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Chazan Arik Wollheim & Beth Jacob Congregation Present


JANUARY 1, 2015


Sunday January 11 6:30 pm

8440 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills

Take advantage of our special rates! Look for promo-code at checkout.

Separate and mixed s Musical Director:

eating se ctions available.

Tomer Adaddi Generously Sponsored by

Photo credits: Boruch Ezagui

For tickets, including specially priced family packs, visit bethjacob.org/concert. For more information call (310) 278-1911.





JANUARY 1, 2015

Wednesday . January 14 9:00AM-4:00PM & 7:30AM-9:30PM Rikki Weiss | 183 N Mansfield Ave | 323.634.9932

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JANUARY 1, 2015







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CONTENTS Community Happenings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Long Island to L.A., Jewish All Stars Light the Way . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

JEWISH THOUGHT The Mystery of Ya’acov’s Last Blessings. . . . . . . . . . 18

Strong & Uplifted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

COVER STORY 2014 - Year in Review. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 OIL! This Year’s Chanukah Miracle and Some of the Jews who Helped Find the Oil. . . . . . . . . . . . 34

HUMOR & ENTERTAINMENT Quotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 2014 Sports Trivia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Uncle Moishy Fun Page. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

LIFESTYLES Travel Guide: Maine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 JWI Cookbook – A Sampling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

EDUCATION Cuba’s Jews: A New Beginning?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

NEWS Global News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 National News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 That’s Odd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

In fact the only reason why we feel there’s so much bad news is that we have begun to expect a perfect world where every crime is inexplainable and every natural disaster incomprehensible. The truth is that in almost every area the numbers show how 2014 was the best year mankind has ever had! This seems to be the exact opposite of what most of us feel. “The world is unraveling right in front of us,” “the tremors taking place in society are unprecedented.” But if we “open our eyes” we will see how this perspective is actually unfounded. The reality is that we’ve come so far. So what’s left for us to do? Should we just sit back and watch how these events unfold? On the contrary. Now’s the time to take advantage of all the goodness existing in the world. Have a project you always wanted to do? Go ahead, I’m sure you’ll find someone to help you. Is there a charity you would like to support? Pick one of the thousands the world over and jump right in. Have someone you want to apologize to but are not sure how they will react? Make the effort and you might be pleasantly surprised. The long road was paved by the giants before us, but we are the ones who will bring our mission to fruition. As with the closing pitcher, there may be a fraction of the game left but the pressure is enormous as the stakes are high and it is very easy to give into the feeling that we won - or lost - already. Let’s stay the course and march along with the rest of humanity to a world of peace, a world of good and a world filled with the knowledge of its creator. May we have an uplifting Shabbos,


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

JANUARY 1, 2015

The Life and Torah of Reb Boruch Ber Leibowitz. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Dear Readers, One of the fascinating needs of us humans is to speak with certainty about future events. Whether we are really familiar with the goings on in a given country, or whether it is even possible to know something with certainty, we like to present a clear view of what we think will unfold. If we were to rewind to the beginning of 2014 and recall our analysis of worldwide events we would probably leave out 95% of the big stories which did actually take place. The annexation of Crimea, the pileup of scandals involving professional sport players, Operation Protective Edge including the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, the shooting down of flight MH17, the rise of ISIS, Ebola, widespread demonstrations against the police, the hacking of Sony… the list goes on. Perhaps instead of trying to predict what has yet to take place, let’s try and understand the past. It seems that aggression is still alive and well, self-centeredness still leads individuals to act extremely foolishly, Israel is never in the right and the Jew is one with Israel. There are still parts of the world without enough basic medical care and when left unchallenged, evil will consume all in its path. It’s much easier to march against the faults in others, and guess what? If we released all of our private emails there would be mile long apology lines! Meanwhile, the real story is actually the good news. When looking at the responses to the above we’ll see a pattern of society slowly “getting it right” on the major issues, as well as making huge advances in controlling outbreaks and other maladies to limit the disastrous effects they once had.





JANUARY 1, 2015


Grand Hachnosas Sefer Torah in Honor of Mrs. Bessie Weiss a”h a leader in her own right, and the eshet chail of Mr. Moshe Weiss a’h, a wonderful community builder and supporter. Mrs Weiss was also the mother of the Cheder’s Chairman of the Board and generous supporter, Mr. Barry Weiss. The procession will begin at 6:00 p.m. in front of Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn at 540 N. La Brea Avenue. A huge crowd of Rabbonim, supporters, community members, Yeshiva bochurim, parents and children from all area schools, will dance with the Torah to the Cheder, located at the corner of La Brea and Waring Avenue. There will

Excitement is mounting throughout our community in anticipation of the grand Hachnossas Sefer Torah to take place on Tuesday evening, January 20, erev Rosh Chodesh Shevat. This unique Sefer Torah has been dedicated through the efforts of the talmidim and talmidos of the Los Angeles Cheder and Bais Tzivia. The Cheder boys learned Mishnayos and the Bais Tzivia girls said tehillim to raise sponsors for each word in the new Sefer Torah. They raised the funds so that they could dedicate this Sefer Torah in memory of Mrs. Bessie Weiss a’h. Mrs. Weiss was

be music and dancing with torches and treats for the children. The flaming torches against the dark night, accompanied by a Hachnossas Sefer Torah truck, will lead the way in this one of a kind parade! The simcha will continue as the Sefer Torah is brought into the Cheder and placed into the Aron Kodesh in the Bais Medrash. This will be an unforgettable event and everyone in the community is invited to participate and view for themselves the Torah in the streets of our city. For more information, please call the Cheder at 323-935-9274x106.

Chanukah Shabbaton and Concert with the Moshav Band At Del Mar Beach, Camp Pendleton by Rabbi David Becker On Shabbos Chanukah, Jewish Friends of the American Armed Forces (JFAAF), the Military Chaplain Service arm of Pirchei Shoshanim, sponsored and facilitated several events in Southern California. The JFAAF Organization trains, ordains, and endorses Jewish Chaplains to the Department of Defense for service in the Armed Forces. JFAAF/ Pirchei Chaplains serve in all branches of the military and are tasked with building Jewish communities on military bases domestically and abroad. Our Chaplains also serve as the military’s front line counselors.  The JFAAF’s mission is to work with endorsed Chaplains to conduct Shabbat, holiday and Jewish Life programming on bases across the world and to defend Jewish right and practice in the service of Ha’Shem in the United States Armed Forces.  The first event was a skiing event with Chaplain Candidate Brian Borenstein. Chaplain Candidate Brian Borenstein is in the process of becoming a Navy Reservist Chaplain. His work involves anti-missionary efforts and crisis counseling. Brian spent the Shabbos Chanukah in Big Bear with marines and airmen, where he arranged for all kosher meals and lodging. The next event was a Chanukah Party at Naval Base Ventura County. Myself, Rabbi Ben Geiger, and his son Mordechai Geiger put together a Chanukah Party at the Naval Base at Point Mugu, E2 Hawkeye Squadron.  Traditional Chanukah foods were served and everyone agreed that the latkes were delectable. Finally, there was a meaningful Chanukah Shabbaton at Camp Pendleton. One of the largest and most beautiful areas in California, Marine Corp Base Camp Pendleton sits on 250 square miles of rolling hills, streams, white sandy beaches, and arguably the most beautiful coastline in Southern California.  Marine Corp Base Camp Pendleton is also home to I Marine Expeditionary Force, consisting of 19,000 combat-ready Marines and all their gear. These Marines are a first response strike expeditionary force. And it is here the JFAAF came to enjoy Shabbos. Our Shabbaton was based in beautiful Del Mar Beach Resort, situated on the coastline at Camp Pendleton. The beach resort looks like it should be somewhere in the middle of the

Caribbean rather than in Southern California. Lining the beach front are gorgeous villas

The beautiful Menorah donated by the Schulman family

that are rented out to military personnel and veterans. Our group occupied eight villas for Shabbos, one of which served as a Shul and another as a dining hall. Accompanying us were several Los Angelinos and San Dieagan families, along with marines, their dependents and veterans. Yeshiva students from Mesivtas Birchas Yitchok (MBY) also joined us with their principal, Rabbi Ben Geiger who also is the Director of Los Angeles Hatzolah. Rabbi Geiger and the MBY  bocrim  contributed wonderful Torah and tremendous spirit to the weekend. The Marines were represented by JFAAF-endorsed Chaplain Daniel Kamzan, who has served as a spiritual counselor in the Air Force and is now serving with the Navy as Chaplain for Marine Infantry Battalion, MCB Pendleton. Invariably, whenever a yarmulka and tzitis appear on a military base, stares follow.   While checking out some Marine armored vehicles during a Shabbos morning shpitzeer  (walkabout), a veteran

approached the MBY boys to wish them a Gutte Shabbos, and was dismayed to learn that the boys could not speak Yiddish. This disappointment, however, did not dissuade him from joining the Shabbos lunch where he regaled everyone with stories from his five combat tours and explained what is was like to be Jewish in the Marines. Such interactions are quite common on bases. On multiple occasions, marines stopped to ask us what we were doing on the base and we responded that we were here to show them that the Jewish community supports them. It was a real trick stuffing thirty people into the living room of a villa for the meals, but in truth the room seemed to stretch, and the food, which was completely home-cooked by Hatzolah of Los Angeles Chairmen Shmulie Haupman and Rabbi Gieger, was amazing.  What is a Shabbos without cholent, yapchik, gefilta fish, deli roll, roasted chicken, and salatim?  We ate like kings. As good as the food was, the singing, Diveri Torah, and stories that came out of the military members proved the highlight of the event. One gentleman was an F16 fighter pilot who had flown hundreds of combat missions during the Gulf and Iraqi wars, though his demeanor was so mild and easygoing, you would not have known that he was a combat pilot had he not mentioned so. Another attendee was a Navy sailor who works at the base hospital as a physical therapist. His specialty is mobility therapy. He is the person who teaches marines that have been shot and blown up how to walk again. This gentleman explained that being a marine never leaves a person. Innate to all Marines is the drive and conditioning to succeed, which is apparent even when relearning to walk. The physical therapist’s wife, Adee, was born in Israel and speaks perfect Hebrew. She asked me if I could use her assistance in teaching Hebrew to marines or their children on base. I thanked her. Not five minutes later, Jacky, the spouse of a Special Forces marine on deployment, asked if I knew anyone who could teach her two small children Hebrew because she herself did not feel equipped to teach them about their heritage. Adee was thrilled to have her first customers. This type of grassroots Jewish outreach comes easily on military bases. Truly, it is not hard to make a

Kiddush Hashem in the military because the opportunities are there for the taking. After Shabbos, it was time to party. The Moshav Band, led by Yehudah Solomon, held the concert in the Officers Club overlooking the Pacific Ocean; a truly picturesque spot. The band literally lit up the room with ruach. A colonel in attendance remarked that he had never heard such deeply moving and uplifting music. At the start of the concert, the National Anthem was played, followed by the marine hymn, The Halls of Montezuma. By evening it was time to light the menorah, and the menorah that we lit was indeed something to behold! A couple of weeks back, I had been talking to Jennifer Schulman about my work with the military. Jennifer had asked if we needed a Menorah for the program. “Sure”, I had replied. What Jennifer delivered was truly remarkable. Jennifer’s family is in the steel scrap business and they love tinkering with metal and welding so Jennifer arranged for her family to make a six-foot, sand-blasted golden menorah. The dedication and love that went into this gift was clear to everyone. The Schulman’s have dedicated the Menorah to the Marines at Camp Pendleton, and their gift will remain there to light up the base with spiritual energy for years to come. The Menorah will serve as reminder to both Jewish and non-Jewish Marines that the light of G-D is ever advancing and is there to be enjoyed by all. Yasher Koach, Jennifer, Grande Vista Steel, and all the Schulman’s. I want to thank all our friends who have partnered with JFAAF in conducting Jewish outreach in the United States Armed Forces. To Mr. Alan Alevy, thank you for your trust and confidence. Your support is as deep as your heart. May Hashem bless you and all your family with goodness. Mr. and Mrs. Lunzer, thank you for all you do for the Jewish community here in Los Angeles and everywhere you go. May Hashem bless you to go from “Strength to Strength”. To all contributors, both large and small, your gifts have allowed JFAAF to do that which no one else is doing. Thank you. Kol Ha’kavod. Most importantly, thank you to all the members of the Armed Forces. Your service is appreciated, and the Jewish community supports your efforts in defending our freedoms and liberty. Stay safe, and G-D bless you all.


by Rebecca Klempner

like most literary magazines that rely on freelancers, this site draws on a stable of regular contributors, allowing Hevria to be responsive to news stories. This means

so grateful to the community of readers and people who interact with me via my postings. Many of the people who have joined in the ongoing unfolding of eternal

that on the very day of the Har Nof massacre, in which four Jews and the Druze police officer who rushed to protect them were slain, Hevria members posted poetic responses to the attack. Subsequent posts have addressed race relations and the attack on a yeshiva bocher at the Lubavitch headquarters. Other pieces have a more timeless quality. On Hevria, you’ll find personal essays; philosophical discourses on Kabbalah, Chassidus, poetry, short stories, humor and reviews of music, books, and art. Most posts promote themes of empathy, growth, or serious contemplation of our deepest and most widely-held assumptions. I reached out to the local Hevria contingent to learn a little more about the website. Rachel Kann, who contributes poetry, essay and fiction, explained, “I am

Torah, which is what the conversation ultimately is, in its grandest sense, are writers and holy people and scholars that I greatly admire. In addition to that, helping people feel less alone and more understood is meaningful. Feeling like I myself am understood through my words is a huge healing and blessing.” She added, “Elad Nehorai is one of those very special people who, in addition to being an extremely talented artist in his own right, is able to draw together really quality human beings.” Kann’s comments point to one of the strongest features of Hevria: community. Not only do the writers form this community, the readers add to it with the backand-forth flow of their comments. Editor Nehorai works to maintain a balance between strong opinion and courteous discourse. To this end, Nehorai monitors

comments very closely. Any comments deemed disrespectful are deleted. This makes sure that discussion may get heated, but never offensive. Asked what he appreciated most about blogging for Hevria, Eric Linus Kaplan told me, “My favorite thing is having a candid conversation with someone who I might not ever talk to in my normal, everyday life. I’m not part of an Orthodox synagogue, but many of the members of Hevria are…and now we can interact instead of stay apart, in separate parts of the community. I think that’s good for the Jewish people, and maybe for everyone in the world.” Kaplan committed to the project specifically for the opportunity for dialogue. Salvador Litvak, also a screenwriter and a blogger better known as The Accidental Talmudist, concurs that the interactive quality of the blog is key. “We have a bloggers group – a private group on Facebook – even though we’re spread out all over the world, in different cities. When we post, we can share thoughts on what scares us, what excites us.” This supportive, collaborative approach makes Hevria a standout among an ever-growing number of Jewish websites. Some readers might prefer sites with a uniformly “on-message,” frum editorial policy. However, readers who are looking for an online magazine with diverse voices in a positive environment will want to check out Hevria.

Shalhevet’s Choir Brings the Chanukah Spirit to the LAPD Shalhevet High School’s 19-voice choir provided the music at the Third Annual LAPD Chanukah Menorah Lighting on December 16 at Police Headquarters downtown. Led by Shalhevet music teacher Mrs. Joelle Keene, the choir sang a capella arrangements of “Maoz Tzur” and “Mi Yemalel,” followed by the blessings over the candles. Then Rabbi Newman hoisted a little boy onto his shoulders to light the giant menorah. The crowd included 100 police officers, politicians and members of the public, and the choir were able to meet Mayor Eric Garcetti after the performance. Police Chief Charlie Beck also attended and the heads of the Hollywood Division and other sections were in attendance along with families of officers killed in the line of duty, who were honored at the event. The event was organized by LAPD chaplain Rabbi Shmuel Newman, who thanked the department for its service and presented inscribed chanukiyot to families

of the fallen officers. Rabbi Newman also gave a dvar Torah about finding light in times of darkness, tying together the service of the officers to the theme of Chanukah. After the program, the students and their parents were invited to a kosher buffet of latkes, donuts and more, arranged by Rabbi Newman. Everyone mingled with the police officers and the event’s organizers. “It was a privilege to have been invited, to get out into the city that is our home and thank some of the people who

work hard to keep it safe for everyone,” said Mrs. Keene later. Two staff members of Shalhevet’s newspaper, The Boiling Point, were also in attendance, and were able to show Mayor Garcetti a photo of him reading the paper during his campaign in 2013. “Oh, the Boiling Point!” Mayor Garcetti exclaimed,

seeming to actually remember it. “You need to send me some new issues.” The choir also performed during Chanukah at Barnes & Noble at the Grove. It rehearses twice a week at Shalhevet after school and learns a program of Jewish, Israeli and popular music.

