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THE JEWISH HOME NOVEMBER 28, 2013 2


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THE JEWISH HOME NOVEMBER 28, 2013


THE JEWISH HOME NOVEMBER 28, 2013 4


COMMUNITY Community Happenings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Wild, Wild West: A history of the Jewish Iranian Migration to Los Angeles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 What’s New in LA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Heard on the Street. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

7 Questions with Baruch C. Cohen, Esq. Trial attorney and founder of the blog, American Trial Attorneys in Defense of Israel. . . . . . 57

CHANUKAH

Our Most Misspelled Festival . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Great Chanukah Gift Ideas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Recipe: Olive Oil Dark Chocolate Mousse . . . . . . . 39

JEWISH THOUGHT

Versace and Joseph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 A Jewish Thanksgiving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 The Spark of Redemption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Lessons Unforgotten . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

PARSHA

Dream Weaver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Finding the Hidden Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

HUMOR & ENTERTAINMENT

Centerfold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Quotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Moon Cap: A Novel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

NEWS

Global News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 National News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 That’s Odd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Old News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

ISRAEL

Israel News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

It seems that this is a recurring theme in every generation. We Jews get comfortable. A tyrant rises with vicious Jew-hatred. We think the world won’t tolerate it this time around. And then we’re disappointed, as once again the Jew is cast on his own to defend himself while the rest of the world thinks that it will end there. Some people write off the hate, saying “It’s only words, and they don’t even believe it themselves.” But we’re too old – and unfortunately too savvy – a nation to simply write it off as such. We must take them seriously when they say, “Israel does not have a right to exist.” We must worry when they pay salaries for murderers who are sitting in Israeli prisons (the longer the sentence, the higher the pay). And we must fear when they spend their time brainstorming on how to disrupt Jewish life wherever it may be. Small, childish acts of hate can turn into monstrous war machines. The same countries that watched from the sidelines as millions of human beings were systematically murdered now don’t even have the decency to say, “This type of rhetoric will not be tolerated.” They can’t speak out and say “Delegitimizing a Jew or his country doesn’t have a place anymore.” It’s as if this were some type of game in which the worst-case scenario elicits only an apology: “Sorry, we made a mistake.” (For an example of what I mean, check out the NY Times’ Margaret Sullivan’s lukewarm apology for her disgraceful choice of photo which accompanied the story of a young Israeli soldier murdered while sleeping on the bus.) It hurts. It hurts to feel that we are alone. Different. Unwanted and treated differently than all other nations. (Just a few weeks ago, the UN adopted another 9 resolutions condemning Israel, which brings the total number of condemnations against Israel for this year to 22 vs. 4 for the rest of the world combined! Countries such as England and France did not even have the decency to at least abstain from voting for these resolutions. Shame on them.) But this is also our strength. We are different. We have different holidays. Different foods. Even different dress. Our continuity is not dependent on the whims of the nations of the world, and while we strive for good relations with all peoples, we should not become despondent when we are rejected. Our right to live as free Jews and to practice our religion does not stem from any given country’s laws. Nor is our existence validated through human beings. We are an eternal people whose mission is to spread morality, light, and Godliness throughout the four corners of the world. As we sit once again by our brightly lit Menorahs, remembering the timeless stories these lights share with us, we are reminded of our ancestors in previous generations who faced different threats from different nations. Let’s recall the strength exhibited by the Jews in the original Chanukah, which enabled them to stand up and defend their way of life -- and indeed life itself. We just hope that this time, redemption is not followed by another exile and is complete in its totality. As the Yalkut Shimoni quoted in last issue continues: “and unlike the first redemption, the last will not be followed by pain or subjugation to another nation. Our masters have taught; at the time of the revelation of Mashiach, he will stand atop the Beit Hamikdash and he will tell the Jews: ‘Humble ones, the time of your redemption has arrived.’” Let’s be thankful for the miracles of old and in our times; just this Tuesday, Israeli soldiers thwarted what’s being described as a potentially massive terrorist attack which was planned for Chanukah. As a parent is always there for their child, so too will Hashem be with us as we go through the final days of this exile. Have a most wonderful Shabbos Chanukah!

LIFESTYLES Restaurant Review Two Dishes at La Gandola . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Shalom

Shalom Rubashkin

PUBLISHER & EDITOR

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NOVEMBER 28, 2013

PEOPLE

Dear Readers,

THE JEWISH HOME

CONTENTS

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THE JEWISH HOME

NOVEMBER 28, 2013

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I am overly excited about the Thanksgiving-Channukah combo this year. I even bought a Turkey Menorah. Don’t tell anyone. I did hold back on Channukah/ Thanksgiving lawn ornaments. This week brings on the turkey, family, events, menorahs, gifts and whirlwind of holiday bliss before we have to get back to business, working out, and finding ways to balance the business of life. Beverly Hills Kosher (formerly Doheny Kosher) has reopened, remodeled, redecorated, kept the ultra-talented butchers and added a new manager, Berel Cohen, as well as additional customer service people. Fun fact: Berel is my husband’s identical twin! BHK is the place to get ribs, lamb, and any random cut of meat your recipe calls for. They have giant gourmet turkeys, stuffing, pie ingredients and many ready made items soup, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes to rock your Thanksgiving. Keeping up with Thankgivingkah, there’s free latkes with your turkey order. They are located at 9213 W. Pico Blvd in Los Angeles. Their Phone number is 310-276-7232. Wanna go somewhere snowy and fun for Thanksgiving or winter break? Lake Tahoe offers skiing, sledding, beautiful hotels and recently, thanks to the Richler family, Kosher food! Rabbi Mordy and Shaina Richler just moved to Lake Tahoe to open up a Chabad House and create a “Jewish hub for Kosher vaca-

tioners”. They also offer teen programs, Shabbos meals every week, and davening services. If you go to their website, www. jewishtahoe.com you’ll find Kosher takeout from hearty homemade soups to delectable desserts like pumpkin chocolate chip cake that they will deliver to your Lake Tahoe location for just $15. They also offer full Shabbos catering and are available for group Shabbatons. See you there! Call 530-314-7677. Speaking of delightful, cold fun the much-anticipated Holy Cow Kosher Creamery at 8946 W. Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles has opened its doors! I brought my gang there the day they opened and we all loved it. To call it an ice cream store is not enough. Holy Cow offers ice cream, creative toppings including crushed candy cane and peanut butter sauce, gourmet sandwiches, homemade cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and comfort foods such as mac n’ cheese. It has a fun, kitchy feel with vinyl cow print seating and light pink walls and everything we had was delish. I recommend the tuna melt and a banana split. For hours call 310-777-0168. After you’ve dinned on Turkey and ice cream (but not together!) there are a couple new fitness gurus to make sure you rebound after the holidays. Daniela Braun just moved to Valley Village from NYC where she was voted one of the top 20 yoga instructors by www.rateyourburn. com. She offers yoga classes for women in the Briarcrest Condominium’s rec

room on Burbank and Coldwater for just $10 a pop on Wednesday nights at 7 pm. Daniela is also available for private instruction and help you get your om on. For more details call (917) 647-8926 or email yogagirl1@hotmail.com. Kayla Goldwag is a highly educated and intuitive personal trainer and group fitness instructor.  Kayla was shocked into action, years ago, after her doctor explained that her cholesterol was relatively high and body fat was 33% although she wasn’t very over weight-she was technically “skinny fat.”  Instead of crying into a bowl of cheese curls Kayla got straight to the gym, educated herself and now assists others to make the same healthy lifestyle choices.  She tailors a program to her client’s lifestyle and abilities and strives to make exercise enjoyable.  She also runs a walking and toning group, teaches cardio kickboxing and TRX suspension training. Check out GetFitWithKayla.com or call her at 310-926-7972. If exercise isn’t enough to get yourself out of a funk, consider psychotherapist Lindsey Rosenthal. Lindsey specializes in helping women with anxiety, men with depression and couples in turmoil. She is also excellent at helping twenty-somethings figure out their personal and professional lives and find ways to feel better, live happier, and make choices that will bring them to self actualization. Her office is near Wilshire and Crescent Heights, her hours are flexible and can work around

your schedule. Fees are a sliding scale depending on income. Her website is www. Mind-Bliss.com and you can reach her at 310-461-8298. Zohar Levy sells wigs as well as votive candles and scarves at www.myvotives.com, or you can call her for an appointment at (310) 593-1394. As a wig expert, Mrs. Levy was frustrated with the amount of time it took to dry hair and the damage that dryers can cause. So, she commissioned a manufacturer in Italy to create the ultimate blow dryer that dries hair faster and uses ionic technology to leave hair silky and smooth. As a science lover I did a little research on “ionic dryers”, and the gist of it is that the ions in the dryer bond with the ions in water on the hair to break the water droplets down quicker which leads to less frizz and more shine. To find out which salons carry this new Sarrela Dryer, go to www.sarrela. com. Every business- from insurance brokers to law offices, from Fortune 500 companies to small, low budget, start ups, needs to have a plan for sales, marketing and customer service. Chaim Abenaim is trained in the very popular cloud based application and customer relations management system, Salesforce.com. Chaim is brainy, calm, and super patient and will personally structure systems to help your business function better and thus, make more money. His website is www.cloudmybiz.com.

impact so many people.” After only one week, large black and white bags covered the floor of the YULA foyer, and a large sign, standing on a tripod, declared the project’s intentions. Uriel Mandoza said in an email to the student body, “I understand the reality of living in a third-world country, and you are graceful for what little you have given. I sincerely thank you for the kind gesture.” YULA Chessed intends to partner with the International Armoring Corporation, which will transport and distribute the collected clothing. Senior Yossi Etshalom said, “It’s one of the most inspiring programs YULA has ever run. The fact that we’re giving of our own to people who need – who really need – gives me perspective on who Jews are and how they interact with the rest of the

world.” YULA is known throughout the community for its various Chessed opportunities and projects. Benji Kurnick, elected last year to his post in Student Council, has worked tirelessly to advance YULA’s role in Chessed. Chessed Days, initiated this year, allow specific grades to spend the morning participating in opportunities such as spending time with Yachad at the park. YULA students have also taken leadership roles in groups such as Etta Israel, Chai Lifeline, and many others. General Studies Principal Dr. Paul Soifer said, “Students participating in Chessed projects is an integral part of the YULA experience.”

YULA Gives a Helping Hand On November 8, 2013, a deadly typhoon struck the Philippines, killing over 2,000, displacing over 600,000, and affecting over 11 million people. Men, women, and children were left without basic necessities

such as food and shelter; they now survive with only the clothes on their backs. Within a few days of the typhoon, the YULA Chessed Committee had organized a school-wide charity project to help those in need in the Philippines: Students and teachers were asked to bring in old clothing to send to the Philippines. “The clothing drive was a huge success! The amount of clothing that we were able to collect completely surpassed my initial expectations by a long shot,” said the head of YULA Chessed, senior Benji Kurnick. “The outpouring of support, which the student body and YULA Staff expressed, clearly displayed an eagerness to help others. After speaking with Uriel Mendoza, YULA Engineer and Philippine native, it really made me think about how our efforts can


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one anonymous donor. Joining L.A.’s first group of seven Generations schools, as well as cohorts in New York, Baltimore, and Boston, PEJE has selected Los Angeles to participate in a second Generations program. Generations LA provides schools with: professional fundraising coaching, marketing support, training and financial incentive grants to support the schools in building endowment and legacy giving initiatives. Schools that are actively building endowment funds are eligible for a 1:4 match on new dollars raised thanks to the generosity of the Lainer Families and individual

donors through the Simha and Sara Lainer Day School Endowment Fund. Through Generations LA, participating schools will be supported in generating endowment gifts and pledges of $4,000 per enrolled student in a combination of current and planned gifts such as bequests and trusts. According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the top quartile of independent non-boarding schools nationwide (including secular and religiously affiliated institutions) had an endowment of $25,630 per student in 2011-2012 and the top 50% had an endowment of $11,112 per student.

This new group of Generations LA schools follows the success of the current Generations LA seven schools, which have raised a combined total of just under $6 million in cash and planned endowment gifts in the first two years of the threeyear program. BJE is now supporting 17 schools to take active steps towards ensuring a sustainable future through endowment development; participating schools, including the five high schools in the Jim Joseph High School Affordability Initiative, have raised a collective total of over $16.7 million in cash and planned endowment gifts.

Los Angeles Fire Department Prepares Los Angeles for Emergencies Alicia Welch, Battalion Chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department, wants you to be prepared for any kind of emergency. And she’s here to tell you how. Sitting around the table in a conference room at the Jewish Federation building on Wilshire Boulevard are representatives from shuls, schools, and various other organizations, as well as community members. They’re all here to listen to Welch give a course on disaster awareness. It’s a free course, open to everyone. The idea is a simple one: get the message of awareness, along with a few practical ideas for emergency preparedness, out into the community. “Preparedness, whether in your work or home, is going to help you. Not just for those 8.2 earthquakes, but for all the weird situations that happen when you live in LA,” says Welch. The example she gives involves a standoff with the police. Suppose someone in the house next door barricades themselves in, and the police come to your door to evacuate you for your safety. After the relief of escaping a potentially dangerous situation – what next? It’s the middle of the night, you’re in your car in your pajamas. What do you have with you? Where are you going to go now? Welch recommends that every person and family do three things: 1. Make a plan. 2. Get a kit. 3. Be informed. Emergency plan templates are available online from ready.gov and elsewhere. They include information about where each family member is, how they can be reached, and where and how everyone expects to reunite. Having a plan for getting in touch when power or cell networks go down is also important, which is why having an outof-state contact who everyone can call to check in with is recommended. It’s also better to have more than one designated

meeting place, preferably both inside and outside of your neighborhood. Have pets? Make sure they’re included in your plan. Elderly or disabled family members might require extra planning. “Everyone has unique needs based on where you are in life,” says Welch. Kits are just as important as planning. In almost any kind of emergency, it’s unlikely that you would have the time or focus to pack. Having a ready bag, in your home and car, goes a long way toward preparedness. In the example of the barricaded neighbor, having a bag already in the car with supplies and some cash would certainly make that night a smoother one. A basic kit includes food, water, a flashlight, emergency blankets, hygiene essentials, and a first aid kit. Maps and phone numbers on actual paper – rather than stored in a phone which may or may not be working – are also recommended. (Cell phone networks can be overwhelmed, and if the power is out you can’t charge any electronic device anyway.) You can buy these kinds of basic kits ready-made. A simple online search will turn up many choices, but you can also visit SOS Survival Products at 15705 Strathern St. in Van Nuys. You can get a basic kit for around $30. Make sure you include some cash in small bills. A kit that small is a good start, but it really is just that – a start. The current recommendation is to be prepared for three days…and that recommendation is outdated. As Captain Stacy Gerlich explains, “The three day message needs to change. It really is not realistic anymore.” Instead, Gerlich and Welch recommend that every family and individual be prepared for two weeks at least. “You can never be too prepared,” notes Gerlich. What about the people who are supposed to help in emergencies? Wouldn’t our first responders be able to help us sooner than two weeks? Well, it’s

not so simple. In a major emergency, our first responders will be at the hospitals, arenas, and schools, the most populous places where they can help the most. Which means it might take them a while to get to your block. On top of which, those first responders have families too. “Katrina was a big lesson,” says Welch, who has developed programs which better prepare first responders and their families. Knowing they have a plan in place and that their own families will be taken care of in their absence makes them much more able to show up at work after a disaster and stay for the days or weeks at a time that may be necessary. All of which really just emphasizes the point that every individual and family needs to have a plan in place. OK, you’ve got it. Make a plan, get a kit. But what about being informed? It turns out there are all kinds of resources devoted to helping you with that. You can visit dozens of websites, including lafd.org/blog, readyla.org, and ready. gov. You can follow the Fire Department on Twitter @LAFDPrepared. But the best thing you can do is sign up at alert.lacounty.gov for the Emergency Notification System. The Los Angeles County ENS is a free notification system that will send you alerts in the event of an emergency to tell you what is going

on and what you should be doing. It’s a quick and simple registration process, and it only notifies you if the emergency in your immediate area – you won’t be getting alerts every time something happens in LA. If you’ve made it through an emergency, there are also sites designed to put you back in touch with family or just let them know you’re OK, such as American Red Cross’ safeandwell.communityos.org, and wearesafeandsound.com. Facebook is also an excellent way to communicate to family members if phones are not an option. “We hope you will take this information you have been given and make a plan,” Welch concludes. And she really wants to get you any further information you might need. The LAFD runs a variety of preparedness programs, from the 17-hour CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) training to this one-hour course. They have 30 people who do this particular training, and they are happy to come out to other community gatherings to provide it. If you would like more information or to plan a training, you can contact Alicia Welch at alicia.welch@lacity.org or (213) 841-4607.

NOVEMBER 28, 2013

Five day schools in greater Los Angeles: Beth Hillel Day School, Kadima Day School, Temple Israel of Hollywood, Weizmann Day School and Yavneh Hebrew Academy can look forward to a stronger financial position and providing access to a more affordable day school education in years to come, thanks to a collaborative effort between BJE: Builders of Jewish Education (BJE), the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE), the AVI CHAI Foundation and five local donors: Wendy and Richard Kellner, Sheila and Aaron Leibovic, Janine and Peter Lowy, Anna and William Tenenblatt, and

THE JEWISH HOME

Avi Chai Foundation Grant to BJE Benefits Second Cohort of L.A. Jewish Day Schools


THE JEWISH HOME

NOVEMBER 28, 2013

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A Look Back: Runners of all Ages Run for Hasc at Kaiser Permanente Rock n’ Roll Pasadena Half-Marathon by Dr. Ronald A. Nagel, MD

Why would a 57-year old man want to run a half-marathon for the first time in his life? Now that’s a very good question especially being an “alta kaker”, when I am at risk for shin splints, ankle sprains and hip pain, as running 13.1 miles is a monumental challenge. But as a casual runner since college, completing a half-marathon has always been on my “Bucket List” and I wanted to check that off before my 60th birthday. So when my son, Jeremy, asked if I’d like to run the Kaiser Permanente Rock n’ Roll Pasadena Half-Marathon with him to raise money for Camp HASC, I put aside my insecurity, strapped on my training sneakers and the adventure began. Oh by the way for extra motivation, I recruited my wife, Cheryl, to join us as well. Camp HASC is a Jewish summer camp in Upstate New York for children and adults with special needs. It has a very special place in our hearts because two of my sons worked there, as well as a few of my nieces, and we have heard numerous stories from them about their amazing and life-changing summers. Being a pediatrician in Los Angeles, I have several patients with developmental disabilities who attend Camp HASC and so I was excited and proud to be a part of Team HASC, running for such an important organization. We formed the Goldstein-Nagel Squad, which consisted of me, Cheryl and my son Jeremy, along with my niece Danielle Goldstein (who worked at HASC for 7 summers) and my sister-in-law Su-

san Goldstein from New Rochelle, NY. To make the run even more meaningful for us, we decided to run in honor of Jeremy’s camper and my patient, Roni whom our family has known since birth, living just a few blocks away from us in Los Angeles. Our squad personally raised close to $25,000 for Camp HASC, and together with the rest of the other 130 Team HASC runners, we raised over $350,000 for the organization. Since this was the first half-marathon for Cheryl and I, we knew we needed a lot of training. We had four months to build up to 13.1 miles, so every week on Thursday mornings we ran along the beach bike path between the Venice pier and the Santa Monica pier. I bought a TimeX GPS watch to maintain a steady pace and monitor our distance. We started our training at 5 miles and every 2 weeks increased our runs by half a mile, until we built up to 12 miles. I could not believe how quickly our stamina improved and soon enough we were running for over 2 hours at a time without stopping. In addition to a long-run once a week, we ran a couple short runs on the treadmill (3 to 4 miles) and cross-trained with swimming. Baruch Hashem the training went smoothly, albeit with the typical soreness and aching, but we stayed committed to our training and stuck through it. The excitement was building up and we told all our friends and family about our half-marathon training and asked them to support our fundraising goal for Team HASC. Meanwhile, across the country in New York, the rest of the Goldstein-Nagel squad was training and we would share our accomplishments and often commiserate over our soreness. Team HASC had over 130 runners fly from New York to California for the race, and we joined them on Motzei Shabbos at the Westin Hotel in Pasadena. How exhilarating it was to walk into a room full of so many energetic and spirited counselors and campers, singing and chanting with excitement for the next day’s race. We heard speeches from Avi Sacks, director of Camp HASC, and from his wife, Nurse Alyssa who spoke passionately about their son, who has been a camper as HASC for many summers and how the camp has literally changed their child’s life. Because of the patience and encouragement of the counselors, their son took his first steps with no assistance in the pool and uttered his first words at camp HASC. An awesome pep talk was given by coach Michal Aryeh, a six time marathon runner herself, and the

whole room was pumped up to complete the run the next day. I still remember her saying “training is 90% physical and 10 % mental, but the marathon itself is 90% mental and 10% physical.” A counselor by the name of Shoshana came up to me after the rally and asked me to examine her camper Eli as he was having a fever and did not look well. I entered the room and observed 4 young women tending to care for this 9 year old boy. Shoshana was holding him on her lap and it was her warmth and calming demeanor that allowed me to examine Eli without much fear. I really felt that he looked at Shoshana like a second mother. Fortunately, Eli was better the next day and completed the marathon. Unless you’ve seen it with your own eyes, it’s hard to imagine a camp with 350 children and adults with special needs, where the atmosphere is filled with happiness, laughter and love. HASC is truly a place of magic, where miracles happen and subsequently lives are changed. The campers may have developmental disabilities, however, when they walk through the gates of this camp, they are simply boys and girls who want to have a great time. Although many of the campers are physically impaired, they play baseball, go to concerts, ride (adaptive) bicycles, swim in pools and have the best summers of their lives. The next morning, we gathered as a team at the starting line of the race, all decked out in our gold and purple HASC jerseys, head sweat bands, marathon bibs displaying our race number and the chrono track timing tag on our fancy running shoes. Making the trip from the east coast were 10 HASC campers who also participated in the race, being pushed in jogger strollers by their counselors. TEAM HASC was among 5,000 other runners, and although we were only a small group, everyone could hear us singing the Camp HASC song. The announcer, impressed by our spirit and excitement, asked us “Who are you?” After we explained about camp HASC and what we were running for, she was immediately moved and applauded our efforts. After the countdown and the gun shot, we were off, and although there was an uphill climb within the first mile, we were all so energized that we made it up without much difficulty. Being that it was a Rock n’ Roll marathon, there were bands playing music along the route. We ran past many beautiful homes, where spectators from the neighborhood and USC cheerleading squads cheered us on. The course took us by the Norton Simeon Museum and Cal Tech University when we immediately felt a raise in our IQ’s by 50 points. It was so tranquil running along the main street in Pasadena, Colorado Blvd, against the backdrop of the bare but beautiful San Gabriel mountain range. Throughout the run,

each time we would pass our fellow Team HASC runners and HASC counselors wheeling their campers, we would cheer “GO TEAM HASC” ! Approaching the finish line brought waves of wonderful emotions. About a ¼ of a mile before the finish line, Jeremy arranged to pick up his camper Roni in his stroller and we all crossed the finish line together. Roni was so excited to be part of the race and was grinning from ear to ear, as his family cheered him on as he crossed the finish line. All of our family; our parents, children and grandchildren were waiting for us to cross the finish line. It was a spectacular feeling to have our entire family witness this momentous occasion that we had worked so hard and long for. In the end, our squad crossed the finish line together, finishing all 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 37 minutes and 5 seconds - and accomplished this without oxygen. We were congratulated with medals which were placed around our necks, and delicious Jamba Juice smoothies to quench our thirst. What I found so inspiring about the marathon was the team effort. Instead of running just as individuals, we ran as part of a team and for a greater cause, raising awareness for children with special needs. Imagine seeing 3 college girls pushing their camper in a stroller for 13.1 miles, and the entire time dancing and cheering all along the way. The most spectacular moment was when a HASC camper named Yaakov was taken out of his stroller and walked with his crutches and prosthetic leg the last 100 feet of the marathon and crossed the finish line with the biggest smile on his face. The spectators on the sideline went crazy and cheered him on with his counselors singing and dancing. Yaakov also raised the most money for an individual runner, over $11,000 for HASC. Lastly, two sisters who were both 6 months pregnant also completed the half marathon. Walking it in 4 hours despite being pressured to jump aboard the “sag wagon”, a shuttle bus that picks up the slow walkers, they too crossed the finish line. Yes, I achieved my dream of running a half-marathon, but have I concluded this journey? Cheryl and I think of possibly doing another half-marathon in the near future, but we’d want to do again with HASC, as it gives the run so much more meaning and inspiration. Who knows, maybe you will see us again at the next Pasadena half-marathon with HASC, and we invite you to join us too! Team HASC, you ROCK! Thank you for the amazing experience! For more information about camp HASC please visit www.hasc.net/camp


