THE JEWISH HOME FEBRUARY 6, 2014 2
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YACHAD AT MOSHAVA MALIBU
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
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FEBRUARY 6, 2014
CONTENTS COMMUNITY What’s new in LA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Community Happenings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Tefillin on Girls at School? Not in LA. . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
PEOPLE Rabbi Yaakov Galinsky Zt”l His Stories, Our Lessons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Forgotten Heroes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
It’s All About the Timing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Wealth Management 101 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Op-Ed - How Can My Child Be a Straight A Student and Still Score So Low on Her Standardized Tests? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Business Weekly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Less is not More. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
HUMOR & ENTERTAINMENT
Centerfold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Quotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
LIFESTYLES Health - The Affordable Health Care Plan . . . . . . . 23 Career Corner - Do Not Make This Fatal Interview Mistake! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Restaurant Review Two Dishes at Dr. Sandwich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Travel - Oklahoma. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 What’s for Dinner? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
NEWS Old News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Global News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 National News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 That’s Odd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Fighting for the Wall - TJH Speaks with Ronit Peskin of Women for the Wall. . . . . . . . 26 Israel News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Dear Readers, “It was the best of times, and the worst times.” This sentiment very accurately describes the current times we live in. On the one hand, as reported by Business Insider, the average lifespan has more than doubled in the past 200 years. Polio has gone from 30,000+ cases in the 50’s in America alone to 300 around the world today; robberies in America happen a third less frequently than 20 years ago; as recent as 30 years ago an average of 395 people per 100,000 died from famine worldwide, and that has now been cut down to 3 per 100,000! There are more cases than ever of people doing altruistic acts of kindness, etc. etc. On the other hand, suicide rates have gone up: according to the New York Times, more people currently lose their lives to themselves than to vehicle accidents; a Harvard Medical School study reports that anti-depressant usage has increased by 400% in the past 20 years, with 1 in 10 people currently taking them; there has been an 80% increase in heavy use of marijuana among teens since 2008; mass shootings by seemingly normal individuals are too common, etc. Specifically with Israel there hasn’t been a challenging time like this since 1948 when the country was faced with hostile armies on all fronts. Israel’s head of military intelligence, Major General Aviv Kohavi, recently told an audience that there are currently 170,000 rockets and missiles directed at Israel! Though it still somehow makes sense for Israel to squeeze itself even thinner and give away land vital to its protection. (It wasn’t so long ago that the nations of the world were pressuring Israel to give away the Golan Heights…) On the Jewish front… On the one hand, it was just a century ago when Jews were not allowed into many colleges, clubs and housing complexes. Keeping Shabbos usually meant losing your job. But Torah-true Judaism recently got a big boost via the Pew report, which made clear that the self-sacrifice needed early on from our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents is reaping its rewards in the form of ever growing numbers of Torah observant Jews. Some say Torah learning has not been this widespread since the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdosh. On the other hand, outrageous forms of anti-Semitism seem to be more widespread –even if sometimes cloaked in other terms. Jewish observance is still being singled out for attack, for example the Brit Milah controversy currently raging in New York. We continue to lose many of our kids to a “free lifestyle,” where Torah observance is frowned upon. There are stronger storms heading our way, even hitting us from the inside, this time with many quoting Halachic sources to establish customs foreign to common practice in our community over the past few thousand years. Are all these trends a contradiction? I think not. On the one hand, the sages of the Talmud have already taught us that the generations are constantly declining and “if the firsts were like angels, then we are like mortals…” On the other hand, the Chassidic masters speak of a “taste of the world to come” through which they explain the literal burst of knowledge which has taken place over the past few centuries. So will there be a third world war, or will the world stand up for us this time around? Do we have a bright future, or are we heading to becoming an angry/sad/addicted society? Has Torah MiSinai proven itself, or are we another community interested in self-perseverance? Maybe both sides of the coin say the same thing. We’ve been through a lot. We’re at the end of the road trying to hang on and usher in a time when we will truly care for one another, when wisdom will be sought after, and when we will finally appreciate the meaning behind Torah and mitzvot. With wishes for a most 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 DISCOUNTED HOME DELIVERY, OR TO HAVE THE LATEST ISSUE EMAILED TO YOU FREE OF CHARGE, SEND A MESSAGE TO EDITOR@JEWISHHOMELA.COM
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Los Angeles is happening city! This month’s What’s New is teeming with events, creative business and problem solvers. Have a good time, take care of your families, give back, and enjoy the article. The Zimmer Museum is a great children’s museum located inside the Jewish Federation building at 6505 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. They are having a big event called Zimmerpalooza on Sunday, February 23rd that will feature children’s rock bands, art projects, sock puppet karaoke, a toddler music and movement class, and lots more. The main event is from 2 pm to 5 pm and many sponsorships are still available. Tickets for adults are $50 and children are $25. The proceeds go to the Zimmer’s Family Access Program of the We All Play Initiative, which allows low-income families to experience the Zimmer Museum for free or deep discounts. For more information go to www.zimmermuseum.org/zimmerpalooza.html. Let the fun continue and keep your whole family active with Wholly Fit’s classes. Kid’s Zumba, dance, sports, fitness and self-defense classes are available as well as sessions for adults focused on weight loss, or prenatal fitness, strength and conditioning, self-defense and more. Wholly Fit also has programs for birthday parties and after school clubs. They are very flexible on the location of the class and will come to your home, local park, or office. For more information visit their website at www.whollyfitinc.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 818-7619578. A few weeks ago I forgot my daughter’s stroller at home and since I already paid for parking I didn’t want to go back and get it, so I carried my 30 pound baby around the mall for an hour. When I got home my back was aching and continued to hurt for the next 3 days. I finally called
a chiropractor and in just one session was as good as new. I highly recommend Dr. Gaby Edery who has an office in Woodland Hills and Reseda. He takes most insurance, but if you want to pay out of pocket his prices are very reasonable. He also can come to your home or office. You can reach Dr. Edery at 818-651-3252 or email email@example.com. Many new moms struggle with nursing their infants. You don’t have to feel hopeless, the lovely ladies of The Milky Way are here to help. Liraz and Maya are certified lactation educator counselors and provide prenatal breastfeeding education as well as postpartum training and support. They do house calls in and around Los Angeles. Services are offered in English and Hebrew. Call Maya 818-297-6511 or Liraz 818-574-9314 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Their Facebook page is: Breastfeeding- The Milky Way. As your infant grows into a toddler and beyond they’ll start to need more than just a warm pair of arms. To furnish your little one’s abode go straight to Kid’s Cottage. It’s a new store, owned by Donna Sassoon, and carries furniture for children and teens. Kid’s Cottage sells a wide range of bedroom sets, as well as bunk beds, captain’s beds, loft beds and accent furniture. They are currently running a sale offering 15% off all beds. Kid’s Cottage is located at 14444 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks between Van Nuys and Beverly Glenn, their phone number is 818-783-3055. I’m sure I’m not alone when I tell you how much I love pretty serving pieces and bowls. Arielle Azoulay Elkoby sells gorgeous home goods and personalized packaging. Her new business is called Gifts and Glamour and she offers stunning, unique presents for weddings, bridal showers, hostess gifts, and birthdays. To see some of her items, look at her Facebook page: Gifts & Glamour. She is also creating special Mishloach Manos for Pu-
rim, using unique bases instead of the old fashioned basket. You can order through her Facebook page or call her at 323-8397774 or email giftsandglamour@gmail. com To show your toddlers and small children a good time on Shabbos, check out Jewish Story Time at the Westwood Jewish Center. The class is at 11 AM every Shabbos and includes Parsha related activities, yummy, healthy snack, and games. The program is followed by their weekly kids’ program and Kiddush. The class is led by Vered Kashani and is at 1651 Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles 90024. Please call 310-441-1018 for more information. If your 9 to 13 year old son struggles in Chumash skills, make an appointment with Rabbi Levi Eisenberg. Utilizing the Shreiber Method, he can get your son back on track quickly and begin producing results from the first lesson. Rabbi Eisenberg has a Master’s degree in education from Yeshiva University and has taught Chumash for elementary and high school. Visit his website www.sh-
reibermethod.com for more information. The first lesson is free to see if it’s right for your son. Food Forward is one of the most ingenious organizations I have ever heard of because it solves a problem while helping people, symbiotically. Many people in urban areas have fruit trees that produce an abundance of fruit that goes to waste or attracts bugs. Unfortunately, many people in Los Angeles don’t have enough to eat. Food Forward solves both issues in one swoop by sending volunteers to pick the excess fruit and deliver it to people in need. Brilliant! This incredible organization has supplied over 1.8 million pounds of fresh fruit to people in need. If you would like to volunteer, sign up at www.foodforward. org/events and if you have fruit trees go to www.foodforward.org/get-involved/property-owners to register your tree. I want to wish you all an abundant month. Please continue to send your new businesses, organizations, clubs, shuls, or ideas to email@example.com.
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FEBRUARY 6, 2014
Hagaon Horav Chaim Halpern, Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Joseph in Novardok, France, visits Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov/Ohr Eliyahu Hagaon Horav Chaim Halpern, Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Joseph in Novardok, France, visited Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov/ Ohr Eliyahu. He enjoyed the boys’ davening and spoke to them about the wonderful opportunity the children have of being able to learn Torah, which was an opportunity he didn’t have in concentration camps. During the Holocaust, the Rav survived 14 different camps and dedicated the next 65 years to build the Ohr Joseph Jewish Education Empire in France, which includes 40 different educational institutions.
Special Melava Malka at Congregation Etz Chaim of Hancock Park By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon On Motzaei Shabbos February 1, 2014, Congregation Etz Chaim held its Annual Melava Malka. Presiding over the evening events was President Alan Stern. This year’s Melava Malka held special significance for Rabbi Boruch Rubin, the Mara d’Asra, and the shul members. It is almost almost 18 years that the Shul has engaged in a battle of sorts to acquire a use permit to operate a synagogue at 303 Highland Ave. During that time the city officials had twice denied the congregation’s permit request. Not giving up, Rabbi Rubin and the shul’s members never lost faith and continued to battle for the right to have a shul on the corner of Highland and Third. Finally they were successful. It had been a long and arduous campaign and recently reelected (March 2013) Councilman Paul Koretz, who is known to champion “a community-friendly, community-engaged style of governance” played a significant role in settling the matter at hand. Community Activist Stanley Treitel put the matter in perspective. “We’re very happy that Councilman Paul Koretz saw that it was time to move on and put this matter to rest, and with the Councilman’s help we have succeeded. The community now can get back to what it should be doing,” he added. A presentation was then made by Mr. Stanley Treitel to Los Angeles Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the city’s historic Fifth District. Councilman Koretz has been a strong voice for the Jewish Community and for the Shul. The Shul took this opportunity to express its thanks to the Councilman for his continual assistance and dedication to the District that he represents. In making the presentation of a magnificent work of art, Mr. Treitel also thanked the many shul members and friends who assisted the Shul. Some of those mentioned were Michael Rosenberg, Rabbi Yehuda Feigen, Alan Stern and of
course Rabbi Boruch Rubin. Many in the community are aware that the shul is now known as Cong Etz Chaim-Bais Medrash Moshe Yitzchok. The addition of the name “Bais Medrash Moshe Yitzchok”, is l’zecher nishmas Habachur Moshe Yitzchok Rubin z”l, the son of the Mara d’asra and the Rebbetzin, whose passing occurred almost 7 years ago. Moshe Yitzchok, born with Down Syndrome, was a special soul whose life was a testament to the amazing abilities of a child with special needs, who showed us that one can live an active and productive life, no matter the difficulties. A highlight of the evening was a 55 minute video/movie of the life of Moshe Yitzchok. It was due to Rebbetzin Rubin’s desire to create a lasting testament, that this project came to fruition with the magnificent guidance and direction of Richard and Karen Lesser of Vision Quest Productions.
Rabbi Baruch Rubin spoke briefly of his son, before the showing of the video . He spoke emotionally of this special child that was such a positive influence on the Los Angeles community by his behavior and fortitude, especially in battling the illness that finally took his life. Rabbi Rubin went on to say, “Moshe loved the Yeshiva Toras Emes where he was a student. He loved the Rabbeim, his fellow talmidim and the warm atmosphere of the yeshiva.” The congregants sat transfixed during the video. The atmosphere was heavy with emotion as these baale batim re-lived a period when they also played a significant part in the life of Moshe Yitzchok Rubin z”l. More then just a video of dedicated parents doing everything for their child, here was a community, a shul of baale batim , their wives and children, that grasped this child, held him near as one of their own, and their lives where changed forev-
er by the experience. In the video Rabbi Rubin tells us, “The Shabbos before his passing, the doctors came and told us that the battle was ending, and that he probably had only a few hours left. It was the beginning of the month of Teves. On the 6th of Teves was the Yahrtzeit of the holy Shinover Rov.” (Rav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam, the Shinover Rav (1815-1899) was the eldest son of Rav Chaim of Sanz. He was known as the Divrei Yechezkel.) “We were very down. I told my Rebbetzin, if Moshe has to go, then the Shinover will come for him and he will not go before then.” And so it was. The Holy Shinover Rov came for him on Vav Teves. “We merited”, concluded Rabbi Rubin, “to be his parents and to have such a son, And we know he will be a perfect representative for us and all of Klal Yisroel in the Heavenly Court.”
(L-R) Presentation by Stanley Treitel, Rabbi Boruch Rubin, Rabbi Yehuda Feigen and Alan Stern, to Councilman Paul Koretz (2nd from Right)
Photo credit: Arye D. Gordon
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Rabbi Aharon Rubenstein, MENAHEL Rabbi Aryeh Davidowitz, MENAHEL Mrs. Aida Forman, PRESCHOOL DIRECTOR
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FEBRUARY 6, 2014
YULA’s 12th Grade Israel Trip One thing that separates YULA students from most high school students is what they choose to do once they finish high school. A large majority of YULA seniors choose to spend a gap year in Israel after graduation. Some spend a year in yeshiva, some spend a year in the army, and some go to an Israeli university. During the inter-semester January break, 13 YULA seniors had the opportunity to travel to Israel and spend a week exploring their different gap-year options. Led by YULA rebbeim, Rabbi Abramczik, Rabbi Baalhaness, and Rabbi Schreiber, the boys spent the week with a packed schedule. Each day consisted of a visit to three or four different yeshivot before lunch, followed by various activities and touring throughout Israel. “The schedule didn’t leave much room to relax, but that’s one of the things that made the trip so great,” said YULA senior Adam Liber. The students landed on Monday, and spent Tuesday morning visiting four yeshivot, followed by an afternoon at Caliber 3, a counter-terrorist training unit. There, the boys learned about the different methods Israeli soldiers use to fight terrorism. After their yeshiva visits on Wednesday, the boys went to see Rav Chaim Kaneivsky and receive brachot from him. Then they spent the night at the blind museum in Tel Aviv, experiencing what it would be like to live without the gift of sight. “The museum visit really made a big impact on me,” said trip participant Yashar Roshenshad, “it was very powerful experiencing what it would be like to be blind, and really made me value my sight.” Throughout the trip, the students had a chance to learn more about many yeshivot. Each one had different opportunities to offer the students. The boys saw some yeshivot that emphasize gemara, while
some emphasize student-guided learning. Amidst all the visits and information, speaking with former YULA students currently in yeshiva is what provided the seniors with the most realistic version of yeshiva life. Each graduate was an ambassador for their respective yeshiva, encouraging the visiting students to attend. According to Rabbi Schreiber, “witnessing the boys go through their “fact-finding mission” of discovering which yeshiva would best help them grow and watching them daven for clarity with this large decision was the most inspiring part of the trip.” While there were many inspiring moments throughout the week, including visits to the Kotel and Ma’arat Hamachpaila, and meeting with famous Rabbonim, one of the major highlights of the trip was a joint Shabbat in Yerushalayim. YULA graduates in yeshiva for the year joined the current students for an amazing Shabbaton. After Friday night davening at the Kotel and dancing with Israeli soldiers, the group of 60 current and former YULA students had a lively oneg which lasted late into the night. During Shabbat lunch, all of the YULA alumni now in yeshiva spoke, advocating for why the year in Israel is such a vital experience. On Sunday night, the boys returned home, filled with inspiration and more clarity on how they would each be spending the following year. “The trip was definitely life changing,” said senior Akiva Rogawski, “we did so much in one week, that I felt like I was in Israel for a month. I strongly urge every senior next year to come on this trip.” The decision now lies in the hands of the students, and it is up to them to decide how they will spend their gap year.
By Rabbi Harold Rabinowitz a critically important commentary on Maimonides’ Code; Rabbi Ya’akov BeiRav (1474–1546)—a Talmudic sage who attempted to reintroduce Mosaic ordination (Semichat Moshe) and subsequently attempted (unsuccessfully) to reinstitute the Sanhedrin; Rabbi Eliyahu De Vidas (1518–1592)—a disciple of both the Ramak and the Ari-Zal, whose work, Reishit Chachmah (“The Beginning of Wisdom,” from the verse in Mishlei, 9:10: “The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord.”) introduced the Kabbalah to many European Jews through a Mussar vocabulary, one that emphasized how Kabbalistic teachings can be used to improve one’s character (the book was reprinted 40 times during the 20 years after its composition); and Rabbi Chaim Vital (1543–1620)—student of the Ari and largely responsible for the dissemination of the Ari’s teachings to the world in the form of the Shemonah She’arim (“The Eight Gates”—a voluminous collection of Vital’s notes on the Ari’s discourses, later abridged to create the Etz Chaim (“Tree of Life”) the most influential work in teaching and spreading the ideas and insights of the Ari-Zal throughout Europe—and to Jews in all corners of the globe to this day. But the most illustrious and luminous Kabbalist of this era—one who would exercise an immense influence on the hearts and minds of Jews of all schools for centuries—no less today than in medieval Tzefat—was Rabbi Isaac (ben Solomon) Luria Ashkenazi (1534–1572)—who ironically spent very little of his short life (passing away at the age of 38) in Tzefat, but whose acronym, The Ari-Zal (“The Lion, of Blessed Memory”) is only a small indication of the great veneration his teaching and his memory—in fact the shadow and presence that he casts over all of Jewish spirituality since he lived, prayed and taught in Tzefat some 500 years ago. The Ari came to Tzefat in 1570 and departed in 1572, after spending 15 years in Egypt in seclusion, studying the Zohar with the great Talmudic authority, the Radvaz— flourishing, one may say, for only two years. Yet, his influence and inspiration is inestimable. Though at first a student of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (the Ramak), the Ari soon became master to a school of brilliant rabbis who realized they were in the presence of an incisive, creative, and sanctified mind. Among the ideas that the Ari taught during this period—an idea that has become a cornerstone of Kabbalistic thought and of Jewish spirituality ever since—is the idea that we human beings have the power to influence and shape event and forces in the Olamot HaElyonot—the “upper worlds” of the metaphysical universe that lie between the materiality of the
world and the higher spiritual realms that lead to the Almighty. It is an astonishing fact that the only piece of text that we are certain came from the Ari are the verses of song, Askinu Se’udasa, that are sung at the Sabbath meals. All the rest comes from his disciples. Rabbi Lieberman related the story of how the Reishit Chachmah came into existence: the Ari believed that the essence of Jewish teaching should take place person to person—orally, and not committed to writing, in which form it could easily be misunderstood and lead people astray. During a period of illness of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, a devoted follower of the Ramak and a friend of the Ramak’s younger brother gave him 600 gold coins for the right to peruse the contents a metal chest of the Ramak’s in which he secreted the notes he took of the Ari’s discourses. Thinking that all he would do was study the notes, the brother turned over the chest, without knowing that the friend had assembled in secret 100 soferim (scribes) to copy the voluminous notes during the three days he had them. The disciple returned the notes, and the dissemination of the Ari’s teachings, interpreted through the keen mind and eye of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, began, eventually resulting in the Shemonah She’arim, and later in the Etz Chayim. When the Ramak recovered, he was desolate over the betrayal and ordered that the chest be buried with him when he was laid to rest. Rabbi Lieberman then painted a vivid picture of what Tzefat was like during this period. In addition to the study of Torah and Rabbinic texts becoming the occupation of virtually every citizen of the town, personal practices that had been taught by the Ari and his disciples became routine in the life of the town. In addition to services being conducted with great solemnity and concentration, the Ari urged everyone to recite Birkat HaMazon (Grace after Meals) with great concentration and very clearly so that children become aware of the presence of the Almighty everywhere in the Universe. In books recounting the daily behavior and customs of both the Ramak and the Ari, all of which the Jews of Tzefat took with great seriousness and resolve, we find such customs as: • One must never swear an oath—not about a trivial matter, but not about a serious one either. • One must avoid at all costs telling an untruth, even one calculated to avoid saying something derogatory or unflattering. • One must review at the end of the day—and at the end of the week before the onset of Shabbat—how one has spent the week, what was the service to Hashem that he or she rendered; and what flaws in one’s personality did one endeavor to correct.
• Mincha (the afternoon service) should be recited wearing a Tallit and Tefillin, as at the Shacharit (morning) service. • One should not engage in idle conversation or levity; and one should make a charitable dobnation of some kind every day. Every Jew—and every generation of Jews—must feel, the Ari taught (in accordance with the teaching of the Talmud), that if the Redemption and the Messiah did not occur in their time, they may feel as if they were responsible for the destruction of the Bais HaMikdosh. This created a deep sense of commitment—but also of solidarity, joy and community in Tsefat—a camaraderie that pervaded all of Jewish life in that remarkable city. Among the important treatises on Kabbalah to emerged from this period, Rabbi Lieberman focused special attention on two works by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (Ramak): Pardes Rimonim (“An Orchard of Pomeganates”) and the Tomer Devorah (The “Palm Tree of Devorah”)—which present a thorough all-encompassing system of the Kabbalah, and, especially in the latter work, the implications this view of Creation and the Universe of G-d’s creation on the behavior and character of the human being. The classic Rabbinic teaching that, “As He [Hashem] is merciful, so must you [human] be merciful” (known philosophically as imitatio dei—emulating Hashem) is extended to include relating to the constant relationship we humans have with Hashem, who is the source of all power that we use to do right and to do wrong. Imagine, Rabbi Lieberman said, how much patience and forgiveness Hashem must exhibit when He sees His creatures (namely, us) using the power that He bestows on all of Creation being used to perform acts of evil, injustice, and sin. That, too, we must emulate if we are to achieve a godly status. The Ramak relates that the Ari would delay the Mincha Service in order to repay a worker he owed wages, and Rabbi Lieberman told of how a letter from the Ari found in the Cairo Geniza (scroll storeroom) repaying a loan to a person in Cairo was written on the day before the Ari passed away. Such were the high moral standards of the Ari—and all the more remarkable that this mystic and highly spiritual man was also a businessman (a spice merchant) who saw to it that his debts were paid before he was called to Heaven. Audios of all three of Rabbi Lieberman’s lectures are available on the Maayon Yisroel website. ______________________________ Rabbi Harold Rabinowitz is a member of the Touro College-Los Angeles Faculty.