Photo credit: Jordan Levine, Shalhevet Boiling Point

JANUARY 1, 2015

Most international Jewish magazines, be they print or online, take a firmly sectarian approach. Their audiences are full of like-minded people, and articles tend to exclusively represent their shared opinions. While a few publications, like the websites Kveller and Tablet, attract a wider readership and provide more diverse perspectives, they also have notoriously aggressive comment feeds, preventing genuine dialogue. In a world where anti-Semitism is once again rampant, where many Jews see the need for communal unity, Jewish readers have been asking for a venue that encourages harmony without suppressing diversity. Enter Hevria. Established just a few months ago by Elad Nehorai, Hevria is an online literary magazine/blogging co-op at www.hevria. com. With his fresh voice, Nehorai had won over fans at his previous blog, PopChassid. For this new project, he united with widely-recognized bloggers including MaNishtana, Sarah Tuttle-Singer, and Matthue Roth as well as several less well-known but equally articulate writers. While many of the participants identify as Orthodox, several do not. What they share is a commitment to honest, heartfelt writing and a devotion to what Nehorai calls “positive creation in a spiritual context.” Three of the regular Hevria bloggers are local to L.A. – Eric Linus Kaplan, Rachel Kann, and Salvador Litvak. Other contributors, including Nehorai, live in New York, and others are Israeli. Un-


The Hevra at Hevria


JANUARY 1, 2015


The Fickle Voice of Human Rights Monitoring in Israel by Ruth Judah

During the first week of December, Los Angeles played host to Itai Reuveni. Reuveni, a reservist in the IDF, holds a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Affairs from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a senior researcher for the Non-Governmental Organization, (“NGO”) group, NGO Monitor. His organization works to promote transparency and accountability in the reporting of events by NGO’s who claim to promote human rights issues. Hosting a website that’s buzzing with press releases and reports, NGO Monitor deals with the mechanism behind the Human Rights system as it relates to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is not altogether a futile system and Reuveni recognizes there are brave and honorable people who are affecting the outcome of some areas of the Israeli conflict. On the other hand, he repeatedly finds that the NGO’s and their funders are failing the very need that they should be supporting. The essential need for NGO accountability is shallow at best and this builds an environment for antagonizers to delegitimize Israel. A fundamental reason for this instability is due to the fact that funding of human rights groups has become highly politicized and this inevitably interferes with the real issues. Reuveni sees the arena of human rights as a business, whereas it should be a social movement. The documentation of human rights violations is a costly activity which must secure financial viability in order to successfully pursue its objectives yet this has taken away the moral purpose. Today, Reuveni explains, there is a global trend to defend Human Rights work according to the political motivation of its funders. Human Rights are literally the rights every human has because they are human. Basic common sense shows where those rights exist. The problem is that, although the concept of Human Rights is supposed to be a universal value, which in a perfect world would apply equally to all human beings, the reality is very different. Human Rights as a universal value has been hijacked by political activists and superstar actors, by propagandists and by charities and pressure groups who each have personal and individual attitudes and selfinterest. At the same time documentation

of a growing list of suspected human rights abuses is now recorded for posterity by whistle blowers and by every cell phone user who is empowered with the ability to record and file newsworthy proof of torture, warrantless wiretapping, monitoring,

the denial of due process and extrajudicial assassinations – to name just a few violations. We have to understand that the rights of the individual today are as different and diverse as our global communities and cultures. Today’s worldwide populations live with a vast diversity of religion, culture and income, in Israel as much as through the continents. Each culture defines its own moral standards, sometimes with or without correlation to moral rules. It is a tragedy that accusations of Human Rights violations are often used to attack Israeli and Jewish society, while Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia violate every aspect of Human Rights, without accusation or consequence. This proves the absurdity of the movement. During the first two weeks of the Gaza Conflict there was a slew of missiles fired into Israel and more than 100 were fired on the day before the launch of defensive action. Only one NGO responded, noting a violation by Gazan’s, despite the fact that there are approximately 80 local NGO’s focused on the region. With aggregate budgets of $125 million a year, their silence was more than a little peculiar. Once the campaign, Pillar of Defense, was launched by the IDF, there were 60 Human Rights violations noted and 48 of these were directed at Israel. “Today it means nothing

to be noted for a Human Rights violation,” lamented Reuveni, “Did you know that Human Rights Watch was raising dollars for their cause in Saudi Arabia?!” There is a general belief that it is raw passion for a cause that inspires demonstrations and petitions that affect political behavior. We assume that government funded Human Rights groups receive oversight and direction that ensures the proliferation of democratically elected Israel. Unfortunately, this is not the world in which we live. Reuveni notes that just recently the British Government disclosed to NGO Monitor that they did not know where a sum of $22.8 million had been spent, despite the fact that they had given it to the Norwegian Refugee Council with the instruction for it to be spent on the Israel - Palestine conflict. Reuveni has his work cut out for him because he sees that most NGO’s serve the interests of politically powerful and electorally motivated pressure groups. The visibility of the Israel conflict fires up long standing anti-Semitism, along with anti-Zionism. We look to NGO’s to affect government policy throughout the world on matters of women’s rights, children’s rights, religious freedom as well as Jewish identity. Our naivety is our downfall. Reuveni explains that, “Objectivity is impossible when two parties are in conflict and both parties are hurting each other. To be fully objective is a dream.” At the same time, there is often a longstanding bias that affects media reporting on Israel. Reuveni describes the precedent for the disproportionate attention, “The Israeli-Arab conflict has been going on for so many years and has had treasure troves of money invested so that media attention is soaring. What’s crazy is that all this attention hasn’t made the situation any better. The situation today is no better than it was twenty years ago!” The politics of the conflict are temperamental because a foreign political party that needs to show meaningful foreign policy to win an electoral vote, will have to make a statement on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Journalists are pleased to help. Of all the world conflicts that exist today, few offer the availability, comfort and security of unrestricted Israel. A human

rights activist can fly to Israel’s state-ofthe-art airport with no visa restrictions, he can travel to an area of Palestinian conflict, interview and take dramatic newsworthy pictures, and then finish his day with a beer in a trendy Tel Aviv bar. Combine the practicality of reporting in Israel with the romantic notion of the spiritual Jewish people as well as the fact that the Holocaust was less than 70 years prior, and Israel performs as a political treasure. Newer events, like the death of approximately 200,000 Syrians in the current war, are more complicated to understand and report, impossible to research, highly dangerous to photograph and risky to publish. ISIS behavior towards Muslims and Christians is so dark that the internet does not even show recent persecutions and no government has stepped in. America, only now became involved when an American was beheaded. The recent massacre in Har Nof was undeniably a violation of Human Rights. What were the public statements of Human Rights organizations? Reuveni was saddened yet unsurprised by what he tracked, “Two thirds of the NGO’s condemned the attackers, but condemned Israel at the same time for having created an environment where the atrocity could happen. One of the officials from Human Rights Watch, for example, tweeted that the massacre was unlawful. What kind of statement is that? Going through a red light is unlawful; her response distorted the facts.” Reuveni goes to lengths to explain the business framework of NGO’s whose financial framework is unpublicized. If you want to mount a protest – with people or online – you will need to secure funding and the most common path to banking the dollars, is the European Governments. Theoretically the funding is designed to peacefully affect the outcome of the conflict, but the tension runs so deep that many governments accept there is no answerability for their investments. What can be done? Reuveni believes the first step is to educate Jewish diaspora to focus on their singular objective, namely keeping Israel as a safe and democratic country for Jewish people. The political bias that affects individuals needs to be overruled by joining forces so that right, left and centrist politics are secondary to the unified response of the Jewish people. This doesn’t mean that we need to think the same. Secondly, Reuveni knows that European governments need to be pressured to see a variety of research results that have been conducted in Israel and abroad. These results are available because NGO Monitor has funded and collated such reports in their bid to encourage and facilitate public debate on issues that face Israel today.




JANUARY 1, 2015


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JANUARY 1, 2015


Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin “It is a gevaldige day for Amalei Torah…It is a time to praise Hashem for giving us the opportunity to learn Shas, Shulchan Aruch and Mussar in the misgeres of the wonderful organization called Dirshu. We can say that the name of Dirshu is borrowed from the pasuk that states [regarding Rivka Imeinu], ‘Vatelech lidrosh es Hashem’ – she went out to seek Hashem.”


"The curriculum in the limud [of the Mishnah Berurah] is organized in a way that not only major talmidei chachomim can participate in, but even a baal habos or student in elementary school can join.”

‘‘ ‘‘



“It’s already public knowledge, the activities the organization Dirshu does to increase Limud HaTorah and strengthen those who learn it. And now they intend to institute a program to help promote limud halacha in an organized fashion from the sefer Mishnah Berurah, as the Chofetz Chaim recommends in his hakdama that the point of a person’s learning is that it should lead to practical application. I bless them that they should see blessing in their toil.”


“Chazal teach us, ‘He who learns Halacha every day is assured that he is a Ben Olam Habah.’ We find in the Gemarah, Tanoim worried over whether they would get into Olam Habah? Avrohom Avinu wondered if he would have Olam Habah. Moshe Rabbeinu assured Yehoshua that he would have Olam Habah. Here, however, Chazal PROMISE that if you learn halacha daily you WILL have Olam Habah. Do we have any idea of that greatness of learning halacha?!!!”


“The fact that such a large group as this is immersed in Limud HaTorah…especially due to the fact that the material is learned and reviewed until it is known with such a level of clarity and retention that one can be asked and without hesitation answer correctly, is the highest level of Talmud Torah. It is Torah learned with toil and labor that leads to knowledge.”



‫ העולמי‬‫דרשו סיו‬ ‫ היומי בהלכה‬‫ של ד‬‫למחזור הראשו‬ —— SPRING 2015 ——

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JANUARY 1, 2015


Operation: Candlelight Movie Premier by Yehudis Litvak

Kol Neshama’s Los Angeles premier of its third movie for women and girls, Operation: Candlelight, took place at the Museum of Tolerance on December 15th and 16th. Kol Neshama, headed by Robin Garbose of Los Angeles, runs summer camps where observant Jewish girls study performing arts. Operation: Candlelight was filmed in Kol Neshama’s camp in the summer of 2013. The movie was filmed on the campus of Mesivta of Greater Los Angeles in Calabasas, which was transformed into a fictional girls’ boarding school. It is an adventure story involving a hostage situation, and at the same time, it is a story of friendship, loyalty, and acceptance of every Jew, with all their quirks and personal challenges. Jewish values are woven into the story as the characters explore loss, faith, tznius and Shabbos. The audience at the premier responded enthusiastically, praising both the quality of the movie and the moral values it conveys to the viewers. After the screening, Mrs. Garbose and some of the actresses came up on stage and took questions from the audience. Mrs. Garbose described the process of making the movie, which took about a year altogether. The picturesque hills of Calabasas, the location of the summer camp,

inspired the script, which Mrs. Garbose wrote over several months. The filming itself took eighteen days, although most of it actually took place during the night. The next stage was editing and it took about half a year. Then there was work on sound design, a music score, color correction of the images and visual effects. All the pieces had to be assembled to produce the final version shown at the premier. The girls described the special bond they’d enjoyed as they worked on the

movie together. At camp, they first got to know each other for three weeks before they began filming. Shooting at night also helped create a special atmosphere. The entire camp Director of Kol Neshama, stayed up all Robin Garbose at one of the night long for photo shoots over two weeks. One of the girls, Chaya Mushka Uzan, would bake chocolate chip cookies at 3 a.m. to keep the excitement going. “Once you stay up all night with somebody, and get to know them at their worst, it brings you closer,” explained Raize Marquis. The actresses came to the Kol Neshama camp from all over the world: France, Israel, England, different parts of the U.S. and Canada. They spanned different backgrounds: Bais Yaakov, Chabad, chassidish, Modern Orthodox. They were all united by their love for the performing arts. There were no cliques in camp due to this common interest. “The goal,” explained Mrs. Garbose, “was to create a safe environment where girls were not embarrassed to

act silly and make fools of themselves in front of everyone else.” When asked about the mission of Kol Neshama, Mrs. Garbose said that she would like to empower the girls to believe that each of them could light up the world if she has the strength and the courage to be herself. In fact, Operation: Candlelight began to inspire people even before its final release. Two of the sound team members were secular Jews who expressed a desire to connect to their Jewish roots which they had understood better after working on the film. The film has the power to awaken Jewish pride. Reviewed by Menucha Teitelbaum, age 10 OPERATION CANDLELIGHT is a film that provides both suspense and excitement at the same time. The story is about a young spoiled girl who runs from her stepfather’s home and finds herself in a Jewish boarding school. If you watch the movie you will find out what makes her run away, what makes her go to the school and why she meets the students there. Find out how all the puzzle pieces go together. Kol Neshama gives every girl a chance to shine.

In One Split Second Premieres at the Museum of Tolerance

The more we choose to remember, the more the generations who follow us will do the same…. On Tuesday, January 13th at 6:30 p.m., Los Angeles will have the opportunity to screen a riveting new documentary film that over 5000 people from the New York metropolitan area have seen this year. The film is called In One Split Second and it will be presented by Project Witness at the Museum of Tolerance. Immediately following the premiere, there will be a reception for all attendees. Mrs. Ruth Lichtenstein is director of Project Witness which is a renowned Holocaust Research Center in Brooklyn and she is the producer of this memorable documentary that marks the seventy year anniversary since the commencement in May 1944, of the deportation of the Jews of Hungary to the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The documentary captures the time period for it was within a short period of just 54 days, that the Germans deported 437,402 Hungarian Jews. Now, seven decades later, Project Witness is proud to honor the event in Los Angeles. The documentary memorializes this tragic epoch in Holocaust history and demonstrates once again that even amidst the depths of despair and destruction, hope and renewal remained the constant mantra

of the Hungarian Jewish People. This compelling full-length documentary film encompasses the three “time zones” of construction, destruction, trans-

panied by an extraordinary program. Dr. Irving Lebovics, prominent communal activist and Chairman of the Presidium of Agudath Israel of California, will be the

formation experienced by the Hungarian Jewish community before, during, and after World War II. Ending with the miraculous post-World War II reconstruction of Jewish life in Israel, United States and all over the world, this powerful documentary has touched all those who have had the opportunity to view it. The Los Angeles screening is accom-

chairman of the evening. Notable guest speakers will be Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Dean and Rav, Yeshivat Yavneh, and Dr. Michael Berenbaum, a renowned Holocaust historian and Director, Sigi Ziering Institute, among others. The event promises to unite the Los Angeles community as the documentary powerfully eternalizes the memory of the

hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews who died because they were Jewish. Those who participate in this unforgettable evening are ensuring that memories of the past are being translated into our most precious national aspirations for the future. Project Witness is a respected, academically acclaimed, and innovative Holocaust Research and Resource Center in Brooklyn, NY. Although a relatively young organization, Project Witness has already revolutionized the face of Holocaust dissemination through its varied and creative programming initiatives that reach out to individuals, schools, and communities of all viewpoints around the world. Ever mindful of its goals to educate, inspire, and transform, Project Witness has earned recognition from leading educational institutions and museums. For further information please contact Project Witness P: 718-WITNESS info@ projectwitness.org For reservations contact: Tali at P: 323-937-0980 or email Tali@EventsEnchanted.com

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Wednesday January 7 8:00-9:00PM At the home of



The Yeshiva Ketana of Los Angeles is a rapidly growing preschool and elementary school located in the San Fernando Valley. The Yeshiva excels in Judaic and secular education, and places a strong emphasis on middos tovos and a love for Torah.

JANUARY 1, 2015

Rabbi Aryeh Davidowitz, MENAHEL Rabbi Aharon Rubenstein, M.A Ed MENAHEL Mrs. Aida Forman, PRESCHOOL DIRECTOR




L.A.’s Chanukah Event at Universal CityWalk “The Best Year Ever” Chabad of the Valley’s Chanukah Celebration at CityWalk lived up to its reputation, having been acknowledged to be amongst the largest Chanukah lighting events in the world. This year, thousands flocked to the plaza at Universal Studios CityWalk for the annual event which for many has become the highlight of the eight day Chanukah holiday. Rabbi Mayer Greene has been involved with the organization of the event for the past 13 years and he served as the Master of Ceremonies saying that, “this is a proud moment for all of us, there is a great feeling of excitement as the broader Jewish community converges on one of Hollywood’s most famous landmarks”. “From a dream hatched 13 years ago, Chanukah at CityWalk has become a mega-event,” added Rabbi Yossi Baitelman, Director of Chabad of Studio City, crediting the talented production team for crystalizing those dreams. “It was undoubtedly our best year ever!” enthused Jonathan Herzog, an Executive Producer of the show, “we had some amazing talent on stage. Southern California’s Jewish community had the opportunity to enjoy a concert event of the magnitude rarely seen on

the West Coast.” This year’s show was a full-scale production including an international all-star line-up including Shloime Gertner from London, Choni G. from South Africa, Shlomo Simcha from Toronto and New York’s Eli Schwebel the acclaimed founder of Lev Tahor. The outdoor plaza came to life as Gertner, Simcha, Choni G. and Schwebel accompanied by Robbie Helperin’s Simcha Orchestra and four back-up singers, performed one hit after another. Despite the excitement of the night, there was a short moment that drew tears from the crowd as Simcha and Schwebel sang Habeit while a tribute video played on the large Jumbotron Astrovision screen in memory of those who tragically lost their lives in Israel in recent months, including the fallen Israeli Soldiers who perished in Operation Protective Edge. In his address, Chabad of the Valley’s Executive Director, Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon underscored the intent of The Lubavitcher Rebbe in hosting events like this in a venue such as CityWalk, in order to illuminate darkness and transform it into light. He also extended special thanks to

the sponsor, who has made Chanukah at CityWalk possible for over a decade. Rabbi Mordechai Einbinder, Associate Director of Chabad of the Valley, delivered a powerful address extolling the virtues of the evening as a mere reflection of the macro global prowess of public Menorah lightings by Chabad that bring spirituality to every earthly domain. The crowd rallied to Rabbi Einbinder’s call to end “the abortion of injustice and free Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin immediately. Following the formal ceremony, the events behind the scenes technical director, Rabbi Yochanan Baitelman was joined on the podium by well-known philanthropist Mr. Lyle Weisman and his family as they were given the honor of lighting the enormous 15 ft. menorah. Gertner and Simcha were then joined on stage with a surprise appearance by the Sufrin brothers, who united for the performance of the classic hit, Ribbono Shel Olam. Gertner and Simcha continued performing their popular songs including, Im Ein Ani Li Mili. The show culminated with a grand finale, as all the singers joined together on stage for a sound and

light spectacular featuring the hit song, Hashem Melech. Under the direction of Ari Greene, the giant stadium-sized screen was a focal point all evening, showcasing all the live onstage entertainment and video presentations. “The miracle of Chanukah came to life here tonight, a real Pirsumei Nissa!” remarked Rabbi Yanky Kahn, Chabad of the Valley’s Director of Development. Organizers attributed the event’s large turnout to a major social media campaign conducted by Chabad of the Valley’s Tanni Rappaport and Josh Goranson and also acknowledged Yochonon Gordon and Chabad of North Hollywood’s Rabbi Nachman Abend, for their efforts in arranging Chabad’s giant Menorah to be on site for the occasion. Chanukah at CityWalk was once again sponsored by an anonymous donor and in part by corporate sponsorship including: KRLA 870, The Jewish Link, Milano Collection Wigs, Cambridge Farms/Glatt Mart, KosherLux, AAA Rents and Events, Providence, Altria Senior Living, A Coin Exchange and Nick Trading International.

