Jewish Home LA - 4-11-19

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The Week In News

APRIL 11, 2019 | The Jewish Home



APRIL 11, 2019 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



The Week In News

APRIL 11, 2019 | The Jewish Home


We’re coming from the geulah of Purim and approaching the geulah of Pe-

COMMUNITY Happenings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

JEWISH THOUGHT Living with the Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Torah Musings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

sach. One represents redemption within nature; and the other, outside of it. In Nissan, we head into supernatural miracles of Yetziyas Mitzrayim. Despite dramatic reversals of natural laws, the Mitzrim didn’t change at the end of the story; Moshe Rabbeinu wasn’t honored. Rather, Hashem used the supernatural

FEATURE Light at the Museum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

to force Paroh to send us packing. In life, we sometimes need to “flee” a current challenge, be it an addiction,


Book Review. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Humor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

an emotional or mental constraint, or even the complacency born of the day-inday-out rote rituals of life. We feel trapped in a rut and don’t see a way out. The


Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17


Dear readers,



month of Nissan gives us the power to rise above and be redeemed from all that holds back our natural feeling of being free. This atmosphere of Nissim is a good time to challenge ourselves and take a leap in our avodas Hashem—be it increasing in Torah learning, being meticulous about mitzvos, or being appreciative of what we have. Miracles do happen. It’s also a time to yearn for the future redemption. Like Yetziyas Mitzrayim, it will unfold in a miraculous way. Indeed, the medrash tells us that the miracles associated with the coming of Mashiach will make our leaving Mitzrayim look like nature! Living with an expectation that Mashiach is on the way and can come momentarily doesn’t mean we become tzaddikim. In Mitzrayim, it took two mitzvos, done with mesiras nefesh, to make us worthy of redemption. Let us each find an area or action that we take upon our selves to do with intense devotion. We will then be proud that we were a part of it. Wishing you an inspirational Shabbos Hagadol,


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

TheHappenings Week In News

APRIL 11, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Daf Hayomi B’Halacha taking Los Angeles by Storm “What are you learning?” was the question asked to one of the people who attend my shiur. When he replied, “Mishnah Berurah,” his friend exclaimed, “Isn’t that boring?!” “Boring?! It is the most exciting learning that I have had in so long! Who would have ever thought that I would have the opportunity to learn hilchos eiruvin and really understand the underlying concepts?! Each day of learning Dirshu’s Daf HaYomi B’Halacha is an adventure for me!” “This conversation,” explained Rabbi Chaim Trainer of Los Angeles, who has been giving a shiur in Los Angeles for five years, “was shared with me by one of the members of my Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur.”

Rabbi Trainer delivers one of three shiurim in Los Angeles. The shiurim are in addition to numerous chavrusos who are also learning Dirshu’s popular, daily Mishnah Berurah program. The success of the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program in Los Angeles was

brought into focus this past Wednesday, 20 Adar II/March 27, when Dirshu’s Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, visited Los Angeles and gave a shiur and divrei chizuk at the Chassidishe Kollel of Los Angeles. Rav Hofstedter arrived to attend the end of the shiur given by Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggid shiur, Rav Shneur Zalman Schwartz. A large crowd comprised of attendees of the various Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiurim as well as chovevei Torah from the community came to hear Rav Hofstedter’s divrei chizuk which focused on cultivating a geshmak in learning and constantly seeking to grow in learning. He also highlighted the imperative not to stagnate in one’s own learning and to constantly be

mechadesh. Rabbi Trainer relates, “I think I can speak for all of the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggidei shiur and learners in Los Angeles when I say that over the years of learning and teaching the program, I have seen two things: first and foremost, learning these halachos has made such a difference in our daily lives. Now we possess the knowledge to actually fulfill our halachic obligations as Yidden in ways that were not previously possible. The second thing is we have gained a new geshmak in learning halachah that itself has had a transformative impact on our lives!”

Magen David Adom Presents Nikki Haley With the Iron Dome Award Tova Abady Nikki Haley, a staunch supporter of Israel during her tenure as the 29th U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was recently honored by Magen David Adom as Humanitarian of the Year. MDA’s Western President Dina Leeds presented Haley with the MDA Iron Dome award at an event held April 1st at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in front of an audience of enthusiastic Israel supporters. The crowd included students from YULA, Shalhevet, Valley Torah Academy, Beverly Hills High School, Maimonides, USC, and Touro College. Fred Leeds told the students and others assembled that especially in light of the most recent rocket attack—which penetrated 75 miles into Central Israel—“There should be no one who cares about Israel standing on the sidelines today.” This message was echoed by Israeli Consul General, Eitan Weiss, who spoke about the greatness of MDA, Israel’s national medical disaster, ambulance and blood bank service; the new blood center being built by MDA; and also Nikki Haley’s admirable tenacity during a fact-finding mission to the Golan. Pastor Jeffrey Osborne said he was inspired to support Israel after a trip there that included Rabbi Pini Dunner. Second-generation Holocaust survivor and board member Andrew Freedman called Nikki Haley “the future of America.” Also speaking to the crowd was Lawrence Middleton, Chief of the Criminal Division for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of California. Middleton informed the audience of a very disturbing statistic: Out of 1679 hate crimes that occurred in 2017, 58.1% were anti-Jewish. He said that the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the current administration is 100% committed to take every step necessary to protect every person’s civil

liberties. Lies lead to hatred, and Dina Leeds quoted the Talmud and the Zohar that assert, Sheker ain lo raglayim. (“Falsehood has no base to stand on.”) Michael Milken then introduced Nikki Haley, a hero who has helped to eliminate the falsehood about Israel, to thunderous applause. Nikki Haley began by telling the students that each one of them was meant for great things, advising them not to be too busy, and to be very giving. Also, she told them not to be fearful of telling the truth because those who tell the truth will emerge much stronger on the other side. The ability to have this clarity and courage, Former Ambassador Haley explained, was routed in her family values. Dina Leeds asked Former Ambassador Haley what helped shape her. She replied she was most influenced by being a first-generation American and watching the sacrifices her parents made on behalf of herself and her siblings. Their parents told them every day after immigrating from India to South Carolina how blessed they were to be in the United States. Nikki Haley was also taught not to complain, but to find solutions. Dina replied that it is a Torah precept to infuse light into the darkness and that Nikki Haley has done that. In addition to caring for octogenarian father and mother (respectively a biology professor and a successful businesswoman), enjoying her children and combat veteran husband, since leaving office, Haley has been writing a book. She has also launched a policy website for her supporters to read about her views on current issues, She told the crowd that she remains “loud and proud.” Although not someone who was initially savvy about politics (Haley joked