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
Rabbi Abraham Lieberman, noted historian and Dean of YULA Girls High School on Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, delivered the third of his series on “The History of the Kabbalists” at Maayon Yisroel Chassidic Center, 140 N. La Brea Ave., in Hancock Park, on Wednesday evening, December 25 (Tevet 22). The subjects of the final lecture was the outpouring of spiritual insight and Kabbalistic genius that took place in the city of Tzefat (Safed) in northern Israel in the 16th century. Earlier lectures dealt with the beginnings of Kabbalstic writings in Spain and other European countries, with the second lecture focusing on the genius and importance of the Zohar. Following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, a great many talented and learned rabbinic minds sought a new place where they could study and develop their understanding of the Kabbalah, its relationship with Jewish Halachah and Talmudic teachings—and especially to understand and decipher the newly publicized body of Kabbalistic knowledge made available in the text of the Zohar. Two other events (besides the Spanish expulsion) had a great impact on the flourishing of rabbinic and Kabbalistic study during this period. One was the invention and development of printing. The Jews of Europe became deeply involved in publishing Jewish texts and treatises—comparatively far greater than the general population— and in spite of restrictions on Jewish printing enterprises imposed by the Church in many countries. There developed in the remote hilltop city of Tzefat in northern Israel—overlooking the Kinneret (Lake Tiberias)—a remarkable group of scholars and mystics who not only turned the city into a remarkable place where Jewish thought and practice could flourish, but a body of literature that has influenced Jews and the world ever since—and arguably as much or more today than ever in history. Rabbi Lieberman listed a roster of great rabbinic personalities whose names have become synonymous with great spirituality and with high (and deep) understanding of the teachings of the Kabbalah. That list includes such luminaries as: Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (1522–1570)— known by the acronym, the Ramak; Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz (1500–1580)—author of the universally chanted song, Lechah Dodi, that has welcomed the Sabbath Queen in Jewish Friday night Shabbat services around the world for more than 500 years; Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488–1575), expelled from Portugal—author of the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law that has been the definitive guide to Jewish observance for centuries, but who also taught mysticism and wrote the Kesef Mishnah,
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Rabbi Lieberman Completes His Lecture Series on the History of the Kabbalists at Maayon Yisroel
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FEBRUARY 6, 2014
A Night of Communal Prayer and Inspiration By Alisa Roberts Young Israel of Century City was packed to the walls on Wednesday, Jan 29 for a communal prayer gathering in response to the recent deaths that have rocked the community. The death of oneyear-old Nosson Karpel on January 12 was followed only a day later with the death of 24-year-old Daniella Casper. Compounding these tragedies came the death of fivemonth-old Joshua Plotzker on January 21. Hundreds of people were in attendance to hear words of chizuk and to recite Tehillim at the event, co-sponsored by congregations Adas Torah, Anshe Emes, Beth Jacob, Bnai David Judea, LINK Kollel, Mercaz HaTorah Kollel, Mogen David, Pico Bais Medrash, Shaarei Tefila, Yavneh, and Young Israel of North Beverly Hills. Rabbi Muskin opened the hour-long event. “We are gathered here tonight because we feel, collectively and individually, the need for tefilah.” He continued with
two pieces of advice for the community. The first was from a recent trip to Israel where he was advised not to just daven, but to have a conversation with Hashem. “God listens, but we have to talk.” He then told a story of a secret shul that had been discovered in the forgotten potato storage room of a concentration camp. One of several passages that had been written on the walls read: “And despite everything, we have not forgotten your name. Please do not forget us.” “We must be able to say that now too,” he said. Rabbi Brander of LINK Kollel began the responsive Tehillim reading. Rabbi Revach of Adas Torah was next to speak. “The Ribono Shel Olam is talking to all of us. When somebody talks to you, the first thing you do is acknowledge them. That’s why we are gathered here tonight…. Then we try to listen and understand what He is saying. He is ask-
ing us to stop, to think – is there a change we can make in our lives?” He went on to discuss how he and his family now read a halacha each Shabbos, and how it has enhanced their Shabbos table. He concluded his thoughts by emphasizing that we aren’t davening only to end tzarus, but also to have a deeper relationship with Hashem. Rabbi Hirschman of Pico Bais Medrash spoke next. He first explained that when Hashem brings hardship, it’s a mitzvah for the community to come together in tefila and teshuvah. He then told of how the Kohen Gadol had a special prayer on Yom Kippur, asking Hashem to overlook the prayers of travelers who asked for the rains to stop. “When a person davens with such a recognition that it’s only Hashem who can answer my tefila, that tefila Hashem cannot ignore…. It’s difficult to realize that everything comes from Hashem… but as we daven tonight, let’s daven with such
a mindset and im yirtzeh Hashem our tefilot will be answered.” Rabbi Goldberg of YICC was the last speaker of the night. “These tragedies reinforce what we already know: life is precious, fragile, and fleeting…. We can’t wait, we have to start now…. We don’t wait for the shechinah to come – we go out and bring the shechina to us.” He also encouraged the community to take on mitzvot and strengthen emunah. “Our emunah is perhaps the only response we have.” The event closed with a refuah for cholim, and the singing of Acheinu led by Rabbi Dunner. Apart from this event, YICC is also working together with Chai Lifeline to create a program to address how to approach tragedy. The video may be seen at vimeo.com/85441784
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~ Rabbi Pinni Dunner, Rabbi of Young Israel of North Beverly Hills, leading the assembled crowd in Acheinu
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Forget everything you’ve heard about Birthright Israel eligibility
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
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Harav Boruch Povarsky of Ponevezh Yeshiva visits Los Angeles By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon On Thursday, January 16, 2014, the Ponevezh Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Boruch Dov Povarsky Shlita, visited numerous yeshivas throughout our city. Young and old had the opportunity to hear words of wisdom and chizuk from a gadol of our generation. In the few days spent in Los Angeles, Rav Povarsky managed on Thursday to visit the young talmidim of the Chasidishe Cheder, give a shiur in the evening at the Kollel Yechiel Yehuda which was open to the Community, daven shacharis Friday morning with the talmidim of the Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn, and give a shiur later in the morning to the members of the Kollel Los Angeles. On Shabbos the Rosh Hayeshiva delivered a shiur in the afternoon at the Kollel Los Angeles and spent Sunday morning davening with the Beverly Hills Community Kollel, Merkaz Hatorah and then delivered a shiur.
The Ponovezh Yeshiva, which is located in Bnai Brak, is a world-renowned yeshiva with over one thousand talmidim. The yeshiva was led by Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman zt”l, known as the “Ponovezher Rov”. Rav Kahaneman re-established the yeshiva in Israel and appointed Rav Shmuel Rozovsky zt”l as Rosh Hayehsiva and some years later appointed Rav Elazar Shach zt”l and Rav Dovid Povarsky zt”l as Roshei Hayeshiva. The yeshiva is presently led by Rav Gershon Eidelstein and Rav Berel Povarsky, a son of Rav Dovid, who has been delivering shiurim at Ponovezh for more than 50 years. Those who had the opportunity to meet the Rosh Hayeshiva for the first time, were duly impressed by his brilliance, inspired by words of chizuk, encouraged by his warmth, moved by his humility and honored by the privilege.
Rav Berel Povarsky’s shiur at Los Angeles Chassidishe Kollel
Shiur to members of the Kollel Los Angeles
Shalhevet Students Engineer Their Futures Technology and engineering are becoming an increasingly important part of our daily lives. Smartphones have practically become an extension of ourselves. Three of the four companies with the largest market cap are technology companies. The omnipresence of technology is the new reality and it will relentlessly remain as such. Our children who are adept at moving in this world will be the ones who lead into the future Seeing the success of Israel in technological innovation and recognizing the need to better train American students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the Centers for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE) began working in concert with Israel Sci-Tech in Tel Aviv to develop a curriculum for Jewish day schools predicated on an educational philosophy of learning by doing with the teachers acting simply as guides for student self-discovery. This year the CIJE-Tech program expanded to the West Coast. At Shalhevet, the CIJE-Tech program has been a resounding success and clearly fills a pentup demand. The school anticipated 8-10 students would be interested in taking an extra class on top of their dual curriculum schedules, but thirty freshman and and sophomores interviewed to be a part of the program resulting in the need to open up an additional section. On the very first day, students at Shalhevet started working with LEGO robotics. After three classes, they had built a robot and learned how to write a computer program that allowed their robots to sense
an obstacle and move away from it. Their teachers didn’t provide them step-by-step instructions, instead the students were guided figured out how to implement this themselves. Project-based learning and inquiry-based learning are words often thrown around in American education, but rarely are these truly implemented. CIJE-Tech is a program where the students are up to their elbows in technology from the very first day. During the course of the fall semester, the participants have built Lego robots that autonomously move through a obstacle course with several stages. This required them to program the robot to transition between stages such as getting out of a box placed at random location within the box, navigating a line, and lifting a palette using only sensors. In addition, they have also learned the basics of electronics and sensor technology. In fact, during the course of the two-year program, they learn about electronics, sensors, robotics, biomechanical engineering, even how to use 3-D printers. But just as importantly, every project is done in teams which teaches the interpersonal skills required in today’s collaborative world. Over the spring semester, the student teams will be building projects that they themselves have proposed. The projects range from a table that will follow a person, to a robotic hand that will respond to the movements of a human hand, to a device that will water a plant when it gets too dry, to other equally impressive projects. “We have a dedicated group of freshman and sophomores who are willing to
push themselves and take risks,” explained Dr. Jay Smallwood, who runs the program at Shalhevet. “As instructors, we love it, and even thought the class ends at 6:00 pm and the students have been in school since 8 am, we have to practically beg the students to put up their projects. It is an amazing to watch how absolutely engaged they are.”
Dr. Smallwood continued “We at Shalhevet are proud to be a part of the STEM vanguard in Jewish education and will continue to produce graduates that are technologically advanced while remaining grounded in Modern Orthodox values. We invite anyone who is interested in seeing this first-hand to stop by!”
Photo credits: Arye D. Gordon
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FEBRUARY 6, 2014
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FEBRUARY 6, 2014
YULA Robot Takes Home 2nd Place Over the past few years, YULA’s Robotics team has garnered a great deal of interest and attention, from its teamwork style and futuristic robots to its exciting win in last year’s first ever Robotics competition hosted by the Girls School. It appears the team is only getting started. On Sunday, January 12th, the YULA Robotics team took part in the FTC Perris Robotics competition. Up against 23 other schools, the competition was fierce, but after a lot of close calls and exciting match-ups, the team was awarded second place in the tournament. According to team mentor and founder Alex Fax, “When we walked into the competition, I thought, we could win this; we’re better than most of these robots.” Last month, the team placed 16th in the first competition of the year, so the time between the competitions was a chance to learn and improve on their robot. Throughout the event, the team struggled to keep its head above water. The autonomous code, the programming for the period where the robot operates without driver control, nearly tore the robot apart in its first test. After placing fourth in the regular rounds, the YULA team had the
opportunity to choose partners for the final rounds. In a strategic move, the team rejected an alliance offer from a better team. YULA junior and head of hardware, Noah Tarko, said, “We knew that if we accepted the offer, we would have to play the best team in the semifinals. We chose another team because we had a better chance of making it to the final round.” The team also chose its alliance partners based on which team would complement their strengths best. In the end, YULA made it to the final round, but lost. According to Yair Fax, YULA senior and head of software, “We are really happy with our improvement. Moving forward, I hope to train younger members of the team for when myself and other upper-classmen have graduated, so they can continue competing and winning.” The team is now focusing on organizing the competition that YULA will host on Sunday, February 9th, 2014. In future years, the team hopes to expand into new facilities and increase student involvement both in the technical and organizational aspects of the team.
SpaceIL’s Visit to Emek On Tuesday January 28th, Emek Hebrew Academy Teichman Family Torah Center was treated to a visit by SpaceIL, Israel’s first attempt at a mission to the moon. SpaceIL was brought to us by Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles’ Annual Heroism program. The two guest speakers and founders of SpaceIL, Yariv Bash and Daniel Saat addressed the middle school boys and girls and explained how the idea of the space mission came about. As part of a competition, a group of three men decided to make Israel the fourth country to land on the moon. The winners of this competition
Emek’s 8th grade boys class
will win $20 million, which they plan to reinvest into other scientific advancements for Israel. The presentation was very informative and the students were asked questions about previous missions to the moon and space. The presenters couldn’t believe how knowledgeable the students were. At the end of the presentation, the class pictures were taken. The images will be loaded onto the mission to the moon! SpaceIL demonstrates that when you dream big anything is possible. A video of the visit can be seen at http://bit.ly/spaceILvisit
Left to Right: Yariv Bash and Daniel Saat (SpaceIL founders), Victor Hadad (Emek Board Member), Mazal Hadad, and accompanying members of Bnei Akiva
Emek’s 8th grade girls class
By Esther Pearl Kreiman, MA, Ed.
In bridging this gap between grades, scores and skills, parents can start by being aware of what their children are assigned, and what
they are turning in. After that, with English, it’s all about reading, reading, reading. As a millennial myself, I am sure that I have days (weeks even) where the majority of my reading comprehension tasks consist of reading text messages and emails. I don’t have to tell you that this is not conducive to better essay writing skills. Children need to read books, real books, and then write about them. Then a teacher or parent needs to take the time to critique the writing, rather than scribble an A and move onto the next paper. When it comes to math, children need to
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get used to routine assessments and drills and parents and teachers need to actively use and record these scores when planning for further teaching. For this, we can use technology to our advantage to monitor student’s progress online (does your child’s school use Jupiter grades or Engrade? Do you have a parent account? Get one!). The next time your child takes a standardized test – the PSAT, a CAT or even the SAT, pay attention to their scores. Compare this with their most recent report card. If you, like many other parents, see straight A’s and
less than perfect test scores, be aware that your child is missing skills he or she is supposedly excelling in. Start taking steps to make sure your child learns the skills they need to avoid further (even graduate level!) disappointments down the line. Esther Pearl Kreiman, MA, Ed. runs the General Studies Department at Ohel Chana High School, where she teaches Honors and AP Level US History. She lives in Los Angeles. She welcomes education-related discussion at email@example.com.
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Young Israel of North Beverly Hills Invite you to join a
Tribute Evening In Memory of
ArIel sHAroN z”l Late Prime Minister of Israel
Monday, February 10, 2014, at 7:30pm to coincide with the conclusion of the 'shloshim' mourning period Special Guest Speaker:
The Hon. David Siegel, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Video Tribute to Prime Minister Sharon Special Live Link-up with Mr Gilad Sharon from Israel who will speak about his late father Musical tribute by Chazan Nati Bar-Am and the Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy Childrens Choir RSVP Guests Only ”“תהא נשמתו צרורה בצרור החיים 9261 Alden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 310-276-7650 This event is being held in partnership with Mitchabrim USA
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
How Can My Child Be A Straight A Student and Still Score So Low on Her Standardized Tests? As a high school teacher and administrator, this is a question I hear all the time. Usually, this discrepancy is seen in 8th graders with flawless report cards who test at below a sixth grade level. This leaves Jewish community schools with the difficult task of accepting and tracking these children into overfull “inclusive classes,” lest they turn them away, refuse admittance and disappoint and embarrass formerly proud parents by suggesting that the parents seek out services for children with learning differences from an alternate source, such as a public school. This is a scary truth faced by many Los Angeles Jewish schools. How are these kids getting straight A’s, if when we test them, they don’t actually have the skills? On a more personal note, as an Honors and AP US History and English Instructor, I face this when I choose to grade realistically, giving my 11th graders B’s and C’s, which is quite shocking to 16 and 17 year old girls who’ve never earned less than an A minus. At the end of the day, I’m frustrated, my students are frustrated and their parents are frustrated. Why? Because their grades have never been reflective of their skills, children and parents weren’t aware of what to work on at home, and children failed to learn essential skills needed for success in high school and higher institutions. It all boils down to two core areas: English and Math, regardless of what kids “want to be when they grow up.” To play devil’s advocate – I often encounter parents who express frustration over their children’s grades, claiming their children deserve high marks based on effort and behavior alone, especially since they may not “go to college anyway.” The truth is that these core areas matter regardless of whether children will go on to higher education. The thought processes honed and shaped by the essay writing and revision process and by the learning of core Math areas provide children with essential patterns of brain functioning that they will use throughout their lives. Finally, as a product of Los Angeles Jewish community schools myself, I saw firsthand the dangers of grade inflation and the importance of essential skills upon my foray into higher education. While earning my Master’s at Columbia University Teacher’s College, I received my first ever B- in a Liberal Arts subject. Thankfully, this was only a rough draft of the paper that would become my Master’s Thesis. My professor, an older Jewish woman who took a liking to me, took me aside after class and asked me about my educational background. I shared with her that graduate school was actually my first time ever in a secular institution. I shared with her the names of the prior schools I had attended and she shook her head… she continued on to relate to me that I was not the first Orthodox Jewish student she had encountered who had achieved admittance into Columbia but didn’t have the same writing skills as the other Ivy League Graduate students. Suffice to say, I learned a lot about the importance of the essential skills of the revision process with that particular paper.
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How Can My Child Be A Straight A Student and Still Score So Low on Her Standardized Tests?
Less is not More Rabbi Asher Brander
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FEBRUARY 6, 2014
Wherever there is clothing, there is always something deeper – for clothing is always on top. Consider this: I clothe my toes with socks, my critique with words of praise, and my humanity with meaning. One piece of Rabbeinu Bechayei teaches how very deep this is – but first a few words from the Torah. The context: Hashem commands and describes [to Moshe] the function of the Kohen’s clothing: [Chapter 28] You shall make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for honor and glory. And you shall speak to all the wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, and they shall make Aaron’s garments to sanctify him, [so] that he serve Me [as a kohen]. Three clothing functions emerge: 1. For honor and glory. Clothing project and reflect a message of importance. The Kohen is choshuv and needs to dress the part. I fondly recall former President Reagan’s description of sitting in the Oval Office reflecting that no individual can be a President – for it is bigger than any one person; one simply occupies the Presidency. (One never knew that Reagan was a Brisker). Thus in the Oval Office - even in utter privacy, he never took his jacket off (Halevai by the other chevra J). 2. To sanctify him: Sans clothing, the Kohen may not serve in the Temple. While clothing can not make the man, they can shlep him along. A dramatic Talmudic formulation that raises questions makes the point that Kohanim who do not don their garb are not accorded full Kohen status and invoke a capital crime. [Sanhedrin 17b] ‘Or lacking the proper priestly garments’. Whence do we know it? — R. Ab-
bahu said in R. Johanan’s name, and [the teaching] is ultimately derived from R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon: [… And thou shalt...put coats upon them...] …: and the priest’s office shall be theirs for a perpetual state] when wearing the appointed garments, they are invested in their priesthood; when not, they lack their priesthood and are considered zarim and a Master has said, A zar who performs the [Temple] service is liable to death. A deep Sefer Hachinuch notion takes this one step further: …Man is moved by his actions, and from them flows his thoughts and intentions… the messenger who atones [i.e. kohen] needs to capture his entire thought and focus upon his service, therefore it is appropriate that he should wear these special garments so that wherever he looks on his body, he will immediately remember and be awoken in his heart to consider before whom He is serving and this is like the Tefillin .. to be a reminder for proper thoughts …. Thus for Sefer HaChinuch, Externals really matter – for clothing makes us feel different. Shabbos garb must be different than weekday garb which must be different than mourners’ garb. I fondly recall softly rebuking my lawyer friend –whose custom was to dress down on Shabboscoyly protesting – but is it not different than my weekday [pure suits] garb? Yes, but that’s not the point. We imbibe messages from the outside 3. To Serve Me: Clothing define a role. The Kohen is a Divine waiter, scurrying to and fro in service of his non-Kohen constituency and in ultimate service to Hashem. One might yet wonder regarding the apparent paradox between the servant motif and the glory/grandeur notion- for why should a waiter merit garb de grandeur? One possible resolution: Is the waiter working at a neighborhood deli or a Divine (not French) restaurant? To the extent that one is serving the Lord, there is no greater glory of man. Thus, Vilna Gaon objected to the pre-Torah Aramaic prayer of Brich Shmeih – for he felt it vain and inaccurate for one to claim ana avda d’kudhsa brich hu (I am the servant of the Holy One, Blessed be He) Thus clothing multi-tasks as vehicles of covering, influence, sanctification, service and image projection: But there’s more. The Torah commands the fashioning of the Choshen and Ephod: 5. They shall take the gold, the blue, purple, and crimson wool, and the linen: 6. and they shall make the ephod of gold,
blue, purple, and crimson wool, and twisted fine linen, the work of a master weaver. …. 15. You shall make a choshen of judgment, the work of a master weaver. You shall make it like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, purple, and crimson wool, and twisted fine linen shall you make it 16. It shall be square [and] doubled; its length one span and its width one span. On the surface, this multicolored tapestry seems to be about elegant and pretty. Now listen to a few highlights from Rabbeinu Bechayei: He would weave a tapestry from blue wool, purple wool, scarlet wool and linen and then he would take one golden thread with six of blue wool and twine them together and one golden thread with six of purple wool …. And one golden thread with six of linen ….[red wool] for a total of 28 threads…. … and there were four rows of stones and each stone was square and had the names of each tribe on a stone and in addition to that was written Avraham/Yitzchak/ Yaakov and Shivtei Yeshurun … …. for each stone there were 6 lettersto teach that the six days of creation were dependent upon the twelve tribes and there were a total of 72 letters [12 x 6 letters] and they are parallel to the 72 letters of Hashem’s name to teach that the world was created over 72 hours [for the world was created during the day] … 12 hours per day … and thus the text records olam chesed yibaneh – the world is built upon chesed …. [which is the gematria of 72] and each stone is connected to a particular tribe ,… Binyomin was the stone of yashphe and it is comprised of many different colors [red, black, green] … and this stone was given for Binyomin for his heart changed to many shades - he considered regarding the sale of Yosef whether he should reveal to his father and nevertheless he controlled his spirit and did not reveal… and thus he was given the yashpeh stone which is comprised of the words yeish peh … and this teaches that even though Binyomin had a mouth … and the ability to reveal the matter he did not do so. And … you will find massive wisdom in the 12 stones… for each tribe received a well known stone calibrated to their particular character … Reuven who is likened to the attribute of judgment has a red stone .. Binyomin who is combined from all had the yashpeh stone which was comprised of many colors In the world of Divine clothing, every-
thing matters. Every piece of the material connotes deep and deeper subliminal messages – serving as a basis for Divine connectivity. Words of Sadness: As I drive to and from work in a city plagued by OBS [Obscene Billboard Syndrome], I dare not look up; for in that world, less is more and the great allure of carnal desire reigns supreme. Sadly, in that world which reveals so much, the Divine Image pulsating within Man remains so very hidden. Words of Comfort: Tetzaveh reassuringly comforts me that the world of clothing need not reflect a kingdom of sadness, for in a God-centered universe, every tie, shirt and sock - when properly considered - forms a wonderful harmony with the Master of the Universe. Walking down Pico or La brea, it is beautiful to see a Holy nation of Kohanim proudly donning its Priestly garb. Good Shabbos  A wondrous comment of Rabbein Tam takes this notion to the point that perhaps the mitzvah of sanctifying the Kohein may not apply בהגהות- אין בגדיהם עליהם,בזה”ז.: מרדכי איתא מעשה בכהן שיצק ‘מים ע”י ר”ת הקשה תלמיד א הא שנינו בירושלמי המשתמש בכהונה ה”ז מעל והשיב ר”ת אין קדושה בזמן הזה דקיי”ל בגדיהם .עליהם קדושה עליהם ואי לא לא והקשה אם כן כל מיני קדושה לא ליעבד להו? ושתק ר”ת והשיב הר‘ פטר דנהי שיש בו קדושה יכול למחול כדאמר פ”ק דקידושין אין עבד עברי כהן נרצע מפני שנעשה בעל מום משמע דבלאו הכי יכול להשתעבד בו עכ”ל
 From Wikipedia: Yashfeh (in the masoretic text) / Iaspis (in the Septuagint) - Although Yasepheh and Iaspis are cognate to Jasper, they don’t quite have the same meaning; while Jasper is usually red, the mineral which the Greeks called Iaspis was generally a richly green one (the most prized form of Jasper), and scholars think this is most likely to be the colour referred to by Yasepheh; the ambiguity of the term is present in the Targums, where the jewel is variously identified as a ruby (which is red), as a hyacinth (which is yellow), or as an emerald (which is green). ________________________ Rabbi Asher Brander is the Founder of the LINK Kollel and Shul, located on 1453 S. Robertson Blvd and is a Rebbe at the wonderful Bnos Devorah Girls High School.
