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The Week In News

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home


The Week In News

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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‫ב‬ ‫ט‬ ‫א‬ ‫א‬ ‫ל‬ ‫ר‬ ‫מ‬ ‫ב‬ ‫ו‬ ‫נ‬ ‫י‬ ‫ן‬ The upcoming Dirshu World Siyum on Sunday, February 9, 2020, will be an unforgettable celebration of the bond between Klal Yisrael and our beloved Torah.

The Dirshu World Siyum will mark the monumental accomplishments of the individuals in the Dirshu ranks who have dedicated years to the Dirshu mission of elevating the Torah landscape. Forever.

In order for the tzibbur at large to participate, the inspirational program will be broadcast live: KOL MEVASER: 212-444-1100 KOL HALASHON: 718-906-6400 Press * to listen live JROOT: 88.7 FM - Brooklyn / JrootRadio.com HAMODIA.COM • DIRSHU.CO.IL • C-LIVE.CO.IL

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KOL BERAMA: 107.9 FM - Lakewood / NewYorkJewishRadio.com


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The Week In News

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home is distributed bi-weekly to: ANAHEIM AGOURA HILLS BEVERLY HILLS BURBANK CALABASAS CAMARILLO COSTA MESA ENCINO GLENDALE HUNTINGON BEACH IRVINE LONG BEACH LOS ANGELES -BEVERLY HILLS

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Dear Readers, As of this writing 25,000 people have caught the Coronavirus plaguing China. You can actually watch the spread of it on maps online, live. While we obviously Daven it be contained and no additional people get infected or die G-d forbid, as with everything that happens in Hashem’s world there are lessons to be learnt. If a negative virus can be transmitted person to person then for sure a helping hand or kind word can be passed around. Imagine we can track the affects these had on people. Who then are in the mood to help others, and they in turn others. It doesn’t take a leap of faith to see how each act can literally travel around the globe extremely quick and be multiplied tens, hundreds and thousands time over. Just like the virus; a person can catch it even if they don’t want it. For even a person in a bad mood or place will be touched by genuine interest or concern shown them. The “symptoms” can take a few days or weeks but ultimately all kindness shown people will eventually touch them. At that point they might not even recall which encounter caused it but it doesn’t really matter, additional goodness and kindness is now tangible in the world. -This past Wednesday, Yud Shvat marks 70 years since the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe assumed leadership of his Chassidim as well as feeling personally responsible for world Jewry. Indeed his public letters sent out before Yomim Tovim were addressed to “sons and daughters of Israel, wherever they may be.” As the decades past it became clear that this wasn’t just an attitude or feeling, he meant it literally. All Jews wherever they may be had an address to turn to if help was needed. There are over 12,000 letters of his letters published in Hebrew alone. Every single letter was opened by him personally. He insisted that “the letter is addressed to me so I need to open it.” The secretariat then bought a machine that would open letters automatically. The Rebbe declined using it saying “can a machine possibly detect the pain and tears that went into writing these heartfelt letters?!” It’s customary in Chabad that when a Rebbe accepts the leadership of Chassidim he says a Maamar, a Chassidic discourse, which acts as a mission statement of sorts. The Maamar the Rebbe said begins with the Medrash that describes Hashem at the time of Matan Torah as saying “I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride.” The Maamar then goes on to explain, among other Chassidic teachings, what it means that Hashem is returning, why this world is called a garden, and what our purpose is in this world. But the thrust of the Maamar is that Hashem’s essential Shechina was revealed in this world at the time of creation, was revealed again at Har Sinai and will be revealed a final time at the time of the Geula. At times the world looks and feels like a jungle but this isn’t its true existence. Right at the start of creation Hashem’s light was seen in this world. Our job is to uncover it once and for all. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,

Shalom

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


The Week In News

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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The Week In News

Happenings

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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Shas for Shidduchim is coming up this Sunday evening, February 9, 2020 Advertorial When considering the state of Klal Yisrael’s singles, solving the shidduch crisis is on the top of everyone’s mind. Dating is a hard tekufah, with many challenges facing frum singles today. Chicago Chesed Fund is dedicated to supporting the klal and its singles through this trying time. Building on their previous successes, Chicago Chesed Fund is holding their third annual Shas for Shidduchim campaign to amass zechusim for those that have yet to find their bashert. This Tu B’Shvat—beginning this Sunday evening, February 9, 2020—lomdim will harness the power of limud haTorah by finishing the entire Shas in one day. As the Ben Ish Chai explains, Tu B’Shvat is a parallel to Tu B’Av; both are special days for finding one’s zivug. “When I heard about Shas for Shidduchim, I thought, ‘This is an opportunity I need to take advantage of.’ Limud haTorah is not your typical segulah, it’s an actual zechus that can hopefully bring me closer to finding my other half,” said Meira, a 21-year-old girl from New York. Meira sponsored a daf for our first ever Shas for Shidduchim campaign. Baruch Hashem, by the following year, she was

busy planning her wedding, which took place only one month after our second Shas for Shidduchim campaign. Meira was happy to sponsor a daf again, this time in the zechus that her friends should have the opportunity to walk to their own chuppahs soon. Following the completion of all 2,711 blatt, the entire Chicago community is invited to participate in this beautiful Siyum HaShas along with the lomdim and sponsors of the annual event. The siyum will take place on February 10, 2020 at the Veitzener Cheder Yeshiva Ohr Boruch. R’ Moshe Tuvia Leiff, Morah D’Asra of Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin of Brooklyn, will be addressing the misaymim and their family and friends with divrei chizzuk and praise for their great accomplishment. Iy”H, there will be a separate address with divrei chizzuk for women. The siyum is fast approaching! Join us by sponsoring a daf in the zechus of a single! B’ezras Hashem, we will see many more simchos in Klal Yisrael. Hurry! Time is running out to sponsor! Visit Shas4Shidduchim.org to sponsor a daf in zechus of a single.

Chinuch of Today Weekend is Back by Popular Demand Yehudis Litvak Due to popular demand, the Chinuch of Today weekend is coming back to Los Angeles on February 13th through 16th. The program is brought here by Yedidim, an Israeli organization dedicated to supporting and mentoring English-speaking teens and pre-teens living or studying in Israel. Last year, Yedidim came to Los Angeles for the first time, and the feedback has been overwhelming, explains Yedidim founder and director, Rabbi Yaacov Goodman. The local attendees found the event inspiring and life-changing and asked for more. This year, Yedidim is again bringing leading English-speaking chinuch experts, including Rabbi Zev Leff, Rabbi Shais Taub, Rabbi Dovid Kaplan, Rabbi Menachem Nissel, and Dr. David Lieberman. The experts will once again hold a Chinuch Think Tank, answering questions from local parents. Rabbi Goodman says that he is already receiving questions, some of them following up on last year’s Think Tank. In addition, due to numerous requests, Chinuch of Today is now offering private consultations. “Last year, we received a

couple of questions for the Think Tank that couldn’t be answered in public, but it was clear that the families needed help ASAP,” says Rabbi Goodman. “There were two families we helped right on the spot.” One of the families was set up with a local therapist, and their child is now doing much better. Other families also benefited from impromptu private sessions. This year, private consultations are part of the speakers’ schedules, and families can sign up in advance by emailing info@yedidim.org. Also new this year are group workshops on different parenting topics. “Unlike lectures, the workshops will be interactive, with an emphasis on practical tools,” says Rabbi Goodman. The Thursday night workshop topics are Raising Spiritual Children in a Material World and Transforming Relationships. On Sunday morning, there will be concurrent workshops for different stages of parenting. On Sunday afternoon, Yedidim is also bringing its program to San Diego in an intensive—but just as inspiring and transformational—version.


FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Happenings

The Kedushah of Eretz Yisrael is Being Threatened

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The Week In News

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You can protect it! The opportunity only comes around once in five years. It’s your chance to protect Eretz Yisrael from liberal movements that are pushing anti-Torah policies and programs. Right now, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) is electing members of its Congress (the decision-making body of the WZO) and executive board members of the other national Israel organizations. This is a unique opportunity for the American Orthodox community to affect the culture and atmosphere of Eretz Yisrael. Yes, Americans can vote! 152 delegates will be voted in from United States based on YOUR vote. These delegates will be elected to: • Decide leadership positions in key national Israel organizations • Create policy affecting, Shmirat Shabbat, kashrut, and tradition at the Kotel • Set standards of marriage, divorce, and conversion • Decide policy and funding affecting Jewish education in Israel and across the world • Decide on the direction of the $5 billion budget (over five years) If the Torah community does not vote, we will not be represented. Without our votes, the influence and decisions will be placed in the hands of those who will decide policies that are most often anti-Torah. This is what happened in the last election, because we didn’t vote. Vote TODAY to protect the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael at EretzHaKodesh.org. In the 2015 election, the liberal Jewish groups won the majority of American

votes. They tried to add a mixed section at the Kotel. They gave money to liberal anti-Torah projects and causes. They launched a program to teach pluralism in Israeli public schools. They welcomed hundreds of thousands of non-halachic “Jewish” Russians as Israeli citizens. And they limited funding to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Now again, they’re gathering tens of thousands of votes to advance their agenda. There is too much at stake for us to remain silent. Gedolei Yisrael have directed us to act for Torah. Numerous rabbanim— including HaRav Asher Weiss and HaRav Yitzchok Berkowitz of Yerushalayim, and HaRav Elya Brudny of New York (as reiterated at the recent 2019 Agudath Israel of America National Convention)—feel that there is much merit in this endeavor and are encouraging us in our efforts. To that end, Eretz HaKodesh, an American initiative to protect and uphold true Torah values in Eretz Yisrael, has put together a slate of delegates that represent the Yeshiva, Chassidic, Sephardic, and Israeli Torah communities of the United States. Your vote matters! The outcome of the 2020 election is CRITICAL to the Torah atmosphere of Eretz Yisrael. If Torah representatives are elected to the WZO Congress, they will have an enormous impact on the Torah standards and traditions of Eretz Yisrael. Voting is only open for six weeks, from Tuesday, January 21, to Wednesday, March 11 (Shushan Purim). Protect the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael! Learn more and vote at EretzHaKodesh. org.

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TheHappenings Week In News

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Restitution and Resources Remain Available for Holocaust Survivors as They Age Lorelei Laird Seventy-four years after the end of World War II, some might assume that survivors of the Holocaust have largely died out. But not Lisa Hoffman. Hoffman is an attorney for Bet Tzedek Legal Services, one of only two legal organizations in the United States that have programs helping Holocaust survivors secure reparations. That means she often has the privilege of meeting with survivors and hearing their stories. And if she can, she helps them get payments from the foreign governments that took their relatives, property and labor without compensation. “The objective of our Holocaust services program is really, quite simply, to ensure that survivors of the Holocaust can live their remaining years with dignity and in as much comfort as possible,” says Hoffman. Despite the decades that have passed, Hoffman says there are still plenty of opportunities for survivors to claim benefits. Some have never claimed benefits, she says; they may have refused, not have realized they were eligible, or previously didn’t need the money. There are also people who have claimed reparations, but may be eligible for more, she says. That’s especially true because new reparations programs or looser

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eligibility standards are announced several times a year—at least during the 13 years Hoffman has been doing this work. “The trend over many years is toward sort of constantly… expanding eligibility and changing the rules of some of the programs,” she says. “So, you know, we haven’t really seen things slow down.” That’s especially good news because Holocaust survivors in the U.S. disproportionately live in poverty. According to a paper presented last year at the Convening on Jewish Poverty, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany estimates that there are about 80,000 survivors in the United States, with 28,000 of those—35%— in poverty. That’s a rate far higher than the 9.7% poverty rate among all elderly Americans reported by the Census Bureau. The rate may be higher still in Los Angeles, an expensive city with a large Jewish population. Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles spokesman Michel Sidman says his organization provides social and financial services to about 1000 Holocaust survivors a month. “I think it was found about a decade ago that almost half of the survivors in L.A. County would be considered poor or low-in-

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come,” says Hoffman. “So of course, it’s important for us to be able to improve their financial situation and stability by getting them whatever kind of compensation we can.” And as Holocaust survivors age, they may have newer and expensive needs. Hoffman says it’s common for older adults to need to “spend down” their assets to receive government benefits, and those with substantial health problems may start to need home health care or help around the house. In fact, she says that’s a source of referrals to her program. The Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles provides many of these services to Holocaust survivors, but to be eligible, Hoffman says survivors must show that they have been awarded reparations. “The receipt of reparations is kind of a shorthand way of establishing that a person is indeed a Holocaust survivor,” she says. “So more and more, we’re getting referrals from social services agencies.” Fortunately, eligibility for reparations can be quite broad. Hoffman says the full range of war experiences could qualify a person, even if that person was in hiding, living under an assumed name or left the home country before the worst part of the war. There are programs for people who were children or even still in the womb at the time, and there are programs compensating people who were persecuted by a specific foreign government. Some of these programs provide onetime payments; others bring in monthly payments. Importantly for older people who are trying to spend down their assets, the Claims Conference says reparation payments do not count as income or assets for the purposes of U.S. federal benefits programs such as SSI or Medicaid (which is called Medi-Cal in California). In order to determine which reparations a person might be eligible for, Hoffman typically sits down and listens to the person’s life’s story. She says everybody understands that survivors are unlikely to have documents demonstrating their persecution—but any documentation they do have can be helpful. Many programs will ask for identity documents—passports, citizenship papers, U.S. immigration records. What’s especially helpful, she says, is documentation from before, during and the 10 years directly after WWII, because they help verify the person’s story and suggest how they might get further documents. That said, Hoffman encourages eligible people to apply even if they don’t have any documents backing up their stories. “I don’t think anybody should ever worry that they shouldn’t apply for reparations simply because they don’t have documentary proof of where they were,” she says. “Because the important thing is to be able to talk about the experience and, you know, that the story that they tell make sense, and that it fits within the historical record. And that really goes a long way.”