Photo by Anthony RG

Photo by Orly Halevy

she didn’t realize you are not supposed to run for governor opposite a 30-year incumbent), she won by campaigning door to door and never spoke badly of an opponent. She succeeded in becoming a female executive, one of South Carolina’s first female legislators, the first female Governor of South Carolina, and the only female Ambassador on the Security Council for the President. Among her achievements as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was her advising the President (along with one other person) to pull out of the Iran deal. She told President Trump to wait until she explained the necessity of this to the American people but credited him for being the one having the courage to get out. Besides the nuclear threat Iran posed, thanks to the previous administration literally handing billions of dollars to the Iranians, there was growing concern over Iran having resources to influence Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon. Currently, Nikki Haley said Iran is still a threat, but not the threat they were a year ago. In order to contain terror, she believes Iran should be further isolated. Another achievement was calling for accountability on the part of the nations in the U.N. who oppose the United States. Haley gave President Trump a list of foreign aid and whether or not these countries stand with the United States and stated that

should be one factor in determining what they receive. Following the resolution to condemn the U.S. for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump reviewed the list of who voted to condemn the U.S. One example the President saw was Pakistan. They harbored terrorists that tried to kill U.S. soldiers, and received a billion dollars. President Trump pulled the aid. Nikki Haley said supporting Israel was one of the easiest things she’s done, because when you tell the truth, you might not be liked, but you will be respected. She added that she never asked for any favors for Israel but stated firmly that there would be no double standard. Dina Leeds said that the usual practice at her Shabbat table is to ask each person what they are doing for tikkum olam (making the world a better place). She asked Nikki Haley for her current thoughts on the subject. Nikki Haley said there is a toxic political climate in the United States and that both parties are at fault. It has come to the point that parties are calling each other “evil.” She said that she has seen true evil in the world, such as the Syrian government using chemical weapons against innocent people, stories of the military of the Republic of Congo taking children out of mother’s hands and throwing them into fire. A difference of opinion, Haley said, should not be called “evil.”



Living with the Times The Week In News

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

APRIL 11, 2019 | The Jewish Home

A Private Spring

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman Nissan is here. The cold is gone, snow is history, and the harsh weather is a thing of the past. The ground has warmed. Trees and bushes are beginning to show signs of life as tiny green buds begin to unfurl. Branches bloom, grass turns green, and squirrels and birds dart across the lawn seeking life. The sun rises higher in the sky, shining brighter, filling hearts with promises of warmth and color. Young and old soak in the pleasures of recreation, walking, biking, and playing ball, as they strengthen their bodies, enhance their well-being, and broaden their perspective. Spring, the season of new beginnings, announces that Pesach, the Yom Tov of freedom, is almost here. Freedom is the feeling of not being subjugated to another power. Freedom is the ability to think, speak and act without fear. Freedom is a feeling of liberty and emancipation. The freedom of living a Jewish life is here. It was during this period so many years ago that Hashem announced that the time for our freedom had come. He told our beleaguered ancestors that this month of Nissan was to be the first of the year for them. As the Bnei Yisroel were about to become an independent nation and gain their freedom, Hashem told them that they would begin counting their months from Nissan. The world may have been created in Tishrei, but that month precedes the doom of winter, while Nissan heralds spring. It is fitting for our nation to begin counting from when the world starts to get back to itself after lying in semi-hibernation. Spring, the season of new beginnings, gave rise to the newfound freedom for an enslaved nation. For 210 years, they knew subjugation and torture. The people were as a tree in the depths of winter, broken by pain, hunger and demoralizing servitude. Hashem appeared to Moshe and told him to inform the salves that life as they had known it would come to an end. “Hachodesh hazeh lochem.” There would soon be a new month, a new season, a new reality. “Lochem,” given to you, a personal gift that you would recognize and appreciate. From this month forward, you will never be the same. No longer lowly

slaves, you will become a holy nation. At the Seder, we retell the story of our redemption from Mitzrayim. We tell of the misfortune that befell our forefathers as our nation was forming. We speak of what they endured and then progress to their liberation and formation as a new people, for there is no spring that is not preceded by winter, no freedom that comes without agony, and no birth without pain. Thus, the posuk states (Devorim 16:1), “Shamor es chodesh ha’aviv, v’asisa pesach laHashem Elokecha ki bechodesh ha’aviv hotziacha Hashem Elokecha miMitzrayim laylah - Watch the month of spring, and make in it the Korban Pesach to Hashem, because in spring Hashem re-

our world. We should never despair. Cold will give way to heat, and sadness to joy. If things aren’t going right for us, we have to believe that there can be improvement and set ourselves to realize that goal. It may be difficult and it may take special effort, but there is no goal that is unattainable for a person of faith. Leading up to Pesach, we scramble, expending much energy to prepare for the chag. The drive to clean every part of the house and clean every closet is widespread, even when not halachically mandated. It hints to the fact that we remember our history and that before the geulah there was hard work. Mekubolim reveal that the sweat that results from working to clean

Spring has sprung and you also can.

