take. People think they are ancient and irrelevant, but by performing Hashem’s will when we don’t understand it, it launches you! If you have a balloon with holes it won’t fly. Patch up the holes, the excuses, and you have a balloon that can take you to the stratosphere. DTG: What was your greatest struggle in becoming observant? SG: One of my struggles was worrying that I would become a clone. I didn’t want to be a freak. I wanted to walk a fine line between “You-ish” and Jewish; I wanted to fully invest in Judaism, but I didn’t want to lose my uniqueness. I know many people who were completely disassociating from their past. That never resonated with me. Hashem gave us our unique past to get us where we are now. I believe all of us have something crucial to add. DTG: What was your greatest thrill in becoming observant? SG: A relationship with the Creator of Heaven and Earth is so powerful. I have always had a sense of wonder for the natural world, spending so much time in the outdoors, skiing and surfing, biking, etc. I see life as one big organic whole, and I’m able to take the natural experience

and connect it to G-d. I have always felt gratitude for what I have, and davening gave me a channel for my enthusiasm. I love being part of the frum world, getting grabbed for a minyan by the lockers at Disneyland. I can go to any shul, I love it! I can barely contain my excitement! DTG: What advice would you give someone becoming more observant? SG: You have to relax, start with what you already do, you just do it better, with more kavanah. Slow down, particularly when davening. It’s not just Breslovers who need to talk to Hashem: we need to have an openness and bring G-d our issues and make our relationship real. We all could use simchah. The verse says: “Ivdu es Hashem b’simchah—serve Hashem with joy.” The klallot (curses) come because we don’t serve Him with joy. We have to remember that. Sam’s joy is contagious; when reading the book, his enthusiasm shines through, while the friendly tone and personal stories allow the reader get to know Sam well. This would be a great gift for any Jew on the spectrum of observance, from unaffiliated to Orthodox. Any Jewish reader—with their mind and heart open—will be inspired by The Joy of Judaism. To purchase The Joy of Judaism, go to or For more on Sam Glaser, see



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JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

90,000 Heard These Opening Remarks at the

Siyum HaShas:

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

“As we begin Mincha, let us take the hisorrirus of the beautiful Tefilos at this extraordinary Kiddush Sheim Shamayim into the future, resolving to make every Tefilla in every Kehila worldwide a model of decorum and kedusha, and make the ‘Stop the Talking in Shul’ movement a reality.” Stop the Talking in Shul!

A zechus for parnasah, shiduchim, refuos & yeshuos



Dirshu The Week In News

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Scene From The Dirshu World Siyum at Binyanei Hauma By Rabbi Nachman Seltzer


oetzei Shabbos Chanukah officially served as the start of what promises to be a phenomenal couple of weeks filled with siyumim and Torah celebrations in many locations around the world. But tonight, Moetzei Shabbos Parshas Miketz, the seventh night of Chanukah, December 30th 2019, we are at Yerushalayim’s Binyanei Hauma, getting ready to celebrate the initial Dirshu siyum in Yerushalayim. The beautiful event begins as do so many Dirshu events – with music. Music encapsulates so much of Jewish life and the culmination of the conclusion of the entire Shas is no different. If there is any time to sing and dance, this is it. The hall is filled with an incredible sense of happiness and accomplishment – the auditorium begins

to fill with exuberant Yidden, the majority still bedecked in their Shabbos clothing. This is a major night of celebration. A night when gedolei hador and young talmidei chachamim join together to celebrate the accomplishments of so many sincere bnei Torah. Can you imagine what it feels like for a person who spent the last seven and a half years learning Shas and is now standing poised to cross the finish line? He has given his all, day after day, winter and summer, when he was awake and when he was tired. He made no excuses and never wavered in his goal. And that is all by a regular misayem of Shas. This, however, is a Dirshu siyum – which means that the people here who finished Shas didn’t just learn through the daphim. Instead they did it the Dirshu way. With passionate learning culminating

in rigorous tests given on a regular basis. And while most people do not like being tested, the members of Dirshu love being tested and thank Dirshu for the opportunity to take their learning and make it part of them. Rav Ezrachi, Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir, begins the night with a resounding speech spurring his listeners to action. The thrust of his speech is simple and powerful. He explains that the tnai, the condition for learning Torah, is that a person love the Torah. The Torah can tell when a Yid loves to learn its words and waits for an opportunity to learn a few more lines and another daf. The Torah has its own language – it’s not always easy to understand that language, and in order to understand it, you have to really want it, and you have to daven for the

z’chus like great tzaddikim throughout the ages. The members of Dirshu speak the language of Torah learning. They speak the language of people who love the Torah and want to make its words part of their very neshamos. ..……………………………………… As the strains of Ma’oz Tzur fade away, Rav Dovid Hofstedter is introduced to speak. Hearing the name of the nasi of Dirshu, the crowd bursts into spontaneous applause – something that occurs every time his name is mentioned. Rav Dovid discusses the mesiras nefesh he has witnessed among the members of Dirshu. “Where does this mesiras nefesh come from?” he asks the crowd.