One increasing challenge for the Bet Tzedek program is that with age—the Claims Conference says Holocaust survivors’ average age is 82—comes memory loss that prevents clients from establishing a clear timeline. Ironically, another problem is that survivors who were babies or toddlers at the time may not have been aware of details like when exactly the Nazis took the family’s property. In those cases, Bet Tzedek staff steps in and does some historical research, trying to verify what would have been likely to happen to someone in the appropriate area at the time. Reparations are not the only available service for Holocaust survivors. Hoffman has a colleague in the Bet Tzedek Holocaust survivors program who provides general elder law services, including help applying for public benefits, estate planning documents, elder abuse prevention and more. Interested people are welcome to call Bet Tzedek about either those services or reparations at 323549-5883. There is also a dedicated line for Russian speakers at 323-549-5811. The Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles offer services for survivors including transportation, mental health care, financial assistance, kosher meal delivery and social events, especially Café Europa social clubs for Holocaust survivors in both the city and the Valley. Nor is Los Angeles the only place where survivors can seek help. The New York Legal Assistance Group is the other U.S. legal services provider with a Holocaust survivors’ program. Like Bet Tzedek, it handles both reparations and elder law help. In Israel, survivors can turn to Aviv for Holocaust Survivors, which says about a quarter of Israeli survivors live in poverty. And to serve survivors in other areas of the U.S.—the Claims Conference says large numbers of U.S. survivors also live in New Jersey, Illinois and Florida—Bet Tzedek in 2008 launched the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network, which trains and maintains a list of attorneys who help survivors apply for reparations free of charge. Generally, interested survivors can reach one of those attorneys through their local Jewish social services organization. Hoffman says it’s a privilege to hear her clients’ stories. She can’t share those stories, because she has an obligation as an attorney to keep her discussions with clients confidential. But when she prepares their paperwork to make claims, she says she always makes a point of including information about what they accomplished in life after the war. “I usually include that even though it’s not strictly required in the application, because I just think it’s important to present these people as whole people and not just as a victim,” she says. “If more people could hear their stories, I think that there would be so much better understanding and knowledge generally about the Holocaust.”


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JANUARY 26, 2020

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FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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Torah The WeekMusings In News

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Our Little Entrepreneur Sarah Pachter

When our son, Josh, was just eight years old, he had an entrepreneurial idea— and it led to amazing things! I’ll share his business venture with you momentarily, but first I would like to discuss Parshat Beshalach, my son’s bar mitzvah parshah. Beshalach is jam-packed with several famous stories, including the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea. “Hayam ra’ah vayanos. The sea saw and split.”1 The commentaries ask what the sea saw. The midrash explains “Ra’ah arono shel Yosef yoreid layam,” it saw the coffin of Yosef approaching the sea, which was the catalyst for the miracle.2 Yosef had expressed his desire to be buried in the land of Israel, and therefore the Jewish people brought his coffin for reburial in Eretz Yisrael. How could witnessing Yosef’s bones initiate such a deviant course of nature in the sea? Yosef made a decision years prior that changed the trajectory of the Jewish people forever, and specifically in the moment they stood by the raging sea. Yosef was a handsome3 17-year-old boy, a slave to Potiphar, who was a man of high stature in Egypt. He brought financial abundance to Potiphar throughout the duration of his service there. Potiphar’s wife, like many women in Egypt, was attracted to Yosef,4 and she attempted to seduce him. Yosef, however, made the decision to keep his integrity and flee.5 Imagine! A teenager, with raging hormones, capable of leaving such a situation! This was an incredible feat. The sea saw the bones of Yosef and knew the nature of a 17-year-old boy is to give into temptation. But if Yosef, a mere

human, could overcome his nature for the will of Hashem, then it, too, will overcome the course of its nature and split. Despite Yosef’s impressive accomplishment, it seems a bit incongruous that the Jewish people merited a miracle of this magnitude from a moment’s decision that took place two centuries prior. Perhaps my son’s “big idea” can serve as a microcosm to answer this question. What did my little entrepreneur think of when he was only eight? He decided that he was going to collect every water bottle in Los Angeles and make massive profit from recycling them. My husband and I hid our amusement when he shared this idea. Instead, we fostered his venture by allowing him to place a large recycling bin inside our home. We encouraged him to ask permission to bring recycling bins to his school, as well. We agreed to take Josh to the recycling center each month to cash in. Of course, we capitalized on this opportunity to teach a lesson in finance. Each time he earned money, he divvied up the income into various accounts for charity, spending, and saving. Although it just seemed like a small tutorial, to our surprise, recycling the bottles began to produce more profit than we anticipated. After five years of recycling bottles—and other small businesses, such as running backyard camps, lemonade stands, and walking neighbors’ dogs—he was able to make a significant tzedakah contribution. With the money he earned, Josh sponsored a bar mitzvah for two orphans in Israel. Everything from tefillin, a new suit, and a small celebration was provided for these boys. Because of a decision made

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five years prior, now two members of Klal Yisrael are able to don tefillin daily, for the rest of their lives. If an eight-year old’s decision made five years in the past can have an impact of such magnitude on the physical and spiritual world, how much more so can the decision of Yosef haTzaddik cause a tidal wave’s impact. A mitzvah transcends time, which is why five, 200, or 2000 years later, the effect can be immense. Josh’s decision provides an example of how our seemingly insignificant actions can have a tremendously positive affect years or even decades later. Biglal avot toshia banim, in the merit of our ancestors we are saved. In Yosef’s merit, the entire Jewish people were allowed a miracle. Just as the holy acts of our ancestors paved a path for us, our actions pave the way for our descendants. Hashem remembers every mitzvah and utilizes His master plan to determine the perfect moment to redeem that act for merit. The Torah provides another example of this phenomenon. “Hashem remembered Sarah, and she became pregnant.”6 Rebbetzin Holly Pavlov notes that the word pakad is used for “remember,” rather than the more typical word, zachor. Pakad usually describes a deposit. This word was chosen because our mitzvot are similar to deposits made in a bank. When a man does a mitzvah, that deed belongs to him. Hashem holds our deposits, ready to return them to us at a later time. In Sarah’s case, it was in the form of a child.7 Unlike a typical deposit, we don’t get to decide when we cash in; only Hashem controls when and how. Sarah was 90 years old! Was she not a righteous woman, who must have merited a baby much earlier in life? This term pakad does not indicate a lack of righteousness on Sarah’s part. Rather, it connotes how nothing escapes Hashem’s memory, even if we forget. Hashem remembered Yosef’s decision, and 200 years later He returned that deposit in the form of one of the greatest miracles of all time. There is another explanation as to why Yosef’s bones caused Kriyat Yam Suf. Bringing the bones of Yosef was a statement of faith. This act communicated our belief that we would not only be freed from Egypt, but also our confidence in the

