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The Week In News

MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

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MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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The Week In News

MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

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Dear readers, Two weeks ago, I took our oldest son for a farher, a test by the rosh yeshiva of a local mesivta as part of the acceptance process. In addition to the personal, emotional meaning of coming to terms that our oldest would be leaving home, seeing the yeshiva world through his eyes brought me back to my days of entering the world of learning Torah full time. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is, but there’s something exceptionally tranquil and peaceful in the hum of a zal, study hall in session. It’s as if all the maladies of the world were denied entrance at the door. Inside the four walls of yeshiva, there’s only room for the sweetness of learning, a deeper insight into a halachah, or an answer to a kashya. Names like Rashi and the Rambam, Tosfos and the Ran become alive as teachers in the sea of the Talmud. As we get closer to Matan Torah, let us take some time to learn something extra—even if only for a half-hour. The main thing is that while we’re learning nothing else exists. Beside the greatness of learning in and of itself it will also lift us a bit out of the mundane fast-moving, all-consuming modern world we live in. It will soften our rugged exterior and allow us to be sensitive to others around us. 3321 years ago, we received a present at Sinai. Let us cherish it and renew our commitment to drink its waters and abide by its laws. We are guaranteed by its author, “If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them, I will give rains… the Land will yield its produce... you will live in security in your land… and I will set up my covenant with you.” Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos and a kabolas haTorah b’simchah u’bipnimiyus,

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


TheHappenings Week In News

MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Feminine Torah from Bat Ayin Comes to Los Angeles Yehudis Litvak Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum, founder and director of Midreshet Be’erot Bat Ayin: Holistic Torah for Women on the Land, visited Los Angeles during her annual speaking tour, bringing her unique feminine Torah to local women. Over 40 women, both married and single, participated in the Tree of Life Women’s Spiritual Healing Shabbaton, which took place at a private home in the Pico Robertson neighborhood. At the shabbaton, the women participated in a beautiful all-female Friday night tefillah, with singing and dancing. Then they learned about spiritual healing

from a Jewish perspective and practiced meditation and other healing exercises. The lectures were interactive, with many questions from the audience. The participants appreciated an opportunity to gather and learn together with other women. On Sunday, the fifth annual dinner to benefit Midreshet Be’erot Bat Ayin was held at a home of an alumna. Enjoying a healthy homemade meal, the attendees heard the latest news from Bat Ayin, accompanied by a heartfelt invitation to visit. The dinner was followed by a shiur on mothers, spiritual femininity, and the Land of Israel. The Rebbetzin spoke about the

power of women to bring geulah. While each of us can contribute in our own way, our most important task is to work on our relationships and on acceptance of others, despite our differences. “Everybody has some kind of friction with somebody,” she said. “When you work on that, it brings the tikkun.” Drawing on diverse Torah sources, the Rebbetzin spoke about the relationship between Rachel and Leah and how we can bring its lessons into our own relationships. On Monday, Rebbetzin Chana Bracha gave a shiur in a private home about tapping into the spiritual healing energy of

the month of Iyar. She spoke about using the spiritual potential of the month of Iyar to prepare for receiving the Torah in the following month of Sivan.

Lag B’Omer Concert Unites the Greater Los Angeles Jewish Community Yehudis Litvak The Lag B’Omer Unity Concert last week, hosted by the West Coast Chabad Lubavitch and Kol Yaakov Yehuda Junior Congregation and produced by Rabbi Yossi Burston, brought together 2000 children and their parents and teachers at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. The spirit of Jewish unity filled the hall as Mordechai Shapiro, a popular singer from New York, performed the audience’s favorite songs, drawing them into dancing, clapping, and singing along. About a dozen schools and organizations throughout the Greater Los Angeles participated in the concert. Rabbi Mayer Greene of Chabad of Tarzana was the MC of the event. Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, director of West Coast Chabad Lubavitch, spoke about the special light of Lag B’Omer. Rabbi Tzemach Cunin, director of Chabad of Century City, led the participants in recitation of tehillim. Rabbi Mendel Duchman, director of Kol Yaakov Yehuda, called on representatives of different schools and organizations to recite the Twelve Pessukim. In addition, two three-year-old boys received the first snips of their haircuts right on the stage, cheered on by the enthusiastic audience. The theme of unity permeated the event. Different schools and homeschooling groups were warmly welcomed by both the MC and by Mordechai Shapiro, who expressed his appreciation and admiration for the achdus taking place in the concert hall. “We are all different, but at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters,” he said, introducing the song “B’yachad.” The unity was further enhanced by the surprise appearance of Bentzi Marcus of the Eighth Day band, who performed the song “Shine a Little Light,” composed by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz, an ALS patient who was also in attendance. Bentzi Marcus also spoke about the innermost teaching of the Torah revealed by Rabbi Shimon

bar Yochai on Lag B’Omer that served as a foundation of Chassidic teachings. He sang several Chassidic niggunim with the audience. During the second half of the concert, jugglers, and a unicycle rider joined Mordechai Shapiro on stage, delighting the audience with their skills. Many children had the opportunity to greet Mordechai Shapiro with a high five—some even went up onto the stage and sang together with him.

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TheHappenings Week In News

MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

The Journey of the ArtScroll Sephardic Siddur Schottenstein Edition “Why don’t you produce an ArtScroll Siddur for the Sephardic community?” We heard it over the years from countless people in Brooklyn, in Deal, in L.A., and beyond—indeed, wherever Sephardic Jews live. While ArtScroll’s other sefarim and books speak to Jews of every stripe and background, ArtScroll had not produced a siddur in the nosaḥ of Sephardim and Edot Hamizraḥ. Why not?! It was a valid question. There are well over a million copies of ArtScroll siddurim in print, making them the most widely used siddurim in history. They are hailed the world over for their magnificent translation and wide-ranging, inspiring commentary, their crystal-clear instructions and halachot, and their state-of-theart typography. “Why isn’t there a siddur of such outstanding quality for Sephardic Jews? Mr. Jay Schottenstein, patron of the ArtScroll Talmud and many other ArtScroll projects, was visiting Rav David Abuchatzeira, shlita, a year and a half

ago. The ḥacham had that same question: “You have dedicated so many works of Torah and tefillah. Why don’t you sponsor an ArtScroll Sephardic Siddur?” Together they called Rabbi Gedaliah Zlotowitz, President of ArtScroll, and put the question to him. Rav Gedaliah didn’t flinch, and in a moment the exciting decision was made: The time had come for an ArtScroll Sephardic Siddur! A siddur for all communities! And so the work began immediately on Siddur Kol Simḥah. Distinguished ḥachamim the world over gave their input, from London to L.A., from Gibraltar to Panama. Poskim were consulted, ḥazzanim were interviewed, elders were questioned. No stone was left unturned. Antique siddurim were researched to guarantee accuracy and authenticity. There was much to do. The Hebrew text and English translation had to follow Sephardic traditions. Transliterations would reflect Sephardic pronunciation,