moved you from Mitzrayim in the night.” Pesach is intrinsically tied to spring. We were taken out in this season and we celebrate our delivery in this season. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 11a) understands from this posuk that the month of Nissan must be watched - “shamor” - to ensure that it falls in spring, and when it appears that it will be during the winter, we must make a leap year, like this year, when we had two months of Adar. Perhaps we can also explain that the reason the posuk interjects that we were taken out of Mitzrayim during spring and at night, “laylah,” is to reinforce the concept that we were enshrouded in slavery, darkness and tumah. We were removed from that dark situation and placed in “aviv,” spring, with our newly-gained freedom and soon-to-be rebirth as a nation. Even after our formation as a people and even after receiving the Torah, there were ups and downs, as there are in daily life. The lesson of “Hachodesh hazeh lochem” reminds us that there is always opportunity for hischadshus, renewal, in

for Pesach purifies as a mikvah, for there is no purity and no holiness without lots of hard work and sweat. The connection between the exertion involved in biur chometz and the enduring struggle against evil is referenced by Chazal, who compare the yeitzer hora to se’or sheba’isah, the layer of chometz in the dough. Chometz represents immorality, and by eradicating it, we undergo a profound spiritual cleansing. The eternal message of chodesh Nissan is that just as winter leads to spring and darkness leads to light, periods of g’nus shame - lead to times of shevach. Now, with winter’s end, with so many of us smarting from challenges, hardships, sickness and discouraging news, we grab on to the message of hope and rebirth afforded to us by this glorious month and the glorious Yom Tov. Although it may appear to be laylah, armed with emunah and bitachon we fortify ourselves with additional strength, even when we think we have none left. We sense that we are in chodesh ha’aviv and

that our travails will give birth to recuperation and success. Sickness will give way to health, failures will lead to achievements, losses will lead to triumphs, and golus will lead to geulah. Freedom is accompanied by obligations. We are given the abilities we need and enabled to rise to greatness. We are no longer held back from dreaming and setting goals. When the Alter of Slabodka decided to open a yeshiva, he approached his rebbi, Rav Yisroel Salanter, and asked him what his main task should be as he directed the yeshiva. Rav Yisroel told him that the task of a rosh yeshiva is to recharge the lives of the downtrodden and depressed. The Alter adapted this message and set as his goal in Slabodka to educate and inculcate the message of “gadlus ha’adam,” the greatness that man can reach. Apparently, they are not the same goal, for while Rav Yisroel told him to raise the weak and deficient, the Alter concentrated on motivating the bright. But, in essence, they are one and the same, for the way for people to realize their talents and inner greatness is by helping them when they are down and letting them know that periods of darkness and dread don’t need to be followed by despair, because each person has greatness within that they can tap into and realize. Each person can have their own spring. When everything seems dark and dreary, when all seems lost and you understand nothing, know that each person has a path that they can follow that can lead them to light, warmth and understanding. As deep as a person has sunk, and as locked away as he may feel, if he latches himself onto Torah, he has a way out of his personal swamp. “Asei lecha rav,” make for yourself a rebbi, a teacher, “uknei lecha chover,” and procure for yourself a good friend, for they will guide you and lead you and help you reach your own promised land. Seek warmth on a cold day and light when all is dark. “Hisna’ari mei’ofor kumi,” lift yourself off the floor and out of the dirt. “Hisoreri, ki va oreich,” lie not in slumber, awake, for their light is there, “kevod Hashem olayich niglah,” Hashem’s honor is upon you. You’re not alone, you’re not weak, and you’re not powerless or incapable. Spring has sprung and you also can. Pesach cries out to all, from the rich man with the sterling ke’arah to the poor man who is fed by the tamchui. It proclaims in a language all can understand, in a voice all can hear, that Chag Hacheirus is here. You have the freedom and the ability to accomplish any goal you set for yourself. “Kol dichfin yeisei veyeichol, kol ditzrich yeisei veyifsach.” Let us all partake of the Yom Tov’s blessings. We will soon be redeemed as blessed, free, wholesome people in the land Hashem promised us.

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Torah Musings The Week In News

APRIL 11, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Five Cs of Parenting Sarah Pachter

Parenting can be such a dichotomy; at times it can bring you to your knees, and at others the bliss is indescribable. Catch me when my kids are throwing an epic tantrum, and, in that moment, I’d trade jobs with a lion tamer. Yet at those times when I’m snuggling with my children, as they gently nestle in close, I would not give up being a mom for any amount of money the world could offer. Here are five Cs of parenting to maintain and create equilibrium, through the highs and lows of parenthood. Clear Expectations Standing behind the glass, peering at the various frozen yogurt options in the store, my children were picking out their preferred flavors. But their high-pitched requests (read: whines) had begun almost as soon as we walked through the door. “Mom, can I get a cone instead of a cup?”

“Mom, can I get Oreo and M&M toppings?” “What, about chocolate syrup and peanut butter sauce?” “No, no, and no,” I replied. To be honest, I hated saying no. My intention was to allow each of them one flavor and one topping. The problem was, I did not tell them my expectations beforehand. When we don’t express clear expectations and boundaries for our children, they start to question and test limits in order to find out where those boundaries fall. When we express our expectations clearly, children have a chance to process and accept them. Brittney Yahalom, an expert in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT), shares valuable advice. “Set your child up for success by letting them know what is going to happen BEFORE it happens. Not seconds before...but minutes, hours, or even days before. The more time they have to prepare, the better! This way, your child gets an opportunity to process, visualize, and anticipate what’s coming. This will likely decrease the frequency of meltdowns, tantrums, and frustration and increase acceptance and compliance.” When we are not clear or waver about what we expect from our children, they pick up on it.