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long-term goal of survival to enter the land of Israel. Rav Dovber Pinson states that the vessel that receives the blessing is the faith itself.8 We were standing by the foot of the sea, shaking with fear, trapped between two ominous options. The sea seemed to be a deadly choice, and the Egyptians pursuing behind us was no better fate. Yet, despite fleeing for our lives, we had the courage to bring Yosef’s bones in the hopes of a future burial, signifying our immense faith. Yosef wanted to be buried in Israel, which meant bringing his bones was a statement that we didn’t just think we would survive, we believed Hashem would lead us to our ultimate goal—Israel. This audacious faith was the vessel in which we were saved. We too can bring the metaphor of Yosef into our everyday lives. When faced with split-the-sea moments, we can have faith that Hashem will bring us towards our goal, no matter how wayward the journey seems. The splitting of the sea and traveling in the desert was circuitous and laced with doubt and trepidation. But the bones of Yosef serve as a symbol of our emunah in the ultimate redemption. Whether praying for a parnasah, refuah, or children like Sarah Imeinu, think of Yetziat Mitzrayim and the metaphor of Yosef. Remember the end goal and know that just like Yosef’s act saved us once at Kriyat Yam Suf, that act, and our faith, can save us again. Perhaps it is for this reason that it is our job to remember Yetziat Mitzrayim daily. Hashem remembers our actions, and will pakad, release the deposit, at the right time. Just like we had staunch faith in Him then, that faith can still apply to our everyday lives. Every small decision and act of faith can lead to something great. Whether regarding a new business venture or more serious salvation, the idea of making positive decisions is ultimately what we want to pass on to our children. On Josh’s bar mitzvah day we said, “Today is the day your decisions start counting, so make them count. We know you will make us proud, because you already have.”

Bereishit 21:1

Pavlov, Holly. Mirrors of Our Lives (Feldheim 2000)

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The Week In News Living with the Times

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Insane

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman How many times do you hear people discussing something and exclaim, “That’s insane.” The truth is we are living in insane times. So much of what goes on really is insane. Let’s take a look at the news. As soon as President Donald Trump was sworn in, the Washington Post called for his impeachment. Impeachment? He just got into office. He didn’t even do anything yet. How could he be impeached and on what basis? It didn’t matter. The Democrats were sure that Hillary Clinton would be elected president, putting them in charge of Congress and the White House. They saw the continuation of their control, power and everything that comes with it. And then, in one fell swoop, it all collapsed. The non-politician, who didn’t play by the rules and campaigned on an anti-incumbent platform, had won against all odds. They had to stop him in his tracks and not permit him to carry out his plans. They would make sure he would fail. They voted against everything he wanted, but he succeeded anyway. Not only did he succeed, but he did so on an historic level. He got the economy moving well. More people have jobs now than ever before. The economy is chugging along at a pace that Obama and the Democrats had said would be impossible. Trump signed a trade deal with China, something that everyone said would never happen; he renegotiated the hated NAFTA trade deal with Mexico and Canada and got a new deal approved. The stock market is at historic highs. For practical purposes, Trump ended ISIS. He killed the head of ISIS as well as the head of the Iranian terror corps. He recognized Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel and approved the annexation of the Golan. He set forth a realistic peace plan for the Mideast. At each one of these junctures, none of the predicted rioting and violence broke out. His adversaries tried taking him down, claiming that he had colluded with Russia. The Democrats attempted to fabricate other scandals. Nothing worked. Nothing stuck. They appointed a special prosecutor

and he came up empty. Not only that, but after being promoted as the most capable person for the position, the special prosecutor showed himself to be way past his prime. The Impeachment Circus Finally, they hit on a telephone call the president had with the president of Ukraine and thought they had caught him red-handed. With time running out and the election approaching, they took their chances and decided to impeach the president based on second-hand information conjured up by a so-called whistleblower. A transparent ruse, but they were desperate. The president called their bluff and released the transcript of that conversation, which showed that he had done nothing wrong. Yet the die had been cast, and the Democrats rolled out their impeachment hearings in Congress. Impeachment’s main cheerleader proved himself to be a serial liar when the transcript he presented of the president’s conversation with the Ukrainian president was shown to be as bogus as his previous claim that he had proof that Trump colluded with Russia to get elected. Equally phony, as it turned out, was his claim that he and his staff had never met with the whistleblower, and he didn’t know who he was. After holding a biased investigation and rushed hearing, Congress voted to impeach the president, even though they knew that the Senate would exonerate him. It was an insane waste of time and energy and showed Congress to be a partisan group beholden to the progressive wing of the party and unable to thoroughly analyze an issue and its ramifications. The circus moved to the Senate and the charade continued, but the Republicans hold the majority in the Senate, so the charade was kept to a minimum. After both sides presented their cases, the president was exonerated and allowed to continue in office, while the corrupt Joe Biden continued bumbling his way through Iowa. Historic Peace Plan Wins Unprecedented Support Meanwhile, the president continued to perform in office on behalf of the country and hotspots around the world. Putting im-

peachment behind him, even before it was over, he flew off to Davos to highlight the country’s booming economy. Last week, he rolled out his long-awaited Mideast peace plan. Every president has tried to force peace on Israel, and it hasn’t worked. This president fashioned a plan based upon what is just and correct, working with Binyomin Netanyahu as well as Arab states, who over time have come to accept Israel’s existence and work with the Jewish state they had previously fought. Since 1967, much has changed. The United States doesn’t need Arab oil anymore. Arab states are fearful of Iran and its intentions, and the Palestinians have done nothing to improve their lot, spurning every effort to assist them. You would think that Democrats and Republicans would support the plan, which offers a realistic blueprint for giving the Palestinians a whole lot more than they deserve, while satisfying Israel’s security needs and historic connection to the land. Yet, because we live in insane times, Joe Biden, whom liberal Jews view as a dear friend, said that the plan is a “political stunt that could … set back peace.” The responses from other Democrat candidates for president proved just as disappointing. Senator Warren is very upset that the plan is a “rubber stamp for annexation” that “offers no chance for a real Palestinian state.” Bernie Sanders says that it “will only perpetuate the conflict.” Everyone else saw the virtues of the plan. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Qatar and Oman all recognized the historic possibilities of Trump’s proposal. Everyone except Iran and Turkey and those beholden to them, has supported the plan. Even the Europeans, no great lovers of Israel, came out in favor, some more than others. Everyone realizes that the Trump plan will set the new bar when dealing with America, unless something should happen and President Trump does not win re-election. The world realizes that Israel seeks peace and the Palestinians have only one interest: to obliterate Israel. Everyone has