and laws and customs would follow Sephardic poskim and minhagim. The flourishing Sephardic communities deserved the best and ArtScroll was determined to live up to their expectations. Dozens of pizmonim and piyyutim for Shabbat and other occasions would

be accurately translated and sourced. Shem Hashem would appear according to Sephardic tradition, and there would be ta’amim for selections from the Tanach. There would be a commentary and introduction that would explain and inspire. There were other innovative features as well. When a person is praying, he or she wants to see the relevant halachot conveniently appear next to the prayers, so in this new siddur, the laws are right where they are needed—and there is also a comprehensive halachot section in the back of the siddur. Special typography and graphics indicate when there are differences in text between various communities, everyone can pray according to his or her own nosaḥ without confusion. Artscroll is proud to add this magnificent state-of-the-art Sephardic siddur to its repertoire—a new gem in the treasure house of ArtScroll.

Local Expert Addresses Our Security Needs Yehudis Litvak As the frequency of anti-Semitic incidents increases throughout the world, the Jewish community is reevaluating its current security procedures, seeking to increase security in our institutions. The Los Angeles Jewish community is fortunate to have members who are experts in the field of security and who see it as their mission to help local shuls and schools improve their security procedures. One of these experts is Rabbi Raziel Cohen, also known as “the Tactical Rabbi,” founder and director of the National Defensive Firearms Training Academy (NDFT). Rabbi Cohen is the son of Nouriel and Yaelle Cohen, who head Global Kindness, an organization that distributes clothes, food, furniture, and other necessities to over 350 needy families in Los Angeles and around the world. “I was raised to do chessed, to give back to the community,” says Rabbi Cohen. “I saw so many people experiencing abuse and unable to protect themselves, and I wanted to help community members learn how to protect themselves.” To that end, Rabbi Cohen began his training with Competition Shooters and went on to train with different instructors in the U.S. and abroad. He was one of only seven people hand selected in the state of California to join a Special Forces training class, led by an active duty Navy Seal and a member of Australian Special Forces. He completed the course at the top of the

class. Rabbi Cohen also trained in active shooter situations and surviving deadly encounters. Currently, Rabbi Cohen is a certified instructor under the Department of Justice, with multiple certifications under the NRA. Increasingly, local Jewish institutions have been turning to Rabbi Cohen for advice on improving their security. At Jewish Home, we asked Rabbi Cohen what an average Jewish institution, or its members, needs to know in order to protect itself from a potential attack. There are four levels of protection, explained Rabbi Cohen. Drawing a gun is the last step. Before ever getting to an armed confrontation, there are three steps of prevention that must be set in place in every institution at risk of attack. The first step is setting up a deterrent that would discourage a potential attacker. An example of a deterrent is a guard at the door. Just the sight of the guard would inform an attacker that there is “an extra loop to be jumped” before he is able to cause any damage to the congregants inside the building. That in itself might be enough for the attacker to move on to an easier target. The second step is early warning—a way for a guard or a shul member to notify the congregation of an approaching threat. The third step is fortification—a lockdown procedure that ensures maximum protection for everyone inside.

The fourth, and final, step is confrontation, where a well-trained individual confronts and neutralizes the assailant. Rabbi Cohen emphasizes the importance of proper training. A weapon in the hands of someone without the training is a source of liability rather than help. Only a trained individual can respond appropriately under stress. NDFT (https://www.ndftraining.com/) offers training for interested community members. In addition, Rabbi Cohen highly recommends a security audit for each Jewish organization. An NDFT representative comes to the facility and walks through it, pointing out potential security issues and

possible improvements. The audit also covers bomb threats, fire hazards, earthquake preparedness, and other security protocols. A security audit is mandatory when applying for a security grant from the government. Different institutions have different security needs, explains Rabbi Cohen. The audit is customized for each institution. For example, shuls like Chabad that have an open-door policy can be made more secure without turning anyone away. Smaller shuls have their own unique needs, especially if there are few options for hiding or escaping the building. Another important factor in emergency preparedness is knowledge of first aid and availability of medical supplies, such as blood clotting agents and tourniquets. In active shooter situations, it takes time to secure the building. It may take a while until medical assistance arrives. There have been cases, explains Rabbi Cohen, where people have died from non-life-threatening injuries because no one was available to stop the bleeding. Rabbi Cohen recommends that each Jewish institution keeps the most current version of the CAT tourniquet on its premises. To learn how to use them, one can take a Stop the Bleed course, offered by the Department of Defense. More information can be found at https://www.bleedingcontrol.org/


TheHappenings Week In News

MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Teach CA Works to Increase State Security Funding for Non-Profit Organizations Yehudis Litvak In the wake of recent attacks on places of worship, many religious organizations have come to realize that they need to increase security on their campuses. Some worry that the necessary security measures may be outside of their budget. Fortunately, the State of California may soon increase their security grants to non-profit organizations thanks to the foresight and hard work of Teach CA, a branch of the Orthodox Union. Teach CA is a subdivision of Teach Coalition, whose mission is advocacy for equitable funding for non-public schools. Founded in response to the tuition crisis, the organization works with state governments to find areas of revenue funding for non-profit organizations. Teach Coalition currently has branches in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and California. “There is a pressing need for additional security funding, woefully inadequate in the State of California compared to other states,” says Dan Mitzner, Director of Political Affairs at Teach Coalition. He explains that while New York State allocates $40 million and New Jersey allocates $22.6 million, California currently allocates only $500,000 in security grants for non-profit organizations. When this discrepancy came to Teach CA’s attention in 2016, they got together with other faith-based organizations and put together a plan that is currently on its way to a vote in the form of Assembly Bill AB1548. Currently, the existing government grant program for non-profits at risk of hate-motivated violence covers extra security measures, such as reinforced doors and gates, high-impact lighting, and an alarm system. The bill seeks to increase the allocations. “Due to the record-high incidents of anti-Semitism and hate crimes around the country, we’ve made a concerted effort to up the grant program to include security personnel,” says Mr. Mitzner. “In light of the recent tragedy, security has taken the spotlight. It is terrible that we had to have this wake-up call. With this bill, nothing like that will happen. The bill allows non-profits to apply for security personnel. Up to $200,000 per institution will go directly towards security needs.” California Governor Newsom has recently announced that he will be including $15 million in the revised budget. The OU lauds this decision. “We are extremely grateful to the governor and the members of the Jewish Caucus for heeding the call of so many and making the well-being and security of our schools and places of worship a top priority,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane in a press release. Currently, the bill AB1548 has passed several committees unanimously. “The

next step is to ensure that the Senate and the Assembly budget chairs pass it through the committee,” says Mr. Mitzner. “We are very confident that the bill will pass.” The timing of the vote is not yet clear, and community involvement is always helpful. Mr. Mitzner encourages our readers to get involved with Teach CA’s work. On its website, www.teachcoalition.org/

CA, there is an action alert to reach out to legislature. It explains how to email officers, thank the government for their commitment to security, and encourage them to pass this bill. Many non-profit and faith-based organizations stand to benefit from the new bill. To get involved, organizations can host legislators, familiarize them with

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our institutions, and advocate for the bill. “School involvement is a tremendous asset for us,” says Mr. Mitzner. He encourages parents in leadership positions to contact him. Teach CA will also be available to help organizations apply for the grant once the bill passes.

