Jewish Home LA - 12-28-17

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The Week In News

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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The Week In News

CONTENTS COMMUNITY Community Happenings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

JEWISH THOUGHT Torah Musings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 The Weekly Daf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

FEATURE Top Ten News Stories of 2017. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

LIFESTYLES Came and Went in 2017. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Humor: Double Trouble. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

NEWS Global. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24




DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Dear Readers, On Wednesday last week, my cousin Moshe Rubashkin came off the bus and saw a lot of people crowded outside his house. Moshe, who has special needs, started getting antsy. Realizing this, his brother-in-law took him aside to explain that his father was finally coming home! Moshe hadn’t seen him for eight years… What was his immediate reaction? “Oy! What’s gonna be with… and… who are still there?” That story in a nutshell describes the home of my uncle, Sholom, and his wife, Leah. It is always overflowing with kindness, guests milling about. The other guy is always more important. One might even say my uncle’s heart bleeds to a fault. To me, the reward of seeing klal Yisrael rejoice in his simchah is middah k’negged middah. His contagious love for his fellow Jew (and fellow human being, for that matter) was palpable. Anyone who visited Postville says the same thing: “The achdus Yisroel (actually, it’s even the name of the shul) they experienced there was something they never saw before.” The Talmud says that the second beis hamikdash was destroyed because of baseless hate; hating someone just for existing, no reason needed. It follows then that baseless love, loving someone just because they are, will bring its return. Everyone I’ve spoken to says the same thing: they have never witnessed such pure brotherhood and joy in their life. May this genuine show of unity break down any remaining barrier to the complete geulah, returning us as one family to our home, where will experience the ultimate joy. Let’s be ready. The very next Whatsapp may say, “Is it true?!” and this time it will refer to the coming of Mashiach. Wishing you a joyous 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

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home


The Week In News

Discover Touro College Los Angeles

Iranian-Americans Protest at Performance of Iranian Singer Associated with Anti-Semitic Song for his lyrics, and Microsoft Theater refused demands to cancel the performance or refund tickets for ticketholders who were offended by the song, including hundreds of Jewish ticketholders. The protesters peacefully marched, handed out flyers, and held signs denouncing hate, bigotry, and Anti-Semitism. Security for Microsoft Theater/L.A. Live abrasively forced the protesters to move from the L.A. Live complex to the public sidewalk and unlawfully refused entry to the concert by any ticketholders who had been protesting the concert on the grounds that they were protesting. Security for L.A. Live also refused entry to the L.A. Live complex by any protester who carried Israeli flags. Several concertgoers cursed and yelled hateful Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel slurs at the peaceful demonstrators. The protest ended with the lighting of a large menorah on the fifth night of Chanukah and the singing of Hebrew and Israeli songs.

Chanukah Mesiba of the Kollel Boker of Young Israel of Hancock Park in memory of Bart Feldmar a"h

“TCLA offers exceptional academics, Jewish values and career preparation—all in a Torah environment in sunny southern California!”

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Approximately 150 members of the Iranian-American Jewish community peacefully protested outside the concert of popular Iranian singer Mohsen Yeganeh at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live on December 16, 2017. The protest followed the recent release of an online video for Yeganeh’s song “Galeye Karkasha.” It contains Anti-Semitic lyrics and calls for violence against Jews: “A flock of vultures arrived [Jews], looks like they have found new dead bodies. In the name of finding a new home, they suffocated a nation again… They place two triangles [Star of David] on top of one another and they put a new name on the city. They say that they are getting ready for attack near this area, and they moved with happiness. They cut the flowers there with their claws and teeth… Pray, man, Friday evening. Let’s get him back.” The video contains imagery of dead Syrian children and calls the Israeli army “the real terrorists.” The protest was organized after Yeganeh refused to denounce or apologize


CONTACT Rabbi Dr. David Jacobson, Dean or Mrs. Leah Rosen at 323.822.9700 or email | Visit to learn more

Touro is an equal opportunity institution. For Touro’s complete Non-Discrimination Statement, visit



TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Eight Extraordinary Jewish Women Honored at Aish L.A.’s Third Annual JWI Luncheon Communicated

The Jewish Women’s Initiative (JWI) of Aish Los Angeles held its Third Annual JWI Luncheon on Sunday, Dec. 10th, at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, honoring eight women who have shown selflessness and commitment to strengthening Jewish identity and educating and inspiring Jewish mothers. Almost 300 JWI members and friends attended the luncheon, which raises money for JWI programming and scholarships toward Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project’s Momentum trips to Israel. “The unique thing about JWI is our focus on building the Jewish mom,” said Chana Heller, Director of the JWI. “The Jewish mom is the centerpiece of the Jewish home, but who is supporting her? Numerous organizations focus attention and funding on our youth, which is appropri-

ate, but we also know that if the mother is not inspired to celebrate and honor Judaism in the home, nothing Jewish will happen there. This year’s honorees have been instrumental in lighting the way for Jewish moms to discover the significance of Judaism in their lives and their families’ lives.” Lucy Blinder, Emuna Braverman, Rivka Eisenberg, Sandy Gordon, Debbie Hirschmann, Holly Magady, Rochel Markman, and Lisa Richards were the honorees at this year’s luncheon. As Los Angeles City Leaders for women attending JWRP’s Momentum trips to Israel and as JWI Growth Group teachers, these women use their knowledge, skills, and talents to bring Jewish values to life in ways that are meaningful to today’s Jewish mothers. The event kicked off with a boutique, silent auction, and party book sign-up. The

Seated left to right: Lisa Richards, Rivkah Eisenberg, Emuna Braverman, Rochel Markman, Sandy Gordon, JWI honorees. Standing left to right: Chana Heller, director JWI, Susan Berman and Stacy Tilliss, event cochairs, Holly Magady, honoree, Sharon Shenker, Associate Director JWI, Carolyn Ormond and Lisa Kodimer, event co-chairs, Debbie Hirschmann and Lucy Blinder, honorees.

boutique included over 15 unique shops selling distinctive and handmade Judaica, jewelry, clothing, linens, bags, and more. Silent auction highlights included sporting event tickets, VIP tickets to television show tapings, wine tours, beauty treatments, shopping experiences, and unique themed gift baskets. JWI’s Party Book is a list of events hosted by JWI women where guests pay to attend parties and the proceeds support JWI. This year’s offerings included game gatherings, creative arts gatherings (Beaded Bracelets, Judaica Silk Painting, Cake Decorating, etc.), cooking classes, outdoor adventures (Pico Robertson Walking Tour, Yoga & Brunch, etc.) and a date night Black & White Party. The program continued with musical performances, lunch, tributes to the honorees, presentation of awards and more singing. The mission of the JWI is to empower Jewish women to communicate the beauty, joy and relevance of Judaism in their homes and communities. Weekly classes, monthly learning groups, Lunch N Learn, an annual Women’s Shabbos of Unity at Brandeis Bardin Institute, and a guest speaker series are some of the offerings of the JWI. JWI also strives to increase unity and understanding between the different streams of Judaism, engaging women from Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, and unaffiliated backgrounds. “The impact in our community has been huge,” remarked Sharon Shenker, Associate Director of the JWI, “creating strong

bonds of friendship, mutual respect and increased understanding of one another. We focus on commonalities, specifically our shared passion to connect our children to our rich heritage.” To date, JWI has taken 300 L.A. moms on the JWRP Momentum Trips. In 2008, eight Jewish women, including Founding Director Lori Palatnik, founded the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP). The JWRP seeks to inspire Jewish mothers to transform themselves, their families, their communities and the world. Their flagship program is Momentum, an eightday highly subsidized journey through Israel which is more than a tour of the country, but an opportunity for Jewish mothers to explore themselves and Jewish spirituality. Over 12,000 moms from 21 countries have already experienced this life-changing trip. The JWRP works in partnership with the State of Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and a wide spectrum of community organizations, including JWI. Partners such as JWI recruit the women, staff the buses and continue the journey through follow-up programming that keeps the inspiration going and helps create bonds that extend not only to communities, but globally. JWI typically has two or three applicants per coveted spot on JWRP Momentum trips. The next trip for L.A. moms will be in October 2018.

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home


The American Israel GapYear Association’s 5th Annual Successful Fair

The Week In News

Discover Touro College Los Angeles

Yehudis Litvak

a transformative experience,” she says. “This is when students take ownership of [their Jewish involvement.]” The program representatives were impressed by the Los Angeles event. “I travel all over the world going to fairs,” says Simon Cohen of Aardvark Israel Immersion Programs. “This past year I was in ten different countries, and this is by far the biggest, most successful Israel Gap Year Fair in the world.” Ms. Folb was very pleased with this year’s fair. “It is inspiring to see the faces of parents and students from all our Jewish high schools – Shalhevet, Valley Torah, YULA Boys, de Toledo, and Harkham

“TCLA offers exceptional academics, Jewish values and career preparation—all in a Torah environment in sunny southern California!”