had enough of their shenanigans, terror, and ineptitude. The Sunni Arabs and the West want the issue to go away already, so they can work together with each other to neutralize Iran. It’s insane that only the American and Israeli left don’t get it and are rallying for the poor Palestinians. What else is insane? Paroh And do you know what else is insane? Paroh. Moshe appeared repeatedly before Paroh and warned him that if he didn’t free the Jewish people, he would be struck by supernatural occurrences brought about by the G-d of the Jews. The makkah came, Paroh and his nation suffered, and he said that he would let them go. Then, as soon as the makkah passed, Paroh returned to his stubborn ways. We look at Paroh and laugh at his stupidity. It was so obvious that if he would acquiesce to the will of Hashem, he and his country would be freed of the afflictions and they would be allowed to return to living normal lives. How can it be that Paroh and his nation failed to recognize that? The Ramban (Shemos 14:4) writes that the biggest of all the nissim that transpired with Paroh was that he and his army chased after the Bnei Yisroel at the Yam Suf, even after seeing that the sea opened for them. How insane it is that even though they saw the sea split supernaturally to allow the Jews a path of escape, they charged in after them full force, convinced that they would defeat the Jews and their G-d. It is easy for us to read the pesukim and mock Paroh and his people that they were too senseless to recognize that what befell them was from Hashem, and to finally acquiesce to Hashem’s request. But if we take an honest look at ourselves, we have to admit we quite often behave the same way as the insane Mitzriyim. Hakadosh Boruch Hu created us and sustains us and provided us with the Torah to guide us. As the Ramban writes at the end of last week’s parsha (13:16), the foundation of our belief is to know that those who follow Hashem’s guidance are blessed and those who don’t, suffer the consequences. Hashem causes things to befall us so that we recognize that we aren’t following His ways and need to rectify our actions. When a person gets sick or has other problems, they are messages from Hashem, communicating our need to do teshuvah, no different than the messages Paroh received. Too often, however, we are like Paroh and attribute what happens to teva, nature. If there is a hurricane and it damages our property and causes us losses, we don’t get the message. Instead, we say that too much warm water rose from the ocean and collided with cooler air. We forget that everything that happens to us is by Divine design for a reason. Nothing is haphazard.


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Nothing happens by itself, not even the corona virus. Understanding Shomayim Language There was a Jewish merchant from China whose travels led him to Europe to seek out new avenues of distribution and sources of goods. Before heading home, he made a detour to the hamlet of Radin to seek a brocha from the Chofetz Chaim. He introduced himself to the Chofetz Chaim. “Foon vanet kumpt a Yid?” asked the Chofetz Chaim. “I am from China,” the man told him. “Vos hert zach in China?” “It’s very difficult there,” said the man. “There is no proper chinuch. There is no shechitah. It is very hard to keep Shabbos.” “It is a tzoras rabim,” responded the Chofetz Chaim. “In many countries around the globe, Jews are experiencing the same problems. I published a sefer for them. It’s called ‘Nidchei Yisroel.’ Please take some seforim with you and distribute them in China. The sefer teaches how to maintain your Yiddishkeit in difficult surroundings.” The Chofetz Chaim paused. “What else is doing in China?” he asked. The man discussed the state of the Jews

there, not sure what else to add. He told the Chofetz Chaim that he had been away from his country for several weeks. “Before you left,” asked the tzaddik, “what were people there speaking about? What were they writing about in the newspapers?” The visitor thought for a moment, suddenly recalling an incident that had been widely covered by the newspapers back home. He shared the account with the Chofetz Chaim. “The Chinese government built a huge dam, making available a tremendous amount of land for agriculture,” said the man. “But the dam was built very sloppily and could not withstand the awesome power of all the water it had backed up. The dam collapsed and flooded a very large area. 100,000 people died.” The Chofetz Chaim was visibly shaken and became emotional. “Oy vey. Oy vey. The middas hadin is running rampant! It has reached as far as China,” he said. The man was perplexed. “Can I ask the rebbe a question?” he queried. “Why is it that when I told you about the matzav of the Jews in China,

you accepted it without much emotion, but when I told you about the Chinese people, you cried bitter tears?” “During your European trip, were you in Warsaw?” asked the Chofetz Chaim of his visitor. “Yes,” the man replied. “How many Jews live there and what percentage of the population are they?” asked the Chofetz Chaim. “There are about 300,000 Jews out of a population of a little over one million,” said the man. “If a man stands on a soap box on a street corner delivering a speech in Yiddish, who is he addressing?” questioned the Chofetz Chaim. “The Jews who are passing by, of course,” responded the man. “Why are you asking?” “But you yourself said that they are but a minority in the city, correct?” “Sure,” said the man, still confused. “But the goyim don’t understand Yiddish, so if someone is speaking in Yiddish, he must be addressing the Jewish passersby and not the gentiles.” “Exactly,” replied the Chofetz Chaim. “The same is true with the dam that burst

in China. When the water was unleashed to kill 100,000 people, that was the language of Heaven. It was a warning from Hashem. But the Chinese don’t understand ‘Shomayim language.’ We do. The Jews are the ones who cry out on the Yomim Noraim, ‘Mi bamayim.’ We understand that when such occurrences take place, they are meant to send us a message. But how are we, in Radin, to know about what happened? That’s why Hashem sent you here. He sent you to tell us what took place and for us to hear the Heavenly speech.” Hashem is patient and loving, and sends us one message after the other as he waits for us to turn to him in tefillah and teshuvah. Let us not be insane. Let us get the message. Remember from where we come and the source of everything so that we can improve and better ourselves, and merit all the brachos reserved for those who follow Hashem’s Torah. Let’s not get into a rut. Let us not fall prey to personal and communal makkos. Let us always be alert and on guard to recognize what is going on around us and remember that “hakol bishvil Yisroel.”

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29, | The Jewish Home TheOCTOBER Week In2015 News Feature

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

T E R C E A S R O I SAV How Dr. Julius Kuhl Saved Thousands from Death By Susan Schwamm

W

hen Dr. Julius Kuhl walked onto the shores of North America in 1948, there was no one there to greet him or his

family. There were no awards, no dignitaries, no expressions of appreciation for the man who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis’ clutches. Dr. Kuhl was carrying a briefcase. In that briefcase was a handful of watches. And that’s all he brought from his years in the Polish consulate saving Jews. That, and the memories of those frantic years in which he had a hand in helping to snatch his fellow brothers and sisters from certain death.

