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The Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home


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The Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

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MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

COMMUNITY Community Happenings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Purim in LA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

JEWISH THOUGHT Elevating the Everyday. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Parshah: A Time for Silence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

LIFESTYLES Ask Dr. T. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Book Review: Ride the Wave:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Travel Guide: Santiago . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Amulets, Accusations & Controversy. . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Ask the Attorney. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

FEATURE When Life’s a Barrel of Laughs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

NEWS Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 That’s Odd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35




Dear Readers,

Purim, what a high! Everyone, everyone, let go of the outer wall put up around ourselves the rest of the year, allowing our inner spirit to shine. Dress codes and outer appearances became secondary as we connected with our fellow Jews, including the ones who daven in the “other shul.” On Purim it becomes the norm to have a spontaneous dance with a yid we just met! However, it is what we do after Purim which forms the everyday us… The unity of Purim was brought about by pain and a challenge to our very existence. The real accomplishment is to feel brotherhood when things are back to normal. Which mask do we wear when living in the Land of the Free: The pompous individual whose success has gotten to his head? Or the refined yid who realizes success comes from above? “But how?” is usually the follow up question. Is it even possible to live with a taste of Purim year round? Now, as then, the answer lies in mesiras nefesh, sacrifice of the self. True, we don’t feel motivated. Instead, we feel pulled down by the repetitiveness of our daily responsibilities. But where’s our mesiras nefesh? Just a week ago we experienced infinite joy and now we’re bogged down by indifference?! If we could survive the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Christian per-

The Week In News secution, Cossacks, Pogroms, the Nazis, and Islamist terrorism, then we can surely stand up to our inner apathy. All we need is another tefilah b’kavana, session of Torah study, or helping someone in need to get a spark going, ultimately becoming a spiritual fire, the expression of our neshama. Tapping into our neshama also makes our belief in Moshiach more real and down to earth. Believing Moshiach will come in a modern world can sometimes feel a bit “out there.” However, it will feel less so if we’re already viewing our world through the prism of our soul. When we see our lives as an expression of a higher purpose and power, then all that’s missing is for the hidden, spiritual side of life to be revealed to all = the times of Moshiach We are currently sandwiched between the geulah of Purim, a “natural” one, and the geulah of Pesach, a supra-natural one. We are sure Hashem will continue using both nature and the miraculous to protect the Yidden along with the rest of humanity. Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha! We are still in Adar, so let us continue increasing in joy, overcoming all challenges m’bayis umichutz. May we have a pleasant, inspiring and freilichen Shabbos,


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



TheHappenings Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home


The Italian Alps Go Kosher: Give Your Summer a Splash of Luxury This summer the Orthodox Jewish community will be able to experience, for the very first time, a kosher vacation in the Northern Italian Alps. Eddie’s Kosher Travel will provide its guests with a luxurious experience at two incredible hotels. From June 26 through July 27, and again from August 16 through September 6, the five-star Grand Hotel Courmayeur and the Grand Hotel Presolana will host week-long kosher vacation packages filled with exquisite food, luxury accommodations, and memorable daily tours and programs. For more than twenty-five years, Eddie’s Kosher Travel has hosted “dream destinations;” luxury cruises and vacations for the worldwide Jewish community, including its Scottish Whisky Tour, Heritage Tour to Lithuania, Exotic Tours to China, Japan, South America, South Africa, Morocco and even Antarctica! In addition, Eddie’s runs five hotels in Israel for Pesach that will host 600 families this yom tov. David Walles, CEO and Business Manager of Eddie’s Kosher Travel, recently explained that the renowned company was approached and asked, “If we have something different and exciting, for the spectrum of the Orthodox community? An experience that is top-quality, with great food, and amazing things to do in the

summer where the weather is pleasant?” After investigation, the Northern Italian Alps was chosen as the prime location. These pristine Alps are less traveled than the Tuscany region and the classic Italian cities. “We identified an amazing hotel chain and are starting out with these two hotels,” said Walles.

Both hotels are within 90 minutes of Geneva and Milan Airports and offer an assortment of off-site daily tours and in-hotel amenities, including 5-star spa and wellness facilities and kids’ clubs. The package at the five-star Grand Hotel Courmayeur includes as optional extras, a visit to Turin’s Great Syna-

“The gourmet haute cuisine will be freshly prepared on site, by the famed Minkowitz Kosher Caterer of Milan, who operates two kosher Pesach programs in Italy.” Walles and his staff have created these Summer Packages similar to the Pesach model, and may well vary the Italian locations in future years, as the hotel chain expands to more hotels in “untapped destinations.”

gogue; Mt Blanc Skyway; Lake Geneva, Montreux; Chamonix, France and more destinations. Courmayeur is the westernmost municipality of the Valle d’Aosta, and situated at an altitude of 1224 meters at the foot of the massive Mont Blanc, in a lush valley with abundant fir and larch trees, encircled by mountains and glaciers. Travelers will enjoy a family-friendly experience at the Grand Hotel in Preso-

Feminine Torah from Eretz Yisrael: Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum’s visit to Los Angeles Yehudis Litvak Los Angeles women were given a taste of the special feminine Torah learning taking place in Eretz Yisrael when Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum, founder and director of Midreshet Be’erot Bat Ayin, visited Los Angeles as part of her North American speaking tour. Rebbetzin Siegelbaum is an award-winning author, Torah teacher, and proponent of a holistic spiritual lifestyle. Her school, which welcomes Jewish women and conversion candidates of all ages and backgrounds, is unique in that it incorporates creative pursuits, gardening, and herbology into its intensive text-based Torah learning curriculum. On Sunday, a dinner to benefit Midreshet Be’erot Bat Ayin was held at the home of Varda Rav-Noy in the La Brea neighborhood. At the dinner, the school’s friends and supporters had the opportunity to hear from Rebbetzin Siegelbaum about the school’s latest accomplishments and current expansion plans. An alumna, Es-

ther Levi, attended the dinner and spoke about her positive experience at the seminary as a conversion candidate. She has now completed her conversion, gotten married, and currently resides in Los Angeles. Devorah Kaufman, a mother of a current student, is also full of praise for the school. “There is a special idealistic passion in Bat Ayin,” she says. The students stay in caravans with no central heating. “They have a lot of mesirus nefesh,” says Ms. Kaufman. After dinner, Rebbetzin Siegelbaum gave a lecture, open to the community, on the protective power of the magen David. She spoke about the origin and history of the magen David symbol. Composed of two letters daled, with six points symbolizing the letter vav, magen David was King David’s signature. A symbol of perpetual flow between Heaven and Earth, magen David reminds us that it is Hashem Who protects

us from any danger. On a deeper level, the triangle that points down represents masculine energy, while the triangle that points up represents feminine energy. Within the magen David, the masculine and feminine energies are properly balanced. And on an even deeper level, the masculine triangle represents G-d in the role of “Hashem” and the feminine one represents G-d in the role of “the Shechina.” The magen David shows the unification of Hakadosh Baruch Hu and His Shechina. In other sources, the magen David is seen as hinting at the coming of mashiach. During the lecture, Rebbetzin Siegelbaum invited the audience to participate in three visualization exercises, enclosing our loved ones in a protective shield. She concluded with summarizing the magen David’s main message: the importance of trusting in Hashem and the importance of unity among the Jewish people. On Monday night, Rebbetzin Siegel-

lana. Daily tour package options include visits Bergamo, Gromo, Lake Garda, Sirmione; Parca Sigurta; Brescia Castle; Iseo Town and more. From August 23-30, join scholar-in-residence Rabbi Dovid Tugendhaft, shilta, Rav of the dynamic Beis Hamedrash Nishmas Yisroel in Hendon. Rabbi Tugendhaft is known for his uplifting, quality shiurim as well as his clarity in Halacha. The theme of the week will be “Judaism in the Contemporary World.” In addition to the world-class cuisine, a unique “culinary week” will feature chef demonstrations. Another theme week, “Cycle the Alps and Tour De France,” at the Grand Hotel Courmayeur, will appeal to cyclists from around the world, featuring the famed bike path, which is only thirty minutes from the hotel. To learn more about these unique vacation packages, and other upcoming trips by Eddie’s Kosher Travel, visit: WWW.KOSHERTRAVELERS. COM Eddie’s Kosher Travel 1.646.240.4118 Mention Jewish Home LA for your limited early-bird promotion.

baum gave a lecture at the home of Alice Feinstein, in the Pico/Robertson neighborhood, entitled “Esther, the moon, and me: the rise of feminine consciousness.” She spoke about the rise of women accompanying redemption throughout history: in Egypt, in Persia, and in the times of mashiach. The woman is compared to the moon, and the Gemara tells us that originally the sun and the moon were of the same size, but Hashem diminished the moon. Ultimately, at the time of final redemption, the moon will again become the same size as the sun. Megillas Esther illustrates this process. It starts out with Mordechai taking a leadership role, but the redemption takes place when Esther takes charge, asking everyone to fast when she resolves to go to the king. A similar process will take place with the coming of mashiach. The attendees at the local events were able to purchase Rebbetzin Siegelbaum’s new book, Parsha Meditations: For Spiritual Renewal and Strenthening Communication with the Creator. The first volume contains kabbalistic insights on each parsha in Sefer Bereishis, along with a meditation exercise for each parsha.

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



TheHappenings Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

YAYOE Boys Bring Purim Joy to Local Seniors Yehudis Litvak Unusual entertainment awaited the attendees of the Shaarei Tefila senior program on the Tuesday before Purim. Boys walking on stilts, riding a unicycle, performing flips and cartwheels, and juggling various objects (including burning torches) amazed their audience. These students of Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov Ohr Eliyahu brought much needed Purim cheer to the elderly. The Purim Extravaganza performance was part of the senior program, run by Mrs. Bernice Gelman. Held at Kanner Hall at Congregation Shaarei Tefila, the program reaches Jewish seniors both within and outside of the Shaarei Tefila community. Every Tuesday, the seniors have the opportunity to enjoy a delicious lunch, followed by a lecture or performance. Close to forty seniors attend the program every week. Two of them are over a hundred years old, and several others are in their nineties. The luncheons allow them to get out of the house and enjoy the company of other people. “They push themselves to get out,” says Mrs. Gelman. “They look forward to [the program every week].” This was YAYOE boys’ first performance at the senior program. Prior to

that, they performed for Chai Lifeline, for younger students in their school, and for school parents at the yearly cash drawing fundraiser. On their own, the boys also perform at private events, such as bar mitzvahs. The acrobatics program – called Simcha Productions by its director, Rabbi Yitzchak Golbart – is now in its second year. It is a mandatory part of the school curriculum for boys in Grades 6 through 8. Training takes place every Sunday. While not every student becomes a gymnast, all boys are able to participate in some way – with music and sound, with stage set up, or with designing T-shirts for the group. Everyone is included in the simcha spirit. Simcha Productions was inspired by a similar program at a Monsey yeshiva. When Rabbi Shlomo Goldberg, the principal of YAYOE, heard about it, he decided to incorporate it into regular curriculum. Rabbi Golbart has been teaching music and extracurricular gymnastics classes at YAYOE for many years. With his background in music, gymnastics, and performing arts, Rabbi Golbart was the perfect instructor for Simcha Productions, and the program took off.

The program has been impacting the boys in a positive way, reports Rabbi Golbart. “It’s good chinuch for life situations,” he says. “You learn to accept failure first. It takes lots of practice to become successful.” Rabbi Golbart lists many benefits of participating in Simcha Productions. It even helps the boys with their learning, by providing a healthy outlet for their energy. It’s also good for those boys who don’t enjoy team sports, giving them another opportunity to excel in athletics. Most importantly, says Rabbi Golbart, “It is another way for the boys to learn about giving.” After their performances, the boys often talk to their au-

dience, developing empathy and compassion for different members of the Jewish community.

party. The robot can answer questions, shake the hands of humans, and wave. In a retail environment, the robot can play

If you are worried about how these signs would fare in various climates, GDS’s solution is optical bonding (a process which fills the air gap between the glass and the LCD with a special material.) Baanto introduced their state of the art touch screen technology which results in reliability for professions such as engineering, aerospace, manufacturing, and medical fields. The VP of marketing for the company Get Woven explained how they provide content from media (comedy such as Jimmy Fallon, sports, or music videos) so that your personalized content will appear as a real TV network. The expo was filled to the brim with exciting and impressive new technologies. How could digital signage be used to benefit Jewish life? Synagogues could generate more revenue using donor boards and advertising banners. In schools, uploaded content could enhance lessons, and security robots that are kid-friendly could maintain a 24/7 visual presence in classrooms, hallways, and at doors. These are just a few of the ways this digital sign technology could advance our lives.

Digital Signage Expo Tova Abady Meet George Jetson. If that name rings a bell, or you are now singing the theme song, you must remember “The Jetsons,” an animated TV show that aired in the early 1960s about a family living in a futuristic world, living above ground in sky pad apartments, traveling in an aerocar, and having a robot for a maid. Today, thanks to Elon Musk, we are coming close to driverless cars being the norm, and thanks to Helen Greiner, the Roomba is washing some of our floors. Yet there is booming technology that is available, affordable, yet being underutilized by the Jewish community. Digital signs – information systems that display images, videos, provide information, and/or enable interactivity – are an excellent marketing and communication tool that is within reach of most businesses, large and small. The fifth annual Digital Signage Expo (DSE) was held this month in Las Vegas and the exhibitors did not disappoint. There were over a thousand attendees and the convention center was packed more than 60 international DS companies displaying their eye popping, innovative digital hardware and software. Undoubtedly, you have been seeing more and more digital signs (adding to or replacing print advertising)

at venues everywhere from model homes to restaurants, airports, universities, hotels, sporting arenas, schools, synagogues, and corporate events. This is a multi-billion dollar industry which is growing exponentially. Several new technologies were unveiled at DSE 2016 including LG’s OLED. These incredible signs have a curved design that link two, three, or four tiles together. They can be paper thin (under 9 mm in depth). They are dual-sided so viewers can have a two-sided multi-media experience. Also displayed at the expo were fully bendable screens and panels. Several DS companies featured eyeglass-free 3D signage. Images like Coca-cola cans appeared to come right off the screen. Dreaming of having an iPad or cell phone where 3D images float in front of you? You don’t have to pretend because these devices are available for sale for under $500. Particularly impressive was Dimenco, a company based in the Netherlands (recently sold to a Chinese company) which was selling the mobile three-dimensional phones and iPads at the show. Solus Robots featured digital signs on wheels. The robot can use facial recognition to identify the age and gender of the

information about a product and can do a price check. Shoppers loved Solus’s virtual dressing room. They could see themselves in any dress or outfit. GDS displayed signage used at a drive-through so you can see and talk to the person taking your order.