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grate the framented mind with the body, then Yoga postural practice is a modern tool which can help us to be more mindful, less stressed, and healthy in our life and our religious life. This is a very helpful tool for Jews since Jewish observance

offer a Jew a deeper self awareness of that spark of Divine within each person, a deep and meaningful relationship with God for a Jew is intimately bound up with Mitzvot observance. It is this confusion that Jews can connect to G-d equally through Yoga

involves many rewarding sacrifices that if not rebalanced with self actualization and self awareness, can lead to a life of either stress, a kind of emotional numbing, or G-d forbid a disconnection with G-d. In learning how to practice Yoga as a Jew, I strongly promote that Jews will benefit greatly from talking to or learning from a educated observant Jew who teaches yoga without creating a confusion about what is yoga and what is Judaism. It is this confusion which I believe is founded on the idea that Judaism and Yoga have the same goal and that Torah is really a means to Enlightenment vs. a adherence to the fulfillment of the Commandments from Sinai. While Yoga practioners may state “the purpose of yoga is to unite ourselves with our highest nature (The Meaning and Purpose of Yoga, Bhole Prabhu ) “, Torah Judaism may believe that the goal of Judaism is to bring the transcendent nature of God down into the world through the commandments or that “ it is only through mitzvah observance that man (a Jew) can build a deep, enduring, and meaningful relationship with God. (Torah.org, Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene)” Therefore, although Yoga can

spiritual practices which may cause, for example, synagogues to offer a Yoga practice, call it Tefillah (Jewish prayer), and then emphasize that what G-d wants from us is our mindfulness over the obligation of fulfilling a time bound commandment. It is this confusion that may cause some Jews to say that if Jews are practicing Yoga on a Ashram in India, so long as they are connecting to their spiritual selves, then this is the most important thing. The Yoga Teacher’s Training program that myself, and my co-director Sarede Switzer, have created allows religiously committed Jewish women to train to be yoga teachers but while maintaining their observance rooted in Judaism. Judaism is not necessarily overtly taught on the course. Jewish ideas are exchanged by virtue of the women who take the course. Mindfulness touches the Jewish soul cause each woman who attends our program lives their life deeply in relation to their Judaism. On our course we teach how to love Yoga and view it as what gets us centered on our mat, healthy in mind and body, and what helps us live a healthy and balanced life. There are moments in our

Yoga practice when the soul gets stirred through the mindful movement of the poses integrating with breath, and at these moments something Jewish may be said to reinforce the wisdom of our Torah. However, Yoga does not become a replacement of the commitment to Mitzvot and Enlightenment does not become the goal of Judaism. At the Teacher’s Training course, we have lectured about the Jewish people having lost their connection to their body (as reinforced through the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook) after the exhile of the 3rd Temple. In this lecture we discuss how Jews were thrown into ghettoized life, small spaces, anti-semitism, and therefore a necessary emphasis on intellectual preservation with the unfortunate consequence of undermining the physical actualization of our tradition. For Rav Kook, with “our intense pre-occupation with spirituality, we have forgotten the holiness of the body. We neglected bodily health and strength. We forgot that we have holy flesh, no less than our holy spirit.”(Orot Hatechiya, pg 80). Rav Kook was vehemently attacked by the Ultra Orthodox community for his views on seeing the Jewish people’s engagement with Sports as something which could bring about a renewed strengthening within the Jewish people. The modern postural practice of Yoga, devoid of any Hindu underpinnings, taught by educated Jews who can discern between the goals of Yoga and the goals of Judaism and not confuse the two, can be a means towards healing the body and therefore reinforcing Jews to live healthier and more balanced Jewish lives. Through this process we the Jewish people contribute to the continuous hybridization of Yoga’s modern postural practice, while helping to reveal its universal benefits and its uniquely global innovation. Contributing to the progress of the world has never been a challenge for Jews. However, doing this while maintaining and deepening our own unique religious role has been our challenge. I look forward to the graduates of KinneretYoga playing this balanced and truly important role. Kinneret Dubowitz is the director of KinneretYoga and offers a 200 hour Yoga Alliance certified teacher’s training course in Israel, New York, Toronto, and L.A. Use this link to read about our new L.A. course: http://www.kinneretyogatraining.com/la.html

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The question I face often in being an Orthodox Jewish woman teaching yoga and training Jewish women to teach Yoga, is the question of ‘Is Yoga a form of idol worship according to Judaism and if it is should Jews be practicing Yoga?’. Much literature has come out today to support the idea, like the article “Not as Old as You Think” states, that “ tremendous amount of cross-breeding and hybridization has given birth to yoga as we know it. Indeed, contemporary yoga is a unique example of a truly global innovation, in which Eastern and Western practices merged to produce something that is valued and cherished around the world. Hinduism, whether ancient, medieval or modern, has no special claims on 21st century postural yoga. To assert otherwise is churlish and simply untrue.”. In this article, as well as the writings of Mark Singleton and his book “ Yoga Body: The Origins Of Modern Postural Practice”, a clarification of the history of the development of modern Yoga sheds light to the Yoga world. Similarly for Jews, reading these writings can help subdue the fears that the yoga poses of today are rooted in a unbroken ancient chain and when practiced become a gateway to the polytheistic G-d head of Hinduism. The article above goes on to claim that any religious practices in yoga studios such as chanting and any other religious Hindu ritual has basically been superimposed on the modern westernized postural practice and that this is all “ a paraphernalia of the Subcontinent to create a suitably spiritual ambience,” but has no rooted ancient history of the kind of modern yoga postural practice that has become popular today. The idea that Orthodox Jews see this outbreak of modern yoga as threatening, because it may be rooted in idol worship, is basically naive to the true history of post - imperialist India and the modernization/ secularization movement which the modern postural Yoga practice of today arose out of. To assert that Yoga poses are a form of idol worship is simply untrue. There seems, in my view as a Orthodox Jewish yoga teacher, a far greater Yoga threat to Judaism then the notion that us Jews will encounter harmful spiritual energy in practicing yoga poses. I would like to refer to this threat as the Judaicizing of Yoga and the Yogafying of Judaism. I will discuss this issue below. If Jews were under spiritual threat from doing Yoga then playing sports would also be problematic and would be causing Jews to fall into the clutches of Greek philosophy and we would be creating a culture of body worship. If yoga is used as a tool for Jews to center ourselves on our mat and reinte-

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An Orthodox Jewish Yoga Teacher: How I Reconcile the Two And Why I Train Others Like Me To Teach Yoga


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Emek Board and Staff Spend Time with Teichman Family On Sunday November 10th, our entire Emek board and staff were invited to the Teichman Family residence for a briefing on our educational progress given by our administrators Rabbi Solomon, Michelle Andron, Tova Bayever and Bernice Zachariash. The purpose of this evening was to update the board as to the many educational strides we are making at Emek, as well as to give the staff an opportunity to get to know our dedicated board. The entire Emek board and staff were treated to appetizers and desserts while interacting in an elegant setting. Rabbi Shifman thanked the Teichman Family for their involvement and hospitality and Mr. Sol Teichman gave us a historical overview of Emek. He spoke about the hardships, sacrifices and dedication that it took to make Emek what it is today. We thank Mr. and Mrs. Sol Teichman for hosting a beautiful evening and all of the board and staff who attended, showing their support and dedication to Emek.

LINK LA Kollel Hosts Two Unique Talmidei Chachomim The Los Angeles Inter-community Kollel {LINK} hosted two dynamic yet unconventional Talmidei Chachomim recently.  Rabbi Yehuda Landy, an unassuming boki b’shas and renowned historian/archeologist, was a special guest for a Shabbaton on Parshas VaYatzai (November 8-9).  On the evening of November 12th, LINK heard a special presentation from Rabbi Meir Pogrow on his unique “Master Torah” system, which enables him and thousands others around the world to complete Shas every year.  Both speakers reside in Jerusalem. Rabbi Landy spoke four times during the course of the Shabbaton on various issues involving the intersection of Chazal and world history/archeology.  On Friday night, he addressed the vexing question of “Where Are the Kailim of the Bais HaMikdosh?”  He advanced several theories based on sources in the Gemara, as well

as more recent rabbinic writings, and contrasted them with various archeological finds of the past hundred years. Rabbi Landy has personally investigated many of these findings onsite in Eretz Yisroel, Jordon, and various museums around the world. During the day on Shabbos, he discussed the authorship and authenticity of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls that were found in 1947.  He traced the historical background of the Essenes (who were the authors of many of these writings) and their many disputes with the mainstream Torah Sages (the Perushim) of that time.  In the process, he showed how these scrolls belied the premise of the non-Torah movements that “Rabbinic Judaism/Oral Law” was first “invented” after the destruction of the Second Bais HaMikdosh. Later that day, he gave a masterful presentation of the history of the Greek

empire and its various divisions and their relationship with Klal Yisroel.  This set the stage for the decrees of Antiochus that precipitated the struggle of the Chashmoniam to reclaim the spiritual purity of the Bais HaMikdosh and of Klal Yisroel.  He also discussed the history of that struggle in the ensuing half-century after the Chanukah miracle had taken place. Finally, he discussed the various findings of archeology that corroborate what we know from Tanach and Chazal (and that no findings have actually contradicted the Tanach).  However, he was skeptical about certain well-known findings being an actual “proof” of Yetzias Mitzrayim.  The community was amazed by his vast knowledge of both Shas and l’havdil secular history/archeology and how he seamlessly wove them together into a coherent tapestry. Rabbi Pogrow returned to Los Angeles where he had been a high school Rebbe some two decades ago.  In the interim, he has devised a unique method of learning and reviewing vast amounts of Mishnayos and pages of Gemara (Bavli and Yerushalmi).  He has taught this system to thousands of people who now can review all of their learning in a systematic way. After first giving an inspirational overview of the importance of both covering lots of ground in finishing Shas (Gemara,

and Mishnayos), and remembering what one has learned, he then preceded to explain his “Master Torah” system step by step. This program will enable one to  review Shas Mishnayos every year,  It consists of a one hour a day program (divided into three parts): listening to a recording of new Mishnayos, reviewing them and then reviewing the past several days worth of Mishnayos.  (There is a variant that requires ninety minutes a day that can allow one to review Shas Mishnayos forty times over the course of three years.)  The same type of program can be used to learn and review Gemara as well. Rabbi Pogrow personally uses this system to review all of Mishnayos every thirty days and to make a siyum HaShas on all of Bavli and Yerushalmi every year! The rapt audience of nearly fifty people who packed the LINK Bais Medrash sat in awe of Rabbi Pogrow’s dynamic and booming presentation.  At least fifteen men signed up to immediately start the program! On November 20th, LINK will be hosting a most unique speaker.  Mrs. Penina Taylor, author of “Full Circle” will tell her amazing story of her return to Torah Judaism after spending seventeen years as an Evangelical Christian leading efforts to convert Jews (r”l).  On the Shabbos of December 6th and 7th, LINK will be privileged to host Rabbi Nachum Sauer, a leading Poseik in the  LA community. The theme of the Shabbaton will be Challenge: The Torah Jew’s Interaction With the Surrounding Society and Culture – Where to Draw the Line”. He will speak several times over the course of Shabbos, including at each of the meals.


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Lou Kestenbaum Honored by American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem tion camps. They came to the US and settled in Pittsburgh, later moving to Los Angeles in 1962 with their daughters Rene and Lynda. Trudy used to describe their philanthropy as “giving with a warm hand.” They focused their gifts on Jewish education in Los Angeles and support of Israel, initially providing housing for new immigrants to the fledgling nation and funding more than fifty significant projects including day care centers, senior citizens facilities, libraries, parks and forests. In addition to the fourth floor, the Kestenbaums also donated the Central Core for Shaare Zedek’s Department of Emergency Medicine and the Kestenbaum Department of Social Services. Dr. Ofer Merin, Deputy Director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, who was in Los Angeles for the Symposium on Emergency Preparedness that

also commemorated the 10th yahrzeit of Shaare Zedek’s beloved ER Director, Dr. David Applebaum, the previous evening, delivered an update on the Hospital’s activities. Other noted guests included David’s widow, Debra, and one of his children, Dr. Yitzchak Applebaum, who is now working in the Emergency Room at Shaare Zedek designed by his father. Thomas Huntington, one of the 40 best young violinists in the world and who was selected to participate last summer in the Keshet Eilon String Mastercourse at Kibbutz Eilon, entertained the gathering with a violin solo. Rachel Wolf, Chief Operating Officer of American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, presented Lou with a replica of the plaque that now hangs near the entrance of the hospital in Jerusalem.

NOVEMBER 28, 2013

The Western Region of the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem honored its long time and significant supporter, Louis Kestenbaum, with an intimate, surprise gathering of family and close friends at Pat’s Restaurant on Tuesday, October 29. The luncheon invitation came from Lou’s good friends, Alice Schoenfeld and Bertie Krieger, and Alice served as the afternoon’s MC. Lou Kestenbaum of Beverly Hills, CA, recently dedicated the fourth floor of the Hospital in memory of his beloved wife, Trudy. Everyone entering the fourth floor of Shaare Zedek is now greeted by a plaque that shows the smiling face of a woman who was one of the Hospital’s most beloved donors. Trudy and Lou Kestenbaum were childhood sweethearts who married shortly after surviving the concentra-

Lou Kestenbaum receives a replica of the plaque that hangs in the entrance of Shaare Zedek Medical Center from Rachel Wolf, American Committee for Shaare Zedek COO.

Uncle Moishy Concert Held by Yeshiva Ketana of Los Angeles started the school myself and I have a great partner who joined me this year. His name is Rabbi Aryeh Davidowitz, and he also received semicha from Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim. He’s a native of Rochester, New York, and comes from a choshuv family of mechanchim.” This is the third event held by the school, including a similar concert. “We held our first Uncle Moishy concert last year. We sold out.” Rabbi Rubenstein is a fan of Uncle Moishy for more than just the entertainment value. “Our goal, besides the fundraising aspect which is important to us, is to provide something for the community. Uncle Moishy’s songs have very important messages about doing mitzvahs and having good middos. We liked this event because it wasn’t just a fundraiser – it provides kosher entertainment for the children. ” Because of the success of last year’s event, the school decided to hold it again this year, in a slightly larger venue. This year, the concert was held in the city. “We realized that the city has the larger population of Orthodox Judaism,” explains Rabbi Rubenstein, “so even though we’re a valley school, we held the concert where more people would have easier access to it.” It was a success: over 800 people attended. “It went really well. There was incredible ruach – seeing the kids dancing. Uncle Moishy is an entertainer who doesn’t just stay on the stage. He comes down with the kids all around. He even stayed after the concert and took pictures with the kids.

He also comes with a clown, Cousin Nachum, which the kids – and adults – found really funny.” Rabbi Davidowitz agrees: “It gave me such nachas to see so many happy, smiling Jewish children.” Both Rabbis are quick to share credit. “The effort and energy put forth by our many volunteers was evident throughout the event,” says Rabbi Davidowitz. “The smooth ticketing process, flawless sound and lighting, timely program and efficient concession tables all attest to the professionalism and dedication of our PTA, parent body and many friends.” “The event coordinators – Mrs. Nechama Nafisi, PTA President and Mrs. Jennifer Manosh, PTA Treasurer – are the ones who ultimately deserve the credit for making both this year’s and last year’s concerts such huge successes,” says Rabbi Rubenstein. But he also credits those outside of his school. “A

couple of other schools agreed to help us by advertising in their schools even though they weren’t making any money from the event, which is very impressive. It makes it much more of a community event: even though it was hosted by one school, other schools didn’t feel that it was exclusive of them and everyone felt welcome.” That inclusion is important to Rabbi Rubenstein, who is hoping to hold more community events in the future. “We want to be more than just a school. We want to provide for the students inside and outside of the school so that school can be represented with fun, and learning can be exciting. It also gets people from the valley and the city mixing together, which doesn’t happen so often. It’s good for the city people to see that the valley is developing a lot, and to see that the valley is not a different country. We’re stepping up also, raising the bar.”

Photo Credit: David Miller Studios

The Uncle Moishy concert held Nov 17 by the Yeshiva Ketana of Los Angeles was enjoyed by many. A crowd of over 800 children and families attended the event, held by a new elementary school from over the hill. “Yeshiva Ketana of Los Angeles opened at the beginning of the last school year,” says Rabbi Aharon Rubenstein, the school’s principal. “We created the Yeshiva because there were over 200 children traveling out of the valley to go to the Hancock Park/La Brea area for elementary school. There were too many kids who were traveling, so we started a school to service these families.” The school is located on Burbank Boulevard near Laurel Canyon. It’s in the North Hollywood Valley Village area, but its students come from North Hollywood, Valley Village, Encino, and Tarzana. Rabbi Rubenstein summarizes the school’s brief history. “We started with 20 kids and two classes, a nursery and a kindergarten class. Now we have another class, pre-1A, so we have three classes with 39 kids.” Rabbi Rubenstein hadn’t planned on starting a school, but he had planned to be an educator. Originally from Valley Village, he left to attend yeshiva in Milwaukee and then New York. He received a Master of Arts in Education, and semicha from Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim Rabbinical Seminary of America in Queens, New York. The plan to come back wasn’t originally his idea. “I moved back to start the school after being approached by various people over the years,” he explains. “I


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Chesed In Action at Shalhevet Chesed Fair The school’s Chesed Committee hosted a hugely successful Chesed Fair for the students of Shalhevet High School. Students were able to walk around the fair and meet representatives from organizations - including Yachad, Friendship Circle, Chai Lifeline, BJE Impact, Bnei Akiva, NCSY, Hope of the Valley, Koreh LA, IBD Support Foundation, JNF, The Survivor Mitzvah Project, Netiya, Friends of Eliya, volunteering at Cedars Sinai, and AMIT. These organizations spanned the entire Jewish and non-Jewish community. Students played Chesed Organization Bingo, collecting signatures in order to learn more about the organizations and to be the winner of a gift card. In addition, students were privileged to hear from Yaffa Rotman, a 16-year old Israeli high school student who spoke to them about AMIT. Her story is inspiring and meaningful. Having come from a challenging home life, she ended up on the streets but luckily found her way into one of AMIT’s foster care homes. She expressed to the students that in the care of her foster parents, amazing teachers, and new friends she was able to become more responsible and open minded. She turned her life around with the help of AMIT. The students were moved as well and she stayed to have lunch with a group of 10th graders after her presentation. PATH Homeless Shelter Under the guidance of the awesome the Bainvoll family, Shalhevet students

visited PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) last Wednesday after school to serve dinner to the program’s residents. The students brought a delicious meal that they had prepared at home and spent time visiting and talking with the residents. They learned that a warm meal can warm the lives of these individuals but a conversation is every bit as important. Student Honored By Jewish World Watch This past week, Shalhevet sophomore Michelle Hirschhorn was honored by Jewish World Watch, alongside human rights activist Mukesh Kapila, for their work on behalf of Darfur refugees. Five years ago, Michelle heard about the genocide in Darfur from a Jewish World Watch representative while she was attending Camp Ramah. She was moved by what she heard and started to think about ways that she could help. While jumping rope one day, she suddenly thought about a Jumpathon. This would be a way for kids to raise the money, independent of their parents--and it would be fun. She pitched the idea at her school, Pressman Academy, who supported her efforts. Her original goal was to get fifty kids to participate and raise $2,500. In the end, seventy-five kids ages six to thirteen crammed onto the Pressman Academy rooftop, jumped over 20,000 jumps in a just half an hour, and raised more than $10,000!

YULA High Schools Host First Ever TEDyula Conference One of the most innovative and interactive ways to learn about interesting topics nowadays is to listen to a Ted Talk on a particular subject. YULA High Schools decided to share their own “ideas worth spreading” in the schools’ first ever interactive and innovative TEDyula Conference. Designed for the staff and administrators, the conference was held at YULA Girls School on Monday, November 11, with the theme of “Demystifying YULA”. The purpose of the conference was to create a better faculty understanding of YULA’s Judaic Studies program and their newly developed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program. Throughout the afternoon, there was a sense of real care among the teachers, and an effort to consistently strive to do more and learn more about all aspects of the curriculum. The day served to unify and educate the teachers regarding important philosophical and educational tenants of the schools. The program was set up similar to the well known TED Conferences, and the staff began by viewing a famous TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson, entitled “How Schools Kill

Creativity”, followed by departmental brainstorming and then group sharing of ideas for how to encourage creativity in the classroom. The second half of the program was entitled “Demystifying YULA,” and the purpose was to create a better full faculty understanding of YULA’s Judaic Studies program and the newly developed STEM program. Faculty feedback prior to the program indicated that many general studies teachers had heard terms like “Talmud” and “Torah” used in school, but did not always have a clear understanding of what they meant, and why they are of such vital importance in the YULA curriculum. Additionally, teachers have been very excited about the new STEM program at YULA, but wanted to learn more about what it exactly entailed and what the educational goals were. Rabbi Lieberman, Head of School of YULA Girls, gave an inspired TED Talk on our Judaic Studies program, and Dr. Adrian Krag, YULA’s CIJE (Center for Initiative in Jewish Education) STEM advisor, spoke about the importance of a top notch STEM program. It was inspiring to see the entire YULA staff learning more about

all aspects of the curriculum and how the school and its administrators can continue

to work across disciplines as a unified and driven faculty.