It’s All About the Timing - Lesson of the Leap Year
should always set out to perform a Mitzva, at the soonest possible time. Like Abraham, who woke up earlier than usual and set out to fulfill the special commandment he received from G-d. But if so, why didn’t he leave in middle of the night? If he was looking to leave at the earliest possible time, why did he wait until morning? He should’ve left as soon as he received the commandment from G-d, even if it was in the middle of the night? The answer is the same. Early is good but too early is not. Abraham needed to be well rested for his long journey and leaving in middle of the night could’ve jeopardized the whole mission . Also traveling at night has its dangers as one can encounter wild animals and fall into pot holes. So although eager to set out in fulfillment of G-d’s wishes, Abraham knew that it would be wiser to wait until morning. He delayed his departure for when he felt the timing was best and only then did he leave. But why is the Torah so insistent that Pesach be in the spring? What is the harm in getting ahead and celebrating Pesach a month early, in the winter? Why is it necessary to slow down and have the arrival of this Jewish holiday delayed? Pesach is the festival of freedom. We went from being slaves to a foreign power, to becoming our own sovereign nation. Every year come Pesach, we are reborn and get the chance to start over. One can become an entirely new person and begin a brand new lifestyle and service of G-d. It is therefore only appropriate for this holiday to be in the spring. Spring is that season which has “new beginnings” written all over it. During winter the trees stand bare, everything comes to a standstill and there is little to no movement or growth. With spring, a whole new life emerges. Trees begin to grow leaves, flowers begin to bloom and a new beginning is ushered in. Winter is simply not a good time for making big changes or for new beginnings. The atmosphere is cold and people’s moods gloomy. It is not conducive to making life changing resolutions. If one would attempt to get ahead and experience his festival of freedom too early, in middle of the winter, he may find himself lacking the motivation and therefore despairing – never again to attempt such a change. But if he gets the timing right and he makes his new beginning in the spring, when the atmosphere is bright and peo-
ple’s spirits high , he has a much better shot at success. Spring is simply the most conducive time for big changes. It is the right time for the holiday of Pesach. The same is true in life. Just because something is good, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you now. One has to make sure the timing is right before setting off in pursuit of his or her dream. Getting married and starting a family is a major milestone. It is a dream we all share and a goal we all aspire to. But one needs to be ready. If one is not yet mature and still searching for him or herself, it’s probably best to wait. Accepting a promotion at work can be a wonderful opportunity. But again, the timing has to be right. If as a result, the person won’t have the time to “be there” for their family, it’s probably best to wait. Maybe once their children have grown up and become more independent, the time will be right to accept it. When it comes to raising children, this
lesson cannot be overstated. Many parents have the urge to push their children to do too much. We want them to be ahead and we want to give them a head start in life, but we sometimes demand too much. It has to make sense for the child and the timing has to be right. Expecting and demanding too much, when these expectations are not age appropriate can have very undesirable consequences. We need to heed the message of the leap year. We need to slow down and live life in the present, without always rushing ahead to the next big thing. We need to appreciate what we have now and keep in mind – it’s all about the timing. Rabbi Sholom (Dov) Ber Kesselman, currently lives in Los Angeles CA. He teaches Chassidus at the Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad and advanced Talmud at the Cheder Menachem junior high.
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
There is an old English proverb: “The early bird catches the worm”. The idea being, the earlier you get started, the better shot you have at success. But did you ever wonder what would happen if the bird got there too early. If the worm is not yet close to emerging from its home deep beneath the ground, the bird’s early arrival could actually be a disadvantage. It may, after waiting too long, lose patience and grow careless, thereby missing out once the worm surfaces. To catch the worm, the bird needs to time his arrival perfectly; early enough – so as to beat out the competition, but not too early, where he would need to wait too long. In life, we are often impatient. We are eager to move on to the next big thing and we rush to get there as soon as we can. We feel like that next milestone must be met today and that next goal needs to be achieved now. But is this a healthy urge? Do we sometimes fall into the trap of getting there “too early”? Of course ambition is a good thing and the desire to grow and accomplish is a noteworthy trait, but we have to be ready and the timing has to be right. At times, attempting to realize a dream before the time is right, can upset the balance in one’s life and end up backfiring. This year the Jewish calendar is a leap year, with two months of Adar. This is necessary so that Pesach will fall out during the season of spring. The Jewish months are based on the cycle of the moon, with every month being 29 and a half days. 12 such months give you 354 days, 11 days less than the solar year which has 365 days. After 3 such years, we are 33 days ahead of the solar year and Pesach would thus fall out during the winter, instead of spring. To avoid “falling into this trap”, so that we don’t arrive at the holiday of Pesach too early, we have the leap year. We add an extra month of Adar, thereby slowing us down and timing the arrival Pesach to perfectly coincide with the spring. There is a very profound lesson here. Rushing ahead is not always advantageous. There are some situations in which slowing down and waiting, delaying the onset of a milestone or big achievement is a wiser choice. When our forefather Abraham set out to sacrifice his son Issac, we are told, “And Abraham woke up early in the morning”. The Talmud learns from this, that one
By Rabbi Sholom (Dov) Ber Kesselman
THE JEWISH HOME
THE JEWISH HOME
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
His Stories, Our Lessons
Rav Yaakov Galinsky zt”l wasn’t physically imposing and the impression he made had little to do with his regal bearing or immaculate dress. He didn’t have a powerful voice or oratorical flourish, so that couldn’t have been the secret of his appeal. The posuk (Zechariah 4:6) states, “Ki lo bechayil velo bekoach - I do not attain my accomplishments with strength or force, but, rather, ki im beruchi, it is with My spirit that I emerge victorious.” Rav Galinsky possessed the spirit of Novardok, the yeshiva system that produced giants in learning, in avodah, and in self-awareness, with the ability to laugh at life and at oneself. In that school of mussar, they studied the frailty of the human condition and the slippery slope that we walk on in this world. Those who emerged from that cauldron came out boiling with a passion to share and uplift, with little concern for personal kavod and little use for pomp and ceremony. Rav Galinsky, one of the fortunate few to survive the atrocities that decimated the network of Novardok pre-war yeshivos, was a vibrant, energetic man, diminutive in stature but a giant with a desire to do and accomplish. He lost much during the war, but with strong determination, his emunah and bitachon became the building blocks of yeshivos and kollelim he would establish and provide for. He addressed the needs of immigrants in the nascent Jewish state and was one of the first Litvishe talmidei chachomim to open a yeshiva for newly-arrived Yemenites. He was also a beloved and welcome figure in secular Israel, where the
ahavas Yisroel he exuded overpowered the fact that he represented people that the secular community resented. Around the world, he was greeted with happiness and appreciation. Wherever he went, all sorts of Jews would come and listen to what the short, spirited speaker had to say. From Mexico City to Monsey, from Manchester to Modiin and Montreal, people associated his joyous countenance with inspiration. His healthy attitude, fashioned from a life of Torah, mussar and mesirus nefesh, and his self-effacing nature enabled him to relate to anyone, from the simplest person far from Torah to the greatest Torah scholars. He reached them all. Often, he would begin his talks by singing the sweet timeless tune to the words of “Olam hazeh domeh leprozdor Olam Haba domeh letraklin - Prepare yourself in the anteroom before entering the ballroom.” Now, with his voice stilled, as he, in Olam Haba reaps the rewards of his years of preparation, we are left behind in the prozdor, richer for having benefited from the transmission of chochmas haTorah by him, giants of his generation, and others like them. Their words, their teachings and the way they lead their lives provide us with the opportunity to improve the way we live and ensure that we are productive in this world, enabling us to enjoy rewards here and in the traklin. Rav Galinsky related that one of his cellmates in the Russian wasteland was a Polish national. Rav Galinsky noticed that the new prisoner had a strange custom of waking up in the middle of his sleep every night. As he watched in the darkness, he could see the man bending down to reach under his own bed, putting on a set of clothing and standing immobile. After standing that way for a minute or two, the fellow would remove whatever it was he had put on, return it under his bed, and go back to sleep. Intrigued, Rav Galinsky asked the Pole what this strange custom was. The fellow prisoner wouldn’t answer, but the future maggid persisted and finally got an explanation. “In Poland,” the man told him, “I was a general in the army. Here, as a prisoner of the Russians, they attempt to break and dehumanize me. I won’t let them. I don’t
want to ever forget who I really am, what I represent, and what I will yet be. So, under the cover of darkness, I take a few moments each night to put on my military uniform and contemplate what it means to be a general. That way, they will never break me.” The story is a reminder to us that no matter how dreadful a situation we find ourselves in, we must always remember who we are. We are bnei Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov, people with a past and a destiny. We cannot permit ourselves to be broken and become demoralized and depressed by forces beyond our control. We have to remember who we are and what is expected from us. If we suffer temporary setbacks, we must not let them discourage us from maintaining the forward march to our destiny. One of Rav Galinsky’s stories involves a Jew with whom he had survived the war. The man, whose entire family was wiped out, suffered from a deep depression even after immigrating to Israel. He was unable to be consoled and could not function. Rav Galinsky suggested that the fellow go to speak to the Chazon Ish. He was so dejected that he refused to go, saying that since he couldn’t bring his family back to life, going to see the Chazon Ish would serve no purpose. Rav Galinsky insisted and dragged the man there. The Chazon Ish listened to the survivor’s heartbreaking tale and responded with a story about a woman who supported her family. She would travel to the big city with loads of cash and buy desirable merchandise at wholesale prices before returning home to sell it at a profit. On one of her trips, she lost her bag of money. She searched for it to no avail, and she was heartbroken, having lost all the money she’d saved up with such sacrifice. In desperation, before heading home to inform her husband of their loss, she went to the city’s rov and asked him to announce that if anyone found her bag of cash, they should turn it in to him. A poor man found the bag and responded to the rov’s call, bringing it to his home. There, he explained that since he is learned, he knows that the Mishnah states in Maseches Bava Metzia that if one finds a lost object in a city with a Gentile majority, he is permitted to keep it. He told
the rov that the found cash represented an answer to his prayers. He saw it as a gift from Heaven to enable him to marry off his daughter. The rov was inclined to side with the poor man, but since it was obvious that he had found the money that the woman had lost, he told the man that he had to submit the question to Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, the rabbon shel kol bnei hagolah, for a ruling. Rav Yitzchok Elchonon responded that the money belonged to the woman. His reasoning was sheer brilliance. He said that the reason a person can keep an object found in a city with a Gentile majority is because we say that the owner surely gave up any hope of having it returned and was thus meya’eish. In this case, however, the money belonged to a woman, and the Gemara in Maseches Gittin (57a) states that a husband takes ownership of all his wife’s possessions. The husband was not aware that she had lost the money and thus could not have been meya’eish. Therefore, ruled, Rav Yitzchok Elchonon, the money must be returned to the woman. The Chazon Ish finished the story and looked the depressed man in the eye. “That same ruling applies to you,” he said. “Who gave you permission to be meya’eish? Chazal teach us that ‘afilu cherev chada munachas al tzavaro shel adam,’ even if the executioner’s sharp blade is on a Jew’s neck ready to decapitate him, he must not be meya’eish, he may not despair, for Hashem can still save him. “Are you the boss over what happened?” asked the Chazon Ish. “Are you the owner over yourself? We are but shluchim of Hakadosh Boruch Hu. It is He Who determines the field that we operate on. He decides what happens to us. We have to do our jobs and pray that we succeed. Who gave you permission to give up and be meya’eish?” Everyone has their own pekel. There is no one who coasts through life without challenges. There are many moments when the urge to give up is very strong. Sometimes it is brought on by economic matters. At other times, the temptation is caused by health concerns. Some people have it rough when it comes to shidduchim, while others can’t get their children registered in a good school. We must never
Anybody can criticize, but those who are important and truly great in this world, those who make a difference, are the ones who seek to find and provide solutions. One of Israel’s earliest political leaders was Dr. Moshe Sneh, leader of the Haganah underground in the years leading up to the formation of the state of Israel. He could have remained in the upper echelons of the Zionist leadership, but he soberly foresaw a day when Communism would take over the entire world, undermining the existing governments in one country after another and exporting its revolution to every state. Trying to be ahead of the curve, he founded Maki, the Israeli Communist Party, so that when the Communist hero Joseph Stalin would shine his light on Israel, he would be greeted by a political party that was already prepared to take up the reins of the government. Stalin, the ever suspicious dictator, had thrown all of his most loyal followers into prison. In fact, those who ended up in jail were the lucky ones. Those who were less loyal were sent before a firing squad. Rav Galinsky was an expert in the Communist mentality, as he shared prison space with many of these captives and spent hours in conversation with them. Though they were in shock and felt betrayed, they remained loyal to the Communist ideal. They were confident that the Communist revolution would succeed and that it would ultimately take the world by storm. During the heady days of Communism, a young lady went to the home of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer zt”l, rov of Slutzk. She told him that she had given birth to a baby boy, and her husband, an officer in the Red Army, adamantly refused to circumcise him. “Go back home and tell him that the rov wants to speak to him,” Rav Isser Zalman told her. Out of respect for the rov, the man went, insisting that his visit would be in
The officer stood up, tired of listening to the rov. “In my opinion,” he said, “the revolution will last forever. But how long does the rov think it will last?” he asked mockingly. “No more than 70 years,” Rav Isser Zalman answered him. Seventy years later, Moshe Sneh, the leader of the Israeli Communist Party, passed away. His family was astonished to learn that in his will he asked to be buried in a tallis and for someone to say Kaddish for him. Meir Willner, his successor, went to the podium in the city of Acco and announced to his supporters, “We have made a mistake.” When that happened, Rav Galinsky spoke. He had seen it all. He had observed the dreidel beginning its furious spin, at the height of its powers, and he had seen it slow down and finally topple. “We - not just I, but all of us in the gulag - knew all along that justice was with us,” said Rav Galinsky. “Truth was on our side and we would ultimately prevail. We knew that we were like the oil that rises to the surface of the water. We knew that the false ideas would ultimately dissipate and vanish, crumbling away to nothing. I am glad that I was fortunate enough to see it happen. I had the privilege of seeing Stalin, the mighty idol, whom people worshipped as ‘the sun of the nations,’ smashed to pieces. I saw the fall of the Iron Curtain and the shattering of Communism. I saw the privatization of the kibbutzim and I saw people abandon their reliance on illusory benefactors and return to the Source of true life. “People’s eyes had been opened to perceive the falsehood and vanity of it all, and they understood that they had traded the source of true life for empty, broken pits.” As this maggid, whose eyes had seen a false god erected and then rejected, pointed out the folly of the current trends and the prevailing zeitgeist, they listened closely. He could gently mock movements or ideas that, for a time, seem so attractive but are really just smoke and mirrors. He would illustrate this point with the story of a Polish maskil named Prusken who led many astray with the power of his poisonous pen. During the war, this immensely popular writer became a baal teshuvah and returned to Yiddishkeit. The Ponovezher Rov told Rav Galinsky that he met the former maskil during one of his fundraising missions to the United States and asked him what caused him to give up Haskalah and adopt a life of Torah. The man told him that when the war began, he was in Warsaw. With great difficulty, he managed to make his way to Vilna, where he straggled about as a refugee. His entire world had been destroyed. He
told the rov, “Without the newspaper as my platform and without my audience of admiring readers, I was like a leaf blowing in the wind. I had no food to eat. I ate at a communal kitchen and I was dressed in tatters. I was struggling just to have a roof over my head. Then, suddenly, an air raid began and I had to scramble for shelter. “I ran into a nearby building, which turned out to be a bais medrash. It had been years since my foot had crossed the threshold of such a place. The explosions were terrifying and I was cowering beneath a table, as if that would help me. Suddenly, I realized that I was not alone. There were two yeshiva bochurim kneeling beside me, with their heads next to each other, and they were learning and exploring a sugya. “That was when I realized that I had found the true wellsprings of eternity. I decided to join them.” Rav Galinsky could look at any sort of audience - left-wing kibbutznikim to yeshiva bochurim and everyone in between - and speak about our mesorah with experience and the wisdom of age, having seen so much. When our fundamental beliefs are under attack, we must remember that they are eternal and will stand the test of time. The mesorah provides the path for our people to follow if we wish to persevere. Only by remaining loyal to all sections of the Shulchan Aruch can we count on fulfilling our missions in this world and transmitting it to our children. Cavalierly choosing which observances to follow and which to ignore leaves a Jew vacuous and as fleeting as the social mores he seeks to conform to. Being in vogue may appear good for the moment, but, in the long term, it guarantees obsolescence and failure. Rav Galinsky possessed tremendous courage and wouldn’t tolerate any hint of mockery of the Torah and its holy words. He related that he was once hospitalized and a high-ranking doctor, a secular Israeli, entered the room. The professor was surrounded by a phalanx of admiring students who hung on to his every word. The arrogant doctor looked at the old religious rabbi and said, “Ah, rabbi, I have a question. Lama katuv, why is it written, baGemara shelachem, in your Gemara, that ‘tov sheberofim l’gehennom, the best of doctors are destined to be sent to purgatory?” The deferential students snickered as their hero put the rabbi on the spot. “I knew,” Rav Galinsky later said, “that this arrogant doctor could not get away with using the word shelachem, your Torah, when it is really his as well. He needed to be put in his place.” Rav Galinsky didn’t hesitate. “Why is the question relevant to you?” he asked with a straight face. “The Gemara is only referring to good doctors!” Then, with the doctor defeated, Rav Galinsky explained the true intention of Chazal. We need to develop the courage to stand up for the truth and do what we can to repress the scoffers and those who seek divergence from our traditions. There was a period of extremely tense relations between the religious and secular communities in Israel. It was just af-
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
weren’t put in this world merely to point out problems, but rather to work towards a better future.
vain. There was no chance that he was going to change his mind and permit the religious ritual. The rov understood, he said. If it became known that he had given his son a bris, his advancement through the ranks would be halted and he might even be exiled. Rav Isser Zalman offered a suggestion: The father should leave town on a mission, and in his absence, the rov and the mohel would enter his home and perform the bris. If the incident became known to the authorities, the rov would accept all the responsibility upon himself. The officer stared at the rov in astonishment. The rov didn’t understand, he maintained. His opposition was on principle. The rov was living in a bubble. The world had changed. The revolution had swept away the dust of the past; everything had been erased. The workers of the world had united and there were no more class distinctions, no more divisions or barriers between different parts of society. Bris milah creates a barrier, separating Jew from non-Jew. It had no place in the new world of equality, the world that had been created with blood and fire. Rav Isser Zalman said to the man, “You are a Jew. Tell me, did you ever play with a dreidel?” “Of course,” the man replied. “Why do you ask?” “Let me tell you something: The dreidel stands on a narrow point. How is this possible? The answer is that the force of its spinning keeps it upright. As that power weakens, it eventually falls. “I want you to know that the popular notion that every individual can work according to his abilities and everyone will profit equally is a foolish idea that is contrary to human nature. “Shlomo Hamelech has already said (Koheles 4:4), ‘I have seen all the toil and all the successful deeds, for it is a man’s envy of his friend; this, too, is futility and frustration.’ In other words, it may be a negative and shameful trait, but it is also a fundamental one. Envy, the desire to be superior and to push others down, is the only driving force of mankind. It will appear here, as well, in one thousand and one different forms. Don’t try arguing with me based on the kolkhozes, the cooperative settlements and the nationalized industry. It is all running based on the inertia and excitement of the revolution. When that fades away, corruption will reign supreme and everything will collapse. “And when everything falls apart, everyone will go back to their own people and culture. Where will your son return to? Put the seal of the Jewish people on his flesh, so that he will know where to return.”