Photos by David Miller Studios


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Long Island to L.A., Jewish All Stars Light the Way BY TAMMY MARK

and Olympic hopeful Estee Ackerman has a bright future ahead. On track to become the first Orthodox Jewish Olympian, she has already made her mark on the national stage. In 2013, at the age of eleven, she outplayed tennis champion Rafael Nadal in a ping-pong match. This past March, she beat celebrity chef Bobby Flay on the Rachael Ray show. She has been featured by ABC, CBS and the New York Post. The Long Island teen has shown that she has what it takes to be a true success, however, when she declined to play in a match that fell on Shabbos at the 2012 U.S. Nationals. Last week, Estee took her place amongst an impressive group of achievers at the Jew in the City Orthodox Jewish All Star Awards on December 2.


ew in the City (JITC) is the outreach organizaThese unique individuals are all a part of a meantion founded in 2007 by Allison Josephs. The ingful Jew in the City mission, to highlight those who organization utilizes the power of media towards have contributed in a special way to their respective the goal of breaking down stereotypes about religious fields while remaining steadfast in their beliefs. Ten Jews, offering a meaningful look into Orthodox Juda- Orthodox Jewish All Stars were chosen out of the many ism. Creating videos that demystify observances such nominations received throughout the year. This third as family purity, kashrus and Shabbos, Josephs infuses annual event brought together leaders from the fields of wit and creativity into her productions in efforts to business, sports, science, transmit positive messaglaw and entertainment. es to Jews from all Yael Federbush, four walks of life. time Emmy winning proDisney director ducer of The Today Show, and animator Saul billionaire philanthropist Blinkoff was familiar Henry Swieca, Columbia with the work of Jew Law School Dean Emeriin the City and very tus David Schizer, 18 year impressed by Allison’s old kid genius Josh Meiunique brand and tone. er, mathematical physics An Orthodox father of Professor Barry Simon four from Los Angeles, and Mindy Pollack, the he was surprised and first Hasidic woman flattered when he found elected to public office, out that his wife wrote were all in attendance, in to nominate him as honored for their peran Orthodox Jewish All sonal and professional t en ev e th g pong at Estee playing pin Star. achievements. Missing Having worked on was awardee Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin, winfilms such as Pocahontas, Mulan and Tarzan, and most ner of the 2014 Israel Prize in Medicine. recently the hit Disney Jr. show Doc McStuffins, he adOther notable guests included previous All Stars, mits he would love to one day tell the moving story of such as Hasidic comedian Mendy Pellin and marketRabbi Akiva and his dedication to G-d up until his final ing guru Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg. As the organization moments of reciting Shema as he was martyred. grows in impact and reach each year, more talent is Joyce Azria, Creative Director of fashion brand enlisted to drive the mission. Reality television star BCBGeneration, stood flanked by her team at the “Survivor” Ethan Zohn came out to show his support, awards ceremony last week as editors, bloggers and having recently collaborated with Josephs to create the fans clamored for the opportunity to speak with the first Jew in the City animated short film. fashion visionary and Orthodox Jewish mom. Raised in a Conservative Jewish home, Azria’s Sephardic family was passionate and deeply spiritual. Her he venue for the Jew in the City Orthodox Jewish father, renowned fashion designer Max Azria, would All Star Awards was perfectly suited to the occatravel the world yet was always sure to be home for sion—the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downShabbos dinner. Her life’s journey took her along nu- town New York City. The crowd swelled throughout merous roads, introducing her to various outlooks and the night as guests lined up for a chance to play pingpractices, but Orthodox Judaism is where she finally pong with Ackerman, and enjoy a dairy buffet, cockfelt completely at peace. tails and the first latkes of the season. RACHEL RENOV

At just 13 years old, table tennis phenom



JANUARY 1, 2015


16 196 02



The timeliness of the event close to the holiday of Chanukah is particularly relevant, as it celebrates the victory of light over the darkness and the ability for the Jewish people to remain steadfast in their practice. While the evening had the glamour of a HolJoyce Azaria and Alison Josephs lywood party, the purpose was much more profound. The synthesis of the spiritual and physical worlds is said to be the ultimate exs d Alison Joseph pression of serving G-d and a manifestation Joyce Azaria an of the dual blessings that the Jewish people strive to attain. The true impact of Jew in the City’s reach is evident from the enthusiasm of its fans. Danielle Leibovici, an award winning author of children’s books, is non-Orthodox. Her husband attends an Orthodox synagogue, though, where Josephs was giving a lecture. Invited by the rabbi’s wife to attend, Leibovici couldn’t say no. Josephs spoke about the inaccurate portrayal of Jews in the media and how one story can have a huge impact on people’s opinions. The lecture struck a chord with Leibovici, who spent the summer defending Israel’s image to her JewThe All Star Aw ardees and Al ish liberal friends. She ended up hanging on Josephs’ ison Josephs, The All Star founder of Je Aw ar dees and Alis w in the City every word, and was so taken by her message that she on Josephs, founder of Je w in the City flew in from Norfolk, Virginia, for the All Star event, even bringing her mother along from Los Angeles. While her reach and impact have grown over the past Leibovici appreciates that Josephs is very relatable few years, Josephs knows there is much more to be and praises Jew in the City for “making Orthodox val- done. fect individuals make perfect communities,” a stateues accessible” to all. She tells of recent encounter she had while es- ment that applies to the strength of the Jewish commuAs guests were ushered into the auditorium for the tablishing Jew in the City’s official non-profit status. nity when they come together. Azria went on to relate award ceremony and video premiere, Pellin took the Upon meeting with an attorney and explaining the the sentiment to her professional life as well, crediting mission and positive messages of Jew her father for teaching her to lead others in a way that in the City, Josephs was asked, “Is this a recognizes the immense power of a team. new branch of Orthodox Jews?” The video at the awards show featured Federbush, At a vulnerable time in world history, Blinkoff, Azria and Schizer and Simon as they shared with rising anti-Semitism and biased me- their anecdotes on keeping kosher and Shabbos and dia coverage, the work of Jew in the City how their Jewish identities impacted their workplace. proves essential. Josephs reminded the Federbush recalled the time she had to extricate audience of the responsibility to preserve herself from the throws of covering the highly pubthe dignity of the Torah, taking inspira- licized OJ Simpson murder trial in order to prepare tion from those who have managed to for Yom Kippur. The remarkably “animated“ Blinkoff rise to the top of their fields while main- regaled the audience with a story of how he secretly stage to open the show. With his comedic talents per- taining a Torah observant life. drew a small mezuzah on Winnie the Pooh’s house fectly on target, he entertained the audience with his “It is up to us to make the positive news stories. while working on one of his first big projects. unique brand of Jewish humor. Now is the time more than ever to be more proud,” The All Stars shared stories of trying to eat kosher As Josephs took her turn at the mike to welcome says Josephs. in unusual circumstances and similar encounters that her guests, the gravity of the Jew in the City mission other professional Jews face in the workplace. They became evident. She shared her personal story of witall expressed the common belief that stopping for nessing a local tragedy at a very young age. This incioungest All Star Estee was the first awardee Shabbos only adds to their personal and professional dent drove her to search for life’s purpose, which she of the night, followed by fellow teen awardee lives. While they remain fully engaged in their work found in the beauty and wisdom of Orthodox Judaism. Josh Meier. As each awardee came up they at the proper time, they say that the respect they reRealizing that many non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jews took the time to acknowledge the meaningful endeav- ceive from their colleagues comes from being true to have misconceptions about Torah laws and practices, or of the organization. oneself and one’s own convictions. and about Orthodox Jews in general, she founded Jew Azria, who is said to have the perfect insight and The final awardee was Azria. The fashion visionin the City in hopes of educating and inspiring others. ary, dressed impeccably and modestly, first asked for vision for BCBGeneration’s younger target demoAside from the wildly popular video series, Jew in strength from G-d to keep going forward. graphic, concluded by offering her personal lifestyle the City now offers corporate cultural diversity train“You guests are the true heroes,” she said, “by be- advice: “Trends are fleeting but building ourselves ing seminars and consulting services. Josephs lectures ing comfortable with you are and allowing others to and our businesses on truth and strength are always throughout the country and hosts a radio show on the do the same.” in style. Be who you are and let it show. Believe in Nachum Segal Network, “Jew in the City Speaks.”  Azria quoted the Lubavitch Rebbe saying, “Imper- yourself.”

“Trends are fleeting but building

ourselves and our businesses on truth and strength are always in style.”



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JANUARY 1, 2015


The Mystery of Ya’acov’s Last Blessings Rabbi Sholom Kesselman

Our Parsha, Vayechi records the emotional and dramatic last words of Ya’akov as he said goodbye to his sons and prepared to pass on. His prophetic words revealed much about our future and his blessings were of great consequence for all time to come. But in the process of passing on his blessings something very interesting happened. The verse (Bereshis 49:1) states, “And Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days.” When we look at the very next verse however, we find that Ya’akov never did finish this thought and instead changed the subject to something else. What happened? Rashi, based on the Talmud in tractate Pesachim, provides the answer. “He attempted to reveal the End of days (Moshiach’s coming), but the Shechinah with-

drew from him. So he began to say other things.” Ya’akov wanted to tell his children the date of Moshiach’s coming but

G-d didn’t allow him to do so. This episode is rather puzzling. What was Ya’akov looking to accomplish by revealing the date of Moshiach’s coming? How would this information benefit his children in any way? And especially

knowing, as we do now, that Moshiach wouldn’t be coming for another 3000 years plus, this information could’ve only served to dampen their spirits and depress them, so why did he wish to share this seemingly tragic news? And on the other hand, if indeed Ya’akov did have good reason to want to do this, because this information would’ve been useful and beneficial in some way for his children, why did G-d stop him? There is a fascinating Zohar in Parshas Beshalach on the verse (Shmos 15:17) “You shall bring them and plant them on the mount of Your heritage, directed toward Your habitation, which You made, O Lord.” The workings of G-d, says the Zohar, are eternal. When G-d himself builds something, that building must last for all eternity. This is the reason why the 3rd temple will last forever (unlike the first two) because it will be built by G-d. Had the Jews upon their exodus from Egypt been meritorious, G-d would’ve built the first temple. That temple would have been eternal and the redemption from Egypt would have been the final redemption (Moshiach). If this was the case then Ya’akov’s thought process begins to make a lot more sense. The “date of Moshiach’s coming” that Ya’akov had in mind was the date of the exodus from Egypt. He fully expected his descendents to be meritorious and thus the exodus from Egypt to be the final redemption. This was only around 200 years away. Ya’akov wished to share this with them so that his sons would be certain that they would be meritorious and deserve the final redemption. In fact, this idea can be taken even a step further: Ya’akov thought that it would even be possible to hasten the exodus from Egypt before its designated time, through our extreme merit. We know that the original sentence called for 400 year in Egyptian exile. This was ultimately reduced to 210 years because the intensity of the years of slavery made it in a sense equal to 400 years. It is only logical to assume then, that if intense slavery was able to reduce the number of years in exile, extreme merit could have accomplished the same thing. This then was Ya’akov’s plan. Ya’akov wished to share this information with his children to make them aware that Moshiach’s coming and the exodus from Egypt was just around the corner. All it would take is extreme merit and then they could merit the final redemption long before its designated time. This knowledge would’ve been very motivating for them and would’ve helped inspire them to attain this goal. But if this was indeed his plan, why

did G-d stop him? What possible harm could’ve come out from Ya’akov revealing this to his children that G-d found it necessary to withdraw His Shechina from him? The answer is that G-d did indeed see one flaw in Ya’akov’s thinking. Had Ya’akov told this to his sons he would’ve compromised the impact of their service to G-d and their subsequent merit. Our serving of G-d and doing of good deeds is that much more powerful when it comes from within ourselves without any external force motivating and inspiring us to do so. When a person does something as a result of external motivation than in a sense the person himself has not done anything. The good is attributed to the external factor and doesn’t reflect on the intrinsic greatness of the person himself. Thus his merit is greatly diminished. On the other hand, when a person does something good purely from within himself without any external inspiration, then it is the person himself who has done it and he truly deserves the credit. The good deed is truly reflective of the person’s intrinsic greatness and his merit is greatly increased. This is why G-d had to stop Ya’akov. This secret (of Moshiach’s coming) was such a powerful motivator that had Ya’akov revealed this to his sons it would’ve compromised the entire impact of their service of G-d. From then on, whatever good they would’ve done would have been seen not as their own, not as reflective of their true intrinsic greatness, but rather as a consequence of a powerful external motivator. Their merit would not have been wholesome. Only through his sons being kept from this secret could all their accomplishments truly belong to them and their merit could be real and powerful. This is why G-d made the secret stay with Ya’akov. There is a very profound lesson here. People often wait for and depend on external inspiration. We bemoan the lack of miracles that we used to see in the temple and the lack of great Tzadikim to look up to and be inspired from. What we have to realize is that the truth is the contrary. Ours is the true service of G-d. Ours is the merit that is needed to bring Moshiach. Specifically because we lack any and all external inspiration, we are forced to dig deep within ourselves and reveal our real intrinsic greatness. What we do now, in an era void of inspiration, is truly our own. It comes from within and is much more powerful. It is what G-d wants to see, so that He can indeed send us Moshiach, may it be speedily in our days.


The Life and Torah of Reb Boruch Ber Leibowitz By Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Rav and Dean at Yeshivat Yavneh

With G-d’s help, my plan has been to spread the biographical notes on Rav Ber across three articles, as well as present an outline of three of his teachings. The biography was first presented in last issue, December 4. Here, in the second article, there is a little more information of the last months of Reb Ber’s life as well as a presentation of his style of teaching which is by no means exhaustive. The Torah chosen doesn’t reflect the Rosh Yeshiva’s “best” but rather three classic pieces. History #2 It was September 1939 and the rumblings of the terrible war preparation were audible, yet Yeshivas Knesses Bais Yitzchok was still a calm haven. The passionate study of haTorah kept Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz and his loyal followers wholly invested in the sphere of spiritual learning. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov says that we close our eyes while in pain so that we can take ourselves to another world that bypasses the discomfort. In some way, that’s what they were doing. The late Rav Shimon Romm, YU Rosh Yeshiva and student of Rav Aharon Kotler, once related to the verse "‫“ –"ומשמני הארץ יהיה מושבך‬and from the fat of the land will be your dwelling”, that wherever Esav is, his joy will only come from living well. Not so for Jacob, he can make do wherever he can learn some Torah. But Rav Boruch Ber’s sanctuary was doomed. There were crowds of refugees fleeing from Kamenetz as they made their way to Brisk and they relayed devastating stories of German carnage. For some reason, only G-d knows, German troops entered Kamenetz and chose not to injure a single soul. Ironically it was when the Communist Russians took control that the situation detiorated and Rab Boruch Ber accepted the reality; his yeshiva would have to immediately relocate.  Recognizing that his time for spiritual teaching and meditation was in terrible danger, Rav Boruch Ber urged his yeshiva to relocate to Vilna where there were pious Jews still living in relative safety. Rav Boruch Ber’s final journey to Vilna was difficult, although he knew the city because his yeshiva had been situated there just fourteen years earlier, in the suburb of Lukishok. Once in Vilna, Rav Boruch Ber began delivering shiurim, and praying for peace, but to the situation was dire and war was imminent. According to Chazon Ish, as long as Rav Boruch Ber was saying shiurim, the Nazis would not completely take

over Poland. Their Torah was their protection, and the life of Rav Boruch Ber was Poland’s security. Even with the yeshiva temporarily resettled in Vilna, Rav Boruch Ber’s health deteriorated. Prayers were offered by his students, while his condition continued to worsen. On the 5 Kislev after davening shacharis, Rav Ber is set to have sat up and spoken, “Der Rebbe is gekummen- The Rebbe has come to greet me!” Later, Rav Boruch Ber spoke his final words, “V’shavti b’sholom el bais avi”. Roughly translated it means, “And I will return in peace to my father’s home.” (Bereishis 28:21) The Posek HaDor, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski interpreted this last statement as one of Rav Boruch Ber’s last wishes. He was asking to be buried right near his father’s grave in Vilna. The problem was that there was no regular burial plot available. To honor their great Rosh Yeshiva’s wishes,

dren tried to locate his grave but were unsuccessful. It was not until a few years ago that technology and infrared photography keyed in on the grave of Rav Boruch Ber. His grave was the only one that was perpendicular to the rest of the graves! Difficulty to obtain governmental permission to erect a matzeiva was massive. It took two and a half years to finally secure permission. Finally, the hakomas matzeivah of Rav Boruch Ber took place on his 75th yahrtzeit – 4 Kislev, 5775. Many gedolim plus his own grandchildren attended the ceremony. Now the legacy of his spirituality and his teachings can be honored at his grave site by his followers. Torah #2 Almost all analyses of Reb Boruch Ber follow the following useful format: A.     Basic sources B.     Question on sources

though he acquired land. The Raavad comments on the Rambam saying that “this is not the case but rather (his bringing bikkurim in this instance is due to the fact that) he probably acquired land along with the trees. And (therefore) if he explicitly stated (‘I’m buying trees) without any land’ he does not bring (bikkurim).  B. Question on Sources What is the deeper understanding of the debate between the Rambam and the Raavad? C. Attempted Resolution According to the Rambam the purchase of 3 trees demonstrates a significant enough action that it is tantamount to owning land. Therefore, even if one does not expressly own land, the benefit the owner would derive from land is so superior and connected to his trees it necessitates bikkurim. The Raavad on the other hand says that along with any typical sale of three trees in somebody else’s property is the reality that along with such a robust package is an assumption that he acquired land. D.  Deconstruction of resolution This aforementioned analysis is not adequate. It leaves the Rambam exceptionally wanting. What does the power of my purchase have to do with an obligation of bikkurim? I can demonstrate significance all day long, but I still don’t have land. Is land not the primary trigger for an obligation to bring bikkurim?