J

ulius – also known as Yechiel – was born in Sanok, Poland, and was the only surviving child to his parents, who had lost their other children to illness before the war. He also experienced the loss of his father at a young

age. His mother, Sima Pessel, sent him to live with his uncle in Switzerland, with whom she felt he would have the integral guidance of a father figure in his life, when he was only nine years old. Julius eventually learned shechita from the rosh yeshiva in Zurich and took a job at an old-age home where he shechted chickens and was the baal koreah and the shamash for the residents there on Shabbos. Even though he struggled to make ends meet, Julius made sure to present himself as neat and orderly to others. He wore one suit from his bar mitzvah until his wedding and kept it under his mattress at night to keep it pressed for the next day. He was a determined young man, unafraid of hard work and doing what was right. In August 1939, a neutrality pact, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, was signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Essentially, this agreement divided Poland between the two countries. Jews

caught on the Nazi side were trapped in what became a certain death. Jews who found themselves under the Soviet Union were more fortunate – although they wouldn’t have known it at the time. The Russians distrusted the Jews and deported almost a half a million of those Jews to Siberia. Of those who were deported, at least two-thirds of them lost their lives to frostbite and to slave labor. Only a third of them managed to come out alive. Dr. Kuhl’s mother, who was living in Poland at the time of the pact, was sent to Siberia to live out the duration of the war. After World War II broke out, the consulates for the Polish government in exile were located in London and Switzerland. The consulates mainly dealt with the Polish refugees who were locked under Russian rule and who were stranded in Nazi Poland. Letters between those sent to Siberia and their families in Poland went through the consulate, although some of them took a year to arrive.

Before World War II, Julius spent time at the University of Zurich and obtained his PhD in economics in 1939. It was during this time, while studying for his degree at the library in the Polish embassy in Switzerland, that he became involved in diplomatic work. He was smart and knew many languages – Polish, French, Yiddish, English, and German. In fact, Dr. Kuhl was not the first person in his family to earn a PhD; he came from an educated, refined family – his mother had taught in Sarah Schenirer’s bais Yaakov. Dr. Kuhl caught the eye of officials in the embassy who were looking for a smart Jew to help them deal with the Jewish refugee situation emanating from Poland. By March of 1940, the 30-year-old Dr. Kuhl was employed by the Polish consulate in Switzerland as an auxiliary employee. He was the only Jew working in the exiled Polish government in Switzerland. In addition to other duties, Dr. Kuhl


The Week In News Feature

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Dr. Kuhl’s diplomatic service passport that enabled him to visit the internment camps in Switzerland, and later to visit the concentration camps that were liberated by the Allied armies

A letter signed by the papal nucio, Philippe Bernardini, recommending that Dr. Kuhl be given every cooperation and assistance he was needed. Documents like this one provided Dr. Kuhl with access to strategic locations throughout Europe

Permission granted to Dr. Kuhl by the Swiss police allowing him to visit refugee internment camps

was able to issue passports to those in need. Dr. Kuhl worked under Ambassador Alexander Lados, who supervised Stefan Ryniewicz and Konstanty Rokicki in addition to Dr. Kuhl. Under Lados’ supervision, Dr. Kuhl and the other diplomats were able to obtain hundreds – possibly thousands – of blank passports from neutral countries and hand-filled them with the names of Polish Jews who were desperate to leave to safer shores. These lifelines were smuggled into Poland and given to Jewish organizations that helped to orchestrate the escape of thousands of Jews. It is estimated that almost 4,000 of these passports were issued to Jewish

families during the war. During his time in the consulate, Dr. Kuhl would cozy up to ambassadors from other countries, hoping to obtain passports that would help fellow Jews reach safety. He often played chess with the American ambassador. After losing gracefully, he would ask for a passport or two from the American diplomat. Other times, he would play ping pong with an ambassador from another country. After letting that ambassador win handily, Dr. Kuhl would ask his “friend” for a few passports that he could use to save others. Evelyne Singer, Dr. Kuhl’s daughter who currently lives in Lawrence, NY, with her husband, Israel Singer, asserts

that her father did what had to be done. “My father was a big believer in ein davar ha’omed b’fnei ha’ratzon,” she shared in a recent interview with TJH. “He knew this is what had to be done, and there was nothing that was going to get in the way of doing what was right.” Israel Singer agrees that his fatherin-law knew that it was a time of desperation and need – and that anything and everything needed to be done to save the Jews. “No one was helping us,” Dr. Kuhl once told Mr. Singer. “No one. No one was saving Jews. It was the loneliest feeling to sneak into the embassy at night and take out two or three visas – afraid I was going to get caught,” Dr. Kuhl recalled. Mr. Singer adds, “My father-in-law was a committee of one. He had no organization, no funding, no people with him. He did it all on his own, a loner, but loners can get things done – and that’s what he did.” Israel noted that his father-in-law was, by nature, a quiet, more introverted person. It wasn’t his natural disposition to broadcast his deeds or even be the leader of a movement to save Jews, but when the situation presented itself, Dr. Kuhl did what had to be done at great risk to his position and even his life. Evelyne notes that her mother, Yvonne, would give her father sardines before he had to attend a party at the consulate. Those parties were essential for Dr. Kuhl – many connections were made there – but many people left the parties drunk, as the alcohol would be flowing, even during wartime. The oil in the sardines would help Dr. Kuhl stay sober and keep his head as his colleagues would be stumbling home drunk. During his years at the consulate, Dr. Kuhl was involved in the hundreds of illegal passports to Latin American countries that were bought to save the lives of Polish Jews. Many of these passports and passes were bought from consuls from Honduras, Haiti, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Paraguay. These passports came to Dr. Kuhl and his superiors blank; the diplomats would then enter the names and pertinent information of Polish and Dutch Jews who could then claim that they were citizens of neutral countries. Cit-

79 17

izens of neutral countries were exempt by the Nazis from being sent to extermination camps. The passports saved these Jews from the gas chambers. Many of those incarcerated in the Warsaw Ghetto were able to escape the fate of the death camps with these “neutral” papers. One of the visas that Dr. Kuhl was instrumental in obtaining was for the Belzer Rebbe, Rav Aharon Rokeach, zt”l. After living in a series of ghettos in Poland to avoid the Gestapo, in 1943, the Rebbe and his half-brother escaped to Budapest disguised as Russian generals. But then, non-Hungarian citizens were being rounded up in Hungary, and the Rebbe once again needed to flee. Dr. Kuhl heard that the Rebbe needed a diplomatic visa and worked to obtain the needed passports for the Rebbe and his half-brother. Once the Rebbe reached Istanbul, Turkey, he wrote Dr. Kuhl a letter on hotel stationary thanking him for his efforts in saving him. (Years later, the current Belzer Rebbe, who is a nephew of Reb Aharon, insisted that they put the salvation of the Belzer Rebbe on Dr. Kuhl’s matzeivah when he passed on.) Dr. Kuhl was helpful to famed rescuer Recha Sternbuch in her mission to save Jews during the war years. A frum woman living in Montreux, Switzerland, Mrs. Sternbuch was responsible for saving more than 2,000 Jews. She would smuggle Swiss visas and Chinese entry visas to Jews living over the border and personally help them to safety. One Shabbos, the Sternbuch family was celebrating the bar mitzvah of their son. Dr. Kuhl was an invited guest but was only there for a short time until he was pulled away. During the bar mitzvah, Mrs. Sternbuch received a call that there were two children at the border who were being deported. She ran over to Dr. Kuhl and urgently told him to come with her. “Come where?” he asked. “To the border,” she answered. “We need to go immediately.” “But it’s your son’s bar mitzvah,” he argued. “My husband, Yitzchak, will take care of it. We need to go to the border now,” she insisted. Both Dr. Kuhl and Mrs. Sternbuch raced to the border that Shabbos and saved those two children.


