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The Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



The Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home











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Challenges to American and World Jewry








Navigating Jewish Life in a Secular Legal Climate PROFESSOR ARI HELFAND, ALLEN FAGIN & SARAH NISSEL, ESQ. 7:30-9:00pm

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Role of Autonomy in Religious Struggles RABBI DR. JOSEPH KALINSKY

Millenium Generation & Synagogue Trends








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Chanukah – The Festival of Our Rededication RABBI HERSHEL SCHACHTER

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



The Week In News



Community Happenings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

JEWISH THOUGHT Just Do It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Op-Ed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 That Is Who We Are. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

FEATURE Fidel’s Reign of Terror. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

PARENTING Dr. T.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

LIFESTYLES Israel News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Notable Quotes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Dear Readers,

It’s said that the Baal Hatanya once remarked that the arrival of Moshiach would be printed in the newspapers. In times past one may have wondered, What’s the big deal? Of course it would, don’t the papers report on what’s happened? That’s what they’re there for! I don’t think the question is still a good one. These past couple of years have shown us that all news organizations either root for the right or the left. No one’s in the middle. No one really tries to cover the truth, regardless of whether it confirms or contradicts their biases. Every story is further proof that the pre-determined bullseye is the correct one. Says the Baal Hatanya: Moshiach’s arrival will be different. It will be printed in all of the papers. He won’t belong to a specific group and will not be owned by a party. He is coming for all of humanity. Everyone will celebrate the triumph of good and truth over evil and falsehood.




Maybe having a pre-determined bull’s eye isn’t such a bad idea after all. We have the Torah and mitzvos; everything that happens is an expression of its truth. If we just push ourselves hard enough, we can find how events seeming otherwise are actually the biggest proof. Don’t trust me, just ask your local news anchor. This country is torn and could really use the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of peace just about now. Hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,


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

TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Upcoming SimXa Shabbaton – Chanukah 2016 Yehudis Litvak Preparations are under way for the 16th annual SimXa Shabbaton, which will take place on Friday, December 23rd through Monday, December 26th. SimXa Company, headed by Moshe and Esther Davidoff, is a non-profit organization dedicated to educational outreach to Russian-speaking Jews. For the past 16 years, SimXa has been bringing renowned Russian-speaking rabbis and Torah teachers to its shabbatons, where the Russian-speaking Jews from Southern California and beyond can reconnect to their heritage and absorb the timeless words of Torah in their native language.

As the SimXa family grew to include non-Russian speaking spouses and children of Jews from the former Soviet Union, the shabbatons have expanded to include English-speaking lecturers. Currently, the Russian and English lectures take place in parallel, and the attendees can choose which ones they prefer to attend. The theme of this year’s SimXa Shabbaton, which coincides with the beginning of Chanukah, is The Power of the Few. This year, the shabbaton will feature an unprecedented array of new speakers. Among them are the world-famous Rabbi Manis Friedman, a popular author, lecturer, and co-founder of Bais Chana Women International; Rabbi Boruch Gorin, editor-in-chief of Knizhniki and of the Lechaim Jewish literary magazine in Moscow; Rabbi Dr. Boruch Lekht, the founder of Congregation Ohr Chodosh, a synagogue and kollel for Russian Jews in Brooklyn; and Rabbi Dov and Rebbetzin Racheli Muchnick of Chabad of Oxnard.

The SimXa Shabbaton will take place in a new location this year, at the picturesque beachfront Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach hotel in Oxnard, CA. Gourmet kosher meals will be served. Back by popular demand, this year’s retreat is catered by The Place Catering under the supervision of Vaad HaRabbonim of San Diego. In addition to the informative and inspiring lectures, SimXa Shabbaton will

also host a Chanukah celebration with menorah lighting on the beach, in conjunction with Chabad of Oxnard. Freshly made sufganiyot, potato latkes with sour cream and applesauce, and other traditional delicacies will be served. The attendees will also have the opportunity to join the Ventura City Chanukah celebration. The Shabbaton will also feature entertainment, such as live music, a comedian,

and a magic show for adults and children, and tea rooms for both adults and children. The popular children’s program will include a Chanukah carnival, menorah lighting, relay races at the park and beach, friendly sports competitions, tennis, pingpong, foosball, jacuzzi hunt, surrey biking, and water sports. More information is available at www.



TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Holistic Self-Defense for the Jewish Community Yehudis Litvak F ormed about a year ago, the Americ an Jewish Community Security Counc il (AJCSC) has been offering a holist ic self-defense course for members of t he West Coast Jewish community. The c ourse, developed in collaboration with military and law enforcement instructors, provides preparation for both planned attacks and natural disasters. To date, AJCSC

has trained over fifty people, mostly in the G reater Los Angeles area. The goal is to e mpower community leaders to protect themselves in emergency situations. Holistic self-defense consists of many components. The first is the importance of a wareness and ability to recognize dang er. Another component is “verbal judo” – using body language and engaging with

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p otential attacker to diffuse the situation and prevent a fight. Other components are state of mind, personal fitness, and taking precautions that would discourage potential attackers. In addition, the course participants receive training in using firearms, as well as an opportunity to purchase a defensive hand gun. After a thorough safety training, the participants attend a private range, where former military and law enforcement instructors teach them to use their guns in different situations. The course also provides emergency preparedness training. The participants learn the best ways to respond in case of fire or a natural disaster. The AICSC emphasizes that they work as closely as they can with law enforcement and other first responders. They encourage the participants to contact law enforcement whenever possible if an emergency arises. However, in cases where time is of critical importance, the participants will be prepared to respond to an emergency before other help arrives. Due to the sensitive nature of AJCSC’s work, they do not disclose the names of their founders or members. AJSCS guarantees complete privacy to any community member who takes the course. Moreover, not everyone is accepted into the course. Each applicant is required to provide references who can vouch for their moral and emotional stability. AICSC is hoping to raise community awareness in the area of self-defense. AJCSC’s director, who chose to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, says that AJCSC would like to build confidence in the community about a previously taboo topic, so that community members could be comfortable with self-defense while maintaining safety. By taking the course, “you can take yourself off the victim list,” he says. At the same time, the participants are taught to do everything they can before the conflict escalates, so that it would not be necessary to use their self-defense skills. For more information, AICSC can be contacted by email -- info.ajcsc@gmail. com.

TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

American Buyers Spur Record Breaking Sales at Ramat Givat Zeev Project The upscale Ramat Givat Zeev project, located just outside Jerusalem, continues to spur record breaking sales from buyers, many of them new and future immigrants from Los Angeles, New York, and beyond. A buyers’ group consisting of over 30 families emanating from the metro Los Angeles region has actually created a spike in the value of each apartment by nearly $60,000, even before taking possession of the keys to their new homes, which are currently under construction. The rising value of these properties can be traced directly to the fact that only 50 apartments within the 350 unit complex remain to be sold.

Ramat Givat Zeev is rapidly taking shape

The overwhelming interest from American buyers stems from the fact that Ramat Givat Zeev has promoted itself as a project that is being erected with highend standards, mimicking the lifestyle that its buyers have been used to in the U.S.A. It will accentuate the discerning religious and cultural quality of life found in places such as Five Towns, Brooklyn, and

Queens, New York, as well as metro Los Angeles. Ramat Givat Zeev will feature synagogues, mikvaot and quality schools, as well as a country club with a pool and gym, tennis and basketball courts, green parks, and a shopping center. Yisroel Hayom, Israel’s largest daily newspaper, recently dubbed Ramat Givat

Zeev as Jerusalem’s “Caesarea” - a ritzy town near Central Israel – saying it is a “once in a generation” neighborhood. Because of the project’s unique locale, Israeli real estate experts believe that once the first residents of Ramat Givat Zeev move into their homes within the next 18 months, prices for the properties will actu-

ally double in price. The next sales event for the Ramat Givat Zeev project will take place at the Aish HaTorah Community Shul in Los Angeles (9100 West Pico Blvd.) on Sunday, December 18, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Ten Minutes That Can Improve Your Child’s Life: Getting the Most Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences Rabbi Chaim Trainer