Dirshu The Week In News

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

He then relates how he has asked this very same question countless times to Dirshu members around the world. “I ask them, ‘Did you ever dream that you would one day be able to reach the madreigos in learning which you have attained? Did you ever believe that you would be able to take tests on the entire Shas or Mishnah Berurah?’ “Time after time, they answer me with the same answer, telling me that no, they never believed they would be able to reach the goals they have achieved. ‘We don’t have the kishronos, we know that we don’t. What we have done is beyond our capabilities, beyond what we ever imagined possible. B’derech hateva we should not have been able to do any of this!’ “And yet we have thousands and thousands of people around the world taking multiple tests on so many complex sub-

jects – even though they never thought they could. “So how is this possible?” Rav Dovid then shares a fascinating insight with his listeners on the topic of Yaakov Avinu and the pachim ketanim, the tiny jugs – which our ancestor remained behind on the riverbank to fight for. He explains that we, the children of Yaakov Avinu, have inherited his mesiras nefesh – the same mesiras nefesh that Klal Yisrael exhibited when it came to the “pach hashemen,” the little jug of oil that was used in the Beis Hamikdash to light the Menorah for eight days – against all odds. It is this mesiras nefesh that we can use to do things we imagined were impossible, to learn and know and accomplish. “Even when it looks like there’s no chance,” Rav Dovid said, “we can do all sorts of incredible things and accomplish that which we never believed possible. We

can do it – it’s our yerusha, our inheritance from Yaakov Avinu. At the moment when it seems like all the koach is finished, that’s davka when we see that we have the strength to do the impossible!” ..……………………………………… The Admor of Erlau recited the words of the Hadran, and the crowd waited in anticipation. Silence filled the room as the final Kaddish was recited. The tense silence that proceeds an outpouring of excitement. This was it. Here it came. The big moment. The moment everyone had been waiting for – for the last seven and a half years, from the last time so many thousands of Yidden had come together for the very same celebration. And then the final words of Kaddish were uttered.

A resounding “Amen” was heard and the sound of music resounded through the hall as every one of the thousands of people joined hands and became a huge mass celebrating the simcha shel mitzvah. What a moment it was!!! “Ana, ana, ana…” “V’taher libeinu…” “Ashreichem, ashreichem, ashreichem, talmidei chachamim!” What a moment! What a night! What glory for Torah and those who learn it! It was a triumph for the members of Dirshu who toiled long and hard to reach this point. They know the taste of hard work, but more importantly, they know the taste of success, the taste of Yaakov Avinu’s mesiras nefesh, the taste of the “pachim ketanim,” the taste of the “pach shemen,” the taste of the thousands of years of Torah learning combined with true mesiras nefesh.



Dirshu The Week In News

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

A Celebration Fit for a Queen By Gila Arnold

“All of my Torah learning is in her zechus!” Many a heartfelt siyum speech has expressed gratitude to the wife for her support. However, at Dirshu’s magnificent mega-Siyum HaShas this past Moetzei Shabbos at Jerusalem’s Binyanei Haumah, the organizers elevated the celebration of the women’s role to a whole new level. To express just how pivotal a part the wives played in this momentous evening, Dirshu created a first-of-its-kind siyum program just for them. What was it like being in a hall with thousands of women, each one there to celebrate her personal mesirus nefesh for Torah? In a word – and it was a word that women kept telling me again and again throughout the evening - it was meragesh. Emotional. Here’s a glimpse of some of that emotion. Pride… The air was electric from the start, as women and girls streamed into the Teddy Hall of Binyanei Haumah. There they were greeted by a lavish buffet, and as they ate and chatted, I approached some of the women to ask them what brought them here tonight. “My husband’s finished Shas, with all of the Dirshu tests – for his second time!” “My son’s a maggid shiur in his yeshivah for Dirshu!” “My brother-in-law is finishing Shas tonight. He’s a business owner, but he makes time to learn every night, even when he’s exhausted!” Extended families had come out on this Chanukah night to celebrate together, in a beautiful statement about our pride as a nation, about what we value above all. Excitement… Once the doors to the large auditorium opened and the program began, the excitement and anticipation

were palpable. The women’s program, coordinated by Esther Broch, was emceed by Rebbetzin Tzivia Rottenberg. Allwomen’s musical entertainment was provided by Esti Bar-Natan and her three backup vocalists, together with a fourpiece live band, who set the tone of the evening with their moving “Kad Yasvin,” an Eishes Chayil medley, and more. Interspersed with the women’s program was a live hookup to the men’s program going on in the main hall next door. We watched as Motty Steinmetz, accompanied by a boys’ choir and a full orchestra, sang the Dirshu anthem of “Bizchus HaTorah.” And we listened with bated breath as the Admor of Erloi said the Hadran – Hadran Alach Shas Bavli! – and the Kaddish was recited. And then the hall erupted in song. The music from the live hookup filled the auditorium, and the glow on the women’s faces lit up the room. After so many years – so many months, days, hours of saying, “No, you go learn; I’ll take care of things here” – this was their reward. The women watched the large screens raptly. A row of women in the back of the room stood up and danced in their places. I watched the rebbetzins sitting in the front row singing, with eyes closed, “Anah, anah, anah, avada deKudesha Brich Hu.” There were no words to describe the absolute fullness of emotion saturating the room. Meragesh. Inspiration… Dirshu had invited the rebbetzins of prominent gedolim to join the siyum celebration. Among those in attendance were: Rebbetzin Cohen, wife of Rosh Yeshivas Chevron; Rebbetzin Ezrachi, wife of Rosh Yeshivas Ateres Yisrael; Rebbetzin Kolodetzky; Rebbetzin Galei, wife of Rav Shimon Galai; and the rebbetzins of Biale, Boyan, Karlin, and Vizhnitz.