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29, 2015 | The Jewish Home Week In News Feature 80 The OCTOBER

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

I

t’s interesting to note that Switzerland was perhaps the least-hospitable neutral country during World War II towards Jews. In his position, Dr. Kuhl had to deal with Heinrich Rothmund, head of the Federal Immigration Office in Switzerland at the time. Indicative of the Swiss attitude, in 1942, Rothmund spoke at a conference in Montreux, Switzerland, and proclaimed that Switzerland had little need for more Jews. “Here, as elsewhere, it is undesirable for the Jewish population to exceed a certain proportion. Switzerland does not intend to let itself be led by the Jew, any more than it would like to be led by any foreigner.… The Jew is not easily assimilated.… Nor must one forget that many of them pose a danger to our institutions, being used to conditions in which the Jewish instinct for business has a tendency to run free.” Another Swiss official, Daniel Odier, who was a military police officer of the Territorial District of Geneva, wrote a letter just a few days before Rothmund’s speech which echoed the Swiss’s animosity towards Jewish refugees. “Many Jews newly arrived in Switzerland wish to start up businesses immediately and also want to engage in trade. These people’s correspondence clearly shows that they tell their friends and acquaintances to come join them in this paradise that is Switzerland, and the mere fact of accepting one in Switzerland gives ten others the chance to follow him here and get so settled in that we will have a lot of trouble getting rid of them.” Lest one think that these anti-Jew sentiments were those of just Swiss individuals, consider that on August 13, 1942, the Swiss government slammed their border doors closed to Jews. “Political refugees, that is, foreigners who declare themselves as such when first questioned and can also provide proof, are not to be expelled. Those who seek refuge on racial grounds, as for example, Jews, are not considered political refugees,” the government declared. Thousands of Jews were turned away from the Swiss border during the war years. It’s certain that almost all of those who were denied entry perished in the ensuing years.

A letter from the Belzer Rebbe, written in

Dr. Julius and Yvonne Kuhl

his hotel in Istanbul, thanking Dr. Kuhl for saving his life

Rothmund famously liked to use the expression, “the boat is full,” when dealing with Jewish refugees. (In fact, a book written in 1967 about Switzerland’s shameful response to Jewish refugees during World War II is entitled, The Lifeboat is Full.) Rothmund used that phrase self-importantly when refugees desperately requested entry into neutral territory. “The boat is full, the boat is full, the boat is full,” he would systematically respond to any request. Dr. Kuhl was privy to Rothmund’s insolence at a bus station one day.

himself jobless and stateless, stuck in Switzerland with his wife and two daughters. He was in limbo, required to check in with the police every two weeks, and ironically needing those very same passports that he so selflessly obtained for countless Jews through the war years. Eventually, the Kuhl family was able to immigrate to Canada. Evelyne recalls that her father kept his role in saving Jews during the Holocaust very quiet. He wasn’t one to ask for accolades or awards. “In very modest terms we knew

“For my father, there was nothing that stood in the way.” When Dr. Kuhl saw that there would be room for others aboard the bus to safety, he nudged Rothmund, asking him to let a few more children onto the bus so they could be saved. But the Swiss official looked at Dr. Kuhl and shrugged indifferently, “The boat is full.” Decades later, Dr. Kuhl would have nightmares of Rothmund’s apathy towards the Jewish plight. Echoes of “the boat is full” would swirl around his dreams.

I

n 1945, after the war ended, the Polish-free government collapsed. The Soviet Union took over Poland, turning it communist. Dr. Kuhl suddenly found

that he worked in the consulate,” she recalls, “and we knew he was friends with ambassadors, but he didn’t speak a lot about what he did.” “He did his part,” Israel notes. “When he came to Canada, he felt that it was his business to take care of his family and succeed in the new world in which they found themselves in. He believed that he did his part back in the consulate – no more and no less than anyone else in his position would have done. He was humble about his role in rescuing his fellow Jews.” A lot of what Dr. Kuhl did during those war years is still not known. Slowly, more information is coming to light, as the family has unearthed information from the Red Cross and

Polish archives. Still, people would come up to Evelyne and Israel and their family members and recall what Dr. Kuhl did for them, even producing visas with his signature on it – lifesaving pieces of paper that ensured their survival.

I

n Toronto, Dr. Kuhl began his new life selling Swiss watches. He eventually ended up in the construction industry but his desire to help others never waned. Instead of working on a macro level – saving Jews on a grand scale – Dr. Kuhl’s compassion pushed him to help others on a more personal level. Evelyne recalls that her father once saw a young widow buying tefillin for her bar mitzvah boy. When Dr. Kuhl saw that, he quietly went to the storeowner and gave him the money for the tefillin. His family only found out about this chessed when the boy’s grandmother told them what had transpired. One woman in Toronto had lost her husband and was about to lose her home. Hearing of the plight of the young mother of five, Dr. Kuhl and his wife, Yvonne, organized a tea for the city to help contribute money to save the woman’s home. No one except the Kuhls knew to whom the money was going; they managed to give the grateful widow a check to cover her whole mortgage. Together, Dr. Kuhl and Yvonne were instrumental in helping to support Jewish educational centers in the cities in which they lived. “For my father, there was nothing that stood in the way. He was always determined to help in any way he could,” Evelyne states.