Some parents anticipate parent-teacher conferences eagerly. Others dread them, and a few just ignore them. Are they really important or are they merely a waste of time? More importantly, how can we as parents contribute to their efficacy? My experience, both as a parent and a classroom rebbe, has taught me that the ten minute investment in our child’s year of education is a clear no-brainer. The return on our investment can be huge. These ten minutes have the potential to effect an improvement in our child’s school performance. Admittedly, we sometimes come away from the conference not any smarter about our children’s learning. However, it is definitely worth our time and effort even if we don’t find out anything earth-shattering. First of all, our attendance sends a crucial message to our children: They, and their school performance, are important to us. This can help build their sense of selfworth, as well as impress upon them the importance of doing well in school. If they sense that we don’t care that much about how they do in school, why should they care? Our attending also sends a similar message to their teachers: We care about how our children are doing. Teachers are human and our display of interest can encourage them to be more interested in having our

children succeed. That extra concern can make a huge difference in some children’s success. There are also real, tangible benefits to be gained from meeting with the teacher. It’s an opportunity to tweak your child’s educational experience, and the right “tweak” can bring significant benefits to your child. Remember, no news is not necessarily good news when it comes to your child’s learning. There may be real issues at school that you are not aware of. In order to gain the most from this important interaction, a number of do’s and don’ts are in order. Do: Prepare for the meeting by studying your child’s report card, discussing the grades and any other issues with your child, and thinking about what you want to ask the teacher. Don’t: Criticize the teacher. You’re there to discuss your child’s progress; not the teacher’s ability or past mistakes. Remember, you may successfully prove the teacher wrong but your unpleasant conversation may negatively impact your and your child’s relationship with this teacher. If you feel your child is having a problem with something the teacher is doing, phrase it in a question form. For example, if you feel the teacher gives too much homework, you can ask, “How long is the homework supposed to take?” or, “What

Thirty Years of Growth: Valley Torah High School Honors Rabbi and Mrs. Stulberger at Gala Dinner Yehudis Litvak On November 22, at the annual gala dinner, Valley Torah High School honored Rabbi Avrohom and Mrs. Peshy Stulberger for over 30 years of dedication to the school. When Rabbi Stulberger came to Valley Torah as the Torah Studies principal in 1986, the school only had 27 students total. Within a few months, Rabbi Stulberger became Head of School and began to build up the school. Currently, there are 90 girls and 120 boys at Valley Torah. Rabbi Stulberger’s first challenge was

the divisive atmosphere in the Valley due to the community leaders’ different visions for its schools. Rabbi Stulberger approached a rabbi outside of the Valley Torah circle and requested permission to teach a daf yomi class in his beis midrash. The rabbi not only readily agreed, but committed to attend the shiur, together with other rabbis. Slowly, the rifts in the community began to heal. “There was a new sense of achdus, a new ruach,” says Rabbi Stulberger. “I knew we would make

should I do if I see my child is overworked and stressed when it takes her over two hours to complete his homework?” Do: Compliment and express appreciation for all the teacher does. Ask your child if there is anything he or she likes about the class and make sure to mention it to the teacher. If you noticed any improvement in your child’s learning or yiddishkeit, mention it and give them credit. Appreciation encourages teachers to work even harder. Don’t: Discuss or complain about issues that should rather be discussed with the administration, such as curriculum or scheduling. It’s a waste of precious time and can be frustrating for both of you. Do: Give your full attention to the teacher. Don’t answer your cell phone – or, better yet, shut it off. Your children’s teachers deserve ten minutes a year of your undivided attention. I’ve had parents who carefully took notes during our meeting, and this never failed to impress me. Don’t: Panic or get upset if the teacher says that your child has, or may have, any type of disability. Differentiate between facts and opinions and just calmly ask the teacher why he thinks so and get the facts. You’ll have time to think it over, obtain other opinions and come to your own decision later. Additionally, calmly ask the teacher, “Even if he has this disability, what can we do now to help him learn bet-

ter in class?” Do: Ask what you can do to help your child succeed. If the teacher requests something that is not possible for you, be honest and try to discuss alternatives. Do: Feel free to ask about how your child is doing socially and spiritually. However, remember that not every teacher is at recess and even those that are may not have this information at their fingertips. Offer to call back in a week or two if the teacher would like more time to observe your child. Don’t: Stay longer than the ten minute time limit if there are other parents waiting. If you need more time, ask the teacher if you can continue your discussion over the phone on a later date. Do: Make a plan to stay more closely in touch if there were any surprise revelations about your child’s learning. Periodic communication with the teacher can help encourage many children to improve. May Hashem help us all help our children succeed to their utmost. Rabbi Trainer, a rebbe in Yeshiva Rav Isaacsohn/Toras Emes in Los Angeles, is the author of Shalom Secrets, a guide for children on how to live in peace with others. He also works with boys individually and in groups to help them achieve social success. He can be reached at 323-5490279

it. Torah grows in the atmosphere of achdus.” Rabbi Stulberger feels very blessed to be part of Valley Torah and to work together with its incredible staff and board members. The school’s mission, he explains, is to prepare its students for college in an atmosphere where they can grow spiritually. In the age of rapid change, the school strives to keep up with the latest trends in education so that the students would be prepared to pursue a career in today’s world. In addition to using technology in the classrooms, the school developed an IDEA lab. “IDEA” is an acronym for “innovation, design, entrepreneurship, art.” At the lab, the students have opportunities to experiment, innovate, and collaborate on various projects, and make presentations about their work. The lab is equipped with the latest tools, including 3-D printers. While Torah learning at Valley Torah has remained constant, the way the material is taught has also changed over the years. “The old system doesn’t work,”

says Rabbi Stulberger. “Our job in today’s world is to sell Torah to kids, to excite them about the Torah life.” He explains that today’s Torah teacher needs to be an entertainer. Rabbi Stulberger teaches 12th grade boys. “When I finish a shiur I am sweating, I had a workout,” he says. To make the gemara alive for his students, he brings cases relevant to them, such as a fender bender where the gemara is dis-

TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

cussing an ox and a cow. Rabbi Stulberger also gives a mussar shmuess at both the boys’ and the girls’ schools. The students get a chance to ask questions in an accepting, open environment. “One of my roles in the school is to address the Torah’s stance on contemporary issues,” he says. “Today, every school needs to be a kiruv school.” In addition to his work at Valley Torah, Rabbi Stulberger also serves as head of the local yeshiva principals’ council – an organization comprised of about twenty principals of Orthodox Jewish schools in the Greater Los Angeles area. The council meets to discuss issues relevant to all the schools. “We try to create a sense of achdus among the schools,” says Rabbi Stulberger. The principals’ council also convenes a beis din to determine school placement for children in complicated situations. “We feel the collective responsibility,” says Rabbi Stulberger. “Each Jewish child belongs to a Jewish school.” The beis din determines which school should accept a child who doesn’t have a school to go to. To keep the process unbiased, elementary school principals handle high school cases, while high school principals handle elementary school cases. Once the beis din reaches a decision the school is bound by the terms of the council agreement to accept the child. While there have been cases where no school was able to accommodate the child due to special needs, the council and the schools do their best to accommodate as many children as they can. When it comes to school placement, Rabbi Stulberger’s advice to parents is to choose an elementary school based on their own goals, but to choose a high school based on the student’s. “It is a terrible disservice to many kids to push them into a too religious environment, which begins a slow process of drifting away,” says Rabbi Stulberger. “There is no such thing as a better school. There is only the right school for that child.” Rabbi Stulberger also served on the halachic advisory board of Aleinu, the Orthodox division of the Jewish Family Services. As part of the board, he was involved in issues of molestation and abuse in the community. “It’s challenging when people don’t want to press charges,” says Rabbi Stulberger. He feels strongly that the Jewish community is not equipped to deal with abuse on its own. “If a crime has been committed we need to let the authorities know,” he says. “We can’t expect rabbis to be crime fighters.” While people might hesitate to report members of their own community, it is the only way to ensure that the perpetrator doesn’t cause any more damage. “One more victim is one too many,” says Rabbi Stulberger. Another area of Rabbi Stulberger’s community involvement are issues relating to gender and marriage. Behind the scenes, he helps struggling young adults

Rabbi Stulberger & VTHS President David Coronel presenting an award to Dr. Uri & Efrat Zisblatt


get the help they need. “It’s not easy,” says Rabbi Stulberger, “but if there is a desire on the part of the individual to live a life of marriage and children then it is possible.” Besides his official duties, Rabbi Stulberger impacts the community members by his own example. Mrs. Stulberger recalls that a student who had recently transferred to Valley Torah was asked to help set up chairs for an assembly. The student was stunned to see Rabbi Stulberger himself also setting up chairs. He knew that this was the school where he belonged.