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Living with the Times The Week In News

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Heights

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman In the Torah, there are several references to mountains that are central to Yiddishkeit. The first is Har Hamoriah, which Avrohom saw from the distance as he approached it to offer his son Yitzchok as an akeidah, following the word of Hashem. Although he saw the mountain and recognized it as his destination, those who had journeyed with him did not see it. Those belonging to the am hadomeh lechamor were blind to the hallowed peak destined to play a leading role in Yahadus until this very day. It was on this mountain that the angels appeared to Avrohom and that Yitzchok almost became an olah temimah. It was at this spot that Yaakov Avinu experienced kedusha and, ultimately, the Bais Hamikdosh was built. The mountain of such holiness also possessed the potential for destruction and experienced its share of the latter. Though it beheld so much kedusha, during the period of churban its holiness was defiled and it became a place of tumah.  There are the mountains near Sh’chem, Har Gerizim and Har Eivol, that face each other. On one, eternal brachos were delivered, while on the other, eternal damnations rang out for those who don’t follow the path that Hashem laid out in the Torah. One mountain was covered with green growth, while the other was desolate and barren. They remain this way until today.  In Nach, we learn of the peak where Eliyohu Hanovi faced off against the nevi’ei habaal. But there is no mountain more central to who we are than tiny Har Sinai. Though small as far as mountains are concerned, its glorious summit towers over the landscape of Jewish history. As far as we are concerned, it is the tallest and most monumental peak in the hemisphere. On Shavuos, we are reminded of that mountain as we conjure up the image of millions of soon-to-be Jews camped around its perimeter, experiencing the tangible awe of the moment. They had journeyed for forty days, following their leader, Moshe Rabbeinu, through a hot, dusty desert. In actuality, they had been journeying since the beginning of time, a nation headed towards its destiny, a world created for yom hashishi, which

Chazal explain refers to the sixth day of Sivan. Bereishis - bishvil haTorah shenikra reishis. There was thunder and lightning. The sound of a shofar boomed out, growing increasingly louder. Smoke rose from the mountain, which sat under a heavy cloud. The Divine Voice resonated throughout the universe, shaking the earth’s foundations. The Bnei Yisroel were very fearful. They watched as their leader approached the cloud and disappeared into the fog, as he ascended the mountain. Chassidishe seforim explain that Moshe Rabbeinu represents “daas.” The bechinah of daas understands that in order to reach Hashem, we must courageously forge ahead through darkness, represented by the fog, and not permit ourselves to be deterred by

There is an urge to shirk from the challenge and to fall back in retreat. But it is the Moshe, it is those with daas, who proceed forward into the arofel. They are drawn towards kedusha and taharah, towards Hashem, and are not deterred by the tishtush hamochin that affects the majority. They show the way for the rest of us. Klal Yisroel is inherently good. They hear Moshe and follow him so that there will be no “venofal mimenu rov.” Chazal derive from the posuk of “Af chochmosi amdah li” (Koheles 2:9) that “Torah shelomadeti be’af,” Torah learned through suffering, stands the test of time. Rather than serving as a hindrance, hardship is an aid to Torah study. This phenomenon may have at its roots in Moshe Rabbeinu’s ascent into darkness. For all time since then, Jews have sought to recreate that moment, striving to climb the mountain to become closer to Hashem and more dedicated to “na’aseh venishma,” studying Torah and observing its mitzvos. Climbing the mountain is difficult and brings with it challenges of endurance and strength, spiritual, moral and physical. With proper faith, we surmount the dark days and

“We can’t limit our focus on protecting our talmidim and ourselves from the darkness that surrounds us. We also have to inspire them to rise.”

the enveloping darkness. Wherever there is kedusha, there is tumah seeking to break through and defile it. The more we build, the larger we grow, the more the forces of tumah attempt to cut us down.  Throughout the ages, inspired people who yearned to raise and purify themselves would not be weighed down by fog, smoke and loud noises that surrounded them. Rather, they courageously pressed forward towards kedusha. It is as true now as it was then. Like our ancestors throughout the ages, Jews are confronted by darkness and fog. Initially, we get lost and we fumble. We risk becoming cynical, negative, and fearful of the future. We become fearful of change, fearful of what we are facing behind the fog and darkness.

climb through the rough patches and rocky ridges. With Torah as our oxygen and emunah and bitachon fueling us, we march forward in our quest for the great heights we can attain on Shavuos. Interestingly enough, this time of year is the height of the climbing season on Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. So far this year, ten people have died making the trek. Veteran climbers wait years getting in shape, dreaming about making the great climb. It has become so popular that there isn’t enough room on the ninety square foot flat of the summit for the people who have made the climb. Witnesses report that people push and shove up there to take selfies and do other things to get in each other’s way. Because people are spending a long time there, others who have made the climb have to wait