Rebbetzin Shulamit Ezrachi was the first to give divrei bracha to the crowd. “How do you build a home of Torah? It’s all up to the woman. Your children sense what truly makes you happy. Is it your new curtains – or your son’s learning?” Rebbetzin Galei spoke next, relaying her husband’s message that when there are so many spiritual dangers outside, it’s up to the woman to fortify her home by creating an environment of joy over every small effort to learn Torah and do mitzvos. The evening closed with a message from Rebbetzin Kolodetzsky, who made an extra effort to come from Bnei Brak, despite being sick, because she felt the event was so important. “Right now, there’s a special eis ratzon,” she declared. “The skies are open. I literally feel like I’m standing at maamad Har Sinai.” She related that her mother’s favorite day of the year was Erev Pesach, when Rav Chaim made his siyum on all of Shas. “Ima would get dressed in her Yom Tov clothing and bake special cakes for the occasion. Her face was shining as she stood in the ezras nashim, watching Abba make the siyum. She’d say, ‘I feel like I finished Shas!’ And as soon as Abba drank from his siyum wine, he immediately told someone to send some wine to the rabbanit.” Poignant… By far the most moving part of the entire evening was when three teenage daughters of mesaymim came up to the stage. In a special surprise for their mothers, each girl spoke about what it meant to grow up in a home of Torah, with a special message for her mother about how inspired she was by the role model of mesirus nefesh that she witnessed daily. As each girl spoke, the camera focused on her mother’s face, and we in the audience watched the tears streaming down her cheeks as she heard her daughter’s loving tribute.

“Ima,” said one, “you encouraged Abba to learn every moment possible. This mesirus nefesh will accompany me forever, even after I get married and build my own home.” Another girl said, “Whenever Abba made a siyum, it was like a Yom Tov. Ima would prepare cakes, and we’d all celebrate. I was zocheh to grow up in a home of Torah, a home where my Abba’s learning was the most important thing to Ima.” One of the girls related an incident that epitomized her mother’s selfsacrifice. “Ima suddenly became very sick and was rushed to the emergency room. Abba was out studying for his Dirshu test he’d be taking that day, but when he got the message, he ran to the hospital. Ima somehow had the presence of mind to say, ‘Don’t you have a test to take?’ Abba, of course, answered that he’ll skip this test. But Ima told him, ‘Oh, no, you won’t.’ And she gave him a look which said, he has no choice – he’d better take that test! So, he did. “It took many months for Ima to regain her strength. But, throughout that time, she’d always say, ‘The important thing is that Abba took the test.’” Looking at her mother, this girl concluded, “Ima, tonight is your reward.” What greater reward can a mother wish for? Pride. Excitement. Inspiration. This was what these nashim tzidkaniyos had come out for tonight, and this was what they returned with, to continue building their homes of Torah. In a siyum celebration marked by its majesty, Dirshu made it abundantly clear who the queens of the evening were.

Dirshu The Week In News

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Interviews of Wives of Mesaymim By Gila Arnold

1) Estie From RBS Wife of a maggid shiur for Dirshu Daf Yomi I’m so excited to be here tonight; this is a simchah for our whole family. My husband is celebrating with his shiur in our shul, where they’re watching a live hookup of the siyum. But I wanted to be here so badly – I have a nine-month-old baby, but I came because I feel so much a part of this siyum. Our whole family is part of Daf Yomi; it permeates the house. Everything is scheduled around the shiur, even our family vacations. When we have to leave a little later or come back a little earlier from a trip, I tell my children, “We’re so lucky that we have Daf Yomi!” We all feel this way. It’s a true zechus to have a husband and father being mesayem tonight. 2) Miriam From Petach Tikva Wife of second-time mesayem Shas through Dirshu The past 15 years have transformed my family. I’m here tonight with my married daughter. When my husband first started Dirshu’s Daf Yomi program, she was a young girl. In those days, when my children were younger, there was definitely more mesirus nefesh required on my part. My husband was always studying for tests. It was especially hard with the tests that came out right after bein hazmanim. There’s no break for Daf Yomi, and the Dirshu tests aren’t easy – this is learning on a really high level. Sometimes this meant that he wasn’t as available on Chol Hamoed and other vacation times. Still, my children didn’t feel resentful. And neither did I – not at all! When you feel the joy of Torah learning, it transforms your home. I’m so, so happy to be here tonight, so grateful for all the years that I’ve had the zechus to be moser nefesh for Torah. 3) Sarah From Yerushalayim Wife of first-time mesayem Shas through Dirshu

I can’t describe the zechus of being here tonight. I know this is my simchah, too. Really, all of his learning is my simchah – it makes me so happy to know that he’s learning Torah on such an intense level. I have a lot of hakaras hatov to Dirshu; it’s in their zechus that we made it to this day. Dirshu’s program is mechayev him to learn day in, day out, even on vacation days, even on days when it’s difficult. And now he’s finished Shas! What greater zechus can there possibly be? 4) Merav From Elad Wife of second-time mesayem Shas through Dirshu Our whole house is filled with Dirshu! Our kids understand when I tell them, “Abba’s learning now, he’s studying for a Dirshu test. Wait ‘til later to ask him your questions.” I don’t see them resenting this; if anything, I see the simchah they get from his learning. How was I mechanech them to this attitude? I don’t know; maybe it’s because they see that I have the same attitude. So, I have to wait to discuss something with him – so what? I feel so blessed; this is exactly what I always wanted for my life, to marry a talmid chacham. I daven that my children should be zocheh to the same nachas. My daughters always remind me: don’t just daven for your sons to make a Dirshu Siyum HaShas – daven for your future sons-in-law, too! 5) Sima From Yerushalayim Wife of first-time mesayem Shas through Dirshu I literally have tears in my eyes, thinking about the fact that my husband’s about to take his final Dirshu test. I can’t believe we’ve reached this point. I remember when he first started, we were both wondering: will he ever be able to make it through Shas? It seemed like such an impossible goal. But he kept at it every day, and now, seven years later, here we are.