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TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Dayan Dunner Visits Los Angeles and Kollel Merkaz Hatorah Rabbi Arye D. Gordon During his recent visit to Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Merkaz Hatorah Community Kollel was honored by a visit from Dayan Aharon Dovid Dunner. He delivered a shiur to the kollel on Monday evening, November 21, 2016. Dayan Dunner, a world-renowned in-

spirational speaker, is constantly sought after by Torah communities around the world as a guest lecturer. His vast knowledge of Torah is evident in the detailed halachic points made in his shiurim. The dayan manages to pepper his shiurim with fascinating and sometimes humorous sto-

ries from experiences of our gedolei torah. Rav Dunner is a senior dayan in the London Kedassia Beth Din and is the rav of Bais Medrash, Tottenham Adass in London. In his visit to the kollel, Harav Dunner was accompanied by his nephew, Rabbi Pini Dunner, rabbi of the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills Synagogue. Harav Boruch Gradon, the Rosh Kollel, introduced the dayan and announced that the shiur was le’iluy nishmas Miriam bas Reb Uri, mother of Rabbi Pini Dunner and the dayan’s sister-in-law, whose yahrtzeit was that day. The evening’s shiur centered on the

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topic of kibud av v’eim. While many of us think that we know the halachos of honoring our parents, it became evident quite quickly that our knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of the mitzvah were much less than we realized. Rav Dunner took us down the road through the various gemaras, rishonim, and achronim who elucidated this complex topic. The gemara in Kiddushin, daf 45a relates an incident where two men were sitting together, and one offered the other a cup of wine, saying that with this cup of wine the other man’s daughter should marry his son. In this case, the gemara rejects the possibility of this being accepted as a marriage. Even though we acknowledge that the father can arrange his daughter’s choice in marriage, we do not make the same suggestion with regard to a son accepting his father’s choice. The Maharshal explains that the father simply has no power over his son with regard to issues of marriage, so his actions in this case have no meaning. The rabbanan then asked, “Perhaps the son made his father a shali’ach (a messenger on his behalf)!” If in fact the father was a messenger, it is as if the son himself made the kiddushin and it should be a good marriage. Answers Ravina, “He (the son) would not be so brazen to do so (make his father his messenger).” Dayan Dunner went on to explain that even for a d’var mitzvah, no son would impose on his father to make him (the father) his messenger. Based on this, asked Rav Dunner, “Would one be permitted to ask his father, for example, to pass the salt during dinner?” It appears not. Another well known gemara is the story of Dama ben Nesinah. The gemara in Kiddushin 31:a asks, “How far does the mitzvah of honoring parents extend?” Answers Rav Ula: We can learn from Dama ben Nesinah. Once, the Rabbis wanted to do business with him. He would have profited 600,000 gold dinarim, however, he could not make the deal without waking his father, so he lost the deal. Asked Dayan Dunner, “Let us say, you came home late one night and you had to ring the bell to wake your parents to let you in, can you? The answer,” responded the dayan, “is no!” According to Jewish law you cannot wake your father up. Dayan Dunner went through a number of additional examples to show that the mitzvah of kibud av v’eim is more than meets the eye!

Photos Arye D. Gordon


DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home


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Torah Musings The Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Just Do It Sarah Pachter

I recently saw a Ted Talk by 17-yearold Sam Berns, a young man who appeared to be in his eighties. Although he has since p assed on, he suffered from progeria, a disease in which one’s cells rapidly deteriorate. The disease caused Sam to appear b ald, with many wrinkles, and a diminished frame. Despite his unusual physical condition, this young lad spoke with such confidence, more so than any healthy teenager – or adult – I’ve come across, before o r since then. Where did this inner sense of self-worth come from? S am’s story resonated within me. It was Sam’s dream to play the snare drum for his high school’s band. He envisioned marching on the football field during the h alftime show, performing for a stadium f illed with fellow students. The fact that each drum weighed over forty pounds did n ot deter young Sam, who weighed only fifty pounds himself. Logistically, it could not be done, but Sam would not allow his

d isease to stand in his way. He and his family worked with an engineer to design a harness and snare drum that weighed only six pounds total. With much practice and dedication, he did in fact march onto h is high school’s football field, proudly p laying front and center during the halftime show. It was an epic moment for Sam. T his simple act of playing the drums w hile dealing with progeria was a maj or achievement, in and of itself. When w e accomplish difficult tasks, our sense o f self-confidence skyrockets. Although i nitially I did not give much credence to p laying in a marching band as sufficient t o heighten Sam’s self-worth, it was this overcoming this relatively minor obstacle that boosted his self-esteem in a very significant way. No one gets a medal for simply walki ng across a room – unless, of course, they are a victim of polio, who struggles through every step. Overcoming individu-

al challenges and accomplishing difficult tasks is the gateway to inner confidence. I n Miriam Adahan’s book, Teaching Your Child to Care, she shares wise words f or an instantaneous confidence boost. When one is sitting on the couch and faces a choice between getting up to accomplish a task that he has been pushing off or continuing to sit, that person should stand up to do that task. It might be the last thing he feels like doing, but as Nike says, “Just do it.” The act of doing is so simple, but very effective in raising our self-respect, in the moment and beyond. Taking the easy way out can feel more comfortable momentarily, but it robs us of feeling uplifted longterm. T hat kind of thinking works when it comes to simple choices like “should I get o ff the couch,” but what if the choice is a real difficulty? What if the challenge is just too hard? I want to let you in on a secret. The voice inside your head that says, “I can’t,” is a liar. T he following quote inspired me trem endously during many of my personal challenges: “ Believe in yourself, and all that you a re. Know that there is something inside yourself greater than any obstacle.” —C.D. Larson T hat “something” inside is our soul, and it is strong enough to break any physical barrier. Our neshamah, our G-dly soul, is not made from wind, dust, or tiny part icles, but rather is offered to us by G-d Himself, as we learn, “Hashem blew into Adam the breath of life.” (Genesis 2:7) D o me a favor as you are reading this: take a deep breath, and exhale. When we do so, we are blowing out air that was once inside our body. The Torah uses the t erminology of “blowing” because in ess ence, G-d blew into us something from H imself. We each have a portion of G-d inside: infinite power and infinite wisdom. Something untouchable. This may help us on a spiritual level, but i n practical application, tapping into this inner power requires tremendous self-disc ipline. Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller from N eve Yerushalayim defines “strength” as f inding out what you deeply desire, and saying no to things that are less important than that. It is not about choosing between something you want versus something you do not want, but rather choosing between two very enticing options. Rebbetzin Heller shared the example of setting a weight loss goal. Of course, as soon as one sets such a goal, she is immediately tempted with cakes, cookies, and donuts galore. Having strength, or self-discipline, is about saying no, because what you are getting in exchange for rejecting something appealing is worth more in the long run. In this case, we want the temporary satisfaction of the donut, but