THE JEWISH HOME
give up. We must always do whatever we are able to, as difficult as it may seem. Often times, the impossible has been accomplished by those whose emunah and bitachon motivated and drove them to escape their problems and they have gone on to merit great accomplishments. Communally, as well, we hear dejected remarks from people with their hands raised in despair. “Oy, there is no leadership,” they say. “Oy, there is so much machlokes. So many people can’t make ends meet. There’s nothing to do about it.” People see terrible distortions taking place and become apathetic, saying that there is nothing to do. They fear taking a stand, lest they lose out somehow. They aren’t sure if the reformers will win, and there are perhaps financial considerations as well, so they stand quietly on the sidelines as Toras Yisroel is ripped apart, mocked and vilified. We must know that we have no right to be meya’eish. It’s not yours to give up on. Our nation was around before we were born and it has survived so much. We
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FEBRUARY 6, 2014
ter the decision was reached to close Bnei Brak’s central Rechov Rav Kahaneman on Shabbos and many irreligious people were unhappy. On Shabbos, groups of motorcycle-riding secularists would tear through quiet Bnei Brak, their rumbling roar disrupting the Sabbath peace, loudly making their point. One Shabbos, a young Israeli named Dvir drove down the road at breakneck speed, unaware that a chain-link divider blocked it off. He caught sight of the obstacle too late and was killed when he smashed into it. The secular community exploded with anger and recriminations. With that backdrop, the maggid was invited to address a crowd at a secular kibbutz. In the middle of the speech, a heckler suddenly called out from the back of the room, interrupting the lecture. “Lamah haragtem et Dvir? Why did you kill Dvir?” There was a moment of silence, but the wizened speaker was undeterred. He looked the heckler in the eye. “What’s the question?” he asked. “We needed his blood for our matzos.” The meaning of his answer was clear. Secular Israelis using the unfortunate, tragic story to depict the chareidim as murderers were no different than the many blood libelers throughout history who battled against their own grandfathers. The heckler was silenced. How do you silence bitter critics? With a sharp rejoinder. How do you teach tolerance and non-judgmentalism? With a good story. Here’s one: A Bnei Brak family was asked by a kiruv organization to host a Russian couple for Shabbos meals from time to time. He was a doctor, she was a professor. They lived in nearby Ramat Gan and it was a good match. The family was mekarev them and their efforts bore fruit as the relationship progressed nicely. One Friday night, the Bnei Brak family invited their Ramat Gan friends for a Shabbos meal and the couple accepted, walking in for a joyous seudah. After they were done, the Bnei Brakers walked their guests to the door and watched them leave. They went back into their house and looked out of their window to make sure that their guests had safely made it down the flight of stairs. To their utter horror, they saw the couple hailing a taxi for the ride back home to nearby Ramat Gan. They were so deeply hurt. Such a clear lack of courtesy and respect with brazen chillul Shabbos, hailing a taxi right in front of their building, was too much for them. They decided then and there that they would have nothing to do with that Russian couple any longer. They didn’t invite them again, and when the Russians called, seeking friendship and a meal, the response was curt and negative. They were burnt once and weren’t going to be burnt again. Some months later, the Bnei Brakers received a call from the kiruv organization. “The husband died, the wife is sitting shivah, and it would mean a lot to her if you went to be menachem avel,” they were told. They decided that although they had been hurt by the family’s obvious lack of
respect for Shabbos and wouldn’t want them back in their house, the right thing to do would be to pay the bereaved wife a shivah call. They arrived and she was gratified to see them. They began speaking. “Thank you for coming,” the wife said. “What caused his death?” they asked. “He had a heart attack.” “Was it sudden?” “Yes.” “Did your husband have a heart condition?” “Yes, he did. In fact, it began the last time we ate at your home. Remember that Friday night? I remember it so vividly - the meal, the children, the singing, the wonderful Shabbos atmosphere. As we were walking down the steps from your apartment, my husband felt pains in his chest and shoulder. As a doctor, he knew he was having a heart attack. Thankfully, as soon as we exited the building, a taxi happened by. We stopped it and rushed straight to the hospital. We got there on time and he lived. “Last week, it happened again. But this time, we weren’t as lucky. He died.” Relating such a story teaches the lesson without recrimination or hard feelings. Every audience gets the point and learns from it. We would do well to learn that lesson. When things don’t go our way, we need to find a language that reflects the darchei noam of the Torah to strengthen ourselves. When situations call for rebuke and we are forced to discipline our children or talmidim, we are much better off doing it with a smile and gentle tone. Rav Galinsky once addressed a group of hardworking people, relatively unlearned in Torah. It was a time of economic recession and the people he faced were distressed by the sudden hardships in making a living. He described the scene in Shomayim on Rosh Hashonah just a few months before. He recalled how the baalei batim before him had fervently prayed for parnossah. On the day income is determined for the year, their prayers were heard On High. The angels charged with delivering sustenance were given orders to ensure that the petitioners below were blessed with abundance. Then he leaned over the shtender and looked closely at the audience. “But the malochim remember Reb Moshe from Rosh Hashonah and they are looking for him. They remember a man standing and shuckeling over his shtender, davening like a mentch. He was serious in demeanor and speech. They remember how he spoke to his wife during the seudah, with such courtesy and aidelkeit, and how the entire meal was uplifting and filled with Torah and song. They are searching for that man… and they can’t find him. The Reb Moshe they see in his place talks during davening and is impatient at home, so the malochim conclude that this isn’t their man. They keep looking.” The audience smiled, accepting the message, enjoying the sugar with which it was coated. When proverbial medicine is called for, coating it with honey is often helpful. Heartfelt words of mussar and reproach cloaked in gentle humor and delightful
anecdotes are better able to achieve their goal. We, and people of all ages, face an onslaught of challenges from within and without. Plain old negativity and cynicism don’t cut it anymore. People get turned off and don’t want to hear words of damnation. If we want to be effective - and who doesn’t? - we need to speak with intelligence, forethought and insight, in a package wrapped with love, concern and positive messages. Rav Galinsky once asked Rav Elazar Menachem Man Shach why the nusach of the brochah we recite each morning is “shelo asani Goy.” Why don’t we accentuate the positive and thank Hashem by saying “she’asani Yehudi?” Rav Shach answered that the Ribbono shel Olam grants us a neshomah, providing us with the wherewithal to soar. “But to become a Yid is up to you,” he explained. “It is up to us to develop that neshomah. You make the Yehudi.” We all have the potential to be great and formidable. Nothing is given to us on a silver platter. We must work and
strive for greatness. It doesn’t necessarily come naturally.
Few remember that prior to Israel’s Six Day War, Israel’s prime minister delivered a live address to a very anxious nation. He was so nervous about what would happen that he stammered, worrying a frightened people even more. Chief of Staff Yitzchak Rabin was tasked with leading the campaign. He was so overwhelmed by the impossibility of the challenge facing him that he had a nervous breakdown. The mission he had been handed was impossible. By now, all of that is forgotten, as Jews the world over revel in the amazing victory of the Israeli armed forces over Arab armies invading from all sides. Following the war, Rav Yaakov Edelstein asked Rav Galinsky to address a seudas hodaah for a group of career soldiers who had made it through the war. He said to them, “Essentially, this was not the first lightning-quick war fought by the Jewish people. Shimon and Levi, thirteenand fourteen-year-old teenagers, invaded Shechem, killed all its men and captured the women, the children and all their belongings. “However, twenty years later, when Yaakov Avinu handed Shechem over to his son, Yosef, he told him that the city of Shechem was his because ‘I took it from the Emori becharbi ubekashti, with my sword and arrow’ (Bereishis 48:22). “Targum Onkelos on that posuk states that the two weapons Yaakov referred to were ‘bitzlosi ubeva’usi, my prayers and supplications’ to Hashem.” Said Rav Galinsky: “In other words, Yaakov was telling Yosef, ‘Do you think that Shimon and Levi captured the town? I captured it with my tefillos on their behalf!’” We say it every day and we also say it in time of war. Every morning, when I recite lamnatzeiach, I hear echoes of the way we said it berabim during Israel’s wars. “Eileh vorechev, ve’eileh vasusim, vaanachnu beSheim Hashem Elokeinu nazkir.” It is not with armies and not with might that we win wars. “Heimah koru
venafalu, vaanachnu kamnu vanisodad.” Large armies were defeated and the Jews who placed their faith in Hashem emerged victorious. Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman delivered a brief hesped on his dear friend, saying that Rav Galinsky swallowed bizyonos, humiliation, for all of us, being mechaper for the dor. Collecting money for Torah is never easy, but to do it as he did, running from one end of the globe to the other, and smiling throughout, while never giving up on his mission or on personal growth, is extraordinary. He was makpid on his tefillah kevosikin and learning regimen wherever he was, whenever possible. He was a bright light that shone into outposts across the golus, a spark of Novardok to remind us about truth and reality, a talmid chochom to expose this world for what it is: a prozdor before the next. Now he is in the traklin, together with all the great people who walked this earth before us, enjoying the fruits they labored for in the prozdor. We would do well to sing to ourselves that timeless tune of the words of Chazal that contain a most enduring and relevant lesson. When the Chazon Ish arrived in Bnei Brak, it was a small, dusty and hot town. He lived on the street known today as Rechov Chazon Ish. When he moved there, his apartment was on the outer boundaries of the city, among the eucalyptus trees, and at night he could hear the cries of jackals and hyenas. Because it was frightening to walk in the dark there, the mayor, Rav Yitzchok Gerstenkorn, had a street light installed outside the Chazon Ish’s building One day, when Rav Galinsky visited the Chazon Ish, he turned to him and said, “Nu, Reb Yaakov, what do you say about the new street light they put up here?” He then explained to his young visitor the lesson he learned from the streetlight. “You see,” he said, “when I leave my house, I notice that I have a large shadow that stretches into the distance. The closer I come to the electric pole, the more my shadow shrinks. When I pass beneath the light, the shadow disappears altogether. As I continue walking, the shadow once again stretches out behind me, and the further I go, the larger it grows. “From this I have learned that the further we take ourselves from the light, the more we feel that we are ‘something.’ But the closer we are to the light, to the wisdom of the Torah and its sages of earlier generations, the more we realize how puny and insignificant we are!” We are far from the greatness the Chazon Ish spoke of. We are far from the
light, and all we have around us are lengthening shadows. We were
blessed to have a personage such as Rav Yaakov Galinsky among us, passing along the wisdom, teachings and Torah of giants he met throughout his long life. With his passing, we are that much further away from the sources of truth. May we merit the return of the ohr gadol that will shine forth from Zion speedily, in our day.
THE JEWISH HOME FEBRUARY 6, 2014
THE JEWISH HOME
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Titzaveh STORYLINE Loan Conversion by Rabbi Meir Orlian Jonathan Feldman needed $30,000 cash for his business. The banks were limiting the credit they would issue him, though, and were also asking for more interest than he wanted to pay. Instead, Jonathan tried to raise the cash from relatives and close friends. His cousin Ezra was willing to help him out and invest in the business. “I’d like 4% return on the money annually,” said Ezra. “Can you do that?” “Reasonable enough,” said Jonathan. “We’ll call it an investment, though, not a loan, so that there will not be a prohibition of ribbis (interest).” They drafted a document stating: “Ezra Feldman is investing $30,000 in Jonathan Feldman’s business, and will receive 4% profit annually. After two years, either party can terminate the agreement with 60 days’ notice, and the $30,000 will be returned to Ezra.” Ezra gave Jonathan a check for $30,000 and took a signed copy of the agreement. Two months afterwards, Ezra had occasion to speak with his local Rav about the agreement. “We made sure to structure it as an investment, not a loan,” Ezra said. “Am I right that there is no prohibition of ribbis in such a case?” “Your arrangement has some of the crucial aspects of a heter iska,” replied his Rav, “but your arrangement doesn’t eliminate the prohibition of ribbis. Although you called it an investment, the money is still considered halachically a loan, and the profit, therefore, is considered interest.” “Why is that?” asked Ezra. “The agreement stipulates that at the termination of the agreement, the $30,000 will be returned in full, regardless of the financial state of the business,” explained his Rav. “Absolute liability of the recipient to return the full amount of the investment is tantamount to a loan, in which the borrower carries absolute liability to return the principal. Thus the purported ‘profit’ is considered interest on a loan and is prohibited (see Y.D. 177:1; Shach, Y.D. 177:1).” “How is this different from a heter iska?” asked Ezra. “A heter iska leaves, in theory, a small window of risk for the investor if the business should fail,” answered the Rav. “Jonathan, however, accepted full liability to return the principal.” “What should I do now?” asked Ezra. “Can we simply agree verbally that the investment should now be in accordance with heter iska?” “It would be best to consult Rabbi Dayan on this,” said his Rav. “I’ll give you his number.” Ezra called Rabbi Dayan. “I invested money in my cousin’s business in a manner considered a prohibited loan,” he said. “Can we convert it into an iska agreement? Does he have to return the money? Can
we agree verbally? Do we need to draft a heter iska document?” “Returning the money and starting over as an iska agreement would certainly work,” answered Rabbi Dayan, “but it is not necessary to do that (see Nesivos, Chiddushim 176:5).” “Can we just make a verbal statement?” asked Ezra. “A verbal agreement of heter iska would suffice initially, but now that the money has already been given as a regular loan, it is insufficient,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Rema cites from the Mordechai that a person who received a loan cannot convert it to an iska investment through a verbal agreement alone. The money is still considered a loan (C.M. 176:1; Shach, Y.D. 177:15, 41).” “What if we draft and sign a heter iska document?” asked Ezra. “That’s not just a verbal agreement, it’s a document!” “That would suffice, since this expresses clear sincerity in the agreement,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “Alternatively, the investor and recipient can make a kinyan sudar that the investment will now be in accordance with the rules of heter iska. Some recommend doing both, drafting a heter iska and making a kinyan (Dagul Me’revava, Y.D. 177:19; Bris Yehudah 35:5).” “Does this work retroactively?” asked Ezra. “What about the two months that have passed?” “Restructuring the loan as an iska agreement only takes effect for the future,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “but it does not allow taking ribbis for previous time (Bris Yehudah 40:23).” FROM THE BHI HOTLINE Email Exemption I borrowed a large sum of money from a friend, and when payment was due, my financial situation was worse than it was when I took the loan. I sent him an e-mail asking if we could settle, and we agreed via e-mail on a settlement. The lender now wants to renege on our agreement and renegotiate the settled amount. Q: Is a settlement agreement via e-mail binding? A: An agreement reached by e-mail certainly does not constitute a kinyan; it is nothing more than proof that an agreement between two parties was reached. However, since a kinyan (proprietary act obligating two parties to honor a verbal agreement) is not necessary to forgo a claim (“mechilah,” C.M. 12:8), an e-mail could serve as proof that a settlement agreement was reached between a lender and a borrower. What requires confirmation is whether the language used in the agreement constitutes a mechilah (forgiving or nullifying the loan) or not. If the lender offered, for example, “I will forgive 25% of the loan if you pay the other 75%,” the lender has not yet forgiven part of the loan; he merely agreed that he will forgive 25% of the loan upon receipt of 75% of the loan (Mishpetei Shmuel 66, cited in Divrei Geonim 57:9). Similarly, if a lender informs the borrower that if
he performs a particular act he will forgive the loan, it is not forgiven until the borrower performs that act; until then the lender may retract his agreement (Be’er Heitiv, C.M. 120:1). Even if the parties made a kinyan on the agreement, according to many authorities, it is not binding since it is a kinyan devarim — a proprietary act on something intangible (i.e. the lender has not yet “forgiven” so the borrower has not yet “acquired” anything). A kinyan that one will (at some point in the future) give something or will forgive a right is not effective (Taz 203:1 cited by Nesivos: Chiddushim 12:13; cf. Sema 12:20). If the agreement calls for the lender to forgive some of the loan on condition (al menas) that the borrower pay him a certain amount, the mechilah is effective immediately on condition that the borrower pay the agreed amount. Once the parties make this agreement, the lender cannot change his mind (see E.H. 143:1, Toras Gittin 143:4, and Nesivos 241:11, regarding the language that must be employed). However, even when the agreement was that the lender will forgive in the future upon receipt of payment, which allows the lender to withdraw his agreement, the mechilah agreement is binding once the borrower pays the agreed-upon amount; the lender cannot demand any more money. This is true even if at the time of payment neither party mentioned the mechilah agreement. Although the lender could have withdrawn the settlement agreement, once he accepted the money and did not state that he withdrew his agreement, it is assumed that he accepted the money under the conditions of the settlement agreement (Divrei Geonim 57:23). MONEY MATTERS Lost and Found #29 Q: If I left a pen or sefer in the beis medrash, or a towel in the mikveh, and saw a similar one there the following day, can I assume that it’s mine and take it? A: If you recognize the item as yours (tevias ayin), you can keep it, even if you do not have any clear siman to positively identify it. The requirement to provide simanim is only to reclaim an aveidah from another finder (Nesivos 259:3). If you do not necessarily recognize the item as yours, but think that it could be, some allow you to take it immediately and keep it. Others allow you to hold it but require that you wait and see if someone posts a “lost” notice. If no one claims the item within a reasonable time, you can assume that it is the one you lost and keep it (Pischei Choshen, Aveidah 3:18; Minchas Yitzchak 3:17; Hashavas Aveidah K’halachah 11:8). On the other hand, if you recognize that the item is not yours, you may not keep it even if you lost a comparable item. (We discussed previously what to do if your item was mistakenly taken in exchange.)
by Jessica Yuz
By Roger Marks, LUTCF, Certified Enrolling Agent for Covered California
It’s been one month since the roll out of the Affordable Care Act plans for Californians and many challenges persist for those applying for coverage. Over a half million Californians have applied for coverage under the plans, but 900,000 have lost their coverage. While California leads the nation in enrollments, many who have applied have been dismayed to find that their favorite hospital or doctor no longer is contracting as a PPO provider. This has lead to much confusion to applicants in choosing their health plan because they are not sure who or where to find treatment. Adding to the confusion, there are reports that some hospitals, such as Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles are advising their patients to avoid certain insurance companies and apply for others. Because of real or perceived differences in the rates of payment for providers of care in or outside the PPO Networks providers are refusing to contract with the companies for the new Affordable Care Act compliant plans . Sometimes new policy owners do not find out about these issues until after they have applied for or gotten their policy issued. Other policy owners are choosing to stay on the older plans which pay providers at higher rates to have a wider number of doctors and hospitals to choose from. The choices of plans are fewer, the consumer is forced to choose before they are ready. What Plan Do I Choose? Further complicating matters, the state of California has specifically told their insurance advisors and agents that they are prohibited to promote one insurance company over another. Worse yet, the agent cannot predict which plans will have greater selection in the future. While it is true that some facilities and doctors have withdrawn from some large PPO networks, others have remained. The best answer for the consumer trying to determine the best plan to choose is to contact their hospital or doctor’s office directly and ask if they are still contracted to that PPO network, or if they are considering rejoining the network if they have previously withdrawn. Remember that there is a great deal of change going on at the moment and the consumer’s
options may seem different, better or worse as the year progresses. Why Not Call The Insurance Company? Currently the wait times for a technician at Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, and Health Net can range from a few minutes to a few hours. It is always a good idea to ask the company if your favorite doctor or hospital is still contracting, but it may not be possible to get through to ask a real live person until the rush to acquire new coverage mandated by law has slowed down. As President Obama has now postponed the requirement date for coverage until March 1st, we can expect another mad rush to avoid the tax penalty come late February. It also may avoid a lapse in coverage if one is changing plans. Online Directories Most insurance companies have online directories of providers. These directories can be updated periodically so it is a good idea to check in once in a while to see if new providers in your area have been added. Most companies like to promote these contacts and if you are already insured, you may get to see in advance where it is possible to get care. If you do not know the web address, your agent or advisor will certainly know and can forward you the link. Roger Marks is an insurance professional and has been specializing in Health Insurance Underwriting for 25 years. He works in Valley Village. To ask Roger a question you may email him at email@example.com or call his office at 818-985-PLAN (818-9857526)
Mazal Tov! The Human Resources Manager emailed you to tell you that the CEO of XYZ Company saw your resume and would like to schedule an interview. You came prepared, dressed appropriately and ready to put your best foot forward. You are confident the meeting went well and anxiously await a job offer. Now what? Now comes a very important step that, if forgotten, could negate all the hard work you have put into the job search thus far- the thank you letter. In the career advisement and professional recruitment world it is a well-known fact that when two otherwise equally qualified candidates are assessed after an interview the one who sent the thank you letter(s) is far more likely to obtain employment than the one who did not. Follow these “who”, “what” and “when” steps to make sure the right letter, gets to the right person, at the right time. Who? Thoughtful and appropriate thank you letter should be sent to the interviewer(s) and any other key personnel involved in the interview process. Use your best judgment to determine who should receive a letter. Examples include, but are not limited to, secretary/administrative assistant, human resources personnel, hiring manager, support staff, etc. In order to get the letter to the right person(s) gather their full names, titles and business cards on the interview day. What?
The letter should be brief, neat and professional. Most letters are 2-3 short paragraphs, using the same professional style, language and format you would use in a cover letter and resume. Although the letter can be either hand-written or typed, a type written email is the quickest way to get your letter to the right person. When? Thank you letters should be sent within 48 hours of the interview date. If your interview took place late Friday afternoon I recommend sending the letter first thing Monday morning so that it does not get lost in the interviewers inbox over the weekend. Sounds easy enough, right? Remember, employers want to see that you are willing to go the extra mile for them and that starts by following-up with an appropriate and effective thank you letter. Take the time to add this small step to your interview regime and increase your chances of landing your dream job. Make sure to check out the next issue of The Jewish Home’s Career Corner where I will enumerate tips to “Make Your Thank You Letter Work For You”. Jessica Yuz, MBA is the Founder of Yuz Career Advisers, dedicated to helping individuals identify their interests and set realistic goals so they can take control of their future. With over a decade of experience in higher education, Jessica works with high school, undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of career exploration, resume writing, interview skills, job search and placement, goal setting, time and stress management, and related fields. Jessica also specializes in assisting professionals of all ages’ transition between employment, find fulfillment in their work and achieve life-work balance. You can contact Yuz Career Advisers at (323) 989-4341 or ycadvisers@gmail. com.
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
Do Not Make This Fatal Interview Mistake!