GAON Academy, Milken, and our public schools – with such passion, interest, excitement, and to know that they will experience and embrace this bridge year. It is a bridge from all the learning they’ve had so far that will jump off the page for them in Israel. They will become our ambassadors, go to college campuses, and speak about Israel in such a positive way, because they’ve experienced it. AIGYA is proud to have been a part of furthering Jewish continuity.” In addition to the local high schools, the event was also sponsored by NCSY, synagogues Beth Jacob, Beth Am, Bnai David–Judea, Beverly Hills Synagogue, Young Israel of Century City, Adat Shalom, and Westwood Kehilla, and Masa Israel Journey and Jewish Community Foundation.

ENJOY ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE in separate men’s and women’s divisions with top faculty and small class size. Brand new, state-of-the-art science lab • A warm, friendly atmosphere Torah-observant environment • Yeshiva & Seminary credits accepted Generous financial aid for qualified students ←

Over 300 enthusiastic students, parents, and educators gathered at YULA Girls High School on November 16th to participate in the annual Israel Gap Year Fair, cornerstone event of the American Israel Gap-Year Association (AIGYA). The participants were able to meet with representatives of 40 different programs, each offering a unique experience to high school graduates. Phyllis Folb, Executive Director of AIGYA, says that this year’s host, YULA Girls High School, created a warm and inviting feeling. “There was such warmth, such heart in the room,” she says. “The different programs all had a collective vision – we want to inspire your students, we are here for you. There was an enormous feeling of greater good.” Rabbi Joshua Spodek, Head of YULA’s Girls School, says, “The Gap Year Fair is an incredible evening for students and parents alike to learn about all the amazing and diverse opportunities for study in Israel post high school. With dozens of options and schools to learn about and choose from, the Gap Year Fair brings so many of these yeshivot, seminaries, and Israel programs to one location for one evening. It is quite an empowering, inspiring, and educational evening, and one that, we have no doubt, will impact many students and parents with their decision to spend a year in Israel following high school.” Israel Guidance counselor Shira Hershoff adds, “As a strongly Zionist school, sending our graduates to Israel for a year is an important part of YULA Girls High School’s mission statement, and the fair was an important event in line with that mission. More importantly, it allowed parents to be active participants in the process of choosing a Gap Year experience that best suits their child’s needs. We are so proud to have hosted this year’s highly successful Gap Year Fair and look forward to partnering with AIGYA in the future.” The students attending the fair were filled with excitement and anticipation. They were glad for the opportunity to include their parents in the experience of choosing the gap year program. One student said that the fair “gave me more options to consider than just the school visits and [emphasized] how every program is different.” Another student said that the fair “reminded me how important Israel is and how [gap year] impacts your identity.” Ms. Folb says that a major goal of the fair is to help each student find a program that is the right fit for them. “The right fit is crucial in order for the student to have


CONTACT Rabbi Dr. David Jacobson, Dean or Mrs. Leah Rosen at 323.822.9700 or email | Visit to learn more

Touro is an equal opportunity institution. For Touro’s complete Non-Discrimination Statement, visit


TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Chanukah Unity Concert with Nissim Black Yehudis Litvak

On Motzaei Shabbos Chanukah, Junity hosted a Chanukah Unity Concert with Nissim Black, a talented hip hop artist who conveys Jewish spiritual concepts through his music. During the concert, Nissim also spoke about his fascinating life story of searching for G-d in Islam and Christianity and eventually

converting to Judaism. The concert, held at the Nessah Educational and Cultural Center in Beverly Hills, was Nissim’s first performance in Los Angeles. “It was a very successful event that drew hundreds of people – a diverse crowd, spanning the gamut from teens to older adults,” says

Interview: Nissim Black, Chassid and InternationallyRenowned Musician Yehudis Litvak Who are your role models in the world of Jewish music? David Hamelech! Among contemporary musicians, Mordechai ben David and Mordechai Shapiro – a stellar musician and composer. I try to get inspiration from different places. How do you see the role of rap music in Judaism? When a person finds himself involved in Torah and tefillah, he is less connected to rap music as an item, but he is using it as a tool to get close to Hashem. Rap is inside of me from birth – both my parents were hip hop artists. It’s something natural to me, part of my culture, part of my life. I am not here to make a revolution – I don’t think Hashem wants that. I ask Hashem what it is that He wants me to do, and I feel very strongly that Jewish rap is the unique thing that Hashem wants me to do, to inspire people. Rap is a foreign genre to klal Yisrael. Lately, secular rap has become much more degrading and aggressive. Something like that can never be kashered. My task is to go down to the lowest, darkest genre and elevate the nitzutzot, the sparks of holiness within it, and bring them to the world. Also, people who are coming closer to Hashem stop listening to non-Jewish music, but they come to listen to my music, and that gives me a platform to tell my story and to inspire people to connect to Hashem. After your conversion, you left the music world for several years. What was

it like coming back, with Jewish-themed rap? I was very scared. It’s hard to maintain religiosity while involved in the world of music. Especially in rap, which is such a prideful and arrogant thing, while I am trying to grow in temimut, purity, shiflut. But my rebbi said to me, “When Hashem gives you something to do, you need to run to do it. Afterwards, you’ll make a cheshbon.” So I ran, and I recorded Hashem Melech. This was the first time when I freely and openly spoke about Hashem in my music, and was able to express Judaism in rap. Who is your rebbi? My rebbi who truly raised me in Judaism is Rabbi Shmuel Brody, Rav of Congregation Ashreichem Yisrael in Seattle, Washington. He learns from different types of chassidut and is a chassid mammish. I originally began attending the Sephardic Bikur Holim in Seattle. It’s a beautiful community. Its current Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Simon Benzaquen, converted me. He is also a wonderful chazzan, and we even recorded a song together. A few years after our conversion, my family and I attended a Rosh Hashanah service, where Rabbi Shmuel Brody was the chazzan. He was so different from everybody else, and I was moved by his piety, his conduct, his devotion. I naturally gravitated towards him. When he started his own kehillah in Seattle, we joined it, while continuing to be involved in the Sephardic community. Today, do you identify as a Breslover chassid?

Ariel Perets, founder of Junity. “A lot of people were unaffiliated, secular, or not even Jewish, but they appreciated the positive messages.” He explains that Junity’s mission is “to showcase artists and speakers that have a connection to G-d, and to unify audiences, connect them to like-minded people.”

Yes, I am a Breslover chassid, a student of Rav Shalom Arush. I daven in the main Breslov shul in Meah Shearim, and I learn every morning in Rav Arush’s yeshiva, Chut Shel Chessed. Rabbi Arush is my rav, and I am close with Rabbi Lazer Brody. What prompted your move to Israel? The Jewish people, Hashem, and Israel are all one thing. The moment I got into Judaism, moving to Israel was never not on my radar. I prayed every day to go there. At first, my wife was not interested. She had never been there before we moved. I’d performed in Yerushalayim in 2013, and I’d met Rav Arush. I wanted to move so much that I even filled out all the Nefesh B’Nefesh paperwork. Then my wife decided to go, and we moved our whole family. At first, we lived in Rechavia, but then decided that we didn’t want to be in an American neighborhood, so we moved to Meah Shearim. Do you feel settled in your current neighborhood and in your community? Yes. My whole family loved the move. The children adjusted very well. Do you get any negative reactions to your music from your community? No, I had no backlash from my community. Sometimes I walk into offices and stores in Meah Shearim and see Yerushalmi Jews in striped coats listening to my music. My lyrics have been translated into both Hebrew and Yiddish. I get nothing but love from the Chassidic community. Have you experienced any racism in the Jewish community? Once in a while, some kids scream “kushi” at my family. I tell my kids that Rashi says that “kushi” means beautiful. But that doesn’t happen often. Most of my kids’ friends are not their color. I haven’t experienced any real racism since I’ve entered the Jewish community. People are very supportive. What are your biggest disappoint-

The success of the concert “showed that people are interested in this music and connect to artists like this, who provide options for clean, kosher, fun entertainment,” says Mr. Perets, who plans to bring other performers with unique and unconventional styles to Los Angeles and to create a platform for artists “who are really living in the ways of the Torah.” In the summer, Junity is planning an all-day festival with inspiring speakers, musicians, and artists. “We’d like to merge it all in order to deliver the concept of spirituality in a fun way,” says Mr. Perets.