the weight loss is worth more. Studies conducted at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that the number o ne indicator of success in college students is not IQ, or even aptitude. Rather, it is a strong work ethic and the ability to d elay immediate gratification. Imagine, a student is trying to get an A in school. T his requires buckling down and studying long hours, perhaps late into the night. Simultaneously, however, the student has a conflicting desire to promote his social l ife by going out with friends and partying. Learning to say no to what a student t emporarily wants in the moment allows f or him to achieve what he really wants, which is success in school. M any years ago, my friend’s father, J ohn, was addicted to cigarettes. Due to h is failing health, a doctor ordered him t o stop. He made a resolution to follow t hrough, and had been sticking to it for weeks. At a social gathering, John’s friend pulled out a cigarette for himself and offered one to him. John stared longingly at t he cigarette, seeing his friend offer it to him in slow motion. He was tempted, and e ven began reaching for it. Yet, what he r eally wanted, his deepest desire, was to be healthy for himself and his family. He k new he needed to kick the habit, so he pulled his hand away and declined. That is strength! This self-discipline is not something physical, for he did not stop himself by physically holding his own arm down. R ather, he reached inside himself and o vercame a powerful temptation. Today, he is happily cigarette and disease-free. There is a difference between authentic strength and self-discipline and the illusion of such things. The illusion applies when we say to ourselves, “I can do it on my own.” Real self-discipline is when we realize that our strength is not rooted in our own abilities, but rather in recognizing that we cannot change or overcome trials without a higher power’s involvement. That is where recognition that Hashem has placed Himself inside us all comes into play, on a practical level. In Parshas Mikeitz, Phar aoh summons Yosef to tell him that he h eard that Yosef has the ability to interpret dreams. Yosef immediately responds ( in Bereishis 41:16) that in actuality it is G -d that is the Master Interpreter speaki ng through the medium of Yosef. What we learn from Yosef’s humble response is that even when we push ourselves to “Just do it,” we must realize where our ultimate s trength is coming from: namely, G-d Himself. Challenges are difficult. Whether simply getting off the couch, beating all odds to play a snare drum, overcoming an addiction, or reaching a life goal, the strength we need is within us all, ready to be summoned, all with Divine Help. Just do it.

Op-Ed The Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Obama Should pardon this Iowa Kosher-Food Executive Charles B. Renfrew and James H. Reynolds

One of the Roman poet Juvenal’s bestknown lines is quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Who will watch the watchers? Some 2,000 years later, this question is especially relevant for America’s criminal-justice system, given the power wielded by federal prosecutors. Too often their profound authority leads to significant abuse, as demonstrated by the case of Sholom Rubashkin. Mr. Rubashkin, a 57-year-old father of 10, is the former vice president of Agriprocessors, a kosher food processor based in Postville, Iowa. On May 12, 2008, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the company’s plant and arrested hundreds of the firm’s workers who were undocumented immigrants. This led the company to file for bankruptcy several months later. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Rubashkin was arrested by federal officials and charged with fraud in the U.S. District Court, where one of us formerly served. The government alleged that he illegally shifted money that should have been deposited as collateral for a loan from the St. Louis-based First Bank. Although Mr. Rubashkin was convicted, he did not intend to cause any loss to the bank. But the federal prosecutors who charged him wanted to extract a pound of flesh, and then some—even at the cost of illegally overstepping their bounds and interfering in the bankrupt company’s sale. As part of its bankruptcy filing, independent assessors valued Agriprocessors’ assets at $68.6 million. Yet evidence that the prosecutors hid and that Mr. Rubashkin’s attorneys found over the past few years proves that the prosecutors stymied the bankruptcy trustee from making a sale to prospective buyers at a reasonable price. Instead, they warned that buyers would forfeit the business if any member of the Rubashkin family maintained a connection to the firm, although no other family member had been charged. Moreover, the Rubashkins’ involvement was a critical part of Agriprocessors’ value. The Orthodox Jewish family—especially Sholom’s father, the company’s founder—had significant institutional knowledge and expertise in the kosher

Sholom Mordechai reacting to his acquittal of all state filed charges

food-processing business. Absent the family’s know-how, the company became significantly less attractive to buyers. The prosecutors achieved their intended goal. Nine prospective bidders walked away from the sale—including one that had offered $40 million. The business was sold for $8.5 million, a fraction of its actual worth, ensuring that the bank would not be paid back for the money it was owed. Even the bank, the victim in the case, objected in writing to the prosecutors concerning the government’s actions. Here, too, the prosecutors unjustly concealed the bank’s objections from the defense. Under federal mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines for bank fraud, an offender’s sentence is directly linked to the loss incurred by the bank that was defrauded. The prosecutors’ meddling meant that the bank incurred a $27 million loss. This enabled the prosecutors to seek a staggering life-in-prison sentence for Mr. Rubashkin, which they later lowered to a still unacceptable quarter-century. The prosecutors concealed their role by soliciting false testimony from Paula Roby, counsel for the bankruptcy trustee, who said that the prosecutors did not interfere in the bankruptcy sale process. At sentencing, the prosecutors misled the court into believing this meddling never happened, a fact that was only recently discovered. Mr. Rubashkin was found guilty on financial-fraud charges and sentenced to 27 years behind bars. Had justice truly been

served, he would have received less than four years. In April 2010, after the conviction but prior to sentencing, a bipartisan group of six former attorneys general and more than a dozen other prominent legal experts wrote a letter to the judge in which they urged her to show Mr. Rubashkin leniency. This call has grown into a clamor in the intervening six years. In April, a bipartisan group of four former U.S. attorneys general, two former FBI directors and dozens of law professors and former Justice Department officials wrote to the current U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, Kevin Techau. They described Mr.

Rubashkin’s sentence as “patently unjust” and asked him to act to remedy what the letter called “shocking new evidence that prosecutors in your office knowingly presented false and misleading testimony at the sentencing hearing.” Mr. Rubashkin has now served more than seven years of his sentence—more than twice as much as he would have served had his punishment fit his crime. Every day that he spends in prison is a day that he should be spending as a free man, with his family. That is why we urge President Obama to pardon Mr. Rubashkin before he leaves office in January. Congress should also take steps to rein in the serious problem of prosecutorial abuse, which has elicited bipartisan concern from many lawyers, legal scholars and federal judges. One possible reform includes making it a felony for prosecutors to knowingly conceal or alter evidence that bears on a case’s outcome. The watchers must be watched. If they are not, the criminal-justice system will too often deliver the kind of injustice that Sholom Rubashkin is experiencing. Mr. Renfrew was a U.S. District Court judge in the Northern District of California (1972-80) and U.S. deputy attorney general (1980-81). Mr. Reynolds was the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa (1976-82).



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DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



The Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



Living with In theNews Times The Week

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

The sagas and encounters of Sefer Bereishis, the ma’asei avos that serve as perpetual guideposts to us, continue in this parshah as we are introduced to two new figures, Yaakov and Eisav, whose struggle endures and will continue until the End of Days. Their differences were apparent even prior to their birth. One sought to escape to a life of the bais medrash and the other wanted to busy himself with avodah zara. Yaakov was a tzaddik tamim, while his twin brother, Eisav, was essentially wicked, yet able to couch his behavior and at times present himself as an upright person. Yaakov was distinguished most of all by his form of speech. He spoke with respect, humility and empathy, as had his father, Yitzchak, and grandfather, Avraham. Eisav had no use for anything holy, and glibly sold his bechorah to Yaakov for the symbolic price of some lentil soup. He lived a purely heathen life, though he conducted himself virtuously around his father. After selling the precious bechorah, the posuk tells us that Eisav did not regret what he had done. Erasing any thought that he sold his inheritance under duress, as an act of desperation, the Torah informs us, “Vayivez Eisav es habechorah.” He mocked what had been bequeathed to him. He laughed off what he had done and said, “Who needs it? The whole thing is worthless.” Baalei mussar say that this is the standard reaction of people whose silly actions cause them to lose. When a child loses a game, he invariably says, “I don’t care that I lost. It was a dumb game, and I never even tried.” A sophisticated, mature person can mourn a loss, appreciating what could have been, and is able to admit to himself that he missed an opportunity. Eisav lacked the capacity for serious introspection. As soon as he began pondering what he had done, he mocked the whole thing, quieting the soft voice of sincerity before it could rise to the level of seriousness to be able to convince him that he was off kilter. The parshah tells us that while it appears that Yitzchak appreciated Eisav, the