TheHappenings Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Special Macabees Celebrate 10th Anniversary Game with a Big One Matt Aaron There should be a Special Olympics for Orthodox Jews. That’s what Jeff Liss thought about 11 years ago. A longtime volunteer for the Special Olympics, Mr. Liss had become Shabbat observant. During this process, one thing that had to go was much of his participation in the Special Olympics. Unfortunately, many of their events were on Saturdays. But if this were a problem for him, he reasoned, it must be a bigger problem for Orthodox Jewish families with special needs family members. Wouldn’t they also want to compete? Wouldn’t a special needs child from a religious family appreciate the thrill of athletic competition just as much as anyone else? Thus was born the Special Macabees, a special needs basketball and softball program and competition designed with Shabbat observance in mind. Over the years, the program has thrived. None of the practices or games have ever been on the Sabbath or any other holiday. At the first game, ten years ago, there were barely enough athletes for a fiveman basketball team. The special athletes competed against a crew of Jeff’s friends. There were maybe a dozen spectators and family members. Flash forward to a few weeks ago: Saturday night, March 5, 2016. There were now several teams with substitutes…And a ladies’ game. The cheering section had grown even more dramatically. At this latest game, there were about 250 spectators, including a cheering section from Hillel Hebrew Academy. Plus, there was a dunking competition at halftime. And at the end of the game, there was a presentation of medals by a real life gold medalist, Lenny Krayzelburg, who also generously donated a kosher pizza celebration feast for the entire crowd. It was quite a night. Billed as a ‟battle of the titans” – The Special Macabees versus The Special Needs All Stars – it was the culmination of a practice season that began in November. All that work paid off with quite an exciting competition. The Special Macabees took an early lead which they never relinquished. Max Stein was one of the stars, at one point scoring three buckets in a row, two off steals. Avremel Mayer also had a big night, stealing a ball for a layup, before showing off with a behind the back pass and even a three pointer. “He’s gonna be hard to live with tomorrow,” laughed his father, David Mayer. If the athletes were happy, the parents were ecstatic. “It’s a wonderful organization,” said Suzy Bedil. Her daughter Debbie played in the ladies halftime game. “It gives them something to do, somewhere to go…to be

part of a team.” Mr. Mayer agreed, commenting that Avremel “…always loved basketball and to be able to play on an organized team is a tremendous opportunity.” He explained how as an Orthodox family, they had always felt left out of the Special Olympics and were very happy when the Special

Macabees came along. Not just Avremel – the whole family had smiles plastered from ear to ear at the March 5th event. Jeff Liss admits he can’t take all the credit. “I couldn’t do it without Liz. She does all the work,” he said, referring to his wife. He added with a chuckle, “And the coaches are great. They come from pretty far to help out. I couldn’t do it without them. What, I’m going to be out here all by myself?” If you’re interested in joining this free program, please search for Special Maca-

bees on Facebook or call Jeff at 310-9859676. Matt Aaron is a teacher who writes in his free time. He can be reached at

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The Week In News

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The Lone Soldiers’ Home in Beit Shemesh Batsheva Isaac

During the week, the Lone Soldiers’ Home in Beit Shemesh mainly sits empty, lovingly filled with all sorts of cooked foods and nosh, waiting for the “boys” to return. Around noon on Friday, they appear. One by one, they drop their dirty laundry, take a shower, grab a snack, and go to sleep. Shortly before the Shabbos siren, the madrich will gently wake them so they can get themselves ready for Shabbos. On Shabbos evening, they may eat at the home of a local family – many want to host them. Shabbos day, they have prepared foods and cholent available in their house, with the understanding that sleep for them is more important than an organized Shabbos meal. Lone Soldier G. S. from Maryland loves coming “home” for Shabbos. “The Shabbat experience in the Beit Shemesh house is amazing. I get off base and I come home [on Friday]. The house is clean; it looks nice; there is food ready. We can eat what’s made, we can make whatever we want and the fridge is packed with food. And if you want to, you can go to sleep, hang out with your friends…It is a very welcoming and amazing atmosphere. “ Early Sunday morning, the soldiers depart – some by bus, some by train – to various locations throughout the country. Sometimes they can share where they go, often they cannot. These boys are just a few of the many thousands of “lone soldiers” who serve in the Israeli army. This term is applied to the young men and women who do not have parents living in Israel, yet have joined the Israeli army. As these soldiers have no one at home waiting to help, their time off is often more of a challenge than a break. They have no family to help them do laundry, run errands, or shop for food. Just over a year ago, a group of parents, ex-soldiers, and students in Beit Shemesh resolved to create a house in their neighborhood that could host 12 lone soldiers. They knew that their community, the Anglo-Saxon community, understands the difficulties of making aliyah first-hand and would contribute to the home. Starting in August 2014, they began by contacting and visiting organizations affiliated with lone soldiers. During the course of the next year and a half, they partnered with an established organization (The Lone Soldier Center), raised money, rented, renovated, and furnished a home, hired live-in counselors, and chose 12 soldiers to become part of their community. The first group of boys moved in a few months ago, hailing from Canada, South Africa, England, Australia, and the United States.

Two women have spearheaded this initiative: Wendy Serlin and Gayle Shimoff. One of them explains, “As moth-

Home sits empty during the week

ers of soldiers, we know how much love, support, and care all soldiers need during their service. The deaths of three lone soldiers during Operation Protective Edge [the war in Gaza during the summer of 2014], highlighted the difficulties lone soldiers face. Therefore, we decided to establish a home for lone soldiers in our community of Beit Shemesh, to take care of them.” As for the boys, they feel at home because they are home. L.I., the youngest soldier in the house – a few months shy of his 19th birthday – is from Los Angeles. Over two years, he actively, carefully planned to join the IDF. “The house gives me a sense of family in Israel. We have everything a regular house would have – even a dog to play with! Most lone soldiers are on a kibbutz, which gives them friends and a social scene, but does not give them a meal at a family table with a mom and dad. We get the full meal, just like every other family in Beit Shemesh. It is beautiful.” He was just informed that he was accepted into the Tzanhanim unit – the paratroopers, one of the most elite units in the IDF. He still has 21 months left to serve, and he feels secure in the knowledge that his home in Beit Shemesh will be his until he leaves the service. Beit Shemesh residents have raised money for the soldiers’ food and to pay for the young married couple who cares for them on site. Other community members cook Shabbos food weekly to keep in the kitchen, hold fundraisers (like bake sales) to help offset the cost of food and utilities, or offer their homes and a listening ear. For more information about the Lone Soldiers Home in Beit Shemesh, visit the website

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TheHappenings Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Los Angeles Dedication of the Moshe Yitzchok Rubin Memorial Square Rabbi Arye D. Gordon Sunday morning, March 27th, started as a cloudy day, but at 1:30 pm the community gathered under sunny skies at the corner of Highland Avenue and 2nd Street for the dedication ceremony of the Moshe Yitzchok Rubin Memorial Square. Afterwards, the crowd marched the Treitel Family Sefer Torah to Etz Chaim Bais Medrash Moshe Yitzchok for a hachnossos sefer Torah in honor of Moshe Yitzchok Rubin. Moshe Yitzchok was the son Rav Chaim Boruch and Rebbetzin Raizel Rubin. The Rubin shul made its home on the corner of Highland and 3rd Street. While Moshe Yitzchok’s stay in this world was not as long as we would have preferred, he was warmly embraced by one and all and made an everlasting impression on those fortunate enough to enter his daled amos. When speaking of his son, Rav Rubin says, “Moishe was a real Yiddishe neshama.” The Rebbetzin adds, “I have always felt that the story of Moishe Rubin was a very big story. His life was a very big life. I think his greatest attribute was his purity. He was a pure soul.” With the assistance of the City of Los Angeles and Paul Koretz, member of the Los Angeles City Council representing the

Fifth Council District, Moishe’s family was able to establish a remembrance for this young boy who managed to influence so many, young and old, leaving an indelible mark on their souls. He was a guidepost to remind us to be thankful for what Hashem has given us. The speeches began with the introductory remarks from shul president Alan Stern, recognizing the Treitel family for contributing their sefer Torah. The dedication of the Moishe Rubin Square followed. At that moment, each person reconnected in their mind’s eye with the child Moishe, a neshama who taught us all lessons in life and sensitivity. Mr. Stanley Treitel spoke next about the 40th yahrtzeit of his father, who loved Torah and yiddishkeit and raised a family of shomrei Torah u’mitzvos. Councilman Paul Koretz took his turn at the lectern and formally announced on behalf the City of Los Angeles the naming of the intersection of Highland and 3rd as the Moshe Yitzchok Rubin Square. Councilman Koretz concluded by saying, “Naming the square after Moshe is more than just a tribute to a spirited young man with Down Syndrome. It is also a tribute

Attorney Brian G. Cartwright Rabbi Chaim Boruch Rubin Councilman Paul koretz City Controller Ron Galperin (behind) stanley Treitel and Shul president Alan Stern speaking

Photos: Arye D. Gordon


Mr Stanley Treitel, Mr Robert Rechnitz and Rabbi Yochanon Henig parading with the Torah

to a person who has demonstrated to the community, as it says on the plaque, the meaning of love, tolerance, and acceptance. In recognition of the amazing life of this individual, I am pleased to present this certificate from the City of Los Angeles. ” City Controller Ron Galperin poignantly pointed out that “[t]he names that we choose to give to our streets and to our squares say a lot about who we are as a society. We have many streets named after sports figures, Hollywood stars, and even generals. This, however, is a very unique dedication for a young man who did not have nearly enough years on this earth, but managed to bring a tremendous amount of goodness in the time he had…Moishe Rubin serves as an example to us all.” The next to speak was Rabbi Yaakov Krause of Young Israel of Hancock Park. Rabbi Krause spoke on behalf of the Treitel family, and also described Moishe Yitzchok’s years as a student at Toras Emes. The audience then rose as Cantor

Arik Wollheim, the chazzan from Congregation Beth Jacob in Beverly Hills and a relative of the Treitel family, recited the prayer, “Kel Maleh Rachamim.” Everyone remained standing for the unveiling of the plaque and naming of the Moshe Yitzchok Rubin Memorial Square. The last to speak was Rabbi Chaim Boruch Rubin, mara d’asra of the Etz Chaim Bais Medrash Moshe Yitzchok. Rabbi Rubin thanked the Treitel Family, the Councilman, the City Controller and Mr. Brian G. Cartwright, former general counsel for the SEC. The talented Shloime Dachs, a friend of the family who years ago bonded with Moishe, made a special trip to participate and perform on this occasion. Additionally, the celebration included refreshments, including hot dogs, drinks, popcorn, and other treats for the children. This auspicious day fittingly concluded with everyone joining in the dancing and singing.

TheHappenings Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Adult Yeshiva of Los Angeles Celebrates Its First Graduating Class Yehudis Litvak On Monday, March 17th, the Adult Yeshiva of Los Angeles celebrated a significant milestone – its first graduating chabura. A select group of five students – out of the original group of around twenty – completed all of the material and took a bechina (test on semicha) through the Pirchei Shoshanim organization. The yeshiva, now in its fifth year, began when a Los Angeles resident, Mr. Simon Stone, was looking for a way to learn Torah “with some credentials in the end.” No such program existed locally; a remote program, Pirchei Shoshanim, provided materials for independent study, but no direct instruction. Mr. Stone contacted Pirchei Shoshanim and proposed the idea of a live yeshiva. “They were very excited,” he says. Rabbi Mordechai Lebhar, Rosh Kollel at LINK, became the maggid shiur, teaching the Pirchei Shoshanim materials in person three hours a week. Even after Rabbi Lebhar moved to Toronto, he continued teaching his Los Angeles class over Skype. Now, Rabbi Lebhar is back in Los Angeles and is again able to teach in person. The program is intended for serious

Torah learners who would like an accountability system for their learning, but prefer to learn with a teacher. Dr. Ernest Agatstein, one of the graduates, feels that such direct instruction is a must. “You need a rebbi to teach you the mesorah,” he says.

a hypothetical situation and asked to determine the halacha, tracing it from the Gemara through the rishonim and acharonim and up to the modern-day poskim. At the end of each year, the students may choose to take a final exam, and at the end

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dr. Agatstein feels fortunate to have access to such a teacher locally. It took four years for the graduates to complete the material. The program consists of three parts: basar b’chalav – meat and milk; taaruvos – mixtures; and melicha – salting. After each section, the students take a test, where they are given

of four years they take a comprehensive test through the Pirchei Shoshanim organization, covering all the material they had studied in the program. The tests are graded by Rabbi Aharon Schenkolewski of Yeshivas Iyun Halacha in Eretz Yisrael. “It was the hardest test I’d ever taken,” says Dr. Agatstein, a board-certified urologist. The final took ten hours and included


between 20 and 30 pages of essay questions, he explains. Dr. Agatstein passed the test and is pleased to have completed the program. “It allows you [not only] to devour the knowledge but [also to] retain it,” says Dr. Agatstein, “[with semicha as] a motivational goal at the end.” Mr. Stone agrees. “It wasn’t easy. I feel the satisfaction of accomplishment.” But this is only the beginning, explains Dr. Agatstein. “You know what you don’t know and how much further you need to learn,” he says. Currently, some members of the chabura have moved on to the hilchos Shabbos track, taught at LINK and

the Even Haezer track at Young Israel of Hancock Park, both taught by Rabbi Lebhar. These chaburos also include tests for accountability and an option for earning a certificate at the end.