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Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn

to G-d and not ourselves. The begadim remind us of that. When one goes through the core parshiyos of Vayikra they are almost inundated by the lengthy discussion pertaining to the clothing of the Kohen Gadol. He dips, he changes, he dips again, he changes, on and on. Why? Because on Yom Kippur the Kohen Gadol must stand in the Kodesh Hakedoshim, the Holy of Holies; that is the ultimate da lifnei mi ata omed, know before whom you stand. It is imperative that G-d be on his mind and not himself, hence the begadim. We also now understand our parsha. Yosef’s brothers knew they could not destroy him physically. The only way they could hurt him was by taking away the Torah their father had taught him. How would they do that? We have already explained that clothing represent a connection, or a reminder of G-d, so they ripped his coat. It was the very same coat given to Yosef by his father who taught him all his Torah. We also understand why further in the parsha, the wife of Potiphar rips Yosef’s clothing as he is leaving. She’s trying to tell him, forget G-d, live a little bit. She’s trying to break his connection with G-d by attacking the begadim. There is another element at work here. Also in Vayeishev, Tamar dresses up like a prostitute. She was about to plant the seeds of the future messiah, but at the same time she would do it in a way that is very dangerous. The task entailed in paving the way for the messiah was a great one, and she needed to be reminded at all times that the service she is doing is a noble one. The begadim would remind her. One other women in Tanach would do the same as Tamar, and that was the wife of Yishai, the mother of the messiah - David! But why must the messiah be surrounded by the begadim? For it is that very position which

is an extremely dangerous one. With such power, one is able to stop and look down upon his kingdom and say, ‘Not bad, I’m pretty impressive.’ The mashiach needs a constant reminder of G-d. He needs to be reminded perpetually of who is above him. And so, it makes perfect sense, when the King Saul rips the cloak of Samuel, he no longer can be king, for a position of such power demands that one realize who stands above. At the end of Parshas Vayechi, Yaakov turns to his children and gives them all blessings. Only one child is blessed with clothing - amazingly enough it is Yehuda, the father of the future Kings of Israel! The clothing we wear, like almost all seemingly mundane things things we do, brings with it such significance. The trite act of putting on a nice buttondown shirt can reflect our connection and respect of G-d. It is tragic then, to see that we allow our very own children to walk the streets as representatives of the legion of Hashem wearing clothing that do not reflect this kavod, this dignity. And it is even more tragic to at times see our children come to the shul, the House of G-d, in clothing in which they would never in a million years appear before the mayor. This is more than a metaphysical outcry for a modicum of propriety in our clothing. The clothing we wear has tangible repercussions, maybe not immediately but certainly in the imminent future. Let us pray together that our pride in the bond and allegiance we have to G-d can emerge proudly on the faces, and clothing, of Klal Yisroel. Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn is the Rav & Dean of Yeshivat Yavneh in Los Angeles. He is the creator of WINGS; a synagogue consulting group for the Orhodox Union. He is also the author of 3 sefarim. For any comments, thoughts, or observations email the Rabbi at rabbieinhorn@gmail.com

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NOVEMBER 28, 2013

If there is any Torah portion that addresses the topic of fashion, it is clearly our past parsha - Vayeshev. We are all familiar with Joseph and his multicolor dream coat. It is probably the single most famous article of clothing in the history of the civilized world; a distant second would probably be the Crown Jewels. Further on in our parsha, the wife of Potiphar grabs onto the cloak of Joseph. This is another reference to clothing in Parshas Vayeshev. And near the end of the the Torah portion we encounter the difficult story of Tamar, as she took on the guise of a prostitute. Begadim, or the clothes we wear, are a fundamental part of our religion. It has ramifications in so many different areas of Jewish law and ideology. But what gives the begadim that we wear the lofty spot it occupies in our cannon? Let us take a look some other examples of clothing in Jewish literature beyond this weeks Torah portion. In the Sefer Shmuel, as Samuel is leaving after chastising King Saul, Saul pulls the cloak of Samuel and accidentally rips it. Samuel quickly turns to Saul, and utters the chilling statement: “Now I know the Kingdom will no longer be yours.” What is the connection between the ripping of this garment and the kingdom? A major part of the laws of tefillah is the notion of Hikon. Hikon posits that we are called upon to pray before our Maker in clothing that is respectful. Sometimes that takes the form of a davening jacket, or simply being tucked in and neat. Shabbos is also very relevant to the notion of clothing. We dress beautifully so as to resemble the Shabbos King and Queen. Our zemiros even talk about the pleasant looking clothing of the day. When one is in mourning, he or she rips their clothing. When one mourns over Jerusalem, the shirt is also ripped. What is the deeper significance behind the ripping of one’s own garment? The laws of Tznius extend above and beyond the clothing we wear, but we cannot hide the fact that the primary face of Tznius manifests itself in the realm of our clothing.

Why is there such a focus on clothing, certainly within our parsha, and in all of Jewish life?  Rav Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin has left us with a secret as to how to understand many of the more complex concepts in the Torah. He notes that if we want to truly understand a perplexing subject, locate the first time that idea is discussed and there lies the key of understanding. When is the first time we encounter Begadim? Right at the beginning, in Parshas Bereishis, by Adam and Eve.  “Vahayu Shneihem Arumim, Hadam Veishto, Vahayi Shenihem Labasar Achas.” Both of them were naked, man and his wife, and they were of one flesh. Rashi comments that they were not embarrassed for they didn’t know the way of tzniut, to distinguish between good and bad. At this point, there was no need for clothing. But then in pasuk zayin: And both their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked.  Sin created the knowledge that they were naked. How? The 5th verse indicates that they wanted themselves to be like G-d’ s, the greatest Hubris of all, and once they tasted sin, ego laid its trap. And suddenly the innocence that had once made them blind to their bodies transformed into an awareness that they were in fact naked. At that moment they knew they needed clothing, for they needed something, some symbol to remind them they are not G-d. The eternal reminder would be the clothing that they would wear forever. Begadim, we see, reflect our awareness and loyalty to G-d. We stand at the eve of Chanukah. The Greeks tried to make us forget G-d. They wanted to tear away our connection. They wanted the Jews to believe in the god of the Greeks. Who was that god? The naked body. They worshipped their bodies in the gymnasiums. They knew that clothing are a reminder of G-d; without the clothing they could worship their ego. One of the decrees against the Jews was that they attempted to abolish the observance of the Sabbath. Why? It's a day when we come out in our splendid begadim. “Lavush Bigdei Chamudos lehadlik ner;” that zemer refers to the clothing we wear on shabbos, and the lighting of candles of Channuka.  On Shabbos we clothe our tables, so to speak, we cover our challas. The shabbos is a constant reminder through the begadim, that Hashem is greater than us. The Greeks tried to take that away. Why the laws of Hikon, dressing with proper respect before praying? Tefilah is “da lifnei mi ata omed.” Know before whom you are Standing. When we daven we must be reminded that we are praying

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Versace and Joseph


THE JEWISH HOME

NOVEMBER 28, 2013

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Dream Weaver Rabbi Reuven Wolf

This week’s Parsha, Parshas Miketz, continues the story of Yosef—and at the beginning of the Parsha, the roof seems to have caved in. Yosef is in prison and Pharaoh’s cup-bearer, who had benefited from Yosef’s interpretation of his dream and was released from prison, has forgotten his promise to help Yosef. Two years pass, and once again, a dream enters the picture—this time it is Pharaoh who dreams. One might wonder why suddenly dreams have become such an important part of the story of our Patriarchs and forbearers. Chassidic teachings provide an interesting and instructive answer, as we’ll soon see. Pharaoh first has this dream: he his standing by the Nile River and he sees seven fat cows come out of the river; they stand there in the marshes, grazing. Then suddenly, seven other cows emerge from the river—these are thin, withered cows, and they stand next to the fat cows. Then the thin cows eat the fat cows, one by one—and Pharaoh wakes from his sleep with a fright. He goes back to sleep, but he has another dream. This time, he dreams of a stalk on which seven rich and full ears of grain are sprouting. Suddenly, seven other ears of grain— withered and scorched—appear on the stalk and they devour the rich ears. This dream must have been even more vivid to the dreaming Pharaoh, because when he awakes, he needs to tell himself, it was only a dream. The next day, Pharaoh can’t shake the disturbing images from his mind, so he calls his wise men (his “chartumim”), tells them his dreams and asks them to interpret the dreams for him. The Torah tells us (41:8) that, “they were not able to interpret the dream…”, but because the Torah adds the words, “…for Pharaoh,” the Midrash interprets that they did offer him their own interpretations, only these did not satisfied the king. The dream about the cows, they told Pharaoh, meant that he would have seven daughters who would die; and the one about the ears of wheat, they said, meant that Pharaoh would fight wars with seven empires, and though he would be victorious, during the battle, seven of his provinces would rebel and break away. At this point, the royal cup-bearer sees an opportunity to ingratiate himself with Pharaoh, and he tells the king about Yosef—how this Hebrew lad he met in prison had interpreted dreams that he and the royal baker had had while they were in the dungeon, and how his inter-

pretations turned out to be right on target. Pharaoh orders Yosef taken out of prison and cleaned up for an appearance before the king (and we already know that Yosef “cleaned up well” and was an impressive young man).

Pharaoh describes the two sets of cows, the fat ones and the thin ones, standing next to each other before the thin ones devoured the fat ones. But if the cows represent years, how can the two sets of cows co-exist side by side? After

WE CANNOT LET A LITTLE THING LIKE “IMPRACTICALITY”—OR EVEN IMPOSSIBILITY—STOP US Pharaoh relates the dreams to Yosef—both of them. Yosef tells Pharaoh that the two dreams really mean the same thing: Egypt will experience seven good years during which there will be plenty of food, but afterwards, there will be seven years of famine—famine so great that there will be no memory left of the good years that came before. Why two dreams? Yosef tells Pharaoh, it’s to convey that this sequence of events is not off in some distant future: it’s about to commence now. But Yosef doesn’t stop there. He goes on to give Pharaoh advice that it would be wise that some of the food produced during the seven years of plenty be set aside for the years of famine that will follow, and someone should be put in charge of this project—someone very capable and given near-kingly powers over Egypt so he could enforce this project. Pharaoh likes Yosef’s interpretation immediately and accepts his recommendation. Pharaoh selects Yosef and elevates him to be viceroy of Egypt, second in power only to Pharaoh. Several questions arise immediately in this story. First of all, how did Pharaoh’s wise men—his chartumim—miss Yosef’s obvious interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream? Egypt is dependent on the Nile for all its produce; cows and oxen are the key work animals that are used to work the fields; and the stalks of grain are what grows. How far a stretch is it to think the dreams are a warning about what the future of Egypt’s economy and its food supply will be like? Why these far-fetched appeals to Pharaoh’s daughters and future wars? Secondly, where does Yosef get the chutzpah to add advice to his interpretation—something he wasn’t asked to provide? But a small detail of Pharaoh’s first dream threw the wise men—a detail that did not bother Yosef. In the first dream,

all, time passes—so that when one year comes, the one that it replaces passes into the past and no longer exists. The cows cannot represent years, the chartumim said—they could never have stood together and co-existed. That itself was the brilliance of Yosef: he could see that the two sets of years could co-exist—in fact must coexist if Egypt was to have any hope of surviving. During each one of the seven years of plenty, the future years of famine were present, in that every ton of produce had to be divided into a part that would be eaten then, and a part that would be saved to be eaten during the famine. By the same token, during each of the years of famine, the seven fat years of plenty was present as well—the food stored from those years kept Egypt alive during the years of famine. That explains why Yosef dared to offer unsolicited advice—the solution to the problem was in the dream itself. He wouldn’t be fully interpreting the dream if he had left that most important part out. But, as Rav Schneur Zalman of Liadi, zt”l, the Ba’al HaTanya, in his commentary, the Torah Ohr, explains, Yosef understood that this is Galut—exile. Yosef knew that he, in fact, represented the very beginning of galut: both of the exile of the children of Ya’akov in Egypt, and the exile of the Children of Israel, the Jewish People, in the exile in which we find ourselves now. And in exile, such impossibilities and breakdowns of logic can happen. As we read in Tehilim, (in the Shir HaMa’alos we say before Birkat HaMazon—Psalm 126): “When Hashem brought the exiles [of Israel] back to Zion,” Hayinu ke-cholmim: “we were like dreamers.” All of Galut is like a dream, says Rav Schneur Zalman—a world in which the normal and logical rules by which Hashem has created the universe are bent out of shape, and things that should not be possible actu-

ally happen. And it’s a good thing, too! Because it takes every bit of our ingenuity and creativity to find a way of surviving in the Galut—and sometimes we have to forge ahead and find solutions to problems that on the face of it, dance along the border between the practical and the impractical, the sensible and the ill-conceived, the do-able and the impossible. Yosef looked beyond the impossibilities of Pharaoh’s dream and understood the plain simple truth they conveyed: save up during the seven good years, or Egypt will not survive the seven years of famine. Our Jewish brethren who came to Los Angeles years ago—when there were Jews here, but precious little Torah—must have thought they were trying to plant the seeds of Torah in a “desert of a desert”—a place where Torah would not bloom. But, thank G-d, Torah has been planted here: young men and women are learning Torah, leading lives imbued with the Torah spirit and adhering to its laws, precepts and values. And each year, that spirit and involvement in Torah grows and flourishes, no matter how inhospitable the environment may be. That’s the lesson of Yosef and of this Parsha: to further the cause and observance of Torah, and the learning of Torah, we have to dare to dream the impossible. We cannot let a little thing like “impracticality”—or even impossibility—stop us. We must trust in Hashem and dare to make the bold moves that are called for, that we see clearly must be done. And with the G-d’s help, we will persevere in the Galut and merit seeing soon the complete Redemption.

Rabbi Reuven Wolf is a world renowned educator and lecturer who has devoted his life to reaching out and rekindling the spirit of Judaism in his fellow Jews. He was raised in the Ropshetz Chassidic dynasty, educated in the Belz and Bluzhev Yeshivos, and later, in the famous Lithuanian schools of Slabodkea and Mir. He is profoundly influenced by Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah, and particularly Chabad Chassidic philosophy. Since 1995, Rabbi Wolf has been teaching students of all ages, from elementary school children to adults, and has lectured across North America. Maayon Yisroel was founded in 2006 by Rabbi Wolf and Haki Abhesera, as a center to fulfill the vision of spreading the profound mystical teachings of Chassidic Judaism.


21 THE JEWISH HOME

Lessons Unforgotten 4

A Jewish Thanksgiving

By Rabbi Harold Rabinowitz

passed away. I had no idea where the funeral was held—probably in one of the many churches in the Polish neighborhood that bordered Williamsburg to the east—or where he was buried. But at a certain point that week, people went around with word that a memorial service was going to be held for the ice man on the sidewalk at the corner where he stored his ice and where he worked. My father said to me, “Come Hershel, let’s go—pay our respects.” “But he was an anti-Semite, Dad—he hated Jews!” “But think of all the Jews he delivered ice to. Pushing that broken-down baby-carriage for blocks and blocks on his swollen feet, barely able to see where he was going, and lugging those heavy blocks of ice up all those flights of stairs with that ridiculous pair of tongs. Think of all the milk he kept drinkable for so many babies—many of them Jewish babies, probably; how many pieces of gefilte fish his ice kept fresh for a Shabbos meal; how much meat his ice kept from spoiling before it could be used for a Yom Tov meal.” “But we have a Frigidaire!” “Doesn’t matter, Hershel. We have to be ‘makir tov’ —we have to say thank you in any case.” Over the next few weeks, my father would turn to me during a shabbos meal or during a lull in the davening and talk to me about the Jewish idea of Hakoras HaTov—acknowledging a good, a favor, that someone has done for us. It’s an important idea, to be sure, but what turns out to be most interesting are the situations where in the commentaries and the Midrashim explaining the Torah one learns about giving notice and acknowledge when someone or something has done us a good turn, even if that was not their intention—even if it was an animal or an inanimate object that couldn’t have any intention at all. For example, when the time came for the plagues of Egypt to be visited on the Egyptians, and the first was the turning of the waters of the Nile to blood, G-d instructed Aaron to smite the waters, not Moses, even though it would have been more dramatic and effective if Moses had done the smiting. Why? Say the Rabbis, because the Nile had saved Moses’s life, by allowing him to escape the death sentence of Pharaoh when he was placed there in a basket by his mother. He must there-

fore show his gratitude and refrain from directly smiting the Nile. Would the Nile know the difference? Probably not—it’s just a river! But thanks is due it for saving Moses’s life. So even inanimate objects must be thanked for the good they’ve done. When Moses came to Midian after escaping from Egypt following his murder of the Egyptian taskmaster persecuting his fellow Hebrews, and he helped the daughters of Yitro, the daughters reported to their father that, Ish Mitzri hatzileinu—“An Egyptian man helped us.” The Midrash explains that they were referring, not to Moses, who was clearly a runaway Hebrew—but then to whom? To the very Egyptian that Moses had slain—they were acknowledging and thanking him for being the cause of Moses being there to help them at the well! But the Egyptian taskmaster was evil and would certainly have killed Moses if he could. What thanks did he deserve? But without his actions— however unwilling and unwitting—Moses would not have been at the well to help the daughters of Yitro, and for that he deserved thanks. So even people who had no intention of helping us, but who turn out by circumstances to have done just that, must be thanked. Earlier, when Reuvein, the eldest of the sons of Jacob, went back to the ditch in which the brothers had deposited Yosef while deciding what to do with him, intending to rescue his brother and return him home, the Text of the Torah says, Vayishma Reuvein va’yatzillayo mi-yadam— “And Reuvein heard and he went to save [Yosef] from their hands [their murderous intent].” The commentaries ask, “Just what did Reuvein hear?” And they answer, that when Yosef revealed the content of his dreams to his brothers—dreams that infuriated them insofar as he was claiming with them to be a ruler over them—he included Reuvein in the group of brothers, even though Reuvein had committed a serious sin by moving Bilhah’s bed into Jacob’s chamber. That Yosef meant to convey something that the brothers hated (including Reuvein!) didn’t matter. Yosef had done Reuvein a good turn, and for that he deserved to be thanked, and for that reason alone, to be saved. So even when the intention of the person who did us a good turn was to harm us, if the result

was beneficial and helpful, they must be thanked. Notice how in these cases, we don’t insist that the intent be benevolent—or that there even be any intent at all!—in order for there to be a need for Hakoras HaTov. There’s an old witticism that “no good deed goes unpunished,” but the Jewish version of that is: no good deed goes unacknowledged and unrewarded. When I would pray in the synagogue and the time came during the repetition of the Amidah, the Shemoneh Esrei, by the reader, the sheli’ach tzibur, and he came to the blessing of “Modim,” when the reader would bow, the congregation is supposed to recite “Modim Derabanan”—the Rabbinic version of Modim. Most people barely lean forward when reciting this prayer, but my father, O”H, would always insist that we rise and bow and say Modim DeRabanan standing—and when I asked him why, he would say, it was our way of thanking the reader for the effort he was expending reading the Amidah aloud for us. How far does this concept go? Well, years later, I heard that the Kotzker Rebbe, the great Rabbi Menachem Mendel, zt”l, would, when he threw out an old and worn pair of shoes, lovingly wrap the shoes in paper and treat them with care—as a sign of thanks for all the service the shoes had rendered to him for so many years. On this Thanksgiving—coming as it does this year at the same time as Chanukah—we really should think of all we have to be thankful for. Some of those things are obvious: our health, our families, our livelihood. But think also of all the unsung people who have brought Jewish observance and Torah learning here—going back to times when Los Angeles was very thinly populated with Torah-true Jews. But it shouldn’t stop there: we should also be thanking all the Jews who came here and settled in this area. They all made their contribution, they all made it possible; and it would be only fitting—and a proper Hakoras HaTov—to say thank-you to them. That (at least in my view) is what a Jewish Thanksgiving is all about. _________________________________ “Touro Corner” is edited by Rabbi Harold Rabinowitz, a member of the Touro College-Los Angeles Faculty.

NOVEMBER 28, 2013

Some people may be hesitant (or embarrassed) to admit this, but I’m old enough to remember the ice man. In the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, he operated on the corner of Havemeyer and South Third Streets, and my parents had a dry goods store right near that corner. When I saw him I was a young boy, but he fascinated me. He was an old man, he was severely bow-legged, and his arms and hands were red and worn. He had a white crew-cut and his eyes seemed to be completely covered with a white film that I would later associate with cataracts. There against a wall on the corner, he had large chunks of ice that he kept covered with a filthy burlap cloth. When someone would yell down at him from one of the apartments overlooking his “place of business,” or come to him from somewhere else in the neighborhood, and order ice, he would use an ice pick and chisel a large block, grab it with black iron tongs that had sharp pointed ends, throw the chunk into a broken down baby-carriage that he used to deliver the ice, and then, when he arrived at the apartment building where the customer lived, he would grab the block of ice with the tongs and carry it up the stairs to the apartment—sometimes as many as five or six flights up. My parents called him “Der Poilisher”—which I guess meant he was of Polish extraction—and he was considered a fixture in the neighborhood. Once I got to see an actual “icebox” in someone’s apartment and sure enough, in it there was a compartment that contained the block of ice, and that’s what kept the food in the icebox fresh and the milk from souring. For all this work, the ice man received five cents. Just five cents. I guess it should come as no surprise that he was nearly always in a bad mood. One day, as I was watching him, he was sitting on the burlap-covered ice and was drinking a beer. And he was muttering to himself. Some of what he said was in a language I didn’t know (Polish, presumably), but some of it I did understand. There was no doubt about it: what he was uttering was cursing all the Jews in the neighborhood. I told this to my father, and he shrugged. “It can’t be easy doing that for a living…if he makes a living.” The day came that word spread around the neighborhood that the ice man had


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NOVEMBER 28, 2013

The Spark of Redemption

Although Chanukah is a mitzvah miderabonon, there are several oblique references in the Torah to the yom tov we celebrate this week. The Ramban in Parshas Beha’aloscha famously connects Aharon Hakohein’s lighting of the menorah in the Mishkon to the lighting of the Chanukah menorah in our day. Additionally, in Moshe Rabbeinu’s final brochah to Klal Yisroel, he blesses shevet Levi, “Boruch Hashem cheilo, Bless his army, Hashem” (Devorim 33:11). Rashi explains that Moshe was referring to the Chashmonaim, as they set out to battle the Greeks, begging Hashem to cause the righteous ones to emerge victorious over a much larger, better trained army of scoffers. We will discuss the hints to the epic events of yemei Chanukah in the parshiyos of Sefer Bereishis we currently study as pointed out by the sifrei Kabbolah. One of the more cryptic exchanges occurs between Yaakov and Lavan when they part from each other at the end of Parshas Vayeitzei. They formed a mound of stones as testimony to their agreement to keep a safe distance from each other. Lavan referred to this monument as Yegar Sahadusa, while Yaakov called it Galeid, the Lashon Kodesh version of Lavan’s Aramaic name. The Megaleh Amukos, who, as the name of his sefer suggests, reveals all sorts of deep secrets in his work, explains that the numerical value of the word “Yegar” is 213. He says that this is a reference to the 213th year of the Second Bais Hamikdosh. It was then that “gavra haklippah,” the forces of evil were strengthened, to the point that the rasha Antiyochus was able to slaughter a chazir in the Bais Hamikdosh. Lavan was anticipating that sad day when he said “Yegar.” Yaakov Avinu beheld the same historic moment and beseeched Hashem for mercy. He called the pile Galeid, hinting to the Chashmonaim, who would rise up to avenge the act of Antiyochus and his decrees. Yaakov was pleading for Hashem to hear their prayers and deliver them just as he would hear the pleas of Shmuel in Gilad. Like many of the accounts in Sefer Bereishis, this one, as well, is replete with historical significance and import. The era

of the neis Chanukah was clearly foreseen and influenced by Yaakov Avinu. Additionally, the sefer Tzeidah Laderech quotes the Maharshal, who saw another connection between Yaakov Avinu and the neis Chanukah. When Yaakov crossed the Yaabok River to retrieve his pachim ketanim, Hashem said to him, “You sacrificed for the sake of pachim ketanim, small jugs, and I will repay your children with a miracle involving pachim, small jugs,” referring to the pach shemen tahor with which the Chashmonaim re-consecrated the menorah in the Bais Hamikdosh. Beneath the surface of the pesukim depicting our forefather Yaakov, Kabbolah masters see the neis Chanukah playing itself out. Although we aren’t mekubolim, we can benefit from the messages they uncover. Yosef earned the appendage of “tzaddik.” He is identified for his piety in rising up to face off a challenge in the nisayon involving aishes Potifar in last week’s parsha of Vayeishev. Yosef’s spiritual heroism and strength are relevant to us in our day. Isolated in a foreign land and an unfriendly environment, Yosef, at the age of seventeen, was cut off from his beloved father, and deprived of his prime role model and teacher. Yosef was a lonely teenager sold by his own brothers into servitude in the most impure country. If ever a young man had an excuse to fall hard, it was he. From where did the rejected, hated, handsome young man find the inner fortitude to muster the ability to rise above his nisayon? The Gemara (Sotah 36b) relates that when confronted by aishes Potifar, Yosef stood at the edge of a spiritual cliff, engaged in a fierce battle with his yeitzer hora. Suddenly, he beheld the image of his father, “Be’osah sha’ah bosah deyukno shel oviv.” Yosef saw the image of his father, Yaakov. Seeing the picture of his father propelled him to the status of a tzaddik. Like a flash of lightning on a stormy night, it showed him the way. I recall the time many years ago, as a talmid in the Philadelphia Yeshiva, when we merited a visit from Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt”l, father of our rosh yeshiva, Rav

Shmuel. Rav Yaakov shared something he heard from a Litvishe Yid, a former yeshiva student who was faced with challenges in his life. The man related that he never succumbed, because in his youth, he had seen Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz zt”l. Beholding that luminous countenance was an experience that equipped him with resources of purity and strength. Every time he wanted to engage in something he knew he shouldn’t be doing, he thought of that image of Rav Boruch Ber and changed his mind. Yaakov was the last av, the third of the three avos who imbued nishmas Yisroel with the strength to endure. Yosef was the first of the next generation to tap into those kochos, bringing them to the fore and making them a reality. Yosef was the first Jew sold into exile. Lonely and seemingly forgotten, he nevertheless was able to make the choice of seeing something bigger and remembering a different time and the message it sent. As he engaged in a fierce battle with his yeitzer hora, he looked out the window, and in its glass he saw his father’s saintly image, the face of Yaakov Avinu, lovingly gazing back at him. What did that face tell him? The face of Yaakov was a plea, a demand, a rallying cry. He was saying to him, “My dear son, you have the potential for greatness. You are better than them and better than that. My son, you don’t have to do it. You don’t have to sink. You don’t have to succumb! My dear son, I speak from personal experience. I lived with Lavan. Im Lavan garti, vetaryag mitzvos shomarti, velo lomadeti mimaasov haro’im. “Yosef,” the image proclaimed, “I was also forced from my father’s home, chased and oppressed, alone in a strange land surrounded by impurity. Yet I didn’t fall. I never yielded to the pressure. I never let the rasha, in whose home I lived, influence me, and you, my son, have that same strength. Rise above it! You can do it. Yes, you can.” Yosef saw all that in the window and was energized to resist the pull and temptation to forsake his heritage. He was reminded from where he came and where he was headed. Thus armed, he was able to resist succumbing to the moment and pre-

served himself for eternity. The images of Yaakov and Yosef were the inspiration for the tzaddikei bais Chashmonai, the heroes of the neis Chaunkah. Yovon had taken hold of Eretz Yisroel, the Bais Hamikdosh, Am Yisroel, and everything holy. As foretold by Lavan, Antiyochus had sacrificed a pig on the mizbei’ach. One can only imagine the reaction of the people around them as the Chashmonaim announced their intention to resist the progressive Hellenists and fight for kedushas Yisroel and kedushas haMikdosh. “The battle is lost. Give it up,” the overwhelming Jewish majority told the recalcitrant Chashmonaim. “The people aren’t with you. You have to accept the fact that we are not in control and that the people lined up against us are more powerful, better armed and better organized than us.” Sitting in their homes, the Jewish people looked out the window and saw darkness. They saw Yovon gaining on them. They felt weak and pointless. They viewed themselves as small, their actions inconsequential. The Chashmonaim refused to accept the defeatist attitude. Like Yosef Hatzaddik, they refused to let anyone tell them who they were. They didn’t submit to letting others write the rules for them. They were inspired by Yosef’s example of a Jew living in golus, surrounded by temptation, dominated by a heathen, hedonistic culture. And just as he had done, they channeled succor from Yaakov Avinu. Empowered by his example as well as his tefillos and zechuyos, they embarked upon an impossible task. Like Yaakov Avinu, who understood that even the smallest jugs can belong to the side of kedushah and was therefore moser nefesh to ensure that they also had a tikkun, the Chashmonaim fought valiantly for the sanctity of the Bais Hamikdosh, to take back Hashem’s earthly abode, re-consecrate it, elevate it and cleanse it of the profane. Just as Yaakov stared down Lavan and the malach of Eisav, they had the courage to face a foe much more powerful than they and triumph. When they gazed out the window into the darkness of Yovon, they saw light. They saw the light of Yaakov and of Yosef. They saw their images counseling them to


“Write! I insist that you write this instant!” he shouted. The young man remained calm. “I will not write on Shabbos,” he said, equally determined. The father was apoplectic, screaming and showering his stubborn son with blows.