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That Is Who We Are difference in speech and manner between his two sons was obvious to him. When Yaakov came forth to receive the brachos of “Veyiten lecha,” Yitzchak was confused, for although Yaakov was wearing the coat of Eisav, he sounded like Yaakov. “Hakol kol Yaakov.” Eisav later cried to his father, begging for a brachah, as he plotted his brother’s murder. The words meant nothing. Yitzchak discerned something in Yaakov’s voice, a sincerity and heart that marked him as different. Words are everything to a Jew. Our manner of speech defines us. How we speak, the words we choose, and our tone of voice all matter. We are to be refined, disciplined, and respectful. We respect people whose words are soft and thoughtful, not brash and irreverent. We respect and promote men and women of truth, whose fidelity to honesty and tradition grounds them. We mock the loud bullies, those with the quick put-down and glib tongues. Negativity and cynicism may sound cute and bring popularity to the one who uses his intelligence to laugh at people, but the one worthy of our respect is he who labors, speaks from the heart, and seeks to find and do good. His life is one of accomplishment. It is him and people like him who embody the ideals of am yisroel. Listen to the voice of Eisav. The number-two official in the U.S. Justice Department, who has blocked any remedy to the situation of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, spoke last week to the New York Times about the changes that the Trump administration will supposedly bring to the Justice Department under the stewardship of Jeff Sessions. “You don’t just try to hammer everybody for as long as you can because you can,” the deputy attorney general said. “Your obligation as a prosecutor is to look at the individual’s conduct. “We want sentences that are just and proportional. That means we should sentence people in ways that will be fair, that will punish people for their crimes and that will serve as a deterrent. But we shouldn’t keep people in prison longer than is nec-

essary.” This, from a person who has no problem keeping Sholom Mordechai in jail for 27 years. We are in the exile of Eisav and must make sure that we do not adopt his perfidious and disrespectful nature. In this week’s haftorah, the navi Malachi repeats to the Jewish people Hashem’s words, “I love Yaakov and Eisov I hate…” As for the kohanim, “Amar Hashem Tzevakos lochem hakohanim bozei shemi,” they failed to demonstrate proper respect to Hashem and the Mikdosh (Malachi 1:26). Underpinning the reprimand, and perhaps the connection to this week’s parshah, is the fact that the kohanim earned their role and mission as a result of Yaakov’s purchase of the bechorah. The bechorim did not act properly, and the kohanim were chosen to replace them as attendants to Hashem. The original sale of the bechorah was rooted in the fundamental difference between the brothers. Yaakov was a man of respect, while Eisav epitomized ridicule and scorn. As the posuk says of Eisav, “Vayivez Eisav.” His personality was one of derision. Thus, if the kohanim had digressed to the level that they became “bozei Hashem,” embodying Eisav’s characteristic of the middah of bizayon, they were demonstrating that they were no longer worthy of inheriting the gift bequeathed by Yaakov to serve Hashem in the Bais Hamikdash. I was at a wedding in Brooklyn last week. After enjoying the simchah, I returned to my car, put the key in the ignition, and tried to pull out of my parking spot into the street so that I could begin my journey home, but the street was jammed with cars and the traffic wasn’t moving. After wondering how Brooklyn residents deal with this all the time, I patiently waited for a space to open, allowing me to enter the road. There was no way. Then I saw an opening and attempted to direct my car into it. At the same time, an oncoming car moved forward and blocked me from getting into the road. I was upset at the lack of consideration and did something

I had never previously done. I got out of my car, walked over to the gentleman, and motioned for him to open his car window. He looked at me curiously. “What?” “My friend,” I said, “surely you’ve been learning the parshiyos. You know that we’re ainiklach of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. You know that their lives were one uninterrupted chapter of chessed, kindness and giving. When you were maavir sedrah these past few weeks and read of the chessed of Avraham, did that message impact you in any way? “We are Avraham’s ainiklach. We look to help each other. We think about each other. We treat other people the way we want to be treated. Even when we drive.” The features of the driver softened. He shrugged and said, “You know something? I never thought of it that way.” With a smile on his face, he pulled back a few inches and let me get in the line to get off that block. Now, this is not a story about me and that driver. It is a tale about us and what we are made of. Moments earlier, he had been aggressive and combative, and for no real reason. It was just habit. He didn’t even think about it. That was just the way he drove, or maybe he was stressed or thinking about something else. Like a tiny spark can ignite a flame, the smallest reminder is enough to bring back the glory within us. We are identified by three traits. We are rachmanim, bayshanim and gomlei chassadim, people of mercy, bashfulness and kindness. We are invested with sensitivity and compassion, and the words we use, our tone of voice, and our approach have the ability to awaken those traits. Good parents, friends, mechanchim and communicators appreciate words and the difference between a soft, gentle tone and an angry one. The secret of using words well is believing in the intrinsic holiness of the people you are speaking to. As the wisest of men wrote, ma’aneh rach, soft words, have the potential to be meishiv cheima, turn away anger, because they open the heart of the antagonist and allow the message to enter. People of sensitivity see this. Eisav doesn’t see past the surface. He sees a red soup and refers to it by its color, saying to Yaakov, “Haliteini na min ha’adom ha’adom hazeh... Al kein kara es shemo Edom” (Bereishis 25:30). Eisav and his offspring are referred to as “Edom,” because he referred to the lentil soup as “edom.” By calling the soup by its color, he exposed his own superficiality. He was attracted by the color, not the taste or nourishing properties of the food. Edom, as a

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nation, also fails to perceive beyond what it can touch and feel. Hence the fascination in our world with looks, color and presentation. There is no depth that’s meaningful to them beyond the surface image. Decades ago, some Sephardic families wanted to open a minyan in Deal, New Jersey. They had a problem. Many of the people they would include in their weekly minyan were not Shabbos observers. With them, there was a minyan. Without them, there wasn’t a minyan. Should they proceed or should they delay their plans? Rav Shlomo Diamond turned to his brother-in-law, Rav Yosef Rosenblum, for guidance. Rav Rosenblum asked him what would happen if any of those people happened to be smoking on Shabbos and they would see Chacham Ovadia Yosef approaching. Would they conceal the cigarette? When Rav Diamond told him that they would, he said that this demonstrated that the people possessed basic yiras Shamayim and reverence for Torah. They were simply lacking in knowledge, but the potential was there. “Start the minyan and they will learn!” he said. Those very people became the cornerstone of a glorious community, fathers and grandfathers of serious bnei Torah and shomer Shabbos families. The Jew is alive in their hearts. Their soul is dormant, but not gone. With soft words, patience, love and belief in each person, they roar to life. The kol Yaakov is our most powerful force. The Chofetz Chaim kept pictures in his home that he would look at from time to time. One of them was a picture of a tall man in a threadbare caftan. The man was neither a talmid chacham nor a rav, but a tobacco grinder. He was known as Reb Shimon Kaftan because of the tattered cloak he wore. After losing his wife and children in a plague, he arrived in Vilna. After doing just enough work to sustain himself, he would spend most of the remaining hours of the day going around with a pushka, softly enjoining people to put in their coins, which Reb Shimon used to feed hungry families and support yeshiva bochurim and Torah scholars. As he walked about, he hummed a little tune, which went something like this: “Someone who gives a penny here, receives Olam Haba there.” It was a simple tune, but the Chofetz Chaim, the rabbon shel Yisroel, would tell the story of Shimon and sing his song. The gaon and tzaddik of Radin perceived the latent holiness in a Yiddish ditty, because words and authentic yiddishe emotions matter, and the little song caused Jews to open their hearts. It was the timeless kol Yaakov and the Chofetz Chaim would sing it as if it were a sacred piyut. As we carry the traditions of Yaakov and follow his teachings, it is incumbent upon us to behave accordingly. Rav Yaakov Edelstein is one of the

leading gedolim of Eretz Yisroel. Over the age of ninety, he underwent throat surgery last year, leaving him without the ability to speak. He communicates by writing messages on a pad. Recently, his doctor told him that there is a possibility that through undergoing strenuous exercise and therapy for several months, he might be able to say two words. After describing the difficult process, the doctor asked if he would be interested in going through with it. “ Kevod harav, which two words do

you want to start working on?” the doctor asked. Rav Edelstein responded, “Amein and todah.” For that is the essence of a Jew. Those t wo words sum it up. Amein and todah. Two words that encapsulate the kol Yaakov. The way a person speaks is reflective o f his personality. A person who speaks s oftly is humble, just as one who speaks respectfully is refined and moral. As children of Avraham, Yitzchak and

Yaakov, we are all sheluchim to continu e their holy work. We are to care about e ach other, and speak with love and soft w ords people can understand and accept. W e speak neither with a forked tongue nor with animosity, hate or sanctimonious judgmentalism. We are neither flippant nor glib. We are and remain positive and hopeful, treating all people the way we want to b e treated, no matter the occasion of our interaction. Hakol kol Yaakov. That’s us.




OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

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Fidel’s Reign of Terror By Susan Schwamm


t’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many Cubans lost their lives under Fidel Castro. The dictator ruled the Republic of Cuba for 47 years, first as prime minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as president from 1976 officially until 2006. Upon his death, he was the third longest-serving head of state behind England’s Queen Elizabeth II, who has been ruling for 64 years, and Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej who ruled for 70 years before dying earlier this year. It’s evident that Castro was a master of propaganda, so much so that world leaders this week didn’t denigrate the despot in his passing; he was hailed as a world leader when he died at the age of 90 by many Western heads of state. Those who have fled the regime, though, are well-aware and have spoken of the horrors, paranoia, lack of freedoms, and poverty that pervade the nation.


t was New Year’s Day in 1959, when Castro, his brother Raúl, Che Guevara, and their guerilla compadres triumphed in their revolution which they

waged against dictator Fulgencio Batista for over five years. Cubans hailed the group at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, hoping for a better, more democratic future. How ironic. The dreams that the gang promised quickly were shattered as they haunted the country with a one-party dictatorship

and became an outspoken opponent of her father. “When people tell me he’s a dictator, I tell them that’s not the right word,” she told the Miami Herald. “Strictly speaking, Fidel is a tyrant.” With the rule of the Castros, Cuba quickly spiraled into poverty. As the National Review wrote after Fidel’s

citizens from dying in mass starvation. North Korea, take note. Poverty was a way of life in Cuba. Tourists, though, may not have noticed the intense suffering of the Cuban people. Hotels built for visitors were gleaming structures. Stores offered shelves bulging with wares. But

“When people tell me he’s a dictator, I tell them that’s not the right word,” she told the Miami Herald. “Strictly speaking, Fidel is a tyrant.” equipped with a gulag and killing team. In desperation, people streamed out of the country – but it wasn’t easy. Indeed, Raul and Fidel’s sister, Juanita, was one of the defectors. She had fought alongside the Castro boys but was quickly disenchanted: “I could not remain indifferent to what is happening in my country. My brothers Fidel and Raúl have made it an enormous prison surrounded by water,” she explained. One of Fidel’s daughters, Alina Fernández Revuelta, also defected to the United States

demise, “There is an old joke about socialism: If the Eskimos adopted it, they would soon have to import ice. Well, Cuba, for a while, had to import sugar.” The country had the luck of the Soviets’ assistance for a while. When the Soviet Union collapsed, they were stranded until Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela came to their aid and funneled oil wealth to the island. If Communism was never able to provide any economic stability to the nation, it is clear that having the right friends could help

make a few wrong turns, and you’ll enter the slums, where hundreds don’t have toilets, bodegas are empty save a few cans, and where serpentine lines are formed each morning for a loaf of bread. Slept late? Your stomach will be rumbling tonight.


n the free world, some acknowledged that Cubans suffered from poverty. But, they said, at least Fidel gave them healthcare. Recently, U.S. President Barack Obama lauded the nation. “The United

States recognizes progress that Cuba has made as a nation, its enormous achievements in education and in healthcare.” It’s hard to consider strides in healthcare if patients are forced to bring their own pillows, sheets, lightbulbs and medicine to the hospital upon admittance. Before Fidel took over, Cuba led virtually all countries in Latin America in life expectancy. Today, Chileans and Costa Ricans live longer than Cubans, and Mexicans are quickly catching up. In deference to Obama and others, it is easy to think that Cuba has a superior healthcare system because it is subject to the same ingenious marketing campaign as other parts of the nation’s systems. Cuba has two levels of healthcare: that which it shows the world and that which is for regular Cubans. Castro and his cronies were also able to receive the higher caliber medical assistance as foreigners. That meant beautiful hospitals and top-ofthe-line care. Even so, when Castro needed surgery a few years ago – surprise! surprise! – the regime brought in doctors from outside of

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Cuba. For the “have-nots” in Cuba, being sick isn’t fun, especially in a nation in which it’s sometimes hard to find a Band-Aid. Cuba has also been lauded for its education. Obama called it “extraordinary” in that it “values every boy and every girl.” True, the literacy rate in Cuba is close to 100 percent. But before Castro came to power, it had a literacy rate of 80 percent. On the other hand, nations in Latin America that had a dismal literacy rate in 1950, such as Peru, Brazil, El Salvador and the Domincan Republic, are largely literate today – closing the gap immensely. Peru and Brazil had less than a 50 percent literacy rate in 1950; today, Peru boasts a 94.5 percent literacy rate. Brazil lays claim to 92.6 percent of its citizens being literate. After Castro came to power, attending school became compulsory for those between the ages of 6-16. It is completely state subsidized; Cuba allocates the highest share of its national budget – 13% – to education as compared to other nations. Healthcare and education aside, living in Cuba, even if you finally found some aspirin and learned about how it worked in school that day, was no picnic. Castro ruled by fear. Because there was always a listening ear, Cubans never referred to Castro by name, tugging on an imaginary beard instead. The tyrant was known for his bushy black beard, which in old age eventually turned gray and thin.


uring the Castro regime, 1 million Cubans fled the island. Fi-

del didn’t make it easy and many were killed in their attempts to find a better life. On one day alone – July 13, 1994 – Castro’s minions slaughtered 37 Cubans attempting to escape, many of them mothers and children. The executions were called the Tugboat Massacre. Accounts of the horror from surviving witnesses are chilling. When they begged to be saved by the boats sent to drown them, they were laughed at. Eventually, the surviving passengers were told to swim to shore when a Greek ship passed by. They were then sent to detention, interviewed by psychologists to ensure that they had the right story to tell of their escape, and given psychotropic drugs. In 1971, when the Lazo family attempted to escape, a Cuban navy vessel rammed their boat; three children drowned and their mother was eaten by sharks. Four children – ages three to 17 – drowned in the infamous Canimar River Massacre along with 52 others when the Cuban navy and a Cuban air force plane attacked a hijacked excursion boat headed for Florida in 1980.


o how many were killed during Fidel’s reign? It’s impossible to know, although it definitely numbers at least in the tens of thousands. Certainly, this is not information that Fidel would publish in his propagandist papers. Despite the West’s confidence in its own brilliance, it seems that many of us were swayed into thinking that Fidel just wasn’t so bad. Pierre Trudeau, former prime minister of Canada, asked Fidel to be an honorary pallbearer

at his funeral. He also asked former President Jimmy Carter. Both Fidel and Carter met at Trudeau’s funeral in 2000 and struck up a relationship. Carter, who is known for his love of the Palestinian cause, lamented Fidel’s death: “Rosalynn and I share our sympathies with the Castro family and the Cuban people on the death of Fidel Castro. We remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country.” Trudeau’s son, Justin, is the current prime minister of our neighbor to the north. Indeed, the apple does not fall far from the tree. In remarks after Fidel’s demise, the Canadian leader said, “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation. While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’” Amid a flurry of horror from those who suffered from Fidel’s “improvements,” Trudeau ended up apologizing for his public ardor for the Cuban dictator. Think about Fidel’s Communist counterparts: Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. Stalin has been painted by the world – and rightfully so – as a coldblooded murderer who cruelly splashed the streets of the Soviet Union red with blood. Mao shared some of the same reputation. But Fidel? He was looked at as a slight madman, wearing

Fidel Castro questioning a Cuban farmer, who is later executed, during revolutionary days

Crowds cheer on Fidel in his victorious march into Havana in 1959

Che Guevara and Fidel Castro

Surrounded by supporters Fidel gave an all-night speech the night of his victory



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The crumbling slums of Cuba

olive green army fatigues, a cap, and chomping on a never-ending stubby cigar. He liked to talk and ranted on and on about the evils of capitalism. In fact, he gave the longest speech ever delivered at the UN on September 19, 1960, which lasted approximately 4 hours and 29 minutes. His speeches in Cuba were even longer. How bad could he be? But if you listen closely, and you really hear the accounts of those who left Cuba, you’ll hear the stories of horror that make up his legacy.