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Torah Happenings Musings The Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Elevating the Everyday Sarah Pachter

One Friday afternoon, during winter vacation, my husband was helping with the Shabbat preparations. Taking advantage of this rare opportunity, I raced to run a quick errand. While I was out, I got a call from my husband. “Sarah, I was bathing the girls and my phone fell out of my pocket! It went deep into the bath!” Concerned that my husband’s phone would be ruined – let alone the long lines at Verizon, loss of phone contacts not saved, and bills for a new phone which we would have to endure – I also worried he would never want to help with the house-

hold chores again! As soon as my husband realized the phone lay submerged in the bath water, he fished it out and dried it off in hopes of salvaging the device. He had quickly called me to test the phone out and determine if it had been affected. He could make certain calls, but many of the prompts on the screen were not responding to touch. “Quick!” I said. “Turn the phone off and put it in a bag full of rice!” “What? A bag of rice?” he asked with disbelief. “Why do I need to turn it off? Can’t I just leave it on and place it in the bag?”

“Trust is our best shot at saving the phone!” Begrudgingly, he turned it off and dropped it in the bag. He felt stuck and powerless. He had many work-related emails to respond to and phone calls to make before Shabbat, and now the phone was off limits for the next 25+ hours. Shabbat came and Shabbat went and that phone sat in our “home-made remedy” the entire time. At the conclusion of Shabbat, my husband checked on the phone. Surprisingly, it was good as new, as if nothing ever happened! The key to the rice “trick” is keeping the phone off for as long as possible to allow the rice to absorb the moisture trapped inside. (Google this, it works!) My husband admits that if not for Shabbat, there is no way he would have turned off the phone for that long. It was a forced break, and he had no choice but to put the situation out of his mind. You might say: Shabbat saved his phone. However, in reality, Shabbat saves us. The writer Ahad Ha’Am famously said, “More than the Jewish People have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.” The laws of inertia state that a body in motion stays in motion. As humans, we have a tendency to keep going, keep moving, keep doing, keep accomplishing. While this has always been true, in today’s generation, it is even more relevant. With the advent of technology and the iPhone particularly, it actually takes force (energy coupled with strength and determination) to slow down. The benefits sure outweigh the challenges. The “forced break” of Shabbat adds clarity to our lives. On Shabbat, we light candles to enhance the experience and ambiance of Friday night dinner. Yet, in the Zohar, Shabbat is actually referred to as a “Big light” (Or Gadol). Shabbat gives us clarity and enables us to see what we could not see before. When we lived in New York, I kept extra household supplies in the basement – everything from excess diapers to paper cups. Often, on Friday nights after Shabbat started, I would realize that I forgot some-

thing in the basement. I would walk downstairs to get what I needed, but it was challenging simply because the lights were not on. After spending several minutes poking around in the dark, many times I would return upstairs empty-handed. On any given weekday, heading to the basement was a simple task – I flipped the light switch, and voila! I could see exactly where my items were stored. Physical light gives us clarity in the material world. Shabbat is the corresponding light in the spiritual realm. Shabbat forces us to “pull away” from the mundane nature of the week. It is this distance that brings us clarity. I remember the first time that I ever tried yoga. (It happened to be a disaster: I was five months pregnant and feeling nauseous and off-balance.) At the end of class the instructor had us lie on the floor and relax for the pose called “savasana.” After a few minutes, I grew antsy, ready to jet from the session and get on with my day. However, the instructor explained that this pose was crucial to the exercise session as a whole. We had just spent 45 minutes working hard, learning new poses. Savasana provided time for the body to slow down and process all that new information. In this way, it would be stored in the brain and easier to access the next time we tried the positions. Taking that break to cool down would make yoga easier and more accessible the next time. In life, we see that taking a break is refreshing. It is our recharge button. It leaves us ready to accomplish again. That is the essence of vacation. In corporate America, senior management and owners actually encourage their employees to take paid time off and spread it throughout the year as it serves to enhance work productivity. Shabbat is a weekly vacation that allows us to pull away from the hectic nature of life and be spiritually productive. It is a “Big Light” that gives us clarity. When we start working again, we are able to see our same life with a new, enhanced vision. Breaking away creates clarity, serenity, and peace of mind. Shabbat does not just save cell phones, it saves US. Shabbat shalom!

The Parenting Week In News

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Proactive Parenting Sara Teichman, Psy D

Dear Dr.T., I have always loved Pesach – as a young girl and as a mom of little ones and teens. However, the last few yomim tovim have been trying, to say the least, and I wonder if you could help. You see, now my children are “youngmarrieds” with a few children each. Naturally, they all want to come home for the seder and join the rest of the family. So, what’s the problem? Well, though my children got along reasonably well when they were singles, when they get together for a prolonged period nowadays there is friction between the different couples and the assorted spouses. Though most of the conflict stays under the radar, I feel tense and edgy until everyone is safely out my home. Can you help me understand what is going on here and perhaps suggest some ideas that will minimize friction? Esther Miriam Dear Esther Miriam, Although this is a typical challenge, it is also a complex one. We cannot simply tell our married children – or their spouses – how to behave. We also have a limited picture – a snapshot, really – of our own child’s dynamics with his spouse and children. We see only what they permit us to see. While there is always the temptation to blame the “other” – the non-family member – it may actually be our own child who stirs the pot. Ancient childhood issues help form our personality and dictate our way of being in the world. So, while an eldest child may have been the undisputed boss/king/queen in the family during childhood, a younger child with a spouse on his side may feel secure enough as an adult to throw off the yoke of tyranny. For an excellent exploration of sibling roles, read Dr. Twerski’s I Didn’t Ask To Be in This Family. This very readable book makes many suggestions on dealing with sibling issues. It is axiomatic that adding different people to the equation (your married children’s spouses) changes the mix and nets different results. Added to that is the fact

that most often the couples are crowded into one room, together with their children. Everyone is off-schedule, over-tired, and forced to share bathrooms, cars, highchairs, and the like. This kind of everyday stress and shared space can certainly contribute to the tension, as well. Your child’s spouse is an ultra-sensitive topic: not one that I would ever recommend discussing with your child. While most people enter into the in-law relationship with lots of good will, there are also preconceived notions (“He’ll be the brother I never had.”) and fit issues (you are a perfectionist, she is casual; you are an extrovert, he is an introvert) that get in the way. Particularly when a family has a somewhat rigid, judgmental streak, adjustment can be difficult. So, for example, in a family where cleanliness is a religion and orderliness a virtue, the casual and non-detail oriented spouse may show up poorly in the family. Similarly, in the family that is chronically late, the punctual, to-the-minute spouse may come across as uptight and petty. There definitely needs to be a period of adjustment (years?), an attitude of tolerance (“Okay, so she didn’t put the maga-

zine away.”), and a modeling of openness. Make sure everyone knows that it’s okay to talk about what they need and want. Then, model the behavior you want to see. For example, you might say something like, “It’s hard for me when you take the car without telling me first.” The key is to make your point in a respectful, non-judgmental manner. Whether it’s religion or highchairs, respectful communication is the goal. So, for example, one person may talk about how they need quiet to put their toddlers to sleep. They might suggest a mutual plan, something as simple as, “After seven, let’s have playing only in the basement.” Not only is this effective problem-solving, but it’s also an inspiration to new family members to be up front and courteous as well. By talking in a non-threatening away about our needs (provided there aren’t too many of them) we clarify our boundaries and set the stage for cooperation and mutuality. Almost always, what we are looking at in these yom tov wars is the crush of too many people, an adjustment period that needs to take its own course, and unclear or unspoken needs or wants. Know that we have the ability to ease these tricky situations by using two of our most important tools: being proactive and having realistic expectations. Being proactive may take many forms. Well before the yom tov starts, consider which family members mesh well, limiting additional guests, or asking for a neighbor’s guest room or back house. The plans you make should be personal and custom-made for your family; the important point is to plan for success.

Having realistic expectations is another basic tool that will minimize tension. Though we all visualize having the seder depicted in the Artscroll Haggadah, the reality is that the newborn may be crying, the tots need to eat “right now!”, and – well, you get the picture. Knowing beforehand that life happens – wine will spill on someone’s suede Shabbos shoes and there will be fierce competition for the afikoman – puts the little things in perspective. Once we have taken on the challenge of not sweating the small stuff, it’s easier to be gracious and calm in the face of the adversities that can accumulate and multiply. Let’s summarize: be proactive and talk to your children well before yom tov about having realistic expectations. And, hopefully you will enjoy this yom tov for many years to come – through experiences, memories, pictures, and the warm, close feelings that only family can bring. The Book Nook: I Didn’t Ask To Be in This Family by Dr Abraham Twerski is an insightful, yet easy read. The author outlines the basic childhood positions: the oldest, middle, youngest, and only child. He uses the world-famous Peanuts cartoons – focusing on Charlie Brown – and his own experience of being in a family. Sara Teichman, Psy D. is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles and Clinical Director of ETTA, L.A.’s largest Jewish agency for adults with special needs. To submit a question or comment, email



Living with In theNews Times The Week

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

Fresh from the lessons of Purim, having now re-accepted the Torah out of love, we encounter Parshas Shemini, which offers us uplifting lessons to illuminate our path. At the time of Krias Yam Suf, a fearful nation was told, “Hashem yilocheim lochem ve’atem tacharishun - Your duty at this time is to remain silent, as Hashem defeats the Egyptians.” (Shemos 14:14) Chazal state that this advice is eternally relevant, pertinent today as then. There are times when we must speak up and times when we should remain silent, times to do battle and times to be passive. A Time for Everything As the Jews stood at the Yam Suf with nowhere to go and the Mitzrim quickly catching up to them, Hakadosh Boruch Hu told Moshe that it wasn’t a time to stand in lengthy prayer: “Lo eiss atah leha’arich b’tefillah.” While in a time of danger we normally cry out to Hashem for salvation, this time was different. There is an eis, a time, for everything, as expressed by Shlomo Hamelech in Koheles: “Eis livkos, ve’eis lischok…Eis le’ehov, ve’eis lisno; eis milchomah, ve’eis sholom. – A time to weep, and a time to laugh…A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” How we are to act in each eis is determined by the Torah. Many times, you hear people describe a person as a good man. For example, they say, “He does a lot of chessed, he is a good husband, and he is kovei’a ittim.” Homiletically, the phrase may have come about as a depiction of people who determine what type of eis it is and how to react to various ittim through the prism of Koheles and Torah. When we say that a person is “kovei’a ittim,” we are saying that the Torah is his foundation and solidifies his responses to the vagaries of life. His reactions are dictated by the Torah. When to Step Up In Parshas Shemini, we learn that Aharon Hakohein felt unworthy when he

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Parshah: A Time for Silence was selected to perform the avodah in the Mishkon. The posuk states that he was commanded to approach the altar: “Krav el hamizbei’ach.” Rashi quotes Chazal, who explain the strange language as teaching that Aharon was told, “Set aside your humility, because you were Divinely chosen for this task.” Although Aharon preferred to remain in the background, when told that it was an eis for him to step into a leadership position, he was spurred to action. His sons, Nodov and Avihu, however, sought to go where they didn’t belong. They reasoned that they were worthy of making decisions regarding the Mishkon. On their own, they decided that they were to bring an offering of flaming ketores. The posuk (Vayikra 10:1-2) states, “Vayakrivu lifnei Hashem eish zora asher lo tziva osam – They brought a strange fire that they were not commanded to do.” Be-

not only directed at those who claim to be adapting Orthodoxy to fit with the times, but also those who believe that they possess the ability to divine on their own the proper course of action in any given situation. One who is humble enough to submit is humble enough to lead. Our history is full of exceedingly humble men who kept themselves out of the limelight until their leadership was demanded. The Chazon Ish learned quietly by himself, his brilliance known to few. But when he arrived in Eretz Yisroel and people began turning to him, he emerged like a triumphant general, leading the fledgling Torah world and presiding over the growth of an empire. His brother-in-law, the Steipler Gaon, was viewed as a batlan until the baton was passed to him. He then roared like a lion and showed the way as the Am HaTorah

Nodov and Avihu were well-intentioned, but their gaavah misled them and caused them to be lost to the Jewish people. So often, we see people embroiled in self-destructive behavior and machlokes, ruining themselves and others for no apparent reason. When we look deeper, we see that gaavah is at the root of the problem. Humility doesn’t mean that it is not important to be confident in our abilities. Humility means that although we appreciate our attributes, we accept upon ourselves the laws and moral demands of Torah. We don’t think that we are smarter or better than those who came before us. We don’t speak out of turn, and those of us who are not fully versed in halachah and hashkofah defer to those who are. We don’t make our own rules and set our own guidelines that are not in keeping with the way our people have been conducting themselves over the past millennia.

WE ARE NEVER ALONE IF WE ARE ENSCONCED IN THE “DALET AMOS SHEL HALACHAH,” GOVERNED BY THE HALACHOS AND HASHKAFOS OF THE TORAH. cause of that, a fire that emanated “milifnei Hashem” killed them. The Torah refers to the fire they offered as “strange” and explains what was strange about it: asher lo tziva osam, it wasn’t commanded. It was Nodov and Avihu’s idea. They may have meant well, and they wanted to share in the great celebration and help out in the consecration of the Mishkon, but because it wasn’t based on Torah or mesorah, it was strange and unwanted. Thus, a fire went out milifnei Hashem and smote them. People who act based upon their own thinking, ignoring or twisting halachah and mesorah to comply with what they think is necessary and makes sense are unwanted and are playing with fire. This is

was faced with unprecedented challenges. Likewise, Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv was a masmid who learned in his own little corner until the day Rav Menachem Mann Shach told him that it was time to serve the klal in his place. Klal Yisroel, Rav Akiva Eiger once said, has a chush harei’ach, a sixth sense, about who their gedolim are. There is no preparatory school, no route one takes to get to the top. Rather, the people themselves know who should lead them. Throughout the ages, our leaders were trained and formed in the crucible of Torah. Our people never looked to those who pushed themselves and forced themselves into positions of influence. Torah is the domain of the humble and the self-effacing.