hours in line, one person touching the next, dressed in clothes designed to withstand the extreme cold, along with life-giving oxygen canisters, as they stand on a slippery ridge that has a drop of thousands of feet. A doctor who made the climb told the New York Times that “it was like a zoo up there.” People can’t really think straight at that height. They leave much of their gear at a lower spot and climb the last 1,000 feet with what they hope will be enough oxygen to get up and down. However, when the line is long, when people aren’t fit, and when people run out of oxygen, they die. “The result is a crowded, unruly scene at 29,000 feet. At that altitude, a delay of even an hour or two can mean life or death,” says the report. The Times adds, “Fatima Deryan, an experienced Lebanese mountaineer, was making her way to the summit recently when less experienced climbers started collapsing in front of her. Temperatures were dropping to -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). Oxygen tanks were running low. And roughly 150 people were packed together, clipped to the same safety line. “A lot of people were panicking, worrying about themselves — and nobody thinks about those who are collapsing,” Deryan said. “It is a question of ethics,” she said. “We are all on oxygen. You figure out that if you help, you are going to die.’’ She offered to help some of the sick people, she said, but then calculated that she was beginning to endanger herself and kept going to the summit, which is currently measured at 29,029 feet. On the way back down, she had to fight through the crowds again. “It was terrible,” she said.” Around the same time, Rizza Alee, an 18-year-old climber from Kashmir, was making his way up the mountain. He said that he was stunned by how little empathy people had for those who were struggling. “I saw some people like they had no emotions,” he said. “I asked people for water and no one gave me any. People are really obsessed with the summit. They are ready to kill themselves for the summit.’’ The Times writes, “After long, cold days, [Dohring] inched up a spiny trail to the summit and ran into crowds aggressively jostling for pictures. He was so scared, he said, that he plunked down on the snow to keep from losing his balance and had his guide take a picture of him.” Reaching great heights is strenuous and demanding. Without the middos of Torah, we cannot fathom the peaks we aim for. Especially during these final days before Shavuos, we need to concentrate on learning Torah and following the lessons of Pirkei Avos so that we can properly accept the Torah on the day it was given to us 3,331 years ago on Har Sinai. The Tchebiner Rov, Rav Dov Berish Weidenfeld, lost his wife and five children during the Second World War. He arrived in Eretz Yisroel with two daughters. One night, there was joy in the Rov’s home when word came that his daughter, the wife of Rav Boruch Shimon Schneerson, had given birth to a son.


Living withIn theNews Times The Week

MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

It was a burst of comfort, a bit of nechomah after horrific tragedies. The baby was the first grandson of the Rov and represented hope for a better tomorrow. Then, when the baby was but a few days old, the doctors grew concerned regarding a developing illness. After a few hours, the baby passed away. The symbol of rebirth was gone. Rav Boruch Shimon went to inform his father-in-law, fearing how the news would impact him. The Tchebiner Rov looked at him and asked, “How is the child?”  An expression of grief crossed the sonin-law’s face and the Rov understood. Again, he was in mourning. The Rov responded, “Lulei Sorascha sha’ashu’ai, az ovadeti be’onyi.” Such has been the reaction of Jews throughout the ages. They followed the example set by Moshe Rabbeinu. Determined to scale the mountain to accept the Torah, he didn’t let the darkness impede him. Rather than stepping away, he moved forward. No lofty madreigah, this attitude is intrinsic to our personal kabbolas haTorah each day and each moment. We make choices in life. We have to be bocher in chaim. The Torah is eitz chaim. We have to be able to look past the arofel and dedicate ourselves to achieving life. We can offer an explanation based upon the Ohr Hachaim, who at the beginning of this week’s parsha explains the posuk of “Im bechukosai teileichu” to mean that if you will be oseik in Torah, then “ve’es mitzvosai tishmo-

ru,” you will be able to properly observe the mitzvos and separate yourself from aveirah. If you will be oseik in Torah, if the Torah will be your shaashuah, then you will be able to be a proper Jew and observe and follow the mitzvos and not get lost be’onyi, in the arofel, the darkness. The posuk recounts that when Hashem appeared to the Bnei Yisroel and offered them the Torah, they responded in unison, “Na’aseh venishma.” The Gemara in Maseches Shabbos (88a) relates that Rav Simai explained that when they said those two words, angels affixed two crowns to the head of each Jew, one for na’aseh and one for nishma. Rabi Elazar says that a bas kol rang out, stating, “Who taught my children this secret that is used by the angels?” Many commentators question what was so extraordinary about the two words of na’aseh venishma that the Jews were so richly praised for enunciating them. Perhaps we can say that the greatness of the response was that by responding in that way, they were declaring, “Na’aseh, we will follow the message of ‘im bechukosai teileichu ve’es mitzvosai tishmoru. We will act according to the dictates of the Torah and follow all its directives. And how will we do that? Venishma, through dedicating ourselves to its study. We will not act on our own and we will not shirk our responsibility. We will not get lost be’onyi and thrash about in the arofel. Rather, we will proclaim, ‘Lulei Sorascha sha’ashu’ai, oz ovadeti be’onyi.’”  Na’aseh. We are a nation of action, not

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just words. We are people who recognize our obligations in this world, not just a group that offers platitudes. Na’aseh venishma. We have been reciting that pledge of allegiance to Hashem and his Torah for thousands of years. Jews, wherever they are, and whatever language they speak, and irrespective of geographical distance from Sinai, irrespective of the ravages of the exile, of golus, of churban and of pogroms, all proclaim together the same doctrine: na’aseh venishma. That is what sets us apart and that is what has kept us through the ages. We have been guarded by the Torah and our fidelity to it and what it demands of us. All the other nations of the world from that period and throughout our history have long since petered out and are basically forgotten, but we persevere because of those two words. Heading into the Yom Tov of Kabbolas HaTorah, it’s the two words, na’aseh venishma, that carry us. Despite everything we’ve been through, we proclaim it again and again. At a Torah Umesorah convention, my dear uncle, the Telzer rosh yeshiva, Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin zt”l, shared a similar message. He said that we live in an age of impurity and immorality unlike any in modern history. Arofel fills our streets and we fight mightily to protect our homes, our small islands of sanctity. Rav Levin said that there is an inclination for us to comfort ourselves by thinking that we are better than the others, shelo osonu kegoyei ha’aratzos. It is not sufficient to think

that we are fulfilling our missions as Torah Jews just because we have not sunk as deeply as society has. He recalled a time in Yeshivas Telz when an incident provoked the ire of the rosh yeshiva, Rav Elya Meir Bloch. The entire yeshiva gathered in the bais medrash, expecting a severe lecture about the depths to which some had sunk. But that’s not what happened. The rosh yeshiva, who had built the yeshiva after suffering much tragedy during the Holocaust, entered the room he built with an enduring strength and faced his talmidim. “We all know how low a person can fall,” he said, “but now let’s focus on how high man can soar.” He delivered a shmuess about the potential of man to grow, leaving his talmidim with the message of gadlus ha’odom. He made them realize the heights they could reach and what is expected of them. Rav Levin concluded by telling the gathered mechanchim, “We can’t limit our focus on protecting our talmidim and ourselves from the darkness that surrounds us. We also have to inspire them to rise.” We are a great people. We have the Torah. We have a neshomah, a cheilek Eloka mima’al. The fire of Torah has the ability to glow in our souls, incinerate the tumah that seeks to envelop us, and light our path through the darkness. We have to kindle that spark that lies within each one of us and set it aflame, so that we will have the ability to walk through the arofel, become kedoshim, and reach for the heavens.

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1943 The future of our nation seemed bleak. The great centers of Torah learning were all but destroyed, consumed by the flames of the Holocaust. Torah life in America was weak, with little Shabbos observance and almost no established Torah learning.