Did I ever have hard moments? Sure; Chol Hamoed in particular, was hard for me. I’d see couples strolling outside, but my husband wasn’t available to go for a walk with me because he was studying for his Dirshu test. But I wouldn’t trade that learning time for all the world. I know that this isn’t only my Olam Haba – it’s also my Olam Hazeh. I want to thank Dirshu for making this possible. I know it’s only because of their tests and program that my husband was able to keep up his kevius and reach this point. 6) Rina From Beit Shemesh Wife of a maggid shiur for Dirshu Daf Yomi My husband’s been giving a Dirshu Daf Yomi shiur for 14 years. He teaches in a yeshivah ketana for two sedarim, and the shiur is his third seder. On a given night, he rushes home for a quick help with bedtime, during which he’s also preparing his shiur – often while sitting on the children’s beds with them. He jokes that the kids are his Daf Yomi chavrusas! On the days that he has a particularly hard daf to prepare, he doesn’t come home at all. But that’s okay; I love the fact that he’s learning and teaching Daf Yomi. At this point, my oldest boys are in yeshivah, and sometimes they’ll join my husband’s Dirshu shiur. That’s real nachas! I think the hardest part for me is when he misses important events because of his shiur. Such as my sister’s chuppah. He came late and missed the pictures because he was teaching. The photographer took pictures of him at the end of the wedding instead. Yes, that was hard, but I was still so proud of the fact that my husband is learning and teaching Torah. Even then – especially then – I knew what a zechus I was getting. 7) Nechama From Yerushalayim Wife of first-time Dirshu mesayem Shas I’m so overcome by emotion at being here tonight. The siyum celebration was absolutely beautiful and so special – but what made it even more special was the fact that I was actually a participant! In the past, my husband had taken a few Dirshu tests here and there, but this is the first time that he’s finished all of Shas, passing all of Dirshu’s tests. Listening to the siyum tonight, and knowing that my husband was a part of it – that I was a part of it! – was one of the most special moments of my life.



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Iran’s New Quds Force Commander

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Brig. Gen. Ismail Qaani to command the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force on Friday. Qaani will replace Qasem Soleimani, the mythical general who led the Quds Force from 1998 until he was eliminated last week in an U.S. airstrike at Baghdad Airport. Qaani had served as Soleimani’s deputy but is not very well known and is far from the national symbol that Soleima-

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ni was. The shadowy Quds Force is often described as Iran’s CIA, Foreign Ministry, and military rolled into one. Reporting solely to Supreme Leader Khamenei, the unit is tasked with spreading the Islamic Revolution throughout the world. In practice, this means arming a slew of subversive terror groups all across the Middle East, from the Lebanese Hezbollah to militias in Afghanistan. The Quds Force also runs agents on every continent and is thought to control hundreds of sleeper agents within the United States. The selection of Qaani, who served under Soleimani for over 20 years, was expected after Soleimani’s death and demonstrates that the Quds Force is committed to following Soleimani’s path. Unlike Soleimani, who grew up destitute, Qaani hails from the affluent city of Mashad, Iran’s second largest city. As with most IRGC officers, little is known about Qaani’s personal life other than that he first enlisted in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps during the bloody Iran-Iraq war. During the eight years that the war raged, Qaani demonstrated impressive battlefield acumen and rose through the ranks, advancing from battalion commander to leading his own division by the time the war ended. After the fighting ceased, Qaani joined the IRGC intelligence arm, where he rock-

eted through the ranks to become Soleimani’s deputy. In 2012, Qaani was added to the United States’ terror watch list and all of his assets were frozen. According to the U.S. Treasury, Qaani oversaw the many weapons and cash transfers to a number of terror groups, including Hezbollah, Houthi insurgents in Yemen, and Iraqi Shia militias. On Tuesday, Iran’s Parliament approved a bill designating the entire U.S. military and Pentagon terrorist organizations. Lawmakers also backed a motion allocating $220 million to the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards Corp’s (IRGC) Quds Force to take revenge for Soleimani’s death. It was unanimously approved by 223 lawmakers in Iran. Additionally, at least 32 people were killed and 190 others injured in a stampede that erupted at a funeral procession for Soleimani in his hometown of Kerman, in southeastern Iran. A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over 1 million people in the Iran’s capital, crowding main thoroughfares and side streets.

Puerto Rico Rocked by Earthquake

injured on Tuesday in the southern coastal city. “The road is cracked in the middle, and it lifted up,” he said. Monday’s quake unleashed small landslides, causing power outages and severely cracking homes. That quake destroyed a popular tourist landmark, Punta Ventana, a coastal rock formation that had formed a sort of rounded window. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company confirmed that two other sites, Cueva Ventana and Ruinas del Faro, also suffered irreparable damage. Víctor Huérfano, director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, said it was too early to determine the extent of damage from Tuesday’s temblors. “We expect that this will be the largest quake for now,” he said. “The aftershocks will continue for some time.” The flurry of quakes in Puerto Rico’s southern region began on December 28 with a 4.7 magnitude quake followed by 5.0. The preliminary location of Tuesday’s earthquake was about 7 miles from Monday’s 5.8 earthquake. Over the past several weeks, hundreds of small earthquakes have occurred in this same region. One of the largest and most damaging earthquakes to hit Puerto Rico occurred in October 1918, when a magnitude 7.3 quake struck near the island’s northwest coast, unleashing a tsunami and killing 116 people.