Because of his humility, Aharon Hakohein merited a life of closeness to Hashem, working in the Mishkon. He sought to distance himself from leadership, for he felt himself unworthy, but once he was commanded to rise, he fully embraced the position. As he served Hashem on the holiest levels, mentoring his people wasn’t beneath him. The oheiv es habrios umekarvan laTorah – person who loved human beings and brought them close to Torah – lived on the golden path, traveling the road of harmony. Waiting Until the Path Becomes Clear Upon the demise of Nodov and Avihu, the Torah tells us, “Vayidom Aharon – and Aharon was silent.” Aharon, a competent and experienced communicator, was undoubtedly able to express himself very well. After all, he was Moshe Rabbeinu’s spokesman. He was a man who pursued peace, settled disputes, and drew people closer to Torah. Why is it that when his two great sons were taken from him, he remained silent? Because that is what was demanded by the Torah during this eis. It was an eis lishtok. He had no mesorah of how to respond. Nobody had ever experienced a tragedy

Living with In theNews Times The Week

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

like this. He had no tradition of how a father reacts when losing children who were moreh halachah lifnei rabbon, offering a strange fire at the chanukas haMikdosh. They were great men, with righteous intentions, but Aharon remembered the lesson of “Ve’atem tacharishun.” Sometimes, silence is the correct response. In life, we are often tested. Sometimes, it is proper to speak up. When there is no mesorah for how to respond, we remain silent and wait for those more qualified than us to speak and provide direction. We don’t rush headstrong into new storms. We don’t view ourselves in grandiose terms, as if we are able to chart the proper course. Through perfecting the art of silence, we merit the gift of speech. Chazal tell us that the reward for Aharon’s silence was that in the following parsha, the rule that kohanim may not become intoxicated at the time of avodah was told by Hashem to Aharon alone. Because he remained silent, Aharon was given a special mitzvah to transmit. He was called upon to speak. The depth of his reward is that there is no mandate to be quiet or to speak. The only mandate is to follow the ratzon Hashem. Our only task is to be a “kovei’a ittim.” One who is humble enough to submit is humble enough to lead. That is the message of this week’s parsha and the lessons of gedolei Yisroel, who, as different as they may have been in outlook and temperament, shared the dual characteristics of humility to follow and courage to lead. Chazal teach that “seyog lachochmah shtikah,” the key to wisdom is to remain silent. Don’t speak when you are not called upon. Don’t engage in idle talk. Don’t be quick to judge and mock other people. Don’t speak about matters publicly without knowing the facts. Silence is the sign of intelligence, because, often, the most prudent way to respond is through silence. There are many issues regarding which we have no clear guidance. There are so many things that transpire that we don’t understand. We must bend our ears to the Torah and hear what it says. In times of happiness and not, we have to think about how the Torah would want us to act. What would our parents and grandparents say? How would they react? What would our rabbeim say? Aharon knew that nothing happens out of happenstance, and if tragedy occurs, it is because Hashem willed it so. Our duty is to accept what Hashem has done and wait until another day to properly comprehend what transpired. The person who lives with bitachon is at peace. Current events don’t shake him. He is not easily rattled. No matter what

happens, he is able to maintain his equilibrium. Because Aharon was a man of faith and didn’t become rattled, he was able to see the big picture and recognized that a kiddush Hashem was created by the deaths of his sons. He thus returned to the avodah “ka’asher tzivah Hashem – just at G-d had commanded him,” for as a humble, G-d-fearing person, he knew that his role was to submit to the ratzon Hashem. Remain Whole and Unbroken Following the Holocaust, there were two courses of action for survivors. In some cases, their harrowing experiences left them forlorn and broken. They lost their will to live and felt that Hashem had forsaken them. And who can blame them? They couldn’t recover. But there were people whose emunah was stronger, and although they had lived through those same experiences as the people who became depressed and lost, they put their lives back together, established new homes, and found what to celebrate about as they went on to live productive lives of “vayidom,” neither complaining nor becoming immobilized by their multiple tragedies. Far be it from us to comprehend what they lived through or to judge the people who were subjected to sub-human abuse, but we can learn from their examples. Each one of those people, from the simple Jews to the venerated leaders, is a hero to our nation. Together, they helped rebuild and resurrect a decimated people following the war. Their bodies were ripped apart, their families were destroyed, they were penniless and lonely, but their souls remained whole and pure. Whatever life does to us, we must remain whole and unbroken. Sometimes, the temptation is to fall apart and break down. If we can rise above our experiences in a state of “vayidom,” we can bounce back and resurrect ourselves, triumphing despite many setbacks. Of course it’s easier said than done. Oftentimes, we need the help and reassurance of good people to keep us on track, but survival and endurance beat the alternative. A Wait Nearly Over? For years, we have been writing about the plight of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, sentenced to 27 years of prison. We have been writing of the fallacies in the case brought against him. Many have doubted his version and gravitated to the government’s charges that he was found guilty of causing a $27 million loss to the bank with which the company he worked for had a line of credit. Last week, Yated Ne’eman reported about the overwhelming evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, proving that his sentence is uncalled for. Notes from a 2008 meeting of government officials were pre-

sented, as were legal affidavits that show that what Sholom Mordechai has been saying is true. Rubashkin lawyers offered testimony from people interested in purchasing the plant that the government caused them to withdraw their bids because of threats of forfeiture and demands that no member of the Rubashkin family be involved in management of the plant they built and ran. Paula Roby, a lawyer for the bankruptcy trustee, testified falsely that there was no attempt by the government to prevent any members of the Rubashkin family from being employed by the plant under new owners. In her written decision finding Sholom Mordechai guilty and declaring the amount of the loss, U.S. District Judge Linda Reade wrote that she accepted Roby’s testimony and determined that the prosecutors did not cause the value of the business to plummet. It was all Sholom Mordechai’s fault, and for that he has to sit in jail for 27 years. The new evidence presented to the court conclusively proves that the government knowingly presented false and misleading testimony and withheld exculpatory evidence.

This man, whose business was taken from him, whose reputation was ruined, and who was left penniless and has been separated from his family and society for almost seven years thus far for a crime he did not commit has good reason to be depressed and bitter, yet his faith remains solid and he remains devoted to Hashem and His Torah. He is happy in the knowledge that he was chosen to suffer for his people and is performing his duty behind bars. He knows that he will be released when Hashem determines that his mission behind the barbed wire has been fulfilled, and he eagerly awaits that day. No matter where we are, a Jew is always home, surrounded by opportunities to accomplish and prevail, though each place, season and moment has a specific avodah. We are never alone if we are ensconced in the “dalet amos shel halachah,” governed by the halachos and hashkafos of the Torah. May the clarity of emunah and bitachon light up our paths, so that we merit living as ehrliche Yidden, true servants of Hashem, and welcoming Moshiach tzidkeinu bekarov.



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When Life’s a Barrel of Laughs Four Funnymen Talk about How they Make us Chuckle By Malky Lowinger

We all enjoy a good laugh, a clever joke, a funny story. It does wonders for our mood, boosts our spirits, and helps us forget our troubles – even if it’s just for a little while. But making people laugh isn’t easy and performing in front of an audience is hard work. Yet somehow, these fellows make it look easy. Who are these funny guys? What special talents do they possess? Who are their role models? And what makes them make us want to laugh? As Purim approaches, we salute the performers who have turned laughter into a serious business. They keep the rest of us happy.



abbi Yankel Miller is no youngster. But he’s still an expert at showing us the sunny side of life. “It all started about fifty years ago,” says Rabbi Miller, who calls himself the Yarme Rov. “In those days, I used to be a ‘Peerim Roov.” Every Peerim I would make jokes at the table, by the Rebbe’s ‘Peerim Tisch.’” One year, after Purim,

Rabbi Yankel Miller in front of Rav Chaim Kanievsky

his Rebbe turned to him and said, “Yankel, why don’t you become a badchan?” And that’s exactly what he did. At the time there was only one badchan in America, the legendary R’Chaim Mendel Mermelstein. Rabbi Miller, who was looking for a source of parnassah, was open to the suggestion. But how to get started? The opportunity present-

ed itself soon enough. “I was once on my way from Monsey to the city and a family asked me for a ride. Their son was a chosson at the time and on the way, they said to me, ‘Maybe you’ll come to our chasuna and tell a few jokes? We’ll pay you twenty dollars!’” And the rest is Yarme history. Today, Rabbi Miller prefers to perform at sheva

brochos rather than at weddings, because, as he says, “you don’t have to be up so late at night.” Either way, he relates, “Being mesameach Yidden is a big mitzvah!” Rabbi Miller is a Vizhnitzer chassid and has been living in Monsey since 1964. He enjoys a worldwide reputation for his heimishe wit and humor. But he is careful to make a distinction between badchanus and leitzanus. “Badchanus,” he asserts, “is making jokes about things that go on around the world, like politics. Leitzanus is making fun of people. That’s something I don’t do. I never get personal. That’s why everybody likes me,” he quips They also like his trademark story of the kortzeh hoizen, the short pants (part of the Chassidic levush). It

goes something like this: Tonight, somebody asked me, “How come you don’t wear normal pants like the rest of us do?” So I told him I just bought a new pair of pants. My wife said they’re too long. So I told her, “You’re right. Maybe take a pair of scissors and cut off two inches?” She said, “I’m too busy right now.” Then I went to my daughter and asked her if she could cut off two inches. And she said, “Tatty, I would do it gladly but I’m busy.” Then I asked another daughter and a third daughter, and nobody had time. Finally, I went out to daven Maariv. By then, my wife said OK, she finally has time, and she cut off two inches. My daughter also came out of her room and cut off two inches. And my other daughter. Nu, when I came


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home from Maariv, I also took off two inches! So that’s how I ended up with kortzeh hoisen! I ask Rabbi Miller how he came to call himself the Yarme Rov. It turns out that his family is actually from a town in Hungary called Yarme. Calling himself a “Rebbe” and wearing colorful bekishes has become

an integral part of his act. “And boruch Hashem, I am matzliach.” But it’s not just the heimishe olam that enjoys Miller’s humor. “I also perform for goyim,” he says. How’s that? “Shomrim and Hatzolah make a Chanuka party every year and they invite the police sergeants and firefighters. Every year I perform for them and it’s a




rowing up Chabad in Crown Heights, Mendy Pelllin remembers “getting kicked out of class for making people laugh.” Today, he is living in California, does stand-up comedy, and runs a film production company. But back then, “if there was ever an opportunity to get a big laugh, I had to decide if I should do it and risk detention. Most of the time, the big laugh won.” He says his career as a comic started by chance. “I was uploading videos online and people were watching them, and well, they liked it.” He finds humor in “noticing the little things that other people don’t notice in everyday situations, being a bit removed and looking at it from the outside in.” For example, he noticed in shul that when the rabbi

gives his weekly lecture, people have the habit of holding their finger on the place in the siddur. “So I finally got up in front of a big congregation in California and I told everyone, ‘Guys, get your finger out of the book! Let the blood flow!’ It was really good comic relief!” When he’s not working, Mendy likes to keep busy helping his wife raise their three young children. He says they provide an endless source of comic material for him. He also likes to test his material at his Shabbos meals, to the delight of his many guests. “But sometimes,” he admits, “I get that look from my wife, which means that she’s heard the same joke ten times already.” Mendy admires the work of legendary Jewish comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Jack-

real kiddush Hashem. They come over to me afterwards and say, ‘That was amazing! You performed for an hour and didn’t make one off-color joke!” Despite being in his seventies, Rabbi Miller is still sought after all over the world. “Boruch Hashem, I still travel to Europe, to Australia, and to Eretz Yisroel.

I’m not planning to retire anytime soon because it’s a groyseh mitzvah!” He also performs in nursing homes and says the elderly especially enjoy his humor because he liberally mixes English and Yiddish, and often Hungarian, into his shpiel. He proudly remembers being “mesameach Rav Kanievsky at his einikel’s she-

va brachos. He was mamish laughing out loud!” And then he adds, “Go to YouTube and maybe you can find it.” Rabbi Miller encourages young, aspiring badchanim but cautions them as well: “Never ever be mevayesh anyone at a simcha. Don’t be funny on someone else’s cheshbon.” He concludes, “Then you will be matzliach.”

ie Mason – Seinfeld because “I like how he looks at everyday situations and analyzes them with a little bit of Talmudic-style commentary.” And Mason because “he doesn’t hide his Jewishness. He uses it.” Mendy’s worked with all kind of people, from Yaakov Shwekey to Michael Strahan. He is also involved with helping organizations like RCCS and ALS. Occasionally he will have to turn down a job because of his religious convictions. “I answer to a Higher Authority,” he asserts. He once was scheduled to fly on someone’s private jet to perform at a major show, but the plane was leaving on Saturday. “I tried to explain that I don’t do electricity on Shabbos. And the guy was like, ‘You don’t have to do anything. We have a pilot. You just sit there on the plane and we get you there.’ Clearly, he didn’t get it.” According to Mendy, being brought up Chabad “kind of messed me up for life because I can’t look at arms and not wrap them in tefillin.” Once, on a movie set with a famous actor and a few hundred extras, he started looking for potential “customers.” “I tried to keep it professional but I couldn’t help myself. So I went over to the production designer and said, ‘Hey, when was the

last time you put on tefillin?’ He said he never did. I said, ‘Would you like to do it right here right now?’ Well, he wasn’t so interested. So I presented it to him this way: ‘Listen, the first time

internet but you can’t let that discourage you. It’s actually a good sign. It means that a lot of good people are also watching your stuff. The hate is just the tip of the iceberg.”