Then, they either purposefully try to test the limits or feel imbalanced. For example, two of my children used to have an exceptionally difficult time upon arriving home from school. Therefore, during the drive home, I now prepare them by telling them what they can expect, and what I expect from them. “Girls, as soon as we get home, we will put our things away and wash our hands for a snack! I want to see smiles, happy faces, and big, strong girl voices!” By focusing on what we would like to see instead of what we don’t want to, children will be more likely to follow instructions. Consequences The term consequence gets a really bad rep, but it is not necessarily negative. There are different types of consequences that children experience in their journey of life. Natural consequences are not punishments; rather they are life’s reactions to our choices. If a child tips a glass containing liquid, the natural consequence is that it will spill out—every time. (Especially during dinner). Children are like scientists learning about the world through natural consequences. A child can learn a tremendous amount from natural consequences without the parent having to intervene at all. Sometimes a parent needs to guide their child using logical consequences. This type of consequence offers a logical response that a parent puts into play. For example, if a child uses a toy to hit another child, that toy may be taken away for some time. Positive consequences are yet another type of consequence which can be extremely motivating. It is for this reason that using positive consequences helps improve behavior. Sometimes, I will vocalize a positive consequence. For example, “Anyone who has a smile on their face when they get home from school will get a piece of gum after dinner.” Or, “Anyone who helps Mommy clean up after dinner will get one extra book at bedtime!” Although positive consequences have their place, logical consequences help define limits as well, especially for the strong-willed child. If my child is kicking their sibling’s chair, I will ask them to stop. If they continue, I will give an “if-then” consequence. For example, “If you kick the chair again, then you will have to leave the table for a few minutes.” Follow through is necessary for the consequence to have effect. Otherwise, your words have no credence in your child’s perspective, and the negative behavior continues. Consistency Whether the consequence is positive or negative, the only way behavior will change is when we are consistent with the consequences. There is a joke about a man who was in the supermarket. His daughter began to beg for a pack of gum while waiting in line for the cash register, and he refused. This caused a strong reaction in the child. “Why? Why? Why!” she screamed. She began to throw a tantrum, while stomping her feet. Exasperated, he turned to her and finally said, “Because it’s not kosher!” The person behind the register asked the man if he was even Jewish. “Nope, and I don’t even know what kosher is. But I saw someone in line a few days ago in

the same situation. The mom said, ‘It’s not kosher,’ and the crying magically stopped.” Even though this is a joke, many people who keep kosher can attest to the phrase working instantly. However, this is because if a family keeps strictly kosher, it’s consistent, without wavering. When we are consistent about a rule, the child understands the boundary, and more often than not, she accepts it. Something to keep in mind is that when initiating a rule, or laying out our expectations, the behavior can sometimes get worse before it gets better. As parents, we may be tempted to give up when this happens. When we introduce a new rule to our children, they will test limits, whine, throw a tantrum, or even contort their bodies. Once the trust of that consistency has been implemented, you will see your children thrive under their new conditions. Calm Delivery All of the above must be implemented with a calm voice and demeanor. If we give consequences or express our expectations in anger, our children won’t be able to hear the message through the noise. No matter how consistent we are, anger will override all we are trying to accomplish. Try to deliver the three Cs above with calmness, both in voice and body language. Everyone angers occasionally, and no one can or should expect perfection from themselves at all times. When this happens, simply apologize to your child for getting angry and let him or her know that you, too are a work in progress. This shows the child that he or she can make mistakes and are still lovable despite that fact. “C” (See) the Good Rabbi Meir Yedid once shared a beautiful dvar Torah about seeing the good in our children. The Torah describes a scene where Reuven went out to the field and picked doodaim, flowers, for his mother, Leah. The flowers were very dear to Leah, as they were meant to enhance fertility. Commentaries share that Leah loved these flowers so much because they were wildflowers. This meant that Reuven was careful not to steal even one flower from someone else’s land. Leah noticed her son’s pure actions. I try to apply this concept to my family in our own way. In our home, we implement something called “awesome jars.” Each child has their own mason jar labeled with their name. Throughout each week, I will make sure to look for certain acts my children have done that are “awesome note-worthy.” I then place the note in the jar. There is no act too small to notice. For example, one note might read, Josh helped his younger sister cut her food. Or, Nava tried to help baby Liv stop crying. At the end of the week, we read the notes aloud and have a raffle. The kids love this system, and the entire atmosphere in the home has changed for the better since utilizing it. My kids know I’m admiring and noticing their good behavior and look for opportunities to fulfill that. If we follow these five techniques, the natural consequence is that we will start to see change for the good in our homes, not only because we are viewing them through a positive light, but also because their good behavior will actualize.


: s e e r c e D k i d d a z T The

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Book Review

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On Their Derech: The Conversation Continues… by Batya Ruddell (Tfutza Publications 2019) Reviewed by Rebecca Klempner

Batya Ruddell has adapted her recent Binah column, “On Their Derech” into a new book by Tfutza Publishers, On Their Derech: The Conversation Continues… To her original columns about parenting children “on their derech,” she adds poems, personal essays, and reflections by those who have been or currently are OTD and their family members. Ruddell also included articles by therapists, community leaders, and rabbis who work with OTD families. The collection that emerges is a deeply affecting and a clarion call for communal change. Most previous treatments in print of those who leave Orthodox Jewish practice have thus far focused on blame (on the incursion of secular, Western values into our community; on “bad” parenting; on kids who have bad middos; on schools which ignore the needs of children with learning disabilities; on cover-ups by some segments of the community when abuse occurs) or on bringing OTD youth back into the fold (as the sole measure of success). Batya Ruddell takes a very different approach to the topic: deep empathy and unconditional love, no strings attached (including mitzvos). Describing her own experience of raising her OTD teens and twenty-somethings, Ruddell writes, “Judgment oozed from people’s pores, and I felt as if we were a strange exhibit at a city zoo (p.15).” While she gave them “free entertainment,” few people offered her the help they extended when one of her children received a cancer diagnosis. Ruddell grew to resent this. The inattention of those around her implied that she was not suffering, or that the suffering she experienced was somehow her own doing or reflected poorly on her character. Miriam Maggid, another contributor to the book, similarly experienced stigma and denial. She relates: “[T]he point here is not what is giving me grief, but rather that I feel different and lonely and misunderstood and like a failure much of the time (p. 37).” Much of the book investigates this “different” experience from the parents’ point of view. One poem, by “R.F.” describes how she used to complain about the challenges of keeping her son’s white shirts white and smooth. Now, she washes “easy wash” fabrics for that child, in a variety of colors, and she longs nostalgically for those white shirt burdens. Several contributions vividly portray the experience of being in public with a clearly non-Charedi child in a Charedi-dominant environment. By giving us these per-