ments with the Jewish community? Before my conversion, the first Jews I knew were the ones inside the Tanach. My biggest letdown once I met today’s Jews was how many people are not excited about Shabbat, or other mitzvot. Not every Jew appreciates having been born Jewish. Overall, though, klal Yisrael did not disappoint me. In Israel, it is disappointing to see the fighting between the chareidim and the chilonim. I wish there was more love reflected towards the chilonim, rather than screaming and protesting. I am against protests and animosity. I wish we’d daven for our brothers and sisters who haven’t yet seen the beauty of Judaism, rather than scream and throw things at them. What do you do when you’re not composing or performing? I spend a lot of time in hitbodedut, personal prayer, and learning Torah. I also travel a lot. I have a full life – I’m always busy. I always say that my hobby is going to see live tzaddikim. There are many amazing tzaddikim in Yerushalayim. Also, each Friday night, we host 15 to 20 yeshiva bachurim. During the meal, we do a lot of singing, which inspires everyone. What is your advice to other creative Jewish souls who are doing something unique and unconventional, that is perhaps not encouraged by the Jewish community? First, they need to give themselves over to Hashem and determine what He wants them to do. These people have the biggest neshamot and can bring about the biggest change in the world. Next, skip the middleman. Go directly to Hashem and express the yearning in your soul. Once you connect to Hashem, you don’t have to do anything. Hashem will do it for you, open the way for you.

Photo: Rachel Israel


TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Dedicating the Zvi and Betty Ryzman Family Intensive Care Unit

Saturday evening, December 16th, Shaare Zedek Medical Center commemorated the official opening of the Zvi and Betty Ryzman Family Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the presence of the Ryzman family, hospital staff, and dignitaries. This new ICU represents a significant enhancement in both size, medical equipment and functionality. Professor Jonathan Halevy, the Director General of Shaare Zedek, offered tribute to Zvi and Betty Ryzman of Los Angeles, the visionary supporters of the new ICU. In his remarks, Zvi Ryzman spoke of his passion for supporting hospitals which have the potential to change lives. He highlighted Shaare Zedek as an institution where the medical staff practice patient care not simply out of a professional commitment but have a personal and even spiritual dedication to improving the lives of all people, without any regard to their personal backgrounds or views. He also compared Professor Halevy to the hospital’s first Director General, Dr. Moshe

Wallach, whose dedication made him one of the most legendary figures in modern Israeli medicine. The new ICU has 14 individual patient rooms, all of which are completely separate from one another. Dr. Levin, Director of the ICU shared that the unit is quite proud that despite the severity of the cases, approximately 90 percent of ICU patients are successfully treated and able to be discharged to their homes. He shared that the new design and medical equipment would directly contribute to improved patient care. “The main challenge in intensive care medicine is combatting the spread of infection between patients and the general hospital environment. This unit’s layout and construction is specifically intended to diminish that threat.” Zvi and Betty Ryzman were joined by their children and grandchildren as well as members of the hospital staff, members of the Board of Directors, and many rabbinical leaders. Rabbis in attendance included Israel’s current and former Sep-

hardic Chief Rabbis, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Rabbi Shlomo Amar (currently Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Jerusalem), and Rabbi Asher Weiss, who is known as a leading halachic authority in issues pertaining to

medical practice and ethics and serves as the chief rabbinical authority for Shaare Zedek.

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TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

LAPD Celebrates Chanukah Rabbi Israel Hirsch, Chaplain LAPD

The lobby of the Los Angeles Police Headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles was filled with officers and civilians on Monday, December 12th, as a large menorah was prepared to be lit by Chief of Police Charlie Beck. This annual ceremony, sponsored by Allen Alevy of Long Beach, an active

supporter of the LAPD, included police officers, assistant and deputy chiefs, commanders, detectives, civilian employees, and chaplains from the department, as well as pastors, priests, and rabbis in attendance. The daughter of one of the Jewish officers sang the national anthem and “Maoz Tzur” after Chief Beck lit the me-

norah with the help of Chaplain Shmuel Newman, who organized the event. Most of the men wore unique yarmulkes emblazoned with the LAPD badge. The event was followed by a gala kosher reception.

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The Week In News

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

THROUGH LITERATURE AT YU, I THINK, I EMPATHIZE, AND I EXPLORE WHOLE NEW WORLDS. Masha Shollar, English Literature Major, Class of 2018 Kressel Research Grant Winner Journal of Fine Arts, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Torah Musings The Week In News

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Giving Without Getting Sarah Pachter

Have you ever – out of the blue – received personalized address labels in the mail, only to discover a request for a donation from a charitable organization right alongside the labels? Why do organizations bother creating personalized mailing labels if there is no guarantee the receiver will donate? Isn’t it a waste of time and resources? Organizations and companies who send free gifts are tapping into a wellknown truth about the power of reciprocity. Even when a gift is undesired, it has the power to trigger feelings in the receiver of needing to give back. Companies and organizations are aware of this psychology and know that their costs will be repaid tenfold. Research has shown that when people receive an item or gift – even if they neither need or want it – often feel obligated to give back. This is true whether or not they have fond feelings towards the giver. In 1971, Dennis Regan tested this theory in an experiment where the participants thought they were undergoing an art appreciation experiment with someone named Joe. In actuality, Joe was an assistant to Dennis. He went in and out of the session, sometimes acting rude to his partner while other times speaking in a friendly manner. Sometimes, he brought a soda to his partner, whether they wanted the soda or not. At the end of the session Joe asked his partner to buy raffle tickets from him. Whether they enjoyed Joe’s company or not, his partner purchased the tickets based on the fact that they had been given a soda, even though Joe was sometimes rude. In other words, the law of reciprocation trumped any other factors.

As humans, we feel uncomfortable when given something until we return the favor in a somewhat equal way. Why does it feel so uncomfortable? We have been trained from a young age to accept this practice as normal. We are taught from childhood to always reciprocate. For example, little Johnny brings a birthday gift to his friend’s party, not because he is contemplating how much his friend, Sammy, will enjoy the basketball, but because he expects to get the goodie bag at the end of the party or a gift on his own birthday. On a deeper level, if I take without giving back, it implies that I need and depend on you, therefore making me feel “less than” the giver. And most people enjoy feeling equal to others. The law of reciprocity works both ways. Just as we feel uncomfortable as the receiver of uneven gifts, we feel equally as uncomfortable when we give without receiving. In fact, giving for a lot of people is not about pure altruistic giving, but rather, about reciprocity. It’s a business transaction. Many people never graduate past this form of giving. It’s no mistake that juniors in high school are signing up to volunteer in droves. This is not because they have a deep desire to “do good,” but because they must do so in order to compete for university acceptance. They think, I have a good resume, two different extra-curricular activities, plus forty hours of community service; all of this increases my odds of being accepted to the college of my choice. This kind of thinking doesn’t end in the teenage years. Even major corporations give to the world knowing they will receive something in return. Companies

such as Starbucks and “give back” a certain percentage of their profits, whether it is because it’s their corporate responsibility or because they need the tax break. It’s expected of them; plus, with good PR comes an increase in sales. It’s about what they are getting; the motives aren’t necessarily so pure. In our society, giving has become a robotic and selfish tendency instead of the pure and loving act it is intended to be. Giving in a purely altruistic way can seem out of reach. How can we graduate to this level? If we can experience a moment of true giving just once, we can tap into that feeling. It will touch something within us, and we’ll want to feel that again. What is that feeling? The pleasure of being of service. Since we all know that an intrinsic good feeling occurs when we give, why is it so hard to actually perform when push comes to shove? We often view life through a lens of scarcity. Even upon waking, these thoughts can creep up. How many of us wake up, yawn, and think, I’m so tired! I didn’t get enough sleep? Or, I have such a busy day today. I don’t have enough time to get everything done. The key phrase is, I don’t have enough – we experience scarcity. How could we expect ourselves to want to give when we don’t feel we have enough time or resources? In the physical world, if I have a pizza pie and share two slices, there are now only six left for me. But a candle is a better metaphor for spirituality. When I share the flame of my candle, there is now more light, rather than less. The same occurs when a mother nurses her child. The more one feeds an infant, the more milk is produced. When we give from a spiritual place, we are left with more. There is another reason it is so hard to give altruistically, a hurdle that may be much more challenging to overcome. When others do not reciprocate after we give, we feel taken advantage of. Many of my students have shared sentiments concerning how hard it is to keep giving to another who never returns the favor. But here’s the thing: When we give expecting nothing in return, we may not get help directly from the person, but Hashem will help us. I once heard a famous story about Asher Bookstein, as told by Rabbi Yaakov Co-