"Listen, the first time you put on tefillin is like your bar mitzvah. So how many people can say that they had this actor at their bar mitzvah?”

you put on tefillin is like your bar mitzvah. So how many people can say that they had this actor at their bar mitzvah?’ Well, that sealed it. I wrapped tefillin on him and then I went on a spree and wrapped tefillin on a lot of other people that day.” Mendy encourages young comics to develop their skills. “These days,” he says, “you can really channel your talents in a way that wasn’t possible fifteen years ago and at the same time be a very devoted Jew. You can utilize technology to film yourself or to make funny videos, and just put it out there. If it’s good, they’ll watch it.” And never mind about the hateful comments. “There’s lots of hate on the

Mendy firmly believes that “it’s possible to pursue a career in comedy and still be a good frum Jew. You don’t have to sacrifice one world in order to step into the other world. You can have your feet in both worlds and it’s very doable.” All things considered, Mendy thinks the rest of us should chill. “I think in general people in our community take themselves too seriously and that could be harmful to their health. Somehow, when it comes to Purim it becomes socially acceptable to step out of our limitations, dress up a little, and let loose. “I vote for trying to follow that up. Let’s remember that Purim spirit all year long!”


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odi may sound like a stage name but the comedian who calls himself that assures me that it’s actually part of his real name. His full name, he says, is Mordechai Modi Rosenfeld. He was born in Israel

and then moved in the Five Towns. Modi originally worked in investment banking for Merrill Lynch but it soon became clear that he had special talents. “I would imitate the different secretaries at work with

Pinky Weber with Michoel Schnitzler




ccording to R’ Pinchos Weber, there are two

kinds of badchanim. There are the ones who tell jokes

“So when everybody saw me running in with my little suitcase, they thought I was Hatzolah! That’s why they were so happy to see me!”


their different accents and my friends would say, ‘Hey, Modi, you should be doing this onstage!’” He then began his onstage career as an amateur comedian and was so good at it that he eventually gave up the banking in 1999. He considers himself fortunate to have performed in the Catskill Mountain hotels, at the tail end of that golden era. “My first show was at the Concord, and I was the opening act for Claire Barry of the Barry Sisters. Those were good times,” he recalls. “Today, of course, it’s all chassidish up there. Now I do shows for the frum homeowners.” Modi says that he has an advantage over other come-

dians in that “I work clean. I don’t curse or use off-color humor so that makes me available for corporate events as well as Jewish events.” He’s performed in front of all different types of audiences. “One week I’ll be in Alabama where there’s not one Jew in the room. And a week later I’ll be doing a show for a Bonei Olam event with a huge mechitzah down the middle of the room. You have to know the crowd, their tastes, and their limits.” Where does he get his material? “From life! I’m an observational comedian. Like I’ll describe myself going to the gym and people will say, ‘Wow, I never thought of it like that!’ Or I’ll talk about what it’s like

to go through TSA security screening at the airport. These things are universal.” Lately, he says, it’s been easy to find something to laugh at. “All I need to do is turn on the election coverage! I get tons of material from that alone.” And comedy is healing, there’s no question about that. “I get emails from people saying they’re going through some really tough times. Then they watch my show and they laugh out loud. I help them forget their friend who’s getting divorced or the shidduch that’s not happening, or all the other things that are going on in their lives. For one hour,” he says, “they’re completely numb to all of it.”

and are mesameach. And then there are those who are dramatic and talk about the family in rhyme. Weber says that he can combine both at a simcha. That’s why he is known by many as the King of Badchanus. “I was always the clown in school,” he recalls. “And that got me into trouble!” But it also got him to recognize that he had a flair for rhyming – which is essential for badchanus – and that he was musically inclined. Weber is also a composer. A Satmar chassid who hails from Brooklyn, Weber attended Nitra Yeshiva in Mt. Kisco and today he lives in Williamsburg. He takes credit for updating the badchanus industry. “I added new ideas, such as more singing and newer songs. I also gave badchanus more toichen. Times have changed,” he opines. “You can’t drive a station wagon nowadays. You need to update to a minivan.” And while he is widely

recognized, he did attend one simcha where he was mistaken for someone else. The story goes like this: “I came to Boro Park to be mesameach at a simcha and walked into Torah V’Yirah hall. Right away I saw that I was at the wrong place because everybody at that chasunah was completely Litvish! So I ran out and jumped into the car and went to Vizhnitz Hall at the other end of Boro Park. I figured my chasuna was probably there.” He arrived at Vizhnitz running behind schedule. “I rushed out holding the suitcase with my mike and ran downstairs to the simcha hall. The baalei simcha and their families followed me. It looked like they were really happy to seeing me there. When we got downstairs they told me to go to the ladies’ side, which was a little strange because usually the badchanus happens on the men’s side.” It took a few moments

until he finally realized what was happening. “It turned out the Bubby fell and hurt herself. She was nebach laying on the floor. So when everybody saw me running in with my little suitcase, they thought I was Hatzolah! That’s why they were so happy to see me!” Once they realized who he was, the baalei simcha went back upstairs to street level to wait for the real paramedics. “Meanwhile, I was left alone with the Bubby and one son who still didn’t get it and was trying to explain to me what her condition is!” Despite such occasional mishaps, Weber encourages aspiring young badchanim to develop their talents. “Don’t hide it,” he urges. “There are so many simchas, b”H, and there’s lots of business for everyone!”

Special thanks to Gershie Moskowitz for his help with this article.

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MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Book Review: Ride the Wave:

Journey from the Inside Out By Aviva Barnett Reviewed by Devorah Talia Gordon In Ride the Wave: Journey from the Inside Out, licensed social worker and life coach Aviva Barnett invites readers to take a close look at something most people don’t consider: how their mind works. Barnett’s friendly tone draws the reader into her book, which begins with her own journey from “living in annoyance and irritation” to a sense of inner peace and connection. She explains that everyone has innate mental health; just as we say each morning, “G-d, the soul you placed within me is pure,” this health can never be damaged or diminished in any way. Further, access to it is always available, just like the sun. “I may look up at the sky and see only clouds, but the sun didn’t go anywhere. As soon as the clouds pass, the sun is there again.” If everyone possesses psychological health, what makes people feel stressed, anxious or depressed? Barnett says that our experience of life comes via our thinking. Thoughts then lead to feelings, which in turn affect the experience of whatever circumstance is in front of us. That, in turn,

shapes behavior. Therefore, life is happening from the inside-out. This idea runs contrary to what we have been trained by society, Barnett writes. Mainstream society’s “outside-in” approach assumes our circumstances shape our experiences of life. Expressions such as, “You are making me crazy!” and “It’s your fault!” illustrate this way of thinking, which make a person, in essence, the victim of his circumstances. Barnett guides the reader step-by-step through profound ideas in a way that is simple to grasp. Using the metaphor of ocean waves, she describes the nature of thought: just as waves rise and fall, so too our thoughts. Barnett analyzes the nature of thought (not what we think, but the ability to think) as a flowing river. “Left to its own devices, thought will continue to flow unless something, like my attention, tries to block the flow.” Further, Barnett says it is not about controlling thinking. “Do you control your breathing? Your heartbeat? It’s just energy flowing through us, like breath.”

Habits of thought, Barnett explains, can trip people up, such as expectations (i.e. “My kids should get good grades.”), anxiety, stress, living in the past, and addictive thinking. Not only are we not responsible for our thinking, we are not our thinking. We are something much bigger, and if our mind is less busy, we open ourselves up to the Source of all thought, Hashem. “We each have this big, deep vessel – our mind – that has the potential to hold all the wisdom we need to live our lives.” In exploring the thought-feeling continuum, Barnett includes a helpful section on the issue of sleep, which plagues many people. Here, she posits that, “What if our goal wasn’t to feel good… We want to be able to feel anything, but we also want to know when we are feeling reality versus feeling the illusions we make up about reality.” Barnett takes time to explain the way thoughts impact the way we feel physically. Our biofeedback system is “a GPS to let us know the quality of our thinking in the moment.” If one pays attention to his physical sensations, he will have

awareness as to the quality of his thinking. Pesach, the “Time of our Freedom,” is the perfect time to learn about Barnett’s vision of true freedom from the “innocent imprisonment of our own minds.” Barnett says, “I create the illusion that I can’t do something, I create the illusion that there is something wrong. One might think I am not loveable, I can’t function…what holds people back are themselves. Thinking is not a problem, and it will pass like the wind. Can I get a glimpse of the fact that just because it’s coming through my brain it doesn’t have to have hold on me?”



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MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Travel Guide: Santiago Aaron Feigenbaum Set against the majestic Andes Mountains, Chile’s capital prides itself on being a highly cosmopolitan and dynamic center of culture and commerce. Santiago’s unique blend of European and Latin heritage set against the backdrop of a modern urban metropolis has made it one of South America’s most unique destinations. Many visitors say Santiago is like Los Angeles, and it’s not hard to see why: There are many historical museums and houses to visit, as well as beautiful parks, plazas, shopping, diverse cultural experiences, and a mild climate. But Santiago’s attractions don’t stop at the city limits: Skiing in the Andes is only a short drive away, and in the summer both tourists and locals alike love to head to Chile’s charming coastal towns to take in the sun and surf. Add to that the world famous port city of Valparaiso, located just 75 miles away, and it’s clear that the entire Santiago region is not to be missed. History Several years after the Spanish conquest of Peru, the conquistador Francisco Pizarro (famous for having defeated the Incas), dispatched Pedro de Valdivia to the south to gain more land for the crown. After almost a year of trekking, Valdivia and his compatriots reached what is now Santiago in 1541. Despite opposition from the indigenous Picunche people, the new settlement managed to survive. However, growth was initially very slow due to frequent earthquakes and a lack of settlers. It wasn’t until the 18th century that Santiago gained the infrastructure and population to call itself a city. Wealthy landowners became the primary econom-

Fountain in Santiago, Chile

ic and political force in the city, and they built many luxurious mansions and public buildings. Throughout the 20th century, Santiago grew as more migrants from rural Chile moved into the city in search of better opportunities. Santiago’s borders expanded rapidly, eating up small towns and villages during the process. In 1973, Santiago became the epicenter of one of Chile’s darkest chapters. It was there that the dictator Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende. Pinochet’s repressive 17-year rule decimated much of Santiago’s artistic community, and the

city’s stadium was used as a makeshift prison for political dissidents. Since the fall of Pinochet in 1990, Santiago has largely recovered to become one of Latin America’s most renowned cities. Despite urban sprawl and social inequality, Santiago is a dynamic, cosmopolitan city that has come to be appreciated by millions of tourists every year for its historic buildings, natural beauty, and thriving culture. Attractions Cerro Santa Lucia: One of Santiago’s most famous and impressive parks, the Cerro Santa Lucia sits on a hill that offers panoramic views of the city. The park marks the spot where Pedro de Valdivia founded the city. There are a number of interesting attractions on the hill such as an indigenous crafts store and Castillo Hidalgo (once a Spanish fort and now an events center). Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino: Located in Santiago’s Customs House, this museum takes an extensive look at indigenous culture in Latin America before the arrival of the Spanish. There are exquisite arts and crafts on display from a huge range of cultures including the Maya, Aztec, Inca, Amazonian, Carib, Olmec, and many more. From masks to pottery to sculptures to paintings, there is no better place to experience Latin America’s long and rich past. Museum of Memory and Human Rights: This sobering museum gives a look at the dark days of the Pinochet regime where disappearances, torture, and executions were commonplace. The first level of the museum tells the full story of Pinochet’s rise to power, the international

Santiago, capital of Chile under early morning fog

response to his policies, and provides an intimate look at the victims of the regime’s human rights abuses. The second level details the fight against Pinochet and how Chile has rebounded from its nightmare. Much like L.A.’s Museum of Tolerance, there is also a focus on other human rights abuses in the world and a loud and clear message of “Never again.” The museum often hosts artistic events such as film festivals, indigenous art displays and concerts. Sky Costanera: At 62 stories, this building has the distinct honor of being the tallest in Latin America. For a small fee, visitors can ascend to the observation

deck at the top and enjoy a phenomenal view of the city and the Andes Mountains. Also consider checking out the massive Costanera shopping mall at the building’s base. La Moneda: Originally a Spanish mint, this impressive neoclassical building is now the seat of Chile’s president. You can see the room where the president greets visitors, witness the changing of the guard, and see antique cannons in the inner courtyard. Within the complex is a cultural center with a wide variety of both modern and traditional artwork. One-hour Spanish-language tours are provided; reservations must be made at least a week in advance. Metropolitan Park: One of the largest parks in the world, Santiago’s Metropolitan Park has a huge amount of activities for the whole family. There are two open-air pools including the scenic Piscina Antilen, which is located on Cerro San Cristobal and has sweeping views of the cityscape. The park’s cable car ferries visitors from the bottom of the hill in the Pedro de Valdivia Norte neighborhood to the summit in 20 minutes. The park is also home to the Chilean National Zoo, which is home to thousands of animals representing almost 200 species, including many endangered ones. Some of the most popular animals on display are jaguars, lemurs, Humboldt penguins, and the exotic Darwin’s frog. Complementing the zoo is the botanical garden, which has a rich array of native plants and trees that thrive in Chile’s Mediterranean-like climate. The Metropolitan was recently expanded to include new hiking trails, an expansion of

Japanese Garden

the zoo and thousands of new trees. La Chascona: This humble house, located in the hilly neighborhood of San Cristobal, was one of three homes owned by poet Pablo Neruda, one of Chile’s most famous citizens. He built the house in 1953 for his third wife, Matilde Urrutia, and named it after her hair. (Chascona originally comes from the Quechua word for “wild mane of hair.”) He lived in it until his death in 1973, and his wife lived in it until her death in 1985. Neruda was a great lover of the sea, which is reflected in the ship design of the house and the deep blue exterior. The house is full of artifacts Neruda collected, as well as artwork from

some of his friends. Unfortunately, the house was attacked in 1973 by Pinochet’s forces, but Neruda’s wife lovingly restored it after that. Audio tours are provided. Day trips: Many visitors to Santiago don’t restrict themselves to the city limits but rather take the time to also explore the many excellent day trips in the region. Perhaps the most well-known day trip destination is Valparaiso. This coastal, San Francisco-like city is famous for its beautiful beaches, brightly colored houses, and cultural exhibits. Valparaiso is home to Pablo Neruda’s other house, La Sebastiana. It’s quite a climb to get up here, but the beautiful house and even more beautiful panoramic views make worth the effort. Visitors are free to wander around the house as they please as they view Neruda’s eclectic collection of 1950s-era knickknacks and art. While you’re in the hills, take a walking tour of the charming Paseo Gervasoni District. This neighborhood encapsulates the best of vintage Chile as well as Latin American street art. Nearby Concon is famous for its gorgeous sand dunes which stretch out scenically against the backdrop of the ocean. If you’re a diehard Neruda fan (or are just interested in seeing some unusual architecture), you can complete the trilogy of his houses by going to the Isla Negra commune not far from Valparaiso. Neruda’s house here is his best-known one and his personal favorite. The layout of the home resembles a ship with narrow passageways, creaking floors, and nautical artifacts such as maps and figureheads. Neruda and his third wife, Matilde, are both buried there.