spectives, Ruddell draws us towards greater compassion. While outnumbered by the parent essays and poems, writing by those who were—temporarily or permanently—OTD clearly demonstrates the level of rejection, frustration, and pain many members of the OTD community feel. One particularly striking essay, by “Baruch Feldman” (a pseudonym) describes being forced to leave yeshiva due to an attack of mania. He received lifesaving treatment—only to have the yeshiva refuse to readmit him. When we read he walked away from religious life, can we blame him? (In Feldman’s case, he eventually returned.) Overall, On Their Derech argues for valuing the relationship with a child over their level of observance or religiosity. Many parents describe how this experience has helped them acquire the middos of chessed and ahavas chinam. Another common theme is how mistaken the notion that someone can be off THE derech is. There is not one single way to be a Jew, and for many people, non-observance is just one step on a life’s journey. Moreover, this is a problem that existed all the way back in the times of the Avos! Ruddell suggests: would those who judge their neighbors for their children’s level of religiosity judge Avraham Avinu? Chizkiyahu HaMelech? A few tiny criticisms: the organization of the book doesn’t always flow, and that detracts slightly from the reading experience. The professionals’ contributions of at the end are also a bit uneven. Rabbi Uri Zohar’s essay was very personal and touching, with concrete advice. Rabbi Charlop also had useful insights into the OTD child’s perspective and experience. However, some other essays read like marketing material for the programs which their authors head. It was a little jarring in the midst of a very personal volume. Again, these are small concerns. For those who have first-hand experience with OTD children, On Their Derech offers solace and hope. For those who don’t, this book offers an eye-opening experience which will change how we view OTD individuals and their families. I highly recommend this book as a must-read for frum adults. As Rabbi Shimon Russell says in his forward, “[W]e, the entire community, need to take responsibility. It’s not about ‘this family’ or ‘that one.’” For the sake of Jewish unity, we all need to improve our inclusion and unconditional love for OTD Jews and their families—and Ruddell’s book will, G-d willing, help actualize that need.

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Yekkishe Problems Rebecca Klempner I pretend our carport is private property, but really anyone traversing the busy alley alongside our apartment building can see whatever we do in our parking space. On the Sunday after Purim, two of my kids and I were out there cleaning our car for Pesach. One friend stopped to confess she too was already cleaning for Pesach, then several other people dropped by to day: “Wow, you are such a tzaddekes!” and “You are SO on top of things!” I saw their narrowed eyes. They really meant: Trying to show the rest of us up, eh? It doesn’t take a month to clean for Pesach! Honestly, I’m not a tzaddekes, and I can’t claim to be on top of things—at least, not all “things.” However, over the years, I have learned (the hard way, trust me) that any car not cleaned far before Passover will end up being cleaned the night of bedikas chometz in a last-minute, anxiety-inducing frenzy. I tried explaining this to the people who stood around discussing my newly-cleaned car, but they looked doubtful. Instead, they accused me of being a Yekke. For those who have not heard the term Yekke before, it refers to a person of German, or at least German-speaking, descent. It implies precision, cleanliness, timeliness, and being just a little uptight. I’m not truly Yekkishe, I promise you. My mother is only half Yekkishe—due to both her grandfathers—and my father is less than a quarter. None of my relatives (okay, one cousin) have a reputation for promptness or any other supposedly Yekkishe trait—even my identical twin. Yet, somehow, I get the Yekke label a lot. I think it started because I like to be prompt. When someone makes an appointment at 1 p.m., I take them at their word and show up right at 1 p.m. Often, I am greeted with astonishment, as if my presence is entirely unexpected. When scheduling an engagement at a restaurant or coffee shop, I have by now realized that I will be spending 5 to 15 minutes cooling my heels before anyone else appears. Why not show up “fashionably late” or “on Jewish time” like everyone else? Because then I would be late. [Insert shudder here.] The upside for this is that my occasional tardiness is generally overlooked. More often than not, the other person shows up even later. And if they are on time, usually they say, “It’s okay. I figured you hit traffic or something.” (This is, L.A., after all.) The reality is that despite my lists and schedules and predilection for order, my house is never clean or streamlined enough for me, I never reach the bottom of my todo list, and my life does not operate with the smooth, mechanical precision of a

Swiss clock. This gets to the real difference between most non-Yekkishe people and me. When they see true Yekkishe middos in action, they think: unfriendly, pretentious, rigid. When I see true Yekkishe middos in action,

I think: I want to grow up and be that! My aspirations are likely to remain unfulfilled until my kids are grown and out of the house, although I might let the one who shares my talent for promptness to stay—if he redoes all his drawers à la Marie Kondo.

(PS—After I finished writing the rough draft of this column, I thought to myself, Maybe I shouldn’t toot my horn. I’m gonna get an ayin hara.) (PPS—Guess who was late picking up the kids from school on Friday?)

Discover the bestselling Haggadah of 2019 Vibrant, sophisticated art that brings the epic exodus story to life! Includes modern English translation, transliteration and the full Hebrew Haggadah text. Creators: by Jordan B. Gorfinkel acclaimed Batman comics editor & Jewish cartoonist Erez Zadok Israeli comic book artist & Instagram influencer @erezadok with translation by David Olivestone