A With former prime minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau

The longest speech in UN history

Fidel with friend Jimmy Carter listening to the U.S. national anthem after Carter visited Havana in 2002

ccording to the InterA mer ic an Human Rights Commission on April 7, 1967, “On May 27, [1966,] 166 Cubans – civilians and members of the military – were executed and submitted to medical procedures of blood extraction of an average of seven pints per person. This blood is sold to Communist Vietnam at a rate of $50 per pint with the dual purpose of obtaining hard currency and contributing to the Vietcong Communist aggression. “A pint of blood is equivalent to half a liter. Extracting this amount of blood from a person sentenced to death produces cerebral anemia and a state of unconsciousness and paralysis. Once the blood is extracted, the person is taken by two militiamen on a stretcher to the location where the execution takes place.” According to Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal in 2005, the Cuba Archive Project was able to verify the names of 9,240 victims of the Castro regime from 1952 until 2005. Verifying the victims

was undoubtedly complicated as researchers insisted on confirming the stories on the official murders from two independent sources, no small feat in a country when government spies lurk in every alleyway. According to O’Grady, “Cuba Archive President Maria Werlau says the total number of victims could be higher by a factor of 10. Project Vice President Armando Lago, a Harvard-trained economist, has spent years studying the cost of the revolution and he estimates that almost 78,000 innocents may have died trying to flee the dictatorship. Another 5,300 are known to have lost their lives fighting communism in the Escambray Mountains (mostly peasant farmers and their children) and at the Bay of Pigs. An estimated 14,000 Cubans were killed in Fidel’s revolutionary adventures abroad, most notably his dispatch of 50,000 soldiers to Angola in the 1980s to help the Soviet-backed regime fight off the Unita insurgency.” She compared his purges to those found years back in Poland and East Germany, less potent than Stalin’s widespread executions, but equally as effective at squashing any oppositions. O’Grady documented, “Cuba Archive finds that some 5,600 Cubans have died in front of firing squads and another 1,200 in ‘extrajudicial assassinations.’ Che Guevara was a gleeful executioner at the infamous La Cabana Fortress in 1959 where, under his orders, at least 151 Cubans were lined up and shot. Children have not been spared. Of the 94 minors whose deaths have been documented by Cuba Archive,

22 died by firing squad and 32 in extrajudicial assassinations.” Many prison deaths during Fidel’s reign were classified as “heart attacks,” although witnesses have a far more horrific account to tell. At least 2,199 documented prison deaths were verified as of 2005.


n November 25, when Fidel died peacefully in his sleep, he was given a death denied to the thousands of his victims. He died proclaiming his confidence in the ideas of Communism, a philosophy that has been spectacularly proven flawed many times over. “I’ll be 90 years old soon,” Castro said at an April 2016 communist party congress where he made his most extensive public appearance in years. “Soon I’ll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof that on this planet, if one works with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need and that need to be fought for without ever giving up.” In his zealous quest for a Communist utopia, the 11 million citizens of Cuba suffered. They were killed, punished, and impoverished. The scars of the nation are deep and twisted; it’s a country where hundreds openly mourned and wept for their fallen leader. In their homes, though, I am sure many a quiet celebration was held. Their relatives 90 miles away, who are able to savor the delectable flavors of freedom, exulted for them and hoped for a brighter future.

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Fires Rage across the Holy Land At least 133 people have been injured,

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

hundreds of homes have been left in ashes, and tens of thousands of dunam have been consumed in the wildfires that raged across Israel this past week. Of those injured, one has been seriously hurt and another three have been classified as “moderately injured” by Magen David Adom. The worst-hit city was Haifa, where 527 homes have been completely leveled by the flames. Early estimates show that at least 1,700 Haifa residents have been rendered homeless. 60,000 citizens of Haifa were evacuated in the largest ever mass evacuation in the history of Israel.

Though investigations are still under way, it appears that at least some of the fires were set deliberately. The dry weather and strong winds made for the perfect environment for the flames to spread. For these reasons, the firefight was one of the toughest in Israeli history. Over 2,000 firefighter fought the blaze, many of them working in 24 hour shifts. They were accompanied by 450 soldiers from the Home Front Command and 69 Cypriot firefighters

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. Israel’s firefighting squadron used all 14 of its planes to douse the flames. They were joined by 15 additional planes from ten other nations. Over 1.5 million tons of fire retardant materials were used to help control the fire. More than 35 people have been arrested under suspicion of arson or encouraging others to commit arson. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that most of the suspected arsonists are Palestinian residents of the West Bank. A “small minority” of the suspects are Arab Israelis, he added. Erdan urged Israel to react to any proven arsonist in the same manner as it would any other terrorist. That may include counter-terror measures, such as destroying the arsonist’s home. If law enforcement “can destroy the homes of terrorists who have shot or stabbed [Israelis], then we can demolish the homes of those who committed arson for nationalistic motives; there is no difference,” he asserted. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon approved a stipend of 2,500 shekels per person for those who were displaced by the raging fires. “We will stand by our residents even after the smoke clears,” Kahlon said, adding that he gave instructions to officials to “be clear, be generous, and don’t let them [those affected] drown in paperwork or be passed around from [government] representative to representative.” “It’s not an easy task to assess the damage but it is our duty to help residents rebuild their lives,” he said.

Israel’s Millionaires

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Credit Suisse has published a report with a breakdown of the earnings in Israel. According to the report, 2% of Israelis have holdings – including cash, property, and investments – of over $1 million. 32% of Israelis hold between $100,000$1,000,000. 42.5% fall between $10,000 and $100,000, and the remaining 23.5% own less under $10,000 in assets. The report reveals that there are over 105,000 people in Israel who are worth more than $1 million. Of those, 18 are

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worth over a billion dollars. Since 2015, the number of millionaires has gone up by 17,000, which is an increase of 19%. The report also looked at historical data. In the past 16 years, the average Israeli’s wealth has increased from $92,589 to $176,263. Most of the wealth held (about 70%) is composed of financial instruments such as cash and other securities, while the other 30% is made up of real estate and other properties. While the report shows that the country’s wealthiest citizens have done very well, it also shows the income inequality in Israel is a very real issue. The Gini Index,

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

which measures income inequality in a country on a scale from 0-100, rated Israel at a 77.2%. That sounds like a good number until you consider that the best score is 0%, which represents perfect equality.

Hebrew U Grads Among Most Employable Hebrew University is putting out graduates that are more employable than half the world’s university graduates.

Recently, Times Higher Education ran an analysis of the world’s schools to determine their graduates’ employability. 2,500 recruiters from large companies in 20 countries, along with 3,500 international managers, were interviewed to make up their list. Looking for a job? Perhaps you should head to the Holy Land. They found that Hebrew University of Jerusalem ranked 67 out of 150 universities. Hebrew U grads are the most employable graduates in the country. Still, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology came in at 122 on the list, and Tel Aviv University made the count at 139.

Really need a job after you graduate? The top three on the list of most employable university graduates hail from California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. Rounding out the top five are Cambridge University in England and Stanford University.

Many notable U.S. universities scored lower than Hebrew University, including Georgetown University at 94, University of Pennsylvania at 98 and Northwestern University at 100.

Sentencing for Stabbers



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Two life sentences and another 20 years in jail were handed down to the terrorist who stabbed two Israelis last November. A second terrorist who stabbed a man in the Ofer shopping mall in Petach Tikva was sentenced to 16.5 years by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court. 36-year-old Read Khalil, a Palestinian from Dura village in the West Bank, stabbed and killed Aharon Yisayev, 32, and Reuven Aviram, 51, Hy”d at the Panorama building. Revuen was killed while davening Mincha. Reuven’s brother spoke publicly after the sentence was delivered. “We have waited for this moment for a year and in my opinion, the judges gave him what he deserved. The murderer, according to the requests made by the family, should not leave prison or see the light of day or his family,” he said. “It is my understanding that according to new laws he will not be released. He killed Jews and his place is in prison for his entire life.” The other terrorist sentenced this week was 25-years-old. The court ordered him to also pay 100,000 shekels in compensation to the victim. The terrorist had previously admitted his guilt as part of the plea bargain in exchange for a reduced sentence and having to pay the financial compensation. After the sentencing, the state prosecutor spoke about the hatred the attacker has for Jews. “During the wave of terror stabbing attacks in the latter half of 2015, the indicted individual carried out a stabbing attack in Petah Tikva out of a desire to harm Jews because they are Jews.” He continued saying that the terrorist used “a weapon motivated by nationalism and racism. Only because of the fight put up by the victim and the actions of those passing by did the attack not result in death.”