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The Affordable Health Care Plan, More Challenges for Californians
THE JEWISH HOME
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
Tefillin on Girls at School? Not in LA By Rachel Wizenfeld
If you follow the trail of the “girls wearing tefillin at SAR” story that has catapulted to the front of Jewish media over the past three weeks, you’ll find that the story really started here in LA. Back in November, Shalhevet High School fielded a request from a student who was interested in applying to Shalhevet for high school, but wanted to know if she would be permitted to wear tefillin during davening at school, as that was her current practice. Shalhevet ultimately ruled no, but only after weeks of impassioned debate among students, parents and administrators. As Rabbi Segal, Shalhevet’s head of school, wrote in an email to the Shalhevet community (as reported by The Boiling Point, the school’s newspaper): “While there certainly exist legitimate halachik and rabbinic sources that suggest permitting the practice of women wearing tefilin (hence my willingness and desire to discuss the issue publicly and my encouraging her to wear tefilin at a synagogue), Shalhevet is a school that draws from a broad spectrum. In order to maintain that diversity, there will be times when something might be technically permitted but not wise to allow.” Around that time, student reporters at Shalhevet surveyed other Modern Orthodox schools around the country to learn what those schools would allow with regards to girls wearing tefillin during school davening. Responses from the schools were mixed, but Rabbi Bini Krauss, the headmaster at SAR did say (as quoted in The Boiling Point), “We do not have a current policy on the matter as it has not come up in recent memory…I think I would need to process the question with the student, as well as my staff… I would hope that we would be able to work something out to accommodate people who are looking for religious self expression together with a commitment to Halakha.’” Two months later, when SAR did face that decision, ultimately making a controversial choice that has been denounced by many Orthodox rabbis and supported by some, Shalhevet’s newspaper was one of the first to break the story. “We’re just so excited that we are the ones who are a part of these discussions happening – not just in America, but across the world,” said Noam Weissman, Shalhevet’s principal. “We do believe that we are one of the flagship Modern Orthodox institutions in the country and we believe that we have a responsibility to push the community to think…we don’t push buttons for the sake of pushing buttons, but we want the community to have to grapple
with issues that are real.” He adds that the students became really engaged in the halachic process through this issue. Sigal Spitzer, a Shalhevet junior, said that she has no desire to wear tefillin and there are currently no female students at Shalhevet who wish to do so, so she thinks her school made the right decision. However she is supportive of SAR’s choice, having learned in class some halachic sources that permit tefillin-wearing for women. She adds that she really learned a lot from how the school handled the process, soliciting input and feedback from the entire school community. “As a student I want to thank Shalhevet – these are the issues we are going to be dealing with as future leaders and Jews in the 21st century.” At nearby YULA Girls High School, which is also Modern Orthodox, students were avidly following the story and several students wanted to learn about the halachic issues at play, according to Rabbi Abraham Lieberman, YULA Girls’ head of school. One class went through all the sources in a halacha class and one student asked him what would happen if the same request were made at YULA. But ultimately, “if you ask a class of students who would want to wear tefillin, not a hand goes up,” he says. As to his personal thoughts on the issue as someone who has been educating girls for decades, Rabbi Lieberman says, “if you think you’ll get closer to Hashem, then kol hakavod – go for it. I wouldn’t say to do it in school. Do it privately.” He adds that he doesn’t know where the motivation is coming from, but “the issue is coming up in co-ed schools. There’s a mechitza down the middle and the boys are putting on tefillin. It could be an equality thing.” Coincidentally, at Bnos Devorah, an Orthodox girls high school in Hancock Park, students recently brought up the issue of wearing tefillin during a halacha class without any knowledge of the issue’s prevalence in the news. Rabbi Asher Brander, who heads the LINK kollel and shul and is also a halacha teacher at Bnos Devorah, said the girls were learning about “mitzvos aseh shehazman grama” (positive time-bound commandments from which women are exempt) and wanted to know why girls don’t wear tefillin. “’If it’s such a holy thing – should we take part?’” He said that he explained the Orech HaShulchan, which says that nowadays even men don’t really wear tefillin according to its true application, which is kol hay-
om [all day]. But because there’s a chiyuv [an obligation] on men, they wear it at a time when they’re least likely to violate the terms of wearing tefillin – the terms of guf naki and having taharas hamachshava (physical cleanliness and purity of mind – loosely translated). “So therefore we do it during davening. And that’s minhag yisroel. And I told them there were times in Jewish history that even men did not wear tefillin regularly – they did not wear it every day, the rishonim record, because they were worried about not having the proper machshavahs.”
Rabbi Brander said that the discussion and ensuing dialogue was beautiful and important, but that students weren’t really bothered by the issue. They weren’t even aware of any controversy taking place in New York or debated at nearby Shalhevet. Rabbi Brander himself notes the irony of how the Rema (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 38:3) explicitly writes that one should protest against the practice of women laying tefillin - even as certain heads of school publicly wrote that they “encouraged [the girls] to do so at home or at a nearby synagogue.” While sources can be marshalled on either side of the issue, he believes “the de facto minhag Ashkenaz as codified by the Rema is clear.” And “an opportunity to explore, discuss, understand, revere and ultimately submit to minhagei yisroel has been lost.” Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, a blogger for Cross-Currents and professor at Loyola Law School, agreed. “It’s the kind of pick-and-choose Judaism which is not that many shades apart from early Conservatism,” he said. While he doesn’t think SAR and Ramaz are on the brink of becoming Conservative, he finds this grow-
ing attitude, encouraged by Rabbi Avi Weiss and his innovations in halachic process, to be quite alarming. “This [tefillin] issue is not about Avi Weiss…but he has made it more likely for people to say, ‘I want out of the frustrating muzzle of halacha that has been placed upon me.’” And while feminist groups have jumped to put their stamp on the tefillin debate, Rabbi Adlerstein doesn’t see this as a feminist or women’s issue per se, but more of an issue of interpreting halacha with a lack of “yiras harommimus,” awe and trepidation for halachic authorities. As someone who is deeply involved in halacha and teaches Jewish law at Loyola Law School, he said, “To me, the biggest issue is the glibness in the way people could take a look at the Rema and then say, ‘well, there are other opinions to rely on.’” He also acknowledged a growing divide in Modern Orthodoxy, something many other rabbis and experts have pointed out. “I’m seeing a lot of anger, disappointment and frustration around this issue – particularly in the Modern Orthodox world. It’s not coming from the Charedi Orthodox. The Charedi see this as ‘I told you so – this is where these people are drifting off to.’” As to why Shalhevet disallowed girls wearing tefillin in school while SAR and Ramaz said yes, Rabbi Adlerstein believes that Shalhevet is trying to be a school that has its feet planted in multiple worlds, while SAR and Ramaz are quite comfortable with being seen as schools servicing the left of the Modern Orthodox world exclusively. He believes that “Shalhevet is trying harder in the last couple of years to please different camps, and at the same time I think they know that having some of their students wear tefillin in a group would be seen as pretty incendiary.” The final issue Rabbi Adlerstein raised, one that was touched upon by Teaneck’s Rabbi Steven Pruzansky on the Cross-Currents blog, is one of educational policy and the importance of maintaining across-theboard religious standards in an Orthodox Jewish school – which is precisely what didn’t happen at SAR. “We’re the critics from the distance, and the truth is we don’t know the needs of the particular school,” Rabbi Adlerstein said, “but it’s so hard for anyone who has taught teenagers to see a situation when you would want to tell the student body that halacha is done one way for most people, but if it doesn’t fit your needs or family situation, maybe you should be allowed to choose. “Unlike other religions, we do have rules,” he finished.
THE JEWISH HOME FEBRUARY 6, 2014
Cover Story Susan Schwamm
Fighting for the Wall
TJH Speaks with Ronit Peskin of Women for the Wall
D woke up early to imbue the holy air with their uplifting words of hallel.
Women from every sect of our community and girls from every type of seminary
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avening at the Kotel is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. ligious freedom. Yet, they cause a mockery for those who want to practice Our prayers feel more connected to the One Above when we religion not in accordance with the way they view religion. stand before the Kotel’s stones and beseech Hashem for His merMost important about informing the public is to ensure that our repucy. At those moments, we tend to focus on the inner depths of our own souls tation as Jews remains untarnished. WOW is quick to “trash talk” Jews and feel free from some of the externalities that normally define us. It’s no and compare our religion and our practices to prohibitive societies. They wonder that some of the most iconic images of the Kotel feature chareidim equate women’s rights in Israel to those in Saudi Arabia and other counpraying alongside chilonim and chassidim praying alongside chayalim. tries. Those accusations are based on ignorance and bluster. We, as Jews, For years, the sanctity of the Kotel has been protected by Israeli law. know that. But the rest of the world is swayed by their boisterous bias. Men pray on the left side of the mechitzah and women pray on the left. Americans should know that Judaism is not that way. In our religion, Proper decorum is ensured and the minhag of women are respected and valued. Praying in years’ past is maintained. same-gender areas is not a sign of denigraBut enter Women of the Wall (WOW), tion; it is far from it. Women are not scorned the radical group that has been advocating for because they do not wear tefillin or talleisim. “women’s rights” since 1989. Creating chaos, They are uplifted in other ways through their inciting violence and making headlines has prayer. been one of the goals of the organization. They A proof that women are respected in our are masters at manipulating the media under religion can be seen in the W4W organizathe catchphrases of “religious freedom” and tion. The group was started last year by two “women’s rights.” Their voices are loud and women—Ronit and her co-founder, Leah strident in America; in Israel, their numbers are Aharoni—who felt passionately about the few. Their members call themselves “nashot”; mockeries that WOW were performing at the the suffix “im” in Hebrew is too masculine for Kotel. With loud, disturbing prayers, using these “womyn.” tefillin and talleisim as props, and playing for But though they are adept at making headthe media, the sanctity of the Kotel was in lines, the information they spew is at many peril. The two sprang into action and garnered times far from accurate, and they attempt to support from every sect of our community; quash other voices with their cacophony of Chareidi, Da’ati Leumi, Sephardic, Litvish, Co-founders of Women for the Wall, Ronit Peskin and Leah Aharoni, at the Kotel last Rosh Chodesh drivel. If what they believe in is so “right,” Chassidish, secular—even anti-religious suphow come they won’t let others be heard? porters—came out in support of W4W. They That’s one of the questions that Ronit Peskin posed to me when we were encouraging and came out in droves to prove to the world that the spoke last week. Ronit is one of the driving forces behind Women for the Kotel was, is and always will be a place of kedusha. Wall (W4W), a grassroots organization that endeavors to educate the public Generally, WOW conducts their Rosh Chodesh prayers early in the and the Israeli government about the sanctity of the Kotel and expose the day—6:30 or 7 in the morning. The first Rosh Chodesh that W4W called lies that WOW works on perpetrating. There are two sides to every story, for action, thousands of religious women and girls came en masse to the she maintains, and people have a right to know both sides. Through social Kotel to fill the square with sounds of sweet prayer. Ronit recalls that media, interviews, and public appearances, W4W is a stalwart force for the she only expected a handful to show up. But women from every sect of voice of truth. our community and girls from every type of seminary woke up early to In November, Ronit spoke at the Jewish Federations of North America imbue the holy air with their uplifting words of hallel. W4W is waging General Assembly in Israel in a panel discussion. Natan Sharansky, Anat war against WOW at the Kotel with words of peace and sounds of silence. Hoffman (chairwomen of WOW), and MK Aliza Lavie were also includ- Outside of the Western Wall, their war is fought with words of truth and ed on panel. This was the only time that WOW agreed to have a discussion calls for accuracy. (if you can call it that) with W4W. After the panel, Ronit recalls that many Thankfully, Ronit relates, WOW has been grabbing less and less headaudience members came over to her to say that they came to the panel lines every month. Ronit says that this past Rosh Chodesh they weren’t supporting WOW and were leaving as supporters of W4W after hearing even in the news. She is happy to point out that there have been no reports what Ronit had to say. In fact, Ronit was so persuasive in her arguments of violence from WOW; W4W has worked to ensure that peacefulness is that after her powerful speech, MK Lavie told her she should run for the maintained between the two groups. Knesset. I asked Ronit about her dream for W4W and her projection for the Knowledge is power. Knowing about the issues and being informed is future. Her dream, she says, is different from the reality. In a utopian the key to success against WOW. world, in six months from now, WOW will see the error of their ways and Ronit is now on a two-week speaking tour around the United States. everyone will be able to daven at the Kotel without making a scene. There WOW’s main and most vocal supporters live in America. And why are will be respect for all people and no mudslinging against those who opthey so strong here? Because for years they have been manipulating the pose WOW. “But sadly I don’t see that dream happening,” Ronit muses. media, throwing out catchphrases of equality and discrimination. They In reality, she sees WOW garnering less and less media attention. She like to talk about women’s rights. What about the rights of women who says that W4W are passionate about getting WOW out of the spotlight and don’t agree with them, Ronit points out. WOW is quick to denigrate those creating a calmer, more peaceful situation. Hopefully, she says, they will who don’t follow their battle cry. They lament what they call a lack of re- eventually become a non-story.
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Wealth Management 101 By Rabbi Avi Shafran
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
Prime Passover Experience St. Regis Monarch Beach, California April 14-23 2014
A fantastic recent essay in the New York Times brought to mind a fantastic Talmudic narrative. The latter [in Tamid 32b] describes the would-be world-conqueror Alexander the Great approaching the gates of the Garden of Eden. When denied entry (insufficient righteousness the grounds), he asks for, at least, a souvenir and is given an eyeball (or, perhaps, a skull’s eye-socket). Seeking to somehow gauge the odd gift, he places it on one pan of a scale, with gold and silver in the other pan. The precious metal pan rises. And it continues to do so, no matter how much gold and silver he adds. Asking the rabbis accompanying him what is happening, they explain that the eye represents the impetus for human desire; it is that which sees and wants, and is never satisfied. He is skeptical but the rabbis then prove their point by placing some dirt, a reminder of the reality of mortality, atop the eye. Its pan then rises high, outweighed by, unconcerned with, oblivious to, all the precious metal. All of us have likely desired to possess something we don’t. But I have always been confounded by the spectacle of very wealthy people consumed with the relentless pursuit of greater wealth. It just wasn’t anything I could relate to, or understand. And so the opening words of the New York Times piece grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. “In my last year on Wall Street,” the author, Sam Polk, writes, “my bonus was $3.6 million – and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted.” To wealth, that is, and the power he saw it as conferring. Mr. Polk goes on to recount subsequent years in his life, how he became a “bond and credit default swap trader,” a job description he might as well have
offered in Swahili for all it means to me – “one of the more lucrative roles in the business.” And how making a million or two wasn’t enough. “Ever see what a drug addict is like when he’s used up his junk?” Mr. Polk asks his readers, and tells them: “He’ll do anything – walk 20 miles in the snow, rob a grandma – to get a fix. Wall Street was like that.” “When the guy next to you makes $10 million,” he explains, “$1 million or $2 million doesn’t look so sweet.” Frankly, I wouldn’t know, but I do trust Mr. Polk. And the Midrash, which informs us that “He who has one hundred wants two hundred” and that “no man dies with half his desires in hand.” The eye-opening article helped me understand that greed isn’t necessarily a sign of depravity. It can be a type of simple irrationality, what Mr. Polk calls an “addiction.” Or what the Talmud calls “ta’avos” – irrational lusts – things even those of us unfamiliar with heroin or cocaine can relate to. For smokers or alcoholics, the concept is an easy one to understand. But even if our daily desires are limited to junk food or other things that we know are unhealthy for our bodies or our souls, and that we struggle to control, the idea of a ta’avah is certainly recognizable. If we’re not obsessed with wealth, well, that’s just because, blessedly, we fortunately lack that particular lust. But we might try to be a bit more understanding of those who do suffer such obsessions, no less than we pity an alcoholic. Eventually, though, Mr. Polk “cashed out,” so to speak. His turning point came when he realized that his immensely more wealthy boss was “afraid of losing money, despite all that he had.” To his credit, he found a new life, marrying, speaking in jails and juvenile detention centers about the benefits of sobriety, teaching and starting a nonprofit to help poor families struggling with obesity and food addiction. “I am,” he confides, “much happier.” He seems to have discovered something else the Talmud teaches, that our worth is measured by how we live, not by what we have. And proven himself a “strong” man, as per the sage Ben Zoma’s teaching that “Who is strong? He who subdues his inclination.” And as having absorbed another of Ben Zoma’s teachings, too: “Who is wealthy? He who is happy with his lot.”
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You Gotta be
Mujibar was trying to get a job in India. The personnel manager said, “Mujibar, you have passed all the tests except one. Unless you pass it you cannot qualify for this job.” Mujibar said, “I am ready.” The manager said, “Make a sentence using the words yellow, pink and green.” Mujibar thought for a few minutes and said, “Mister Manager, I am ready.” The manager said, “Go ahead.” Mujibar said, “The telephone goes green, green, green, and I pink it up, and say, ‘Yellow, this is Mujibar.’” Mujibar now works as a technician at a computer company call center. No doubt you have spoken to him.
Tom is connecting phones in his house. He connects a 10-foot wire to two phones in the kitchen. The center of the wire dips down 5 feet from where each side of the wire is connected to the phones. How far are the two phones from each other? Answer on next page
Classic Answering Machine Messages Note to those born after 1990: There used to be a type of phone commonly referred to as a “land line.” If nobody picked up the phone, they would usually have message machines where people could leave messages. When the phone’s owner would get home at the end of the day, he or she would listen to those messages. At times, people thought of clever greetings to leave on their message machines. The following are some samples of such messages:
A is for academics, B is for beer. One of those reasons is why we’re not here. So leave a message.
Hi, this is Danny: If you are the phone company, I already sent the money. If you are my parents, please send money. If you are my financial aid institution, you didn’t lend me enough money. If you are my friends, you owe me money. If you are a calling about a shidduch, don’t worry, I have plenty of money.
Hi, Bob’s answering machine is broken. This is his refrigerator. Please speak very slowly while I write down the message and I’ll stick it to myself with one of these magnets.
Hello, you are talking to a machine. I am capable of receiving messages. My owners do not need siding, windows or a hot tub and their carpets are clean. They give to charity through their office and do not need their picture taken. If you’re still with me, leave your name and number and they will get back to you.
Hi, I’m not home right now but my answering machine is, so you can talk to it instead. Wait for the beep.
If you are a burglar, then we’re probably at home cleaning our weapons right now and can’t come to the phone. Otherwise, we probably aren’t home and it’s safe to leave us a message.
Hello. I am David’s answering machine. What are you?
Hi. I am probably home; I’m just avoiding someone I don’t like. Leave a message and if I don’t call back, it’s you.
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Telephone Trivia 4. On the busiest day ever recorded for long-distance calls, 431 million calls were placed. (That is 100 million more than the second busiest day in history). What day was that? a. The day Kennedy was killed b. Sept 11th c. D-Day d. Feb. 2, 1980, which was the day that the “Miracle on Ice” took place, during which the U.S. beat the USSR in Olympic hockey
1. Why was the first answering machine invented? a. Because Orthodox Jews were not able to pick up the phone on Shabbos and therefore could miss important calls. b. The inventor owed lots of credit card debt and didn’t want to pick up the phone until he knew who was calling. So he would wait until the person started talking and then would decide whether to pick up or not. c. Because a practical joker realized that answering machine greetings would be a lot of fun. d. Sorry. There is no one here to answer that question right now. Please try again later. 2. Alexander Graham Bell’s notebook entry on March 10, 1876 describes his successful experiment with the telephone. Speaking through the instrument to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, in the next room, Bell utters these famous first words: a. “One small call for man, one great communication for mankind.” b. “Thank G-d this day has arrived.” c. “May this be the dawn of a new era of communication.” d. “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” 3. The first cell phone call was made on April 3, 1973 from a mobile phone that weighed two pounds. Who made that call and who did he call? a. An Army engineer called President Richard Nixon to tell him about the great achievement. b. The CEO of Nokia called his wife and told her he was calling from “the backyard.” c. A VP at Motorola called a competitor at Bell Laboratories and told him that he was calling from “the sidewalk.” d. The first cell phone was made in Russia. Russian engineer Vladimir Klashenisky called Borris Tetrikoleshvili. They had both been working on the project and stood on opposite sides of a lake when the call was made.
5. What is the best definition of the word “cell” as it relates to cellular phones? a. A nearby base station b. A radio device c. An electrical current d. Cellulitis Answers: 1. A- In 1935 the answering machine was invented by Willy Müller. It was a three-foot-tall machine. He invented it because he saw that Orthodox Jews couldn’t answer phones on Shabbos and were therefore missing important phone calls. 2. D 3. C 4. B 5. A-A cell phone operates by communicating with a “cell,” which is a nearby base station, which connects it to a large phone network. Wisdom Key: 4-5 correct: You are a modern day Alexander Graham Bell 2-3 correct: You are 2G correct: “There appea[r]s to be a receive[r] off the hook. Please hang up and try your call again.”
G ot fu n n y?
Comm Let the ission er dec Send your s tuff
Answer to riddle: The phones are right next to each other, side by side. In order for the 10 foot wire to dip down 5 feet it must dip 5 feet down and 5 feet up, totaling the length of the wire.
o fivetow centerfold@ nsjewis hhome. com
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“Say What?” Earlier tonight President Obama gave his State of the Union address. Or, as Fox News called it, “Lame Duck Dynasty.” - Jay Leno It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed and sacked! #SuperBowl. - Tweet by Hillary Clinton during this year’s Super Bowl
Iran says they want to encourage more tourism from the United States. They might want to change that “Death to America” slogan. A lot of families are not comfortable with that. - Jay Leno I am the son of Jericho. I’m 10,000 years old. I celebrated last year the birth date of my city. I’m the proud son of the Natufians and the Canaanites. I’ve been there 5,500 years before Joshua bin Nun [son of Nun] came and burned my hometown Jericho. - Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat at the Munich Security Conference, wrongly arguing that the Palestinians were present in Israel before the Jews
After appearing in a commercial during last night’s Super Bowl, people are accusing Bob Dylan of selling out. Today Dylan responded by saying, “Everyone needs to calm down, have a Bud Light, and relax at a Sandals Resort.” - Conan O’Brien
Poor Broncos. Experts said they haven’t seen something crushed like that in New Jersey since Chris Christie’s beanbag chair. - Craig Ferguson
We were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance. We can’t survive. - Darnell Summers, who works as a chef, complaining about the effects of Obamacare during a Google-hosted online town hall meeting with President Obama I am working to encourage states, governors, mayors, state legislators to raise their own minimum wage. Obviously, the way to reach millions of people would be for Congress to pass a new federal minimum wage law. So far, at least, we have not seen support from Republicans for such a move. - President Obama “responding” to Darnell Summers’ complaint I hate football. - Text message sent by Peyton Manning’s father, Archie, to Mike Lupika during half time at the Super Bowl
This week, in New Orleans, Hillary Clinton said she still doesn’t know if she’s running for president in 2016. Isn’t that unbelievable? With 315 million Americans, what are the odds she’s the only one in the country who doesn’t know she’s running for president in 2016? - Jay Leno
People think it’s the census or something. This has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that. It’s more about PC nonsense than ‘Are you making us laugh or not?’ - Jerry Seinfeld on CBS’s This Morning responding to criticism that his online comedy series features mostly white males, much like his popular show in the ‘90s reflected life of white people and not the diversity that exists in NY
I think I did three rounds of shoveling and three rounds of salting yesterday. This is really getting obnoxious. – New York Mayor de Blasio talking about the barrage of snowstorms the city has seen in recent weeks
Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this … balcony…I’ll break you in half like a boy. - Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) after an interview with NY1 News to the reporter who asked him about a federal investigation into his campaign finances when the interview was supposed to be about the State of the Union address The Super Bowl was on Fox, so the traditional pre-game sit-down with President Obama went to Bill O’Reilly. The interview got off to a rocky start. O’Reilly asked Obama, “Where you were born was football played with your feet?” And it went downhill from there. - Jimmy Kimmel At the end of the interview O’Reilly said he thinks Obama’s “heart is in the right place.” What does that mean? That’s basically saying that I don’t think he’s destroying America intentionally. - Ibid.
We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier. - Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett in response to Kerry’s comments Personal attacks in Israel directed at Sec Kerry totally unfounded and unacceptable. - Tweet by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice For one thing, a large number of the people killed under Soviet Communism weren’t the kulaks everyone pretends to care about but themselves Communists. -From an article on the popular left-wing website “Salon,” titled, “Why you’re wrong about communism: 7 huge misconceptions about it (and capitalism)” Communism is an aspiration, not an immediately achievable state. - Ibid.