Australia Still Battling Fatal Fires A 6.4 magnitude earthquake rumbled across Puerto Rico on Tuesday, killing at least one person and knocking out power to virtually the entire island of more than 3 million. An aftershock three hours later registered 6.0 magnitude. The temors came one day after the island was shaken by a 5.8 magnitude quake that crumbled homes and triggered states of emergency across the island. Tuesday’s quake was the largest in a series of quakes that have struck the U.S. territory in recent days and caused heavy damage in some areas. Puerto Rican Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced ordered government employees, except for first responders, to stay home. She urged residents to follow the island’s emergency management social media sites for updated information. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, said he had discussed the situation with President Donald Trump. Scott said the Federal Emergency Management Agency had 2,300 staff in Puerto Rico ready to support recovery efforts. FEMA drew sharp criticism for its efforts following Hurricane Maria, which smashed across the island in 2017, killing thousands, destroying thousands of homes and knocking out power for weeks. Ponce Mayor Mayita Meléndez said at least one person died and eight were

Heavy rain brought some relief to fire-ravaged Australia on Monday as the country continues to battle massive wildfires. Torrential rain lashed Sydney and Melbourne, with precipitation covering swaths of desert in northern Australia. The rainfall extinguished dozens of smaller blazes and lowered the fire warning level to “advice,” the country’s lowest. However, fire officials warned that the rainfall may actually hurt the firefighting effort, as it would hamper efforts to set strategic fires. “There is no room for complacency,” urged NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian. “This morning it is all about recovery, making sure people who have been displaced have somewhere safe.” Victoria Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp added that the weather “will warm up” following the rain, causing the fires and the fires to “take off again.” For more than a week, Australia has

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been battling the worst wildfires the country has ever faced. The fires have already burned millions of acres and killed 24 people, as well as an estimated half a billion animals. By Monday, there were 136 fires blazing across Australia, with 69 of them not contained. Over 2,700 firefighters have been battling the flames, but to no avail. As the blazes only spread, the Australian Defense Force summoned 3,000 reserves to help the effort and loaned special planes to firefighters. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also earmarked an additional 2 billion Australian dollars for the country to recover, joining the tens of millions of dollars already set aside. “The fires are still burning. And they’ll be burning for months to come,” Morrison predicted. “And so that’s why I outlined today that this is an initial, an additional, investment of $2 billion. If more is needed and the cost is higher, then more will be provided.” Australia’s fire season usually runs from December to March, but record-breaking heat in 2019 coupled with lingering drought and high winds brought earlier and more intense fires than usual.


status as a former British colony. As anti-China protests refused to die down, Zhimin came under increasing criticism for his inability to end the disturbances. “The massive defeat of the pro-establishment camp at the district council elections sealed his fate, but I think even before then, they had decided to remove him because he repeatedly failed to predict the mood of the city,” China specialist Willy Lam said. Huining has experience in suppressing opposition. In coal-producing Shanxi province, he helped root out corrupt officials with ties to the powerful aide of former president Hu Jintao. Before that, he spent more than a decade in Qinghai, birthplace of the Dalai Lama, where alongside efforts to revive the local economy he tightened restrictions on Tibetan Buddhist communities.

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China Bulldozes Uighur Graveyards


Monday, February 10th, hundreds of lomdim will gather in Chicago to learn and complete Shas.

China is systematically bulldozing Uighur burial grounds, CNN reports, and has already dug up 100 cemeteries since 2014. According to the report, China started destroying the cemeteries five years ago but picked up the pace in 2017. An examination of satellite photos taken a year apart show the once-packed Uighur cemeteries paved over with cement, with at least one being turned into a soccer field. An investigation by the AFP news agency found that many of the demolished gravesites were covered in human bones, suggesting that China had purposely mistreated the area in order to humiliate its Uighur minority. “It’s akin for an American to see Arlington cemetery razed and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier dug up and paved over,” Loyola University Professor Rian Thum explained. Chinese officials didn’t deny the report, telling CNN that the burial grounds needed to be destroyed for “urban planning” purposes. “ Xinjiang fully respect and guarantee the freedom of all ethnic choose cemeteries, and funeral and burial methods,” said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson. The official added that “governments…in Xinjiang fully respect and guarantee the freedom of all ethnic groups…to choose cemeteries and funeral and burial methods.” The Uighurs are an Islamic minority native to China’s Xinjiang region. Viewing their religion as a threat to Communist rule, China has ramped up its persecution of the group in recent years. Currently, Beijing is holding as many as 2 million Uighurs in

China Installs New Hong Kong Leader

As anti-China protests in Hong Kong refuse to die down, Beijing has installed a new top official in the territory who is known for his experience in putting down ethnic uprisings. According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, Luo Huining will replace Wang Zhimin, who led Hong Kong’s Central Liaison Office since 2017. While Xinhua didn’t mention the reason for the change, it came only 60 days after China’s Communist Party voted to implement harsher measures in Hong Kong “to safeguard national security.” Huining is the highest official so far to be removed from his position over his failure to handle the protests. Hong Kong, which is nominally under Chinese control, has been rocked by anti-government demonstrations for over eight months ever since lawmakers attempted to pass an extradition bill last year. The bill, which was later scrapped, infuriated Hong Kong residents due to what they viewed as Communist China’s attempt to impose its sovereignty on the democratically-run territory. Despite being officially under Chinese control, Hong Kong has a different political system resulting from its





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forced labor camps and is reportedly harvesting the organs of inmates. China has denied these allegations and claimed last year that the camps are simply “vocational training sites.” In a December press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China views the welfare of its Uighur population in Xinjiang with the highest importance and said that the harsh measures were needed to “fight terrorism and maintain stability.”

of the population. 34% of them under the age of 16, and over 60% identify as “strongly religious.” In addition, the number of Muslims in Britain has doubled over the past decade as a result of fluid immigration policies and a high native birth rate. Today, large swaths of London are more than 50% Islamic, a massive increase from the 950,000 English Muslims in 1991. The number is expected to rise even further, as 5,095 asylum requests were filed by Muslims since October 2015, mainly by Syrians and Libyans. If the current population explosion continues, parts of London could become completely Islamic by 2030, with the country’s overall Muslim population tripling by 2050. The surge in Muslims comes as the number of Christians in England continues to fall. The report found that the amount of practicing Christians fell from 59.6% to 56.6%, with the number dropping a full 12 points in Wales over the past decade. The Muslim Council of Britain hailed the sharp rise, saying that the increased numbers would lead to a better and more diverse England. “This statistic highlights the diversity in modern Britain and the need that this is reflected in all spheres of life, from top management opportunities to political representation,” said a Council spokesman. However, Conservative lawmakers