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AND THEN IT ALL CHANGED. With the transplantation of the great Yeshivos from Eastern Europe to America after the war, a new Torah landscape emerged, changing the face of Torah infrastructure forever. Under the leadership of various great Rebbeim, Gedolim and Roshei Yeshivos, Torah in America began to flourish and prosper, becoming the thriving center of Torah we are zoche to be a part of today.

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1997 In 1997, Dirshu was founded as another step in the journey to rebuild and restore the world of Torah Jewry to the glory of previous generations. Dirshu’s mission is to increase Yedias HaTorah, Limud Mussar and Limud Halachah, and reignite the spark of Limud HaTorah by instituting worldwide programs that encourage true acquisition of Torah and Halachah.


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2020

In 2020, at the Dirshu World Siyum, we will celebrate together the culmination of Klal Yisroel’s efforts to elevate worldwide passion and love for Limud HaTorah.

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Transforming Self-Hate Rabbi Dov Heller, LMFT The one gift I would love to give to everyone is the gift of self-love. Self-hate drains a person of his emotional energy. He is constantly at war with himself and others. Transforming self-hate into self-love is like taking a 100-pound weight off one’s shoulders. One’s entire being feels lighter. Self-loving people tend to be joyous, optimistic, confident, resilient, creative, productive, loving and generous. The rabbis tell us that it is forbidden to see oneself as a bad person. Although all of us have bad days and don’t like

certain parts of ourselves from time to time, those who are self-hating judge themselves constantly as not being good enough, not thin enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, not creative enough, not tough enough, not spiritual enough, not productive enough, not successful enough, etc. Those who are self-hating tend to feel depressed, anxious, and to be self-absorbed. Make a list of things in which you feel you’re never quite good enough. Even if you identify only one thing in which you consis-

tently feel you are not good enough, it is quite possible that you are self-hating. In general, there are four areas that people tend to hate themselves for: 1. their bodies, 2. their bad feelings, moods, and thoughts, 3. their limitations and weaknesses, 4. their mistakes and bad decisions, past and present. Counterfeit self-love takes the form of grandiosity: trying to look good, to impress others, or to overcome feelings of inadequacy by being successful monetarily and even spiritually. However, if one’s drive for success is motivated by self-loathing, it will fail to build self-love. The person who hates herself will never love herself no matter how successful she

becomes. The first and hardest step towards transforming self-hate into something healthier is to fully acknowledge everything you feel you are deficient in and hate about yourself. This requires having the courage to be totally honest with yourself. The more one denies and fights the truth, the more entrenched one gets in his self-hate. What we resist persists. It is painful to face the truth, but it is even more painful to hide from it. Dave, a graduate student, remembers when he first began to study Talmud in a yeshiva. It was very hard for him, and he did not grasp it easily or quickly, unlike some other guys who seemed to catch on easily. Comparing himself to others, he started feeling dumb. Dave felt bad about himself, suffering for months, refusing to acknowledge how much shame he was feeling. Finally, he decided to reach-out to one of the rabbis. He began to face his self-hate and struggle with learning Talmud. At the same time, he began to wonder why it took him so long to face the truth about his self-hate. And then it hit him: the pain of facing the truth was greater than the pain of holding onto his selfhate! We must embrace our darkness if our light is to shine. I think it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one’s self…I tried to die near the end of the war. The same dream returned each night until I dared not to sleep and grew quite ill. I dreamed I had a child and even in the dream I saw it was my life, and it was hideous, and I ran away. But it always crept onto my lap again and clutched at my clothes. Until I thought, if I could kiss it, whatever in it was my own, perhaps I could sleep. And I bent to its broken face, and it was horrible…but I kissed it. I think one must finally take one’s life in one’s arms. –Arthur Miller, After the Fall Once we embrace the unwanted and disowned parts of ourselves, we can then take the second step towards transforming self-hate. We must clarify what limitations and deficits we cannot change and accept them, and what limitations we can change and make a plan for self-improvement. G-d grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. –Reinhold Niebuhr, The Serenity Prayer Once Dave was able to own his shame and the truth about his intelligence, he was able to see clearly what he needed to do. Once he accepted the fact that his mind didn’t work as quickly as others, he was able to make a plan for learning Talmud that worked for him. Within days, his self-esteem increased, and his self-hate lessened. The day he faced the truth about himself is the day the sun came out. Perhaps the ultimate consequence of self-hate is that it renders one unable to identify and access one’s unique creative gifts, so he can make his unique contribution to the world. Think about this. There will never be another person like you. The ultimate obligation to ourselves and to the world is to make our unique contribution in order to improve the world. Life is short. As Hillel said, “If not now when?” Unfortunately, I can’t give you the gift of self-love. But you can. Transforming self-hate into self-love may be one of the most important challenges that a human being can face, for the simple reason that the self-hating person is not fully alive. And in the end, living a life of joy, meaning, and vitality is what life is about.


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Stepping Up on Shavuot Sarah Pachter

Brooklyn Seminary for growing girls Warm and Friendly Atmosphere Dorm Available

My venture into public speaking began one Shavuot night in my home in Atlanta, Georgia, after seminary. I was full of excitement over my newly found connection to Judaism, and with Shavuot approaching just days after landing, I began to search for learning opportunities for women. Much to my dismay, there was not even one shiur available for a woman to attend on Shavuot night. I decided that I would create a program for women on my own. At just 18 years old, I took out my trusted seminary notes and put together my first shiur. I made homemade sushi and invited anyone and everyone. My hope was to give the shiur and then invite women to stay and learn throughout the night. Much to my surprise, over 50 women attended that night, and they stayed to learn well past three in the morning. After giving that first class, I felt like a flame had been sparked inside of me and propelled me to continue teaching Hashem’s Torah. I began volunteering to speak and teach in schools, synagogues, and homes throughout Georgia, New York, and New Jersey. In my junior year of college, the Jewish Enrichment Center (JEC) of Manhattan called to see if I could fill in for their scheduled speaker who was not able to come. Though I didn’t have much time to prepare, with the help of Hashem, the class surpassed everyone’s expectations, and I was offered more opportunities to speak there. That was the real beginning of my career as a public speaker, and it has been an incredible journey thus far. It all began on Shavuot when I saw that there was a need, and I decided to fill it. This story illustrates a major theme of Shavuot. “In a place where there is no man, strive to be a man.” As the midrash shares, Hashem had a precious gift that he wanted to share with the world, his Torah. Before approaching the Jewish people, He asked every nation if they wanted this gift, but after discovering the difficult laws, they all declined. When Hashem approached the Jews, we looked around and saw that no one wanted to accept the yolk of Torah. But we took a chance when no one else was willing to. We stepped up and accepted with the famous words, naaseh venishmah. When everyone else said no, we said yes.