It seems that England’s royal family is running out of money. They are down to just $1.6 million. Well, sure, that’s what happens when nobody in your family has had a job for the last thousand years.
I haven’t made a decision to run and I haven’t made a decision not to run. In my heart I’m confident I could make a good president. It’s a very different decision to decide whether or not to run for president, and there’s plenty of time for that. - Vice President Joe Biden on The Today Show House Republicans unveiled a new plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to become citizens if they learn about American history. Which will be great, because then they can teach it to Americans. - Jimmy Fallon
- Jay Leno In a lot of ways, Richard Nixon was more liberal than I was. - President Obama when asked by Bill O’Reilly if he is the most liberal president ever
Did you all see that game yesterday?...The Broncos couldn’t move the ball. The last time I saw a Bronco going that slow, OJ was driving it through L.A. - Jay Leno
The fur on your massive coat was meant for ANIMALS, Please consider FAUX! - Tweet by PETA to Joe Namath after he appeared for the Super Bowl coin toss wearing a rather large fur coat
I will never willingly go back…I’ll be a fugitive. - Amanda Knox to Good Morning America after an Italian court once again found her guilty of murder This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart. The Iranian conception seems to be they produce as much nuclear energy as they want, but it is a civilian program and you can have as much monitoring and inspections as you want. The American position is that they have to very substantially scale back the enrichment of uranium and the production of centrifuges. - Foreign policy analyst and informal advisor to President Obama, Fareed Zakaria, discussing the Iran deal
You are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again…It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification but it is the reality. - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at University of Hawaii law school discussing the Supreme Court decision which allowed internment camps during World War Two
I’m off the grid. I move about with my TV show so that the drones can’t find me so you won’t know exactly where I am. - Former wrestler and governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura when asked during a CNBC interview why he is at an undisclosed location in Mexico
The world is literally about to blow up. The world as I know was not remotely described by the president. - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- S.C) to Roll Call, critiquing the foreign policy portion of President Obama’s State of the Union address
From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s appearance on the Jon Stewart show last week: Jon Stewart: … Why is it so hard to get a company to execute [the Obamacare website] competently? Nancy Pelosi: I don’t know…
Stewart [laughing]: Let me get the House minority leader, I can ask her. Hold on. What do you mean you don’t know? How do you not know? Pelosi: It’s not my
responsibility. But I will say this. We worked very hard to honor our responsibility to pass a bill that honors the beliefs of our founders, life, a healthier life, liberty, the pursuit of your happiness -Stewart: Really. Pelosi: Yeah. If you want to
be a writer, if you want to be a comedian, if you want to be a camera person, if you want to start a business …
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The risks are very high for Israel. People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure. Do they want a failure that then begs whatever may come in the form of a response from disappointed Palestinians and the Arab community? - Secretary of State Kerry at the Munich Security Conference last week
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Jews During the Texas Revolution
he military history of Jews in the American military dates back to the Revolutionary War (17751787). There have been other conflicts on North American soil that involve patriots and other heroes fighting for a cause. The Texas Revolution against Mexico in 1835-1836 was the struggle for Texas to gain independence. Eventually, Texas was annexed by the U.S. and the conflict culminated in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). There were several Jewish men fighting for
The Alamo today
Texan independence including heroes at the Alamo and a surgeon who joined the revolutionaries at a critical time. Mexico was originally a Spanish colony and gained independence in 1821. Texas was part of the new country but many of the settlers resented sovereignty to Mexico. They were white and from English-speaking areas and wanted nothing to do with another country. Mexico had many problems of its own, mainly Native Americans attacking civilians and the fact that the war against Spain made them poor. The country was so poor that it couldn’t afford a big
army and therefore many militias were formed. The sparsely populated Texas was soon populated by American-born settlers who were ignoring laws that were set by Mexico to stop immigration to Mexico. (Yes, there was a time when Americans wanted to immigrate to Mexico!) But then Mexico outlawed slavery and imposed tariffs and taxes on American goods. Before long, many Texans, who were outraged by laws making slavery illegal, began forming militias to not just fight Indians but to break off from Mexico altogether. This uprising was called the Texas Revolution and the most famous battle was at the Alamo. At the start of the uprising, the call went out for recruits in the region and several volunteer regiments were raised. A Jewish surgeon, Dr. Albert Levy, joined the New Orleans Grays which joined other units at the siege of the Mexican fort, the San Antonio De Bexar. The defenders had very little ammunition, food and the morale was low but the presence of the surgeon helped. He was praised for his actions in December 1835 by one of the Texan commanders. Levy joined the Texas Navy a year later, and his ship was captured by two Mexican warships but he managed to escape. After Bexar, the Mexicans surrendered, and about 300 Texans prepared to take the fight over the Rio Grande River into Mexico. A hundred men were left at the Alamo and nothing became of the expedition. The Texans were finally free
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of Mexican rule and created their own San Jacinto River on April 20. After miconstitution with Henry Smith as gov- nor skirmishes on the first day of the baternor and Sam Houston as command- tle, the Mexicans were reinforced on the er of the regular army. Stephan Austin second day and had about 1,200 men. They were exhausted was the commander of from prolonged marches the revolutionaries but and were meeting a Texstepped down as the siege an Army that was out for at Bexar was winding revenge. In eighteen mindown. However, the war utes, all of the Mexican was far from over as the warriors were killed and Mexicans prepared 6,000 captured with the loss of soldiers to go to San Annine Texans. Finally, the tonio under General Santa superior training of the Anna. Texans paid off, and Santa 1,500 Mexican were Anna was captured. sent to reoccupy Bexar After the battle, there and the rest surrounded was a prisoner exchange the Alamo for a thirteen Dr. Albert Levy, a Jewish and the Mexicans promday siege. A few skirsurgeon who joined the fight ised never again to fight mishes led the way to the the Texans. Texas finally full scale battle on March 6, 1836. All of the estimated 176 Texans had its independence and the settlers were killed in the heroic stand that would were able to go back to their farms in make Texas famous. Frontiersmen like peace. Despite the treaty, there were Sam Bowie, William Travis and Davie clashes between the two countries until Crockett gave their lives in order to save the Mexican-American War in 1846. Texas from the invaders. A French Jew, Texans (and Americans for that matLouis Moses Rose, is believed to have ter) always love war heroes, and Sam been the only survivor having left the Houston was elected president twice. Alamo three days prior to the battle. His The country of Texas was short-lived as presence during the siege is debated by they were annexed by the U.S. who sent historians. There have been reports that say up to four Jews were at the Alamo on March 6, but only one has been accepted to actually have been there and was one of the last to be killed. A young Englishman, Private Anthony Wolf, was one in a small group of men to have been captured but A painting of the Battle of the Alamo was supposedly executed on Santa Anna’s orders. Over 500 Mexicans were killed but San- troops to fight in the Mexican American ta Anna continued his invasion into Tex- War. There has always been a Jewish popas and on to his objective of defeating ulation in Texas and when their country the Texan Army. Subsequently, the Mexicans split asked them to pick up arms they did so into three groups and several battles valiantly. The efforts of men like Dr. Alwere fought, including the surrender bert Levy and Anthony Wolf will stand of 342 Texans at Goliad. Under Santa as a testament to the rest of Texas who Anna’s orders, all of the Texans were won independence from Mexico. There massacred and the hatred for the Mex- is an Albert Levy Memorial Day to honican invaders ran deep. However, Hous- or the Jews that fought in the Texas Revton’s army was small and for a month olution. they were on the run. On the other hand, even though he had the larger army, San- Avi Heiligman is a weekly contributor to The ta Anna was terrible strategist and had Jewish Home. He welcomes your comments no clue where the Texans were camped. and suggestions.for future columns and can Finally, Houston met Santa Anna at the be reached at email@example.com.
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Global Mandela Leaves $4.1 Million to Family
started a line of caps and sweatshirts that feature his image under the brand “Long Walk to Freedom.” Two of his U.S.-based granddaughters starred in a reality television show called “Being Mandela.”
had done this in a proper way, then perhaps there would not have been a tragedy like today’s in Moscow.” The president believes that teaching children the beauty of culture will give them the strength of goodness.
Two Killed in Shooting in Moscow
Castaway: Adrift at Sea for Thirteen Months
On Monday, a tenth grade student burst into a Moscow school and killed his geography teacher and a policeman. The murders took place in front of around 20 students but thankfully, none of the 400 children in the school were hurt. Eventually, the boy was taken into custody and the children were freed from the school. On Monday, the reading of former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela’s will revealed that the late leader left his $4.1 million estate to family members, the ruling African National Congress, former staff and several local schools. Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said that when the will was read to family earlier the mood was “charged with emotion.” “I am not aware of any contest of any type and the will has been duly lodged and accepted,” Moseneke pointed out. Under South African marital law, Mandela’s third wife, Graca Machel, is entitled to half the estate but could waive her claims and opt for specified assets that include properties in her native Mozambique. As of now, Machel has not made a decision on whether to waive her rights, Moseneke said. Some of the estate would be split between three trusts set up by Mandela, including a family trust designed to provide for his more than 30 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Each of the Mandela children and some of his grand-children received $300,000. His upscale Johannesburg house, where he spent most of his life after being freed from apartheid jails, is set to be the home to his deceased son Makgatho’s children. The ANC, which was Mandela’s political home, could receive a portion of his royalties from books and other commercial outlets using his name and image. Mandela staff, including his long-time personal assistant Zelda Le Grange, also shared in the fortune with 50,000 rand each. Mandela, who died in December at the age of 95, left an estate that also included a modest dwelling in his rural Eastern Cape home province and royalties from book sales, including his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. Additionally, his legacy includes a potent political and moral brand that some of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren have already used to market everything from clothing to reality TV. Some of his grandchildren have
School shootings are rare in Russia. Even so, a shooting like this brings back memories of the Beslan school siege in 2004, when Islamic militants from Russia’s North Caucasus took about 1,000 people hostage, most of them children. More than 300 hostages were killed when Russian security forces stormed that school. Monday’s attack did not seem to be linked to terrorism. Witnesses say the gunman entered the school after threatening a security guard and then fired several shots at the teacher, Andrei Kirillov. Officials say that Sergei Gordeyev was an excellent student who apparently had an emotional breakdown. Gordeyev fired at least 11 times from a small-caliber rifle, also killing one police officer and wounding a second. During the attack, the gunman’s father was called to the school in an effort to persuade him to let the 20 students leave the classroom. After speaking on the phone with his son for 15 minutes, the boy refused his father’s pleas. Eventually, Gordeyev’s father donned a bulletproof vest and entered the classroom. The children were then freed, and the father and his son were left alone until special forces stormed in. In response to the attack, President Vladimir Putin said Russia should do a better job at providing a cultural education for its children. “We have to raise a new generation of theatergoers with good artistic taste who can understand and value theatrical, dramatic and musical art,” he said at a televised gathering of cultural figures. “If we
Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. On Monday, Jose Salvador Alvarenga greeted the civilized world sporting a bushy beard, sandals and clutching a can of Coke. The former fisherman was living as a castaway for more than a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean. It was true relief when he reached dry land in the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro. On December 24, 2012, Alvarenga set sail from Mexico with a teenage boy, Xiquel, on a shark-fishing expedition. But they did not reach their intended destination as strong winds blew them off course and they became lost. After a few weeks of trying to survive the seas, the youth died of starvation because he could not eat raw bird meat. Upon his rescue, Alvarenga communicated with rescuers through pictures and gestures since he does not speak English and explained that he survived his 13-month, 8,000 mile ordeal by eating turtles, birds and fish and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain. Because he was a trained shark and shrimp fisherman, he was able to survive the elements. “He looked better than one would expect,” U.S. ambassador Thomas Armbruster said. Even so, a male nurse had to help the survivor down the gangplank from his rescue boat. Last week, Alvarenga’s fiberglass boat floated onto a reef and it was from there that police were able to come to his rescue. “I feel bad,” Alvarenga told an interpreter. “I am so far away. I don’t know where I am or what happened.” Despite the miraculous story of survival, Alvarenga is not the first castaway to survive the Pacific waters in recent years. In 2006, three Mexicans made international headlines when they were discovered drifting, also in a small fiberglass boat near the Marshall Islands, nine months after setting out on a shark-fishing expedition. They survived on a diet of rainwater, raw fish and seabirds, with their hopes kept alive by reading the Bible.
Kenneth Bae Sentenced to 15 Years Hard Labor
In a rare interview with a North Korean diplomat it was revealed that North Korea will not be commuting American missionary Kenneth Bae’s sentence of fifteen years of hard labor. Bae was leading a tour group in the secretive state in Nov. 2012 when he was arrested and jailed for so-called anti-government acts. North Korea’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hyun Hak-bong, said that Bae was being treated well but suggested that he would not be pardoned before his sentence was complete. “I cannot interfere into the legal system,” Hyun said. “When the judgment is done, then it is done. “Sometimes there’s occasions for a pardon but I don’t know and I cannot predict that Kenneth Bae will be pardoned or not. He should finish his term – that is all – according to crimes against DPR [Democratic People’s Republic of] Korea,” Hyun continued Bae was moved to a hospital last summer after his health deteriorated. Hyun denied Bae was being kept in a labor camp, despite describing his sentence as “hard labor,” and said he had been given access to medicine. Additionally, the ambassador insisted that there are no labor camps in North Korea. He added that if the media and United States continued to spread “misinformation” it would make Bae’s detention “more difficult.” Earlier this month, Bae held a press conference under guard in which he appealed to the United States government to do more for his release.
Iran Threatens to Attack U.S. From Within
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“Mr. Bloomberg will assist the Secretary-General in his consultations with mayors and related key stakeholders, in order to raise political will and mobilize action among cities as part of his long-term strategy to advance efforts on climate change,”
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the announcement said. Bloomberg currently serves as the President of the Board of the C40 Climate Leadership Group, a network of large cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally. During his twelve years as mayor of New York City, Bloomberg took action to reduce the strain on natural resources such as water, air and land by instituting a more energy-efficient city by rebuilding aging water mains, fostering greater support for mass transit, putting limits on vehicular congestion and creating more energy-efficient buildings. For his post, Bloomberg will be paid $1 a year.
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Bloomberg Tapped as U.N.’s Climate Change Envoy
moon announced last week the appointment of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change to galvanize urban action to reduce greenhouse emissions ahead of the United Nations’ climate summit this coming September.
THE JEWISH HOME
ary Islam are the best opportunity,” Jafari had said. “Muslim leaders for years have been preparing us for a decisive battle…Do you know how many thousands of revolutionary Muslims at the heart of the Islamic revolutionary groups around the world are awaiting for you to take this [military] option from the table into action?” Of course, a good and “scary” Iranian threat would not be whole without a shoutout to Israel. To that end, Salami inquired, “Can they preserve their vital interest in the region in the face of endless attacks by Iran? Can they keep their naval assets and the Zionist regime [Israel] secure?”
Despite the newfound diplomatic relationship between the Iranian government and the Obama administration, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard remains suspicious of the U.S. and warned that it has plans in place to attack the United States from within, should the U.S. attack Iran. “America, with its strategic ignorance, does not have a full understanding of the power of the Islamic Republic,” Revolutionary Guard Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised interview. “We have recognized America’s military strategy, and have arranged our abilities, and have identified centers in America [for attack] that will create a shock.” Salami warned, “We will conduct such a blow in which they [America] will be destroyed from within.” Two weeks ago, the chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Jafari, made a similar declaration in response to Secretary of State Kerry’s insinuation that if diplomacy does not work America may take military action against Iran. “Your threats to revolution-
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expectancies in the world. But it’s not guns that are killing these comrades. Believe it or not, it’s Russia’s drink of choice that is driving them to the grave in droves. According to a new study, Russian men who drink three bottles of vodka a week double their risk of dying over the next 20 years. “Vodka [or other strong alcoholic drinks] is a major cause of death in Russia,” the team of Russian and British researchers report in the Lancet medical journal. Thankfully, the study points out that limiting alcohol consumption helps to curb early deaths. “Russian death rates have fluctuated wildly over the past 30 years as alcohol restrictions and social stability varied under Presidents Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin, and the main thing driving these wild fluctuations in death was vodka,” British cancer expert Richard Peto of the University of Oxford, who worked on the study, said in a statement.
David Zaridze of the Russian Cancer Research Center in Moscow and colleagues interviewed 200,000 people in three Siberian cities—Barnaul, Byisk, and Tomsk— over 10 years from 1999 to 2008. These cities reflect the average Russian population, they said. They asked them about drinking habits and health, and then looked to see who died and when. The clearest pattern was among male smokers, who also happened to be the heaviest drinkers. Men aged 35 to 54 who drank less than a bottle of vodka a week had a 16 percent chance of dying of anything over the next 20 years. But this rose to 20 percent for men who drank one to three bottles a week and to 35 percent for those who admitted drinking three or more bottles a week. According to the study, most men drank a bottle or less a week, but 2,842 said they drank three or more bottles every week. “Since 2005, Russian consumption of spirits and male mortality before age 55 years both decreased by about a third but are still substantial,” the researchers noted. Heavy drinking can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, liver failure and other diseases, and drinkers are more likely to die in accidents or to be murdered. And people who consume alcohol and smoke together are stirring a deadly cocktail.
Vatican Goes Kosher For A Day When a delegation of rabbis from Argentina visited the Vatican last week “they
got to have their cake and eat it too” because the kitchen of Pope Francis’ Vatican residence was made kosher for the day.
The kitchen was kashered by Rabbi Yaakov Spizzichino of Rome, who blasted the oven with heat, boiled utensils, and covered countertops to assure compliance with dietary laws. The meal was catered by Ba’ Ghetto, a popular Roman kosher restaurant. The delegation was led by Rabbi Abraham Skorka, head of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, who is good friends with the pope. When the pope was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, he and Skorka co-wrote a book of dialogues on Judaism and Roman Catholicism titled, “On Heaven and Earth” and had a similarly themed TV show called, “Bible, A Dialogue for Today.” Bergoglio kept a framed photo of the two of them in his study. When he became pope, Francis gave Rabbi Skorka an email address to use so they could stay in touch, and they exchange emails almost every week.
Surfing the Web North Korea-Style
North Korea is trying to enter the twenty-first century. The regime curbs its citizens’ internet freedom to the point that there essentially isn’t any. In fact, many North Koreans have been told—and believe—that the internet is a dark, dangerous territory. But despite the fact that the internet is seen as the monster in the closet, the regime is aware that it’s time for some of its citizens to use this powerful phenomenon. Recently, the country revealed its own intranet called Kwangmyong or “Bright.” It is a self-contained internet and chats and emails are monitored. The content on Bright is so restricted, though, that it hardly
needs to even be overlooked by officials. Its operating system, known as Red Star, is now available in version 3.0 and looks very much like the Microsoft operating system, although it is only available in the Hermit Kingdom. Red Star has audio and video players, and even a game — Korean chess. There’s a Firefox-style search engine called “Our Country” that helps users navigate around an estimated 1,000 to 5,500 websites, mostly for universities, government offices, libraries and state-run corporations. Most North Koreans have no access to the Internet at all. “The goal is to reap the benefits of information technology, while keeping out potentially corrosive foreign influences,” said Scott Bruce, a North Korea IT expert and analyst at the Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit CRDF Global. “I haven’t had a time when I’ve been allowed to use the Intranet — since the point is that it is not open to foreigners,” said Will Scott, a computer sciences instructor at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology who has worked about as closely with North Korea’s attempt to get wired as any other foreigner. Through daily interactions with North Korean students at his university, however, Scott has been able to glean a general outline of what Bright is all about. “The Intranet provides a connection between industry, universities and the government. It seems to be focused on information propagation, rather than commerce, entertainment or communication,” he said. “Given the limited resources in the country, where computers are likely not to be owned by individuals, and are a valuable resource, this has a striking resemblance to the uses first made of the Internet in the U.S. when it was introduced in the ‘80s.” Graduate students and North Korean professors at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology are allowed to access the real Internet from a dedicated computer lab. They receive the same speed and unfiltered access that foreign instructors do, although everyone’s access is monitored. Scott said the graduate students don’t use the Internet nearly as much as Americans would, treating it more like the way Western students might visit a library to find books. Students’ emails must be reviewed and approved by one of the vice presidents of the university before they can be sent, which, Scott said, means they rarely use email. “There is some resistance to providing Internet access to students because it requires some level of political capital, and is generally discouraged by higher-up ministries as not worth the potential danger,” he said. “I think you would find a surprising lack of technical surveillance on the Intranet, due largely to the high level of self-censorship built into the collective
psyche in the country.” Because of the general population’s lack of experience with the Internet — and the perception that it is dangerous, forbidden territory — there is no grassroots clamor in North Korea for change.
Amanda Knox Found Guilty Again A court in Italy last Thursday has reinstated the guilty verdicts against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Amanda’s roommate in 2007 and sentenced her in absentia to 28 ½ years in prison. Amanda was originally arrested days after the murder and was convicted along with Sollecito in November 2009. In 2011, an eight-member jury cleared both defendants of the murder after doubts were raised over procedures used to gather DNA evidence. Amanda, who had spent four years in prison, was allowed to return home to the U.S. But the Italian Supreme Court ordered a retrial last year after an appeal by prosecutors, who argued that important DNA evidence had been disregarded. Knox, who remained in her hometown of Seattle for the trial, watched the verdict with her family live on television. After the verdict was handed down, Amanda’s father said “We will obviously fight it because it is not justified and there is no way she’s going back over there.” Knox’s parents told ABC News that the ordeal has cost them everything, devastating them financially, but they are prepared to keep fighting. Amanda spoke with Good Morning America the day after receiving the verdict and said, “It really hit me like a train. I did not expect this to happen. I really expected so much better from the Italian justice system. They found me innocent once before.” She vows to appeal the verdict once again to the Italian Supreme Court. Italy and the U.S. have an extradition treaty. However, many experts believe that the U.S. could deny the request because under American law “double jeopardy” bars a defendant from being tried again for a particular offense after being cleared. In this case, Amanda was cleared in 2011. However, famed criminal lawyer and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz told NBC News that double jeopardy will probably not protect Amanda in this case because she was initially found guilty and her acquittal was heard at an intermediate appeals level. “‘If that happened in the U.S., it wouldn’t be double jeopardy. Amanda vowed that she will fight extradition. “I will never willingly go back. . . Legally, I’ll be a fugitive,” she said.