Museum of Memory and Human Rights

Vina del Mar is Chile’s most popular beach resort and has a constant influx of international visitors, especially in summertime. Other attractions include an amazingly sculpted flower clock and the Quinta Vergara, once home to the city’s founding family and now an art museum and open-air concert venue. There are also the botanical gardens, the Castillo Wulff (which almost hangs over the sea), and the Fonck Museum. The latter is dedicated to the indigenous peoples of Chile and has the only genuine moai statue from Easter Island on the whole Chilean mainland. For some Chilean skiing, there are few better options than Portillo. Sitting at al-

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most 10,000 feet near the border with Argentina and just 2-3 hours from Santiago, Portillo is excellent for both skiing and snowboarding. On the way there take a stop off in Los Andes for some great Alpine scenery. For some serious hiking, visit Chile’s Andean region which includes the famous El Morado Glacier. The two-hour hike at El Morado is very popular in the spring

Wulff Castle in Vina del Mar, Chile

ters, Humboldt penguins, and more. Then, as the sun begins to set, head over to the nearby Mamalluca Observatory for one of the world’s most spectacular stargazing experiences. With Chile’s famously crystal clear desert night skies, you’re sure to get some unforgettable pictures. Daven and Eat Santiago has several shuls to choose from, including Chabad (


when there is an abundance of wildlife and plants. Besides hiking, there are abundant opportunities for climbing, horseback riding, and camping. After all the activity, take a relaxing soak at the nearby Banos Colinas hot springs with pools located right on a cliff for maximum scenic effect. Lastly, if you have the time, take the approximately 300 mile trip north to La Serena for another of Chile’s best natural experiences. The Elqui Valley is full of beautiful vineyards, mountains, and swimming holes. Take a tour with Ecoturismo to Punta Choros or Isla Damas to see a huge amount of dolphins, sea lions, ot-

and Aish ( There are also several kosher restaurants to choose from such as the Israeli-themed Falafel Asly and the milchig Kosh! For more information on kosher food in Santiago, visit Getting There Currently, flights from LAX start at around $700 per person. The city has excellent public transportation, including one of Latin America’s most modern subway systems. There are also bus connections to all of South America’s major destinations.


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Israel’s Global Terror Ranking Unfortunately, these days a worldwide

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

census of terror is needed. Of the 162 countries that are ranked by the Institute for Economics and Peace in the Global Terrorism Index, Israel came in 24th place. The system is designed to rank which countries are the most and least affected by terror. The index evaluates the five year average for criteria as the number of terrorist incidents endured by a country, how many fatalities were suffered in those attacks, how many injuries were caused, and the level of damage to property. It also weights the scores for each nation according to the long-term psychological damage

of the attacks. The Institute for Economics and Peace used information from a global terrorism database at Maryland University, which includes more than 125,000 terrorist incidents. Israel received an overall score of 6.03 out of 10. Israel’s ”GTI indicators” for 2015 included 260 attacks, 20 fatalities, 115 injuries and 290 instances of damage to property. The United Kingdom ranked at 28th, and the U.S. at 35th. France, following the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in the beginning of 2015 and the deadly terror attacks at the

very end of the year, was ranked 36th. Iran, which Israel has often accused of sponsoring terrorism in other countries, came in at number 39, while Syria, which has for five years endured a devastating civil war, was placed fourth. Islamic State and Boko Haram, the two most extreme Sunni terror groups, were together cited as being responsible for 51 percent of terror attacks around the globe. Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria were the worst hit countries. In Iraq in 2014, 9,929 people were killed in terror attacks or died from injuries related to terror attacks, which the GTI said was the highest ever number recorded in a single country.

Drone Hacker Taken to Court

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According to Israeli prosecutors, a Palestinian terror group has been hacking Israeli spy drones. Authorities arrested the hacker, 23-year-old Maagad Ben JuwadOydeh, who was able to gain access to the drone’s video feed. Oydeh belongs to the terror group Islamic Jihad. The hack had obvious value to terrorist leaders as they planned their operations against Israeli troops and civilians. On March 23, the Beersheva District Court indicted Oydeh on charges of spying, conspiracy, contact with enemy agents, and membership in an illegal organization. Israeli authorities have not released many details on Oydeh’s background and crimes. Israeli media outlets are quoting the indictment as saying that Oydeh first came into contact with Islamic Jihad while working in his father’s electronics store in Gaza. The terror group reportedly provided Oydeh a satellite dish for picking up radio signals and a frequency counter for pinpointing the signal’s location on the electromagnetic spectrum. It reportedly took Oydeh three attempts to intercept the signals from Israeli drones flying over Gaza. On the third attempt in 2012, Oydeh was allegedly able to record the video that at least one of the unmanned aircraft was beaming to a military ground station. The court claimed that during his alleged four-year terror career, Oydeh also tapped into ground-based security cameras belonging to the Israeli military and police – and also electronically infiltrated the data network of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. Hacking drone video feed is not

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new. Edward Snowden – the infamous whistleblowing former U.S. National Security Agency analyst – provided evidence that American and British spies based in Cyprus had tapped into Israeli drones feeds in 2009 and 2010. That’s not hard to do because drones’ video streams are, by design, meant to be easily accessible. To that end, the feeds might be totally open and unencrypted. Israeli Defense Force drone feeds are particularly open, as the IDF tries to make overhead video available to as many frontline soldiers as possible. “It’s hard to make this feed both secure and conveniently accessible to any IDF forces who need it,” Todd Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas’ Radionavigation Laboratory, said. “With the right encryption and strict security protocols, there is no way even a ‘master hacker’ like Juwad Oydeh could get access to these feeds,” Humphreys added. “But sometimes the strict security put in place also keeps IDF Lieutenant X from seeing the feed when he desperately needs it. It’s a classic security-convenience tradeoff.”

Rescuing our Yemenite Brothers A secret mission to rescue some of the last remaining Yemenite Jews was conducted successfully last week. The Jewish Agency announced that with the help of the U.S. State Department, 19 members of the dwindling community in Yemen were flown to Israel. These Jews represent the final batch of 200 Yemenite Jews brought to Israel by the Jewish Agency in recent years


Fourteen of the new Olim came from the town of Raydah, while one family hailed from the capital city of Sanaa. “The group from Raydah included the community’s rabbi, who brought a Torah scroll believed to be between 500 and 600 years old,” the agency said. “Some two hundred Jews have been secretly rescued from Yemen by The Jewish Agency in recent years, including several dozen in recent months, as attacks against the Jewish community have increased and the country has descended into civil war,” the agency said, providing rare details on an effort that was kept tightly under wraps for years. American officials helped coordinate the complicated handover. According to

Saudi sources, the Houthi rebels who controlled the area where the family lived were bribed to allow safe passage for the Jews. From the Houthi-controlled city of Sanaa and the nearby village Raydah in western Yemen, they flew to Amman, Jordan and then to Israel. This was the fourth attempt to rescue them. Approximately 50 Jews now remain in Yemen, with 40 living in Sanaa in a compound adjacent to the American Embassy. Despite the ongoing civil war, they refuse to leave the country.

Last week’s operation effectively ends the Jewish Agency’s efforts to bring Jewish immigrants to Israel from Yemen. Similar initiatives in recent years have helped bring the last few remaining members of the community to Israel as the country descended into civil war. In 1949-50, 49,000 Yemenite Jews were brought to the newly born State of Israel in Operation Magic Carpet.

“Settlement” Companies Blacklisted by UN None of countries on the United Nations Human Rights Council voted against the creation of a “blacklist” of companies operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Last week’s resolution, which was put forth by the Palestinian Authority and Arab states, required UN hu-



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man rights officials to produce a database of “all business enterprises” that have enabled or profited from the growth of Israeli “settlements.” It includes a condemnation of settlements and called on companies not to do business with Israeli companies in those areas. The vote was delayed several times as American and European officials sought to soften its wording. John Kerry phoned PA President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to prevent the blacklist clause, but was rebuffed. While European Union nations opposed the creation of the list, they did not vote against the resolution, electing merely to abstain. It passed with 32 nations voting in favor and 15 abstentions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the outcome of the vote, saying the international body “has turned into an anti-Israel circus, which attacks the only democracy in the Middle East and ignores the blatant violations of Iran, Syria and North Korea.” “The absurd thing is that instead of dealing with Palestinian terrorist attacks and Islamic State attacks in Europe, [the Human Rights Council] decides to condemn Israel,” he continued. “Israel calls upon responsible governments not to respect the decisions of the council which

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

denigrate Israel,” he said. Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N., pronounced, “When the U.N. marks Jewish businesses so that they can be boycotted it reminds us of dark times in history.”

IDF Soldier Faces Murder Charge An IDF soldier is being charged with murder by the Israeli Military Court after shooting a Palestinian terrorist in Hebron. Army prosecutors charged the unidentified soldier after an initial investigation concluded that he shot a disarmed and wounded Palestinian assailant after the latter no longer constituted a threat. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon say the soldier’s actions violated the army’s ethical code. The case is causing a lot of controversy as other politicians and the soldier’s family claimed he was being “lynched” in the media, after videos of the incident were posted online.

“There are dozens of incidents in the IDF each day, on land, in the air and at sea,” IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz said in a statement. “All the incidents are investigated on professional grounds – procedures, operations, methods, [soldiers’] judgment and more. When necessary, the moral dimension is also examined,” he said. He rejected right-wing criticism that the army’s swift response to the incident was an attempt to pander to left-wing critics. “These incidents are not examined and investigated in order to appeal to anyone – not because of the B’Tselem organization [a rights group that published a video of the incident] and not because of any fear of international pressure – but for ourselves, our character and our values,” Almoz said. The shooting took place after Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, 21, and another man stabbed a soldier and were shot by responding troops. Footage that emerged the following day showed Sharif lying on the ground before being approached by a soldier, who fired a single bullet into his head. The army later released findings showing that the soldier under indictment allegedly spoke out in favor of killing the surviving stabber before the shooting, and told his commanders afterward that the Palestinian assailant deserved to die. But

the soldier’s attorney said his client denied the comments attributed to him. “Justice is done in court, not in the media,” the attorney insisted. Almoz said the IDF would resist any political pressure to drop the case. “We say loudly and clearly – we set the norms,” he said, referring to the army’s commanders. “This incident is serious, and we insist on keeping political discourse out of the IDF. We support a fair investigation, which has only just begun, and there is no call to prejudge its outcomes.” He insisted the soldier would be given a fair trial. “We are listening to [the soldier,] and we will continue to listen to him. We are hearing his version, and law enforcement and the courts will be those who decide” as to his guilt. “We will not abandon him. This is not summary justice. This is not a ‘lynching,’” he reiterated. Army officials insisted that the army stood by soldiers who “make mistakes” that amount to reasonable misjudgments of combat situations, but said this case was different.

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we don’t agree with so we’re going to be fighting some of the charges.” Hmm, an attorney needing an attorney. Something doesn’t sound right. Kitchen’s fraud was discovered last year. She now faces a few years in prison, although this time she’ll be on the other side of the bars.

The Lying Lawyer She’s a lawyer. I mean, she’s a liar. Or maybe she’s both? Kimberly Kitchen had it all. The 45-year-old worked at a large law firm and was about to be named partner until it was revealed that she didn’t have everything. What was missing? Well, a law degree, for starters. Years ago, Kitchen forged her law license, bar exam results, an email showing she attended Duquesne University law school, and a check for a state attorney registration fee. She worked as an attorney for a decade handling estate planning for more than 30 clients. She even held the position of president of the Huntingdon County Bar Association at one point. “She’s an incredibly competent person and she worked very diligently and was devoted to the people she served in the community,” her attorney Caroline Roberto said. “There are things about the charges

Too bad he doesn’t live in the Five Towns. The new meters on Central Avenue could have arrested him instead.

China: Too Many Manhattans

An Arresting Film “Be kind, rewind.” Remember VHS tapes, videos that came in a box and needed to be rewound before returning them to the store? (Remember when there were video stores where you’d rent videos? Forget it – I’m aging myself!) Well, James Meyers remembers them well. The North Carolinian man has been arrested for failing to return a VHS tape he rented nearly 15 years ago. He was pulled over last week while driving his daughter to school. When officers ran his license, they found that there was an active warrant out for his arrest. After dropping off his daughter, Meyers turned himself in to police and was booked on a single charge: failure to return rented property. He now has to appear in court and faces a possible fine.