This is what Shavuot is really about. It’s about stepping up, even when no one else does. It’s about looking around you, finding the lack, and filling that void. After my first child was born, my mother flew in for a week to help me care for the baby. I’ll never forget the dreaded day she was to return home after the bris. Although my son was a cooing calmly, I was certain the moment she left he was suddenly going to start crying nonstop. As a new mother, I felt ill prepared, and frankly I was terrified. With my husband at work and my mother on the airplane back, I was alone in the apartment with this new, week-old baby. I looked around and there was no one else. I had to step it up, and almost 13 years later, I am still growing as a mother. At almost every significant point in my life I have said yes, perhaps before I was fully ready. That’s how I started speaking as a profession, it’s how I wrote my first article, and it’s how I published my first book. Shavuot means daring to say yes even when you feel unsure, and even when others are unwilling to help. It’s saying I can, when everyone else says I can’t. It’s about possibility. It is about taking a risk when no one else wants to and watching your life change before your eyes. Imagine if the Jews had said, “Yeah… this looks too hard. I can’t hack it.” If we had said, We can’t, we would not be the Jewish nation that has survived and thrived for thousands of years. And who knows what other blessings we would be missing out on? Shavuot is about we can. Shavuot is about denying the voice inside your head that says, I can’t—because that voice is a liar. This Shavuot, we can continue the legacy that was given to us on Har Sinai. We too can look around, step up, and say yes one day at a time, until we reach a spiritual height worthy enough to accept the greatest gift ever given to mankind—the Torah. This is what Shavuot means to me. What does it mean to you? This article is written iluy nishmat Lori Kaye, a woman of valor who stepped up to save the life of her rav in the San Diego shooting.

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AN ESSENTIAL ALLIANCE By Susan Schwamm

A LOOK AT U.S.-JAPANESE RELATIONS THROUGH THE YEARS

P

resident Donald Trump visited Japan this week on a whirlwind four-day tour. Trump is the first world leader to meet with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito since Naruhito ascended the throne earlier this month. For decades, the U.S.-Japan alliance has been the cornerstone of U.S. security interests in Asia. The partnership has been fundamental in maintaining stability and prosperity in the region. With North Korea chafing at its nuclear ambitions and China poised to pounce and strangle U.S. global economic interests, a relationship with Japan is fundamental to United States foreign policy. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe enjoy a warm relationship. Abe was the first world leader to meet with Trump after the 2016 elections. They have met at least ten times; have talked on the phone more than 30 times; and have played more than 28 holes of golf together. This week’s trip was typical Trump in that it involved a few surprises and off-the-cuff moments. The first atypical moment took place on Sunday, when Trump and Abe posed for a selfie while playing golf. Later that day, Trump, First Lady Melania, Abe and his wife Akie attended the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo. The U.S. president presented the winner with the newly made “Trump Trophy.” The Trumps were

allowed to sit on chairs during the event, although viewers generally sit on cushions. Additionally, Trump was allowed to wear slippers when he entered the dirt wrestling ring, although people who usually enter are told to go barefoot. Aside from the fun and games and hamburger lunch, President Trump met with families of Japanese nationals who were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and ‘80s. Only five have been returned to Japan; North Korea insists that the others are dead but has not handed over their bodies. The U.S. president surprised his advisors and Abe when he said during a press conference that he’s not “bothered” by North Korea’s missile tests earlier this month. “My people think it could have been a violation, as you know,” Trump said, noting that no nuclear or longrange missiles had been tested. “I view it differently.” Abe said he disagreed with Trump’s view on North Korea’s missile testing but added that he agreed with Trump on efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The two also spoke about trade between the nations, with Trump stressing that the U.S. is not pleased with its nearly $60 billion trade deficit towards Japan. Trump has threatened to impose higher tariffs on imports of Japanese auto parts unless the two nations can iron out the difference. Despite certain issues in which Tokyo and Washington have differing interests, Japan and the United States

enjoy a congenial relationship. They both understand the global war on terror, the danger of a more powerful China, and the peril of a megalomaniac handling nuclear weapons in North Korea and Iran.

World War II and Its Effects The United States and Japan’s relationship has been evolving over the decades since World War II. During World War II, Japan and the United States were enemies. In fact, it was Japan that dragged the U.S. into the war. Before the horrific attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans were increasingly wary of being drawn into a long, deadly, and costly conflict. Officially, the U.S. was a neutral country. But on December 7, 1941, 353 Japanese aircraft in two waves buzzed over Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, and blasted the military base. Over the course of just two hours, 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged – four of them were sunk. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed. The Japanese had intended the attack as a preventive action to keep the United States Pacific Fleet from interfering with Japan’s planned military actions in Southeast Asia against territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. A day after the “date that will live in infamy,” Japan declared war on the United States. Germany and Italy subsequently declared war against the U.S. The United States had been

pulled into World War II. Ironically, the attacks on Pearl Harbor, which the Japanese perpetrated to prevent potential attacks by the U.S., ultimately led to the Axis powers’ defeat in the war. Without the United States joining the Allies and providing them with a fresh supply of soldiers, ammunition, and tactics, it’s uncertain if Germany and Japan would have been defeated so soundly. And it was the United States that dealt Japan the final blow at the end of World War II. Germany had surrendered on May 9, 1945 but Japan was unwilling to admit defeat. On July 26, 1945, the Allies called for the unconditional surrender of Japan in the Potsdam Declaration, declaring that without surrender the nation would suffer “prompt and utter destruction.” The Japanese ignored their call. On August 6, 1945, the “Little Boy” uranium gun-type bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Despite the decimation inflicted by the bomb upon its citizens and members of the military, the prideful Japanese refused to admit defeat. Three days later, a plutonium implosion “Fat Man” bomb was dropped over Nagasaki. Between 129,000 to 226,000 people were killed in the blasts and in the subsequent days from burns, radiation sickness, and other illnesses. The fallout from the bombs lingered for years. Six days later, Japan finally surrendered. On September 2, in Tokyo Bay, the Japanese government signed the instrument of surrender, officially ending World War II. Officials met


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President Trump speaks with Emperor Naruhito during a State Banquet at the Imperial Palace

President Trump and Prime Minister Abe took a selfie while golfing together

Japan’s Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida signing the Security Treaty Between the

Robert Kennedy in Tokyo on behalf of his brother, the president of the United States