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Israel Kerry Criticized Again for Treatment of Israel
Since becoming secretary of state one year ago, John Kerry has made the Israeli-Palestinian conflict one of his main points of focus. Kerry’s efforts have caused him to be a thorn by Israel’s side, not because they are strangers to U.S. diplomatic efforts, but because Kerry’s combination of arrogance and penchant for verbal gaffes has caused him to make several damaging statements about the State of Israel. In November 2013, Kerry warned that Israel could face terrorism if it did not reach an agreement: “The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?” Israelis recoiled at the implication that they alone bore the burden of peace, and that terrorism would be an expected, or even legitimate, response. Last week at a Munich security forum, Kerry once again poked a thorn in Israel’s eye when he brought up the possibility of a boycott against Israel. “The risks are very high for Israel,” Kerry said at the conference. “People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure. Do they want a failure that then begs whatever may come in the form of a response from disappointed Palestinians and the Arab community?” Israel’s Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz accused Kerry of “holding a gun to [Israel’s] head”. He told reporters, “The things Kerry said are hurtful, they are unfair and they are intolerable.” Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett slammed Kerry’s statements and said, “We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier.” Prime Minister Netanyahu also responded, albeit indirectly, dismissing the threat of boycotts: “Firstly, they only serve to make the Palestinians become more entrenched in their stance of refusal. Secondly, no pressure will make me abandon the State of Israel’s vital interests, of which security of the civilian population is fore-
most.” The U.S. State Department attempted to clarify Kerry’s remarks on Sunday, saying that Kerry’s remarks were a warning, not a threat, and that the Obama administration did not support boycotts. “His only reference to a boycott was a description of actions undertaken by others that he has always opposed,” said Jen Psaki, a state department spokeswoman. “[Kerry] expected opposition and difficult moments in the process, but he also expects all parties to accurately portray his record and statements.”
Singer Ariel Zilber Receives Less of an Award because of Political Views
On Monday, well-known Israeli singer and composer Ariel Zilber received a prize from ACUM (Union of Composers, Writers and Publishers in Israeli Music) for his contribution to Israeli music. Originally the singer was supposed to have received a lifetime achievement award, but the ACUM reversed its decision and instead awarded the prize to Dalia Rabin, daughter of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin who is a member of ACUM’s board of directors, and who is opposed to Zilber because of his rightwing political stance. Apparently, everything in Israel is political. The saga surrounding Zilber’s award started last week, when leftist singer Achinoam Nini announced she would not accept a prize from ACUM so long as Zilber was being honored as well. On Monday, as he got up on stage to accept his prize, Zilber said that ACUM should be shut down and a new union be established that respects anyone, regardless of their political opinion. “I thank the members of ACUM who wanted to give me a lifetime achievement award,” he began. “I am the son of singer Bracha Tzfira, who was one of the founders of modern Israeli music, I come from this country and I am grateful for it every day. The gaps are not easy for me. I express myself through music and it’s not easy for me. Let’s stay connected to one another, with the values of love thy neighbor. The feeling is that I
have become the punching bag of interest groups and frustrated artists who are constantly trying to make up my extremism.” Zilber continued, “If it were up to me, I would shut down ACUM today and establish a new ACUM which says there is room for anyone, regardless of his opinions, and ACUM today does not fulfill its destination. I’m Jewish, I’m Israeli, I’m one of you. Thank you G-d, thank you my dear wife.” Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman criticized ACUM’s decision to change Zilber’s prize, writing on his Facebook page, “The capitulation of ACUM and the decision to give Ariel Zilber a prize only on his contribution to Israeli music instead of a lifetime achievement award is a dangerous submission and flattery of the Bolshevism of radical leftists.” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett also criticized ACUM, saying, “We were informed today that ACUM intends to prevent Ariel Zilber from winning a lifetime achievement award because of his political views. And it joins the same thought police which prevented Nobel Laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann from receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa.” “ACUM’s decision goes against all cultural and creative values, and I suggest that they change it now. I say to the University of Haifa and to ACUM – the shame is on you. It’s an honor not to be honored by you,” added Bennett. Zilber, a one-time “bad boy” of Israeli pop music, became frum over the last decade and is vocal about his religious and political views.
Abbas Says NATO can Stay
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas suggested that NATO would be left in charge of the future Palestinian state instead of an army. The Arab leader said that he would agree to let Israeli troops remain in the Palestinian state for five years to help with the transition and to reassure the Israeli public about the Israeli safety. But after Israeli forces leave, Abbas stated that NATO forces would be allowed to stay to help police the territory. The NATO forces could stay “for a long time,
and wherever they want, not only on the eastern borders but also on the western borders, everywhere ... For a long time, for the time they wish. NATO can be everywhere, why not?” said Abbas. Such a force, he said, “can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us. We will be demilitarized. ... Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?” Abbas told The New York Times that he could not possibly accept a lengthy Israeli military presence in a sovereign Palestinian state, saying, “At the end of five years my country will be clean of occupation.” “The Israelis do not want the third party,” he said. “[Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert, he welcomed this idea. Mr. Netanyahu told me directly, when we were in his house, ‘I cannot rely on anybody to protect my security except my army.’ He doesn’t want to leave the borders to us. I told him, ‘If you will not trust your allies, so whom do you trust? I am not bringing for you Turkey and Indonesia.’ He said, ‘I trust my army only.’ The Israelis are occupiers and they want to stay forever. When they say they want to stay for 40 years, it means they will not go out from our territory.” “We have to address, first of all, Mr. Netanyahu,” Abbas told The Times. “Mr. Netanyahu is the key. If he does believe in peace, everything will be easy.” While the PA previously declared that peace talks will not be extended by even one day, Abbas also told The Times that April is “not a sacred date.” “Suppose by the end of nine months we got something promising. Shall I stop? I will not stop. If, after nine months, we didn’t get anything, if there is nothing on the horizon, we will stop,” he said. Referring to Kerry’s framework for peace, Abbas distanced himself from it, saying, “He has the right to do whatever he wants, and at the end we have the right to say whatever we want.” Asked about Netanyahu’s insistence that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas said, “This is out of the question.” He added that Jordan and Egypt were not asked to do so when they signed peace treaties with Israel.
SodaStream Becomes Piñata for Bash Israel Crowd Israeli company SodaStream, which sells home soda-making machines, showed its marketing prowess in 2013 when its ad was banned from the Super Bowl because it directly challenged Pepsi and Coca-Cola,
National Bridgegate Part II: Is Christie Cooked? After it was disclosed that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s team ordered the closure of several lanes on the George
After the press conference, political pundits were generally of the view that due to his emphatic denial and seemingly heartfelt apology Christie would still be a viable 2016 GOP candidate for the presidential election. But, they added, if it comes out that he actually did know about the bridge closures and spent 109 minutes lying, then he is “cooked.” Now, David Wildstein, who was the Christie appointee at the Port Authority who actually closed the lanes, is claiming that the New Jersey governor was aware of the closures as they were happening. According to a letter from Wildstein’s attorney, “Evidence exists…tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly.” In response to this letter and a story about it in The New York Times, Governor Christie’s office sent out an email with the subject line, “5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell.” The email states, “A media firestorm was set off by sloppy reporting from The New York Times.” The email seems to save its best punches for Wildstein. “In David Wildstein’s past, people and newspaper accounts have described him as ‘tumultuous’ and someone who ‘made moves that were not productive,’” the email says. To show just how shady of a character Wildstein is, the email says, “He was publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior.” The email concludes: “Bottom line — David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein.” It is too early to know who is right and who is wrong here. But one thing I can say with certainty: If deceptive behavior in high school leads to bridge closures, every bridge in this country would be shut down.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first official Groundhog Day ceremony took a dive when Staten Island Chuck squirmed out of his arms, causing the furry critter to fall, amid gasps from the crowd. It’s not that Mayor de Blasio came under-prepared; the problem was that he came over-prepared: In 2009, his predecessor Michael Bloomberg was bitten by the furry creature. “Chuck and my predecessor didn’t always get along, let’s be honest about that. But I’m hoping we can start a new day, a new relationship here,” said Mr. de Blasio before the encounter. “I’m reaching out a hand to Chuck, and I hope he will consider shaking it rather than doing other things.” But Mayor de Blasio’s problem was that he actually did not “reach out his hand.” Instead, he was wearing massive elbow-length fisherman’s gloves. When he was handed the rodent, he was unable to get a grip on it and it fell to the ground. Zookeepers quickly scooped up the fuzzy forecaster and handed it back to the mayor. The second time around he maintained control and declared “We’re making peace. We’re making peace here. We’re all getting along. It’s all good, Chuck.” Those present were disappointed when the little whistle-pig saw a shadow, meaning there will be at least 6 more weeks of winter. To me it’s disappointing that Mayor de Blasio dropped the groundhog; that signals that we are going to have at least four more years with this guy.
seem crazy to too many New Yorkers who have been pummeled by winter storms these past few months. But last week, a New York hiker was trapped by a snowstorm for two days in an unusual place—in Hawaii. Alex Sverdlov, 36, set out on the 18mile trek to the top of Mauna Loa at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Sunday. On Tuesday, the Queens native reached the 13,677-foot summit after dropping off his heavy gear at a lower elevation and was beginning his descent when the snowstorm hit, blasting the volcano with heavy snow and whipping winds. After trying unsuccessfully to locate his pack in the blinding, snowy conditions, Sverdlov hunkered down as night fell. All he had were the clothes on his back and frozen bottle of water. In the sunlight of the next day, Sverdlov was able to find his pack but unable to travel down the mountain due to the deluge of snow. He spent another frozen night in the wilderness. Finally, on Thursday morning, Sverdlov was rescued by search crews after hearing their helicopter. “I’ve done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill,” Sverdlov admits. Park rangers knew Sverdlov was on the mountain because he got a backcountry permit before taking the hike. The volcano was closed Tuesday when the snow hit, and park rangers went up to the base of the trail Wednesday morning to check on Sverdlov’s car. When it was still there that afternoon, park rangers decided to send a helicopter to look for the hiker the following morning. “What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit so we knew he was up there,” park ranger John Broward pointed out. “He is extremely fit and he stayed calm. We’re all fortunate this had a happy ending.” The ordeal apparently hasn’t diminished Sverdlov’s passion for hiking. He applied for another backcountry permit for the park’s coast. “This time I’m going to the sunny part of the park,” he wisely said.
Trapped in a Blizzard— in the Aloha State
Escaped Murderer Captured
Get a Grip de Blasio
Being trapped in a snowstorm doesn’t
On Monday evening, a convicted killer who escaped from a Michigan prison was captured once again after a chase with police. On Sunday night, Michael David Elliot, who always displayed good behavior during his 20 years behind bars, escaped from jail wearing a white kitchen uniform. He peeled a hole in two fences with his hands and abducted a woman before fleeing to Indiana. Residents were warned of the escape and advised to stay inside. At
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The anti-Israel crowd claims that the company, which is located in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, does not treat its Palestinian workers fairly. In response to that criticism, the actress wrote on Huffington Post, “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights. That is what is happening in their Ma’ale Adumim factory every working day.” Despite mounting criticism, the actress stuck to her guns. In fact, last week she announced that she was ending her relationship with the humanitarian organization Oxfam, after the group criticized her decision to sign on as the first global brand ambassador for at-home soda-maker SodaStream . Former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, one of the more prominent celebrity faces of the boycott Israel movement, took to Facebook to decry the actress’s decision. The result is that more people are talking about SodaStream. Which means more people will likely watch the commercial. Which means that more people will likely buy SodaStream machines. So much for a boycott.
Washington Bridge as political retribution, Christie spent 109 minutes at a press conference denying that he knew about the bridge closure when it was happening. “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over,” he said. He blamed it on several staff members, who he summarily fired once the scandal came to light.
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two of the major advertisers. The result was that millions of people took to the internet to see the ad and it became a water cooler topic of conversation for weeks. Now, SodaStream’s Super Bowl ad has once again become a topic of conversation, not because its ad was banned, but because the anti-Israel crowd is offended that the ad features a highly acclaimed Hollywood actress.
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least one school went into lockdown as police went door-to-door looking for the felon.
Police managed to capture the fugitive after they received a report of a stolen car. Elliot was serving life in prison without parole for fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20 years old, according to court records. Elliot and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer, police said. One of the accomplices testified that he was laughing at the time of the crime. Elliot was convicted of first-degree murder in 1994.
Joan Mondale Dies at 83
On Monday, Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died at 83. He husband and children were by her side at the time of her demise. Mondale earned the nickname “Joan of Art” while her husband was vice president under Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. Carter appointed her honorary chairwoman of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities, a role that lead to frequent visits to museums, theaters and art studios on the behalf of the administration. She also lobbied Congress and states to boost public funding for art programs. Her passion for the arts was evident in the Mondale’s home. In the vice-presidential house, she showcased famous American artists, including outdoor photographer Ansel Adams, sculptor David Smith and painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Joan’s husband – who also served 20 years in the Senate – ran for president in 1984, but lost to incumbent President Ronald Reagan.
State of the Snooze-ion As President Obama prepared for his
State of the Union speech on January 28th, he faced abysmal approval ratings. According to a CNN poll compiled the day before the address, Obama’s approval rating stood at 44%, with 51% of Americans giving a thumbs down to Obama’s performance in the White House. If he planned on using the yearly address to change Americans’ perception of him, it was a futile effort because barely anyone watched. According to Nielson Ratings, fewer than 33.3 million Americans watched the State of the Union address this year, the lowest turnout since President Clinton’s final State of the Union address in 2000. The most of America who didn’t watch the address did not miss much. Whereas in previous years the president used this yearly address to put forth a bold agenda and sell big ticket items such as Obamacare, this year Mr. Obama steered clear of any sweeping new initiatives. Although he called on Congress to pass an immigration bill, his overall theme was that where Congress doesn’t act, he will act through executive orders. Although the President’s address did not make much news, a bizarre exchange right after the State of the Union address between NY1 reporter Michael Scotto and Rep. Michael Grimm (R- Staten Island) was captured on TV and went viral. When interviewing Rep. Grimm right after the address, Scotto suddenly switched topics and asked Rep. Grimm about an ethics investigation he is entangled in. After the interview was over, but when the cameras were still rolling, an angry Rep. Grimm—who says that he agreed to go on the show to talk about the State of the Union address, not about the investigation— could be heard saying to Scotto, “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this … balcony.” After some additional back and forth between the two, Rep. Grimm said to Scotto, “I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.” Now that’s what you call a real Staten Island congressman. Badda bing, Badda bam. Ya know what I’m sayin’?!
NBA Commissioner David Stern Retires
Out with David Stern, in with Adam Silver. No, we are not talking about your shul’s
presidency— we are talking about the NBA Commissioner. Stern, age 72, retired on February 1st, exactly 30 years after he took charge, making him the NBA’s longest-serving and most successful commissioner. Stern and Silver, who are both Jewish lawyers from New York, have been working together since 1992 when Silver became Stern’s assistant. Stern—the relatively small, whitehaired man seen grinning and congratulating victors on every NBA stag, from championship ceremony to player drafts— presided over the NBA’s growth from a financially strapped sport to a global commercial powerhouse. Stern was by far the most powerful presence in the NBA even though he was technically employed at the will of the owners while having to keep hundreds of multimillionaire superstar players happy. He implemented numerous controversial rules, such as the dress code he implemented in 2005 which banned players from wearing headphones, chains, shorts, sleeveless shirts, indoor sunglasses, T-shirts, jerseys and headgear such as baseball caps during NBA-related public appearances. Stern is known to have imposed harsh fines on players who violated or embarrassed the NBA. He once said, “I sort of acknowledge that there is no free speech when you agree to work in the NBA.” Despite Stern’s strong hand, he also often exhibited a lighter side. At every NBA draft, each time he would step onto the stage, the crowd would enthusiastically boo him. Stern seemed to relish the scorn and would respond with his trademark smirk… which only made the crowd boo louder. Stern announced he would retire on October 25, 2012, and owners unanimously chose Silver as his successor. The NBA will now begin using balls with Silver’s signature in games. From Stern to Silver. Who is next—Cohen?
Obama and O’Reilly Duke It Out in PreSuper Bowl Interview
In a prelude to the biggest football game of the year, President Barack Obama sat down with Fox News anchor Bill O’Reil-
ly for a pre-Super Bowl interview. This was Obama’s sixth straight pre-Super Bowl interview and the second one conducted by O’Reilly. The tone of the testy interview was set early when O’Reilly inquired about the botched roll out of Obamacare and pointed out that as a taxpayer he is “paying Kathleen Sebelius’ salary and she [messed] up. And you’re not holding her accountable.” The president showed that he was willing to strike back at the self-proclaimed hard-hitting O’Reilly. When O’Reilly asked, “Was it the biggest mistake of your presidency to tell the nation over and over, if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance?” President Obama responded, “Oh, Bill, you’ve got a long list of my mistakes of my presidency.” O’Reilly spent a considerable amount of time trying to determine when the president learned that the Benghazi killing of four Americans was a terror attack. During the exchange, the president and O’Reilly talked over each other and each dug into their positions. O’Reilly then said, “Your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was a terror attack because your campaign didn’t want that out.” The president responded, “And they believe it because folks like you are telling them that.” O’Reilly declared, “No, I’m not telling them that.” Perhaps echoing President Obama’s sentiment about Fox News, once the Super Bowl—which aired on Fox— started, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent out the following tweet: “It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked! #SuperBowl.” In a lighter moment, O’Reilly asked Mr. Obama what his Super Bowl prediction was. “I can’t make a prediction. I don’t know,” replied the president. “These guys are too evenly matched. I think it is going to be 24-21, but I don’t know who’s going to win.” Turns out Obama’s prediction was way off …much like every other sports fan in the country was. (But, then again, does it indicate that he was actually born in Kenya? Hmm…)
America’s Top Dog For the 23rd straight year, the Labrador retriever is the pooch that touches the hearts of most Americans. Even so, the French bulldog gained ground in popularity by leaps and bounds this year, the American Kennel Club said on Friday. Labrador retrievers enjoy the longest consecutive reign of any dog in the annual ranking compiled by the American Kennel Club, or AKC, which bases its list of the most popular breeds on the number of dog registrations across the country. This year,
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This bleak picture is not reserved for just the lower classes. According to the report, one-quarter of middle class households also fall into the category of “liquid asset poor.” Geographically, most of the economically insecure are clustered in the South and West, with Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Nevada, and Arkansas being the states with the highest percentage of financially insecure.
the German shepherd took second place, followed by the golden retriever and the beagle, respectively. Breeds pulling ahead in the pack included the Doberman pinscher, which scurried past 20 other breeds to 12th place and the Great Dane, which made an 11-place jump to 16th.
In a testament to their growing popularity, large breeds dominated the list. ”Owning bigger breeds – an economic indicator of sorts – has been on the rise during the past five years,” said Lisa Peterson, a spokeswoman for the AKC. Bigger dogs are indicative of American’s larger purses. “As the economy has improved, people are turning back to the big dogs they love, which cost more to feed and care for than the smaller breeds that saw a rise in popularity in 2007 and 2008” during the financial crisis, she pointed it. New Yorkers favor the English bulldog; it’s the most popular breed in New York City, while the French bulldog rose three spots to No. 11 on the national list, its highest ranking. “That’s a big jump. I haven’t seen anything like that in any breed,” Peterson said. French bulldogs require minimal grooming and exercise, making them an ideal choice for owners in apartments and suburbs. “It’s a wash-and-wear, easy to care for companion dog,” Peterson said. After a decade in decline, rare breeds made a comeback. Giant schnauzers, the largest of the schnauzer breeds, climbed 13 places in the rankings. The keeshond, a medium-size dog with a plush silver and black coat, scrambled up 17 places.
Need to See Doctor? Wait A recently released survey conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a national physician search and consulting firm, regarding average doctor appointment wait times found that Bostonians experience the longest wait times in the nation’s 15 largest cities. In Boston, it takes an average of 72 days to see a dermatologist, 66 days to see a family physician, 46 days to see an ob/gyn, 27 days to see a cardiologist, and 16 days to see an orthopedic surgeon.
The shortest wait times were in Dallas, where it takes approximately 10 days for all specialties, and just five days to see a family doctor. According to the survey, in New York the average wait time to see a family physician is 26 days. (Yes, you read that correctly.) The survey also noted that in Boston 73% of doctors accept Medicaid whereas in Dallas only 23% of doctors accept Medicaid, which may explain the disparity in wait times in the two cities. “We have too few providers, which is creating a significant access problem,” says Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins. He added, “If no one will take your insurance, you’re going to end up in the same place, and that’s probably the ER.” And with more patients covered both by Medicaid and private insurance, he says, wait times are likely to get worse. As they say, “time heals all wounds.”
Americans Live Payday to Payday
Despite reports that the economy is looking brighter, Americans are still living paycheck to paycheck. A recent report released on Thursday from the Corporation for Enterprise Development noted that nearly half of Americans are living in a state of “persistent economic insecurity” that makes it “difficult to look beyond immediate needs and plan for a more secure future.” The CFED calls these folks “liquid asset poor,” and its report finds that 44% of Americans are living with less than $5,887 in savings for a family of four. The plight of these folks is compounded by the fact that the recession ravaged many Americans’ credit scores to the point that now 56% percent of us have subprime credit. That means that if emergencies arise, many Americans are forced to resort to high-interest debt from credit cards or payday loans.
Nadella Named Microsoft CEO
On Tuesday, Microsoft named Satya Nadella, an executive in charge of the company’s small, but growing business of delivering software and services over the Internet, its new CEO. Company founder Bill Gates is leaving the chairman role for a new role as technology adviser. The software company announced that Nadella will replace Steve Ballmer, who said in August that he would leave the company within 12 months. Nadella will become only the third leader in the software giant’s 38-year history, after Gates and Ballmer. Board member John Thompson will serve as Microsoft’s new chairman. Nadella, who is 46 and has worked at Microsoft for 22 years, has been an executive in some of the company’s fastest-growing and most-profitable businesses, including its Office and server and tools business. For the past seven months, he was the executive vice president who led Microsoft’s cloud computing offerings. That’s a new area for Microsoft, which has traditionally focused on software installed on personal computers rather than on remote servers connected to the Internet. Nadella’s group has been growing strongly, although it remains a small part of Microsoft’s current business. “Satya is a proven leader with hardcore engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together,” Gates said. “His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth.” This announcement comes at a time of turmoil for Microsoft. The company has been late adapting to developments in the technology industry. It allowed Google to dominate in online search and advertising,
and it watched as iPhones, iPads and Android devices grew to siphon sales from the company’s strengths in personal computers. Its attempt to manufacture its own devices has been littered with problems, from its quickly aborted Kin line of phones to its still-unprofitable line of Surface tablets. But some see hope in what Nadella has been doing. Microsoft’s cloud computing offering, Azure, and its push to have consumers buy Office software as a $100-a-year Office 365 subscription are seen as the biggest drivers of Microsoft’s growth in the next couple of years. Both businesses saw the number of customers more than double in the last three months of the year, compared with a year earlier. Those businesses, along with other backend offerings aimed at corporate customers, are the main reason why investment fund ValueAct Capital invested $1.6 billion in Microsoft shares last year. “Satya was really one of the people who helped build up the commercial muscle,” said Kirk Materne, an analyst with Evercore Partners. “He has a great understanding of what’s going on in the cloud and the importance of delivering more technology as a service.” Nadella is a technologist, fulfilling the requirement that Gates set out at the company’s November shareholder meeting, where the Microsoft chairman said the company’s new leader must have “a lot of comfort in leading a highly technical organization.” Born in Hyderabad, India, in 1967, Nadella received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University, a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and a master’s of business administration from the University of Chicago. He joined Microsoft in 1992 after being a member of the technology staff at Sun Microsystems.