Parenting The Week In News

DECEMBER 1, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Proactive Parenting: The Mean Girls Sara Teichman, Psy.D.

Dear Dr T., I was a very successful junior high morah/ mechaneches in a prestigious in-town school. Every year, mothers would come and complain about the “mean girls” who were bothering their daughters – excluding them, mocking, and/or teasing them, and generally making their lives miserable. The thing is, the girls they accused were often the products of the finest homes, models of derech eretz, or just all-around winners. So I was convinced that the girls who were bullied – and their mothers – were over-reacting or simply jealous of the other girls’ successes. Of course, I investigated: checked at recess, looked carefully at lunch, and monitored the situation very closely. Because I usually saw no sign of a problem, I would go back to the moms and talk to them about their daughters’ poor self-esteem and their jealousy of the in-group. Though the moms and daughters were quite persistent in their complaints, eventually they just had to give up. So, why am I writing to you now? Fast forward 15 years and I am one of those moms – of a daughter who feels picked on by the “mean girls.” Now I am the one facing a disbelieving staff member who assures me that the students in the class are co-operative, wonderful, and incapable of doing what I am suggesting. In her mind, it is my daughter who is the problem. However, I do believe my daughter and feel upset by some of the tales she tells. But, I also know that when I was in the teacher’s position, I didn’t get it either. So, who are these “mean girls?” And why can’t adults see them and what they’re up to? Chevie

Dear Chevie, The “mean girl” phenomenon is real and very much a subject of discussion today among professionals and parents alike. Unlike boys – who may be openly, and physically, aggressive – mean girls use their words and generally operate under the radar, far from adult view. Victims of these bullies can be anyone: from the class genius to the worst “neb,” from the girl who has everything (a threat) to the girl who has nothing (a perfect victim). What the bullied share is the shame of the victim and the pain of not being believed. Women, many years after the fact, will talk about the agony they experienced because of the mean girls. Mean girls are hard for adults to identify because they are often quite sophisticated and subtle. They work very hard to impress the adults in their life – assiduously doing their homework, getting 100s or at least high-90s, and volunteering for every chessed project. It is only when they are out of adult view that their reign of terror prevails. They are masters of manipulation and geniuses in escaping notice and are the picture of innocence when caught. So, who are the mean girls? • The over-indulged or the privileged who have developed feelings of entitlement. They have learned that they deserve to have things go their way and feel they have the right to treat others in a way that suits their own needs. • The deprived who feel cheated of love, attention, money, or things. They are hurting and simply can’t worry about hurting others. They do what they feel they need to do to survive, and if that means putting your child down so that they can feel good about themselves, so be it. • The products of negative role modeling. Unfortunately, we sometimes support a hierarchal system where some people are more important than others. Whether it is the local meshulach at our door, the beggar in shul with mental illness, or the non-Jewish help in our homes or businesses, we adults may speak, or act, in a disparaging manner to those less fortunate than ourselves. No wonder our children permit themselves to trample on the feelings of those they perceive as less than themselves. • Those who have poor social EQ (emotional intelligence). These children lack social understanding and are blunt and hurtful in their dealings with others. Though they mean no harm, they have not yet mastered the language of thoughtfulness and thus may unintentionally hurt another. Whether this is the result of being born into a socially awkward

family or a social skills deficit, this child is clueless about the fact that he is hurting others. The mean girls exert tremendous power for two reasons. • The included feel honored to belong and will toe the line to assure their position in the group. Because children are basically powerless, they will do anything to satisfy the Queen Bee whose clique offers them safety and position. • The excluded cannot find their voice. They are often confused and unclear about exactly what is going on. When they do speak up, they may sound whiney or strident and are easily written off. Because it is hard to deal with a nameless threat, we have to see the mean girl phenomenon for what it is. We have to name the game: it’s bullying, not trouble getting along. Everyone – parents, school staff, and the students themselves – have to get on board and begin identifying the recognizable patterns. There are programs by Torah Umesorah and other educational organizations that help staff identify and deal effectively with bullies. Ask your school to join the many schools that have instituted a zero-tolerance bullying policy. I want to conclude by making a different kind of suggestion. Besides strengthening your daughter’s self-esteem, you want to provide support and encouragement so she does not join the mean girl clique. Because here’s the deal: bullies are not born, they are made. We are not born cruel or kind; our environment shapes our character and molds us into the people we become. There is much you can do to make sure that your daughter does not become a mean girl. By setting a good example – of fairness and respect for all – and modeling empathy and concern for others, you strengthen your daughter to become the best that she can be. The Book Nook: Playground Politics by Dr. Stanley Greenspan looks at the neglected middle years of childhood – from kindergarten to junior high. The author helps parents understand the enormous emotional challenge these children face as they navigate from the shelter of home to the harsh rivalries of “playground politics.” Through anecdotes and examples, the author reveals the major milestones of these years and their impact on the child’s social/emotional development. Sara Teichman, Psy D. is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles and Clinical Director of ETTA, L.A.’s largest Jewish agency for adults with special needs. To submit a question or comment, email


32 20

29, | The Jewish Home Quotes TheOCTOBER Week In2015 News

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Notable Quotes “Say What?!”

Yesterday, Donald Trump tweeted that millions of people voted illegally on Election Day. Then someone told Trump it’s not illegal for women to vote. - Conan O’Brien

This weekend, the snowflake liberals took a break from whining about their lost election; they took a break from fearmongering over Donald Trump’s presidency; they took a breather from their typical poor-me, victim mentality to cry over the death of brutal dictator Fidel Castro. – Tomi Lahren, The Blaze

Right now, the focus is on who Trump will appoint to his cabinet. In fact, C-SPAN aired a live feed of the elevators at Trump Tower that captured potential cabinet members going up to meet him. It even caught the moment when Ted Cruz was approaching the elevator and everyone inside frantically hit the “door close” button.

What a pack of sore losers. After asking Mr. Trump and his team a million times on the trail, “Will he accept the election results?” it turns out Team Hillary and their new BFF Jill Stein can’t accept reality.

– Jimmy Fallon

- Kellyanne Conway to Bloomberg, regarding Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein requesting recounts in three crucial battleground states that Trump won

Under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, House Democrats squandered their majority by forcing through unpopular legislation like Obamacare, of which Pelosi famously told us, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it…” No single person deserves more credit for House Republicans’ historic majority than Nancy Pelosi…. Under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, House Democrats have become completely irrelevant, and there is no better way to ensure that remains the case than by keeping her as Minority Leader. The NRCC offers its full support to Nancy Pelosi as she attempts to fend off this challenge to her failed leadership from within the ranks of her own party.

The Secret Service protecting Donald Trump might have to rent two floors of Trump Tower, forcing taxpayers to pay $3 million in rent back to Trump’s company. Trump said that is absolutely not true and the rent is $4 million. – Jimmy Fallon

- Trolling endorsement by the National Republican Congressional Committee for Nancy Pelosi to be kept on as leader of the Congressional Democrats


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Quotes The Week In News

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It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving president. Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation. While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante.” – From a statement by former ballet dancer and current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, about Fidel Castro, whose great accomplishments include pioneering the filming of harsh executions in order to intimidate his detractors

Deeply saddened by the senseless act of gun violence at Ohio State this morning. Praying for the injured and the entire Buckeye community. - Kneejerk tweet by Sen. Tim Kaine (Hillary Clinton’s former running mate) after a Somali immigrant, inspired by ISIS, rammed his car into a group of students at Ohio State University and then jumped out and started stabbing them with a knife

Today is Cyber Monday, which means tomorrow is “Russia has your credit card info Tuesday.” – Jimmy Fallon

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