More Than 3 Million Muslims in UK

The amount of Muslims now residing in the United Kingdom has passed the 3 million mark, with more than half comprised of immigrants. According to new data released by the Office of National Statistics, 3,194,791 Muslims currently live in England – 5.9%

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Iran: Nuclear Deal is Done The fate of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal appears in jeopardy after Tehran announced on Sunday that it would stop keeping to its terms. Following the killing of Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani on Friday, Tehran announced that it no longer viewed itself bound by the nuclear agreement. In a cabinet meeting, Islamic Republic officials said that the country would ramp up its enrichment of uranium and will no longer respect any limitations on its atomic weapons program. “Iran will continue its nuclear enrichment without restrictions based on its technical needs,” stated Iran’s official news agency. Even so, Tehran maintained that it will not break off times with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and that it is willing to negotiate with the European Union to remove U.S. sanctions on its oil exports. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif tweeted that “this step is within JCPOA & all 5 steps are reversible upon EFFECTIVE implementation of reciprocal obligations. Iran’s full cooperation w/ IAEA will continue.” Known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal was inked between the six largest world powers and Iran in 2015. As per the terms of the agreement, Tehran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium to 3.67% in exchange for the removal of sanctions. The JCPOA had already been on shaky ground after President Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions against Tehran. Iran then began violating parts of the deal, including slowly raising the level of uranium it has been enriching. This is the first time that Tehran has openly announced that it sees the entire accord as void.

Vegans Protected in UK


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point to the numbers as additional evidence that England is being swamped by Muslims who refused to assimilate and are a drain on the economy. “This is clear evidence of the way in which mass immigration is rapidly changing the nature of our society,” said former Migration Watch leader, Lord Green of Deddington.

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On Friday, a tribunal in Norwich, England, determined that ethical veganism is a “religion or belief” and one of the nine “protected characteristics” under the 2010 Equality Act. In other words, make fun of my tofu and you can end up behind bars. The ruling comes after Jordi Casamitjana of London claimed he had been

fired by the League Against Cruel Sports as a result of his ethical veganism. Casamitjana said he was compelled to blow the whistle on his former employer, who he says had invested pension funds into firms that tested on animals. According to the League Against Cruel Sports, Casamitjana, 55, had instead been dismissed for gross misconduct, adding that it is “factually wrong” to associate his firing with his beliefs. They also agree that ethical veganism should be protected. Following the verdict, Casamitjana told the BBC, “I’m really, really satisfied and I hope all the vegans out there that have been supporting me – there have been many helping me in my crowdfunding – I hope they now feel their little donation has been properly used and all the vegans will benefit.” Judge Robin Postle, who has yet to rule on Casamitjana’s dismissal itself, based the court’s decision against a series of benchmarks qualifying ethical veganism as belief worthy of protection, including the fact that the lifestyle is not incompatible with human dignity nor conflicting with the fundamental rights of others. Postle called veganism “important” and “worthy” of regard in a democratic society, adding, “I am satisfied overwhelmingly that ethical veganism does constitute a philosophical belief.” Casamitjana’s vegan beliefs are so fervent that he’ll often avoid taking a bus “to avoid accidental crashes with insects or birds that may occur when taking a bus,” according to a statement he provided to the tribunal. “Veganism is a philosophical belief and when you look at my life and anybody else’s life who is an ethical vegan, you will see it,” said Casamitjana. “This is a positive belief, it’s not a negative belief. And therefore, a positive belief is bound to be protected.”

Muslim Killer of French Holocaust Survivor Goes Free

French Jews are outraged after the Muslim who killed elderly Holocaust survivor Sarah Halimi walked free after mounting a successful insanity defense. The 67-year-old Halimi was murdered last year when Kobili Troare threw her out of a third story window. Troare had chanted verses from the Koran during the vicious beating he gave her, with neighbors recounting hearing call her a “Jewish demon.” The brutal murder shocked Jews worldwide, who called for Troare to be given a

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Highlighting the Murder of Alberto Nisman A new Netflix series is shining new light on an Argentinian lawyer’s suspicious death days before he was to accuse the country’s president of covering up the bombing of a Jewish center. Titled “Nisman: The Prosecutor, the President, and the Spy,” the series examines the 2015 death of Alberto Nisman that rocked the South American country. The series premiered on January 1 and will run for six episodes.


ing then-President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner of covering up the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires. The bombing was an attack on the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994. Eighty-five people were killed; hundreds others were injured. It is the deadliest bombing in Argentine history. The attack had the highest Jewish toll since the Holocaust and was widely presumed to be the work of Iran. No perpetrators were ever brought to justice and the unsolved case remains a sore spot in Argentina’s Jewish community. Following 18 years of research, Nisman was ready to present his findings that fingered Kirshner in covering up Iran’s true role in the bombing. He and his partner formally accused Iran of directing the bombing in 2006. In 2015, Nisman filed a 300-page document accusing Kirchner of covering up Iran’s role in the incident. His alleged “suicide” threw a wrench into those plans, sparking theories that Nisman was, in fact, murdered by Kirchner to avoid facing justice for her crimes. In 2017, Judge Claudio Bonadio accused Kirchner of treason and called on the country’s senate to permit her arrest and trial for allegedly covering up Iranian involvement in the 1994 bomb attack. Kirchner is currently referred for public trial over alleged cover-up of Iranian involvement in the bombing. A day after the first episode aired on Netflix, Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez denied in an interview that Kirchner was responsible for Nisman’s death but said that he did not believe that the prosecutor’s death was a suicide. “I doubt that someone who was going through a euphoric moment could commit suicide, I don’t know that. I’m allowing myself to doubt it,” Fernandez admitted. Argentina is home to 230,000 Jews, the largest Jewish community in Latin America and the sixth in the world outside Israel.