Alexander stood up and walked to the doorway. He opened the door wide and then suddenly slammed the door, sticking his finger in its way before it closed. The

If we believe in ourselves and our ability, we can overcome everything. There is nothing that can con-

quer the demus deyukno of Yaakov. Alexander was an eleven-year-old boy studying in a Shuvu school in one of Israel’s southern development towns. His Russian immigrant parents had high hopes for their brilliant son. They sent him to the religious school because of its reputation for sterling general studies and well-behaved students. Alexander’s parents slowly became disillusioned as they watched their beloved son develop a connection with the religion their families had cast off generations prior. It seemed like the boy came home every day with new rules to follow and practices to observe. Loathe to switch schools in the middle of the school year, the parents watched with growing consternation as their son fell in love with Torah Judaism. One Saturday, the day dedicated to reviewing what was learned in school that week and doing homework, Alexander sat at a table with his homework sheet, books and pen, but he wasn’t writing. His parents asked him why he wasn’t doing his homework. Each time they asked, he brushed off the question. Finally, his father made a big show of forcefully sitting down next to him and demanding to know why he refused to do his homework. He loved his son and had big dreams for him. The immigrant’s life was in ruin. Not only was the apple of his eye destined for greatness in the sciences falling in love with religion, but he was refusing to do his schoolwork. The boy met his father’s gaze and explained that it was Shabbos, a day on which Jews are forbidden to write. The father was furious. Unable to contain his anger, he slapped his son across the face.

sickening sound of his finger breaking was audible. His hand immediately swelled up and turned colors. The boy looked at his father. “Now my finger is broken and I can no longer write,” he said. The father, who repeated the story publicly many years later at the engagement of his yeshiva bochur son, said that it was at that moment that he knew that he would never win and that his son would triumph. Like generations of Jews in golus before him, like Yosef in Mitzrayim, Alexander would not succumb. My friend, Rav Eliezer Sorotzkin, who heads Lev L’Achim, related that during Operation Cast Lead, when Israel was at war with the Arabs of Gaza, his organization waged its own battle. As schools in the line of fire were closed, a group of teenagers in Ashkelon were kept busy. Kollel people from Ashdod would come and learn Torah with them in a bomb shelter, providing warmth, instruction and pizza. The teenagers had been so bored that they showed up for the entertainment and food. But something strange happened. When the war was over, the youngsters asked the yungeleit to continue coming. As life returned to normal, word spread about the group and more neighborhood boys joined. The school kids and yungeleit studied regularly, and a year after they began, they completed a masechta. They held a siyum on Chanukah in the home of Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman in Bnei Brak. Rav Shteinman was emotional as the teenagers proudly promised, “Hadran aloch. We will return to you, beloved masechta.”

The Chashmonaim taught us about the glories of a milchamah, a war fought not with strategy or expectation to win, but with a stubborn unwillingness to be dragged down. Chanukah gives us the eyes to see. Each of us has a demus deyukno shel oviv that reminds us of who we are and what we can accomplish. Chanukah is unique in that it has a birchas haro’eh, a special brochah for one who simply sees the neiros. Perhaps it is because the yom tov owes its existence to those who saw beyond their immediate surroundings and glimpsed the light of truth, the Ohr Haganuz concealed in the lechtelach. It was true when Yaakov Avinu crossed the dark, lonely river. It was true when Yosef was in the clutches of aishes Potifar and that image saved him. It was true when the Bluzhever Rebbe lit Chanukah candles on a makeshift menorah in Bergen-Belsen. As he recited the brachos, someone asked him what he referred to when he said the brochah of ‘She’asah nissim laavoseinu bayomim haheim bazeman hazeh.” “Rebbe,” the person said, “with all due respect, look at us, a crowd of starving, broken people who’ve lost everything, prisoners in the worst place on earth. What’s the neis?” “The neis,” replied the rebbe, “is that even here, even though we’re starving and shattered, we still rejoice over the fact that we can come together and see these flickering lights. We see with our own eyes that they endure, and so will we.” It’s a time when, once again, gavra haklippah. But we know that the light shines bayomim haheim bazeman hazeh,

now as then. We look into the flame and we behold its timeless message. We think of the battles fought by Yaakov and contemplate that Yosef was not just a young orphan who dreamed of a better future. He was the embodiment of the hopes and aspirations of Am Yisroel. He dreamed of redemption and the messianic age. But in order for his dream to be realized, he was forced into exile, slavery and darkness. He was placed by a malach, who appeared out of nowhere, into a situation with his brothers that led to an awful dispute, causing them to seek his demise. It was through that tragic period and the chain of events to which it led that he was appointed head of the Egyptian viceroy’s household. From there, once again, fate intervened. He was tempted by the foreign culture and resisted as he saw the demus deyukno shel oviv. Instead of his heroic strength being rewarded, he was thrown into jail. From there, once again, he was redeemed and eventually placed in a leadership position. Yosef represents Am Yisroel in golus. He paved our path with ambition and hope, dreaming of redemption and better days. Not always is the realization of his dreams and prayers readily apparent. In the end, he survives and achieves great salvation and prominence. At the beginning of Parshas Vayeishev, we read, “Aileh toldos Yaakov, Yosef.” Rashi quotes the Medrash, which explains that Yaakov saw the armies of Eisov approaching and wondered how he would defeat them. The Medrash answers with the words of the prophet Ovadiah (1:18): “Vehoyo vais Yaakov aish, uvais Yosef lehovah, uvais Eisov lekash.” One spark will emanate from Yosef and will incinerate the approaching armies of Eisov. That spark is evident every year as we light the menorah. It is the light of the Ohr Haganuz, created at the beginning of time, but hidden after man sinned. The light with which it was once possible to see misof ha’olam ve’ad sofo has been dimmed every day of the year. The holy seforim say that the light of the Ohr Haganuz is evident on Chanukah in the flickering flames of the menorahs we light in our homes.

That tiny spark can illuminate our lives and the world if we contemplate and absorb the messages it bears.

It is interesting to note that we ourselves bring about the great light with our actions. We place oil and a wick in a small container and light it. Just as we activate the Ohr Haganuz with our menorah, we have the ability to cause that light to shine again across the world. If we believe in ourselves, if we surmount the darkness that surrounds us, if we cleave to Torah in a hedonistic world, if we donate so that others can learn Torah, and if we raise ourselves above the morass that fills our world, we can bring about the awaited geulah. Yosef gives birth to Moshiach ben Yosef, who prepares the world for Moshiach ben Dovid. May his light shine and enable us to merit strength, succor and redemption.

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Finally, he drew an ultimatum. “This is my house. You will write on that paper or I will throw you out,” he hissed.

One of the mesaymim asked the rosh yeshiva for a brochah that the resistance of his parents to his Torah studies weaken. “In fact,” he told the rosh yeshiva, “if they knew where I am now, they would be furious. I told them that I am going to play soccer.” Rav Shteinman listened to his request and told the teenager, “You have just answered a question I have always had. Why do we thank Hashem in Al Hanissim for the milchamos, the battles? Now, however, I know that it is for milchamos such as yours, the battles waged by teenagers determined to be loyal to Torah, that we thank Hashem.”

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fight for kedushah. They heard their voices telling them not to succumb to the temptation of yielding to the moment. They saw Yaakov and were encouraged to battle the forces of Eisov. They wouldn’t permit the defilement of Antiyochus to go unpunished. They davened, they summoned up the tefillos of Yaakov from way back when at Galeid, they girded themselves, and they went to war against the prevailing tumah. They refused to be pulled down and lowered. They didn’t become disheartened, overwhelmed by the difficult task at hand. They didn’t see what simpler people saw. They didn’t permit their gaze to be directed by those who were spiritually blind and worshipped the forces of darkness. They didn’t let their thought process be influenced by propaganda. They lived lives of correctness and justice in a period dominated by corruption, banality, immorality and evil. Their message and example, together with that of Yaakov and Yosef, should inspire us as we are faced with temptations the yeitzer hora devises to detour us from our missions as bnei and bnos Torah. We are heirs to a glorious tradition and forerunners of generations following the path laid out for us by the avos and imahos. Let’s never forget that.


Miketz- Chanukah: Finding the Hidden Light Rabbi Brander

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A tantalizing Talmudic section challenges us to think much more deeply about Chanukah [Yoma 29a]. R. Assi said:Why was Esther compared to the dawn? To tell you that just as the dawn is the end of the whole night, so is the story of Esther the end of all the miracles. But there is Chanukah? We refer to those that may be written down. Chanukah was not written down. It happens after the closing of Biblical canon. Yet, the Talmud seems to be making a different point here: It’s not that Chanukah was not written down, it’s that it cannot be written, i.e. something about Chanukah defies written transcription. We may also note that while Jewish tradition pays much halachic attention to the finer details of Chanukah lighting (where, when, who, how), scant Mishnaic detail is given to the essential holiday – appearing but four times in the Mishna[1]. Relating to this issue may also help us encapsulate what makes Chanukah unique and beloved; I share a piece of a wondrous Bnei Yisaschar Torah about the nature of Chanukah[2]. First a few introductory comments: Among the famous hints to Chanukah in the Torah is the 25th (as in the 25 Kislev) word being light (or). That light, according to Midrashic tradition was a different kind of light – a light that allowed Adam HaRishon to see the entire world unimpeded by the physical limitations [Chagiga 12a]. Finally let us note that this light was taken away, because of Adam’s primordial sin - but not before Adam basked in its beautiful light for 36 hours [Yerushalmi, Berachos, 8:5][3]. When that light was lost, the world mourned[4]. Chanukah and Sukkos share many a connection. Consider the following sources 1.      According to Beis Shammai we

descend in candle order (8,7,6…) to accord with Sukkos-bulls Shabbos 21b 2.      “Said the Holy One, Blessed be He: It was your intention to uproot the eight day festival of Sukkot; however I will give them the eight days of Chanukah.” Midrash Chanukah: 3.      And they celebrated the eight days in joy as chag ha-sukkot in their remembrance of their troubles before some time on chag ha-sukkot in the mountains and caves as beasts of the field. Therefore, with branches of myrtle and branches of beauty and date palm branches in their hands, they gave thanks to He who permitted them to succeed in purifying His Temple. And with a consensus they established for the entire Jewish nation to celebrate each year these days. Maccabees II 10:6-8: What are we to make of this connection?  b. One point of halachic difference: the sukkah must be at least ten tefachim (handbreadths) high (btwn 30 and 40 inches), while the menorah should ideally be placed under ten tefachim 4. Greek Exile[5]  is always associated with darkness. Two classic midrashim among many illustrate this point: 1. The World was chaos – this is an allusion to the Babylonian Exile And void this refers to the Medean exile with darkness - this is an allusion to the Greek Exile; on the great Chasm – this refers to the Roman Exile 2. “A dread! Great darkness fell upon him (15:12). ‘“A dread’ – this is the exile of Bavel; ‘darkness’ – this is the galus of Persia; ‘great’ -- this is the exile of Greece; ‘fell upon him’ -- this is the exile of Rome, a wicked nation.’” [Bereishis Rabbah (44:17] Whither the darkness of the Greek Exile? These are all classic questions; Bnei Yisaschar’s notion binds them into one powerful theme. Chanukah takes place at the darkest (physical) time of the year amidst a place of great darkness in Jewish history.  Prophecy has ceased and God’s hidden-ness is a reality. Greek culture and wisdom dominate and make major inroads amongst the masses of Jews. Precisely when utter despair could kick in, Hashem showers his people with a highly improbable victory. (Read Josephus to understand how remarkable a military victory it indeed was).  But, Chanukah is not simply a military victory – nor is it a simple celebration of a particular miracle[6]. Chanukah teaches and inspires the Jew in exile, that the darkness of our world can be overcome. How so? It begins by tapping into that hidden light which gave and gives man the capacity to see the whole world from beginning to end: But was the light created on the first

day? For, behold, it is written: And God set them in the firmament of the heaven,and it is [further] written: And there was evening and there was morning a fourth day— This is [to be explained] according to R. Eleazar. For R. Eleazar said: The light which the Holy One, blessed be He, created on the first day, one could see thereby from one end of the world to the other; We only received a tease of that light, but in the mehadrin world of Chanukah, we light 36 candles (8+7+6…), --equivalent to the 36 hours which Adam HaRishon, presin, experienced the light. Indeed the word light (in its many forms or, meoros, etc) appears a total of 36 times in the Torah! On an annual basis we tap into that deep light which can expel all darkness. More than just a symbol, Chanukah then, is a revisiting of that hidden light. And this is only a hint of the greatness that will yet be. God, as it were showers upon us this light as a way for us to see the end (and the beginning) before it comes. Thus Chanukah, the word, implies beginning, portending an even better future. Consider this: greek wisdom and beauty have tremendous place in Jewish thought – but only insofar as it serves to describe the physical/material world. The Greek worldview celebrates what the eyes can see and the mind can comprehend. The world beyond this world, the soul beyond the body, the light that penetrates the deepest darkness is foreign to the Greek world – but is essential to the Jew. For the Jew, seeing is not believing; rather belief manifests itself precisely where we cannot see and in the places we cannot comprehend. Thus, the Jew closes his eyes when he says Shema! Paradoxically, to the extent that we limit ourselves to what we see and feel, we live in the dark; not just any darkness – but darkness, Greek Style! On Chanukah, we counter that influence, by tapping into a light that can not be seen nor described in human terms. Thus Chanukah, in its essence cannot be written. The hidden light defies physical description, even as it lies at the root of the Chanukah miracle. We are at a loss of words when asked to describe the hidden light, just as we stumble when we try to formulate words for the soul and lose our articulation when we conjure the next world. The fact that we cannot describe them does not undermine our faith in their very reality! One final point: Chanukah’s proximity to Sukkos is not happenstance. A remarkable hint to Chanukah in the Torah finds the mitzvah to light the menorah immediately following the premier section of holidays in the Torah [Vayikra 23/24] – and not coincidentally, immediately following the holiday of Sukkot. More than just a chronological reality, Chanukah picks up

where Sukkos left off. Sukkos is about the protective and manifest Divine cloak that a Jew experiences. It is about feeling enveloped by Hashem. Thus Sukkos is always the holiday of the future[7] A sukkah must be at least ten tefachim high. Why ? (Sukkah 4b-5a) ONE OF WHICH IS NOT TEN HANDBREADTHS HIGH. From where do we know this?- …R. Yossi stated, Neither did the Shechinah ever descend to earth, … Is it not in fact written, And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai? — That was above ten handbreadths …. But is it not written, And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives? — That will be above ten handbreadths. If the Sukkah is being wrapped in the Divine cloak, then it must be above ten tefachim – for God does not descend from that space. Under ten tefachim is a separate domain – it is man-space. And we have really made it very dark. So then, why is the menorah under ten tefachim?  On Chanukah, say the sefarim[8], God makes an exception. He brings His light down to the deepest darkness.

May we all merit to find it!   ---Good Shabbos, A Freilichen and a Lichtige Chanukah.

[1] Further, Chanukah is almost completely absent from the Zohar  (according to the Bnei Ysaschar, I wouldn’t really know) [2] In general, the Bnei Yisaschar on Chanukah is majestic and is a book that need be published for the English speaking public [3] A beautiful and fascinating tradition recorded by sefer HaRokeach records that the letter tes in the word tov which describes the light [es ha’or ki tov] has a four pronged crown  which alludes to that timespan[Tes = 9 x 4 = 36] [4] A Talmudic section [Avodah Zarah 8a] cryptically speaks about pagan holidays Saturnalia and Kalenda that mourned the loss of  light and celebrated its reappearance, that  cropped up at the end of the year during the darkest time of  the calendar. Many fascinating articles have shown the metamorphosis of Saturnalia into Xmas. [5] (a misnomer in the sense that we were still living in Israel)

[6] many wonder why the miracle was even halachically necessary – cf. Pnei Yehoshua Shabbos 21b [7] cf. Avodah Zarah 3a, also - u’phros aleinu sukkas shelomecha, Zecharya’s vision of the gentiles celebrating Sukkot! [8] cf. Emunas Itecha, Sfas Emes 5642, 5647

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Rabbi Asher Brander is the Founder of the LINK Kollel and Shul, located on 1453 S. Robertson Blvd and is a Rebbe at the wonderful Bnos Devorah Girls High School.


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Founded 22 years ago, La Gondola holds the record of being the Los Angeles fleishig Kosher restaurant that has been around the longest under the same owner. (In case you were wondering, the milchig winner is Milky Way.) Nir Weinblut is an actual world record breaker: he served Kosher food on the 123rd floor of the Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world. What’s even more incredible is the Burj Khalifa happens to be in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates- not exactly a place where you’d expect to find a gourmet Kosher meal. I know Nir ships La Gondola’s food all over the world and asked him about the incredible Dubai pictures that I saw posted on La Gondola’s Facebook page. He explained that Rabbi Marvin Hier (founder of the Simon Weisenthal Center) is close friends with Mohammed Al Abbar (owner of the Burj and the man who built most of Dubai) and best friends with HRH (his royal highness) Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid who is the prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates, who is also a major supporter Mahammed al abbar of the Simon Weisenthal Center. Every few years, Rabbi Hier leads a trip of Simon Weisenthal supporters to Israel with a stop in Dubai where the group stays as guests of the sheikh. The first time the group made this pilgrimage Rabbi Hier arranged for frozen Kosher meals to be flown in. The so-so experience did not impress Mohammed al abbar, and the group of philanthropists that flew from all over the globe to be there, so the following year he offered to fly in La Gondola’s food. Nir casually remarked, “why ship food if I can cook it fresh IN DUBAI?” Mr. al abbar agreed and told Mr. Weinblut to give him a list of what he would need to make it happen. Mr. al abbar okayed Nir’s long and detailed list

of ingredients and equipment and funded entirely new kitchen supplies, gourmet ingredients from all over the world, and then chartered a plane for the Chef Nir of La Gondola and their paraphernalia. When the cooking saga began, Nir found himself cooking side by side with a Syrian Muslim chef, the duo smiled at each other, high fived and got down to business creating one of the most spectacular five days of Kosher meals to ever be served in the Armani hotel of the Burj Kalif. La Gondola regularly caters events at luxury hotels such as the Biltmore, Ritz Carlton, and Four Seasons as well as many venues around southern California. La Gondola is available for catering from Las Vegas to San Diego to San Francisco. His food can also be flash frozen for trips and is regularly boxed up for trips to Hawaii and the Bahamas. La Gondola is at 9025 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills and reservations can be made by calling 310-247-1239 or on their website www.lagondola.com. They have an awesome party room that is across the hall from the restaurant- I have personally hosted a party there and

can vouch for the exclusive, private feel of the room for a (shockingly!) reasonable price. If it’s your first time at La Gondola you will be pleasantly surprised with the elegant atmosphere. The restaurant is large and gorgeous, there are professional waiters, an extensive wine list and beautiful menu. So many of La Gondola’s originals, like avocado eggrolls and candied bacon have been imitated by other restaurants. Trendsetting with Kosher food is a Weinblut family signature: his mom created the salad bar concept for the original Jerusalem Pizza (in New Jersey—before the New York location) over 30 years ago! You must try their barbeque beef ribs and shredded Asian chicken appetizer. It can be awkward to order ribs when all dressed up, but La Gondola’s ribs are incredibly soft and glide off the bone, so you can either pick it up and go caveman style, or easily look civilized with a knife and fork as the meat cuts so easily. The shredded chicken is grilled, savory, cut up chicken arranged on flat tortilla chips, drizzled with a sesame sauce and garnished with spices and scallions. You will gobble it. Those

are the two dishes to start with, but if you’re a chicken soup person, they have the best chicken-noodlematza ball version in a Los Angeles restaurant. I feel like I’m cheating you if I don’t mention one more favorite: the Tinga burger. It has fake cheese, Beef bacon, and delicious home ground beef, sometimes I order it without the bun and it’s even better. Ok, those are the basics, you’ll have to go there in person to see what you think is the best. I have known Mr. Weinblut for many years and we banter about the complicated food industry. When I ask what he credits for the longevity of his restaurant he explains, “As you know the restaurant business is not easy, to not see your family because you’re in the restaurant all the time and do this for years and years, you have to love it. It is an art that makes us happy. Giving people amazing food makes us happy.” Estee Cohen is a California native and goes out to eat more than is appropriate.  She is a kosher food insider, has a patient husband and 3 little kids.  She is passionate about restaurants, science education, and collects rooster figurines.  