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By Tammy Mark

Light at the

Museum Nachliel Selavan Brings Jewish History to Life


every generation a person must regard themselves as though they personally had gone out of Egypt -Mishna, Pesachim 10:5 While we recite the verse each year and do our best to re-enact the history of yetzias Mitzrayim and the miracle of our freedom, many people still rely on visual imagery instilled back in gradeschool. On a mission to bring Jewish history to life, educator Nachliel Selavan has developed a series of museum tours which feature an interdisciplinary blend of archaeology and history, art and entertainment. Selavan’s tours are designed to help deepen the connection to the past by using museum exhibits and artifacts to bring ancient themes into modern relevancy. “I am very passionate about Torah, about Jewish history, about Judaism,” he explains, “and I love to show my excitement through the museum.” Through his Torah Intermedia tours, Selavan provides a dynamic forum for inquisitive minds of all ages and affiliations, an environment where a rubber ducky and Alexander the Great can surprisingly coexist. An artist and teacher, Selavan has the abil-

ity to engage his participants without long periods of lecturing or relying too much on “shtick.” Whether you’re a seasoned museumgoer or a novice, there is something to be discovered each at each turn. Selavan’s Passover tour, “Leaving Egypt without Leaving NYC,” uses the rich resources available at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan to illuminate the story of the Jewish nation’s exodus from Egypt. The Met provides the best backdrop for this experience, and the Egyptian wing serves to immerse guests in an atmosphere almost akin to a scene out of Night at the Museum. “Being surrounded by magnificent artifacts – in the Metropolitan Museum you actually have an entire temple that’s built into Central Park, a real Egyptian temple where you have Egyptian tombs, you see Egyptian wall paintings and wall carvings and artifacts and jewelry and symbols of power and the Book of the Dead and all these things which surrounded the Egyptians and made their life – you get a taste of what it meant to live in ancient Egypt,” Selavan notes. Selavan says his objective is to help

people view what happened in Mitzrayim millennia ago from a perspective of living in 2019 and to have a deeper understanding of Pesach, a miracle that took place thousands of years ago with a culture that doesn’t exist anymore, and to try to connect to that in a more personal way. “When you see the strength and the grandeur of the ancient Egyptians and you understand what it meant to be a pharaoh and the relationship between the pharaoh and the people, you can appreciate the struggle for freedom in a culture which is built around being subjugated to the pharaoh,” he says. “It’s a culture in which the subject of freedom really is a novel thing – it’s a hierarchy that literally has a pyramid with pharaoh on top and everybody else is on the bottom – and you realize how relevant the struggle for freedom can be when you’re in that kind of society.”

An Inspiring Classroom Selavan admits that he didn’t like history too much when he was in high school. It was when he got his first parttime teaching job as a college student and found himself teaching sixth grade

history that he became immersed and excited about it. “I struggled with how to teach it because I never really liked learning it,” he says. In doing so, he employed different tools to engage his students. “I kept on using media and archaeology to bring the classes to life,” he explains. Born in Israel to parents who emigrated from the States, Selavan grew up in the Old City of Jerusalem, which trained him to connect and look to share knowledge with others. “Growing up in the Old City means seeing people of all different kinds from all over the world all of the time,” he recalls. “Also, my father is a tour guide so you’re always getting inspired by what’s unique about where you live. My mother and father have a miniature museum in the house of various artifacts and are always inviting people in and trying to inspire people to see how important Jerusalem is.” Raised in a family of educators, surrounded by precious artifacts in a home located among the ancient ruins of Jerusalem, it’s not surprising that today Selavan finds himself at home in a museum. Selavan’s tours are an amalgamation of all of his experiences. “It

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A Meaning to History In December, Selavan led guests

Photo credit: Jeff Zorabedian, Mishpacha #738

wasn’t something I was planning. I’m always trying to find different ways to teach that are more engaging and object-based. I use archaeology when I teach Tanach because it’s my background.” Selavan hopes that his tours inspire as well as educate. “I want Jews to be inspired to learn more about Jewish history, about our rich tradition, and to realize how much of world history is really a part of our story – and that our story can help us understand world history,” he says. “For general audiences as well, it’s just to appreciate the breadth of human history and creativity.” “I naturally adapt and tailor my talks to my audience,” says Selavan. “I see what I do as an art form. I see it as a combination of acting, teaching and installation art – where something is spread out and not just on a painting. We’re adding the part of human interaction, but it’s really a kind of artistic display. That’s the personal side of how I relate to what I do.” One of Selavan’s favorite tour moments was when he found himself leading a very diverse crowd through the museum, including an 82-year-old and a 5-year-old, a group of chassidic families and a Reform Jew all on the same tour. “What we’re doing is discussing fundamental ideas in Jewish texts and we’re doing that in a museum, which is a very unique forum – because where else can you get all those people to be in the same place and have that conversation?” he quips. “The museum is really an amazing live classroom.” Beside his goal of educating and inspiring people about Jewish history, Selavan also finds that he helps patrons explore the landmark museum itself in a unique way. “I’ve had people who’ve been lifelong members of the Met who’ve never been to the areas where I’ve taken them. People suddenly realize that the nations, the empires and the characters that are so much a part of the biblical narrative were actual people and that you could see things they’ve made and you could try to imagine the impact that they had on us – like realizing that Nebuchadnezzar was a real guy and then you see the things he’s built in his palace and his opulence.”

on a Chanukah tour through the Ancient Greece area of the Met, using the artifacts to bring his listeners back in time and reach deeper levels of understanding of the familiar story. On the tour, he seamlessly interweaves the Greek historical timeline with the Jew-

was the desire to be similar to the ancient Greeks that made it the first exile where the Jews chose to assimilate into the society of their oppressors. Selavan takes the lesson back to the present day as he expresses that the challenge of galut today is to establish how we

“I want Jews to be inspired to learn more about Jewish history, about our rich tradition, and to realize how much of world history is really a part of our story.”