Conviction for Murderer of Ari Fuld, Hy”d

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long prison sentence. Instead, he will now be released within the next few weeks after a Paris court ruled in December that he was not responsible for his actions. Pointing to the drugs Troare had consumed prior to the vicious attack, judges gave the shocking order to see the murdered free. Attorneys representing the Halimi family said it was a “scandalous decision” and confirmed they were preparing to appeal to the French Supreme Court. “I’m angry and ashamed of our legal system,” said Francis Spinner, a lawyer representing Ms. Halimi’s children. “It’s a scandalous decision. They’ve just created a new Sarah Halimi jurisprudence, starting today. Anyone who took illegal substances can go free without any criminal responsibility. Tonight, this man is free from justice, he is completely sane and will soon be released from the hospital.” Spinner added: “Sarah Halimi’s family will try to bring the case to the Supreme Court, but she may not be able to do so.” Moriel Oknin, a lawyer representing Ms. Halimi’s brother, said she was “very concerned about the implications of this decision. I worry about the future of Jews living in France.” The Jewish Student Union in France commented on the decision, saying “the decision marked the entry of the immunity rule in the face of the deadly anti-Semitism in the country.” Meir Habib, French MP, commented on the decision, saying, “As a Member of Parliament, I do not make judicial decisions, but as someone involved in this case from the first day at the family’s request, I am simply appalled, the judges declared that a murderer is criminally irresponsible.” “The refusal of the judge and the police to reconstruct [the crime is] delusional,” he added.



Nisman had been found shot dead in his apartment in 2015, shortly after accus-

A West Bank military court convicted a Palestinian teenager this week of murdering Israeli-American Ari Fuld in a



The Week In News 2018 stabbing attack at the West Bank’s Gush Etzion Junction. The Judea Military Court found 18-year-old Khalil Jabarin guilty of one count of intentionally causing death – the court’s equivalent of murder – and three counts of attempted murder. Jabarin stabbed Ari, a father of four, multiple times in the back and neck as he was standing outside a supermarket near the Gush Etzion Junction in the central West Bank. After he was stabbed, Ari, 43, pursued and shot the terrorist, who was attempting to attack a shop employee, possibly saving her life. Ari then collapsed and was rushed to a hospital but succumbed to his wounds. Ari’s family lauded the court’s ruling and called for Jabarin to be given the maximum punishment. Recognizing that the court would not hand down a sentence harsher than life in prison, the family said the only way to prevent future terror attacks is to give the death penalty to all perpetrators. Although the death penalty formally exists in Israeli law, it has only ever been used once – in 1962 in the case of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust. It is technically allowed in cases of high treason, as well as in certain circumstances under the martial law that applies within the IDF and in the West Bank but currently requires a

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

unanimous decision from a panel of three judges and has never been implemented. Joining the Fuld family in calling for the death penalty, Education Minister Rafi Peretz said in a statement that while “the conviction of Ari Fuld’s murderer is a right step in the right direction. If the intention is to allow the perpetrator to obtain a bachelor’s degree and enjoy other treats in jail, then it is on us to carry out a serious internal reckoning of how we arrived at this situation.” Last January, Israeli security forces demolished Jabarin’s home in Yatta, near Hebron. Jabarin, who was shot by Ari and another armed civilian at the scene, was taken to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in moderate condition with multiple gunshot wounds after the attack. He was indicted a month later. Fuld was born in New York and later moved to Efrat. A well-known Israel advocate and right-wing activist, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Distinction, the third-highest award that can be granted by the Israel Police.

Netanyahu Asks Knesset for Immunity Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the

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Knesset to grant him immunity last week, in what is his latest gambit to shield himself from prosecution on multiple corruption charges. Bibi made his request on Wednesday in a prime-time press conference. The appeal for immunity came despite pledging before the most recent campaign in an interview that he would not seek to avoid justice. “In order to continue to lead Israel to great achievements, I intend to approach the speaker of the Knesset in accordance with chapter 4C of the law (Hebrew link), in order to fulfill my right, my duty and my mission to continue to serve you for the future of Israel,” the prime minister said. In his address, Netanyahu said that he was making the request due to what he said was a “wide-ranging plot” by the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office to frame him for crimes that he didn’t commit. The premier added that he would be ready to face justice after his term was over, just like any other citizen. “The Immunity Law is intended to protect elected officials from being framed. The law is intended to ensure that the elected officials can serve the people according to the will of the people and not the will of the clerks,” Netanyahu said. “Unfortunately, this is what happened in my case – inventing criminal cases, blackmail and threats to turn people state witnesses, a flood of leaks, brainwashing the public and giving me a ‘field trial,’” he asserted. The prime minister filed a formal request on Thursday to Knesset Chairman Yuli Edelstein (Likud) to convene the appropriate committee that would grant him immunity from prosecution. He said immunity would only protect him from facing charges while he remained in office and that he would still be charged the moment he was no longer Israel’s elected leader. Until 2005, Israeli legislators were automatically immune from prosecution, with authorities forced to ask the Knesset to remove the immunity in order to being MKs to justice. In 2005, however, the law was changed, with lawmakers having to ask the Knesset to grant them immunity. Netanyahu’s sought-for immunity is contingent on getting 61 votes in the Knesset, something that appears unlikely after Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman promised to vote against the move. “It’s clearly beyond doubt now: All that is and what interests Netanyahu is immunity,” Liberman wrote on Facebook soon after Netanyahu’s press conference.