his students decided they would bury him at the top of his father’s grave, perpendicular to the head. The deep grief and gloom that accompanied Rav Boruch Ber’s passing was further complicated by the fact that no memorial could be erected at that time. His students vowed to come back at a later date and erect a monument over his grave. Unfortunately, the Jews in Vilna were continually subjected to the Nazis or to the Communists. After the war, Vilna was under the jurisdiction of the Communist regime. Rav Boruch Ber’s followers were unable to find the graveyard where he lay. The cemetery was completely vandalized, and Rav Boruch Ber’s grave was totally lost. In 1989, Rav Boruch Ber’s grandchil-

C.     Attempted resolution D.    Deconstruction of resolution E.      New superior resolution With this construct in mind, let us look at a classic piece in the Birkas Shmuel (Vol.4, Siman 23): A. Basic Sources The Rambam (Bikkurim, 2:13) rules that “one who acquires one tree within his friends field, does not bring bikkurim (the ritual of bringing the first fruits to Jerusalem) because he does not have any land (to go along with tree). (However, if he acquires) three trees he does have land (and therefore does bring the bikkurim). And even though all he has is trees alone it’s as

E. The Torah demands “m’artzecha”, “from your land” when it comes to bikkurim. How would we define “from your land”? Does it mean  ‫ –גוף הקרקע‬physical ground, or does it mean ‫זכות ממון בגוף הק־‬  ‫ –רקע‬a monetary right to the land itself? Perhaps the Ramabam understands that one would only  ‫זכות ממון בגוף הקרקע‬in order be responsible for bikkurim. When one purchases three trees they have assembled an area so dominant that the yenikah, the ground sustenance needs to sustain three trees generates a monetary right to a share of the land. On the other hand, the Raavad understands that in order for bikkurim to be operative one would need actually land, not simply monetary rights to the land.  

JANUARY 1, 2015




JANUARY 1, 2015

Strong & Uplifted

This week’s parsha of Vayechi tells of the passing of Yaakov Avinu. The posuk states, “Vayikrivu yemei Yisroel lomus vayikra levno leYosef” (Bereishis 47:29). As Yaakov’s final moments of life approached, he called for his son, Yosef. He urged Yosef not to bury him in Mitzrayim, but in Eretz Yisroel: “Al na sikbereini beMitzrayim. Veshochavti im avosai…” He asks Yosef to swear that he will bury him amongst the avos, repeating the request by stating, “Veshochavti im avosai.” The Torah generally refers to our forefather as Yaakov when denoting something that is in the present, while the name Yisroel connotes eternity. We must understand why in this instance the Torah refers to him as Yisroel while he was discussing matters relating to the present. Additionally, why did Yaakov feel it was necessary to repeat the request a second time? Why did he call only Yosef to his side to make these requests? Why didn’t he speak to the rest of his children and notify them of this plea? Regarding this final question, Rashi explains that Yaakov made the request of Yosef because “hayah beyado la’asos,” he was the one who was able to carry it out. However, since the Torah refers to him as Yisroel, this meeting, the conversations, and the request are apparently matters of eternal value and not just temporal. Thus, these favors Yaakov asked of Yosef can be understood as matters of longstanding impact. Perhaps we can understand the request being made of Yosef on a deeper level, bearing in mind the exposition of

the Baal Haturim, in Parshas Vayishlach when the posuk recounts that Yaakov said to Eisov, “Vayehi li shor vachamor” (Bereishis 32:6). He writes that Yaakov wasn’t only referring to his ownership of cows and donkeys, but more significantly, Yaakov was alluding to his two sons who had the ability to confront Eisov. Yosef who the posuk refers to as shor, is the alternate power to Eisov; Yissochor who is referred to as a chamor, has the power of Torah, because of his diligence in its study. The Ramban at the beginning of the parsha (47:28) writes, “Yaakov’s descent to Mitzrayim is similar to our present exile in the hands of the chaya harviis, Romi harasha… The golus is extending for a long time, and unlike previous exiles, we do not know when it will end.” From the words of the Ramban, we see that golus Mitzrayim contains lessons for us in golus Edom. Thus, even Yaakov’s discussions with Yosef pertaining to golus Mitzrayim have relevance to us in our day. These pesukim tell of cosmic events. Yaakov was laying the groundwork for survival for his children, and their children, in golus. He was joining with Yosef

here. Do not bury the netzach Yisroel, the traditions and beliefs that I received from my fathers, in this impure place. Remain separate from these profane people. Don’t permit yourself and your children to be influenced by them. Veshochavti im avosai. I wish to be like my fathers, Avrohom and Yitzchok, and be a link in a holy chain, with offspring who follow in my path.” How will that be accomplished? Yaakov makes it clear: Not just by asking to be buried on holy soil, but by emphasizing, “Veshochavti im avosai. I want to rest with my fathers. I want to be connected to them and attached to their sacred mesorah.” Yaakov tells Yosef, “You will able to do that if unesosani miMitzrayim.” While the simple translation of unesosani is “to carry”, the word also means “to uplift and raise” (like the meforshim explain on the posuk, “Naso es rosh Bnei Yisroel”). Thus, Yaakov was telling Yosef, “In order to accomplish my wish to be an av, with sons and grandsons following in my path, you must raise me and what I stand for over the Mitzri culture. Raise me higher than Mitzrayim. You, Yosef, my son, have to remain elevated. Remain above

ALAS, THE VERY NATURE OF GOLUS IS THAT THERE IS A FILM OF DARKNESS AND THE END MUST REMAIN HIDDEN. to craft a code of endurance and triumph, igniting that lehavah, the flame that will ultimately consume Eisov. Thus, we can understand the seemingly repetitious request, “Vayikra levno leYosef vayomer al na sikbereini beMitzrayim. Veshochavti im avosai…” Yaakov said, “Do not bury me in Mitzrayim. I wish to lay with my fathers.” Then he said, “Unesosani miMitzrayim ukevortani bekevurosom - Carry me from Mitzrayim and bury me in their burial place.” We can explain that Yaakov was really making two distinct requests. Yisroel, the sheim hanetzach, the name that denotes eternity, was requesting, “Although I am now in Mitzrayim, the most tomei of all the lands, with wicked people and a wicked king, please do not bury me, Yisroel,

your surroundings. Raise your children to live on a different plane. That’s how we will remain connected to the avos.” When Yaakov said, “Unesosani miMitzrayim,” he was referring to the need to remain above the prevailing tumah of Mitzrayim and other goluyos of the future. Hence the use of the name Yisroel. Then, after he expressed his wish for the future, he made his request for the present: “Ukevartani bekevurosom.” Yaakov pleaded with his son, “Al na sikbereini beMitzrayim, don’t bury me, my middah and my hard work, in Mitzrayim.” Yaakov appealed to Yosef and not to the other brothers, because the matter he was attending to was not simply with respect to where to bury him, but how to stand up to Eisov and Edom throughout

the ages. Yosef was the antithesis of Eisov. He was the one who had the ability to carry out Yaakov’s request of transmitting to future generations the secret to surviving and thriving in the hostile setting of golus. Additionally, Yaakov perceived that Yosef, the kadosh, who perfected the middah of yesod through personal purity and strength, had mastered the ability to transcend the lures of Mitzrayim, the ervas ha’aretz, the capital of permissiveness and hedonism. That, combined with his inherent ability to battle the forces of Eisov, is why Yaakov requested this of Yosef and not his brothers. The posuk continues: “Vayishova lo vayishtachu Yisroel al rosh hamittah - Yosef swore that he would do as his father asked. Yisroel bowed to him in appreciation towards the head of his bed.” Once again, the posuk refers to Yaakov as Yisroel, because he wasn’t just bowing in appreciation of the fact that he would be buried near his father and grandfather in Eretz Yisroel. The eternal Yisroel of netzach was bowing to the eternal middah of Yosef. Yaakov was comfortable in the assurance that his avodah would continue. Therefore the parsha continues with the narrative of the brachos that Yaakov gave to the sons of Yosef. Yosef brought his two sons, the guarantors of the derech of the avos, the fusion of Bais Yaakov and Bais Yosef that can negate the koach of Eisov. Yaakov saw nitzchiyus. He saw these children of golus, born in impure Mitzrayim, but committed to derech Yisroel saba. He responded by giving them brachos, the blessings that have echoed ever since in every Jewish home. After reporting on the entire conversation and incident, the Torah states that Yaakov said, “Vayevorech es Yosef vayomar haElokim asher hishalchu avosai lefonov Avrohom v’Yitzchok haElokim haroeh osi mei’odi ad hayom hazeh. Hamalach hagoel osi mikol ra yevoreich es haneorim veyikorei vohem shemi vesheim avosai Avrohom v’Yitzchok veyidgu larov bekerev ha’aretz” (48:15-16). This brochah is the culmination of the parsha as we have understood it. When Yaakov saw Menashe and Efraim, the sons of Yosef, he perceived that his offspring


resolute, resisting temptation to sin and sink. A young Israeli kollel fellow who was traveling on a bus found himself sitting next to an elderly Russian man. The man seemed very simple. The fellow didn’t think much of him and remained focused on his Gemara as the Russian man looked out the window. Finally, the yungerman felt it improper not to acknowledge the man’s presence, even if it took him away from his learning for a moment. Since it was before Yom Kippur, he wished the man a good year. The old man nodded, shared a toothless smile, and returned the greeting. The yungerman imagined that, unlearned as he was, the Russian probably fasted on Yom Kippur, so he ventured to wish him an easy fast as well. His seatmate beamed. “Yes, it will be easy here. Of course it will.” With a faraway look, he shared his story. “Ten li lehagid lecha et hasippur sheli,” he began, in heavily accented Hebrew. The man told the yungerman that way back, decades ago, he was incarcerated in the Russian gulag. While there, he was forced to work long, hard hours, without a day off. However, he was determined that

JANUARY 1, 2015

bochurim bring about is similar to that of the golus. It is the opportunity to rise with grandeur above all temptations, deterrents, difficulties and hindrances. After learning that his beloved son, whom he had not seen in twenty-two years, was alive, Yaakov Avinu hurried down to Mitzrayim. On the way, he stopped in Be’er Sheva (46:1). The Medrash states that he stopped there in order to cut cedar trees for use in the construction of the Mishkon when his grandchildren would eventually be redeemed from golus Mitzrayim. In the midst of the commotion and excitement, Yaakov Avinu remained focused on his mission of leading his progeny into golus. He maintained his equanimity, ensuring that his children would have the supplies they would need to exist in golus, and when they would be redeemed. Perhaps there is a deeper significance here as well. Yaakov brought cedar trees, because, tall and proud, they are a symbol of steadfastness and strength. He was hinting to his children that if they would stand like arozim, unyielding and proud, they would survive the golus. Golus is grueling, dangerous and long, but with the firmness of the erez, it is possible to emerge whole and pure. As we endure this period, it behooves us to remain

he would fast on Yom Kippur, no matter the difficulty. He searched desperately for an excuse to refrain from working on that day in order to be able to endure the difficult fast. Finally, his friend suggested that he should fake a toothache and go to the infirmary. The authorities didn’t care much for the inmates, so they would immediately diagnose an infection and pull the tooth, the friend suggested. The pain would be intense, as they would perform the procedure without anesthetic, but it would at least earn him a day’s reprieve from work. The Russian fellow completed his story: “I tried it and it worked. In fact, every year that I was in the work camp, I did the same thing. I would tell them that I had a toothache and they would pull out a tooth. I was there for six years, and six times I was able to fast on Yom Kippur. That’s why I say that here it is easy to fast.” The man finished his story and smiled. Once again, the kollel fellow noticed his missing teeth, but this time, that toothless smile was more radiant and beautiful than any smile the yungerman had ever seen. His was the smile of succeeding in golus. When Moshiach comes, thousands of Jews like that Russian man will line up to greet him. Many will be bearing bruises, missing teeth, lost jobs, and the scars of daunting nisyonos and tragedies. They will stand there, the children of Efraim and Menashe, tall through it all. Tears, scorn, obstacles. The lot of the Jew in golus. Yet eventually triumphant. The Torah (49:1 and Rashi inter loc) relates that after he blessed his grandchildren, Yaakov gathered the family together and said that he would tell them what would happen at the End of Days. Yaakov was inspired to reveal the time of Acharis Hayomim, as he saw the unity, the shared mission, and the special kochos of his descendants. He saw that although they were born in the exile, Efraim and Menashe possessed the strengths of Yosef. He was comforted that his offspring would be able to withstand the golus and would merit redemption at the End of Days. Alas, the very nature of golus is that there is a film of darkness and the end must remain hidden. We cannot fathom or understand the ways of Hashem, but through it all we maintain our emunah and bitachon that the end, the keitz that Yaakov visualized, is approaching. Through smiles and tears, good years and bad, generous hosts and disdainful ones, we follow the example of Yaakov Avinu’s cedar trees, of Yosef’s strength, of the glory of Efraim and Menashe. We remain strong, honest, incorruptible, united, and committed to each other and our goals, knowing that if we continue to persevere, we will soon be in a better place. May it happen speedily. Amein.


would succeed in remaining loyal to his heritage in the exile. Thus, he said, “… haElokim asher hishalchu avosai lefonov Avrohom v’Yitzchok haElokim haroeh osi mei’odi ad hayom hazeh. That same derech that Avrohom, Yitzchok and I have walked on will continue throughout golus. “Hamalach hagoel osi mikol ra yevoreich es haneorim.” Yaakov appreciated that davka Efraim and Menashe carried a strength that others did not have. The malach who protected Yaakov as he went into exile from his father’s home protected his grandchildren in their golus. Yaakov prayed that they would have the tenacity and determination in golus Mitzrayim and golus Romi to remain loyal to the precepts of Avrohom and Yitzchok: “veyikorei vohem shemi vesheim avosai Avrohom v’Yitzchok.” The posuk in Chagai (2:9) relates the prophecy that the second Bais Hamikdosh would be more glorious than the first: “Gadol yihiyeh kevod habayis hazeh ha’acharon min harishon.” Rav Tzadok Hakohein of Lublin asks that this prophecy is apparently refuted by the fact that many of the revealed nissim of the first Bais Hamikdosh, such as ruach hakodesh and the Heavenly fire, were absent in the second Bayis. How, then, can the novi say that the splendor of the second Bais Hamikdosh would exceed that of the first? Rav Tzadok quotes the Sefer Heicholos, which explains that in the absence of those open miracles and being removed from the tangible presence of the Shechinah, more glory was present, because the people had to toil and work hard on their own to create the kedushah. The glory that arises from hard work and struggle is superior to that which is brought about as a gift from Heaven. People who work hard for their income appreciate what they have much more than those who live lives of dependency. Yaakov perceived that a new era was beginning. He delighted in seeing that Efraim and Menashe, children of golus, were determined to live as their avos did. He determined that they would serve as the paradigm for generations to come, portraying that it is possible to rise to high and exalted levels even when trapped in a place one doesn’t want to be. The mussar great, Rav Naftoli Amsterdam, once delivered a shmues in the Slabodka yeshiva on Taanis Esther. He surveyed the room filled with young people and began to weep. “I am so jealous of you,” he said. “You are all young bochurim, each with an active yeitzer hora. I am already an old man; my yeitzer hora has quieted down. I no longer have that same drive and push towards the pleasures of this world... I’m envious of you.” Rav Naftoli lauded the opportunities of young people to bring about kavod Shomayim, possessed as they are with an energetic yeitzer hora. The glory those







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26 62

POLITICS USA ............................................ { Debate Drama

{ Inside Washington Eric Cantor Defeated: In one of the most stunning losses in modern House politics, on June 10, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R- VA’s 7th Congressional District) was defeated in his district’s primary by David Brat, a neophyte Tea-Party candidate. In the days leading up to the elections, Cantor’s internal polls showed that he had a 34 point lead. Cantor, who was the only Jewish Republican Congressman at the time, spent $1 million on his campaign, compared to the $200, 000 spent by Brat.