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United States and Japan in 1951

in San Francisco to sign the Treaty of Peace on September 8, 1951. While signing the peace treaty, U.S. and Japanese officials also signed the Security Treaty Between the United States and Japan – a 10-year, renewable military agreement that outlines a security arrangement for Japan that accommodates its pacifist constitution. When the treaty went into effect on April 28, 1952, Japan was once again an independent state and an ally of the United States. In 1960, under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a five-star general in the army and served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War II, Japan and the U.S. signed a new, revised Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. The treaties committed the Unit-

ed States to deploy military forces to defend Japan if the country came under attack; it also provided port and military basing facilities for U.S. forces in territory administered by Japan. In addition, it committed the United States to consult with Japan before initiating direct combat operations. The latter treaty had a defined, renewable ten-year term limit. The 1960 version of the treaty also eliminated the right of U.S. forces to intervene in Japanese domestic affairs to quell domestic disturbances. This agreement has endured for over half a century. For Japan, the treaties symbolized the country’s independence and return to the world stage. Through its relationship with the United States, Japan gained security with comparatively lower defense expenditures,

which served as an effective hedge against the territorial ambitions of others in the region. Japan was also able to direct financial resources towards its economic recovery, resources that would have otherwise been allocated to defense expenditures. Indeed, Japan has been able to hold its defense budget to less than one percent of GDP over the years. Japanese policymakers and business interests also looked forward to gaining access to the massive U.S. market, close to 30 percent of global GDP at the time (and still the largest market in the world today). Because of treaties like this one that Japan and the U.S. have forged, Japan now boasts the world’s third-largest economy by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity.

JFK’s Warm Approach When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, though, he found that many Japanese were concerned that their country would become entangled in American wars and resented what they saw as an unequal partnership. During World War II, JFK, who had joined the U.S. Navy, was stranded in the Pacific with his crew when his PT 109 was struck by a Japanese destroyer. After fifteen hours at sea – in which the future president heroically towed one injured crewmember to land as he swam to shore – eleven survivors of the wreckage eventually made it to land. As president, Kennedy endeavored to salvage the relationship between the two countries just as he saved members of his crew decades before.

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Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato meets with President Nixon at the Western White House in San Clemente in January 1972

President Richard Nixon welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato to Washington on November 19, 1969

bilateral organizations, conferences, and exchanges between the two nations.

Baseball Diplomacy

President Ford meeting in Tokyo’s Akasaka Palace State Guest House with his staff on a visit to Japan

Kennedy nominated Edwin O. Reischauer, a respected Harvard scholar, as Ambassador to Japan. Reischauer and his accomplished Japanese wife Haru changed what had been an isolated and imperious U.S. embassy into a force for bilateral understanding between the nations. The president also began to plan a presidential visit to Tokyo with his counterparts in Japan. This visit – to be the first ever by an American president – would highlight the transformation of U.S.-Japan relations since the war. To advance the historic visit, the president sent his most trusted advisor, his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, to Tokyo in 1962. In Japan, Robert met ordinary people of all walks of life and debated U.S. policy with tough critics. He and his wife, Ethel, charmed Japanese crowds with their openness and interest into Japanese culture. One of the trip’s most eventful –

and perhaps most telling – moments occurred in the Okuma auditorium of Waseda University. While Kennedy attempted to speak onstage, chaos broke out as pro-communist groups shouted him down, while pro-Kennedy students yelled back at them. Kennedy finally gave up on his speech, but instead of walking away, he suggested that one of the students, Tachiya Yuzo, ask him a question so they could have a debate. That, Kennedy said, is the democratic way. An astonished crowd gasped as the U.S. Attorney General extended his hand into the sea of black-uniformed students and pulled Tachiya onstage. The Attorney General’s quick thinking, respect, and charisma turned what could be a foreign police disaster into a triumph for peace. As fate would have it, President John F. Kennedy never made it to Japan. His administration, though, worked to construct a network of

When Richard Nixon came to office in 1969, although the alliance between the United States and Japan was still strong, there were fissures under the surface. With the United States becoming closer to China and Prime Minister Eisaku Sato facing a storm in the Japanese parliament, known as the Diet, Tokyo and Washington agreed on the Okinawa Reversion Agreement. The pact relinquishes the United States’ hold on the Okinawa Prefecture to Japanese sovereignty. The Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands – which comprise the Okinawa Prefecture – were returned to Japan under the agreement in exchange for the U.S. maintaining a military presence there and being able to access its facilities. Okinawa was a strategic location during World War II and garnered the moniker of the Keystone of the Pacific at that time. The document was simultaneously signed in Washington, D.C., and Tokyo on June 17, 1971. It was ratified in Japan by the Diet on November 24, 1971. On September 26, 1971, Emperor Hirohito touched down in Anchorage, Alaska, for a short visit to the United States. President Nixon was waiting to greet him. The meeting was brief, as the emperor was Europe-bound: his plane landed at 10 p.m. and took off again at 11:40. Nevertheless, it was a

momentous occasion as Hirohito had now become, in the words of President Nixon, “the first reigning monarch in Japan’s long history to step on foreign soil.” This was especially remarkable since the Japanese monarchy was and remains today the oldest continuous ruling family in the world. Hirohito, who is now known in Japan by his posthumous name Emperor Showa, is most famous for ruling Japan during World War II and, in the aftermath, issuing the Humanity Declaration which denied his status as a living god. In early January of 1972, Prime Minister Sato paid a visit to the United States and met with President Nixon at the Western White House in San Clemente. Aside from the Okinawa agreement, the two discussed China policy extensively. Before the meeting, Sato signaled to the U.S. that he was ready to play ball in the region and that he and President Nixon should seriously reevaluate Japan’s place in East Asia. Nixon assured Sato that he would be visiting China to work towards a limited improvement of relations with China, as opposed to a formalization of relations with the country. He reiterated that the U.S. desired to uphold and strengthen its security assurances to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, even when reaching out to China.

Visiting Tokyo When President Gerald Ford visited Japan in November 1974, he was the first U.S. president to visit the country. Since then, every president


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Emperor Hirohito with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy on November 9, 1983

has made at least two visits to Japan. Interestingly, President Eisenhower planned to visit Japan in 1960 but cancelled his trip because of mass protests in Japan. Earlier that month, protesters attacked a car carrying the U.S. Ambassador Douglas MacArthur II and Press Secretary James C. Hagerty, and they had to be rescued by military helicopter. Eisenhower was already in Asia and was set to swing by Japan when he was told to avoid the country because of the chaos. According to TIME, the rebuff was a “stinging slap to U.S. pride and prestige.” When Ford planned on visiting, protests were also being held – including firebombings of the American and Soviet embassies by extremists. Even so, he visited Japan, although he only spent time in Tokyo and Kyoto and did not go to Hiroshima. Jimmy Carter addressed a Japanese audience at a small university on his first trip to Japan. Because it was his first visit there, he prepared a joke to begin his speech. He decided, though, to prepare a short joke for his audience, as he knew they were nervous before their graduation ceremony. After saying his joke in English, he waited for the translator to tell it to the audience. After just a sentence or two from the interpreter, the audience erupted into laughter. It was laughter that President Carter was not prepared for – the best reaction to a joke he ever had – and he wanted to know how the interpreter translated the joke. After his speech, Carter asked the interpreter about his translation

but could tell he was being evasive. Carter, though, did not let it go. He persuaded the translator to explain it to him. Finally, the interpreter told him, “Sir, I told the audience, ‘President Carter just told a funny story. Everyone must laugh.’”