NOVEMBER 28, 2013

La Gondola


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Wild, Wild West: A history of the Jewish Iranian Migration to Los Angeles by Bracha Turner

It was February 1979. At first, the Iranian Jewish population didn’t take the revolution seriously—most chose to stay in Iran unfettered by the unrest in the streets. The seemingly close ties between Iranian Jews and the Royal Court gave them confidence that all would be well and that the political unrest would soon be quelled. The secret police told them that all was under control in order to keep the masses calm. It goes without saying that all this was a lie. By now, it was too late. The Shah fled Iran and the rest is history. Just like our ancestors in Egypt who were forbidden to leave Egypt with their entire families as a political stratagem to make them return, the Shah’s regime acted similarly to prevent Jewish families from leaving Iran with all their wealth. The logic behind this immigration system was that as long as someone in the family was held within the country, then the individuals had compelling reason to return. A small percentage of Jews left Iran during the time of the Shah. The majority of Jews left Iran beginning in 1980, once the revolution was well under way. Families left Iran in stages—half the family taking the ordinary route and waiting to sell their homes and businesses and subsequently traveling by plane, and the other half fleeing the border for their lives. After the embassy had been raided and closed down, all Green cards had to be processed in U.S. Consulates outside of Iran. For the latter group who fled the Southern border into Pakistan, the danger of gunfire, malaria, being lost in the desert wilderness were risks that the refugees were willing to take to escape the increasing oppression in

Iran due to the Islamic Revolution. Even before the Revolution, many tried to hide their Jewishness in order to avoid being treated as second-class citizens. Leaving Iran was a perilous journey fraught with danger: when visas were denied or prohibited, many Jews fled the border with the assistance of smugglers across desert wilderness into Pakistan, flying into Vienna, Austria where they awaited a visa to the US in a heavily anti-semitic country. Some chose to flee to Israel but Israeli immigration officers strictly questioned incoming goods and hoped to make money off of the items that Iranians brought into the country. America on the other hand closed its eyes and not only allowed the Persian refugees to come as businessmen but allowed them to bring all their wealth with them—suitcases of silver, jewelry, and carpets— without taxation. Prior to the Revolution, the Chief Rabbi of Iran Yedidia Shofet already started suggesting that the Jewish people ought to consider leaving the country. However, it was never an organized, planned venture to bring the majority of Jewish Iranians to Los Angeles. There was no organized leadership that rallied together throngs of immigrants to join a mass immigration— it is a phenomenon that is a mystery how it just came to be. Los Angeles harbors the largest population of Persian Jews in America, with figures estimated at 5055,000. Some say the reason for it is as simple as the good weather; others would argue that it was due to a pre-existing network of several thousand Iranians here prior to the Revolution. Considering this, it was already a relatively large community

Portrait of Hacham Yedidia Shofet surrounded by family members after his reading of the Megillah [[999], Nessah Cultural Center & Synagogue, formerly located in Santa Monica, CA. PHOTO COURTESY OF GAZIN ARCHIVE. ©2013/SHELLEY GAZIN. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Interview with Mr. Houman Sarshar, editor of Esther’s Children, A Portrait of Iranian Jews What separates Mizrachi from Sephardi Jews? Mizrachi means Eastern Jews which generally means Jewish populations that are East of Babylonian communities of Jews. We have a slightly different tradition in terms of liturgy; we are not that far from the Sephardim but we are a completely different branch of Judaism. For the most part, Iranian Jews have been living in Iran for 2700 years and we have developed our own culture, languages, social habits, rituals around life events that are pretty different from that of the Sephardim—especially from the Sephardim of the United States. We may have similarities with the Iraqi Jews or the Syrian Jews or even Turkish Jews. These similarities goes back to the fact that we are from the same part of the world—we have the same kinds of food, the same social values, and we have the same cultural values to some extent. But the American Sephardic community has a different way of being in the world, a different value systems, a liturgical process that is very different and the Iranians have fully assimilated into that. European French and Spanish Jews are about as far from Iranian Jews as any Jewish community could be and they are solidly Sephardi. How has Iranian Islamic culture impacted the way Persian Jews practice Judaism today? A lot of the traditions that we have are directly influenced by Islamic rituals. Iranian Jews that their morning rituals are very much closer to Muslim Iranian morning rituals than anything. Our way of singing liturgical music in shul is strongly and undeniably rooted in the classic Persian system of notes, or the daska system. Certain Jewish holidays, predominantly Passover have taken particular significance because they coincide with Iranian cultural holidays. This affects the way Iranian Jews define themselves. I think that our wedding ceremonies and our celebrations of life events—all these things are a lot closer to the way Muslims do it than the way a French Jew would do it. The way a young couple meets each other, the way a weddings used to be once upon a time, all our behaviors and cultural practices and social norms and values are very much in line with the Iranian Muslim community that will in many ways clash with a European Sephardic one. In the same way that a Jewish American will find themselves very different from a Moroccan Jew or a Jewish community of Afghanistan or a Russian community or of the Caucuses, everyone will find they are Jewish but they will find

at their ceremonies something different than what they expected at an American Jewish wedding in Connecticut. Were there any leaders who precipitated the mass migration of Jews to Los Angeles? I don’t know if the decision for Iranian Jews, or Iranians in general, to end up in Southern California is a little bit of a mystery of migration of the monarch butterfly. No one knows why it happened—it is just somewhat of a collective thing that picked up its own momentum. It was never an organized process; certainly in the beginning for the first four or five years, it was never a conscious process or a movement that was led by any leader or foundation. The sheer numbers saw it build its own momentum and gravitational pull. To my knowledge there really was never any organized plan for Iranian Jews or any Iranians to move to Los Angeles. After the community has been there and established there the Jewish Federation, the Iranian chapter of Bnei Brith and Nessah started doing their work there. When they started to organize and pick leaders out of the community to manage community affairs it just became a matter of course that any Jewish Iranian who needed help to immigrate out of Iran and come to the United States to come to establish their families and start a life naturally came to where these organizations were. But that is just kind of more of a logical conclusion of how things developed. It was never a targeted thing. What do you see as some of the successes of Iranian Jews in Los Angeles? I think that they were able to continue beyond their own wildest dreams the astronomical rise to power that they saw in Iran in the last 25 to 30 years prior to the Revolution in Iran. I think that they were able to achieve a level of financial success that none of them could have even dreamt of. I think that they were able to establish or raise a generation of children who are by far so much more educated than their own parents as a collective I think it would be be hard-pressed to knock on the home of an Iranian Jew and not find at least 50 percent, if not 75 to 80 percent, to find children to have a university degree that is of a master’s level or higher. The number of doctors or lawyers that the community has raised is just disproportionate on a level that you couldn’t have even imagined. I think that they have succeeded phenomenally in remaining a closely knit community, even at certain times and ways more tightly knit than they were in Iran. I think


27 THE JEWISH HOME NOVEMBER 28, 2013

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compared to elsewhere even before 1980. Despite this, when Iranian Jews travelled to Los Angeles, there were no Iranian organizations to assist them. Those individuals who were once leaders in Iran unofficially took upon themselves the responsibility of Iranian Jews who were displaced by the revolution. Eventually, they also turned to the US government for support. A delegation of Iranian Jews arrived to the White House and addressed the Cabinet. It was then that the Iranian hostage crisis was stalemating and the US government were displeased with Iranians as a whole and threatened to bar all entry of Iranians into the country. The delegation received special approval so that Iranian Jews were exempted and received refugee status and granted asylum in the US. All religious minorities in Iran—Bahai, Christian, and Jewish—were granted this special status. The American Jewish Federation’s Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) partnered with the American Joint Distribution Committee, who had the financial system to make things turn, and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a refugee rescue organization that had its branches in Vienna and Italy, to coordinate visas to the US. They were also committed to taking care of the Persian Jewish refugees after they landed in Los Angeles. The three organizations’ combined efforts were tremendously successful. Funds of $2 million dollars were allocated from Joint to HIAS (who charged for their services) to assist Iranian Jews who already managed to escape the Iranian borders. With the formation of the Iranian American Jewish Federation, a committee of Iranian Jews met together weekly to screen applications

before they were processed in Vienna. Problems such as determining which applicants were truly Jewish or how to deal with interfaith couples had to be addressed because the venture focused specifically on assisting Jews. There was a rise in fraudulent applicants who pretended to be Jewish in order to receive the federations’ support in immigrating to the US. Rav David Shofet, son of the former chief rabbi of Iran and founder of Nessah Synagogue, was appointed as a representative of the rabbanut in order to create a planned course of action in how to handle such cases. It was a time-consuming and laborious process to which he was ardently committed. Once a week the IAJF committee met for a few hours to review applicants, their financial statuses, and their income, in order to determine their ability to support themselves and review their need for assistance. Mr. Solomon Rastegar, one of the co-founders of the Iranian American Jewish Federation (IAJF) describes the process of screening applications for assistance in immigrating to the US. Though many asked for personal favors to get a relative or friend into the country sooner, hastening someone’s application through a connection with the screening committee did not exist in the slightest. There was a standard procedure that no individual could bypass that varied from four months to a couple of years. Once they landed in Los Angeles, JVS took over to orient the Persian Jews to the city. They took groups of Iranian Jews around the city and showed them where to find basic amenities, where supermarkets were located and the like, and explained

that they have succeeded wonderfully in making a life for themselves in a country where most survived without knowing the language or the way of living here or knowing what to do. I think as a community of immigrants we are probably among the rare few who to this day support itself and take care of its own without having to rely on the generosity and kindness of the American government. And I think we have done pretty well for ourselves. Do you see the new generation as being different from the generation that grew up in Iran? Yes, absolutely. The traditional Iranian values are inapplicable to the American way of life and that is probably going to be the most blaring and the most drastic difference you will find between the generation who came here and the generation who was born here. I think that they find themselves—the ones who came here younger or who were born soon thereafter, essentially, people who are now in their thirties—are finding themselves at a huge tug-of-war and invariably the Iranian side will lose when it comes to social values. It is not an easy thing to live in an Iranian way in the United States. This is biggest thing that is probably going to get lost. It’s hard, it’s something that is unfortunately going to get lost and in my opinion the value of which they are never really going to understand and so they’re never really going to get to benefit from it because it’s a culture and tradition that’s hard to live under and live by but it’s a tradition and a culture and a value system that really set up by the elders for the elderly so you kind of need to live within it and by it for the majority of your life and hope that you live long enough. I suppose it’s Iran’s moral social security if you die before you’re 65 you don’t really benefit from it but if you live long enough you really do profit from it. We don’t put our elders in nursing homes; we kind of take care of our own. Not that putting people in a nursing home is a bad thing—sometimes it’s physically impossible to provide them the medical attention that they need but our elders do not end up in a nursing home only because they’re old and no one wants to cook for them or clean their house. What else do you mean by Persian values? The way we care for ourselves, the way we remain tight-knit within each other. Listen, my father grew up in a world where he was a very successful businessman and I think to this day, honest to G-d, I don’t think my father ever signed a single partnership contract or agreement until years after he came to the United States. And when he was proportionately or comparatively speaking infinitely more successful in Iran than he was here even though he

has done pretty well for himself here, but you know the kind of world where two gentlemen when two families see each other and know who they are and decide to go into a business on the basis of a handshake and the partnership lasts for generations on a handshake is never going to come back certainly never in this business world in the United States. The sense of honor and how you treat your in-laws and the family ties you marry into, and the dos and the don’ts are simply lost. An American man or woman of Iranian descent is not going to show the same level of respect or deference to an in-law as a matter of course as an Iranian would—it’s just not going to happen. Do you see this evolution of values as the cause of the increasing divorce rates among Persians? Yes. And I say this with a caveat that I don’t think that divorces are necessarily bad. Marriage is a contract that is not exclusively based on love and lifetime movie stories. People get together get married and stick it out because hopefully they’re going to live a long life and they’re going to want the companionship. People lose track of that and they forget that. What the real institution of marriage is about gets confused with the values of romantic and neo-nineteenth century values of love and romance and movies and all of that sort of stuff and they fall apart more quickly. There may have been some women of the generation who left Iran perhaps feel they have the freedom to divorce in a way that they feel they did not have in Iran but I think it terms of proportionately speaking divorce remains more scarce in that generation than the younger generation that’s now getting married. My parents’ entire generation would’ve been surrounded by divorced couples. Even the values with which they got married and the changes that came on with their life. Even looking at their situations the way they are with each other, you would think the most logical thing would be divorce but when you understand that the institution of marriage for them has a different meaning then you would understand why they tough it out... it’s about building a community of your own, a social structure that provides the benefits of caretaking and supporting and watching each others’ backs and caring for each others’ stresses and doing things the right way which are all benefits within that value system and social structure in a way that pleasure and vacations and roses and Valentine cards cannot compare.


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to them the difference between life in Iran and life in the US. Other ways JVS would assist the newcomers was covering their health insurance for some time, supporting them in their search for a job, and well as providing counseling for incidents of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse was not rare to see when fathers with status left their home country and lost their reputation, status and wealth; when they failed in their ability to provide an income, their self esteem was often shattered and the bitter rage of their situation was released at home. Despite the troubles that the new communities faced, there was also tremendous support from the American Jewish communities in Los Angeles. American Jews welcomed their Iranian counterparts with open arms and open hearts. They opened doors to different organizations to help integrate the Iranian Jews and make them feel a sense of belonging. While some Iranians did join, some were reluctant to integrate with Americans and chose to intermingle only amongst themselves. To this day, there is a general discomfort amongst many Iranians to integrate with communities other than their own; it is a community that is reluctant to melt down. This resistance, as it were, translates into Iranians avoiding ‘mixed marriages’ with non-Iranians. However, as the contemporary generation adapts to American culture, there is a generational shift in this regard and a greater willingness to integrate with the wider Jewish community. For the generation of Persian who first arrived here, they maintain their own societies by having their own cluster of common activities, sometimes called ‘doreh’s where they meet other Persians for afternoon tea and entertainment. It helps that they have their own theatre, nightclubs, restaurants and bookstores to generate a tendency to associate exclusively with other Persians. Furthermore, Iranian Jews have successfully set up their own synagogues where services are in Farsi and Hebrew. Because of the sheer demand for Persian minyanim, they even have established their own minyanim within Ashkenazi synagogues, such as Nessah which was originally founded in the basement of Beth Jacob. What is uniquely intriguing about Persian synagogues is that they are not overtly defined by denomination like other synagogues and seem to attract Persians of all levels of observance. The Westernization of Iran prior to the Revolution caused a certain cynicism with regard to religion. Despite the fact that Persians adhere strongly to tradition, there is often a resistance that is fashionable, as it were. With this trend comes a desire to give an impression of being like European enlightened thinkers (what Persians call “roshan fekhr”), wearing designer clothing, and a deeply entrenched regard for honor and status that such impressions entail. The desire for creating and perpet-

uating one’s honor and status is something derived from Iranian society and is a phenomenon that has yet to be evinced from Persian Jewish culture. The local kosher Persian cuisine on Pico Boulevard, called Kolah Farangi translates as “European hat” because Persians are of the persuasion to do just that—put on the appearance and guise of European sophistication. The homes, the luxury vehicles, the elaborate weddings are often gimmicks of wealth status. It is for this very reason that from the generation of Persian Jews who were born here or came here when they were very young there is a wide pool of unmarried singles. If they choose to marry other Persians, these adults are frequently challenged with finding a partner who has realistic expectations beyond income and status symbols.

entire generation. This apathetic attitude towards Jewish education could be a factor influencing assimilation into American culture in places such as Beverly Hills High School and the like where Jewish Persian students are abound. Where there once was an upholding of the values of chastity and respect for the elderly and a strong significance for family and the like, with every new generation this heritage is being watered down. By the third and fourth generations of descendants of Iranian Jews, the children have adopted the habits of the place they are raised. The strong faith of the elderly generation, who has a deep appreciation and reverence for the Torah that is visibly perceptible, is something that needs to be passed on to oncoming generations. To combat the influence of assimilation into

Rabbi Shofet giving parsha class at Nessah Synogogue

Iranian Jews have brought nonetheless brought a vigor and flavor to Jewish life in Los Angeles. Los Angeles in turn has bred a new generation of Persian Jews who celebrate their yiddishkeit in a way that is different from their parents who left Iran. It is increasingly common to find in the past decade a growing number of Persian Jewish adults who cover their hair in observance of Jewish marital laws and who wear kippot. The vibrancy and tenacity of a tradition of 2700 years is lived on through musical revelry and dance, a strong adherence to holiday and Shabbat gatherings, and a traditionalism that is in many ways stronger than their American Jewish counterparts. While Iranian Jews have used their exclusive isolationism in many instances in positive ways, a letter issued by the Persian Rabbinical Council points out that they have failed in one aspect—with all their wealth that they have amassed in Iran and in the US, they have had little interest in investing and perpetuating their own traditions by means of setting up their own establishments for Jewish education (especially Persian Jewish education). There is wide lacuna in setting up their own Jewish institutions of learning that match Ashkenazi educational institutions. Persian Jews often do not even know that they are not Sephardi Jews but rather Mizrachi Jews and have unique traditions that differ from those inherited by the Jews of Western Europe. Instead of founding Persian Jewish schools, they have a tendency to send their children to other educational institutions and thus the traditions are being lost to an

American culture, the Jewish Educational Movement (JEM) operates at Beverly Hills High School to promote Jewish educational programs within a public school system that are engaging and fun for youth. Founded and tirelessly operated by the Illulian family, the events allow the students to own their Yiddishkeit and collectively celebrate it by learning things they perhaps were not taught at home. While there has been a relative dearth of spiritual advancement and educational investment, on the flip-side Persians have enjoyed tremendous financial success in Los Angeles. Even those who had wealth in Iran cannot compare with the success rate experienced by Iranian American Jews. According to Rastegar, this remarkable degree of success in their business ventures stems from a business-mindedness bred through discriminatory laws against Persian Jews in Iran. Because Persian Jews were barred from holding government positions and could not hold high positions in the Iranian army, consequently Iranian Jews tended towards business. Rastegar further explains reasons for this high degree of financial success: “We learned to live as a minority in Iran. Getting here we used the same technique, the same way of thinking and way of life. We brought our culture and our way of running a business here. Other non-Jewish Iranians would amass their wealth by basing their enterprises on their social capital and knowledge of contacts. They could easily depend on their father-in-law in government for an exemption or assistance or rely on a cousin for help. Persian Jews

had to be more cautious, more thoughtful, more resourceful.” Rastegar suggests that this tendency in making less risky business investments allowed greater and greater capital yields. The current political situation in Iran is a poignantly personal topic for some Persians who feel strong ties to Iran but denounce the Islamic Republic of Iran. Elham Yaghoubian, author and political activist, describes the U.N.’s eased attitudes regarding sanctions on the country as signaling trouble ahead. “It is shocking to many that the Obama administration trusted the Islamic Republic of Iran’s regime, a government who wanted to wipe Israel from the map, a government which is the top violator of human rights and a main supporter of terrorist organizations,” says Yaghoubian. She speaks on behalf of many Persian Jews in the belief that Iran as a nation has a right to nuclear power although Persian Jews here are against the Islamic Republic of Iran obtaining this power. Among the next generation of Persian Jews, ties with the mother country and with the Persian community at large are dwindling. Though they may identify ethnically as Persian, as they are American by birth, Farsi is being lost as a spoken language. Even so, the cultural values and traditions can be kept alive by those who choose to embrace them. The value of family, a profound sense of spirituality (whether or not they appear observant) and love for Hashem and the Torah, the loving, warm home that never turns you away, the generous helpings of food and the lively cheer, and a thriving entrepreneurial spirit are things with which the Persian community can take great pride. This new generation bears the weight of a great tradition and keeping it alive is something that will take active effort. Educationally, socially and politically, Jews of Persian descent need to be involved in the Jewish community as Persians, to recall their history and to represent their forebears in the perpetuation of the heritage that is remarkably distinctive and historically valued if it will be eternalized by those who bear its name. Words to impress your Iranian neighbors Salaam: Hello Chet-o-ree: How are you? Moat-cha-keram: Thank you. Merci: Thank you. Bokhor!: Eat! Cha-yee Mee-khai: Would you like some tea? Ne-mee-cham: I don’t want. Bee-yoh een-ja: Come here. Mee-doo-nee: You get it? Farsi Mee-doo-nam: I know Farsi. Pa-sho Be-reem: Let’s go! Jaan?: Pardon me, I didn’t catch that? Taarof: A rule in which you must refuse something that’s offered to you at least three times before you accept it in order to prove that you are not needy or desperate Be-rakhz!: dance! Shey-toon: Rascal Be-farmayin: Please help yourselves.


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CHANUKAH Our Most Misspelled Festival by Joe Bobker

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Jews in Westerbork camp, Holland, lighting the seventh candle

HANUKAH IS THE LAST OF THE AUTUMN HOLIDAYS, THE FIRST RABBINIC FESTIVAL OF THE NEW YEAR, AND THE ONLY DAY IN THE JEWISH CALENDAR THAT COMMEMORATES A MILITARY VICTORY. IT IS ALSO THE MOST MISSPELT OF ALL JEWISH FESTIVALS:1

Chanukka, Chanuka, Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanuko, Hannuka, Hannukah, Hanuka, Hanukah, Hanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanuka, Khanukah, Kanukkah, Xanuka, Khanukah....Take your pick, any one will do. Why? Because no matter how you spell it, when Chanukah arrives on the 25th of

Kislev it arrives as the most conspicuous symbol of the miracle of Jewish survival. If Pesach’s slogan was Let My People Go, Chanukah’s became Let My People Glow! – and yet, it is surprisingly short on halachik rituals. Why? Because it focuses on quality, not quantity; on the few defeating the many, on the weak reversing the strong, on an oil

cruse burning longer than it should. There are only two Chanukah laws: singing songs of praise and thanksgiving (Hallel and al-Hanissim, inserted in the shemonei esrei and benching), and mitzva Chanukah, ner ish u’baito, kindling of lights to “publicize the miracle” (pirsum ha-nes). What miracle? That the Jewish spirit can never be dimmed, let alone extinguished; a halachik demand that the seventh Rebbe of Chabad, R’ Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, took so seriously as to encourage annual Chanukah lighting ceremonies in such public places as shopping malls and central parks that even reached inside the White House and, incredibly, the once-feared Kremlin. “For such a little bit of oil, such a

big festival?” goes the old Yiddish saying. Candle by candle, flame by flame, we stood, parents and children, with candles that never seemed to really fit and orange candle wax dripping on our fingers that clutched the tashen gelt, magnetized not only by the dreams of the Maccabeans whose memory we were honoring but by the hopes of our parents’ generation of survivors from Churban Europa we were subtly acknowledging. As other kids watched the candles being lit, I remember watching my father’s face, shadowed by the undying lamp of Judah and ablaze with the miracle of self-survival, displaying not a single scar of disillusionment with his faith. Here they were: my mother and


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I

n our mesmerized imaginations, my sister and I pictured history’s tormentors of the guardians of Judaism burn in the inferno of those Chanukah flames; and so we sang songs of praise of the few against the many, a web of heroes and heroines ranging from Judah to Chana to the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. That is why Chanukah, as a cham-

pion of liberty and a festival of joy, prohibits sadness, fasting or mourning. In the Venice Ghetto, Jews during the Middle Ages would row through the watery streets on gondolas looking for the tell-tale chanukkiahs, and then burst into joyful song when they spotted one. When R’ Eliezer and R’ Joshua once heard that the Jews of Lydda had fasted during Chanukah, they were so upset that they staged another fast to atone for the Chanukah fast. And so Chanukah, uniquely different from all other Jewish festivals,

through a gas chamber. Yet somehow he managed, a few minutes later, to finish the blessing, “Blessed art Thou, who kept us alive, and preserved us....” The Rebbe survived the war, and many years later recalled that moment, how his candle had attracted a small circle of Jews, faces strained, eyes concentrated with faith. How could he disappoint them? Realizing that “there is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of one small candle,” the rabbiprisoner became reinvigorated and

Chanukka, Chanuka, Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanuko, Hannuka, Hannukah, Hanuka, Hanukah, Hanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanuka, Khanukah, Kanukkah, Xanuka, Khanukah....Take your pick, any one will do. encourages fun ‘n games ‘n partying. But when all is said and done, when we are saturated with doughnuts, tired of playing games, kvitlach, our fingers tired from spinning dreidels, our pockets stuffed with gelt and gifts, what precisely is the “essence” of Chanukah? The answer comes to us from an inspirational moment in 1943 when Chanukah came to Bergen-Belsen, and Rabbi Israel Spira, the extraordinary Rebbe of Bluzhov, wanted to comply with lighting candles, a near-impossible mitzvah since Adolf’s camps weren’t exactly known for their ready supply of chanukkiahs. So the rabbi improvised. He carved holes in a wooden shoe clog, made wicks out of the strings in his striped death camp uniform, and used black shoe polish for oil. He was now ready to make the three blessings: one for the lights, one for the miracle, one (Shehecheyanu) of appreciation, but he only made it through the first two, unable to say the final words of gratitude. Reality had set in. Rav Spira’s wife, only daughter, son-in-law, and only grandchild had just met their Maker

suddenly found the strength to finish the blessing, proving that even in Hitler’s hell, “one man’s candle is light for many,” and that sometimes one must look into ashes, according to R’ Dov Ber of Mazeritch, in order to find a solitary spark. This is a common myth: that Chanukah and the menorah are synonymous with light. They are not. They are synonymous with the hope for renewed light, aware, as those insightful Yiddishists put it, “If not for the light, there would be no shadow.” By switching the order of the two Hebrew letters (r, i) in rah (“evil”), our Jewish mystics formed the word or, which means “spiritual awakening,” or awareness. The Chassidic Sages saw their challenge in finding the spark within moments of terrible darkness – and make even evil holy. They knew: hopelessness and despair were also a kind of darkness that blinded their folk to the light. This is what Rav Spira experienced in the winter of Bergen-Belsen, when the day is at its shortest and the night at its longest, a stimulus to a rabbinic adage, ki ner Elokim nishmat adam, that

“the candle of G-d is the soul of man,” which he witnessed shining from his fellow Jewish prisoners. In their reflective faces he saw that old Yiddish battle cry, “Vos mir zeinen, zeinen mir; ober Yidden zeinen mir,” “Whatever we are, we are; but Jews we are” – proof that the Chosen people were no different than the flicker of a flame that changes from one moment to the next, but remains steady at its core essence.