A fan spotted at the feet of Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist before a gubernatorial debate caused a delay in the debate while the campaigns wrangled over whether that was a violation of the rules prohibiting the use of electronic devices at the debate.

When Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (second from right) and Sen. Russ Fulcher (right) faced off in the 2014 Republican gubernatorial primary debate, they quickly realized that the stars of the show were Harley Brown (far left) and Walt Bayes (second from left) who took up most of the time at the debate discussing Armageddon, discrimination against motorcycle clubs, and problems with political correctness. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber admitted during a gubernatorial debate that his fiancée, who he refers to as “Oregon’s First Lady,” entered into a fraudulent marriage with an Ethiopian immigrant in 1997 for $5,000 in order to enable the individual, who was 11 years her junior, to stay in the U.S. “I learned this three days ago,” Kitzhaber said during the debate. “I was obviously very taken aback by it and hurt. I have some processing to do on that.” He won the election anyway.

Mid-Term Elections: On November 4, Republicans swept the mid-term elections, picking up nine Senate seats to take a 54 (Republican) to 46 (Democrat) majority. They also added to their majority in the House to take a whopping 247 (Republican) to 188 (Democrat) majority. Around the nation, Republicans also picked up two governorships, taking a 31 (Republican) to 17 (Democrat) majority of state governorships. Despite the epic defeat of the Democrats, which many attribute to dissatisfaction with President Obama, since the elections, the president’s poll numbers have steadily gone up. Immigration Reform: On November 20, President Obama dusted himself off from the mid-term shellacking and poked the eyes of his Republican adversaries by announcing sweeping actions aimed at shielding as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and granting work permits to millions. In a 15 minute address to the nation, the president implored illegal immigrants to “come out of the shadows.” Speaker of the House John Boehner decried the president’s actions and declared that “by ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left.” However, within days, the Republican-controlled House passed a $1 trillion budget bill, which will keep the government open through next year, and prevents the Republicans from using the “purse strings” threat.

Political Scandal Status Report CIA Torture Report A Senate Intelligence Committee report released in December detailed the harsh interrogation tactics the CIA used after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. CIA head John Brennan called the tactics “abhorrent,” but said the agency also did many things correctly protecting the country from another attack. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said he “would do it again in a minute.”

that Christie participated in the Bridgegate scheme or knew about it as it happened. Benghazi A report released by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee found no intelligence lapses in connection with the fatal Benghazi terror attack on September 11, 2012. Republican heavyweights like Senator Lindsey Graham have blasted the findings as “garbage.”

Bridgegate A report released in December by the New Jersey legislative committee investigating the politically motivated lane closures last year near the George Washington Bridge came to the same findings as Gov. Christie’s office’s (not very objective) report, which was released in March: there is no evidence

IRS Scandal In February, it was learned that of the nonprofits that were flagged by the IRS for review, 83% were conservative. And of the groups that the IRS selected for audit, 100% were conservative. The investigation stalled when the IRS claimed that

the emails of a pivotal figure in the investigation, Lois Lerner, were inadvertently destroyed. However, in November, 30,000 emails from Ms. Lerner were recovered, which means that the investigation into the IRS scandal will be full steam ahead in 2015 when Congress reconvenes. VA Scandal When it was disclosed that dozens died while waiting for treatment at the Phoenix Veterans Administration Hospital, it led to a discovery that VA hospitals throughout the country were cooking their books on wait times and treatment provided. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned in May under crushing criticism. A Senate report released in June claimed that nearly 1,000 veterans died over the past decade as a result of mismanagement and misconduct at the VA. New VA Secretary Bob McDonald has announced a complete restructuring of the organization.



FREEDOM AT LAST .....................................


JANUARY 1, 2015



After serving five years of a 15-year prison sentence, on December 17, Alan Gross, who is Jewish, was released from Cuba and returned to the United States as part of the two countries opening dialogue and re-establishing a diplomatic relationship. Gross, 65, was imprisoned for bringing satellite communications equipment to Cuba as part of his work as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.


Both serving multi-year sentences in North Korean labor camps, Miller, 24, and Bae, 46, were released and brought home by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on November 8. “It’s been an amazing two years, I learned a lot,” Bae said. Less than three weeks earlier North Korea had released Jeffrey Edward Fowle, 56, who was imprisoned in May when he left a Bible in a hotel.


On May 31, President Barack Obama announced the release of U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity in exchange for five detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan in June of 2009, is not greeted as a hero; his fellow soldiers call him a deserter who walked off his military post and into the Taliban’s hands, resulting in a multiple day search in which several American soldiers were killed. Many also question Bergdahl’s allegiance to the United States and speculate that he possibly teamed up with his Taliban captors.

SOLD ........................................................

$ 24 million $ 147 million Barry Rosenstein made headlines in May when he purchased the 18-acre East Hampton estate, located at 60 Further Lane, East Hampton, NY, for $147 million. It was the most expensive home sale in the U.S.

The Patek Philippe Supercomplication pocket watch sold for $24 million at Sotheby’s in Geneva, setting the record price for any timepiece ever sold at auction. The device has 920 individual parts, including 430 screws, 110 wheels and 70 jewels.

$ 19 billion Jan Koum, the 38-yearold Jewish founder of WhatsApp who grew up poor in Ukraine, sold his company to Facebook for a measly $19 billion in February of this year

$ 69.6 million Part of Cy Twombly’s “Blackboard” series of gray canvases covered in white wax crayon scrawls was sold at Sotheby’s auction for $69.6 million

$ 38,115,000 This 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta became the most valuable car in history when it was purchased this August at a Bonham’s auction in California for $38,115,000. The original owner died shortly after purchasing the car when he crashed it against a wall.

$ 81.9 million

Andy Warhol’s “Triple Elvis” sold for $81.9 million this November at Christie’s

$ 2 billion

In August, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer purchased the L.A. Clippers from disgraced owner Donald Sterling for $2 billion



Join us for Our Open House! Torah Values, 21st Century Learning • Warm community school • Individual whole child instruction • Love of Torah & Israel • Rich Torah studies • 21st century skills • Gifted & talented enrichment center • Ivrit curriculum Early Childhood – 8th grade

• Rigorous academic program • Middot / character development • Technology integration/iPad program • Music, Art, PE, Electives • Sports & after school enrichment programs • Fun family programs • State of the art facilities

Schedule Pre-1st (5 years) Tuesday, December 30th at 9:00 am

General Open House Wednesday, January 14th at 9:00 am

1st grade (6 years) Tuesday, January 13th at 9:00 am

Early Childhood Center Wednesday, February 11th & 18th at 9:30 am

Walk-in Tours Available For a scheduled tour, please contact Sandra R’bibo, Director of Admissions at srbibo@emek.org or call 818-783-3663

Head of School: Rabbi Mordechai Shifman Pre-1st to 8th Grade Campus: 15365 Magnolia Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 Nursery Campus: 12732 Chandler Blvd., Valley Village, CA 91607 www.emek.org Emek Hebrew Academy Teichman Family Torah Center admits students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin to all rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students of the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs or other school administered programs.



JANUARY 1, 2015


GLOBAL AFFAIRS ....................................... UKRAINE

Following months of upheaval in the Ukraine capital of Kiev, on February 23, pro-Russia protesters started rallying in Crimea, where Russia has a major naval base. By March 1, troops under apparent Russian command took over Crimea without firing a shot, prompting the biggest East-West showdown since the Cold War. The United States and the European Union began a process of imposing harsh sanctions on Russia. On May 25, leading businessman Petro Poroshenko won the presidential election in Ukraine on a pro-Western platform. On July 17, a Malaysian airliner was shot down in separatist-held territory, killing all 298 people onboard, with all evidence suggesting that it was taken down by pro-Russian separatists. On September 5, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists signed a ceasefire, which was repeatedly violated. With his country reeling under a collapsing Russian ruble due to falling oil prices and sanctions, Putin declared on December 7 that he is hopeful that there will soon be a permanent ceasefire.


The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014 and had rapidly become the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976. Researchers from the New England Journal of Medicine have traced the Ebola outbreak to a twoyear-old toddler, who died in December 2013 in Meliandou, a small village in south-eastern Guinea. The hardest hit countries were Liberia (3,384 deaths), Sierra Leone (2,582 deaths) and Guinea (1,607 deaths), where the disease continues to rage. Although there were four confirmed cases of Ebola in the U.S., it resulted in only one death—Thomas Eric Duncan who died October 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital af-

ter returning from Liberia. The most recent case of Ebola being diagnosed in the U.S. occurred on October 23, when a medical aid worker who had returned to the city from Guinea, where he had served with Doctors Without Borders, came down with the disease. He recovered and was discharged from Bellevue Hospital Center on November 11.

and believes that all non-Muslims must be killed. The group is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was detained for four years in a U.S.-controlled prison in Iraq. Upon his release, he stated to U.S. soldiers, “See you in New York.”


Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) started as an al Qaeda splinter group but their large numbers and lust for infidels’ blood have earned them notoriety that may have even surpassed that of al Qaeda’s. Their long-term goal is to control the world. ISIS ignores international borders and has a presence from Syria’s Mediterranean coast to south of Baghdad. It rules by Sharia law

On June 29, 2014, ISIS, which according to the CIA has up to 31,500 fighters, announced the creation of a caliphate (Islamic state) undefined by state borders, making al-Baghdadi the self-declared authority over the world’s estimated 1.5 billion Muslims. On Au-

gust 19, the group posted a video of the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, and on September 2, they posted the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, who was Jewish and spent time in Israel before embarking to the Syrian war front and being captured. On September 11, President Obama announced an open-ended bombing campaign against ISIS. On November 16, ISIS posted a video of the beheading of Peter Kassig, a U.S. aid worker who was the fifth Westerner to be beheaded by ISIS. To date, ISIS has slaughtered thousands of Christians, Kurds and fellow Muslims.


On June 12, three Israeli teens — Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel, and Gilad Shaer, Hy”d — were kidnapped.



On April 16, a ferry carrying 476 passengers capsized enroute to the resort island of Jetu, South Korea. Of the 340 confirmed dead, 250 were schoolchildren on a field trip. In November, the captain of the ferry was given a 36 year prison sentence for abandoning his vessel while hundreds of people remained trapped within its hull. Nine people are still considered missing.


As a nation prayed, on June 14, Israel launched Operation Brother’s Keeper to locate the missing boys. On June 30, the bodies of the three kedoshim were found. On July 2, teenage Israeli zealots carried out a retribution attack, killing a Palestinian teenager. Unlike Palestinian officials, who celebrated the deaths of the three Israeli boys, Israeli officials unanimously condemned the act and promptly arrested those responsible. On July 8, in response to increased rocket fire from Gaza, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge. On August 26, both sides agreed to a ceasefire. Is-

rael lost 64 soldiers and 4 civilians in the incursion; according to some, the death toll in Gaza was approximately 2,130, many of them were civilians who were shields for Hamas operatives, who operated from amongst them. In the course of the Operation, Israel discovered tens of attack tunnels leading from Gaza into communities in southern Israel. They destroyed over 30 of those tunnels, but Hamas leaders have since claimed that they had begun repairing and rebuilding those tunnels the day the final ceasefire was implemented.


Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8 with 227 passengers onboard. The plane lost contact

less than an hour after takeoff. No distress signal or message were sent; the last communication spoken either by the pilot or co-pilot were the words “Good night Malaysian three seven zero.” The search for the missing aircraft continues to focus on a 23,000-square mile area in the Indian Ocean known as the “seventh arc,” a stretch of ocean where investigators believe the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed. Malaysia Airlines suffered as second tragedy when Flight MH17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 people onboard, including 80 children.

On May 13, an explosion at a coal mine in Soma, Turkey, caused an underground mine fire which burned for 2 days. In total, 301 people were killed in what was the worst mine disaster in Turkey’s history. Anti-government protests broke out across the country following a speech by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan in Soma in which he downplayed the seriousness of the tragedy, saying, “These things happen.” Erdogan was later heard telling a heckler, “What happened, happened. It is from G-d. ... If you boo the country’s prime minister, you get slapped.”

JANUARY 1, 2015

On April 15, 273 school girls were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. The brazen kidnapping sparked world-wide outrage and “Twitter diplomacy,” which bore no results, as many of the girls are still missing. This attack is one of countless attacks carried out by the Islamist terrorist group in Nigeria in 2014, resulting in thousands of deaths.




Cuba’s Jews: A New Beginning? The rebirth of U.S.- Cuban diplomatic relations two weeks ago was heralded by the release of Alan Gross, a Jewish aid worker who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years. After decades of hostility by the Castro regime towards Jews, and especially towards Israel, this symbolic gesture could signal the opening of Cuba’s Jewish community to the world. However, visitors to Cuba will see a very different Cuban Jewry than the one of the pre-Castro years. According to popular legend, Cuba’s Jewish past begins in 1492 when three Conversos (Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism) voyaged on Christopher Columbus’ fleet to the New World. One of them was Luis Torres, Columbus’ translator, without whom the first Spanish settlements in Cuba might never have been. The island’s rich soil allowed the Spanish settlements to develop the sugar and tobacco industries the Spanish colony needed to survive, and this was the first attraction of Jewish merchants to the island. Then, in an ironic twist, the Spanish Inquisition came to Cuba and began persecuting the very people who helped establish the colony in the first place. A particularly dark chapter in Cuba’s history occurred in 1613 when the Converso Francisco Gomes de Leon of Havana confessed that he was a secret Jew, and was martyred for his faith. Arrests of so-called “crypto-Jews” continued periodically in Cuba, and though most were not killed, they were still required to forfeit a large portion of their wealth. In 1649, Portugal conquered Brazil, causing thousands of Jews to flee the dreaded Portuguese Inquisition. Many of these refugees arrived in Cuba, thus marking the first mass immigration of Jews to Cuba. Despite continued persecution lasting as late as 1783, Cuban Jews established trading networks not only with neighboring Caribbean Jewish communities, but also reaching as far as Amsterdam and Hamburg. The Inquisition was officially abolished in the early 1800’s, and Jews were finally free to worship publicly in 1881. After the Spanish-American War of 1898, which ended Spain’s rule in Cuba and in which a large number of Jews served in the American army, many Jewish-American businessmen came to Cuba and became heavily involved in the tobacco and sugar cane industries. Jews were particularly instrumental in tobacco-growing as they were the first to grow the crop under a protective cloth to keep it dry, a practice still in use today. Jewish traders also helped move sugar cane between Cuba, Portugal, Brazil, and the Dutch Antilles. A wave of more than 5,000 Jewish immigrants from Turkey and North Afri-


By Aaron Feigenbaum

A Tallis salesman in pre 1959 Cuba

Raltives and friends bid farewell as the S.S. St Louis is forced to return to Europe

Alan Gross back in America



JANUARY 1, 2015


Old Havana

ca arrived in Cuba just before the start of WWI. These Ladino-speaking immigrants were quickly able to adjust to life in their new homeland. Cuba’s first Orthodox shul, Adath Israel, was built in Havana in 1925. Due to America’s strict immigration quotas in the 1920‘s and 1930‘s, many Jews leaving Europe decided to stay in Cuba where anti-Semitism was rare. Many of these new immigrants prospered in the garment industry. The Cuban Jewish population, centered in Havana, numbered over 20,000 at this time. A Central Jewish Committee was founded in the 1930‘s to organize Cuban Jewry. Anti-Semitism became a real threat beginning in the 1930‘s when Nazism found its way into the country. Cuba’s oldest newspaper, the Didrio de la Marina, reprinted articles from infamous Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher’s “Der Sturmer.” Nazi agents began agitating against the Jews. Rumors arose of a Jewish-led anti-government strike planned for Erev Yom Kippur, 1933. This false accusation led to many Jewish businessman being forced to open their shops on Yom Tov. Fulgencio Batista’s military dictatorship, which came to power in 1933, allowed Jews to apply for full citizenship for the first time. However, his regime also instituted a law requiring 50% of all employees to be Cuban-born, causing many Jews to lose their jobs. Despite these setbacks, Jewish life in Cuba was relatively stable and the population continued to grow. Ha-

Interior of the Adas Israel Synagogue in Havana

vana became a prime vacation spot for American Jews, particularly Hollywood types such as screenwriter Ben Hecht who infused Cuba with some of the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown. As persecution in Europe ramped up in the late 1930‘s, many Jews turned to Cuba for refuge. Some 3,000 German and Austrian Jews were allowed to enter Cuba in 1938-1939, reportedly because of President F.D.R.’s promise to lower tariffs on Cuban sugar imports. However, the Cuban government changed its mind in 1942 when it denied entry to the S.S. St. Louis, an ocean liner carrying over 900 Jewish refugees. Despite efforts by the American government and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the ship was forced to return to Europe. Some of the passengers found safety in England, but over 200 others perished in the Holocaust. The Cuban government announced its support for the Balfour Declaration in 1947, but strangely voted against the U.N.’s partition plan for Palestine. Nevertheless, Cuba officially recognized Israel in 1949. The 1950‘s could be considered Cuban Jewry’s glory years. The community was well integrated into the country’s social and economic life. They built an impressive cultural center in a suburb of Havana, as well as social clubs and medical clinics. The community also published a monthly magazine called “Israelita.” The Patrona-

to Shul was built in the mid-1950’s by the affluent Jewish community, and the Adath Israel shul was remodeled. The Jewish population remained at over 20,000, 75% of which was concentrated in Havana. Havana had a total of five shuls, a kosher restaurant, a Jewish high school and five Jewish elementary schools. The fortunes of Cuba’s Jews declined drastically when the Castro regime came to power in 1959. Castro’s nationalization of private businesses resulted in economic devastation for the Cuban Jewish community. About 90% of the community left Cuba as a result, including 7,000 in the first two years of Castro’s reign. Most immigrated to America, but some went to South America and Israel. Like other members of religious groups in Cuba, Jews now faced a number of restrictions such as limited access to jobs and education, as well as not being allowed to form religious organizations. However, unlike the Soviet Union, Jews could freely practice their religion, buy kosher food, and receive foreign donations. Anti-Semitism was a virtual unknown in Cuba as the criminal code protected against religious and ethnic discrimination. At the same time Castro took a fierce line against Israel and in the late 1960’s, a number of Jews who had spoken out against the government were placed in labor camps. Anti-Israel denunciations by Castro and the state media became the norm, and the regime developed close ties with the