hen. Three families lived in an apartment building, one atop the next, in Jerusalem. The family on the first floor was concerned about break-ins, and decided to build an iron gate around their porch to prevent robberies. The Frager family on the second floor was not pleased with this solution, since it could potentially enable a robber to climb from the iron gate and break into their second-floor apartment more easily. They asked the family on the first floor to utilize a different solution, such as an alarm system for protection. But because the gate had already been built, the first floor’s family was unwilling to make any changes. The family living atop them both – the Booksteins – heard there was a disagreement in the building, and wanted everyone to get along. They decided to pay for the Frager family to have an iron gate built around their porch on the second floor in order to prevent a thief from accessing their apartment as well. Everyone agreed to this and was happy. The Booksteins paid out of pocket, happy to help, and expected nothing in return. They did it for the sake of peace. A few weeks later, the Booksteins were out one evening while their fourteenyear-old daughter babysat their younger children. Somehow, a fire broke out in their home, blocking the front door. The children, trapped inside, were terrified and calling for help. People climbed the stairs to the top floor, trying to break down the front door, but couldn’t. There was simply no safe way out, and the ambulance was not close by. It was only a matter of time before something horrific happened. Suddenly, two young men climbed the iron gate on the first floor, then the iron gate of the second floor’s porch. They were able to enter the Booksteins apartment, breaking in through their porch door. Those two iron gates saved the Booksteins’ very own children. The Booksteins gave wholeheartedly, expecting nothing in return. Yet, Hashem repaid them in a priceless way for their altruistic act of giving by saving their children’s lives. When we give without anticipating getting, we always receive more in the end – whether it be physically, in material bounty, or spiritually, from the energy we receive from Above.

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The Weekly Daf

What is the difference between shevuos and nedarim? Rabbi Shmuel Wise, Maggid Shiur of

We learned about this on 25a. The baraisa there first mentions that only nedarim can go into effect on mitzvah objects. For example, if one made a neder that his sukkah should become prohibited to him, that would work, and he wouldn’t be allowed to dwell in the sukkah. However, if one made a shevua not to live in the sukkah, the oath would not go into effect. Another difference between shevuos and nedarim is where the person attempts to create a prohibition on something intangible (e.g. he seeks to prohibit himself from throwing a rock into the sea). A shevua can accomplish this whereas a neder cannot. The underlying logic for these differences is a distinction that every yeshiva student has encountered many times is his quest for lomdus and a more profound understanding of the discussions of Shas: the classic “the person vs. the object” split. That is, the concept of a neder is one that applies to the object whereas a shevua pertains to the actions of the person. It is therefore quite understandable why someone cannot create a shevua with respect to the mitzvah of sukkah: for what he seeks to do is swear not to fulfill an action (person) that the Torah obligated him to do, surely an impossibility. However, it is entirely possible to make a neder here since the neder strictly creates a prohibition on the object, the sukkah, and therefore is not creating a prohibition that directly contravenes a mitzvah. This distinction also explains the issue of making a shevua or neder on the act of throwing a rock into the sea. A neder cannot accomplish this simply because it only has the capacity to create prohibitions on actual objects. Prohibiting such an action would strictly be the domain of a shevua. Although this “object/person” split is found frequently in the commentaries of the great roshei yeshivos (especially in the works of R’ Chaim m’Brisk, and that of his illustrious student, R’ Boruch Ber), it is actually found in the gemara itself on Nedarim 16b. This serves as a reminder that these great Talmudic scholars achieved their brilliance by allowing the Talmud to guide them, rather than by imposing their own thoughts on the Talmud. How does it work if someone makes multiple oaths restricting the same thing? We learned about this on 27b. The mishnah there rules that if someone swore three times not to eat a loaf of bread and later ate the bread, he would only be liable for that first oath. The reason is that once he already prohibited himself from the bread through the first shevua, the subsequent shevuos are redundant and therefore do not create any additional prohibitions.

The gemara there wonders that seemingly the mishnah could have made its point with a case of two shevuos, so why did it add a third one? The gemara explains that by adding another shevua, the mishnah is teaching us that although these additional oaths do not have any practical relevance now, they can become relevant later. How so? Rava explains that if this person were to ask a sage to annul shevua #1, the bread would remain prohibited to him based on shevua #2 because upon the annulment of #1, “room has been made” for #2 (and the same if he were to have #2 annulled). Rashi explains the mechanics of this further by pointing out that when a sage annuls an oath or vow, legally it’s as if that oath was never made. In retrospect, therefore, shevua #2 was really the first shevua and therefore is does go into effect. The gemara attempts to lend support to the notion that the additional shevuos are still “in the air” from a baraisa that discusses a person who accepted two terms of nezirus upon himself. The result of such an acceptance would be an obligation to observe two nezirus terms with the requisite offering brought at the end of each term in order to be able to resume a non-nazir life. But what if upon observing the first term, but before beginning the second, this person had a sage annul his acceptance of the first term? The baraisa says that in such a case that first period of observance would be considered an observance of the second term which now “goes in place” of that period originally assigned to the first term. We see from the baraisa that although in real time the second term did not have any practical impact, it was still “waiting in the wings” to replace that first term in the event of an annulment-seemingly the same idea that Rava suggested. The gemara deflects the proof by pointing out that Rava is actually going further than the baraisa with this idea. For in the nezirus case, the second nezirus term will eventually become relevant whether the first term is annulled or not. Hence, is it pretty reasonable to say that the second term stands by, waiting to become relevant, throughout the first. As opposed to in Rava’s case, where at the moment when the second shevua is introduced it serves no apparent purpose. To say, as Rava suggests, that the second shevua still waits around in case things might change to make it relevant, is a novel idea that cannot be proven from this baraisa. I’d like to turn from this Talmudic discussion to share an exciting project that I am privileged to be at helm of: Tehillim Together. It is a mobile application to facilitate prayer campaigns for fellow Jews in

need of prayers, and comes complete with a built-in Sefer Tehillim, beautifully laid out and translated. I urge you all to download this free app, and join us to pray for acheinu Beis Yisroel, and all of their many

tzrachim. May the Almighty continuously help us to get clarity on all of the topics of Shas, and answer all of our tefillos.



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DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home




The “Stop The Talking In Shul Movement” has attained global acclaim for its legendary activities to spread and enhance Kevod Bais Hakneses. Through its efforts, thousands of individuals in hundreds of shuls around the world have undertaken not to talk during davening and increase their devotion to heartfelt tefillah. Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim have praised the movement’s efforts and the success of its work. Not resting on its laurels, the movement has undertaken a new initiative – shuls that will join across the country – those who pledge to uphold the standards that have become the mission of the movement. The shuls will be named Heichal Tosfos Yom Tov, perpetuating the name and legacy of the Tosfos Yom Tov, zt”l, whose famed mishubeirach and message of No Talking in Shul has become the stuff of legends. The first of these shuls is Khal Ben Avrohom Minsk in Boro Park, under the leadership of its esteemed Rov, HoRav Yisroel Wosner, shlita. The name Heichal Tosfos Yom Tov has been added to its name in recognition of its devotion to proper tefillah. For over a decade, this shul has been exemplary in its lofty levels of tefillah. One of the leaders of the Beis Medrash was asked to explain his feelings of the project. He said “it’s a gevaldike project, with profound repercussions. Our Rov has been following this derech for many years, under the inspiration of his zaide, Rav Wosner, who felt strongly about this issue. In fact, his grandfather once told him that if there is ever talking in his shul, he must close down the shul.” He continued “At the opening Shabbos of the shul some 15 years ago, the Rov gave a drasha explaining the strict no talking policy of the shul, which in effect has become the essence of the shul. The drasha focused on the brocha for those who are ‘bo’im b’sochom l’hispallel’, why do they deserve a special brocha? The answer is that the brocha comes because they attend shul only to daven, not to talk, which is the source of their