I

t is only now, as an adult looking back on my childhood Chanukah recollections, that I realize when my family passed that modest shammash candle from one to another it was as though we were passing the tale of miracles to each other; a singular moment of indescribable palatability of the eternal quality of the Yiddishe folk. And more: surely the most striking and extraordinary lesson contained in the command to “publicize the miracle,” is that we do so with no noisy display, no fanfare, no hubbub of activity, no fancy meals, no blowing of shofars, no public readings. We do so with just simple light, trusting on the quiet of a candle flame that dances noiselessly, shining as a challenge, a dare to recall not only the days gone by but those that await us just around the corner. Our Sages say that the miracle of Chanukah was the “end of all miracles,” a moment in history after which miraculous events suddenly became taken for granted. “Our original ancestors,” writes the 13th century mystic-scholar Ramban, “saw miracles on a deeper level, in all things – they were rescued from hunger, death, war and the sword, and were given wealth and respect – a good life…they understood that all things depend on hidden miracles.” I beg to differ that miracles in the 21st century are a thing of the past, and I produce as the main exhibit a Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch observation: “One single Jew, one single Jewish house is ultimately in itself sufficient to serve as foundation for the re-erection of the entire Jewish sanctuary.” Now that I have children of my own I am more appreciative of the fact that the burning candle my father passed to me, the one his father once passed to him, is the same candle that I pass on to each of my four sons, who are now passing it on to each of their sons and daughters…for not only can mesorah (tradition) be transmitted generationally (dor v’dor), so can its brightness of hope, its luster of optimism, its glistening desire, its effulgent expectation, its everlasting longing.

WIISSHH HNOVEMBER HOOMMEE nn M AY N28, O V22013 E4M, B2012 E R 2 8 , 2013 THE JEWISH TTHHEE JJHOME EEW

father, two Jewish bearers of the postAuschwitz torch, human soul-candles, steeled by tradition and history, passionately lighting candles after experiencing Stalin gulags with a dual poignant veneer: despair, damped by tears of joy. Truly the stuff of legends; a faith akin to that flaming bush that was once not consumed. As we gazed at that feast of small candles my sister, Chanal’e, and I felt doubly secure in the warmth of flames that ensured a Jewish future, by the spiritual radiance of survivors warily rebuilding the ramparts of Yiddishkeit, wick-by-wick. Oddly, I recall being transfixed by the first night’s candle. It just stood there in the dark; solitaire, lonely, seemingly forlorn. After all, how much flame can one single candle in eclipse emit? But then came the second night and a companion candle suddenly diminished the dimness of the first. And so it went: each new candle was an associate, a comrade, a fiery sidekick, and each night the darkness seemed to be withdrawing in retreat, as though each successive candle in a row, aglow, whispered that they should now jointly ascent the dark cliffs of nightfall. This made the small flames of each successive night suddenly grow in both stature and magnitude. As children we stared wide-eyed at those golden dancing flames, that seemed to twinkle along to our songs, starting with “Haneirot halalu anu madlikin, anu madlikim, madlikim,” and ending with a little Yiddish ditty, “Chanukah or Chanukah, A yom tov a sheiner, A lustiker, a freilicher, Nisht do noch a zeiner.” The best was the last, when the lights were eight times as bright as the first, a day known as zot Hanukka, “This is the Dedication,” the opening phrase of the Torah reading derived from the Torah’s hanukkat ha-mizbeah, “dedication offering for the altar,” whose real translation is, “This is the essence of Chanukah!” On this climax, even the lonely and sequestered shamash suddenly seemed animated, coming alive, burning equally and majestically with all the others, his duty done.

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The true miracle of the Jewish people falls into the category of chukim, statutes of the Torah that are beyond logic and human rationale; the lesson of Chanukah is an ongoing historic chuk, one that truly transcends logic: that a flame that started from one hand to another, then went from one home to another, eventu-

ally shaped one single House of Israel into an entire Household of Israel – an unstoppable covenant-bound march of cooperative lights embarked on a common mission. Each delicately flickering candle in the window, glowing seemingly in isolation, unattached, like an innocent

MALBISH ARUMIM

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spiritual ember ready to pounce and burst aflame, is symbolic of the Jews’ beacon to history. Is it a coincidence? Chanukah takes place in the ninth month of the Jewish year, alluding to the miracle of birth, and the ongoing hope for rebirth, echoed in the lyrics of Chaneros Hallalu, “For the miracles and wonders…in those days and in these days.” Like pristine candles in the wind, the Jewish folk have shone on despite staring into the face of a stark, black night in the dead of winter, constantly and miraculously emerging as the “light unto the nations” – a challenge and a declaration that never ends; that Israel never dies; that the dream continues to burn in the hearts of perhaps only the few, but the whole burns so bright that no tempest can quench it. The greatest miracle of them? Not that one day’s oil burnt for

GENT!

eight days, but that the light of those eight days are still afire, burning and a’blazing, despite all the forced conversions and crucifixions, pogroms and stakes, death marches and gas chambers, and yet, there are still Jews of faith left to light the candles of Chanukah. The rest, as they say, is history – amply illuminated. Joe Bobker, alumni of Yeshivas HaRav Kook, Jerusalem, is the former publisher and editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Jewish Times, author of the popular Torah With a Twist of Humor series and the 12-volume Historiography of Orthodox Jews and the Holocaust, to be published next summer by Gefen Press, Jerusalem. He can be reached at jbobker@ aol.com

Why are there so many variant spellings? Because ‘Hanukkah/Chanukka’ consists of five Hebrew characters that begin with the consonant het or chet, guttural sounds that have no exact equivalent in English (despite what looks like their English counterparts, “h” or “ch.”) When once asked what Jews have in common, eleven-year-old Elise replied, “We know how to say the ‘ch’ sound without giving ourselves laryngitis.” 1

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Malky Lowinger

They’ll Never Know You Only Spent Ten Dollars! It’s not easy buying Chanukah gifts, especially when you’re on a budget. If only you could purchase presents for the people you love without spending a fortune.

h a k u n a h C t a e r G n Te r o f s a e d I Gift t e g d u B a n o e s o h T

Well, you can. Because it’s not the price tag that matters when you buy a gift, it’s the thought behind it. So choose wisely and always keep the lifestyle of the recipient in mind. The best gifts are the ones that say, “This is perfect for you!”

For the Family Chef Joie Dipping Cone $4.99 | KitchenClique.com If you hate it when someone “double dips,” then here’s the perfect solution. This white plastic cone has a removable dipping tray that can be filled with your favorite sauce or dressing. Use the cone for individual portions of veggie sticks, finger foods, or French fries. Kids will love it!

For the Young and Young at Heart Admission for One to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan $11.00 | Cmom.org Located in the Tisch Building at 212 West 83 rd Street, the museum offers interactive exhibits and programs for children (and adults) of all ages. Treat someone special to an afternoon at the museum this winter and spend some quality time together. That’s the most precious gift of all.

For Your Favorite Bookworm Multi Flex Gooseneck Book light $9.99 | BedBathandBeyond.com Remember when you used to read under the covers as a kid using a flashlight? Now your kids are doing the same thing, but they’ll be using this sleek, high tech lamp that provides glare-free light for over 100,000 hours. It clips onto a book or stands alone. Uses three AAA batteries.

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Basic Fun Mini Simon $10.99 | DoublePlaytoys.com, BarnesandNoble.com

For The Lady in Your Life Manicure Gift Certificate $8.00-9.00 Treat your favorite female to a manicure at her favorite local salon. Most offer gift cards for your convenience. A great idea for the young lady who recently outgrew her toys and games and is ready to start growing up or for the homemaker who is too frazzled to treat herself on a regular basis.

A miniature version of the popular Simon electronic game, this one can go with you anywhere. Test your concentration, reflexes, and agility and have fun at the same time! Great for age 7 and up! Seniors will love it, too!

For Your Favorite Linguist The Easy Shmeezy Guide to Yiddish $8.99 | MenuchaPublishers.com By R’ Moshe Sherizen (soft cover)

There’s no question that Yiddish is making a comeback big-time. Brush up on those nuanced phrases that are impossible to translate into English, no matter how hard you try. This guide includes over 1,500 of the most common words and expressions in a clear, humorous context. He’ll just plotz when he sees this gift.

For The Chocoholic in Your Life Chocolate Dreidel $5.50 | Le Chocolat Latkes are good and doughnuts are nice, but the chocoholic in the family will much prefer a Chanukah treat made out of 100% top quality chocolate. Trust me on this one. Josh at Le Chocolat says the treat is cholov yisroel dairy and can be gift wrapped to make a lovely presentation.

For Those Who Cherish the Memories

For Your Favorite Car Pool Driver

For The Techie in Your Life

Car Mezuzah

Mini Canvas Photo with Easel

$7.99 - $9.99 | JudaicaPlace.com

EveCase Tablet Carrying Case

$10.00 | Walmart.com The pictures we take reflect the times of our lives. And sharing those memories makes a very special gift. There are many ways to enlarge, reframe, and copy favorite pics, but we especially liked this 4X6 canvas that comes with its own wooden easel and can be displayed on a shelf, desk, or table. Looks like a real work of art!

(2 ½ inches high)

The perfect gift for the car pool mom, the long distance salesman, or anyone who spends hours driving. A car mezuzah safely tucked away in the glove compartment is certainly reassuring. It also shows that you care. Car mezuzahs come in a variety of styles and colors.

$9.99 | Amazon.com Let’s face it. They already have every gimmick and gadget available, so don’t even try giving them the latest i-product on the market. Instead, make their day by presenting them with this handsome and practical ultra-portable case that protects a 10.6-12 inch tablet wherever it goes. Available in hot pink, purple, or black with orange trim.

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For the Gamer


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In the Kitchen Jamie Geller

h a k u n a h C f o y o he J

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Olive Oil Dark Chocolate Mousse I first learned about using fruity, high-quality olive oil in desserts—specifically in chocolate mousse—from executive chef Laura Frankel of Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering. I just love the flavor and smooth, creamy texture it imparts. Note that this mousse contains raw eggs. If you’re concerned about the risks of eating raw eggs, you can use pasteurized eggs without affecting the results. Ingredients 10 ounces high-quality 72% cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or chocolate chips 8 large eggs, separated, at room temperature ¾ cup granulated sugar ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water Grated zest of 1 small orange (optional) ¼ teaspoon kosher salt Preparation Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in a microwave, stirring after each 10-second increment, until smooth, about 1½ minutes. Let cool slightly. Place the egg yolks and ½ cup sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until pale yellow. Whisk in the olive oil, coffee, zest, if using, and salt until combined. Add the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat just until stiff peaks form. Add a gener-

ous spoonful of the egg white mixture to the chocolate mixture. Stir firmly until completely incorporated. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl of egg whites. Gently fold with a large spoon or rubber spatula until completely combined. Divide the mousse into six 6-ounce ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Dress It Up Olive Oil Dark Chocolate Mousse Shots Serve the mousse with various toppings in individual shot glasses on a vintage silver tray. Try

whipped cream, orange zest curls, coarse flake sea salt, fresh berries, or crushed nuts. For something really special, try my favorite, Salted Nut Powder. By hand or in a mini food processor or coffee grinder, combine 3 tablespoons shelled pistachios and 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt. Pulse until ground and slightly powdery but still with some rough chunks. Sprinkle on top of mousse before serving. The mousse can be made in advance and will last, tightly sealed, in the fridge for 1 week, or in the freezer for up to a month.

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You Gotta be

Kidding!

A woman goes to the post office to buy stamps for her Chanukah cards. She says to the clerk, “May I have 50 Chanukah stamps?” The clerk says, “What denomination?” The woman says, “Oh my G-d. Has it come to this? Give me 6 Orthodox, 12 Conservative, and 32 Reform.” ***** Stan and John are walking to school one day and Stan is describing his new remote control car to John. “Where did you get that?” John asked “I got it last night for Chanukah,” said Stan. “What’s Chanukah?” John asked. “It’s a Jewish holiday, where we get presents every night for eight nights, to celebrate the Festival of Lights.” “Wow, I wish we got that!” John exclaimed. The next day, on the way to school, John runs up to Stan, curious to see what he got. He sees that Stan is upset, “What’s wrong? Where’s your present from last night?” asks John. Stan holds up a ball of crumpled wrapping paper, “It was leftovers night.”

Chanukwhat?

Riddle!

Siblings Sara, Moshe, Chaya, Leah, and Tzvi all got Chanukah presents from their parents. Sara got her present before Chaya, but after Moshe. Leah got her present first. If Tzvi got his gift after Chaya, in what order did the siblings get their presents?

Answer on next page

Picture of the Week

With so many ways to spell it, put the following in order of the amount of Google hits they generate:

A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I. J. K. L. M.

Chanukkah Chanukah Channukah Hanukka Hanukah Hannukkah Hannukah Chanuka Hanuka Hanukkah Channuka Chanukka Hannuka

Answer: Correct order along with number of hits G. Hannukah : 18,300,000 E. Hanukah : 12,200,000 J. Hanukkah : 11,700,000 H. Chanuka : 11,500,000 B. Chanukah : 4,100,000 C. Channukah : 3,170,000 D. Hanukka : 3,760,000 L. Chanukka : 2,950,000 M. Hannuka : 1,090,000 F. Hannukkah : 1,060,000 A. Chanukkah : 715,000 I. Hanuka : 956,000 K. Channuka : 404,000

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Light up the Nights Trivia Submitted by Devorah Stern

Submitted by David Kagen

1. How many years ago did the miracle of Chanukah take place? a. 3206 b. 2110 c. 1461 d. 1402

2. What does “maccabee” mean? a. Star b. Courage c. Soldier d. Hammer

3. What is the total number of candles lit during Chanukah? a. 44 b. 36 c. 54 d. 28

4. Which city did the Maccabees live in? a. Yerushalayim b. Beit Shemesh c. Modi’in d. Chevron

5. Who of the following was not one of Matisyahu’s five sons? a. Yehuda b. Yonasan c. Shimon d. Eliyahu

6. What modern day country were the “Greeks” based in? a. Syria

The Great Chanukah Word Scramble

b. Greece c. Rome d. Iran

7. Who bowed down to Shimon Hatzadik? a. Antiyoches b. Matisyahu c. Alexander the Great d. Helifornus

8. Which of Noach’s children were the Greeks descendants of? a. Shem b. Chom c. Yofes d. His daughter Answers: 1)B 2)D 3)A 4)C 5)D 6)A 7) C 8)C Wisdom key: Answered 6-8 correctly: You know your Chanukah (but can you tell me how it’s spelled? See facing page). Answered 3-5 correctly: Do you also light only half of the candles? Answered 0-3 correctly: You’re so behind on your Chanukah facts that you probably didn’t even put up your sukkah yet.

nteesprs

lio

ltge

nrhomae

knaauhhc

yptra

tnghouud

sbeimkhaiashd

aabcceem

heuaairslmyy

hytmsiaau

hcpa

hheuady

ehgti

rliedde

eehmns

sltkea

aaiochhsmmn

xndraaler teh treag Scramble Answers: Presents Gelt Chanukah Doughnut Maccabee Matisyahu Yehudah Dreidel Latkes Oil Menorah Party BeisHamikdash Yerushalayim Pach

Eight Shemen Chashmonaim Alexander the Great

G OT FU N N Y?

Comm Let the ission er dec Send your s tuff

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ide

o fivetow centerfold@ nsjewis hhome. com Answer to riddle: Leah lit first, then Moshe, then Sara, then Chaya, and then Tzvi.


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Notable

Quotes

Compiled by Nate Davis

“Say What?” The ratings for Al Jazeera America has now dipped even lower than Al Gore’s Current TV, which it replaced. That’s how you know you’re boring, OK? When Al Gore is considered more entertaining to people than what you have. - Jay Leno

I’m not a particularly ideological person. - President Obama at a fundraiser in San Francisco I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor. - George W. Bush on Jay Leno, declining to comment on President Obama I can’t even see where you painted over the numbers. - Jay Leno to George W. Bush, when Bush presented him with a painting of his dog

Thank a veteran for your freedom! - Sign atop Johnny’s Saloon in Huntington Beach, Calif., which the town demanded be taken down

Slave. - One of the choices for occupation listed on a DeKalb County Court jury questionnaire

Here we go again. Freshman Congressman Trey Radel of Florida has been arrested for possession of cocaine in Washington, D.C. He admitted he is an alcoholic and pled guilty to possession of cocaine. The judge sentenced him to four years as mayor of Toronto. - Jay Leno

What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a onesided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action, and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true. - Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham discussing the agreement reached last week with the U.S., in a first sign that Iran has “played” the U.S.

People are talking about how Obama was finally able to get this deal with Iran. What happened was, Obama got tired of trying to fix healthcare and said, “Give me an easier problem. Iranian nukes! I’m on it. That’s much better than what I’ve been dealing with the past couple of weeks.” - Jimmy Fallon

All plots hatched by the Zionist regime to stop the nuclear agreement have failed. - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, after Iran and the U.S. reached a nuclear arms agreement What was accomplished last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it’s a historic mistake. Today the world has become much more dangerous, because the most dangerous regime in the world took a meaningful step toward acquiring the most dangerous weapon in the world. For the first time the world’s leading powers agreed to the enrichment of uranium in Iran, while ignoring the Security Council resolutions that they themselves championed. - Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reacting to the deal reached between the U.S. and Iran

It’s really hard to watch the President and the Secretary of State and not think how they cannot be embarrassed by this deal. Think about this. Half a dozen times, the Security Council has passed resolutions which said Iran has to stop all enrichment otherwise there will be no change in sanctions, no relief. Which means six times China and Russia – not exactly hardliners on Iran – have signed on to this. And what is the result of this agreement? Iran retains the right to enrich...This is a sham from beginning to end. It’s the worst deal since Munich. - Charles Krauthammer

Many people thought that [British Prime Minister Neville] Chamberlain was correct [in 1938] when he bartered an important part of Czechoslovakia for the hope of peace. I don’t think he was badly motivated, either. I just think he didn’t fully understand the great danger of Nazism and the great threat of a Nazi regime that had the Sudetenland. This could become a Chamberlain moment. Chamberlain would have gone down in history as one of the great Chancellors of the Exchequer and Prime Ministers of England because he brought widows and orphans pensions. He just failed to comprehend fully one of the greatest evils of the 20th century. I think the Obama administration has failed to understand the evil of the mullahs. Iran was weakened by the sanctions. We’ve given them a great victory. - Allan Dershowitz


43

Obamacare will turn into a Benghazitype affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about. - New York Times columnist Paul Krugman The FCC is considering lifting the ban on cell phone calls on planes. The good news is you’ll be able to make calls during your flight. The bad news? The person sitting next to you will be able to make cell phone calls during your flight. - Jay Leno I’m the one that hired you in this job! - Monticello, NY, Mayor Gordon Jenkins screaming at an arresting police officer, after he was arrested for DUI

A company in France is selling a new robot that can play with kids and read them bedtime stories. Kids are calling it a cool and innovative thing to eventually discuss with their therapists. - Jimmy Fallon

President Obama’s approval rating is at 37 percent, the lowest point of his presidency. Here’s how bad it is. You know the Thanksgiving turkey he’s pardoning this week? The turkey said: No pictures. It didn’t want to be seen. - Jay Leno President Obama announced that the U.S. and Iran have reached an important step in freezing Iran’s nuclear program. When asked how they’d finally reached the agreement, Iran said, “Patience, compromise, and oh, we lied. Not in that order, actually.” - Jimmy Fallon

I work for what I get. You’re just a young punk running around out here doing things you ought not do and you’re not getting my purse. - Wanda Pierce, age 70, to a gun-wielding attacker who she fought off President Obama is being criticized for not attending today’s ceremony commemorating the Gettysburg Address. In fairness, though, Lincoln did not attend Obama’s “Sorry about this [junky] website” speech. - Conan O’Brien

I always say my husband has got swag...Oh, yes, he’s in the bathroom all the time just singing. - First Lady Michelle Obama on BET

Today I lost my mind. I banged a table, kicked a briefcase and slammed out of the room. I know you [referring to Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig] don’t like New York, but you’ve got to come face me. This is my legacy. I’m part of history. You tell me why I should serve one inning. Cause you’re retiring next year? That’s not fair, Mike. - Alex Rodriguez talking to 660 WFAN’s Mike Francesca, after storming out of his steroid arbitration hearing He wants to blow up the world. You know, he’s like the marathon bombers. It’s just, he’s going to get them. - MLB Network’s Peter Gammons discussing Alex Rodriguez The Oxford Dictionary has named “selfie” the word of the year...In a related story, the funeral for the English language is this Saturday. - Conan O’Brien

Everyone is talking about Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor. His reality show has been canceled after one episode. That is the difference between the U.S. and Canada. In America, when somebody goes off the rails we RENEW their reality show. - Conan O’Brien

Happy birthday to Joe Biden. He’s 71-years-old. President Obama called Biden into the Oval Office and instructed Joe to go to his birthday party for Obama. - David Letterman

Former President George W. Bush is on the show tonight. We’re very excited about that. As you know, his nickname is 43 because he was the 43rd president. President Obama is nicknamed 44 because that’s how many people have signed up for Obamacare. - Jay Leno

Uh-oh. - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius when the Obamacare website crashed while she was watching a couple trying to use it at Miami’s North Shore Hospital I would like to work here...there’s a natural connection between me and DreamWorks. I don’t know if you know this — but my ears were one of the inspirations for Shrek. - President Obama, while touring Dreamworks Studios with CEO Jeffery Katzenberg

Every year, Reverend Sharpton is becoming stronger as a leader, is reaching farther as a leader. You never have to wonder where he came from, and he’ll be the first to stand up for justice. I gotta tell you guys, he’s a blessing for all of us. - Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio paying tribute to AlS, who under the cloak of “justice” stoked the 1992 Crown Heights riots which left Yankel Rosenbaum murdered

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There’s a turkey shortage. Are you aware of that fact? There’s also a gravy shortage. It’s up to $4 a gallon. Governor Chris Christie wants to build a gravy pipeline. - David Letterman

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Global African Country of Angola Bans Islam

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On Sunday, it was reported that the African nation of Angola banned Islam and Muslims. It is the first country to do so. Concerning the ban, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos announced, “This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country.” The ban was announced on Friday when Angolan Minister of Culture, Rosa Cruz e Silva said, “The process of legalization of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human rights, their mosques would be closed until further notice.” The ban also orders the demolition of all mosques in the country. The majority of Angola’s 16 million citizens is Christian, with only 80,00090,000 Muslims living there. Silva maintained that the ban was necessary since Islam is “contradictory to the customs of Angola culture.” This announcement comes on the heels of reports of many Christians being mistreated and forced out of Muslim countries in the Middle East. In fact, in 2012, the Grand Mufti in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa to demolish all churches on the Arabian peninsula. Aside from Islam, other religions that have not been legalized will face similar measures in Angola. The non-legalized religions on the list “published by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in

the Angolannewspaper ‘Jornal de Angola’ are prohibited to conduct worship, so they should keep their doors closed,” said Silva. There is a legalization process and thousands of religious sects are currently applying for legalization.