CUBA TRIVIA 1. How long was Fidel Castro’s longest speech? a. 1 hour and 47 minutes b. 2 hours and 23 minutes c. 3 hours and 48 minutes d. 7 hours and 10 minutes 2. What is the official language of Cuba? a. Spanish b. Cuban c. English d. Russian 3. How many U.S. presidents did Fidel Castro outlast? a. 6 b. 8 c. 10 d. 11 4. According to Cuban security officials, how many assassination attempts did Fidel Castro survive? a. 73 b. 134 c. 212 d. 638 5. In 1961, the United States backed an invasion by Cuban exiles, which failed. What was the invasion called? a. Operation Cuban Freedom b. Operation Defeat Communism c. Bay of Pigs d. Operation Havana Lights

6. How many people live in Cuba? a. 6 million b. 11 million c. 64 million d. 82 million 7. In 1962 why did President Kennedy delay signing the embargo against Cuba for several hours? a. There were last minute negotiations with Fidel Castro. b. He wanted to give a televised broadcast to explain his actions but had to wait until after the Super Bowl to do so. c. He wanted to make sure that he had enough Cuban cigars for himself in the White House first. d. He was watching his wife play in an amateur tennis tournament. ANSWERS 1) D-Castro holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the longest speech ever delivered at the United Nations: 4 hours and 29 minutes on September 29, 1960. His longest speech on record in Cuba was 7 hours and 10 minutes in 1986 at the III Communist Party Congress in Havana. 2) A 3) C 4) D-The assassination attempts include poison pills, a toxic cigar, a chemically tainted diving suit, and powder to make his beard fall out so as to undermine his popularity. Castro is quoted as saying, “If surviving assassination attempts

were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal.” 5) C-In 1961, the CIA launched what its leaders believed would be the definitive strike: a full-scale invasion of Cuba by 1,400 Americantrained Cubans who had fled their homes when Castro took over. However, the invasion did not go well; the invaders were badly outnumbered by Castro’s troops, and they surrendered after less than 24 hours of fighting. 6) C 7) C-According to JFK’s then-spokesman Pierre Salinger, the president ordered him to buy him as many of his favorite Cuban cigars as he could lay his hands on – and held off signing the Cuban trade embargo until his precious stogies were safely inside the White House. Kennedy asked to find at least 1,000 H.Upmann petit coronas, and gave him just a half a day to accomplish the task before they would become contraband. When Salinger handed him 1,200 Cuban cigars, President Kennedy pronounced, “Fantastic!” and then promptly signed the embargo. Wisdom key 5-7 correct: You earned a Cuban cigar, just remember what el presidente Fidel said after he quit smoking cigars in 1985: “I give people cigars and tell them it is poison. I say: ‘Smoke them if you like, but the best thing you can do with that box of cigars is give it to your enemy.’” 2-4 correct: You know a little about Cuba but not enough. Come to think of it, Mr. Obama, is that why you just handed a victory to Castro? 0-1 correct: You are a winner! You won an all-expenses paid trip to a tropical Cuban island: Guantanamo Bay.

JANUARY 1, 2015

DECEMBER 25, 2014

You Gotta be


PLO. A Cuban government official who were allowed to form religious organiza- themes and paintings by a local Jewish the world. Despite the regime’s virulent anti-Zionist and anti-religious Marxist to the West alleged that Cuba tions for the first time in many years. The artist. The reaction by Cuban Jews towards doctrine, anti-Semitic attacks are today trained PLO terrorists in the 1970’s on its American Jewish Joint Distribution Comsoil. Cuba officially cut diplomatic rela- mittee was allowed into the country and Obama’s rapprochement with the Castro unheard of. Both Raul and Fidel Castro tions with Israel in 1973. That same year has been helping the Jewish community regime is mixed. Older immigrants to have expressed goodwill towards Cuba’s Cuba sent 1,500 troops and military sup- there ever since, coordinating basic sup- America, who experienced Castro’s op- Jews and both have participated in Chaplies to help the Arabs in the Yom Kippur plies such as medicine, kosher food, and pression firsthand, have misgivings about nukah celebrations. Fidel Castro critiWar. The alleged PLO terrorist training school equipment. Thanks to the outreach a political warming up towards Cuba. cized his ally Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was then corroborated by Yasser Arafat’s efforts of organizations such as Chabad, However, many of the younger genera- the former president of Iran, for denying visit to Cuba in 1974. Relations with Is- many intermarried spouses have convert- tion see this as an opportunity to change the Holocaust. Fidel’s affirmation of Israright to exist earned him praise from Cuba fortothe better and open up relations edtraffic to Judaism. In a very limited gesture rael deteriorated even moreiswhen On a recent visit Cuba, Vladimir Putin found that el’s most Cubans’ shoes have holes A truck driver goingCastro opposite on a onePrime Minister Netanyahu, who with the 1,500 or so Jews still living on invited made a speech at the U.N. in 1979 com- of goodwill towards Israel, Cuba in them, and so he asks Fidel Castro, “Oye chico, how is this possible after 40 years of said he way street. A police officer sees him but doesn’t stop then - Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yisrael Lau the island. Others take a wait-and-see ap- has a “deep understanding of the history paring Israeli policy to Nazi genocide. ‘progress’?” him.activists Why doesn’t police officerinstop him? 1994. The Rabbi met with Castro. He proach. At this point in time, this is prob- of the Jewish people and the State of IsJewish were the now closely Annoyed, Fidel Castro answers, “And what about Russia? Have you done any monitored by the state and Jewish life also confirmed that these conversions ably the most sensible. Whether relations rael.” Nevertheless, in light of Cuba’s anbetter?” with America and a potential end to the ti-Israel activities, Israel understandably in Cuba deteriorated further. Several were valid. Putin says, “Ombe,will when youin want, I’ll invite you torefuses Russiato and if you find ainsingle join the U.S. opening relaembargo bring political change shuls closed in the 1980’s and in the earCurrently, Rabbi Shmuel Szteinhendtionshim. withNo Cuba. economic improvement to Cuban’s, to kill ly 1990’s. Israel carried out a secret plan ler acts as Cuba’s chief rabbi while also person with and ripped-up shoes, you have permission problem.” it’ll merely prop to upRussia. the Castro InFidel any case, G-d the thawing called Operation Cigar. As a result of the serving as chief rabbi for Santiago, They Chile.got or onwhether Putin’s plane and went As soon as got off thewilling, plane, the regime, remains to be seen. of relations with America will bring good program’s success more than 400 Cuban He travels to Havana several times a year first thing he saw was someone whose shoes were all ripped up, and so he grabbed What is clearer is that despite living tidings for Cuba’s Jews. Jews were able to make aliyah to Israel. to perform bar mitzvahs, weddings and his pistol, killing the man. (Sources: Jewish Virtual Library, JeThe end of the Cold War in 1991 more. Jewish visitors to Cuba frequent- under a dictatorship, the Jewish commuThehas following Russian newspapers banner headline: “Old Bearded nity inday, Cuba is in relatively good carried standingthis rusalem Post, Haaretz, Breakingisraelbrought with it a measured degree of liber- Answer ly stayonatnext the page Hotel Raquel, which Man Kills Cuban in Moscow now,Ambassador at least compared to manyAirport. places ”in news, Forward) Jewish alization by the Cuban government. Jews stained glass windows depicting

72 defected 78


34 96 90

Notable Quotes Notable


Compiled by Nate Davis

Compiled by Nate Davis

“Say“Say What?” What?” KFC in Japan will continue its tradition of offering customers a [holiday dinner], which includes chicken, wine, cake, and champagne. For no extra charge, you can tell the cashier how you didn’t see your life ending up like this. – Jimmy Fallon

In an interview, President Obama said he recently deejayed a small dance party at the White House. Obama has a lot in common with deejays. He takes requests and then completely ignores them. - Jimmy Fallon

There’s blood on many hands tonight. That blood starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor. – PBA President Pat Lynch after two NYC police officers were killed last weekend

Who hasn’t thought about being lifted up by balloons in the sky?

We’re all in this together. - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to a group of police officers after the slaying No we’re not! - One of the officer’s reply to the mayor

The White House announced plans to begin normalizing relations with Cuba — this as we’re awkwardizing relations with Russia. – Craig Ferguson

- Eric Roner of Northern California who used homemade devices and 90 large helium balloons to lift himself 8,000 feet into the air Jeb Bush announced today on the Internet that he may run for president. What is Jeb Bush’s full name? Jebediah? Jebaroni? – Craig Ferguson Jeb Bush announced on the Internet that he is exploring a 2016 bid for president. And to increase his chances, he’s going to run as just “Jeb.” He said, “My last name? It’s not important.” - Seth Myers

I went to Target. I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip, though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right, I was in the detergent aisle and she said — I kid you not — she said, “Excuse me, I just have to ask you something.” And I thought, cover’s blown. She said, “Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?” I kid you not! And the only thing she said — I reached up because she was short — and I reached up and pulled it down and she said, “Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.” That was the interaction. I felt so good. She had no idea who I was. – Michelle Obama in 2013 telling David Letterman about her incognito trip to Target I tell this story – I mean, even as the First Lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the First Lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new. - Michelle Obama in a recent interview with People magazine discussing an instance of subtle racism which took place when she took her incognito trip to Target

Today President Obama announced that the U.S. is working to improve its relationship with Cuba in an effort to normalize full diplomatic relations. For instance, today they released one of our prisoners and in return we sent back one of their shortstops. - Jimmy Fallon

You probably heard about the big prisoner swap with Cuba. A man who has been incarcerated in Havana for five years is back home in the United States. And we sent them some prisoners. The deal still has to be approved by President Obama and Bud Selig. – David Letterman

A new report says ISIS is trying to recruit professionals like doctors, engineers, and accountants. Sorry, kids, even ISIS says they’re not hiring liberal arts majors. - Conan O’Brien

President Obama recently said that his day is all about politics, so in the mornings he likes to watch ESPN. So if you get the feeling he’s repeating himself every half hour, that’s where he learned it from. – Jimmy Fallon

A new poll about the 2016 election shows that just 27 percent of voters would be likely to support Chris Christie. And only 4 percent of chairs. - Seth Myers

Be very careful if you’re out shopping because of the sidewalk vendors. They’re selling inexpensive items — counterfeit watches, counterfeit handbags, actual Knicks tickets. – David Letterman

Russia has named Vladimir Putin its man of the year for the 15th year in a row. Putin got 143 million votes and the guy he was up against got killed in a mysterious boating accident. The boat was in a warehouse. – Conan O’Brien

This shows we can resolve our differences without renouncing a single one of our principles. - Cuban President Raul Castro after President Obama agreed to normalize relations with Cuba A Salvation Army bell ringer in Virginia was injured when an 87-year-old man accidentally ran him over. He was taken to the hospital once the applause died down. - Seth Myers

Allahu Akbar! -A Muslim terrorist screaming as he plowed his car into pedestrians on a crowded street in France This is absolutely not an act of terrorism. - A French official after the attack, making the claim that the attacker was mentally deranged and was not acting in the name of radical Islam

Everyone’s weighing in on Sony’s cancellation of “The Interview.” Mitt Romney suggested the film should be released online for free. Donald Trump said the studio has no courage or guts. Chris Christie said, “Either way, I’m having a large bucket of popcorn.” – Jimmy Fallon

The U.S. is re-establishing relations with Cuba. But before President Obama can lift the embargo, he will need approval from the Republicancontrolled Congress — or as Republicans who called Obama said, “Close, but no cigar.” - Jimmy Fallon

The DPRK has already launched the toughest counteraction. Nothing is more serious miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target of this counteraction. Our target is all the citadels of the U.S. imperialists who earned the bitterest grudge of all Koreans. Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism. - A statement by the North Korean state-run newspaper after President Obama accused North Korea of hacking into Sony

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference today that it was too early to decide if he will run for re-election in 2018. But he says it’s not too early to decide how much he wins by.

President Obama announced yesterday that he’s pardoning 12 convicted felons. Political experts say the move could have huge implications for your fantasy football teams.

– Seth Myers

Oh, nice! - President Obama when someone handed him a Cuban cigar at the White House’s Chanukah party

The White House will ease diplomatic relations with Cuba. When asked how he’ll celebrate, Obama said, “Smoke a Cuban cigar, no I mean smoke a regular cigarette — oh, I’ll just have some water, I guess, I don’t know.” - Jimmy Fallon

- Seth Myers The Dalai Lama said there should be no more Dalai Lamas after his death. That’s particularly bad news for his son, Steve Lama. - Conan O’Brien

Graceland is going to auction off Elvis Presley’s first-ever recordings from 1953 — or as people now coming to America from Cuba put it, “Whoa! What’s that hot new sound?” - Jimmy Fallon



About ten days before his death, Rabin and I attended a black-tie dinner together at the State Department, where he presented me with the United Jewish Appeal’s Isaiah Award. As everyone knows, Rabin had been a soldier most of his life, and so he was never comfortable wearing fancy clothes. In fact, I had read that when David Ben-Gurion sent him on his first-ever diplomatic mission in 1949, he didn’t even own a tie. Somebody had to give him one, tie it, and then loosen it, so he would never have to learn how to tie one himself. In 1995, just before our black-tie dinner, he discovered that he’d only brought a straight tie, not a bow tie as the occasion warranted. We borrowed a bow tie from one of my staff, and my last memory of our time together was me straightening his bow tie, with him good-naturedly kvetching the whole time about having to wear it. – Bill Clinton in a recent interview with Yediot Achronot about Yitzchak Rabin

35 97



JANUARY 1, 2015


2014 Sports Trivia 1. Which nation took home the World Cup in 2014? a. U.S.A. b. Argentina c. Brazil d. Germany 2. Winning with a margin of three strokes, who won the Masters Tournament this year? a. Phil Mickelson b. Tiger Woods c. Matt Kuchar d. Bubba Watson 3. Who won the NBA Finals for the 2013-14 season? a. Lakers b. Bulls c. Heat d. Spurs 4. How many gold medals did the U.S. win in Sochi? a. 17 b. 14 c. 11 d. 9 5. Which athlete made the most money in 2014? a. LeBron James b. Kobe Bryant c. Roger Federer d. Floyd Mayweather 6. Which team won the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? a. Duke b. Wisconsin c. Kentucky d. Connecticut 7. Who lost the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals (although I know you probably want to forget this one)? a. LA Kings b. Devils c. Bruins d. Rangers 8. Who won the 2014 American League Cy Young award? a. Felix Hernandez b. Chris Sale

c. Jose Abreu d. Corey Clubber Answers 1. D 2. D 3. D 4. D 5. D- Floyd Mayweather earned $105 million. Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo came in second place with earnings of $80 million. At 3rd place, LeBron James made $72.3 million. And TJH Centerfold Commissioner made 50 cents. Talk about life being unfair. 6. D 7. D 8. D (Sorry that all the answers were D. I was just in a “D mood.”) Wisdom Key 7-8 correct: Did you do anything other than watch sports in 2014? I mean, there were really exciting things going on…Ebola, wars, politics, protests, etc. 4-6 correct: Not bad; you had a healthy dosage of distractions this year. 0-3 correct: At what point are you going to realize that with multiple choice questions it’s all about figuring out the patterns?


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Travel Guide: Maine By Aaron Feigenbaum


JANUARY 1, 2015


Acadia National Park

Tucked in the northeast corner of America, Maine may seem remote and inaccessible. However, once you’re there you’ll realize that you’ve arrived at New England’s crown jewel. With thousands of miles of rugged coastline, iconic lighthouses, picturesque fishing villages, unrivaled autumn foliage, and vast swathes of pristine pine forest, Maine is one of America’s best outdoors and small-town destinations. Whether you’re snapping a postcard-perfect ocean shot atop the rocky peaks of Acadia National Park, strolling along the cobblestone streets that wind their way through Portland’s colonial redbrick buildings, or experiencing far northern Aroostook County’s unique French culture, Maine offers a vast world of excitement and adventure that’s second to none. History: Before European colonization, Maine was inhabited by Algonquin-speaking peoples such as the Abenaki and Maliseet. The first Europeans, led by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, arrived in 1604 at the now uninhabited island of Saint Croix and established a colony there. King Henry IV of France named the region l’Acadie or Acadia. An English attempt at settlement in 1607 ended in failure, leaving France as the dominant political and economic power in Maine. Trade and missionization drove French explorers inland to establish new settlements such as Castine and Penobscot Bay. However, it wasn’t long until the English returned and set up permanent colonies in southern Maine, later to be absorbed by the colony of Massachusetts in 1640. Maine soon became the site of an allout, decades-long conflict between New France and New England. Allied with native tribes, each side conducted kidnap-

Asticou Azalea Garden

ping raids against the other in bloody wars such as King William’s War of 1690, in which the entire Androscoggin tribe were driven north to Canada, and Dummer’s War of 1725. Finally, the French were defeated in Acadia in 1740 and the British incorporated Maine into the Province of Nova Scotia where it was joined with New Brunswick. After losing the territory to the newly independent America, Britain schemed to take it back and call it “New Ireland.” This plan never came to fruition, and Maine now became part of the state of Massachusetts. The War of 1812 brought British forces down from Canada to occupy large portions of the eastern coast and effectively halt shipping. The fact that neither the state militia nor the Massachusetts government were willing to stop the British led many in Maine to seek statehood. Massachusetts agreed to allow a vote on Maine’s secession, thus Maine became America’s 23rd state in 1820. Maine in the mid 1800‘s was boosted by an extremely fast-growing logging industry, which resulted in the state’s famed shipbuilding industry. Bangor became, for a time, the world’s largest lumber port. Cotton, paper mills, and railroads also contributed to the state’s economic development. Maine in the Civil War was an ardent supporter of the Union and an even more ardent opponent of slavery. In proportion to its population, Maine sent the largest number of troops to the front than any other state. Maine today prides itself on its values of diversity and tolerance. It is home to a vast number of different ethnicities, nationalities, and religions. It’s also home to many celebrities such as former president George H.W. Bush and horror author Stephen King.