The Week In News

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

‫בתי כנסיות‬

‫היכל תוספות יום טוב‬ reward.” Finally he explained that his mispallelim “have great comradery among themselves, because the policy is instituted with respect and pleasantness. The Rov doesn’t give a drosho Shabbos morning, to prevent a long and drawn out davening. By following halacha, members of the Kehillah have Boruch Hashem seen many brochos and great success in parnassah, shidduchim, and health, as promised in the Misheberach of the Tosfos Yom Tov.” A leader of the Stop the Talking in Shul movement commented “this shul is the model of what is to come, and the engine that will energize the establishment of such shuls throughout the country. Khal Ben Avrohom Heichal Tosfos Yom Tov shows how regular people can raise themselves to a lofty level of proper davening and decorum in shul. Adding the Tosfos Yom Tov name has helped bring that great Tzaddik’s brochos and spirit into the shul. Our hope is that every shul will emulate their great example and commit to reestablishing their shul in this manner. There are Boruch Hashem many shuls in our neighborhoods that adhere to the strictest levels of no talking in shul - they are models of affinity to halacha and inspiration to others. Our movement seeks to emulate the Rabbonim and Mispalelim of those shuls, by replicating their model throughout the world. Mispalelim in existing shuls may want to add the Heichal Tosfos Yom Tov name, for recognition of the principles and to welcome additional like minded members. Others may wish to initiate the development of new shuls loyal to this important cause. All are advised to ask their Rov and Daas Torah as to how to properly establish this derech. The following are suggested bi-laws for shuls to institute, ones that have proven successful in many existing shuls: 1. Absolutely no talking during the entire davening. 2. Absolutely no talking during laining, including bein gavra L’gavra. 3. Appoint gabo’im who in a pleasant way will help maintain the quiet. 4. The Tosfos Yom Tov mishubeirach should be said every Shabbos. 5. Length of davening should be minimized, to ensure proper decorum. 6. Signs should be posted in shul announcing the No Talking policy. 7. Kiddushim should not be brought into shul until after the entire davening. 8. Implement steady Shiurim on pirush ha-tefillah and kavonos ha-tefillah. FOR ASSISTANCE, GUIDANCE, & AVAILABLE SPEAKERS ON THIS IMPORTANT TOPIC, PLEASE EMAIL STOPTHETALKING@GMAIL.COM It is painful to see that people “play with fire” by talking during davening. There are great yeshuos guaranteed for those who keep quiet; it is the hope of the Stop the Talking in Shul movement that all shuls throughout the country and througout the world are zoche to join this movement and live its message.


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2017 in Review The Week In News

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Came & Went in 2017 CAME


BITCOIN: Although the world’s largest cr y ptocurrency has been around since 2008, it was in 2017 that its value skyrocketed. In January, Bitcoin was trading at approximately $968 per coin. By mid-December it was $19,393 per coin. Is it a bubble? Stay tuned. After reaching its high, the cryptocurrency shed a third of its value, but it still soared more than 1,000% since the start of the year. This is good news for Tyler and Cameron Winklevos. The 36-year-old identical twins, who were paid a $45 million settlement by Facebook after they claimed that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea, began investing in Bitcoin in 2012, when each coin was worth $10. Today, they are “Bitcoin billionaires.”

NEIL GORSUCH: On April 8, Justice Neil Gorsuch filled the seat of conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia who died suddenly in 2016, tipping the balance of the Supreme Court back towards conservatism. According to the Martin-Quinn scores, which measures the Supreme Court justices on an ideological continuum, Justice Gorsuch falls between Justice Roberts (conservative but closer to the center) and Justice Alito (conservative but closer to the right).

NFL PROTESTS: In response to President Trump – at a rally in September – calling out a smattering of NFL protestors who made it a practice of kneeling during the national anthem, dozens of NFL players became “social justice warriors” and began kneeling during the pre-game national anthem. This display of disdain for the country that made those very “protestors” into millionaires resulted in a precipitous decline in NFL ratings.

EMMANUEL MACRON: On May 14, Emmanuel Macron took office as France’s youngest-ever president. The gap-


toothed 39-year-old is known as a centrist. According to political observers, the young leader has his eye on being one of the leaders of the free world. When President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a sanctimonious Macron tweeted, “Make Our Planet Great Again.” The very busy president became even busier in August when his cellphone number was leaked, and he was bombarded by calls from the public.


BARACK OBAMA: Perhaps more important than Donald J. Trump

ter a rally in Virginia to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee resulted in the death of a counter-protestor in August, many other cities across the United States began removing Confederate statues and monuments. Century-old statues of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Thomas, J. “Stonewall” and even the unknown “Old Joe” Confederate soldier were torn down. Statue-removal mania, predictably, has gone way beyond figures of the Confederacy and any statue that anyone deems offensive is at risk. After New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called for the removal of the Columbus Circle 76-foot structure honoring Christopher Columbus, Mayor Bill de Blasio assembled a task force to determine which statues around New York City are “offensive.”

being sworn into office on January 20 - President Barack Obama left office on that day. President Obama is responsible for the Iran deal which all but guarantees that within a few years Iran will have nuclear weapons. According to a recent bombshell report in Politico, Mr. Obama allowed the terrorist organization Hezbollah to make billions of dollars off flooding the United States with cocaine because he didn’t want to jeopardize his relationship with Iran, which backed Hezbollah. During his years in office, Obama openly showed his disdain for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and in one of his final substantial acts in office enabled the passage of a UN resolution condemning Israel. Domestically, he passed Obamacare which is in the process of destroying private health insurance in the U.S.; he nearly doubled the national debt; and, during his years in office, the economy never had a year of 3% growth, which is the historical rate of growth for the U.S. economy.

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Came & Went in 2017

BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUS: The “Greatest Show on Earth” — the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus — closed for good in New York on May 21, ending a 146-year run. When, due to mounting criticism from animal rights groups, Ringling Bros. phased out the elephant act, its ticket sales dropped precipitously, leading to the business decision to close down the show. “As of May the saddest show on earth for wild animals will end,” crowed People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “Thirty-six years of PETA protests, of documenting animals left to die, beaten animals, and much more, has reduced attendance to the point of no return.” Score one for the militant left.




JAMES COMEY: On May 9, President Trump canned FBI Director James Comey. The six-foot-eight FBI director had been in the news for the better part of a year before his firing and stuck his head into the presidential elections in a peculiar fashion. Many suspect that Comey saw himself as the new Herbert Hoover and had designs on controlling Washington from his perch at the FBI. But it turns out that he was as flakey as he seemed. After being fired by Mr. Trump, Comey, who was appointed Director of the FBI by President Obama in 2013, testified that when the president asked him not to investigate former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn because “he is a nice guy,” Comey was intimidated and felt like President Trump was obstructing justice. Comey admitted leaking information to the media which ultimately led to the appointment of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Yes, you can be the six-foot-eight director of the FBI and still be a crybaby!

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: Scaramucci made a big splash when he was hired as the White House Communications Director on July 21. Over the next nine days Scaramucci, who refers to himself as “The Mooch,” shook up the White House and took on other officials like a bull in a china shop. He called a reporter for the New Yorker to unload on then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and then-Senior Advisor to the President Steve Bannon. In his profanity-laced call he also railed about White House leakers. During those nine days Scaramucci was so dedicated to the president’s success that while his wife was giving birth to their first child, he sent out a tweet of himself flying along with the president on Air Force One. And then, on the tenth day of his job at the White House, Scaramucci was fired, ensuring that he will forever be a question on Jeopardy: “This person had the shortest ever tenure as White House Communications Director.”

SOLAR ECLIPSE: After weeks of countdowns and hype, “The Great American Eclipse” took place on August 21. What exactly took place? Well, if you didn’t have eclipse glasses the only thing that happened was that you spent several hours petrified that if you looked up at the sky you would go blind. And if you did have the eclipse glasses, well, you were treated to a celestial spectacular sight. The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024. Keep those glasses!

FIDGET SPINNERS: These germ-riddled finger-toys became the craze in the spring of 2017. Although fidget spinners have been around for years, mostly used by kids with autism or attention disorders to help them concentrate, they exploded in popularity and could be purchased at every gas station and 7-Eleven for a few dollars…or in the Five Towns for twenty dollars! And then, just like that, they were “out.” Now, abandoned fidget spinners – with their weights gauged out – sit like shipwrecks at the bottom of toy chests across the United States.

SEAN SPICER: In his maiden briefing as press secretary for the new president one day after the inauguration, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer took to the Brady Briefing Room to berate the media for claiming that there were less people at President Trump’s inauguration than at President Obama’s. “That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe,” declared Mr. Spicer. With that America was introduced to the not-so-silver-tongued press secretary who became known as “Spicey” after a satirical depiction of him on Saturday Night Live. On July 21, Spicer resigned when Anthony Scaramucci — “The Mooch” — effectively became his boss as the White House Communications Director. Hmm...if only he had held out for ten more days.