Former Iranian Hostages Still Want Apology from Tehran

Bruce Laingen was the most senior diplomat at the United States Embassy in Iran three decades ago when Islamist students smashed through embassy gates and held those there captive for 444 days. Despite the humiliation, pain, and trauma he felt during those arduous times, Laingen still favors diplomacy with Tehran and backs the talks held in Geneva these past few weeks. But time does not heal all wounds. Laingen and his fellow ex-hostages are still demanding an apology from the Islamic Republic. “We haven’t heard that expression of apology yet. Why not?” said Laingen. Other former hostages may have differing opinions about negotiations with Tehran, but all of them agree: the country has to at least acknowledge the 444-day ordeal where 52 Americans were taken hostage from November 1979 to January 1981. Only 39 of those captured are alive today. “I personally believe there should be no relationship established whatsoever until Iran has had extracted from them some type of reparations,” said Kevin Hermening, who was a Marine guard at the embassy when it was over-run by sup-

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porters of the Islamic Revolution. “To relax the sanctions is to reward them for simply having waited us out based on the idea that we would forget or ignore or pretend it never happened.” Rodney “Rocky” Sickmann, a former Marine guard at the embassy, agrees, “It hurts that here we are negotiating with Iran, and Iran acts like nothing really happened.” He was locked in a room with 24hour armed guards, enduring mock firing squads and Russian roulette, and allowed outside only seven times during “444 traumatic days” of captivity. “They told us in my interrogation it is not you the American people we hate, it’s your government, but we will use you to humiliate your government,” he said. “And they’ve done it for 34 years.” “In my view it should be that at least we be able to talk about things that concern both of us, not that we are friends, not that we like each other, not that we are allies, but that at least we can talk to each other, which we have not been able to do for 34 years,” said John Limbert, 70, who was a political officer at the embassy and is now a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland. He confronted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a couple of years ago at a dinner in New York. “I asked him about those events and he looked at me right in the face and he said, ‘Well, we treated you OK didn’t we?’” “And I said, ‘Sir you did not.’”

Egypt to Ban Street Protests

The Arab Spring was brought about by those hoping for change. In their desire for

more freedoms, they took to the streets and announced their hopes to the world. But now, in Egypt, those mass gatherings of protests will no longer be legal. On Sunday, Egypt’s military-backed government issued a law that essentially banned street protests by applying jail time or heavy fines to those involved in public demonstrations. This law will replace the three-month state of emergency declared in August that expired last weekend. The new law, though, is stricter and grants police added powers to squelch any attempt for citizens to mobilize. But Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi insists that the new law only regulates protests and does not attempt to ban them. “The starting point for this law is that the right to protest is a human right and must be given full care and attention,” he said. “It is just that practicing this right must be met with a sense of responsibility so it won’t damage security or terrorize or assault establishments.” When asked about those who failed to seek permission for their protests Beblawi said, “Like a man who kills or another who deals in drugs, all those commit violations, and as soon as they commit such violations, if arrested, they will be put to trial and punished.” Public gatherings of more than 10 people require prior government approval and notification to authorities three days in advance. Demonstrations are prohibited in places of worship, a clear strike at those inciting crowds at traditional Friday prayers in mosques.

Afghanistan May Bring Back Stoning The Taliban is known for its sadistic ways; stoning, maiming and killing are de rigueur for the group. But now, 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, Afghanistan may be bringing back stoning as punishment for a certain crime. A proposed law would stone those committing this crime “if there are four eyewitnesses” to the crime. Another punishment be-


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50 ing considered is flogging. Human rights groups are urging the Karzai administration to reject the proposal. “It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Norway’s Military Goes Green

Triple Supermarket Collapse in Latvia

Latvian officials have opened a criminal investigation into the not one, not two, but three structural collapses suffered by a major supermarket in the country’s capital city of Riga on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s initial roof collapse was followed by a second cave-in soon after, crushing firefighters and rescuers as they made efforts to extract bodies and locate survivors. A large third section of the building collapsed on Saturday, and although no injuries were incurred, officials were compelled to suspend rescue efforts due to the precarious conditions. As of Saturday afternoon, the death toll rose to a total of 54 including three firemen, with 35 people seriously injured, seven missing and an unknown number who may still be trapped in the wreckage. Seven large cranes had been employed for the delicate task of lifting heavy slabs off the “house of cards,” as the building was described by fire and rescue service spokeswoman Viktorija Sembele, who feared that one false move could cause a further collapse. Built in 2011, the supermarket is owned by Lithuanian company Maxima, who informed officials they would release a statement at a later date. Several theories have been suggested as to the cause of the multiple caveins, most of them involving a suspected violation of construction code. “We have three versions [lines of inquiry] and all of them are connected to violation of construction law,” said police spokesman Toms Sadovskis. Latvia’s President Andris Berzins described the disaster in harsher terms. “This is a case where we need to say clearly, it is the murder of an enormous number of defenseless people, and that’s how we should proceed,” he declared. So far no arrests have been made. This has been the worst collapse of its kind since Latvia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Norwegian soldiers are fighting a different type of enemy these days – global warming. The country stated that, in an effort to reduce its military’s carbon footprint and improve the environment, soldiers will be subsisting on a vegetarian diet once a week. “Meatless Mondays” has already been instituted in one of Norway’s main military bases and is expected to be extended to others, including those overseas. According to the United Nations, livestock farming is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing meat consumption could keep global warming in check and generally improve the environment, environmentalists believe. “It’s not about saving money,” says military spokesman Eystein Kvarving. “It’s about being more concerned for our climate, more ecologically friendly and also healthier.” The new vegetarian meal plan is expected to reduce meat consumption by an estimated 150 tons per year. “The defense ministry deserves a lot of praise because it’s taking climate and environmental issues seriously,” said Arild Hermstad, director of the environmentally-focused Future in Our Hands, a group that has been lobbying for Norwegians to limit their meat consumption. As stated by the Future in Our Hands, the average Norwegian eats more than 1,200 animals in a lifetime, or 1,147 chickens, 22 sheep, six cattle and nearly three deer, more specifically.

Relief for Iran? U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power revealed on CNN’s “New Day” last Thursday that Iran will be offered “moderate” sanctions relief in the ongoing Geneva talks. How moderate is moderate? About 6 billion dollars. When pressed for details as to the actual amount, since figures have been estimated anywhere from $6 to $50 billion, Power answered, “I’m not going to get into the specifics, especially while... negotiators are at it right now in Geneva, but...your lower number is closer to what

we’re talking about.” The proposals were described by Power as “a very good deal” where the U.S. would offer “very modest, temporary and very reversible relief in exchange for being able to see whether they’re prepared to take that first step.” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu begged to differ, telling CNN on Sunday that Iran is being offered an “enormous deal,” as pressure built up by the sanctions will be eased in exchange for “a minor concession which (Iran) could reverse in weeks.” The relief is expected to be accessed by tapping into frozen Iranian bank accounts worldwide, totaling $100 billion in Iranian oil sale reserves. The Israel Project (TIP) recently released an “infographic” illustrating that a relief of these proportions would be a very “bad deal.” As detailed by the infographic, that amount would allow the Islamic regime to fund terror group Hezbollah for 35 years, its military ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) program for 21 months, or its entire war budget for 9 months.

85-Year-Old U.S. Tourist Detained in North Korea

Hundreds of American tourists visit North Korea each year, choosing to ignore the country’s long-standing ill relations with foreigners and outright warnings from the U.S. state department. Merrilll Newman was one such traveler. Hailing from Palo Alto, California, Newman, a retired finance executive, wished to return to the place where he had served as an infantryman during the Korean War six decades ago, his son, Jeffrey, says. According to Jeffrey, his father was sitting on a plane following his nine-day visit when a uniformed North Korean officer boarded the plane and asked Newman for his passport, then informed a flight attendant that Newman had to deplane. The son said it is unclear at this point what prompted this detention. “We don’t know what this misunderstanding is all about,” Jeffrey Newman said. “All we want as a family is to have my father, my kids’ grandfather, returned to California so he can be with his family for Thanksgiving.” Despite the generally unfriendly attitude of the totalitarian country, Americans have been traveling to North Korea in increasing numbers since the country opened itself up to American tourism two years ago, said Jenny Town, assistant director of

the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In light of Newman’s experience, the State Department revised its travel warning this week regarding North Korea, strongly cautioning American citizens to avoid making the trip. It had apparently received reports of authorities “arbitrarily detaining U.S. citizens and not allowing them to depart the country.” So why would Americans continue to go there? Christine Hong, an assistant professor of East Asian studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz, explained that Westerners visit North Korea for a number of reasons, whether for research purposes, missionary or charity work, business ventures, to locate family members, adventure tourism, or stealth journalism. For some, like the Merrill Newman, exploring the inner workings of a secluded, secretive society is pull enough. Since there is no North Korean consulate in the U.S., tourists must obtain visas in other countries abroad. Jenny Town explains that travel to the country must be arranged through tour companies with local guides in North Korea who receive and guide the visitors. Trying to enter legally independent of a tour company would be virtually impossible, she said. Though it is known that Merrilll Newman was traveling with a friend, Bob Hamrdla, it is not clear if the men had used a tour company or not. Hamrdla was permitted to return to the U.S. To determine if an American citizen is actually being detained would require a consular official to see the person in question and confirm his or her identity. Since there are no official diplomatic relations between Washington and Pyongyang, Sweden acts as America’s protecting power in North Korea. Consequently, Swedish officials would need to confirm Newman’s identity. Though North Korea has a recent history of American detentions, holding at least six since 2009, it is unusual for the country to target a tourist. That being said, the authoritarian government is sensitive about foreign travelers, and tourists are closely monitored. Analysts say it has used detained Americans as diplomatic pawns in a long-running standoff with the United States over the North’s nuclear bomb production, something it denies.

Israel Film Producer by Day; Arms Dealer by Night Fantasy meets real-life drama as wellknown Israeli producer Arnon Milchan is speaking up for the first time about his in-


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Wanted: New Allies?

Never mind the distrust and hatred of Palestinian Arabs for Israel. When it comes to good emergency medical care, those feelings get tucked aside. That’s what Palestinian leader Ismail Haniyeh did when his granddaughter, Amal Haniyeh, contracted an acute infection of her digestive tract. After the 1-year-old had deteriorated to critical condition, the Hamas prime minister unhesitatingly sent her to Israel for treatment. Doctors there readily accepted her as a patient. This wasn’t the first visit to an Israeli care center for the Haniyeh family. In the summer of 2012, Haniyeh’s brother-in-law was rushed across the border for urgent heart treatment at a hospital near Tel Aviv. While Israel has seen and treated its share of Palestinian patients, aiding the family of a major Hamas leader displays a whole new level of generosity—especially after Haniyeh himself called Israel “a cancerous tumor that must be removed and uprooted” in a conference on education last year. Luckily for him, Israel strives to treat actual diseases, regardless of a patient’s beliefs or affiliation.

34,600 Palestinians Working in Israel Without permits

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports that the unemployment rate in Gaza is up to 32.5% and 19.1% in the West Bank. This has led to an increased number of Palestinians from the West Bank seeking work in Jewish settlements there and in Israel, rising from 96,000 in the first quarter of the year to 103,000 in the third quarter. According to the report, 51,000 of the

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Wednesday that Israel should make plans to form new allies instead of relying exclusively on its relationship with the United States. Liberman emphasized this point at a speech given at the Sderot Conference. “For many years Israel’s foreign policy was one directional towards Washington, but my policy has many more directions. The Americans today,” he continued, “are dealing with too many challenges and I wouldn’t want to be in their place. They are busy in Iran and North Korea and also have economic and immigration problems.” Liberman returned to his post last week after being cleared of fraud charges. The foreign minister’s comments followed the clash between Washington and Jerusalem concerning sanctions and nuclear talks with Iran. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have made it clear that they do not see eye to eye regarding a diplomatic agreement with Iran. Liberman also expressed disgust at the treatment of Israel at the UN. “If I were to take the simplest statistic…since the founding of the security council, there were 49 condemnations against Israel and only 3 against Iran.” “We can build peace but we can’t force it,” Liberman said of the peace process. “The order of priorities must be first Israeli security, afterward the Palestinian economy and then peace. We can’t ruin this order. “

Hamas Radicalizes Even More in Gaza In an effort to maintain control, Hamas has been radicalizing even further and rules

by brute force in Gaza, imposing a reign of terror. The fall of the Muslim Brotherhood patrons in Egypt, the shutdown of its terror tunnels, and Iran’s reluctance to fund the group has made the group even more desperate. “As dissatisfaction among the Palestinian population [in Gaza] grows, Hamas’ only recourse is to become increasingly strict,” said Adel, whose uncle Abasan alKabir lives in the Gaza town of Khan Younis. “Gaza has become a living hell. Anyone who criticizes Hamas is immediately arrested and tortured. Many now realize that Hamas is not the solution for a better life in Gaza.”

Just a year ago, Hamas was given credit for stopping Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Cloud.” This year, the group celebrated the anniversary of this “victory over Israel” with military parades in Gaza. But now, the group has found itself without a stream of revenue; Iran has turned off its money tap to the group. Additionally, Hamas has been hit hard by Egypt’s new anti-Muslim Brotherhood policies. Only one thing could give rise to its popularity once again: a war with Israel, and Hamas is eagerly looking forward to a fight with its neighbor.

Apple to Acquire Israel’s PrimeSense for $350M It’s no secret that Israel is a hotbed for startups. This week, Apple announced that it will acquire Israeli gesture recognition company PrimeSense Ltd for $350 million. This is Apple’s second acquisition in Israel; in 2011, the company acquired Anobit for $400 million. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said Apple. But some are saying that Apple will embed PrimeSense’s technology in the smart TV, scheduled for launch in 2015. There is also a good chance the technology will be used in iPads as well. PrimeSense has worked closely with Microsoft Corporation, which embedded PrimeSense’s hardware and software in the Kinect system, used in Xbox 360 game consoles. PrimeSense reportedly earned almost $200 million from Xbox 360 sales. The company was founded in 2005 by

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Even with the allegations already floating in the air, the interview with “Uvda” has supposedly released additional details involving other big names in Hollywood, like Sydney Pollack. According to the report, Pollack, who died in 2008, aided in the acquisition of arms and other military equipment for Israel in the 1970s. When asked if Pollack knew about the details of the deals, Milchan tells Dayan, “Pollack knew, but I didn’t want to scare him because he’s American… He could have said ‘no.’ He said ‘no’ many times, but he also said ‘yes’ many times.” The Hollywood connection often came in handy – Milchan names at least one instance where name-dropping convinced U.S. scientist Arthur Biehl – an expert on nuclear weapons and a co-developer of the hydrogen bomb – to a meet with him. Milchan told the scientist that the actor was interested in scientific advice for a project he was working on. The producer confided to Dayan that leading such a double-life hasn’t been easy, especially with filmmaking as a real passion. “In Hollywood they don’t like working with an arms dealer, ideologically,” he said. “Instead of someone talking to me about a script, I had to spend half an hour explaining that I’m not an arms dealer...” Milchan continued, “If people knew how many times I risked my life, back and forth, again and again, for my country. And suddenly, [I have to] defend myself…I should have been aware of that, of what I’ll go through, and said, ‘You know what, I did it for my country and I’m proud of it.’”

Hamas Leader Sends Granddaughter to Israel for Treatment

Palestinian workers employed in Israel had work permits, while 34,600 did not. The report also stated that 1.161 million people comprise the Palestinian workforce: 761 thousand in the West Bank and 400 thousand in the Gaza Strip. The number of unemployed Palestinians hit 275 thousand individuals, 145 thousand in the West Bank and 130 thousand in Gaza. 43.1% of the unemployed were between 20-24 years old and half of all people with academic degrees were unemployed. 

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volvement in the clandestine acquisition of arms for Israel and his efforts to promote the country’s alleged nuclear program. Milchan was featured in the season premiere of “Uvda” (“Fact”), a current affairs show hosted by Israeli investigative journalist Ilana Dayan. The producer did not hold back as he described his double life of churning out film after film while surreptitiously dealing arms undercover. Milchan’s secret activity has been investigated before; only two years ago authors Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman published a book titled, Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan, alleging that Milchan acted as an arms dealer and intelligence operative for Israel’s Bureau of Scientific Relations.


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president Aviad Maizels, CTO Alexander Shpunt, Dima Rais, Ophir Sharon, and Tamir Berliner, is run by CEO Inon Beracha. The start-up’s five founders are expected to rake in $50-85 million from the acquisition.

Fatah Videos Urges the Kidnapping and Killing of Israelis

Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority, is not about peace. Despite it being Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ party and despite Abbas sitting down with Israel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate peace, peace is truly far from its mind. In a video on Fatah’s main page on Facebook, a masked terrorist sitting among dozens of rockets states that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – Fatah’s military wing – is preparing to kidnap Israeli soldiers in order to “empty out the Zionist prisons.” It seems that Fatah is emulating Hamas, the group that kidnapped Gilad Shalit and demanded the release of 1,000 terrorists for his release. “We are preparing to kidnap Zionist soldiers to settle accounts with the Zionist enemy properly, in order to empty out the Zionist prisons,” the video vows. The same video threatens to fire rockets that will “reach the Zionist depth,” and “strike the Zionist enemy on its own ground.” A song in the video calls to kill Israelis – which is worded as “death is in your cup – make them [Israelis] drink.” Israel is referred to as “occupied Palestinian territories” in the film. This type of rhetoric is far from new. Last month, Fatah’s official Facebook page lauded terrorist Issa Abd Rabbo, who was among the 26 recently freed terrorists in Israel’s “gesture” for the peace talks, as a “national symbol,” and pledged to “continue to walk in his path.” In September, Fatah’s military branch, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, gave the green light for a terror war over Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Obviously, words and pledges demanding the kidnapping and killing of Israelis is not in accordance with those seeking peace. In August, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a letter to U.S.

Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he complained that Palestinian Authority incitement against Israel is continuing even after a return to U.S.-brokered “peace negotiations” between Israel and the PA was announced.

National Congresswoman Grace Meng Mugged in D.C.

A mugger attacked and robbed Democratic Rep. Grace Meng of New York near Capitol Hill on Tuesday night, leaving her bruised but not seriously injured. According to a statement released by her office, the 38-year-old congresswoman was walking toward her apartment after dining at a D.C. restaurant when she was struck on the back of the head. As she fell to the ground, the assailant took her handbag and fled on foot. “While this was a frightening ordeal, I fortunately was not seriously injured,” said Meng in the statement. “Obviously, things could have been much worse. I thank the U.S. Capitol Police and the District of Columbia Police for responding quickly and professionally.” According to her office, Meng was left with a bruise on her chin and underwent a CAT scan at George Washington University Hospital.

CIA Turned Gitmo Prisoners into Double Agents

tember 11th attacks, the CIA turned prisoners in Guantanamo Bay into double agents, sent them home to their families and tried to use them to help kill terrorists. It was obviously a risky move, as those prisoners could just as quickly turn on their captors once they were released. But the CIA saw that as an acceptable risk and they kept this program a secret from the American public. The program took place in eight small cottages in Guantanamo Bay, also called Penny Lane. Some who passed through these secret facilities helped the CIA find and kill many top al Qaeda operatives. Others stopped providing useful information once released, and the CIA has lost touch with them. What prompted the program was the volume of prisoners pouring into Guantanamo Bay. In 2002, 632 detainees entered the detention center. 117 more came in 2003. By 2003, the secret program started. Prisoners enjoyed the cottages’ private kitchens, showers, real beds and televisions. Some CIA officials even referred to the cottages as the Marriott, comparing living there to a hotel. Many prisoners were evaluated and eventually only a handful were turned into spies for the U.S. The U.S. government confirmed that about 16 percent of former Guantanamo Bay detainees rejoined the fight against America. Officials suspect but have not confirmed that 12 percent more rejoined. Only a small percentage of those came from Guantanamo Bay. A key objective for the CIA was infiltrating al Qaeda. Prisoners needed legitimate terrorist connections to be valuable to the “Penny Lane program.” Prisoners had their own reasons for joining the program. Some were told that the United States would help resettle their families. One detainee felt that al Qaeda perverted Islam and he felt it was his duty to help the CIA destroy it. All were promised payment in return for their services and the United States paid millions of dollars for their assistance. The funds came from a secret CIA account called Pledge. Al Qaeda suspected that the CIA would attempt a program like this and were suspicious of those held in Guantanamo Bay. One official said that the terrorist group at one point came close to discovering a double agent in their midst. The program ended in 2006. The last prisoner arrived in Guantanamo Bay in 2008. Of the 779 prisoners taken to Guantanamo Bay, more than three-fourths have been released, mostly during the Bush administration.

Zuckerberg Pushes for Immigration Reform In the early years following the Sep-

Mark Zuckerberg, along with other social media and technology giants, is

making efforts to loosen the standstill on immigration reform in Congress. Together with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Dropbox CEO Andrew Houston, the executives hosted a “hackathon” event at LinkedIn’s headquarters, where a group of 20 young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children would spend the next 25 hours coding Web tools advocating for immigration reform. These immigrants, often called “Dreamers,” could be a tremendous asset to the economy, according to Zuckerberg. “I think this is one of the biggest civil rights issues of our time,” the CEO of Facebook said to reporters and the young immigrants. “We’re at a pretty critical moment in the movement right now where it’s really important to keep pushing ahead.”

The three tech directors, along with Groupon co-founder Andrew Mason and immigration rights advocate Jose Antonio Vargas, will judge the young coders’ final work in categories like “best design,” “best advocacy app,” and “best storytelling app.” Zuckerberg and the others hope to demonstrate to Congress that the issue of citizenship for the more than 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States will not wait quietly, even if the projected date for its discussion has been pushed to later in 2014. The group hopes that by spotlighting the individual stories of the “Dreamers” and the struggles they’ve faced due to their illegal status, they’ll be able to sway onthe-fence House Republicans. Their goal is to influence them as to the benefits that these tech-savvy immigrants bring to the table, such feeding the economy and aligning with the country’s history and values. “Immigration is critically important to us,” Hoffman, LinkedIn’s co-founder, said. “It’s important to the U.S., not just the future, but it’s been a key portion of our identity and our past.” Unfortunately for the group, the probability of landing an immigration bill on the president’s desk in the near future doesn’t seem likely. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) mentioned last week that the lower chamber of the House has “no intention of ever going to conference” with the Senate on the sweeping bill after it passed in the upper chamber in June. What with the federal government’s rocky introduction of the ObamaCare website taking precedence on Congress’s current policy


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Out of a number of worthy contestants, the 2014 Honda Accord was named “Green Car of the Year” at the L.A. Auto Show last Thursday morning. Judges like Jay Leno, a car aficionado himself, praised the vehicle for its plethora of environmentally friendly options. The Accord, lauded by Honda as the model with the highest retail sales volume in the U.S., boasts a variety of different powertrain options, including a new 50 mpg hybrid and a plug-in hybrid with a 115 MPGe (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent) rating. Mike Accavitti, American Honda Motors’ marketing chief, is pleased with the recognition of Honda’s expanded efforts to produce environmentally healthy cars, believing the award “says we’re moving in the right direction.” The Green Car of the Year program was established by the Green Car Journal to both highlight the best in clean, fuel-efficient technology as well as to promote awareness among consumers, organizers said. With eco-responsible technology infused into “mainstream” cars, availability and affordable prices will provide the technology with an actual, positive large-scale impact. This is the second time in three years that Honda has taken home the prize.