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According to the Chinese, there are too many Manhattans. There are also too many Venices. Amid decades of frenzied building in Beijing, the government has announced that too many streets and developments have foreign-sounding and bizarre names. Civil Affairs minister Li Liguo said in a recently televised speech that the government will change over-the-top or imported names and encourage real estate develop-

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ers and city planners to seek inspiration instead from China’s rich cultural heritage. “Some cities have multiple ‘Manhattan’ or ‘Venice’ roads,” Li said. “It’s not only an inconvenience to travelers but also erodes a sense of home.”


A report by the official Xinhua news agency framed Li’s remarks on place names as a matter of national sovereignty and ethnic dignity. Li, a member of China’s Cabinet, called on greater cultural preservation and suggested that developers look toward Chinese icons for inspiration, such as Mount Tai or the Yellow River. In recent years, though, it’s common for property developers to evoke a French region or include words like “elite” or “chateau” in the names of shopping malls or housing compounds. In Beijing’s business district, there’s a “Central Park” condominium compound while another upscale project is literally named “Yuppie International Condos.” A few miles away, a three-bedroom pad at the “Chateau Edinburgh” apartments is listed for about $3,500 a month. Sure gives a whole new meaning to Made in China.

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Ahh, the breakroom. Every office has it. It’s a place to bond, drink coffee, eat lunch, and chew on granola bars. For some, it’s a place to get away from the computer, for others it’s a place to blow off some steam. If you’re in Melbourne, Australia, though, and you really need to get something off your chest, perhaps you should check out The Break Room. Here visitors are outfitted in safety gear, including a visor, gloves, and steel-toed boots. Why do they need all this riot-gear? Well, it’s a place where those with too much pressure can smash a plate or two instead of taking deep breaths. Stressed out individuals can choose from a range of plates and bottles to smash, as well as other items “at the end of their life span,” like outdated technological devices. Ed Hunter founded the smashin’ spot in January. He said that although he’s generally a relaxed person, when he get stressed,

he sometimes has the urge to break things. “Whether it was using a piece of technology wasn’t going my way or just feeling overwhelmed I’d have what I feel is a fairly natural compulsion to throw my phone at a wall, just something to release the pressure,” he explained. Hunter emphasizes that The Break Room isn’t designed as an outlet for anger, but as a way to relieve some stress and have fun. “We’re here if you’d like to have a good time smashing things in a safe environment.” Sounds like a blast.

Living in a Box

Rents in certain areas are sky-high. Want to live in Brooklyn Heights or the Meatpacking District? Get ready to shell out some serious dough. How about heading cross-country to San Francisco? Fuhgeddaboutit! You’ll be eating pasta for the next few years if you want a decent apartment. In fact, in 2014, Buzzfeed found nine private islands that cost less than an apartment in San Fran. With the average rent for a one bedroom apartment pushing $3,670 a month, Peter Berkowitz came up with an idea that’s out of the box – actually, it is a box. Berkowitz moved to San Francisco after working as a cook in New York’s Gramercy Tavern. Friends agreed to let him live in their living room in a box, which he calls a “pod.” His space in no larger than a wide bookshelf and sits in the corner of the room. Its exterior resembles a large crate, while its inside houses a twin bed, a fold-up desk and some LED lights. At 8 feet long and 4.5 feet tall, the wooden box requires Berkowitz to duck to get inside, but Berkowitz insists it’s “honestly very comfortable.” He pays $400 a month in rent. “I really don’t feel like I’ve taken a hit in terms of my quality of life,” the 25-yearold said. “I don’t really notice I live in the pod anymore.” “It seems silly, and people have this dystopian take on it, like ‘Is this what it’s come to?’” he said. “But I firmly believe that it makes a lot of sense. There should be some kind of middle ground between having a bedroom and sleeping on a couch.” Hmmm, we don’t want to box you in, but sleeping in a pod doesn’t seem like the perfect middle ground.

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The Week In News


Jewish The WeekHistory In News


By Rabbi Pini Dunner Rav of Young Israel North Beverly Hills

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Jewish History

Amulets, Accusations & Controversy: The Devastating Polemic Between Rabbi Yaakov Emden And Rabbi Yonason Eybeschutz Final Chapter THE STORY SO FAR: Despite the conversion to Islam of false messiah Shabbetai Tzvi in 1666, and his death in 1676, secret societies of Sabbatians who still believed in his messianic mission thrived in communities across Europe, and continued to be active well into the eighteenth century. One prominent rabbi who was suspected of being a Sabbatian was the A-list rabbinic luminary, R. Yonason Eybeschutz of Prague. Although initially he successfully dismissed the allegations, when he was appointed Chief Rabbi of the illustrious triple-community Hamburg-Altona-Wandsbeck in 1750, the suspicions came back to haunt him and then developed into a full blown controversy over his suitability as a rabbi. His principle opponent was R. Yaakov Emden, a distinguished rabbi with strong influence within and beyond the triple-community, who claimed that Kabbalistic amulets written by R. Yonason he had examined contained secret references to Shabbetai Tzvi. The community leadership sided with R. Yonason, and R. Yaakov was forced to flee to Amsterdam. A number of prominent rabbis came to R. Yaakov’s defense, including R. Yaakov Yehoshua Falk of Frankfurt, and R. Shmuel Hilman of Metz, but it was to no avail; R. Yonason’s seemed unassailable. But as violence between the opposing factions began to escalate in Hamburg and Altona, the gentile au-

thorities became involved, and the tide began to shift against R. Yonason. As a result of unrest created by the amulet controversy and the regular outbreaks of violence on the streets of the triple community, as well as the regular imposition of one-sided communal sanctions against supporters of R. Yaakov, the gentile authorities in both Hamburg and Altona were drawn into the affair. The Hamburg City Council came down on R. Yonason’s side. Altona was legally a province of Denmark, and Altona City Council, wary of wrong-footing this complex situation, decided to bring the dispute to the attention of the King of Denmark, Frederick V. Shocked by the violence and complete breakdown of law-and-order in the Jewish community, the King ruled in favor of R. Yaakov and his supporters, and ordered that R. Yaakov be permitted to return home without delay. R. Yaakov’s supporters informed him of the good news, but at first he was reluctant to march back into the eye of the storm and instead hesitated in Amsterdam. Only after receiving an emotional letter from his wife requesting that he come home did R. Yaakov finally return to Altona, on August 3, 1752, having spent over fourteen months in exile. Notwithstanding this triumph, R. Yaakov’s situation remained thoroughly unpleasant. R. Yonason was still the Chief Rabbi, and his defenders were defiant. As if this was not enough, R. Yaakov’s financial situation was a complete mess due to his prolonged absence, and with each passing month, as more rabbis across the Jewish world declared their solidarity



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with R. Yonason, R. Yaakov’s prospects seemed bleaker than ever. Despite all this R. Yaakov persisted with his unrelenting campaign against R. Yonason, whom he saw as epitomizing the dangers posed by Sabbatians, whom he believed were intent on insidiously inserting themselves and their perverse doctrines into mainstream Jewish life. R. Yaakov was petrified that unless he highlighted the threat, the uneducated Jewish masses, led by rabbis who dismissed the dangers of Sabbatianism as phantom nonsense, would sleepwalk into heretical oblivion, and particularly with someone like R. Yonason as a Sabbatian, this danger was heightened exponentially. So rather than forcing him to reconsider his position, the more rabbis who declared their support for R. Yonason, the more R. Yaakov became convinced of the grave Sabbatian threat he represented; and the more that people ridiculed the idea that someone of R. Yonason’s caliber could believe in a long-dead messianic pretender, the more R. Yaakov’s mission to undermine R. Yonason in any way possible became his urgent priority. Meanwhile King Frederick V of Denmark demanded that R. Yonason appear before him in Copenhagen, and explain the controversial amulets. There was also official concern in the Royal Court about R. Yonason’s position as Chief Rabbi. The King had been informed of a claim that R. Yonason’s election to the coveted and much contested Chief Rabbi position had been an absolute sham, with R. Yaakov’s supporters arguing that the number of people reported to have voted in his favor simply didn’t make any sense. R. Yonason was deeply disheartened by this latest turn of events, and wrote to friends and colleagues across Europe describing how disgusted he was that his opponents had resorted to the gentile court system, a tactic contrary to Jewish law. But although in isolation this may have been true, in reality the gentile courts had only intervened as a result of tactical moves made against R. Yaakov’s supporters by R. Yonason’s allies, leading to repercussions that also affected local gentile businesses. And once the courts were involved, it was inevitable that each side would try to gain the upper hand. That being the case, R. Yonason’s protestations, while not without foundation, were probably an expression of his disappointment that things had turned against him. The protestations were also slightly disingenuous, as R. Yonason

had consistently refused to appear before a beit din and be thoroughly cross-examined by his accusers. In the final analysis, if there was no way to resolve the dispute equitably in a Jewish setting, surely the option of the gentile court, while regrettable, was the only other alternative. In anticipation of his upcoming court case, R. Yonason engaged the services of his former student, Karl Anton. Anton was born Gershon Moshe Cohen, but after studying in R. Yonason’s yeshiva he

In 1760, R. Yonason’s younger son, Wolf, announced he was a Sabbatian prophet. He later converted to Christianity and became “Baron Eybeschutz”, although he apparently rejoined the Jewish community before his death in 1805. This picture was given to Rabbi Dunner by his descendant, a religious Jew who lives in Gateshead, England

inexplicably converted to Christianity, changed his name, and eventually became the Professor of Hebrew at Helmstadt University, in Wurzburg, Bavaria. R. Yaakov poured scorn on R. Yonason for hiring this outcast to assist him with his defense, although R. Yonason countered that he had no choice, as Anton was the only person he knew – perhaps the only person alive at that time - who was thoroughly familiar with rabbinic knowledge and who could also conduct himself in formal German with ease, therefore allowing him to be comfortable in the official setting of the Royal Court while representing a rabbinic client accused of religious offenses. Before approaching Anton, R. Yona-

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son tried to hire a gentile called Neuendahl, an advocate with ties to the Danish judiciary. For whatever reason Neuendahl refused the brief, and Anton was the second choice. Months later Neuendahl agreed to discuss the case with R. Yaakov, and he revealed that Karl Anton’s spirited defense of his former teacher – a defense R. Yaakov repudiated as a web of lies and evasion – had been entirely composed by none other than R. Yonason himself. Neuendahl knew this to be the case because he had seen the defense arguments before anyone else, when R. Yonason went through the file with him before hiring Anton. After the court case was over Anton published his defense of R. Yonason, which revolved entirely around one particular amulet – an amulet R. Yonason accepted he had authored and had not been tampered with – in a German-language book titled “Kurze Nachricht von dem Falschen Messias Sabbathai Zebhi und den neulich seinetwegen in Hamburg and Altona entstandenen bewegungen” (A short account concerning the false messiah, Shabbetai Tzvi, and the events connected to him that recently took place in Hamburg and Altona). Second choice or not, Anton performed fantastically in the courtroom. As a Hebrew professor at a gentile college he was completely comfortable explaining arcane rabbinic material to the uninitiated, and, after being tutored by R. Yonason in the technicalities of mystical word formations of Kabbalistic amulets, he totally mastered his brief before presenting the case. The trial attracted the attention of numerous journalists, religious scholars and jurists from far and wide, all eager to find out more about the secretive world of Jewish mysticism and the details of its practical applications. Anton was undeterred by the packed courtroom. He took the obscure Kabbalistic background that underpinned amulet authorship, and the detailed specifics of the particular amulet under examination, and submitted a compelling case on behalf of his client. Words in the amulet that R. Yaakov had claimed were coded references to Shabbetai Tzvi and his messianic mission, said Anton, were in reality coded acronyms for verses in the Bible, or were letter combinations that had appeared in Kabbalistic works that were published long before Shabbetai Tzvi was born. It was simply preposterous, Anton claimed, to suggest that his esteemed client had meant Shabbetai Tzvi when he inscribed these letter formations if there was any other plausible explanation for the words and letters used in the amulet. After all, he said, there were so many different cyphers and cryptographs one could apply to the Hebrew alphabet, that anyone who wanted to could easily force a Sabbatian connotation onto any text anywhere. In a rousing closing speech Anton de-

clared to the mesmerized courtroom that he had amply demonstrated, despite all the heated accusations, that his client had absolutely no case to answer. “Everybody knows that Rabbi Jacob of Emden, despite his eminent lineage, is a sworn enemy of the Chief Rabbi. This is simply an undeniable fact. Moreover, Rabbi Jacob’s knowledge of Kabbalah is completely inferior to my client’s familiarity with this ancient wisdom. All Rabbi Jacob knows are a few methods by which the Hebrew alphabet can be manipulated to mean this or that, or, indeed, anything. And the fact that he has rather cleverly insinuated heresy into the amulet that was composed by my client - the very same amulet we have studied so closely these past few days - has absolutely no bearing on my client’s innocence or guilt. His spurious interpretations can be dismissed as the jealous rantings of a spiteful competitor, while my client’s sterling reputation, and the love and devotion he is afforded by thousands of Jews both in his own community, and in every European city, town and village where a Jewish communities exist, offers incontrovertible proof, beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever, of my client’s piety, his integrity, and his irrefutable dedication to the faith of his forefathers.” Anton now turned to the King, and unflinchingly looked him in the eye: “Your Royal Majesty: it is my view that these proceedings have been a shameful waste of His Majesty’s time. My client has on more than one occasion repudiated the false messiah, Shabbetai Tzvi, along with any person or doctrine associated with that evil charlatan. May I respectfully request of His Majesty on my client’s behalf please do not permit this travesty against him to continue any longer. I implore His Majesty to declare my client innocent of all the charges so that he may be allowed to proceed with his duties as Chief Rabbi unhindered by unfounded rumors, lurid speculation and groundless innuendo. Your Royal Majesty – surely enough is enough!” With that final exclamation Anton bowed low and returned to his seat, as the court erupted in excited conversation, overwhelmed by the fantastic drama that had played out in front of them for day after day over a tiny scrap of parchment inscribed with a few Hebrew letters. Never before had the Royal Court of Denmark been witness to such proceedings. This was, after all, just a parochial dispute concerning an obscure religious matter - and yet it had been deliberated by the highest court of the land, and presided over by the King himself. The King retired with his advisors to consider the evidence. When they returned to the courtroom the verdict was unequivocal. In the first instance R. Yonason was completely exonerated of all the charges. Never again would anyone be allowed to