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Humor: Double Trouble Rebecca Klempner


Tacos De Pescado Fish of the Day | Turmeric Potato Pickled Onion | Carrots | Cilantro-Avocado Mousse House-Made Poblano Chile Tortilla


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My sister will be visiting this week. Although we are very close, we only get to see each other about twice a year, so I am very, very excited. Rachel and I are identical twins. When I moved to Los Angeles nearly twenty years ago, Rachel had lived here for six years and thus already had a wide array of friends and acquaintances. And almost as soon as I arrived, they started mistaking me for her. As I walked to shul on Shabbos morning, people on the opposite side of Pico Boulevard called out, “Rachel!” and waved. I resorted to waving back and shouting, “Not Rachel!” People looked at me strangely at the bank, in the grocery store. A couple times, Rachel got indignant voicemails from friends. “Why did you ignore me at Pizza Station last Saturday night?” “It wasn’t me,” she explained. “You saw my twin sister.” Occasionally, they demanded photographic evidence. My sister attended the UJ (now part of AJU) and affiliates Conservative, so when I started dressing more modestly and then married and covered my hair, these moments of mistaken identity became yet funnier. People who attended synagogue with my sister saw me in the line at Schwartz Bakery and did double-takes when they spotted my beret and long sleeves in July. A former professor of my sister’s lives in our neighborhood, and when he stumbled across me walking on Shabbos, I could see the concern on his face plain as day: Is Rachel frumming out!?! Eventually, nearly all of Rachel’s friends and acquaintances learned of my existence. Instead of generating confusion, I found myself swept up suddenly by strangers in local grocery stores, libraries, and synagogues. “You must be Rachel’s sister!” they gushed. And after she moved away, I began to be plied for the latest “Rachel news” in Westside Pavilion, the Beverly Hills Library, and the aisles of Walgreens. Now that I’ve lived here longer than she did, Rachel gets mistaken for me around L.A. more than I get mistaken for her. When I was seven months pregnant with my fourth kid, and she was five months pregnant with her first, we went

Photo: Kevin Killian


together to Kaiser for my ultrasound appointment. When the technician collected us from the waiting room, she asked, “Which one of you is the patient?” Another time, a friend of mine bumped into Rachel in Glatt Market. She knew exactly who Rachel was, so she marched over to introduce herself and be friendly. “Jessica says, ‘Hi,’” Rachel said when she walked into my apartment. “I bumped into her in Glatt Market.” “Which Jessica?” I replied, and began to list all the Jessicas I know in Pico-Robertson. Rachel shrugged. “She’s expecting.” Two of “my” Jessicas were expecting, and to this day, I’m not sure which one she was referring to. And then a couple years back, Rachel almost caused a car accident when one of the neighbors saw her crossing the street with my children. Her pants and lack of any haircovering freaked them out so much, they nearly ran the red light at Pico and Glenville. I wish I’d photographed the look of relief on their face when they spotted me a moment later. As amusing as it was, I’m hoping Rachel never crosses paths with my kids’ teachers. An explanation might require photographic evidence.

















love my job. Being a Tehillim Kollel customer service representative requires deep emotional connection, but I really feel like I’m making an impact and helping others. Yet, some parts of my job are more challenging than others. When I call members whose membership is about to expire, I know I am about to hear joyous incredible news…. or sad, heartwrenching pain. On that Tuesday, as the phone rang on the other end, I davened that Hashem should give me the right words to say. “Hello?” said the voice on the other end. “Hi, this is Menachem from the Tehillim Kollel, calling about your membership. It’s about to expire and we wanted to check in and see how you and your family are doing, if your bakashos have been answered, and if you are interested in continuing your membership.” I held my breath for the response. “Well,” he said, sadly, “No, no my bakashos have not been answered.” My heart plummeted for his pain and I readied myself to offer him some support. Before I could, he continued, “But I believe every Tefillah matters, and every Tefillah on my behalf has a positive impact and that your Tefillos are bringing me closer to my yeshua. So yes, please continue my membership and please continue to have your special minyan of ehrliche yidden daven for me every single day!” I was overcome with awe at this member. Here, I was preparing to give him chizuk, and he offered me beautiful inspiration instead, and the faith that even when we can’t see that things are improving, Hashem is taking care of us. Like I said, I love my job.


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Top Ten News Stories of 2017 2017 Y E A R IN REV IEW


CALIFORNIA- The 2017 California wildfire season has ravaged the Golden State from wine country in Northern California to Santa Barbara in Southern California. To date, 44 people have been killed because of the wildfires and there has been more than $3 billion in damage. The Thomas Fire, which has devastated swaths of Southern California since it began on December 4, engulfed 273,400 acres and is the largest fire in California history.

NEVADA- On October 1, 2017, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock fired more than 1,100 rounds from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel onto concertgoers below, killing 58 people and injuring 546. Paddock then turned the gun on himself. To-date, Paddock’s motives are unknown.


Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on August 25, 2017 as a Category 4 storm. Harvey made landfall three separate times in six days. At its peak, on September 1, 2017, one-third of Houston was underwater. Two feet of rain fell in the first 24 hours. At least 82 people were killed because of the storm and it caused more than $180 billion in damage. Residents are still, slowly, trying to pick up the pieces ravaged by the storm.

ILLINOIS- Chicago’s gun violence continues with more than 3,500 people being shot in 2017. Despite Chicago’s tough gun laws, the city has had over 600 homicides by gun this year, leading many to point to Chicago as “exhibit A” that even with harsh gun laws, the bad guys will always have guns. ALABAMA-The Democrats made inroads in the deepest of “red states” when Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in the special election for the senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Attorney General. Democrats claim that this December 12th victory is a harbinger of a coming Democrat tidal wave in 2018. Republicans argue that Roy Moore was a fatally flawed candidate whose defeat proves that voters put morals over party.

FLORIDA- Hurricane Irma, which formed on August 30, battered the Caribbean and the British Virgin Islands as a Category 5 storm before making landfall in Florida on September 10 as a Category 4 storm, with wind gusts reaching 130 MPH. In the days leading up to the storm, highways were packed as 6.4 million people received mandatory evacuation orders. The death toll in Florida from Hurricane Irma is 75. In Puerto Rico, 48 people died as a result of Hurricane Irma, which slammed the island and knocked out 80 percent of its power for over a month. Large parts of the island are still without power.

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NEW YORK- On November 1, eight people were killed and a dozen were injured when terrorist Sayfullo Saipov, 29, drove a pickup truck he rented from Home Depot onto a crowded lower Manhattan bike path, in the deadliest attack in New York City since 9/11. “G-d is great!” the Uzbekistan native shouted in Arabic before a hero cop pumped a bullet into his abdomen. Saipov entered the U.S. in 2010 under the Diversity Immigration Visa Program, which is exactly as pathetic as its name. The radical Muslim terrorist then brought 23 relatives into the U.S. through the chain migration program which allows relatives of those in the U.S. to enter legally. Less than two months later, on December 11, Akayed Ullah, 27, detonated a pipe bomb in a walkway below the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Thankfully nobody was killed. Ullah, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, entered the U.S. in 2011 from Bangladesh through the chain migration program.

NEW JERSEY- After a budget impasse caused a government shutdown and the closure of all public parks and beaches, a photographer flying over what was supposed to be an empty beach on July 3rd, photographed Governor Chris Christie and family members relaxing on the closed-to-the-public beach. When asked later that day if he “had gotten out at all” the governor responded, “I didn’t…I didn’t get any sun today.” When the photographs of the lounging governor emerged, Christie’s spokesman explained that “yes, the governor was on the beach briefly today talking to his wife and family before heading into the office. He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on.” But New Jersians didn’t fall for that, and the outgoing governor, whose legacy already included Bridgegate, will now also have the laughable Beachgate on his resume.

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA- Multiple people were



Hether Heyer, 32, died on August 12, when James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, plowed his car into counter-protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally being held in the Virginia town. The senseless death touched off a political debate about white nationalists, Antifa, and, of course, President Trump.

shot, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), while Republican lawmakers were practicing for a congressional baseball game at a Virginia field on June 14. The shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, who volunteered for the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, purposely targeted the Republican lawmakers. He was killed at the scene. Scalise, 51, who is the third highest ranking Republican in the House of Representative, was nearly killed in the shooting. Upon his return to Congress he summed up in four words his survival and recovery: “It starts with G-d.” He explained that even as he was bleeding on the ground right after being shot, he immediately began praying. Scalise told his fellow members of Congress that he made some very specific requests in those moments. “And I will tell you, pretty much every one of those prayers was answered. He really did deliver for me and my family and it just gives you that renewed faith in understanding that the power of prayer is something you just cannot underestimate.”