Government to Mandate Talking Cars
This is not an episode of Knight Rider, but it may be coming to a roadway near you. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at a news conference last week that in order to advance roadway safety, President
The Justice Department announced on Thursday that it would seek the death penalty against 20-year-old Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a short statement. In the government’s formal notice of its intent to seek the death penalty, prosecutors noted, “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received asylum from the United States; obtained citizenship and enjoyed the freedoms of a United States citizen; and then betrayed his allegiance to the United States by killing and maiming people in the United States.” A trial date has not been set yet. If Tsarnaev is convicted, prosecutors would still have to present their arguments for the death penalty to a jury in a separate sentencing trial. The eventual trial is expected to last for three months and the sentencing phase could last an additional two months. According to a Boston Globe poll conducted several months ago, 57 percent of Massachusetts respondents supported a life
Moving on Up
Penske Truck Rental’s annual list of its top moving destinations in the United States is out and for the fourth consecutive year, the Atlanta metro area remained the number one destination. Aside for nice weather and Georgia peaches, the Atlanta area has a thriving economy. The median household income is approximately $46,000 and the average home price is approximately $450 thousand. The other cities on the list are: Tampa, Fla./Sarasota, Fla. Dallas/Fort Worth Orlando, Fla. Phoenix Houston Seattle Chicago Denver Las Vegas Time to start packing your bags!
That’s Odd Hospital Bills are Venomous
Last week, a snakebite victim underwent treatment at a North Carolina hospital. But it wasn’t the serpent’s fangs that made him dizzy. It was the $89,227 bill he received for his 18-hour stay. Like a good husband, Eric Ferguson,
54, was taking out the garbage one fine day when a snake bit him on the foot. He was rushed to the hospital and received excellent care. Part of his treatment was receiving four vials of anti-venom medication. When the bill came, the Fergusons went into shock. “It was just the sticker shock,” Eric says. The same four doses of anti-venom that Eric received retails online for just $750. The hospital defended its overblown invoice, saying it has to charge higher prices because of discounts given to insurers. (There’s something called covering costs and then there’s something called taking a bite out of an innocent victim.) Eventually, the hospital reduced Eric’s bill to $20,227. He ended up paying $5,400 out of his own pocket. Eric, we feel bad for you, but don’t think for a second this exempts you from future garbage duty. Just watch where you step.
Goodwill Find is More than Good
Donating clothes to Goodwill is a generous gesture. You get rid of old clothing and hopefully can help others who are down on their luck. In this story, the roles are reversed, and a donor to Goodwill was rewarded handsomely when employees found his precious items and returned it to him safe and sound. The manager of the Goodwill store in Monroe, Michigan, regularly checks the pockets of donated clothes. Tyler Gedelian relates that he generally finds receipts or tissues or even a dollar or two. But what he and his staff found on Wednesday was more than just junk. After searching through some old suits and a bathrobe, Gedelian and his coworker, Laura Pietscher, found blue envelopes filled with mounds of cash. “We were getting lots of donations, and as I sorted through it, I saw a blue envelope sticking out of a bathrobe. I took it out, figuring it was garbage,” Gedelian recalled. “But when I opened the envelope, lo and behold, it was several bands of 100$ bills. We might normally find a dollar, or 25 cents, but mostly it’s old Kleenexes and grocery lists.”
The cash totaled a whopping $43,000. The good employees immediately called the police to report their find. “My biggest concern was getting the money back to the rightful owner,” Gedelian related. “I certainly can’t imagine losing that kind of money. I was so nervous having so much of someone else’s money.” Police were able to track the cash to a man who was cleaning out an elderly relative’s closet. He had donated the clothes without even knowing the money existed. I guess you can say these employees were willing to do more than good.
Fishing for Photos
Last week, fisherman Stephen Garnett went fishing in the placid waters of Lake Tahoe. But instead of reeling in a carp, he pulled out a camera from the lake’s deep waters! Amazingly, the camera was still intact and he brought it home to show his wife his interesting find. Garnett’s wife, Jamie Clark, is a photography hobbyist and she had a keen interest in the unique catch. “It has water in the little viewfinder where you see the pictures and it’s rusty,” Jamie recalled. When she looked closer, she found a functional memory card and excitedly said, “Oh my gosh! There’s 1,065 photos on there.” Clark knew how important these memories would be to its owner. The shots spanned from 2006 to September 2011. Using Facebook, Clark posted two photos from each year in the hopes that a friend would recognize the mystery photographer. Well, Clark’s perseverance paid off. It seems that Jana LeVitre lost her digital memories on a fishing trip back in 2011. When her waterproof camera fell into the 200-feet deep waters, she said, “I realized I’d just have to remember [the pictures] in my mind. I never expected to see them again.” Her daughter was the one who noticed the photos that Clark posted online. Now photographer and camera are reunited and the memories are no longer just in her mind. “What are the chances that she could find something, the owners of something like that?” LeVitre said. “It’s just surreal. I just can’t believe it and to think that it wasn’t found by scuba divers. It was actually reeled in by a guy who thought he caught a fish. That just makes it even cooler.” That’s what we call a really good catch.
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Feds to Seek Death Penalty for Boston Bomber
sentence for Tsarnaev and 33 percent wanted him to get the death penalty. Governor Deval Patrick said, “One way or another, based on the evidence, Tsarnaev will die in prison.”
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Obama may propose regulations requiring vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems in new cars. “Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements,” said Foxx. Vehicle-to-vehicle technology is the wireless exchange of data between nearby vehicles. By exchanging vehicle-based data regarding position, speed, and location, the technology enables a vehicle to sense threats and hazards with a 360 degree awareness of the position of other vehicles and the threat or hazard they present; calculate risk; issue driver advisories or warnings; or take pre-emptive actions to avoid and mitigate crashes. According to federal transportation officials, this technology will likely lead to less collisions, deaths and injuries. In fact according to the Transportation Department, once all cars are equipped with this technology, it may prevent 76% of all collisions.
A Colorful Name
That To Yourself? Would that be acceptable?
First Class Scammer
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FEBRUARY 6, 2014
When Matthew Whelan was growing up, he was a typical teenager growing up in Great Britain. But now the 34-year-old has made a name for himself in the country. He has spent over $40,000 on body art, covering 90 percent of his body in tattoos. He has even tattooed his left eyeball black. But even so, Whelan wanted to become even more unique, and in 2009, he changed his name to King Of Ink Land King Body Art The Extreme Ink-Ite. Yes, that is now his official name. Luckily, his friends call him Body Art for short. But this week, the most colorful man in England was refused a passport renewal, not because he is multihued but because of his lengthy and unusual name. Body Art was offered to work overseas and cannot do so because he has been denied a passport. But he is fighting back. He says the denial is a breach of his human rights to demand that he use his birth name on his passport. “That is not my name anymore,” he insists. His driver’s license even has his new moniker on it. The passport office’s official policy on names states: “Where an applicant changes his or her name to a string of words or phrases that would not normally be recognized as a name, this should not be entered onto the personal details page of the passport…For example, the names ‘New Year’… or ‘Good Bye’ are unacceptable as, when put together, they became a recognized phrase or saying.” How about the name How Can You Do
First class can get you a lot of things. For one man in China, it got him free gourmet meals for 300 days. According to the Chinese newspaper Kwong Wah Yit Poh, a unidentified Chinese man purchased a first-class ticket aboard Eastern China Airline. The ticket entitled him to a free meal at the Shaanxi province airport’s VIP lounge. There was no fee for re-booking the ticket. The man simply re-booked his ticket over and over again to enjoy the free meals the lounge offers. To get his food gratis, the man would simply show his ticket to lounge staff before his “trip,” eat a meal and then change his departure to the following day. The next day he would show up with his newly issued ticket for the revised date, eat and then again change his ticket date. He did this over and over again. Eastern China Airlines officials only recently figured out the man’s scheme after noticing his single ticket being re-booked 300 times over one year. Now that’s what you call a “frequent diner.”
Twins Attempt to Finally Resolve Fat v. Sugar Debate With the obesity rate being what it is, we are pretty much all experts on what we
need to do to lose weight (implementation is another story). So, what is worse for your diet: fat or carbohydrates? For years, it was thought fat was bad for you: it made you pile on the pounds, so low-fat food was good. But the “fat is bad” dogma is being widely challenged. Carbohydrates, including sugar, are increasingly viewed as the evil, fattening, toxic ingredient nowadays.
Twin brothers Chris and Alexander van Tulleken, 35, set out on a month-long experiment to try to put the debate to rest. Chris adopted a super low-fat diet, allocating only 2 percent of his total daily intake to fat, the minimum required to maintain his health. Alex went on a high-protein diet that ditched all forms of carbohydrates, from table sugar to flour to fruit. The brothers, who both work as physicians, shared similar daily routines and stuck to the exact same fitness regimen. Alex was the weight loss winner, dropping a total of 9 pounds, but he says his high-protein, low-carb diet caused his body to go into ketosis — a state in which the body burns fat but doesn’t effectively provide the brain with the glucose (sugar) it needs for energy. The brothers concluded that searching for “one toxic ingredient” was fruitless, and we should instead be watching calories and portion size and eating whole foods whenever possible. I have another idea: Eat what you want, when you want, how you want…you only live once.
Wet Diaper Detector
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Nothing is less natural to a young father than determining whether their toddler has a wet diaper. If the wife is within a halfhour distance, the investigation usually is placed on hold until she returns home… which only leaves the doting father with
the guilt that he may be causing his child to get a rash. Well, soon enough, dad, your problems may be resolved. Michigan-based engineer— and father of a toddler— Eric Schuh created a detector that takes the guesswork out of your baby’s diaper. Simply press the button and hold it up to the diaper. A light will indicate when the diaper needs changing. The device, which looks like a USB stick and fits on a key chain, has a sensor which detects the moisture and causes the top of the stick to light up. Sounds great! Well, I’m preserving my excitement until they come out with a device that actually changes the dirty nappy.
Riding Off to Heaven on a Harley Davidson
Billy Standley of Ohio loved to ride his 1967 Harley Davidson motorcycle. In fact, he loved it so much that he wanted to be buried on it. Not only that, he wanted the whole world to see him do it in a seethrough coffin. When Bill died at the age of 82 last week he got his wish. His body was secured to his Harley with braces and straps, and it was towed by a trailer to his final resting place. Hundreds of buddy motorcyclists joined the funeral procession. Bill started preparing for his funeral 18 years ago when he purchased three burial plots near where his wife was buried so that his motorcycle would fit in it. Along with his two sons, he made a casket out of Plexiglas, reinforcing the bottom with wood and steel rods to handle the extra weight. According to one of his sons, the casket was in Bill’s garage for 5 years and “if you stopped by his house, he showed you his casket…He was proud of it.” Bill’s daughter explained that the family was eager to make sure the funeral went as Bill planned. “He was a quirky man,” she said, “But when it comes to us kids, he loved us, he raised us well and, of course, we wanted to help him.”
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
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Leisure & Travel
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From Sea to Shining Sea: Oklahoma
h! Oklahoma! If you’re looking for Western adventure, the great outdoors, and a wealth of things to enjoy, put the Sooner State on your list of things to do. Oklahoma comes from the words “okla,” meaning people, and “humma,” meaning red. In fact, the state has the largest Native American population of any state in the United States. It is the tribal headquarters of 39 tribes. But the state is not only about cowboys and Indians (even if the National Cowboy Hall of Fame is located in Oklahoma City). If you like pecans, make sure to visit Okmulgee in June. The city rolls out its welcome mat to thousands of visitors participating in its annual Pecan Festival. In fact, the town owns the world record for largest pecan pie, pecan cookie, pecan brownie, and biggest ice cream and cookie party. There’s certainly no shortage of dessert there! Oklahoma is serious about its food. On the second Saturday in August, Rush Springs holds its annual watermelon festival. Since 1948, 50,000 pounds of juicy, ripe melon are enjoyed by festival goers and seed-spitting contests draw huge crowds. The Watonga Cheese Festival is held in October, and in May, El Reno holds Onion Fried Burger Day to celebrate the greasy town staple. When you’re finished chowing down, head over to Jenks, the Antique Capital of Oklahoma, where you can get the best variety of antique stores, gift shops, galleries and crafters malls. While you’re lugging all your finds to the car, take a moment to thank Sylvan Goldman, an Oklahoman, who invented the first shopping cart so you don’t have to break your back as you juggle all your newest purchases. Whether you’re into food, friendly folks, or fall foliage, Oklahoma is more than an “OK” place to visit. Things You Won’t Want to Miss The Beauty of Nature The beauty of Oklahoma grabs you from the second you arrive in the state. So much of the nature there is preserved for visitors to enjoy the simple splendor of its land. There are 35 state parks in Oklahoma—and each of them offers something truly unique. Spend time rappelling down the canyon at Red Rock Canyon State Park. Go boulder hopping and rock climbing at Robbers Cave State Park. Rent an ATV and fly over the dunes at Little Sahara State Park. Lake Tenkiller’s dive park is a dream for those who love scuba diving. There’s fishing, hiking, boating, camping and, of course, picnicking all with the grandeur of Oklahoma as your backdrop. Rev it Up on Route 66 The nation’s longest drivable stretch of Route 66 cuts
through Oklahoma, and for 400 miles, you can experience the Southwestern state by car, driving past charming towns and roadside diners. Along the way, you’ll see quirky attractions and meet friendly individuals. Each of these small towns adds flavor to the state and celebrates the uniqueness of America. It’s hard not to fall in love with a state that is so comfortable with itself and makes you feel so comfortable as you drive through. Family Fun “Native America” is a great place to visit with the whole family. Children will love the hands-on experience at the Science Museum Oklahoma and Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse. They’ll get up close and personal at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Tulsa Zoo—both places where kids will become friends with beasts big and small. Parasailing at the Sail Grand on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is sure to give your teens an adrenaline rush. Wandering through a cornfield maze and frolicking on a farm are great ways to enjoy the outdoors as family. Connecting with the Past If you like history, Oklahoma is a great place to visit to connect to the past. Oklahomans make history come alive with Civil War battle re-enactments, fur trader re-enactors, and “powwows” with the pageantry and friendship of Native American traditions and dance competitions. The Washita Battlefield National Monument memorializes Custer’s surprise attack on the Southern Cheyenne village of Chief Black Kettle. Visitors can trek the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center to learn more about the famous cattle trail that spanned the state, and they can see the last standing original sod house on the prairies of Oklahoma at the Sod House Museum. Past and present meld as you journey through the state.
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In the Kitchen
r O f S ’ t a Wh ? r e n n i D
Here are some hot, filling dishes to serve your family on cold winter nights
Overstuffed Shells Ingredients 12 oz. box of jumbo shell pasta 24 oz. container of cottage cheese 3 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed 1 egg
1 tsp salt 1 tsp dried basil ½ tsp black pepper 24 oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce or use homemade
Preparation Preheat oven to 375°. Cook pasta according to directions until a little tender. In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups shredded cheese with cottage cheese. Add egg, spinach and spices. Pour ½ cup pasta sauce on bottom of 9x13 pan. Stuff cooked shells with cheese mixture and lay them next to each other on top of the sauce in a single layer. Pour the rest of the sauce over the shells. Sprinkle with the rest of the shredded cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and hot.
Juicy Maple Chicken Ingredients 2 TBS pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup) 1 TBS soy sauce 2 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced 1 tsp minced ginger ¼ tsp black pepper chicken cutlets, trimmed
Preparation Whisk syrup, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, ginger and pepper in a small, shallow dish. Add chicken and turn to coat with the marinade; cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, turning once. Coat an indoor grill pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°F, 3 to 5 minutes per side. If the chicken is not done, place in oven for ten minutes at 350° until cooked through. Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until reduced by about half, about 4 minutes. Liberally baste the chicken with the reduced sauce and serve.
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F E B R U A RY 6 , 2014
Beef ‘n Broccoli
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Ingredients 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce 2 tsp sesame oil 1/3 cup sherry cooking wine 1 tsp soy sauce 1 tsp sugar
1 tsp corn starch ¾ lb. beef strips 3 TBS oil 1 thin slice ginger root 1 clove garlic, smashed 1 lb. broccoli florets
Preparation Whisk together the Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Place the beef into a Ziploc bag, pour the sauce mixture over the meat, stir to coat well, and marinate for at least 30 minutes in refrigerator. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, and stir in the ginger and garlic. Let them sizzle in the hot oil for about 1 minute to flavor the oil, then remove and discard. Stir in the broccoli, and toss and stir in the hot oil until bright green and almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the broccoli from the wok, and set aside. Pour a little more oil into the wok, if needed, and stir and toss the beef with the marinade until the sauce forms a glaze on the beef, and the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Return the cooked broccoli to the wok, and stir until the meat and broccoli are heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve with rice.
Warm Balsamic Salad Ingredients 2 TBS butter or margarine ¼ cup diced onion 1 red pepper, diced 1 yellow pepper, diced 8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
4 cups kale 1 tsp garlic, minced 1 TBS balsamic vinegar ¼ cup Parmesan cheese Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation In a large skillet over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter or margarine. Add the onions and peppers; sauté for several minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and more butter or margarine if needed; sauté for several minutes until browned. Add the kale, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Sauté until the kale is deep green but not yet wilted. Remove from heat and serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Note: This tastes delicious over brown rice or quinoa. If you want, add steamed salmon or tuna for protein.
hot ’n Yummy apple Crisp Ingredients 3 cups apples, sliced 1 TBS flour ½ cup sugar ¾ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine ¾ cup flour ½ cup oatmeal ¼ tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt
Preparation Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the first three ingredients and place into the bottom of a greased 8x8 baking pan. In a small bowl, combine the next six ingredients. Sprinkle on top of the apple mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes until bubbly and top is crusted. Serve warm with ice cream and whipped cream.
THE HOME 2014 T heJEWISH J ewish h ome FEBRUARY n m ay 2 4 ,6,2012
THE JEWISH HOME
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
Dr. Sandwich Dr. Sandwich is an Israeli masterpiece created by Tzachi Ofengart, owner of Super Sal Kosher market in Encino. When I was a wee little Encino girl, I remember when Super Sal opened its doors in Blockbuster’s former location, more than 20 years ago. The reaction of Israelis to Super Sal’s opening can best be compared to the palatable glee of New York transplants when Bloomingdale’s opened in California. A crowd gathered waiting for the door to open and more whooping was heard on Ventura boulevard than in Met Life Stadium when the Super Bowl ended. Jovial sabras loaded their carts with sponja mops, avocado shampoo, and bamba and begged Tzachi for more oversees goodies. He acquiesced and pleased his fans even more a few years later by providing authentic falafel, shwarma, and homemade hummus as takeout inside the market. This small takeout section grew into a separate, legitimate entity and Dr. Sandwich’s Encino location, with covered, outdoor seating right outside of Super Sal was born. It continues to be adored and fre-
quented by pregnant women craving falafel, Israelis gobbling grilled chicken sandwiches, and anyone else who happens to know where the best shawarma in town is. As time went on and Dr. Sandwich of Encino proved to be a success, it occurred to Tzachi to open more Israeli restaurants and to take the doctor theme and run with it. His new Dr. Sandwich in Beverly Hills is an immediate hit with long lines at peak lunch and dinner hours and excellent reviews on the street. The medical theme is carried throughout the menu with options like “Pargit Prescription” and “Hurts So Good Schnitzel.” All the waiters and kitchen staff wear doctor costumes and your order is taken on a prescription. When I walked into the bright, fast food style restaurant I was immediately impressed with the operation. It looks sparkling clean with obvious newness and an owner that cares very much about customer satisfaction. The place runs like clockwork, with our order completed in under 10 minutes. The joint is heavily
staffed with food prep guys, cooks, a greeter, and two people whose main job it is to constantly clean and keep the place sparking. Owner Tzachi works the room adding free fries and falafel samples out to new customers and asking patrons if they are enjoying the meal and Dr. Sandwich experience. Part of Tzachi’s appeal is that he makes everyone feel like they are a V.I.P or at least a favorite cousin. He warmly asks how everything is going, cracks jokes, and talks with pride about his new restaurant. The décor is top notch with bright white and orange walls, lime green chairs and accents and beautiful, funky lighting that hangs from the ceiling. The prescription themed menu upholds the original Dr. Sandwich legacy with shawarma, falafel, schnitzel, kabab all served in your choice of a pita, baguette, laffa, or plate with two sides. Some unexpected offerings include “Burns a Little Mergaz” which are spicy grilled beef sausages, a selection of meat paninis and “A Touch of Sabich”- sliced eggplant, fried with an egg, parsley,
hummus, tahini, and salad. Everything, including the salad bar which includes Israeli classics like purple cabbage, spicy carrot, and homemade hummus, is made in house. The doctor-costumed staff puts all the sandwiches together in front of you, and you can watch three types of shawarma broiling as it spins on a skewer in the back of the kitchen. Having eaten at the Encino location five thousand times, we fall back on old favorites and order the turkey shawarma in a laffa and grilled chicken breast on a plate with side salads. The turkey shawarma is possibly the best shawarma you’ve ever had, including what you’ve eaten on Ben Yehuda in Israel. It is moist, expertly flavored with cardamom, cinnamon and mediterranian spices, stuffed with salad, hummus, and tahini, and wrapped in a huge, flaky laffa bread. Their falafel in a pita and spicy fries are also excellent. The guys behind the counter share Tzachi’s enthusiasm and will happily pile on more of your favorite side dish with a smile and some free advice. The vibe is just right; you’ll certainly run into many Israelis savoring food from their homeland and hanging out with the very popular owner, as well as high school kids from the many nearby schools having a good time. Thursday nights are the busiest, with a line of hungry customers spilling out onto the sidewalk. Dr. Sandwich is open weeknights until 11 PM and to-go orders are common and quick. The Kosher supervision is under the RCC and Dr. Sandwich can be found at 9113 W. Olympic Blvd. in Beverly Hills, CA call 310-278-7778 or email your order at Order@dr-sandwich. com.
Estee Cohen is a California native and goes out to eat more than is appropriate. She is a kosher food insider, has a patient husband and 3 little kids. She is passionate about restaurants, science education, and collects rooster figurines.
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