Working Together On January 2, 1985, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone met with President Ronald Reagan in Los Angeles at what is known as The Reagan Nakasone Summit. The main purpose of the summit was to enhance the friendship between the two nations. Both Reagan and Nakasone enjoyed a warm relationship, although many would not have predicted that. Before he became prime minister, Nakasone would wear a black tie daily to symbolize his mourning over U.S. troops stationed in areas of Japan. Despite his previous ideals, both leaders worked well together and helped move their countries forward. At the time, the U.S. and Japan were the world’s two largest free enterprise, democratic countries and accounted for more than one-third of the world’s annual output of goods and services. During that time, Tokyo had begun working closely with Washington to check the military threat coming from the USSR. It also supported the U.S. security commitment to South Korea and became the sounding board between the Koreas. It’s interesting to note that at that

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President Ronald Reagan chats with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone before the official start of their meeting in 1985

time, Japan was a major player in the world economy – far larger than China. Inasmuch as President Trump has been battling China over trade recently, President Reagan was wary of the danger of a too-powerful Japan when it comes to trade and the United States. During his tenure, Reagan used tariffs to attempt to rebalance the trade figures between the countries. At one point, Reagan imposed tariffs on $300 million in Japanese electronic goods as punishment for Japan’s failure to honor a computer chip sales agreement. Additionally, he tried to open up Japanese markets to U.S. goods, including beef, citrus, and rice.

“Do the Bush Thing” President George H.W. Bush’s most memorable event when it came to the United States and Japan is what happened on January 8, 1992. Bush had been on a whirlwind tour through 16 time zones in 10 days when he was defeated at tennis by Emperor Akihito and his son, Crown Prince Naruhito. During a receiving line before the state dinner in Tokyo, Bush wasn’t feeling well and left the line to throw up in the bathroom. Even though his aides suggested he retire for the night, Bush insisted on fulfilling his presidential duties. During the dinner, between a course of raw salmon with caviar and grilled beef, Bush appeared to faint. He then leaned to the left and threw up into Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa’s lap. Barbara Bush leaped to her feet and pressed a napkin to

her husband’s mouth. The president’s entourage gently lowered him to the floor and a weak Bush joked to his physician, “Roll me under the table until the dinner’s over.” Attempting to save face, the Japanese media did not air a tape of the incident for a full week after it occurred. Even so, there is a term in Japan, Bushu-suru, which means literally, “to do the Bush thing.”

Clinton’s Missteps Relations between Tokyo and Washington were precarious during the Clinton years. For the first few years of the Clinton Administration, the president and his advisors narrowly focused on trade in their approach to Japan. In effect, Clinton’s slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” became his vision when it came to Tokyo. As such, the administration applied intense external pressure to the country – but without the desired results. It also thought that in the post-Cold War era, there would be little political fallout from distancing itself from Japan. That, though, was far from the truth. By the spring of 1995, the Administration was poised for a trade war with Japan, threatening a 100 percent tariff on the import of Japanese luxury automobiles unless Tokyo relented and signed up for managed trade. An era of mistrust and stereotypes pervaded both countries when it came to the other. Trade agreements were ultimately signed but none contained enforceable quotas. Additionally, because of an inci-

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MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

lations between the U.S. and China. Japan saw itself as being passed over in favor of Beijing and chafed at the idea of China receiving preferential treatment. The Clinton years were perhaps the least productive years in U.S.-Japan relations in recent history despite President Clinton’s five trips to the country.

President Cinton offering a toast to Japanese Emperor Akihito during a state dinner at the White House in 1994

In a widely criticized move, President Obama bowed to the emperor of Japan

President Obama with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Hiroshima

dent with an American serviceman in Okinawa, calls for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Okinawa dominated Japan’s political public debate. During that time, President Clinton cancelled

a planned state visit to Japan to deal with a budget battle in the States, a terrible optic for the Japanese people. Japan was also mistrustful of the United States because of warming re-

Heart-to-Heart with George W. President George W. Bush shared a close relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during his time in the Oval Office. Bush saw his counterpart as an ally in his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in confronting North Korea about its nuclear weapons ambitions. “Decades ago our two fathers looked across the Pacific and saw adversaries, uncertainty and war,” Bush told Koizumi at a welcoming ceremony at the White House in 2006. “Today their sons look across that same ocean and see friends and opportunity and peace.” Koizumi responded by saying that there is no other world leader besides Bush with whom he has felt such a “heart-to-heart” friendship and trust. Koizumi brought Japan – once seen as a colonizing aggressor – onto the world stage ready to take a bigger part in regional and global security. “The friendship between our two nations is based on common values,” Bush said. “These values include democracy, free enterprise and a deep and abiding respect for human rights.” Japan’s post-World War II constitution prohibits its military from combat duty in international conflicts. But the country enacted a law after the Sept. 11 attacks to let Japan provide logistical support to coalition forces in the U.S.-led anti-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan. Under another Koizumi law, Japan was able to send troops to southern Iraq on a noncombat humanitarian mission. Additionally, during the Bush years, the U.S. and Japan hammered out the biggest restructuring in decades of the U.S. military in Japan. The plan relocated airfields and aircraft and transfer thousands of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam in an effort to ease tensions with Japa-

nese who have long complained about crime, accidents, land use, and noise associated with U.S. forces.

Remembering Hiroshima President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima. He spoke at a ceremony on May 27, 2016. 71 years after the bomb decimated the city, the U.S. president laid a wreath at a memorial to the dead of the world’s first atomic bombing. “On a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” the president said, adding that humankind had shown that day it had the means to destroy itself. “Why did we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in the not so distant past. We come to mourn the dead,” he said. “Their souls speak to us, they ask us to look inward, take stock of who we are.” After looking at some of the exhibits in the peace museum, Obama wrote in the visitors’ book: “We have known the agony of war. Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons,” a goal he conceded he may not see in his lifetime. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described Obama’s visit as “courageous,” saying: “An American president has come into contact with the reality of an atomic bombing and renewed his resolve toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons. “I sincerely welcome this historic visit, which has long been awaited by not only the people of Hiroshima, but by all Japanese people.”

O

ver the past eight decades, t he Un i t e d States and Japan’s relationship has had bu mp s a nd jumps in the road. Despite a few swerves and detours, we have remained strong allies and partners on the global stage. This week, President Donald Trump continued to cement our relationship as he spent time with his counterparts and discussed key issues that affect both nations.


The Week In News

MAY 30, 2019 | The Jewish Home

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