ish timeline, drawing out the relevant crossovers. He discusses the atmosphere of the era and the similarities of the two cultures, pointing out that the olive tree is a symbol of peace for both the Jews and the Greeks and how the Torah was written in the Greek language. Selavan explores the dangers of becoming too connected with surrounding nations and explains how it

are different from the surrounding nations. Between the holidays, Selavan runs tours at the Met that incorporate multiple periods and empires, including the Four Kingdoms tour and the Winter’s Tale tour, which are some of his favorites. The Four Kingdoms tour is a highlight of four different empires, covering over one thousand years of


history within the two hours. “You get a flavor and a taste of each one, within a Jewish perspective of how each one takes the next one a step forward,” he notes. “It gives a conceptual flavor that connects it to our history, its impact on us, and how it’s part of world development.” Winter’s Tale is a miniseries focusing on Chanukah and the Greek Empire and Purim and the Persian Empire, with a specific emphasis on the Jewish cycle of the year. Selavan explores why these two cultures are the last ones encountered before the Jewish year restarts with the exodus from Egypt and discusses the relevance of the two rabbinic holidays and how they are preparing us for Passover. As with all of his tours, Selavan works hard to highlight details that others may have missed. “Unlike the regular Chanukah tour, I actually take people to a different part of the museum that not too many people know about called the mezzanine, between floor one and floor two. The mezzanine houses a huge collection of Greek stuff that you usually don’t see. We have fun there.” On the Passover tour, Selavan also refers to Torah sources to help people integrate the museum’s exhibits. He explains, “Using Jewish texts, and also concepts and ideas, I bring those ideas to life using the visuals. For example, if we want to talk about the mindset of the Egyptians and their relationship to the Nile as a force of life and sustenance and its connection to Pharaoh, when you go into the museum and you see how obsessed they were with the Nile, to the point where to them traversing the Nile represented the transition of life into death and the afterworld and boats going into the underworld, you realize that just the symbology of it was so powerful on the Egyptians. Then when you look at the Ten Makkos and the first plague which deals specifically with the Nile, it really drives the point home of what the message G-d is giving to Pharaoh and the people.” Selavan delves deeper and pulls out passages that drive the familiar messages home. “The relationship to death in Egypt quite obvious – the mummies and their obsession with the afterlife – but then when you look at the texts which relate to Egyptian beliefs and




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read the stories of the Ten Plagues you can suddenly realize what the impact and the message is on the Egyptians. When it talks about the tenth plague, of darkness, the Torah says, “U’lchol Yisrael lo yicharetz kelev lishono,” that all the dogs were going to be silenced during the death of the firstborn. It doesn’t really mean anything until you realize what Anubis is for the Egyptians – Anubis is the god who is associated with death and is a dog.”

Rova Boy Though Selavan finds that the Met in the United States and the British Museum in London to be the most impressive museums and with the largest diversity of material culture, he has visited and guided at museums in other cities including Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore and Toronto, and is always looking to expand his repertoire. One favorite museum moment as an artist was on a personal visit to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, where he had a breakthrough moment upon seeing a display. “I was trying constantly to figure out how to paint an idea that inspired me, and for years it was on sketch and I couldn’t figure out how to do it. When I was in the museum, I finally understood installation art,” he recalls. “It was a watershed moment because a lot of ideas that I had backed up for years I suddenly realized how to do them. “I see my tours as an art form, as an interdisciplinary art form in the museum, and that was one of the things that led to this realization, because I realized that art isn’t limited to

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being on a canvas.” Selavan currently lives in New York working on his art and his business, while simultaneously learning and teaching. With two day jobs teaching Jewish history to high school students and to teachers in a teacher’s college, he’s also pursuing a master’s degree at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel School. Though Selavan doesn’t run

is creating new opportunities that didn’t exist before.” He notes, “You can collaborate with organizations and institutions that are usually unapproachable. Jewish organizations and institutions are starting to pick up on how important social media is, and I find myself doing that in a way that is also educational.” He adds, “I recently had an ‘aha’

“I grew up with the assumption that Torah and Jewish history are alive and part of us.”

museum tours in his homeland yet, last summer he guided a tour for other tour guides in the Israel Museum, teaching them how to better utilize Israel’s museums’ resources. While he is very comfortable immersing himself in ancient eras and artifacts, Selavan is also a modern-day entrepreneur who is constantly developing new ways to teach and connect with students and the world at-large. He’s very active on social media, which he views as another form of teaching for him and a platform where he can discuss topics such as art, archaeology and painting, and share the excitement he has for it all. “I find as a Jewish educator using social media the way I do, that’s something very special which I think

moment. Last year I didn’t let my students follow me on social media. This year I’m letting them follow me – I’m only doing educational stuff. I started doing Instagram stories in the summer. A few months ago I was with colleagues at a shul for a pidyon haben. I was doing Instagram stories, and my students are interacting with me and learning about this Jewish event which – who knows if they’ll ever see it? I realized at that moment that this is the way to get to them. Now my students are following me and I’m talking about Torah and archaeology – and my students are engaging, because it’s on Instagram.” Selavan’s favorite holiday isn’t Chanukah, Purim or Passover, but Sukkot, which he credits to his childhood in

the Old City. He fondly describes the vibrancy of the holiday with sukkahs popping up on rooftops all around him – “such an amazing sight.” Selavan attributes much of his work today to his upbringing. “The 2,700-year-old wall, which King Hezekiah built, right outside my parents’ house, is where I used to actually climb as a kid – that was my backyard, that was my jungle gym. Kids from the Old City jumped and hopped from rooftop to rooftop because they’re all connected; we just climbed stuff.” It is those unique experiences that infuse his work. “That’s what I’m bringing to the table as an Israeli, as a kid who grew up in the Old City – as a ‘Rova boy.’ I grew up with the assumption that Torah and Jewish history are alive and part of us. When you are outside of the land of Israel you have several degrees of separation between you and the story, because you’re not in the place where it happened, you don’t know what the place where it happened looked like and you don’t see the artifacts.” Selavan hopes that his work can help bridge the gaps. “I see my job as an Israeli and as an educator who grew up with this background to really reconnect - and to inspire people hopefully. When you take a group of people and you focus on our ancient roots, without getting into any modern controversy, you’re already lighting a spark of ‘Oh! This is really part of us going way back, and, politics aside, this is really who we are. It’s part of us.’” To find out more, visit