See and Do: Portland: Sitting snugly in Casco Bay, this bustling seaport is Maine’s largest city and is one of the coolest small cities in America. The historic Old Port district is the main attraction for tourists, who will enjoy seeing its quaint shops, European cobblestone streets, and restored colonial buildings. Next up is the Portland Museum of Art. Housed in a building that’s an interesting blend of Georgian and modernist architecture, this art gallery houses over 17,000 pieces of decorative and fine arts from such figures as Monet, Picasso, and Rodin. Then head to the opulent Victoria Mansion, located right near the art museum. Belonging to a wealthy 19th-century hotelier, this is considered to be one of the best examples of an Italian-style villa mansion in the country. The interior’s lavish furniture, wall frescoes, and beautifully exotic carpets are truly a visual feast. Portland Head Light is not only a symbol of Maine; it’s also the most photographed lighthouse in North America. Located in Fort Williams Park just outside Portland, the Head Light overlooks Cape Elizabeth and the ocean beyond. The lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington in 1791 and was staffed until 1989 when it was automated. However, the lighthouse keeper’s house has been preserved and is now a museum that serves to educate visitors about the military and maritime history of Portland. Just behind the lighthouse is Fort Williams Park, home to WWII-era artillery guns and bunkers. Local harbor defense units once scanned for German U-boats from this location. Another place for scenic views in Portland is the Portland Observatory. Built in 1807, it’s the very last maritime signal tower left in America. The tower relied on

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse

a telescope and signal flags to communicate with vessels although it ceased operation in 1923 when radio technology made it obsolete. Finally, if you’re traveling with kids, be sure to check out the Children’s Museum of Maine. Kids can haul traps aboard a fake fishing boat, milk a fake cow on a replica farm, and do indoor rock-climbing. Augusta: This is Maine’s state capital and while it’s not as exciting as Portland, this riverside town has is beautiful and offers a very relaxed atmosphere. The Maine State Museum tells the state’s natural and cultural history alongside exhibits on Maine’s prehistory, native people, colonial and industrial era, and its natural resources. A highlight is the two-story replica woodworking mill. The Maine State Capital building looks much like other state capital buildings, but it’s worth a visit and tours are free. Perhaps the most interesting attraction in Augusta is Fort Western, the oldest surviving wooden fort in New England. It was originally built by British colonists to defend against French and native attacks. In 1775, it was the starting point for the Continental Army’s expedition to Quebec, led by the future traitor Benedict Arnold. Today it’s a museum and shop. Bangor: This is the center of inland Maine’s commerce and culture. It’s much quieter and much less visited than the heavily touristed Portland. Main Street is dotted with lots of quaint antique shops. Elegant Victorian mansions can be found throughout the city, a testament to Bangor’s former lumber wealth. The Bangor Museum and Center for History has an impressive collection of Civil War artifacts and vintage clothing as well as thousands of photos. The Cole Land Transportation Museum preserves the history of Maine’s transportation equipment with a collec-


Downtown Portland, Maine

tion of snow plows, logging vehicles, fire trucks and more. Perhaps the single biggest reason why people come to Bangor is to see Stephen King’s iconic red Victorian mansion. You can’t go inside, but the exterior is a must-see for anyone visiting. Acadia National Park/Mount Desert Island: Located about an hour’s drive from Bangor, this is New England’s only national park and one of the best in the country. The most popular destination in the park is Mount Desert Island, Maine’s largest island. It’s visited by an estimated 2.5 million tourists a year, and its history goes back thousands of years. Museums are plentiful on the island, with a whale skeleton display and the region’s natural history being some of the highlights. Shopping and cozy bed-and-breakfasts are in no short supply throughout the island’s small towns. For outdoors activities, there are many hiking trails, most of which give you excellent views of the island and Bar Harbor on the mainland. There’s also swimming, kayaking, camping and tidepool exploring. Celebrities including Susan Sarandon and Martha Stewart have made Mount Desert Island their summer home. Transportation around the island is free. Aroostook County: For something off the beaten path, Aroostook County at the northern edge of Maine is one of America’s most unique cultural and recreational destinations. Most residents here are bilingual in English and French, and are proud of their Acadian roots. Aroostook’s connection with neighboring New Brunswick is so strong that the state legislature once considered transferring the county to Canada. The county’s largest city is Presque Isle. Attractions there include a historical museum, science museum, air museum, and Aroostook State Park, which has scenic hiking trails, and cross-country

The Whalesback in Aurora Maine

ski trails in wintertime. The city of Caribou is the northeasternmost city in the U.S. and is located just 10 minutes from the Canadian border. In Caribou, you can participate in the time-honored tradition of berry-picking at Goughan’s Farm, fish and kayak on the Aroostook River, and have a taste of old-world Europe at the nearby Swedish Colony. With thousands of lakes and rivers, amazing wildlife such as moose and black bears, and some of Maine’s best scenery, Aroostook is one of the most wild and unforgettable parts of Maine. It’s out of the way for most travelers, but once you’ve visited you likely won’t regret it. Daven and Eat: Chabad of Maine is in Portland at 101 Craigie Street (207-871-8947/chabadofmaine.com). A Modern Orthodox shul called Shaarey Tephiloh Congregation is located at 76 Noyes Street in Portland (207-773-0693/mainesynagogue.org) If you’re heading to Bangor, check out Beth Abraham Orthodox Synagogue at 145 York Street (207-947-0876/jewishbangor.org) According to the Chabad of Maine website, there are no kosher restaurants in Maine. Kosher food can be purchased in grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Shaw’s, and Hannaford. Getting There: Portland is serviced by Portland International Jetport. A flight to there from LAX currently runs at about $400 per person round trip. A flight to Augusta is around $450, while a flight to Bangor is about $600. Driving from L.A. to Portland is about 3,100 miles and takes 4 or 5 days.

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JANUARY 1, 2015


Global Remembering the Tsunami Ten Years Later

Ten years ago, on December 26, a 9.15-magnitude earthquake opened a fault line deep beneath the Indian Ocean and triggered a wave that was as high as 57 feet that washed over coasts of over ten countries including India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. Within seconds, entire neighborhoods were wiped off the map and thousands were swept away. More than 240,000 people lost their lives

and millions were left homeless by the angry waters. Last week, survivors and relatives of the tsunami victims cried and prayed as they gathered along Indian Ocean shorelines to commemorate the tragic day. Memorials were held in the worst-affected countries. Since the disaster, many vulnerable towns and villages have tsunami escape drills to help prepare civilians for the unimaginable. But experts doubt the readiness countries on the Indian Ocean really are for another damaging wave. The past decade has seen more than $400 million spent across 28 countries on an early-warning system comprising 101 sea-level gauges, 148 seismometers and nine buoys, but there is concern about the effectiveness and maintenance of the system. Some experts say complacency is leaving millions vulnerable and governments continue to warn of the very real and current risks.

Tongue-in-Cheek Cure for Anti-Semitism v”c

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Is there a cure for anti-Semitism? On December 16, the European Jewish Organization launched a bold digital campaign called “Antisémitox: First aid for an-

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ti-Semitism.” The much shared meme features a white-coated stethoscope-wearing doctor holding a box of honey candies. Based in Levallois, a northwestern suburb of Paris, the European Jewish Organization was founded six months ago to deal with rapidly rising French anti-Semitism. “Anti-Semitism has become a plague in France, and it is growing towards a crescendo,” OJE leader Fabien Bellahsen told the media this week. “Our objective is to raise awareness in the media, the public authorities and the civil society.” “We decided to use humor as a weapon against the resurgence of violence,” said Bellahsen. “However, I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to keep that sense of humor, especially when it comes to such serious matters.”

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The organization sells boxes of Antisémitox online as part of a fundraiser and awareness campaign; they are priced right at just 5 euros ($6) each (a minimum donation to OJE). Each box has three honey-flavored “pills” and “detox patches,” and text of the French law prohibiting anti-Semitism and its penalties. All profits will be used to “finance the fight against anti-Semitism,” such as giving legal advice to victims of verbal or physical violence. The packages’ warning label humorously reads: ”This medicine may only be prescribed in cases of apparent anti-Semitic symptoms: insults, curses, aggressive behavior, revisionist ideas, ‘quenelles’ [the Nazi-like salute popularized by French stand-up comedian Dieudonne], ‘Shabbat fevers,’ Judeophobia, anti-Zionism.” Frank Tapiro spear-headed the campaign. He runs Hémisphère Droit, a famous Paris-based advertising agency. On launch day he told French newspaper Le Parisien that his goal is to create an “electroshock” in French society. Anti-Semitism is becoming a concern in France. On December 7, France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that “anti-Semitic acts and threats have increased by well over 100% in the first ten months of the year.” The official said that over 930 cases have been prosecuted in the first half of the year 2014. Currently, the OJE has about 400 members in France and hopes to reach out to other Jewish communities in Europe. In 2015, it hopes to expand its activities to Belgium, Switzerland, the UK, and the Netherlands. The bigger question is: are people even looking for a “cure” for anti-Semitism or

is it an ideology that they actively choose?  

Wanted Terrorist Turns Himself In

A leader of the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab has surrendered in Somalia. Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi had a $3 million bounty on his head, according to Somali intelligence officials, when he surrendered to Somali police. The motive behind his surrender are not yet clear. Hersi may have given himself up because he had a falling out with those loyal to Ahmed Abdi Godane, alShabab’s top leader who was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier this year. Hersi was one of seven top al-Shabab officials who the Obama administration offered a total $33 million in rewards for information leading to their capture in 2012. It is not clear if the reward will be paid out for Hersi because he surrendered. Despite major setbacks in 2014, alShabab remains a threat in Somalia and the East African region. The group has carried out many terror attacks in Somalia and some in neighboring countries, including Kenya. This week, al-Shabab launched an attack at the African Union base in Mogadishu. The base also houses U.N. offices and western embassies. Nine people died, including three African Union soldiers. Al-Shabab said the attack was aimed at a holiday party and was in retaliation for the killing of the group’s leader Godane. Al-Shabab also claimed that 14 soldiers were killed but the group often exaggerates the number of people it murders. The terrorist group is waging an Islamic insurgency against Somalia’s government that is attempting to rebuild the country after decades of conflict.

2014 One of the Safest Years to Fly For the past 12 months, we’ve been bombarded with news of airline disasters. But despite the tragic news coming from the skies, according to the Washington Post, 2014 was actually a safe year to fly. The Aviation Safety Network, which has been tracking aviation accidents and safety incidents since 1942, found that there were only 20 fatal airliner accidents

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Underground Nazi Weapons Factory Discovered

Last week, a huge, secret, underground Nazi weapons factory, believed to have been built for the development and planned manufacture of nuclear weapons and other WMDs, was uncovered in Austria near the town of St. Georgen an der Gusen. The facility was uncovered by a team led by Austrian documentary maker Andreas Sulzer, who said it was “likely the biggest secret weapons production facility of the Third Reich.” The 75-acre industrial complex is located close to a second subterranean factory, the B8 Bergkristall facility where the Messerschmitt Me 262, the world’s first operational jet-powered fighter, was produced toward the end of World War II. Sulzer knew of the factory through the diary entries of an Austrian physicist who worked for the Nazis. Sulzer used ground-penetrating radar technology to pinpoint its location and then his team cut away layers of earth and granite slabs with which the Nazis had sealed the entrance shaft. “Declassified intelligence documents as well as testimony from witnesses helped excavators identify

tion was circumvented, and recruits included rocket scientist Wernher von Braun — the central figure in Nazi rocket development. Kammler is believed to have lived at the St. Georgen site, and was headquartered in an area captured by the U.S. Army in May 1945.

Putin Protects the Vodka Don’t get in the way between Putin and his vodka. With the economy plummeting in Russia, the Russian president has ordered his government to curb rising vodka prices. The high prices on vodka and alcohol can lead to the consumption of illegal and possibly unsafe alcohol. Russia’s currency, the ruble, has lost value recently due to falling oil prices and Western sanctions and the country’s former finance minister warned that Russia would enter recession next year. Despite the directive in controlling vodka prices, Putin is said to promote a healthy lifestyle and has asked his government to fight against the illegal trafficking of alcohol. According to a leading university study last year, 25% of Russian men die before reaching their mid-50s; alcohol was found to be a contributing factor in some of these early deaths. Since last year, the government-regulated minimum price of half a liter (17 oz.) of vodka has increased by around 30% to 220 rubles ($4.10). Inflation in Russia stands at 9.4%.

Saudi Women to be Tried as Terrorists for Driving Loujain al-Hathloul, 25, and Maysa al-Amoudi, 33, were arrested last month and tried in a court established to hear terrorism cases. However, the two Saudi women weren’t guilty of gunning down schoolchildren or planting a bomb; they were guilty of defying a ban against female drivers. According to individuals close with the defendants, the women were apparently sent to the anti-terrorism court because of opinions they allegedly expressed on different forms of social media. The four people close to the two women told The Associated Press explained that both women had spoken out online against the ban but they did not elaborate on

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the concealed entrance,” the London Times said. Work on the excavation was halted last week by local authorities who required that he get new permits for the dig, but is set to resume next month. “Previous research had found increased levels of radiation around the St Georgen site, apparently giving credibility to longstanding claims that Nazi scientists experimented with nuclear weapons in the area, which was under the exclusive command of the SS,” the newspaper reported. Rainer Karlsch, a historian working with Sulzer, said, “The SS leadership…aspired to create a combination of missiles and weapons of mass destruction. They wanted to equip the A4 [a variant of the V-2] missile, or more advanced rockets, with poison gas, radioactive material or nuclear warheads.” “The facility, like the Bergkristall factory, relied on slave labor from the nearby Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp,” the Times said. “Up to 320,000 inmates are said to have died because of the brutal conditions in the subterranean labyrinth.” “Prisoners from concentration camps across Europe were handpicked for their special skills — physicists, chemists or other experts — to work on this monstrous project,” Sulzer told the British newspaper, “and we owe it to the victims to finally open the site and reveal the truth.” In addition to uncovering the facility, Sulzer is also seeking to know what became of SS General Has Kammler who managed the project and reported to SS chief Heinrich Himmler. “Kammler was in charge of Hitler’s missile programs, including the V-2 rocket used against London in the latter stages of the war. He was known as a brilliant but ruthless commander, who had signed off the blueprints for the gas chambers and crematoria at the Auschwitz concentration camp complex in southern Poland,” the Times reported. “Rumors persist that he was captured by the Americans and given a new identity after the war.” In the post-war Operation Paperclip, some 1,500 scientists, technicians and engineers from Nazi Germany and other countries — who were believed capable of contributing to U.S. weapons programs, and whose expertise the U.S. did not want going to the Russians — were brought to America. Nazi party participants, activists and supporters were supposed to have been excluded from this program, but this restric-


in 2014, and that number includes the three high-profile plane disasters that dominated the news cycle this year: the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, the Malaysian Airlines flight shot down over Eastern Ukraine, and the recent disappearance of an AirAsian passenger jet. According to their database, which tracks “commercial flights with 14+ passengers,” this is the lowest number in the database’s history. In addition, while the number of casualties from aviation disasters was high this year (1,007 deaths so far), 699 of those deaths were from the victims of the AirAsia and Malaysian Airlines flights, which were highly unusual disasters. Putting those numbers aside, the numbers of fatalities from airline crashes has consistently been going down in recent years.



JANUARY 1, 2015


the specific charges filed. The four people spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of government reprisals. Both women were arrested on December 1; this has been the longest detention for any woman caught driving. Al-Hathloul is in a correctional facility for juveniles, and al-Amoudi is being held in a prison. Relatives say they have been allowed to see them for short supervised visits.

Both women were vocal supporters of a grassroots campaign launched last year to oppose the ban on female driving, and have a significant online following with a total 355,000 followers on Twitter for the two of them at the time of their arrest. The case was referred to the Specialized Criminal Court that was established in the capital Riyadh to try terrorism cases. In the past, the court has been known to

give extended prison sentences to several human rights workers, peaceful dissidents, activists and critics of the government. The people who disclosed this information said the women’s lawyers appealed the judge’s decision to transfer their cases. An appeals court in Dammam, the capital of Eastern Province, is likely to decide on the referral within the next few days.