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Russia Blocks Putin Challenger

It doesn’t look like Putin is going anywhere anytime soon even though Russia is preparing for a presidential election. Potential candidate Alexei Navalny has been barred from running for president after Russia’s central election commission voted on Monday that he is ineligible due to a history of criminal conviction. Twelve members of the 13-member commission voted to bar Navalny. One member of the commission abstained, citing a possible conflict of interest

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Navalny, 41, was jailed three times this year and charged with breaking the law by repeatedly organizing public meetings and rallies. He believes his arrests were politically-motivated, intending to prevent him from running in the election. Those with convictions on their record are barred from running for president in Russia. Prior to the committee meeting, Navalny took the formal step of declaring his candidacy on Sunday when he gathered nearly 16,000 voters in 20 cities across the country to express their support for him. According to Russian voting laws, in order to be nominated there needs to be at least 500 supporters gathered in one place in show of support for the candidate. Although Navalny would most likely lose in a vote against Putin, whose approval rating is around 80%, this maneuver barring him is seen as political bullying. Polls show President Vladimir Putin is likely to be re-elected, as long as he keeps squashing all other candidates. If re-elected, he could remain in power until 2024. Navalny threatened protests in response to what he views as unjust and corrupt. He called for a nationwide boycott of next year’s presidential election in March 2018. “We are declaring a voters’ strike,” said Navalny in a video released after the Central Election Committee made the announcement. He added, “Going to the voting booth now is voting for lies and corruption.” Experts do not expect that a boycott would actually affect voter turnout, but

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Navalny’s call is a clear attempt to strike Russian authorities’ efforts to boost turnout and strengthen Putin’s mandate for a fourth term.

$6B Bail for Bin Talal The price tag for the release of Saudi Arabia’s richest man shows just how rich he really is. Weeks after being rounded up with dozens of Saudi government officials and ten other members of the Saudi royal family, Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal price tag for release has been made public: $6 billion. The 62-year-old head of the Kingdom Holding Co. was arrested as part of an anti-graft operation that was spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. The operation is seen by many as a thinly veiled attempt to seize power. Bin Talal did have an official position in the Saudi government, however, he mainly focused on growing his companies and managing his many high-profile projects. The $6 billion being sought for his release is the highest figure being demanded for the release of those captured. At the end of November, Prince Mutaib Bin Abdullah, son of the late King Abdullah, a former head of Saudi Arabia’s National Guard and a previous frontrunner to the throne, was

released for the price of $1 billion. Prince Bin Talal’s fortune is estimated by Forbes to be $18.7 billion, so he can afford the astronomical payment, however, Bin Talal reportedly thinks that the sum would be an admission of guilt and that would require him to dismantle the financial empire he spent his life building. The prince plans to release a large part of the Kingdom Holding Co., whose market values stands at $8.7 billion. The prince is reportedly willing to fight the allegations being made against him in court. According to Bin Salman, only one percent of those arrested have been able “to prove they are clean and their case is dropped right there. About four percent say they are not corrupt and with their lawyers want to go to court.” Time will tell which category Saudi Arabia’s richest man falls into.

Chinese Activist Sentenced to 8 Years Wu Gan, better known by his online pseudonym “Super Vulgar Butcher,” was sentenced this week to eight years in prison by the Chinese government. This is one of the harshest punishments meted out to the group of lawyers and activists swept up in a major crackdown on civil society two

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years ago. Wu refused to plead guilty to charges of “subverting state power.� The sentence was intended as an unmistakable signal to anyone who would dare to challenge the state’s authority. Wu was taken into custody in May 2015 just weeks before authorities unleashed a ruthless campaign later dubbed the “709� crackdown, rounding up over 200 people involved in activities considered sensitive by the ruling Communist Party. The outspoken social media figure had attracted authorities’ attention with performance art and caustic commentary on Chinese society and politics that he published online. Explaining its verdict, a court in Tianjin said Wu was “dissatisfied with the current system of governance, and that gradually produced thoughts of subverting state power.� By “hyping up hot incidents,� Wu “attacked the national system that is the basis for state authority and the constitution,� the court said. Wu also “spread fake information� and “insulted others online,� the statement said. The prominent activist, with his recognizable bald head and glasses, became the subject of the state’s ire for using his larger-than-life online persona to draw public attention to human rights cases. He called himself “butcher� because he saw himself as taking the fight to authorities, promising to “slaughter the pigs.� Wu’s lawyer Yan Xin said the sentence was aimed at setting “an example so other activists will say they are guilty when accused of crimes against the state�. “It’s clear (Wu) was sentenced so harshly because he refused to plead guilty,� he said. Several supporters travelled to Tianjin to attend the trial but they were “pursued relentlessly by police� and forced to go home. The government’s message to dissidents was highlighted by a very different sentence passed down on the same day for another figure who was also caught up in the “709� crackdown – named after the date of the first disappearance on July 9, 2015. In contrast to the heavy penalty for Wu, a court in Changsha exempted former human rights lawyer Xie Yang from serving a sentence after he pleaded guilty to “inciting subversion of state power.� He had worked on numerous politically sensitive cases, such as defending mainland supporters of Hong Kong democracy activists. At first Xie had claimed that police had used “sleep deprivation, long interrogations, beatings, death threats, humiliations� on him, allegations that became the focus of a rare letter by a number of western embassies in Beijing directly criticizing the government’s handling of the case. But on Tuesday Xie denied he had been tortured, according to a video on the court’s official Weibo social media account. “On the question of torture, I produced a negative effect on and misled the public, and I again apologize,� he told judges. The court said he would face no criminal penalties following his full confession. Another prominent rights lawyer who was arrested during the 2015 crackdown, Wang Quanzhang, has yet to stand trial.

British Woman Jailed in Egypt Laura Plummer, 33, was arrested in October at Hurghada International Airport in Egypt when authorities found 290 tramadol pills in her suitcase. Plummer claimed the pills were for her Egyptian friend’s bad back. She said she didn’t know they were illegal. Plummer was sentenced to three years in prison. Plummer had her trial adjourned on Monday after accidentally pleading guilty due to a mix-up with her interpreter. The trial was held on Tuesday with a new interpreter, and she was jailed by a judge for three years. Plummer has said she had no idea the painkiller is illegal and banned in Egypt. Her lawyer Mohamed Othman reportedly said a plane ticket showing she paid twice as much for her flights as the drugs were worth is proof that she was not planning to sell them. Her mother said Plummer’s been sharing a jail cell with no beds with up to 25 other women, adding her daughter now looks “unrecognizable.â€?





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The End of Dancing Bears in Nepal The last two known dancing bears in Nepal have been rescued from their life of captivity and exploitation. The nonprofit Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, along with the international nonprofit World Animal Protection and local police, confiscated Rangli and Sridevi, two sloth bears, from their handlers in Iharbari.



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Bear dancing has been a traditional way of making money in Nepal for hundreds of years. The training that bears undergo is very painful, and the practice was declared illegal in the 1973 Wildlife Protection Act. The two bears were found with piercings in their muzzles that were done with hot iron rods after they were poached from the wild. The bears’ teeth had been removed with a metal saw as well.   Neil D’Cruze of World Animal Protection told reporters that bear dancing has “successfully endedâ€? in many countries including India, Turkey, and Greece. Wildlife protection groups are working to end the practice in Pakistan as well. Unfortunately, many times the mothers of the poached animals are killed by the poachers during the bears’ abductions. The painful “trainingâ€? the bears undergo was the main reason for the push to end the cruel practice.  Â


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The Week In News The two bears are very traumatized, according to D’Cruze. “Both bears are in poor psychological condition, showing signs of stereotypic behavior including head weaving, paw sucking, pacing, mewling, and aggression, due to the constant cruel training they endured in captivity,” D’Cruze said. “They will need long-term, specialized care, but many bears rescued from bear dancing and baiting have been able to live out the rest of their lives peacefully in sanctuaries,” he said. “We will work to realize this for Rangila and Sridevi, too.” The bears are now under the care of a Nepal national park. Two of the men that owned the bears have been hired to care for them at the park in order to help the men transition out of their financial dependence on bear dancing.

China Prevents Disease by Limiting Pop Want to know how to manage “big city disease”? In an effort to prevent an outbreak, China’s financial hub of Shanghai will limit its population to 25 million people by 2035 as part of a quest to manage “big city disease,” the cabinet has said.

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The State Council said on its website late on Monday the goal to control the size of the city was part of Shanghai’s masterplan for 2017-2035, which the government body had approved. “By 2035, the resident population in Shanghai will be controlled at around 25 million and the total amount of land made available for construction will not exceed 3,200 square kilometers,” it said. Shanghai, which sits on China’s eastern coast, had a permanent population of 24.15 million at the end of 2015, the official Xinhua news agency said last year. The city has also said it would intensify efforts to protect the environment and historic site as part of its masterplan.