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APRIL 11, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Prison Hunger Strike on Hold On Sunday, Palestinian security prisoners said that they are calling off a planned mass hunger strike to protest an Israeli crackdown on illicit cellphone usage among inmates after reporting progress in negotiations with prison officials. Qadri Abu Bakr, the chairman of the PLO Prisoners Affairs’ Commission, told official PA news outlet Wafa that “dialogue was ongoing” and that a final announcement about the coordinated hunger strike would be announced immediately following the conclusion of the negotiations. Abu Bakr said the Israel Prisons Service has agreed to install payphones in the prisons, which will be manned by guards. He said the IPS has also agreed to release the prisoners being held in isolation over their involvement in recent clashes with guards and restore their family visitation privileges. Last week, the PA Prisoners Affairs Commission spokesman Hassan Abd Rabbo said that Palestinian security prisoners would launch a hunger strike on April 7

to protest their incarceration conditions – particularly the recent Israeli measures designed to restrict cellphone usage by the prisoners, including the installation of jamming systems. Hassan Abd Rabbo said that inmates affiliated with Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian factions would launch the strike at Ketziot Prison but that it would gradually be extended to include Palestinian prisoners in other Israeli jails. Hamas prisoners have become violent recently over their conditions in prison. Twice last month, Hamas prisoners violently attacked guards at Ketziot Prison, with one guard sustaining serious injuries from a stab wound to his neck on March 3. Reports in Hebrew-language media said that in the second attack inmates used shanks to stab guards as the prisoners were being moved between cells, sparking a riot in the prison. The stabbings came a week after Hamas prisoners in the nearby Ramon prison torched 14 beds, setting a fire in the wing. The blaze was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported. In that incident, too, prisoners were protesting restrictions on cellphone usage. On Sunday, the IPS said it would respond “forcefully and with determination” to ensure that the hunger-strikers were not successful in removing the jamming systems, adding that it had beefed up security in a bid to prevent violent clashes.

Palestinian Convicted of Murdering Soldier An Israeli military court convicted a Palestinian of murdering an Israeli soldier in the West Bank last year, the army said on Sunday. “The military court in Judea (the West Bank) convicted the terrorist Islam Yusef Abu Hamid on charges of murdering soldier Ronen Lubarsky,” the army said in a statement. Lubarsky, a special forces member, was struck in the head by a stone, during an arrest operation in the West Bank, on

May 24, 2018. The 20-year-old Israeli sergeant died of his injuries two days later. Palestinian sources said the stone had been thrown at him during an operation to arrest Palestinians in the Al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah. The camp, which is home to about 15,000 Palestinians, is often the scene of clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians. According to Israeli media reports, the object that struck him was a block of granite dropped from a window on the third floor of a building. The sentence has yet to be announced for the Palestinian, found guilty on Sunday. The Israeli army already destroyed the family home of Abu Hamid in Ramallah on December 15.

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The Week In News

APRIL 11, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Bibi’s Mighty Win As the country geared up for elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Likud members urged supporters to head to the polls to defend the party from Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party. They told voters that without support Likud would be sunk by the former general. But Tuesday’s results show that either Netanyahu enacted his alarmist campaign to ensure his win this week by siphoning off votes from other right-wing parties or that his supporters actually came out in droves when they thought that Netanyahu wouldn’t make it this time around. In any case, after a few hours of nail-biting for Bibi, the prime minister soundly won this round – winning the seats and the support he needs to lead the next coalition. With 97% of the votes counted, the Likud received 35 seats, Blue and White garnered 35, and Shas and United Torah Judaism each received 8 seats. Labor and Hadash-Ta’al both got 6 seats, Union of Right-Wing Parties and Yisrael Beytenu each received 5, and Kulanu, Meretz, and Ra’am-Balad all got 4. As of the counting, New Right, Zehut and Gesher haven’t received any seats in the new government. New Right, though, says it is waiting on soldiers’ votes to be counted before they admit defeat. With these results, the right-wing bloc has 65 Knesset seats, while the left-wing bloc only received 55. Bibi’s win this time around truly solidified power for the prime minister who has been seated at the top comfortably for ten years. In this election, many of his coalition partners’ bargaining powers were severely cut down

as they dropped seats this week. Kulanu used to have 10 – now it only has four. Jewish Home’s former eight seats are now replaced with the Union of Right-Wing Parties’ five. Yisrael Beytenu also dropped from six to five. Additionally, former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party – which had threatened not to recommend him as prime minister – failed to make the threshold, as did Naftali Bennett’s New Right. Only Shas and United Torah Judaism came out ahead this election. Shas used to have six seats; UTJ used to have seven. Now, they both have eight. An early afikomen present? If Netanyahu can work with Shas and UTJ and promise them coveted positions in the government, his other coalition parties would be almost powerless within the

coalition. Labor, out of all the parties, possibly lost the most in this election. The party dropped from 24 seats in the 2015 elections that it won as part of the Zionist Union to just six this week. Keep in mind that this party governed Israel for the first three decades and is now at its worst showing in its 71-year history. Party chairman Avi Gabbay is undoubtedly going to be shown the door soon, although he protests that it was other parties that drew votes away from Labor and that Labor did not do enough to win voters back. Moshe Feiglin surprised everyone – especially himself – when his Zehut party was left out in the cold this week. Feiglin didn’t want to commit to either Gantz or Netanyahu, saying that in order to join the coalition either he or someone else in his party would need the position of finance minister. Feiglin had campaigned on issues like annexing the West Bank, dismantling the Palestinian Authority, and putting government facilities on top of Temple Mount. Instead, voters saw him as someone who was brash and uncertain, not someone they wanted to cast their vote for. Netanyahu’s friend, U.S. President Donald Trump, expressed his delight at Bibi’s win this week. “I think we have a better chance now that Bibi has won,” Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn on Wednesday. “The fact that Bibi has won, I think we’ll see some pretty good actions in terms of peace.” Trump added, “Everybody said you can’t have peace in the Middle East with Israel and Palestinians. I think we have a chance and I think we now have a better chance.” Trump’s peace proposal is expected to be released following Israel’s elections.

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The Week In News

APRIL 11, 2019 | The Jewish Home

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