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The Week In News

Naama Yisaschar Returns Home

Naama Yisaschar’s ordeal in a Russian prison came to an end last week after Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned the Israeli backpacker on Thursday. Yisaschar returned home to Israel on a plane together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had jetted to Moscow from Washington, D.C., following his meeting with President Donald Trump. Landing to a media circus, Yisaschar said that she would spend the next few days at her family home in Rehovot.  “I just want to say thank you to everyone,” Yisaschar said at Ben Gurion Airport. “I’m still in shock because of the whole situation. Thank you for everything.” Yisaschar, 27, had spent the last 10

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

months in a Moscow prison after border guards found 10 grams amount of marijuana in her luggage during a stopover. She denied the charges, noting that she had no access to her luggage during the layaway and later claimed that she was forced to sign a confession written in Russian, a language she does not speak. A few months back, a judge sentenced her to 7.5 years behind bars, an unusually heavy sentence for a foreigner caught with such a small amount of narcotics. The sentence came amid reports that Yisaschar was being held at the orders of Putin in order to pressure Israel on a variety of things.  Shortly after meeting Trump at the White House, Netanyahu suddenly announced that he would be making an unscheduled stopover in Moscow on the way back to Israel. Coming only a week after Putin visited Israel for the World Holocaust Forum, the detour raised speculation that the two leaders had reached a deal to free the Israeli tourist.  Speaking at the Kremlin together with Yisaschar’s mother who had flown out to Moscow for the occasion, Netanyahu thanked Putin for agreeing to her early release. “I want to thank you in the name of the entire Israeli people for your quick decision to grant a pardon to Naama Yisaschar,” said the Israeli leader. “This moves all of us and our gratitude is on behalf of all Israeli citizens, from the heart.”

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Israel Tackles Coronavirus Fears Amid a mounting death toll from the coronavirus worldwide, Israel banned all Chinese tourists from its soil until the pandemic gets under control. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said that no Chinese nationals would be admitted “for the time being.” He added that any Israelis who recently returned from visiting China would need to be quarantined before returning to their homes.  The policy was put into effect for the first time on Saturday when Israeli border officials refused entry to dozens of Chinese tourists at Ben Gurion Airport. Fearing that they were infected with the deadly virus, the Chinese travelers were sent on the return flight to Moscow.  “During the last 24 hours we stopped the flights from China to Israel. The Minister of Health was the first to do so and joined by other countries,” announced Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Siman Tov on Saturday evening.  “We have closed the land crossings and we are working to ensure that anyone who has been in China for the last 14 days will not enter or remain in isolation.” In response to the steps being taken to

avoid pandemic in the small country, China’s ambassador to Israel had harsh words. At a press conference in Tel Aviv, Dai Yuming told reporters that the “errors to limit or even ban entries of Chinese citizens” reminded him of “the old days, the old stories that happened in World War Two, the Holocaust, the darkest days in human history.” Dai said: “Millions of Jewish were killed, and many, many Jewish were refused when they tried to seek assistance from other countries. Only very, very few countries opened their door, and among them is China.” The Chinese Embassy in Israel hastily later issued a statement to assuage Dai Yuming’s comments, “There was no intention whatsoever to compare the dark days of the Holocaust with the current situation and the effort taken by the Israeli government to protect its citizens. “We would like to apologize if someone understood our message the wrong way,” the embassy added. The global fallout from the coronavirus outbreak has seen numerous nations, including the U.S., Canada, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and others imposing stringent travel restrictions on people travelling from China in an effort to contain the disease. In China, the virus has killed more than 300 people; the global tally of those infected has passed 17,000.


FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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The Week In News

Liberman Helped Charedim Avoid IDF A new bombshell report has found that Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman willingly helped a slew of haredim avoid the IDF draft despite his virulent anti-religious platform. Over the past year, Liberman has distinguished himself for his radically anti-haredi stance. Throughout Israel’s three electoral cycles, the Moldovan-born MK insulted haredim as “parasites” while members of his party alleged that religious people posed a greater threat to the country’s wellbeing than Iran.  Ruling out any coalition that included the haredi Shas and UTJ factions, Liberman’s consistent refusal to negotiate was a major cause of Israel’s current political impasse. Throughout the year, he repeatedly lashed out at what he called the “freeloaders” who studied Torah instead of enlisting into the IDF.  However, a new report suggests that Liberman’s anti-haredi bellicosity was nothing more than a sham. According to a new expose, not only didn’t Liberman crack down on yeshiva students while serving as defense minister, he personally pulled out all the stops to gain draft exemptions for children of senior haredi personalities. 

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 | The Jewish Home

As detailed in Haaretz, Liberman personally intervened as defense minister in order to get the coveted exemptions for the relatives of Shas and UTJ lawmakers. During the two years in which he held the office, haredi legislators, pop stars, and businessmen enjoyed open access to his office with his aides receiving instructions to cater to their every demand. The beneficiaries of Liberman’s largesse included the very politicians that he today lambasts, such as Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni, and Shas MK Yoav Ben Tzur. In addition, Liberman also assisted members of the radical Yerushalmi Faction to shirk military service, despite his long history of public vitriol against them.  The person responsible for catering to his powerful friends was Avi Abuchatzeira, a senior Defense Ministry advisor for matters relating to the ultra-Orthodox community. “The haredi Knesset members or their aides would contact Abuchatzeira by direct call, a message or an email, and he would immediately come on board to help,” one source told Haaretz. “It was routine; no one concealed it.” Reached for comment, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit promised to look into the matter but called the allegations “problematic.” Liberman denied the report, saying through a spokesman that the allegations were false and that he never personally helped ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students avoid military service.

“The former defense minister has never intervened in any case concerning the exemption from recruitment. Not any by implication,” said Liberman’s office. “Inquiries from the haredi sector regarding enlistment matters, just like inquiries from the rest of the population, are handed without intervention and in accordance with the professional echelon’s decision’s.”

Warming Ties Between Israel & Sudan Dramatically improving ties with a former bitter foe, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the transitional leader of Sudan, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, on Monday during a whirlwind visit to Uganda. Netanyahu and Burhan met secretly in Entebbe at the residence of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and agreed to gradually normalize relations, according to The Times of Israel. The meeting marks a sharp turnaround for the two countries, once sworn enemies and still technically at war. Sudan – a Muslim-Arab country in northeastern Africa – has recently moved away from Iran’s influence over the latter’s involvement in Yemen, and ousted longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir a year ago. Netanyahu said after the meeting that he believes Sudan is moving in a new and pos-

itive direction. The Sudanese leader had expressed interest in modernizing his country and moving it out of international isolation. On Sunday, Burhan was invited to visit Washington by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a phone call, in what would be the first such trip by a Sudanese leader in three decades. Leaving for Uganda on Monday morning, Netanyahu said he hoped to strengthen ties with Uganda, “and I hope that at the end of today, we will have very good news for Israel.” Netanyahu has made expanding ties in Africa a central plank of his foreign policy. In 2019, he re-established ties with Chad and hinted during a visit there that he was working to establish ties with other countries, reportedly including Sudan. According to a report at the time, Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa was driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. Using the airspace of traditionally hostile African countries – namely Chad and Sudan – would allow airlines to offer faster, more direct flights between Israel and the continent. Sudan currently does not have a sitting president, as the country is in the middle of a transition process since longtime ruler Bashir was deposed in April 2019. In 2009, Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for atrocities committed in Darfur. Burhan is the chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, an 11-member group that is running the country until November 2022, when democratic elections are scheduled.

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