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Activists are highly concerned because they feel that this case may be intended to send a warning to other individuals who would rally for more fair and equal rights to women. Human Rights Watch recently warned that “Saudi authorities are ramping up their crackdown on people who peacefully criticize the government on the Internet.” It said that judges and prosecutors are using “vague provisions of a 2007 anti-cybercrime law to charge and try Saudi citizens for peaceful tweets and social media comments.” There is no official law that bans women from driving in Saudi Arabia, however, ultraconservative Saudi clerics have issued religious edicts forbidding women from operating a vehicle and therefore authorities do not issue driver’s licenses to females. This is the only country where such a ban exists. Saudi Arabia has a long history of preventing women from getting into the driver’s seat. In 1990, 50 women were arrested for driving; they had their passports confiscated and lost their jobs. More than 20 years later, a woman was sentenced in 2011 to 10 lashes for driving, though the king reversed her sentence. Supporters of the current driving campaign delivered a petition to the royal court this month asking King Abdullah to pardon the two women.

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Kurdish writer Mahdi Majid Abdullah penned a remarkable op-ed piece that was recently published in the liberal Arab daily Elaph. He wrote, “I personally learned from the Jews that it is no exaggeration to


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Chareidi Woman among Pilot Finalists

Air Force data show that only 5 percent of cadets who embark on the tough training course are females, only 4 percent of whom become pilots. The success rate among males is over 20 percent. Since the Supreme Court forced the Air Force to open its doors to female cadets in 1996, only a handful of females have become pilots. Among last year’s graduates, only one female cadet graduated successfully as an Air Force crewmember, but there were no female pilots.

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years has seen more and more women rise in the IAF’s ranks. Even so, it is still extremely rare for a woman to become an actual pilot in the IAF. And even more unusual is that she would be chareidi, but this week, that may just be the case. Israel’s serving pilots are barred from having their names published or faces photographed, but at the ceremony marking the end of training, “Sara” can be seen marching in her long skirt alongside the other graduates of the IAF’s 169’s pilot training. “Sara” is only the second religious women to reach the final stage of the training program. The first was Tamar


say that ‘if you want to live a happy life, then be like the Jews.’” The London-based newspaper calls itself the Arab world’s only independent newspaper, with a particular accent on liberal and democratic causes. And this feature may be considerably shocking being that the relations between Israel and the Middle East remain icy and the article was written by a member of a Middle Eastern nation. Even so, the Kurds and the Jews have always had warm relations. Abdullah’s views directly challenge the prevailing climate of hostility and prejudice towards Jews across the region. “When I came to the European country where I live, I settled in the city inhabited by a large number of Jews and I got to know a Jewish family and which strengthened my relationship with other Jewish writers and journalists,” Abdullah wrote. In his article, Abdullah continued, “Jewish families teach children from a young age on the proper goals and values​​ and principles, which instill confidence and facilitate the way for him and fueled by tenderness and kindness and to make him know how to walk in the path of his life, so the Jew does not see failure in his life… Know that the United States and Europe are successful … because of the Jews who have lived there, and in the eastern countries if we go back to the history books, we find the Arab and Islamic countries were living in affluence in all respects when the Jews inhabited them.” He lauded the Jews’ respect for others and other cultures. “You do not see a Jew insult the validity of your religion and you do not hear from him a word of abuse towards any belief or religion or any nationality or any civilization; they have respect for themselves, respect for women and others.” He continued, “They do not ask you to give up your religion; in Israel you can find dozens if not hundreds of cultural centers and religious heritage centers that are government-backed and sponsored, with the knowledge that most of these centers do not coincide with thought, but no one objected to them and their religious freedom and cultural and expressions reserved for all patrons.” Abdullah’s article dramatically illustrates the limitations of the Arab campaign to demonize both the Jews and the Jewish State. Furthermore, one would assume that the author is likely to be biased against Jewish people, and surprisingly he admires them which makes the article all the more valuable and intriguing.


JANUARY 1, 2015


National Who do Americans Most Admire? For nearly seven decades, Gallup has

been asking Americans to name those who they admire most. It turns out that we haven’t really changed much in the past few year: Hillary Clinton has held the most-admired woman spot in the past 13 years and has been named that for 17 out of the last 18 years, interrupted only by First Lady Laura Bush in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. Barack Obama has taken the most-admired man spot for the last seven years, beginning the year he was elected president.

After Hillary Clinton, Americans most admire Oprah Winfrey and Malala Yousafzai. Condoleezza Rice and Michelle Obama rounded out the top five women most admired by Americans. President Obama garnered 19% of the votes for most admired man. Right below his came Pope Francis, with just 6% of the vote. Bill Clinton, Reverend Graham and George W. Bush came in next on the list. Interestingly, Bill Gates, Bill O’Reilly,

Benjamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin all received 1% of the vote, making them some of the ten most-admired men by Americans. Since 1948, when the poll first started, Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on the list 46 times. Margaret Thatcher appeared 34 times, the second most times a female appeared on the list; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis appeared 28 times. Reverend Billy Graham has made the most appearances on the list—58—and has finished in the top ten every year since 1963 (except 1976). Ronald Reagan has the second-most visits to the top-ten list— 31—followed by Jimmy Carter with 28.

Shalom to the White House Chef

The Obamas may want to stock up on some microwave dinners because their personal chief is moving on. For the last six years, Sam Kass has graced the executive mansion, cooking for Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama. He also served as senior adviser for nutrition policy, an issue that the first lady has worked on during her husband’s term. Kass recently got married is leaving the White House at the end of the month, but don’t ask him what the Obamas like or don’t like to eat. “Top secret,” he said. “I love this family and believe in everything the president and first lady are doing and this has been the greatest job of my life and I assume will be the greatest job of my life,” the 34-year-old said in an interview. “But I’m going to be with my wife. Once you’re married, you kind of need to be together.” Kass’s new bride, MSNBC host Alex Wagner, is based in New York City. Kass and Obama are from the same state; Kass grew up in Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood and he is Jewish. His relationship with the Obamas started when they hired him to cook healthier meals for the family in Chicago before the 2008 elections. At the time, Michelle Obama was a vice president at the University of Chicago Medical Center and Obama was a U.S. senator spending most of his time in Washington. The professional relationship also spilled over into their personal lives.


That’s Odd A Big, Fat Pile of…Paper Apparently, not much goes on in Minnesota. The Gopher State now may be the location of the world’s largest ball of paper. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the famed ball measured 9 feet 7 inches tall and 32.2 feet in cir-

This was the first time a symbol earned the world’s top ranking. Last year, though, the top word was also not really a word. “404”—the error message one receives when a webpage can’t upload—was last year’s most used word. Seems like the world was overrun by computer glitches in 2013. Other top words for 2014 included: blood moon, nano, photobomb, caliphate, privilege, transparency and sustainable.

Teacher Gives All to Students

Just last week, the state received confirmation from Guinness World Records that it holds the title for world’s largest ball of paper. It wasn’t too hard to beat: there wasn’t a previous record. But to give credit where credit is due—no adhesives or tape was used to keep the papers together. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “We’re gonna paper this town.”

2014 Hearts Words When is a word not really a word? It turns out that this year’s most popular word was, well, not really a word. According to the Global Language Monitor, the heart emoji was the most commonly used word in the English language this year. (For those not in the know, an emoji is a “small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.”) It was used billions of times a day across the globe—apparently, hearts are understood in every language. “Hashtag” came in as the second most used word globally; “vape” came in third.

Teachers are always giving to their students. A third grade teacher in Boston, though, gave it all to her students when she donated the $150,000 she won in an online contest to her school. Nicole “Nikki” Bollerman, 26, was honored this week by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh after she donated her grand prize of $150,000 from a Capital One #WishForOthers contest that also funded three books per student. “I really made the wish for my students and I was blessed, lucky and thankful that Capital One gave me the opportunity,” Bollerman told the media. “Since I made the wish for my students, I thought I would do something to make their lives better rather than spend it on myself.” The winning entry from Bollerman read: “My #wishforothers is that my voracious, adorable, hardworking, loving scholars all leave for their December



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It’s officially over after 13 long years. The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan came a formal end on Sunday with a low-key flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul. The country will now be protected and left to its own security forces. In front of an exclusive audience at the headquarters of the NATO mission, the green-and-white flag of the International Security Assistance Force was ceremonially rolled up and covered, and the flag of the new international mission called Resolute Support was hoisted. ISAF was set up as an umbrella for the coalition of around 50 nations that provided troops and took responsibility for security across the country. In total, 2,224 American soldiers were killed in the War in Afghanistan, according to an Associated Press count. U.S. Gen. John Campbell, commander of ISAF, commemorated the 3,500 international soldiers killed during the war with Afghanistan and praised the country’s army for giving him confidence that they are able to take on the fight alone. “Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of an enduring partnership” between NATO and Afghanistan,” Campbell told an audience of Afghan and international military officers and officials, as

cumference. The 426-pound wad was displayed at the Minnesota State Fair to show how much recyclable paper residents in the state throw away every 30 seconds. But if you’re looking to journey to Minnesota to gape at the world’s largest pile of paper—you just may be out of luck. The agency has given the papers a new life: it turned it into cardboard for cereal boxes.





JANUARY 1, 2015

The End of the War in Afghanistan

well as diplomats and journalists. “The road before us remains challenging, but we will triumph,” he added. As of January 1, the new mission will provide training and support for Afghanistan’s military, with the U.S. accounting for almost 11,000 of the 13,500 members of the residual force. Upon taking office in September, President Ashraf Ghani signed a bilateral security agreements with Washington and NATO approving the ongoing military presence. The move has led to a spike in violence, with the Taliban using it as an excuse to step up operations aimed at destabilizing Ghani’s government. Despite the formal end to U.S. involvement, Obama recently expanded the role of U.S. forces remaining in the country, allowing them to extend their counter-terrorism operations to the Taliban, as well as al Qaeda, and to provide ground and air support for Afghan forces when necessary for at least the next two years. National security adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar told the gathered ISAF leaders at the ceremony that international military presence is still crucial. He said, “We need your help to build the systems necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the critical capabilities of our forces.” As for Afghans themselves, most acknowledge that the current plan is to their benefit. “At least in the past 13 years we have seen improvements in our way of life — freedom of speech, democracy, the people generally better off financially,” said 42-year-old shopkeeper Gul Mohammad. But the soldiers are still needed “at least until our own forces are strong enough, while our economy strengthens, while our leaders try to form a government,” he added. This war has been expensive—both monetarily and in lives lost. The U.N. expects the death toll to hit 10,000 before the end of the year, which would make it the deadliest year of the war. Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by Taliban attacks. Economists believe that over $1 trillion dollars has been spent on this war and another $100 million was spent on reconstruction in Afghanistan.


Kass has traveled with the president on weekend golf outings and Obama attended Kass’s late-August wedding. Obama said Kass “has grown from a close friend to a critical member of my team” and has left “an indelible mark on the White House.” Mrs. Obama praised Kass’s “extraordinary legacy of progress,” which she said includes healthier food options in groceries, more nutritious school lunches and initiatives to improve how food is marketed to kids. Despite hanging up his apron at the White House, Kass plans to stay involved with “Let’s Move,” Mrs. Obama’s anti-childhood obesity initiative, along with broader efforts to improve childhood nutrition. The chef said his big plan after leaving the White House is to get some sleep, and “I guess I’ll also be the chef for my wife.” The White House chef’s salary is $125,000 annually.


JANUARY 1, 2015


break with a book in their hand.” And now, her wish has come true. She also has been working with the school’s administration to make sure the gift will “improve the lives of the students,” including better computer access and coding lessons for the children, though the school has not made any commitments yet. Which three books did Bollerman choose for the students to receive from Capital One? 1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, the latest book in the popular children’s series. “Those kids just eat up those Wimpy Kid books,” Bollerman said. 2. My Father’s Dragon, a 1948 novel by Ruth Stiles Gannett, “one of my favorite chapter books growing up,” Bollerman said. 3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, who grew up in Bollerman’s town. “I wanted the kids to have a picture book to share with their younger brothers and sisters,” she said. What a wonderful teacher! Besides for giving her students the gift of reading, she’s also teaching them the value of giving.

Luxury in the Air

If you love flying, your name may just be Gino Bertuccio. The Miami-based businessman was the first passenger to fly the skies in the most luxurious way. On Saturday, Bertuccio was the first passenger to fly in what has been dubbed “the world’s most expensive and exclusive” airline seat— the Residence, a “penthouse in the sky” on Etihad Airways that costs $21,000. His flight marked the inaugural flight of the first of ten Airbus A380s that feature The Residence — a three-room suite complete with bedroom, bathroom, and its own dedicated butler trained at the Savoy Butler Academy in London.  “There were many firsts on this inaugural flight – new amenities, services and other innovations to try,” Bertuccio, who runs Ligi Import Corp, an Italian cosmetic retailer, said. His trip between Abu Dhabi and London took seven hours. “My only wish was that the flight was longer,” Bertuccio quipped. Bertuccio is no stranger to high-class flights. He has travelled on 22 inaugural

and final flights in premium class cabins in the last 25 years. He is an avid collector of airline memorabilia with nearly 2000 model planes, as well as albums filled with boarding passes, certificates and photos from past flights.

160 Eggs in Celebration

Nothing says celebration more than chowing down on eggs. A Chinese competitive eater decided to bring in the holiday season by downing 160 eggs in one sitting. Amazingly, Pan Yizhong was still able to talk after inhaling the 150 quail eggs and 10 chicken eggs in less than 40 minutes and even said that he was in good health after the egg-citing meal. The 46-year-old wore a red and white holiday hat at the event that was meant to promote a restaurant in central China’s Hunan province. In Chinese, the word for the December holidays—Shengdanjie— contains a character that’s a homophone for “egg,” and that was why Pan chose to consume the many eggs. Thankfully, quail eggs are smaller than chicken eggs and Pan was able to even cram two eggs into his mouth at once. After 160 eggs, though, he got tired of the simple fare. “At the time I got to 160, I was becoming tired of the flavor so I stopped. It wasn’t because I was full,” he told AFP. Pan is the most celebrated person in China in the art of competitive eating. He has previously downed 147 dumplings in one sitting and slurped down 40 bowls of noodles in just 15 minutes. He may even go back to egg-eating at another time. “I never tried eating so many eggs before, and I feel I still haven’t reached my limit,” he admitted. Sounds like an egg-cellent idea.

Finding a seat is truly like finding a hidden treasure—especially if you’re stuck between two men who think that the subway car is their castle. Well, it seems like New Yorkers are fed up with men taking up more than one seat. The term “manspreading,” when men on trains and buses spread their legs making it virtually impossible for others to sit near them, is certainly familiar to those who take the local to Times Square. The issue has become so widespread (no pun intended) that even the New York Times wrote about it on the front page of the Sunday Times.

And now the MTA has unveiled a new campaign to force its riders to obey common courtesy. “Dude…Stop the spread, please. It’s a space issue” is one of the friendly reminders to be plastered across subway cars starting in January. “Don’t be a pole hog” reminds riders to share the metal pole with others who need to hold on for dear life as the train makes its sudden twists and turns and starts and stops along the route. Paul Fleuranges, the MTA’s senior director for communications, related that while he didn’t want the message to be too snarky, he had to speak directly to the offending passengers.  “I had them add the dude part, because I think, ‘Dude, really?’” he said. For those of you who are really fed up, how about: Dude, where’s your car?

15,000 Cookies of Appreciation

Dude, Stop the Spread For those of us who ride the subway, taking the train during rush hour is no fun.

When Brenda Villatoro wanted to

thank the troops this season, she did what she does best: she baked them cookies and then shipped them overseas. The Las Vegas pastry chef and her students at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts baked 15,000 cookies for the soldiers as a sweet gesture of appreciation to those who serve in the military. “I come from a patriotic family. We always had a flag out front of our little house back in Queens,” says Villatoro. Her older brother, Stevie, was drafted to Vietnam, along with many of her friends. “When soldiers returned from that war, they didn’t receive a warm welcome, and it just broke my heart,” she says. She wants to make sure that today’s troops know how much they are appreciated. And the bakers know just how much goes into being in the service. In fact, many of Villatoro’s students at Le Cordon Bleu are veterans. About 100 of 500 students enrolled at the college have served, estimates Sharon Fredericks, Careers Services Advisor and Veterans Club Advisor at Le Cordon Bleu. Villatoro and her students began baking cookies to thank the troops in 2006, producing 3,000 cookies for donation that holiday season. Since then, they have challenged themselves to bake more. One year they hit the 7,000 mark and the next year the students pushed to break 10,000. Last year they made 13,800 cookies, and this year they reached 15,000.   The thousands of cookies range in taste and style. There are simple chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, and decorated sugar cookies and gingerbread men. Every cookie is decorated by hand. The cookies arrive with a handwritten note and uplifting jokes. Chef Brenda also includes photographs of the cookies being made. “So the troops can see the love this country has for them,” she says. Of course, churning out 15,000 cookies doesn’t happen overnight. Villatoro and her eight students start baking at the beginning of November. “We make the cookies then shingle them on sheet pans then I wrap them and put them in the freezer,” she says. “I teach from 10 in the morning to 6 at night. After 6 p.m. is when I make the cookies but sometimes students come in earlier and do the scaling and the mixing. I’ll take whatever help I can get.” Volunteers from local Nellis Air Force Base then put the cookies on pallets and ship them overseas. This year, the Nellis volunteers picked up 92 boxes and ship them to troops in Afghanistan, Djbouti, Jordan, and Iraq. What goes around comes around. Some of the students were themselves recipients of these care packages during their tour of duty, and now they come together to support the project. William Stine, a U.S. Navy Seal, helps Chef Brenda every year.






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