Coffee Culture Israelis love coffee – so much so that they have earned the 19th spot on illy’s list of global coffee consumers. The Italy-based coffee company founded in 1933 recently released a report about international coffee consumption over the last decade. In that time, the global coffee market has grown by 60%, it reported.

According to the report, Israelis consume an average of 4.4 kg. of coffee per person annually, just ahead of Spain, whose citizens consume 4.3 kilos. Americans are just behind their Israeli and Spanish counterparts and reportedly consume 4.1 kilos per person. “As you can see in the data, there has been a significant increase in coffee consumption worldwide in the last decade,” noted Uri Federman, CEO of Landwer Cafe, which has locations across Israel. “In recent years, Israel’s coffee culture has become among the most developed in the world.” In Israel and around the world, the most common strain of coffee consumed is Arabica. The largest exporter of coffee is South America, which is responsible for 48% of global exports. “The Israeli coffee market is currently estimated to be between NIS 3 billion to NIS 3.5b. a year, about 78% of the Israeli adult population drinks coffee, and the average Israeli drinks between two to four cups of coffee a day,” Federman said. Finland was at the top of illy’s list. Its citizens reportedly consume an average of 12.1 kilos of coffee annually. China and India tied for last place, at 0.1 kg. annually. When it comes to importing coffee, the U.S. leads illy’s top 10 importers, just ahead of Italy, which ranked third.

Two Drown in Elevator from Flooding A man and women in their thirties drowned to death in a Tel Aviv elevator amid the flash floods that paralyzed the city. The two had taken the elevator to an underground parking lot in southern Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood on Saturday in the midst of driving winds and heavy rain. The elevator suddenly stopped working after the power went out. A faulty sewer then disgorged hundreds of gallons of rain into the elevator shaft, trapping and drowning them. Din Shoshani was the first to be rescued by firefighters and was rushed to Tel Hashomer’s Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. He later passed away, despite frantic efforts by doctors to resuscitate him. At about 3 p.m., almost an hour later, divers managed to extract 35 -ear-old Stav Harari, who was pronounced dead at the scene. They were both laid to rest on Sunday at Yarkon Cemetery before a crowd of hundreds. Building residents later said that they had heard the couple banging and calling for help as the elevator slowly filled with water but to no avail. Family members blamed the lengthy period it took rescuers to arrive for the tragedy, asking why it took firefighters almost an hour to reach the scene. “How can it be that no one has yet come to speak to the family?” one relative asked. “No official representative, no one

JANUARY 9, 2020 | The Jewish Home

from the municipality or police came to tell us what happened.” “When I arrived, the water had already reached the top,” building owner Alfred Jadid said. “We tried to open the doors but were unable to.” Jadid criticized the slow response time of the rescue workers, noting that “they weren’t prepared for this.” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement that he was “appalled by the tragic death of two Tel Aviv residents killed in the elevator disaster” and demanded answers to how such a thing could happen. The drownings occurred amid massive flash flooding in Tel Aviv that paralyzed Israel’s second-largest city on Saturday. An estimated 71 millimeters of precipitation lashed Tel Aviv on Saturday, flooding the municipal sewer system and causing widespread chaos.

High Court Rejects Petition to Disqualify Netanyahu


really argue that this is an unjustifiable issue.” Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to the decision by blasting the High Court for even agreeing to debate the issue. “To be clear, I don’t think it should be discussed at all because the people’s choice who will lead the people is the people’s choice and not anyone else’s. That will be the case in the future as well,” tweeted the prime minister. Netanyahu is currently facing criminal indictments in three different cases. Under existing laws, a prime minister under indictment does not have to resign until he is convicted in court. The case had revolved around if the president is even allowed to task Netanyahu with forming a government in the first place should he win in March.


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Gas Deal Signed with Greece, Cyprus

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Israel’s High Court rejected a petition that sought to disqualify Prime Minister Netanyahu from forming a government following the next elections in March. The appeal, which was filed by 45 senior business officials and lawyers, had argued that Netanyahu could not be entrusted with a mandate to form a government while under indictment. Bibi is currently charged with three counts of breach of trust, three counts of fraud, and one count of bribery. In the decision, the three justices wrote that while the matter was justiciable, it was too early to rule on it since Netanyahu has still not won the March election. The ruling left the door open for the Court to rule on the issue again following the March election. In doing so, the court explicitly rejected Netanyahu’s and Likud’s claim that the possibility of imposing a criminal charge against the government is a non-justiciable issue. The Likud had said that the very fact that the justices were allowing themselves to debate which candidate the people were allowed to vote for was anti-Democratic. “The issue raised in our petition is a fundamental and important issue,” wrote the justices. “It touches on the principle of the rule of law, the purity of the standards of the elected officials, and the public’s confidence in the government institutions. It therefore touches on the core values ​​on which our legal system is based and therefore the respondent and respondent do not

Israel signed an agreement with Cyprus and Greece last Thursday in Athens that will see the Jewish State become an energy exporter, a development once seen as unthinkable. Known as the East-Med gas pipeline, the agreement paves the way for Israel to export gas through Cyprus and Greece on the way to Europe. The 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile) EastMed pipeline is able to transfer 12 billion cubic meters of gas annually. The agreement was inked in a ceremony by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Kiryakos Mitsutakis, and Cyprus President Nikos Anastasadis during the Triple Summit on Thursday. The Athens meeting marks a continuation of the Jerusalem Summit, which was held with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last March. With the signatures, the gas deal is now defined as an intergovernmental agreement, which goes further to the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013 after a preliminary feasibility study was conducted. The agreement enshrines the commitment of the three countries to the project. “This is a historic day for Israel, because Israel is fast becoming an energy superpower, a country that exports energy,” said Netanyahu. “This brings us hundreds of billions of shekels of income to Israeli citizens – for welfare, for health, for young people and the elderly – for everyone. This is an outstanding development.”

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