Exercising for Two

A new study involving expectant mothers may illustrate the positive effects of exercise on an unborn baby’s brain. While

Best Places to Hang Your Hat After Retiring If early retirement is at the top of your list, it might pay to take inventory of your location first. FindTheBest, a data collec-

tion site, has identified the most favorable destinations in which to retire early and do so successfully, taking into account information such as unemployment rates, living costs, tax-friendliness, low crime and high concentrations of residents ages 45 to 64.

Coming in at number ten on the list is the sunny island of Honolulu, HI. The capital of Hawaii seems to be the optimal place to retire—if you have money, that is. It’s one of the most expensive cities to live in the U.S. Healthcare is surprisingly reasonable and the scenic surroundings are enough to lower anyone’s blood pressure. Virginia Beach, VA; Midland, TX; Peoria, AZ; and Bellevue, WA rounded out the next few spots on the best places to retire list. Sioux Falls, SD; Sandy Springs, GA; Alexandria, VA; and Cary, NC came in at the top of list. Naperville, IL, nabbed the number one spot on list, making it the best place to retire in the country. Its low crime rate, large population in the 45-64 age bracket, and pedestrian-friendly downtown make it a great place to enjoy life after the rat race. But keep an eye on spending, though. The local sales tax is on the high side, so make sure to leave your wallet at home when perusing the local shops.

That’s Odd Collectible Gaming Card Sells for $27K on eBay

because it was published in the game’s first edition back in 1993, was originally printed in a run of only 1,100 others and is now on the game’s ‘Reserved List’ of cards that will never be reissued. It’s typically considered the most valuable Magic card ever printed, as the final price tag substantiates. The card’s fine condition received a 9.5 on the 1-10 scale of professional sports card authentication, possibly explaining the unusually high asking price. As described on the Yahoo games website, this qualifies the card as “Gem Mint” – or “practically perfect in every way,” as Mary Poppins might put it. An 8-card pack – which may or may not contain a Black Lotus – cost $2.45 in 1993. Anyone interested in acquiring a Gem Mint Black Lotus is in luck – there’s another one for sale on eBay for $37,888.

Man Leaves It All to His Cats

While the dog is typically man’s best friend, two Tennessee felines may beg to differ. Frisco and Jake, two cats belonging to the late Leon Sheppard Sr., are the sole heirs to Sheppard’s $250,000 fortune and his 4,270-square-foot, gated community home. There has been no comment from Sheppard’s five children, 12 grandchildren, or six great-grandchildren. Memphis station  WMC-TV reports that the cats are to remain in the Sheppard home under the same living conditions as always, with the $250,000 to be used for their care as well as maintaining the house. After Frisco dies, the remainder of the money will be divided among Sheppard’s relatives, with the understanding that Jake will continue to be cared for. 

The Phantom Toll Booth Bill

Lesser-known collectibles are moving up in the world. The ‘Alpha’ Black Lotus from the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering has put the game in the news after selling in an eBay auction for $27,302 on November 17. The ‘Alpha’ Black Lotus card, called so

A 33-year-old Virginia man managed to rack up a whopping sum of $202,000 in unpaid tolls and penalties. How, you ask? It all started in 2009 when a then-unemployed Jason Bourcier regularly drove the Dulles Toll Road during his commute from Reston, Va., to Washington, D.C. Apparently, Bourcier had been informed – incorrectly – that the toll booths were unmanned and “off duty” after 11:30pm and that drivers passing through after that time were spared the 75-cent toll.

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Honda Wins Eco-Friendly Title “Accord”ingly

a variety of other studies have been performed measuring the effects of a mother’s activity on the baby’s physiology – such as a correlation in mother-baby heart rate – determining the effects on a developing brain is more difficult to quantify. A recent experiment at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in San Diego produced results that indicated the two may be intertwined for the positive. Pregnant rats who were allowed to exercise on a wheel gave birth to babies that more successfully executed a memory test early in their youth. This cognitive advantage followed them into adulthood. Being that this and other experiments involved animals, a new study was performed at the University of Montreal in Canada to more accurately test the effects of prenatal exercise on humans. A group of expectant mothers with similar lifestyles – healthy, young adults who exercised sporadically – were assigned either to a light exercise regimen or a sedentary rest beginning in their second trimester. The women in the exercise group were directed to work out for at least 20 minutes three times a week, at a moderate intensity, equivalent to about a six or so on a scale of exertion from 1 to 10. Most women chose to walk or jog. All volunteers kept a daily activity log regardless of which group they were in. After about 6 months, all the women gave birth to healthy boys and girls and were asked to bring them into the lab for testing soon after. Each baby was fitted with a newborn-sized cap containing electrodes used for monitoring electrical activity in the brain, settled in his or her mother’s lap, and soothed to sleep. Researchers then played a sound loop featuring a variety of low, soft sounds that recurred frequently, interspersed with more jarring, unfamiliar noises, while the baby’s brain activity was recorded. The brain’s reaction to these kinds of sounds would take on the appearance of a spike that diminishes as the baby’s brain matures, generally disappearing at 4 months. With the babies in question, the sedentary group’s sported numerous spikes in response to the harsher sounds, while the active group’s were noticeably smaller. This would seem to indicate that the prenatal exercise had caused the babies’ brains to mature earlier, allowing them to more easily adapt to their environment. The exact science of it all is not clear, but for now it seems that exercising may benefit not only the mother but the baby as well.

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agenda and next year’s midterm elections on the horizon, immigration appears to be couched for the time being.


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getting the prize at the end of it. It’s taking that philosophy to another level of execution.” Just like Cracker Jack.

World’s Tallest Water Slide in Progress “I would go through late at night, and there weren’t any attendants,” said Bourcier. “One day, I asked an attendant if the cameras were on when there were no attendants on duty. He said they weren’t. So I started going through without paying the tolls.” Bourcier would continue in this manner for three and a half years. The cameras, in fact, were fully operational and caught Bourcier’s license plates as he passed through each time. The Virginia Dept. of Transportation charged him $440 in tickets through the mail, which he ignored, leading to processing fees ($25 per violation) and penalties (up to $500 per infraction). Bourcier amassed a total of 335 toll violations, and the VDOT finally took him to court over his $202,000 bill. After negotiating the figures, Bourcier’s lawyers brought the final bill down to $96,498, which the Virginia native will pay in monthly installments of $150 over the next 54 years. His last payment will be in mid-2067, at which time he’ll be 87. This sounds toll-tally crazy.

Hollywood Bar to Serve $500 Milkshake How good is your average milkshake? $500 good? The Powder Room, a new nightclub in Hollywood, California, will be serving a souped-up, spirits-infused frothy concoction priced at just that amount. The drink, designed by award-winning mixologist Adrianne Biggs, will combine premium alcohol with Belgian chocolate and edible gold and will come with a souvenir – a Swarovski Nirvana Montana blue crystal ring.

“We wanted to offer an experience where guests could take something special home with them, and it’s perfect for a bachelorette party or a special occasion,” owner John Arakaki said. “I remember loving Cracker Jack boxes as a kid and

“It was quite a surprise,” airport director BP Sharma said. “The bars were packed in bags so we did not immediately know what it was. The bags were inspected and found to be gold.” Sharma said the bars weigh a collective 53 pounds and appeared to have originated in the United Arab Emirates. While this may be the first time gold bars have been found on a plane at the airport, people have been caught by airport security trying to smuggle gold in their hand luggage, the airport director said. A customs official told NBC News that an investigation had been launched but no arrests had been made.

A Lot of Giant Steps for Mankind

Water park attractions are packing in the heat…er…height. Schlitterbahn, famous for its innovative water parks, is working on a 17-story speed ride of insanity. And insanity it is; scheduled to open to the public at Schlitterbahn’s Kansas City location in May, 2014, the Verrückt, as the slide will be called, supposedly translates to “insane.” While keeping mum about the details, designer Jeff Henry promises the Verrückt will be the tallest, fastest and steepest water slide in the world, topping the current title holder, the “Insano” in Brazil. Riders will travel down the slide on a 4-person raft to share the thrill of experience and also conveniently prevent the unpleasant “slide-burn” effect. Hold onto your yarmulkas.

$1.2 million Discovered in Plane’s Bathroom

A commercial jet travelling from Mumbai to Thailand’s capital Bangkok was found to have been hoarding $1.2 million worth in gold bars. An aircraft maintenance crew stumbled upon the 24 bars in the Jet Airways Boeing 737 bathroom when they performed routine end-of-day checks at the airport in Kolkata, India.

What Karl Bushby’s attempting to do has been conceived before – to travel across the entire globe. However, it’s his method of transport that sets him apart from all other contestants; he’s aiming to go by foot. Originally from England, Bushby’s plan has been to go through the Darién Gap, across the Mojave Desert, over the Bering Strait, through Mongolia and the Middle East and finally back home to England with only a backpack and a handcart he named “the Beast.” 15 years and a multitude of harrowing experiences later, including brushes with crocodiles, near-starvation and imprisonment, Bushby has reached the United Sates, starting out in Los Angeles and heading towards D.C. The greatest change Bushby has seen over the course of his travels is the advancement of social media, enabling him to project his whereabouts and progress at any given time. Anyone interested in being a part of the longest walk in human history can tune in live to Bushby3000.com. The trekker also maintains an Instagram feed. Motivation for such extreme course of action seems to have come in the form of Bushby’s disappointment with his young self. A diagnosis of dyslexia, failure to prove himself in the British army and a failed marriage later, Bushby set out to

accomplish something hard, something gritty – something big. “It’s quite a long walk,” he said. “But I’ve made it my mission, and frankly, failure isn’t an option.” Well, his boots are truly made for walking. Walk, Bushby, walk.

Historic Saudi Saber Sells for $1Million A rare saber considered to be a “historic testimony” to the creation of modern-day Saudi Arabia sold for upwards of $1.2 million at an auction in France. The 24-carat-gold and steel weapon with an ivory handle and long curved blade nearly 30 inches long fetched 955,400 euros over the phone “by a mysterious buyer who entered bidding midsale,” said auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat. The sword had been a gift from Saudi King Abdul-Aziz bin Saud to Prince Ahmad Shah Khan in Afghanistan to mark the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on May 5, 1932. The sale of the saber, which could be of 19th-century Syrian origin, provoked “very lively interest among collectors in the Middle East,” the Osenat auction house said.

A Penny for Your Thoughts? A rare St. Louis coin collection sold for more than $23 million at a two-day New York City auction. The collection finds its roots in an 1859 one-cent piece that the 102-year-old collector received more than ninety years ago from his grandfather. Representing only one-third of Eric P. Newman’s total collection, the 1,800 items auctioned off had been originally purchased by Newman for a mere $7,500. Auctioneer Jim Halperin said another auction of foreign coins is planned for January and is expected to reap at least $10 million. Co-chairman of Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, Halperin called Newman one of the world’s most accomplished numismatists or professional coin collectors. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the nonprofit Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. The society runs the Newman Money Museum, part of the Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis. Newman is a 1935 law graduate of the school. That’s what I call one pretty penny.


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THE JEWISH HOME NOVEMBER 28, 2013


56 NOVEMBER 28, 2013

by Shiffy Friedman ©

THE JEWISH HOME

Shiffy Friedman is a Jerusalem-based freelance writer. Her works have been published widely, primarily in Ami Magazine. She would love to hear feedback on her writing. Feel free to contact her at passionforthepen@gmail.com.

PART TWO

Chapter Fifteen

Recap: The Steins attend their first family therapy session, in which Dad does the talking. When he flashes a smile toward Lisa, she feels she’s six years old again at the pottery shop. Lisa Stein “Can we sit at this table?” I try to raise my voice above the laughter around me. I want to sit near Laura. “Let’s go,” Dad says. He’s holding my hand so tight that I almost can’t feel the clay in my palm. We pull out the mini chairs and sit down, the globs of clay opening worlds for us. First, I trace a large moon on my sheet of parchment paper. Then, I start to knead my clay. “Not like this,” Dad says, as I try to flatten the clay onto the shape I drew. “I want it to cover the picture,” I say cautiously. “But that’s not how you do it,” he argues. It’s my picture! I want to yell. Can’t I do it all on my own? Instead, I let him talk as I start to knead in a new direction. “Give it to me!” He grabs the clay from my hands. “You just don’t get it, Lisa!” I look toward Laura’s table as he finishes the moon for me. “You see?” He tells me. “Those girls know how to do it just right. You—you just can’t.” It’s not my moon that he hands me a long hour later, smiling. And because it’s Dad’s, I take it with me to school the next day so I can dump it in the playground trash bin. I’m too smart. When Dad smiles, which only happens in places like these

where there are people, I don’t believe him. Instead of returning a smile, I count the pleats on my uniform skirt. “Let’s start with you,” Elana says in her soothing voice. I would sit here for hours just so I could listen to her speak. When I look up, I see she means me. “What’s your name?” she asks. I don’t know why, but I do believe her smile. When I answer, I’m smiling too. “I’m Lisa.” “Lisa, how old are you?” “I’m fourteen.” Fourteen! “Fourteen,” she repeats, rubbing her hands smoothly. “So Lisa, why do you think we are here today?” I press my upper lip to my teeth, blinking rapidly. “Here? What’s here?” She looks at Dad, then at Mom, then back at me. “Here is a safe place where we talk about what’s bothering us so that we can come up with ways to heal those hurts.” For a moment, my heart starts to beat rapidly. Hurts! Where do I begin? What is not bothering me? “Uhh, so, yeah,” I try. “Sometimes, I feel like I want to… uh, like sometimes, when, when,” I throw a sideway glance in Dad’s direction, my face still toward Elana, “When Dad sometimes gets angry, I feel like the whole house is, is on fire. It’s like…” His words cascading forth from his seething mouth, Dad blurts out, “Now, Lisa, you know that it’s normal for a person to be stressed some—“ Perhaps it is? Is this what everyone’s going through but they’ve just learned to hide it as well as I do? “Excuse me, Dad, but I want to give Lisa her chance to answer my question.”

Elana lifts her hand in the air. “Lisa, go ahead please.” I wish I could! I would sit on this couch until my mouth goes dry and spill out all those dreadful memories of the ruined dinner tables, of the constant fear that keeps me up at night, of the worry and pity I feel for Mom as she sweeps the shards of glass on the living room floor. And also of the disgust I feel toward myself for being worthlessly incompetent in everything I do. “Lisa,” she prods. I shake my head quickly to bring myself back into this room. “So, yeah, maybe it’s normal for a person to be stressed sometimes. I don’t know.” I fidget with my fingers but my back is straight. “It is, Lisa. But what happens when the person is stressed? Can you tell us how it affects you?” “So, I’m not exactly sure because every time it’s different, but every time, it really really bothers me. Like I could be in the middle of doing homework with a friend on the phone, and then I’ll just bang down and make believe we got disconnected because I’m so so embarrassed and all.” I stop. Did I just say too much? I look around at the others in the room, but nobody seems to be here with me. “So Lisa, what makes you want to put the phone down?” Oh, please! Can we just go home? “Can I, can I… pass up my turn?” I plead, my chin protruding forward. “If you’d like.” I shake my head furiously. “Yes, please.” Elana clears her throat as she caresses her chin. We watch in silence as she jots some

words down in her notepad. When she’s done, she turns to Davie. “And what’s your name?” He moves his kippah from left to right and then back. I can see he’s uncomfortable, too, and I whisper a silent prayer that he says what’s good for him. “Davie Stein. Sixteen.” “So, Davie, why do you think we’re here today?” He scratches his forehead and one tiny pimple starts to bleed. “Cuz things are just out of control. Because we all hate what goes on in our house, and we all know what I’m talking about, but I don’t really see how you can help.” He tugs at the neck of his shirt. Elana’s composure is all the same, though. She forges on, “So you feel, Davie, that things are out of control but that there’s nothing we can do to change that.” “Aha,” he agrees. “What do you mean by ‘out of control’?” I watch as Dad gets anxious, his mouth open to speak. Before he gets a chance to defend himself, Elana’s hand is up again. “Dad, I just want to remind you that now it is Davie’s turn to answer my question.” He squirms in his chair, his mouth foaming. Even when Dad is so angry at Davie that his eyeballs nearly pop out, Davie doesn’t look the way he does now. If I could look closely at his hands now, I think I would see goose bumps. In an uncharacteristically quiet voice, he says, “I want to pass up my turn, then.”


57 THE JEWISH HOME

By Rachel Wizenfeld Where did you get your uncompromising passion and unapologetic stance? I grew up in Far Rockaway, NY, in a subsection called Bayswater. It was the JDL (Jewish Defense League) capital of the world, and where Rabbi Meir Kahane used to spend his summers. Every summer I would hear his talks, and I was very influenced by his personality and message of uncompromising loyalty to Israel and the Jewish nation. His message was one of going on the offensive in responding to the attack of our entitlements to Israel; of being done with Arab interests, and done with soft, cowardly Jews who are afraid of their affiliation with Judaism and apologize for everything. It was a very strong and proud position to take. Rabbi Kahane was a graduate of the Mir – his entire philosophy was grounded in Orthodoxy. The greatest supporters of Israel are the Orthodox Jews. We are more well-grounded in our support because of our religious hashkafah of the importance of Eretz Yisrael. Those Jewish leaders whose only connection is Zionism or a feeling of nostalgia, who don’t have the background of Chazal (Torah sages), of Torah or Gemara to weave and cement our connection to Eretz Yisrael, then they sorely lack the fundamentals of that connection and profess to speak about the Jewish value, while only speaking about their lackluster, politically-correct connection. My parents were “religious zionists” which is a dying breed in America. My father was a musmach of Chaim Berlin and was the executive vice president of the Jewish National Fund for over 25 years. My mother is a Vizhnitz descendant who is currently married to Rabbi Berel Wein. My parents infused me with a love for Klal Yisroel and Eretz Yisroel and shown by example how important Israel is to us. Orthodoxy and love for Eretz Yisroel was a part of life. Zionism was not a dirty word. Tell us about your law practice and your Israel advocacy. I’m a civil trial attorney with my own law firm in Hancock Park. I’m in court almost every day of the week with an active business litigation practice. I pride myself in my aggressive and zealous advocacy of my clients, sometimes against overwhelming odds. In the past, my advocacy was on par with most pro-Israel Orthodox Jews. If I saw a pro-Israel article, I would email it around to a few of my friends. But then the Gaza flo-

tilla happened in 2010, and I was extremely frustrated at how inept the Jewish Israeli response was to the Gaza flotilla, and how well-oiled the anti-Israel press and Arab machinery was. I was really frustrated at the lack of really strong advocacy for Israel, and it seemed that all these American Jewish organizations that were professing to maintain zealous advocacy for Israel were just spouting apologies. They were merely defending against allegations saying, “No, we’re not an apartheid state” and “No, we would never hurt anyone etc. etc.” They were just answering and apologizing; we were always on the defensive. But I know as a trial attorney that you can’t win a case by always being on the defensive and you don’t win a football game if you’re on the defensive. I come from a different school of thought: that the best defense is an offense, so I created a blog: “American Trial Attorneys in Defense of Israel.” This is where I go on the offensive. I share any article that portrays Israel in a positive light. I believe firmly – and I learned this lesson from my father who passed away more than 10 years ago – that of the 12 spies who spoke about Israel, only the 2 spies who spoke positively are remembered by history. The other ones, we can’t quite remember their names. Always speak positively about Israel, and never ever be among those who are vocally against Israel. History is not forgiving to those who are negative about Israel. What kind of impact are you seeing from your blog? The sheer numbers of followers are one indicator. I have thousands of followers to my blog. I primarily attract lawyers and judges from across the country who understand what a lawyer does and that’s why this information attracts them. If there ever was a profession to support Israel, it would be trial attorneys. We rely on hard-core evidence, not propaganda, and on the credibility of evidence. Justice is not supposed to be swayed by money, and we trial attorneys present arguments with well-thought out passion. If the story of Israel were told in a court of law, we would win every fight. The evidence would come in of the atrocities of the Arab world, and every court would rule in favor of Israel because Israel is the most moral government in the world. The impact among my colleagues has been extraordinary. There are judges in state court, in federal court, even judges who were considered for the U.S. Supreme Court, who have told me that their perception of

Israel used to be tarnished and based on the LA Times, and now with exposure to solid, well-written articles about Israel, they have done a “180.” Now some of them are going on missions to Israel. There might be a case where Israel might be discussed and the judge might have a positive disposition due to reading my blog. There was one very influential judge who in his involvement with a Jewish organization was able to veto various efforts to delegitamize Israel. Then he pulled away from that more left-wing Jewish organization and joined a pro-Israel organization, and is now leading a mission of Jewish and Christian judges to Israel. A quick story demonstrates the impact. I was at the LA Superior Court downtown, and a lawyer who I don’t know well but know to be a fine guy, a liberal Democrat, approached me and said, “I can’t understand it. Why doesn’t Israel make peace with the Arabs?” (As if the onus of blame was on Israel for there not being peace in the Middle East). I asked him, “Have you had a CT scan?” He was uncomfortable but finally admitted that yes, he had. I said to him, “Don’t tell me it was benign or malignant, but did they find something?” He said “yes,” so I asked him, “Now did you make peace with your tumor? Or did you go to battle with it?” I saw the light go on for him. Israel has to deal with Hamas and Hezbolah, who are sworn to destroy Israel, nevertheless they should make peace with them? (And still Israel tries to make peace - but there’s no one home in the Arab world to make peace with.) Are people willing to change their views so easily? You have to know who you’re talking to. I never debate Arabs or people on the left because they shout over you and try to intimidate you. Instead, I speak to intelligent, upright Jewish and Christian people in the community who might not know better, or who might not have the words at their fingertips. And when you have such compelling arguments, they listen. I’m speaking to thousands of lawyers – some of whom might be a congressman next year, they might be a senator and might be influencing American policy on Israel. I see who are becoming members [of my blog] and it’s an extraordinary thing. The time has come to speak out loudly and strongly and passionately about what is right, and defend the State of Israel from her detractors. It doesn’t matter if the attackers of

Israel are Arabs or Neturei Karta. How much time do you spend on your advocacy? I spend a half hour a day scanning and posting articles. Then I speak about once a month. I speak to Orthodox, Conservative and Reform groups, Christian churches, Zionist groups, high school and college students. I do power point presentations as if I’m at trial and the audience is the jury. I show incontrovertible evidence to support how honorable the IDF is, how humane we are, and how murderous and decrepit the Arab world is.  99% of the response I’ve gotten has been incredibly supportive – it’s touching a vein that people see needs to be exploited and furthered. I’ve received hate mail, mostly anonymous. Anyone who sends me an anonymous letter is not worth the paper it’s written on. What has the impact been on your law practice? The publicity is enormous. When someone is struggling with their lawyer and then they come to my dramatic presentation, well inevitably what ends up happening after speeches is I become bombarded by client inquiries. I didn’t do this to generate business; I did this because I wanted to help and the unintended result was a wave of business. While I will not represent people who are hostile to Israel, I’ve been besieged by requests of Lebanese Christians who have been massacred by Arabs in Beirut. These Christian Arabs are extraordinary clients, and I made them a lot of money. Can those of us who aren’t trial attorneys join the effort? When the Maccabeats came out with their Chanukah video, everyone was circulating it to each other. When there is a pro-Israel article, everyone should be circulating it. We all do it for a cute YouTube video, so put together a list of your favorite people from shul, your family and friends who would appreciate this, and create your own following! Go circulate your pro-Israel philosophies to 50 people and let Israel benefit from the Internet and the forward button. attorneysdefendingisrael.blogspot.com

NOVEMBER 28, 2013

7 Questions with Baruch C. Cohen, Esq. Trial attorney and founder of the blog, American Trial Attorneys in Defense of Israel


THE JEWISH HOME NOVEMBER 28, 2013 58


59 THE JEWISH HOME

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