cast any aspersions - neither spoken nor published - on the Chief Rabbi or his amulets. And secondly, so that R. Yonason’s position as Chief Rabbi would no longer be in any doubt, the King ordered a new election to take place for the Chief Rabbinate position at the first available opportunity. The election took place in December 1752, and R. Yonason was overwhelmingly reelected. But the unexpected victory and vindication were quickly diminished by other events. Almost immediately after his reelection as Chief Rabbi, the Hamburg City Council – Hamburg was a ‘free’ city not under the rule of the Danish King – rejected both the King’s verdict and the election result, and a long, complex battle began to unfold over the formal definition of the chief-rabbinate for the triple-community, and about the powers he was legally entitled to. Simultaneous to this latest twist, the battle between rabbis across Europe over how to deal with R. Yonason’s alleged Sabbatianism began to escalate, as positions hardened and enmity increased. R. Yonason’s strategy vis-à-vis his rabbinic accusers had been consistent throughout. He was only willing to present his version of what the amulets meant in a setting that did not include anyone who

would challenge him or disrespect him. This was his position throughout the controversy, and he resorted to numerous tactics to ensure that he would not be forced into any kind of hostile rabbinic hearing. As far as R. Yaakov was concerned, this evasive attitude alone proved R. Yonason’s guilt. Why would he not agree to a harsh cross-examination if he was innocent? Why was he so frightened of coming faceto-face with his opponents? R. Yaakov believed he knew the answer. R. Yonason was acutely aware that if he was ever subjected to penetrating questions that he might be unable to answer, as opposed to the soft, respectful questions of deferential rabbis who held him in high esteem, his Sabbatianism would immediately be revealed for all to see. It was R. Yonason’s unwillingness to appear before his accusers and the consequent presumption of guilt that underlined R. Yaakov’s ferocious attempts to destroy R. Yonason’s reputation and see him unseated from his position. It was inevitable that two distinct camps would emerge among the European rabbinate – one group that presumed R. Yonason’s guilt but could not formulate an effective strategy to deal with it, and the other group that presumed R. Yonason’s innocence but were seemingly unable to



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find any way to silence his critics. It was at this point that R. Yechezkel Landau stepped into the picture. Much later in his career R. Landau would become famous as Chief Rabbi of Prague and as author of the scholarly work Noda BiYehuda, but in 1752 he was the relatively unknown 39-year-old rabbi of Yampol, a small town in Ukraine 1,000 miles from Hamburg, who had never met R. Yonason Eybeschutz or R. Yaakov Emden. For some unknown reason R. Landau felt compelled to resolve the epic dispute that had erupted between these two rabbinic titans, both of whom were old enough to be his father. To that end he sat down and wrote a long ‘letter of reconciliation’ suggesting a compromise solution where both R. Yonason and R. Yaakov, along with all their supporters, could walk away with their pride and reputations intact. The letter was diplomatically worded and cleverly constructed. It painted R. Yonason as one of the greatest rabbis of the time whose understandable but misplaced mistreatment of R. Yaakov had stained an otherwise unblemished reputation. It was a wrong that had to be put right, especially as R. Yaakov had clearly had grounds to behave as he did. To have publicly embarrassed R. Yaakov by banning anyone from communicating with him and to then have him hounded out of town was simply not an appropriate way to behave towards a distinguished rabbi, and particularly R. Yaakov, whose dedication to the most stringent Torah-observant life and whose positive influence on those around him were beyond question. Only rabbis who lead people astray can be placed under any kind of ban, said R. Landau, and R. Yaakov was certainly not in that category. “R. Yonason might propose that R. Yaakov did lead people astray by suggesting he was a fraud, and I can see why he would say that. R. Yonason has been an exemplary teacher of Torah to thousands of students across the Jewish world, many of whom have their own students, making him the teacher of virtually every Torah scholar in Europe. If doubts are raised about him it would put the credentials of all those scholars into doubt and R. Yonason might understand that as someone leading people astray. But in my opinion this would only be the case if R. Yaakov deliberately led them astray, and this was not the case. On the contrary! We know that his intentions were to prevent people from going astray! That being the case he should never have been excommunicated, and never been expelled.” R. Landau had clearly examined the notarized amulets from Metz, and was convinced they contained letter formations that referred to Shabbetai Tzvi. But he had

MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

In 1755 R. Yonason published his version of events and vigorously protested his innocence. The book, Luchot Edut (this copy in Rabbi Dunner’s collection), also contained hundreds of letters of support from rabbis across Europe, including one from the Vilna Gaon, at that time almost totally unknown outside Lithuania

two superb observations to make - one that was a face-saving device for R. Yonason, the other a wise insight into the potential threat posed by the author of the amulets. In the first instance he questioned whether any notarized document that condemned a third party was valid under Jewish law if that third party was not present when the document was notarized. He noted that none of the amulets were signed by R. Yonason, and that it was therefore impossible to establish with any halachic certainty that he had written them. In other words, he was providing R. Yonason with a graceful avenue to deny the authorship of any amulet that had a Sabbatian link. His second point was even more astute: “Although there is no way of deciphering these amulets in any way that would eliminate their Sabbatian contents, to be perfectly honest I do not regard them as heresy - because heresy is only heresy if it encourages heresy.” With this remarkable proposition R. Landau completely deflated the suggestion that R. Yonason posed any kind of threat to the future of Judaism, even if it was irrefutably true that the amulets attributed to him contained references to the false messiah. As long as R. Yonason visibly behaved in accordance with Jewish law, and conducted himself according to the standards expected of a great rabbi, what difference did it make if he had surreptitiously inserted incomprehensible Sabbatian word puzzles into amulets that influenced nobody to believe in the messianic mission of the long dead Shabbetai Tzvi? To resolve the dispute R. Landau proposed that all the amulets that had ever

been attributed to R. Yonason should be handed over to the Jewish authorities and never be used again. He also proposed that R. Yonason publicly declare that he would never write another amulet, so that no Sabbatian heretic would ever again be able to claim that he was partial to their cause. R. Landau concluded his proposal by forcefully warning against any further mistreatment or criticism of R. Yaakov for his campaign against R. Yonason. R. Landau’s letter was widely circulated, and although it clearly implied that R. Yonason was the author of the amulets, the suggested compromise solution was nonetheless warmly welcomed by R. Yonason and his supporters, who clearly understood how R. Landau’s proposal offered a workable exit strategy that wiped the slate clean, and offered a way forward devoid of controversy, just as long as no further associations between R. Yonason and Sabbatian heresy were ever discovered. But R. Yaakov was in absolutely no mood for a compromise of any kind. As far as he was concerned this was a holy war, and as such it was a zero-sum game. R. Yonason had to be defrocked, and humiliated. No other end to the dispute was acceptable. In a viciously worded pamphlet against the ‘letter of reconciliation’ R. Yaakov called R. Landau every name imaginable, and even accused him of being a closet Sabbatian who desired R. Yonason’s exoneration and rehabilitation. The controversy had essentially reached a stalemate. Although R. Yonason remained Chief Rabbi of Altona, in Hamburg his powers were stripped away by the City Council, and by the time they were reinstated some years later, the issue had become largely irrelevant. In the rabbinic world R. Yonason’s opponents were unyielding in their antipathy towards him, and they continued to insist that he was an unrepentant heretic. Meanwhile, R. Yonason’s supporters rallied to his cause and hundreds of rabbis responded to his request for letters of support, that he published in 1755 as part of a book called ‘Luchot Edut’ which also recorded his version of events. R. Yaakov continued to publish regular attacks against his nemesis, and in 1760 the controversy gained a new lease of life when R. Yonason’s younger son, Wolf Eybeschutz, declared himself a Sabbatian prophet, and was then exposed as a close friend to a number of known heretics. As a result of this incident R. Yonason’s yeshiva was closed down, never to be reopened. Even R. Yonason’s death in 1764 did not end the controversy. R. Yaakov continued to publish his attacks, and to maintain that Sabbatian heresy remained a very real threat to every Jewish community. R. Yaakov’s death in 1776, and subsequent burial

in close proximity to R. Yonason as a result of R. Landau’s halachic ruling, finally brought the personal dispute to an end. Ultimately it was R. Landau’s resolution that was the blueprint for future generations. R. Yonason’s incredible scholarship, as recorded in the numerous works that were mainly published after his death, are mainstays of Jewish learning to this day, principally as a result of R. Landau’s suggestion that if someone is in every sense a devout Jew and an exemplary rabbi, unverifiable aberrations ascribed to him must be completely disregarded. R. Yaakov is equally venerated as an exemplary rabbi who fought a valiant battle against a man he regarded as a dangerous heretic, and his works on Talmud, halacha, and prayer continue to be widely used and respected. Before concluding this series we must address the questions that have hovered in the background throughout this dramatic saga: In the final analysis, was R. Yaakov right? Was R. Yonason really a Sabbatian? If he was a Sabbatian, did he actually pose a danger to normative Judaism? There are multiple answers to all these questions, but nothing conclusive or definitive. What is absolutely clear is that R. Yaakov truly believed R. Yonason was a Sabbatian, and he believed R. Yonason was a subversive who needed to be ousted from his job, and from Jewish life. And R. Yaakov was not alone. Even among those who supported R. Yonason there were rabbis, like R. Landau, who were not convinced of his innocence, although they offered their support because they believed that the campaign against him was very damaging to Jewish life, and therefore supporting him was the lesser of two evils. Throughout the saga R. Yonason was tactically very smart, bettering R. Yaakov and his supporters at every stage, but his camp’s overall strategy was ill considered and often counter-productive. In the belief that his reputation far outweighed any attempt to malign him, R. Yonason refused to take his interlocutors seriously, and he constantly sought to neutralize them without engaging them directly, which only infuriated them more. Of course hubris is not proof of guilt, nor can some of R. Yonason’s more ridiculous claims visà-vis the amulets be used to condemn him. And yet it is a sad fact that he died without having conclusively shaken off the cloud of suspicion that hung over him. But ultimately whether or not he was a Sabbatian sympathizer is a question that has no relevance today. Both he and R. Yaakov Emden, despite the vicious polemic that so scarred their lives, are considered two of the most prominent rabbinic scholars to have graced us with their presence and scholarship in the early modern era.

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MARCH 31, 2016 | The Jewish Home

Improved Technology In Our Cars Michael Rubinstein Esq. In-car technology is changing how we drive. It’s worth taking a look at two recent innovations to see their effects – positive and negative. Automatic Brakes There’s good news coming for American drivers. Earlier this month, major automobile manufacturers announced a deal with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to make automatic braking standard on most cars by 2022. Last week, Toyota said it would hasten the rollout of this unique safety feature in its fleet by 2017. Currently, this technology is only available on select premium luxury models. The technology uses cameras and sensors to apply the brakes when a driver does not react in time to changed road conditions. Experts predict that this technology could eliminate up to 40% of rear-end crashes, which are among the most common in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. What’s unknown is how long it will take for cars with this technology to replace existing cars that are not equipped with it.

Until then, drivers will need to remain engaged and off their phones! Cell phone use, whether for texting, browsing the internet, or voice calls, remains a serious safety hazard for Los Angeles drivers. Once automatic braking technology is widely available, drivers are urged to still remain engaged and alert at all times while behind the wheel. Backup Accidents: Don’t Rely on your Back-up Camera! Unfortunately, back-up accidents are on the rise. It might seem contradictory, with the advent of back-up cameras in most late-model vehicles. More and more cars come equipped with back-up cameras now, and in 2018, all new cars will be required to come standard with this important safety feature. The problem comes when drivers rely on their backup cameras instead of using them as a tool to assist in the overall reversing process. Safety experts still recommend that drivers take precautions before beginning to back out of a driveway or parking spot. These include 1) walking around the back

can cause serious injuries, despite the slower speeds. When the collision is car versus human, car always wins. Pedestrians in parking lots should remain alert and only walk in designated walkways. Looking ahead at roadway conditions is another way to avoid becoming a back-up accident victim. If you’re entering or leaving a store with your children, keep them close to you and don’t let them run ahead. Remember that back-up cameras are an important technological tool. When used correctly, they can minimize property damage and prevent accidents. But back-up cameras are intended to assist the driver, not replace one! Let’s all be safe and alert as we prepare for Zman Cheirusenu and get to our Pesach shopping!

of your car to make sure there are no objects or debris behind your car or under your rear tires, and 2) looking over your shoulder as you back-up in addition to glancing at your backup camera screen. Many larger cars like SUVS and minivans have multiple blind spots that backup cameras don’t capture. Back-up cameras also do not capture the periphery of a vehicle. A car speeding down your street might set off the alarm sensors, but some drivers might disregard the beeping alarm bells since no car is visible on the screen! Looking over your shoulder can help you see a wide pane of visibility behind your car instead of the narrow field on your backup screen. Furthermore, according to the organization Kids and Cars, each year, hundreds of children are accidentally killed or injured in back-up accidents R”L. Back-up accidents are also very common in parking lots. If you’ve ever shopped at Ralphs or Trader Joe’s on an erev Shabbos, you know how finding a spot can be difficult, and getting out of one just as much so. I have experience handling parking lot accidents, and they

Michael Rubinstein is a Los Angeles based personal injury and accident attorney. He can be reached at 213-293-6075 and at


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