U.S. to Send Weapons to Ukraine

The president of Ukraine thanked the United States this week for pledging to provide his country with lethal weapons, a

decision that enraged many Russian diplomats and lawmakers. The gratitude is being expressed after President Trump’s administration approved plans to provide weapons to fight Russian-backed separatists including Javelin anti-tank missiles. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict which started in April 2014. “I am grateful for the leadership of President Donald Trump, clear position of all our American friends, and for strong bipartisan support of Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said. “American weapons in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers are not for offensive [purposes], but for stronger rebuff of the aggressor, protection of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, as well as for effective self-defense. It is also a trans-Atlantic vaccination against the Russian virus of aggression.” Sergei Ryanbkov, Russia’s Deputy Foreign minister, said that the United States has “crossed a line” by providing the weapons to Ukraine. “Washington has sought to cast itself as a ‘mediator,’” he said in a statement. “It’s not a mediator. It’s an accomplice in fueling a war.” He is arguing that more weapons in the region will only further escalate the conflict. Germany and France both urged the fighting countries to fully implement a ceasefire agreement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron issued a joint statement urging combatants to keep to the 2015 peace deal which was set up by France and Germany. The provisions of the deal include the withdrawal of heavy weapons from frontline areas and exchanging prisoners that have been captured.

ny, Italy, Greece, Japan and Turkey. The abstaining nations included Canada, Mexico, Australia, Colombia, Haiti, Poland and the Philippines. The vote was cast during an emergency session. The other governments claimed that it is unfair to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel until Israel and Palestine hold further peace talks. The 128 nations that condemned the U.S. decision believe that until then the capital move should remain undecided. The nonbinding resolution on “illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of occupied Palestinian territory” declared actions that predetermine Jerusalem’s fate “null and void.” The U.S., disappointed by the lack of support, vowed to “remember this day”. Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said, “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out in this assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when, once again, we are called up to make the world’s largest contribution to the UN, and we will remember it when many countries come calling on us to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.” Haley said the United States views this as a show of disrespectful aggression and that the U.S. Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem regardless. On Monday, Guatemala announced that it plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem as well, making it the second country to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Israel to Pull Out of UNESCO U.S.: We Will Remember this Day The U.N. is ganging up the U.S. after Trump named Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Despite Trump’s threats to cut funding from countries that vote against the U.S. declaration, 128 countries ignored his threats and rejected the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Of those countries, 121 receive a collective $21.8 billion in U.S. economic and military aid. Nine countries supported the U.S.’s decision, while 35 nations abstained from voting and another 21 were absent. None of the countries that voted with the United States and Israel against the resolution are diplomatic powerhouses — Guatemala, Honduras, Togo and the Pacific island states of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau. Many countries that voted in favor of condemning the U.S. are close allies of the United States including Russia, China, Britain, France, Germa-

Israel’s representative at UNESCO has been instructed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to officially submit an announcement of Israel’s departure from the organization. Carmel Shama-Hacohen has been told to hand the written notice to Audrey Azoulay, the organization’s newly appointed Director-General. The decision comes on the heels of the United Nations General Assembly vote last week which passed a resolution that declared that Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is “null and void” and should be “rescinded immediately.” Israel will be joining the United States, which left the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organi-

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zation due to its “anti-Israel bias” back in October. The rules of the organization are such that all departures take effect on the 31st of December of the year following the submission of the letter. Israel and the United States will both leave the organization by the end of 2018. The recommendation to leave was put forward by Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem. The decision came after the Foreign Ministry sent Zvi Tai as a special envoy to UNESCO and Washington. Bibi Netanyahu signed off on the decision this week. Shama-Hacohen praised and congratulated Netanyahu on his decision. “UNESCO, led by the Arab countries and the rest of the despondent, frustrated and downtrodden parts of the world, has broken records of hypocrisy, incitement and lies against Israel and the Jewish people, polluting its noble values with politicization and political terrorism bordering on anti-Semitism,” he stated. “The State of Israel and the Jewish people should be the first to contribute to the organization and the last to leave it, but in UNESCO’s theater of the absurd, countries that have no connection to science, education and culture have bankrupted this important organization both professionally and budgetarily.”

Denmark Limits Payments to Palestinians

Several Palestinian NGOs (non-governmental organizations) with ties to terror groups will stop receiving aid from Denmark’s Foreign Ministry. Copenhagen has also set stricter conditions for Palestinian NGOs to be eligible for future aid in order to ensure that their charitable donations do not end up in the hands of terror groups or the BDS movement. The Danish Foreign Ministry conducted an internal investigation after Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen was urged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan to look closer at where their money was going. After the investigation was concluded, the Danish Foreign Ministry said it will “continue to support civil society organizations focusing on the human rights situation in Palestine, which is a priority under

the Danish foreign policy,” but starting next year, “the funds will be transferred under new and stricter conditions. Donor cooperation will end at the end of the year, and the remaining Danish funds from 2017 will be used for expenses related to the administrative completion of the program.” In 2018, only 10 Palestinian NGOs will get Danish funds, as opposed to the current 24 organizations being helped. The Danish investigation was launched after the Palestinian Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC) opened a center for women last June which was named after Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who murdered dozens of Israelis in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre. WATC received

$500,000 through the Ramallah-based Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, a donor program sponsored by Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Greek Group Defaces Embassy Members of an anarchist group in Greece vandalized the Israeli embassy in Athens using bottles of red paint this week.

The group, Rubicon, filmed themselves committing the early-morning attack on Monday and posted the video online. The video shows the members of the group riding up to the embassy building on motorcycles and throwing the paint at it. “We identify with the Palestinians, a nation that for decades has been a victim of oppression,” Rubicon said in a statement released after the attack. “In reality, the Palestinians are pressured to leave their land. This is ethnic cleansing at a low intensity level for decades.” The statement also said: “The question that arises from the Palestinian struggle that must confront us all is the question of the nature of the Palestinian struggle for in-



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dependence. It is a question of survival of a nation in the land on which it was born.”

Iran: Death for “Spy” for Israel The death sentence has been approved by Iran’s Supreme Court for a researcher that was accused of spying for Israel in Iran. Ahmadreza Djalali has been in jail since April 2016. Djalali was shown on Iranian state TV this month confessing to providing the Mossad spy agency with information on Iranian military and nuclear scientists, two of whom were assassinated in 2010. Djalali is a physician and disaster relief researcher. He had worked on a project for Iran’s Defense Ministry before he left Iran to study in Europe. He said that he was recruited while in Europe to provide intelligence in return for being made a citizen of the country his handlers were from. They told him they worked for a European government. Djalali’s lawyers say that the confession was obtained under extreme duress. Rights groups have condemned his detention and interrogation as he was not allowed to make any defense arguments in

DECEMBER 28, 2017 | The Jewish Home

court. Amnesty International has come out with a statement saying that the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the sentence “without granting them an opportunity to file their defense submissions.” According to his lawyers, they contacted the Supreme Court in order to present their defense arguments but were met with no response. “This is not only a shocking assault on the right to a fair trial but is also in utter disregard for Ahmadreza Djalali’s right to life,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty’s internal deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa. According to Djalali, he is being punished for refusing to spy for Iran while working in Sweden as an emergency medicine resident. He has been accused of providing information on 30 nuclear scientists and other high-level military personnel. According to Djalali’s lawyers, no evidence that was presented at his trial substantiated these claims.

Guatemala to Move Embassy to Jerusalem Guatemala has become the first nation to follow President Trump’s lead and agree

to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week lavished praise on Guatemala’s president for doing so. “G-d bless you, my friend, President Jimmy Morales. G-d bless both our countries, Israel and Guatemala,” said Netanyahu at his weekly Knesset meeting. The Czech Republic has also officially recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “I told you recently there would be other countries that will recognize Jerusalem and move their embassies,” Netanyahu said, after reading out Morales’s official announcement. “I repeat: There will be more, this is just the beginning.” Guatemalan President Morales said online that he instructed his foreign ministry to move their embassy after talks with Netanyahu. “We spoke about the excellent relations that we have had as nations since Guatemala supported the creation of the state of Israel,” he wrote. “One of the most important topics [of the conversation] was the return of the embassy of Guatemala to Jerusalem. So I inform you that I have instructed the chancellor to initiate the respective coordination so that it may happen.” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren applauded Guatemala’s announcement. “Viva Guatemala! It takes courage for a

superpower to stand up for justice and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital. But it takes even more — immense guts — for a small nation to do that,” Oren wrote on Twitter. “People of Guatemala, the people of Israel will never forget your support and bravery.”

About 1,000 Jews live in Guatemala, which has a population of 15 million. The small country is one of nine nations that voted with the United States last week when the UN General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution which denounced President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The other countries were Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo. On Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Israel’s Kan Bet public radio that Israel is talking with more than 10 countries about potentially moving their respective embassies to Jerusalem.

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